“Former Copyright Boss: New Technology Should Be Presumed Illegal Until Congress Says Otherwise”

The debatable premises of an amicus brief. [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]


  • Clearly the court should insist on choosing its own friends.


  • This guy seems to be smoking the crack pipe o’ truth! What happened “[t]o promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries” as the purpose of our copyright/patent system? And “limited times” means just that. More than a life in being plus 21 years is legally deemed to be in perpetuity under the common law. (Google Rule Against Perpetuities). The Framers had 14 years or so in mind before these works came into the public domain. Adjusted for increases in life expectancy, 21 years is about right. This is plenty of time for an invention, movie, book, song, etc. to be protected after which time it would be in the public domain.

    What bothers me is that Mr. Oman is no slouch. His resume is impressive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Oman he should (and does) know better.

    There’s more here than meets the eye. It is unlikely that he put in a 28 page amicus brief, spent mucho time, and paid for the appellate printing on his own. He [improperly] uses the prestige of his former position with the Copyright Office on the cover page of the brief itself by announcing that he was the former Register of Copyrights of the United States.” Methinks he and/or his law firm was hired by one of the big boys who stands to really gain by a reversal in this case. Yet he submits the brief in his name only, leaving out the real party in interest. If you want to know who’s really behind this amicus brief, follow the money.

  • Think of this as the infamous “precautionary principle” being applied to technology. It is a great way of preventing new technology from replacing existing technology. If people who thought like Ralph Oman had prevailed, buggy whip manufactures would still be in business.

  • This premise is nothing new. Today’s liberals tend to believe that business (and citizens) act at the sufferance of government. It’s a privilege to do business, it’s something government allows you to do.

    Pre-approval, under this view, should be totally non-controversial. The government should be able to stop you before you go doing something it could stop you from doing later.

  • Everything not mandatory is forbidden.

  • I believe that we have set up our society in such a way that something is generally considered to be permissible unless the law says it is explicitly forbidden.

    In progressive (aka totalitarian) societies, everything is forbidden unless it is explicitly permitted.

    In which type of society do you prefer to live?