Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 25, 2008

AAP tries to blackball Lawrence Lessig

The AAP and Copyright Alliance want to prod the next President of the US to tilt the unbalanced US copyright law further toward publishers.  According to a letter the AAP sent to its members (thanks to James Love and Glyn Moody), the two organizations are trying to identify the positions "that will influence intellectual property policy", and will then "offer suggestions regarding appropriate candidates for these positions to both presidential campaigns."

But first they want to blackball one potential nominee:

...AAP is concerned, for example, that based on their past academic relationship, Senator Obama might choose among his appointments a divisive figure such as Larry Lessig - a law professor and leading proponent of diminished copyright rights....


  • Lessig would make a superb Copyright Czar (the new post created by the new Pro-IP Act).  He understands the balance intended by US copyright law --the balance deliberately targeted by the AAP and Copyright Alliance. 
  • To say that Lessig advocates "diminished copyright rights" is the same kind of deliberate misinformation the AAP and Copyright Alliance have used in their lobbying campaigns against the NIH policy and FRPAA
  • For example, just last month both organizations lobbied hard for the Conyers bill, which would overturn the NIH policy.  The AAP falsely claimed that the NIH policy forces publishers to "surrender" their articles, and the Copyright Alliance falsely claimed that it allows the government to "commandeer" publisher articles.  Both spoke as if publishers owned the full copyrights in articles based on NIH-funded research, suppressing the fact that the authors retained a key right and used it to authorize OA.  Both asserted that the policy was "inconsistent with copyright law" but neither could point to any actual infringement.  Indeed, they went to Congress to support a bill to amend copyright law, which would not have been necessary if the policy had caused actual infringement.  For a more detailed rebuttal, see my article from earlier this month on the bill and the publishing lobby's dishonest arguments in support of it.