Larry Lessig is pleased that president-elect Obama has chosen Elena Kagan, his dean at Harvard Law School, for solicitor general. Kagan is credited with attracting major legal scholars to Harvard, especially Cass R. Sunstein from the University of Chicago and, more recently, Lessig himself from the Stanford University Law School.

But Lessig may be less pleased with some of Obama’s justice picks, says CNet’s Declan McCullagh:

As president-elect, one of Obama’s first tech-related decisions has been to select the Recording Industry Association of America’s favorite lawyer to be the third in command at the Justice Department. And Obama’s pick as deputy attorney general, the second most senior position, is the lawyer who oversaw the defense of the Copyright Term Extension Act–the same law that Lessig and his allies unsuccessfully sued to overturn.

Obama made both announcements on Monday, saying that his picks “bring the integrity, depth of experience and tenacity that the Department of Justice demands in these uncertain times.” The soon-to-be-appointees: Tom Perrelli for associate attorney general and David Ogden for deputy attorney general.

Campaign rhetoric aside, this should be no surprise. Obama’s selection of Joe Biden as vice president showed that the presidential hopeful was comfortable with someone with firmly pro-RIAA views. Biden urged the criminal prosecutions of copyright-infringing peer-to-peer users and tried to create a new federal felony involving playing unauthorized music.

Matt Yglesias looks on the bright side of the Perrelli pick:

The good news is that since the recording industry has decided to adopt an overwhelmingly litigation-based approach to coping with technological change, rather than trying to be innovative in terms of their products or business practices, they probably put a lot of effort in making sure they’re hiring very good lawyers.

JOE WINDISH, Technology Editor
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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • The RIAA is being abysmally stupid in their response to the death of their revenue model. Looking to Washington to solve their problem won’t help. Suing your customers makes no sense, especially as iTunes rakes in cash by realizing what the RIAA won’t: most of their customers just want the best songs on an album, not the whole thing. And most want to hear music they’re not hearing on the homogenized post-telecomm Act radio. So they discover new music on the very venues RIAA seeks to close down: internet radio, last FM and Pandora. What numbskulls the monopoly-loving music industry are to miss the opportunity to sell music by thousands of little-known artists, instead of endlessly pushing the 100 or so songs at a time that mainstream radio plays. The technology demon is out of the bottle and forward looking companies will prosper while the RIAA dinosaurs struggle to maintain their failed model.