Remember “copyright czar” Victoria Espinel? We mentioned her a couple of times back in 2010—when she called for public comments on the state of IP law,, when the comments came in. and then when they were made public. Some interesting stuff on the state of intellectual property law there, and what the stakeholders thought was important—notably, they all complained about online piracy without a single word about counterfeit physical goods. Huh.

Espinel popped up again in 2011 when she recommended that Congress make illegally streaming copyrighted content online a felony offense in some cases. Although our article on the program didn’t mention it, she was also involved with the White House’s “Joint Strategic Plan” for intellectual property enforcement unveiled in June of this year. She’s also been involved with a number of other anti-piracy initiatives, such as “Operation In Our Sites” which closed down over 1,700 websites streaming illegally or selling counterfeit goods, or a four-strikes copyright violation disconnection policy instituted by major ISPs.

Well, the latest news is that Espinel resigned a couple of weeks ago—and just took a position as President of the Software Alliance (nee Business Software Alliance—apparently they dropped the “Business” from their name but kept the “BSA” acronym), one of the world’s best-known anti-piracy trade groups.

I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised. It seems like everyone treats the government as a kind of extended audition for cushy lobbyist jobs these days. And I suppose I shouldn’t blame Espinel for feathering her nest. Still, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. How can you trust anyone in government if all they want to do is snag some snug sinecure in the private sector as soon as they get out?

Yeah, listen to me. I could have put the question mark after “government” in that last sentence and it would have been just as true.


  1. We seem to have more revolving doors between the public and private sectors than just the one we hear the most about, the revolving door between the government, military and industrial complex.
    What’s fascinating to me is how an entire business sector can be erected around pandering to fear and greed. Fear that every elicit copy is a lost sale and the greed that rises from the promise that competition can be constrained by DRM and law alone.
    It’s like magic in that something appears to come from nothing. For example, no one ever thought to buy deodorant in 1920 but look at the business now. Fear is a powerful thing.

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