On the same note as our class discussion about the various players in proposing copyright legislation, CNET news recently ran an interview with Philip Corwin, head lobbist for Sherman Networks, the parent company of Kazaa. The interview contains some brief discussions the Induce Act, a tax benefiting copyright holders, and being heard in the copyright legislation process.
You really get a sence from this interview how frustrating it must be to have been shut out from much of legislative making process. When asked about why he thought the Induce Act failed, Corwin responded,
Neither Sharman Networks nor any of the other peer-to-peer companies were invited to participate in those negotiations. We were just labeled as bad actors, while other people talked about the method and timing of our execution.
His frustration is clear. It is as though he was forced to stand by and watch as someone else tried to decide the future of his client. But as we have discussed, this is nothing new. Those with major interests at stake were originaly blocked from the DMCA discussions as well. And he is definitely weary of the potential dangers of a secondary liability cause of action being put into law.
It's clear that they'd like to create a new cause of action of secondary infringement that would penalize new technologies and business models. That's very dangerous. Hollywood with its very deep pockets would use a law like that to crush new companies that were guilty of nothing.
But what is most unsetteling about Corwin's position is that the client he represents is still the little guy in all of this. Kazaa boasts 2.4 million users per day. But the majority of those 2.4 million users are uninterested in copyright issues and legislation even though they have significant economic interests in the enactment of new legislation. And until the average person takes some interest in copyright legislation, nothing will change, and it will be impossible to find any sort of compromise that satisfies the content industry, the consumer electronics industry, the p2p industry, and the consumer. Because as of right now, the p2p industry and the consumer are not at the negotiating table.
So even though he hints that Kazaa may be willing to accept some sort of copyright holder compensation program he is still in a terrible position. He says that he has, in the past, written policy papers for Congress concerning some sort of IP use fee. But it is clear that these discussions are still, and it looks like for quite some time, going to be dominated by the major players (the content industry and the consumer electronics industry) leaving the less wealthy major players (p2p and the consumer) without a seat at the table.