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Posted by on Oct 13, 2008 in Arts & Entertainment, Society | 6 comments

New Copyright Czar; an F for the Drug Czar

Politicians left and right are in the pocket of the copyright cartel that is the American entertainment industry. Matt Asay sees Microsoft and Viacom paving the way to sensible copyright enforcement. We can only hope.

Meanwhile, today President Bush signed a new law creating a Copyright Czar:

The cabinet position will give a single point of authority to a job now handled by a scattered handful of different agencies and committees. It also calls for increased strength to prosecute and punish IP offenders. A provision that hoisted the responsibility for civil (in addition to criminal) prosecutions for IP cases on the Justice Dept. had to be thrown out first, as it would have effectively gave the already over-burdened folks at the DoJ the added enjoyment of being the entertainment companies’ civil trial lawyers. Also, interestingly, the Bush administration apparently forgot about their earlier weariness to politicize a position (by appointment) so closely related to dealings of the legislative branch and the judiciary—because avoiding that kind of thing has been this administration’s hallmark, right?

What it will mean day-to-day for us modern web users remains to be seen, but creating a czar worked so well for the war on drugs, why not try it again?

Yeah, so how did that work out? John Tierney:

The Drug Czar’s Report Card: F

In 2002, the Bush administration’s National Drug Control Strategy set a goal of reducing illegal drug use by 25 percent in five years. This was followed by an unprecedented campaign of persuasion (more than 100 different anti-drug advertisements and commercials) and law enforcement as the number of annual arrests for marijuana possession climbed above 700,000 — higher than ever before, and greater than the combined total for all violent crimes.

Now that the first five years’ results are available, the campaign can officially be called a failure, according to an analysis of federal drug-use surveys by Jon Gettman, a senior fellow at the George Mason University School of Public Policy. The prevalence of marijuana use (as measured by the portion of the population that reported using it in the previous month) declined by 6 percent, far short of the 25-percent goal, and that decline was partially offset by a slight increase in the use of other illicit drugs. As a result, the overall decline in drug use was less than 4 percent.

RELATED: In fairness, Congress pushed the copyright czar on President Bush. Here’s the law: The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act. Radley Balko has more on The Drug Czar’s failings.