Obama’s First Year in Tech Policy, Copyright

James Boyle has a pretty good write up of the mostly poor performance of the Obama administration on issues of copyright in its first year. He admits that their reversal before WIPO on the treaty that would grant an exception for reason of access by those with disabilities is praiseworthy. But he reminds us that this is a small victory indeed and mostly seems larger because of the constant push towards an absolute copyright.

Worse, the participation of the US in negotiations as part of ACTA far out shadows such a meager win for limits and exceptions. It is all the worse considering how the US has been complicit in the secrecy surrounding this trade agreement.

Ed Felten has a survey of how the administration has done more generally with technology policy in the same span. Despite the US role in ACTA, otherwise he rates Obama’s administration well on transparency. The rest of the landscape is not so rosy–the plans to provide universal access are too immature to judge progress, the cultural gap between policy makers and technologists persists, and the cyberczar post was largely gutted of effectual power by internal squabbling.

It seems odd to me that transparency, which hinges on access to information and innovative thinking, hasn’t provided cause to think hard about copyright and technology policy since they also depend on similar values. Perhaps it is too early, yet, for them to realize this connection. Maybe it will prove a fruitful angle to exploit in the years to come to try to shift these areas in need of the same sort of positive attention.

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