Patrick Ross wrote this rather unusual op-ed published today on CNET news.com.com.com. He’s VP of the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF), a relatively new think tank in Washington that views technology and intellectual property issues from a libertarian-conservative viewpoint. They’ve got some very, very smart people working with them (Richard Epstein and Solveig Singleton stand out) — people whose conclusions I don’t often agree with, but with whom I generally disagree about facts, not values.
The organization’s acronym — PFF — aligns it none-too-subtly as the rightie counterpart to the leftie EFF. Of course, the EFF usually takes libertarian positions on technology issues, too; they just disagree, in this case, on who should budge when the efficient operation of the information technology market requires some inefficiency in some other market.
Then there’s Ross, and this column of his. It’s a frontal attack on Public Knowledge — more specifically its Executive Director, Gigi Sohn. Ross seems upset that Sohn calls herself a “consumer advocate” while failing to represent the views of consumers who enjoy paying monopoly rents.
“Wait!,” Ross seems to be saying, “I’m a consumer, and I think the big content companies who pay my salary should have complete control over the media they release and the technologies used to enjoy those media. She’s not representing my view, ergo she is a sham consumer advocate.”
Ross further faults Sohn for refusing to compromise in the INDUCE Act fracas this past summer. Sohn took a principled position that won the battle (if not yet the war); telling her after her victory that she really should have compromised strikes me as odd.
I suppose it’s a very good sign that people like Gigi are being attacked rather than ignored. It’s just one more step toward acceptance.