Obama Appoints Scholar as New Copyright Czar

The “copyleft” and the “copyright” are both applauding the presidential appointment Friday of Victoria A. Espinel to become the nation’s first copyright czar.

Congress created the new czar position last year as part of intellectual property reform legislation.

Espinel, who requires Senate confirmation, has a past in teaching and government. Most recently, she was a visiting scholar at the George Mason University School of Law, where she taught intellectual property and international trade. The White House said she was an intellectual property adviser to the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Finance Committee, House Judiciary Committee and House Ways and Means Committee. Espinel, in 2005, served as the nation’s top trade negotiator for intellectual property at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Obama, in a statement that included the appointments of Michael Polt, ambassador to Estonia; and Adele Logan Alexander, to become a member of the National Council on the Humanities, said “These three individuals possess the skill and expertise their respective roles demand. I am certain they will serve the American people well, and look forward to working with them.”

In October, President George W. Bush signed into law legislation creating the new czar, a position on par with the nation’s drug czar Congress created in 1982 to wage the War on Drugs.

“We believe she will be fair in her approach to intellectual property enforcement issues,” said Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a left-leaning digital-rights advocacy group.

The “Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act,” known as the Pro-IP Act, requires the new czar to “report directly to the president and Congress regarding domestic international intellectual property enforcement programs.”

“Today’s nomination is a positive development towards fully implementing and funding the Pro-IP Act, and we hope President Obama and Congress will continue this important work by ensuring Victoria has the resources and authority necessary to get the job done,” said Mark Esper, a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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