Legal Issues Library Issues Technology

Technophobia or payola?

Welcome to the gang from Digg! I think the site is finally stable now (thanks Blake). Thanks for stopping by…

In an article today on CNet, the Register of Copyright of the US, Marybeth Peters (who, let me remind you, is an Associate Librarian for Copyright Services for the Library of Congress) admitted that she was a:

…self-proclaimed “Luddite,” who confessed she doesn’t even have a computer at home. “In hindsight, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”


I’m sorry, but I thought that just said that the person responsible for administering Copyright law in the US doesn’t own a computer.



She goes on to say things like:

Peters indicated she was less thrilled, however, about a portion of the DMCA that generally lets hosting companies off the hook for legal liability, as long as they don’t turn a blind eye to copyright infringement and remove infringing material when notified. That’s one of the major arguments Google is attempting to wield in fighting high-profile copyright lawsuits, including one brought by Viacom, against its YouTube subsidiary.

“Shouldn’t you have to filter? Shouldn’t you have to take reasonable steps to make sure illegal stuff that went up comes down?” she said. She added, without elaborating further, “I think there are some issues.”

No, you shouldn’t, Marybeth. Filtering means that we are placing the responsibility of policing onto the providers of the service, and not on the people ultimately responsible for the infringement. It also means that we move farther from Net Neutrality, because there is a slippery slope from “monitor everything” to “oh, since you CAN monitor everything, prioritize something”.

Is there anyone at all in the actual copyright process that understand that the law is broken beyond repair right now, and that the digital world really does change the rules? Or is it just that all of our media laws are now being written and propped up by corporate interests instead of being written for the good of the people?

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

23 replies on “Technophobia or payola?”

I think I just read your post about 7 times in a row. “Could he possibly have that right? She doesn’t have a computer?!? CNet says she doesn’t… SHE said she didn’t when she talked to CNet… Aaaahhhhh!!!!”

I can’t come up with a coherent thought right now. Pardon me while I go destroy myself on my own computer keyboard.

Actually, prioritizing traffic is necessary in the short term for delivering high-def video over broadband, at least here in the US. See this post on IPTV at our blog. Is it the only long-term solution? Certainly not. But it also shouldn’t be held up because some people somewhere argue it could be used for bad. It almost certainly won’t be, but there are already laws to deal with that if it ever did.

I was going to pick on HOTI Dave even before I knew the blog was a shill for the major media companies…but now that Dean has informed us all:

No, Dave, I don’t think that prioritization of signal is necessary for video. Even if you can prove that consumers want hi def (and certainly sales of BluRay and HD-DVD haven’t shown that yet) there are plenty of mechanisms for HiDef over IP that don’t need prioritization…better codecs would be one answer, and non-streaming would be another. Even better? The US catches up with the rest of the freaking world and builds a better backbone and last-mile.

When Korea can get nearly 50Mb/sec to the house, and most first-world countries EXCEPT the US can get at least 10Mb/sec to the home…well, the problem isn’t neutrality. Loss of neutrality loses us much more than could possibly be gained.

If there were ever an appropriate time to use that particular animated GIF in expressing a thought, this would definitely be it.

So, really, isn’t the question now, “given that we live in a democracy, where our leadership is responsible to their electorate, what steps can (and must) we now take to GET THIS GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE REPLACED BY SOMEONE QUALIFIED TO HOLD AN INFORMED OPINION?”

really. who do we call to demand she step down?

It is true that AT&T belongs to our coalition, but it’s far from the only company or civic group — and they’re all listed prominently on the website. Most of the members are communications companies, but they are not all telcos or ISPs.

That said, this Slate article makes the point that bandwidth is definitely a big part of the problem:

AT&T is rolling out U-Verse soon, Verizon has launched FiOS already in many parts of the country — the telecom industry is indeed building out the last mile, but I’m sure you’d agree we need a lot more of that. Net neutrality regulations would negatively impact broadband investment.

Additionally, it’s not clear why new regulations are necessary. Antitrust laws already exist to correct anti-competitive behavior, if there ever was a serious problem.

We have seen time & time again that government officials in this #@!* administration are appointed with little or no grasp of the job position they hold except that they are staunch supporters of the party line.

I don’t expect this to change before the next election even if we demand it. Maybe some of the guys that ‘might’ lose jobs at Blackwater can be transferred into this position.

I work in politics in DC. My boss is a major lobbyist on a host of issues, some of which touch on information technology issues. He doesn’t have a computer at home and needs all of his emails printed out in order to read them.

I wish I could laugh about it, but there’s a huge number of people in this town similarly predisposed against making the miniscule exertion necessary to learn technology that was outdated a decade ago. Most worrying for citizens interested in net neutrality is that computer literacy and political power have a stong inversely correlational relationship.

So the person in charge of comeing up with, enforcing and dictating copyright laws, dont got a computer?
seems odd when most copyright “infringment” is done online.
how can one be in charge of something like this and be so behind the times?
this is like getting a neanderthal to fly a 747, it probably wont work out to well…

i think louis black has a relevant bit for this, its the mind f**k parable about the coed [paraphrase] not being able to finish her last semester of college cause of her horse…???

HOTI Dave; Considering that pirates and importers are already happily transmitting Hi-Def video all around the Internets to audiences large enough to ire the MPAA into a lawsuit frenzy… I would say that no amount of hand waving will convince me that regulation is necessary to do something that is already being done.

Furthermore, if large corporations can get federally protected and legislated monopolies and assistances do these sorts of things… why can’t ordinary citizens? I currently cannot get across town in twenty minutes, in order to do so I would need a law forbidding anyone else to use the road while I am using it. Can I get that law passed as well?

Additionally, current laws on anti-competitive behavior /don’t/ help the Internet market-place. Charter gobbled up our last ISP here in town and service went downhill shortly thereafter, even impacting our city officials – but there was nothing that could be done about it since the legislation doesn’t work.

Also, really – how much power does the “Register of Copyright of the US” even have? I mean, she has to work within legal frameworks that are set out by equally dusty individuals who probably think an average computer still takes up an entire factory floor.

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