The New York Post is reporting that
Congressman Billy Tauzin will take over from Jack Valenti as head of
the Motion Picture Association of America. I think this is good
news for defenders of openness and competition in the digital economy.
First, Tauzin will leave his powerful position as chair of the House
Commerce Committee, where he is an effective advocate for the interests
of the incumbent telephone companies. Second, he will replace
Jack Valenti, whose supreme talent is his extraordinary gravitas.
Billy Tauzin is a partisan street fighter. A very skillful,
exceedingly well-connected street fighter, which is why he’s getting
this plum job. But someone who everyone sees as an advocate for
one set of interest groups.
Valenti is able to float above the political fray. His aloofness
suggests that what Hollywood thinks is good for the movie industry is
obviously good for America. As the front man of Hollywood’s
crusade for copyright absolutism, he has made an extremist position
feel downright reasonable. Tauzin can’t do that. He may win
his battles, but it will no longer be a secret that a war is going
on. The same dynamic is occurring with the departure of the
thoughtful Hilary Rosen from the Recording Industry Association of
The last, best hope to turn the tide in the conflict is for more people to realize that Larry Lessig is
a centrist on copyright. With Billy Tauzin running the MPAA,
perhaps the real policy spectrum will be easier to perceive