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

One of the reasons why we live in such an innovative society is that we’ve (for the most part) enabled a permissionless innovation society — one in which innovators no longer have to go through gatekeepers in order to bring innovation to market. his is a hugely valuable thing, and it’s why we get concerned about laws that further extend permission culture. However, according to the former Register of Copyrights, Ralph Oman, under copyright law, any new technology should have to apply to Congress for approval and a review to make sure they don’t upset the apple cart of copyright, before they’re allowed to exist. I’m not joking. Mr Oman, who was the Register of Copyright from 1985 to 1993 and was heavily involved in a variety of copyright issues, has filed an amicus brief in the Aereo case (pdf).

As you hopefully recall, Aereo is the online TV service, backed by Barry Diller, that sets you up with your very own physical TV antenna on a rooftop in Brooklyn, connected to a device that will then stream to you online what that antenna picks up. This ridiculously convoluted setup is an attempt to route around the ridiculous setup of today’s copyright law — something that Oman was intimately involved in creating with the 1976 Copyright Act. The TV networks sued Aereo, but were unable to get an injunction blocking the service. Oman’s amicus brief seeks to have that ruling overturned, and argues that an injunction is proper.

But he goes much further than that in his argument, even to the point of claiming that with the 1976 Copyright Act, Congress specifically intended new technologies to first apply to Congress for permission, before releasing new products on the market that might upset existing business models — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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