Obama Nominates Espinel For Intellectual Property Czar

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President Obama has announced his intention to nominate Victoria Espinel as the intellectual property enforcement coordinator in the Office of Management and Budget.

Espinel is president of Bridging the Innovation Divide, and a former intellectual property advisor to the staffs of the Senate Judiciary and Finance committees and the House Judiciary and Ways and Means committees. She is also former assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation. Like newly named NAB president Gordon Smith, she is also an alumnus of D.C. firm Covington & Burling.

The White House IP Czar post, which will coordinate enforcement of intellectual property laws by various government agencies, was created by the Pro-IP Act.

"The Copyright Alliance congratulates President Obama on his nomination of Victoria Espinel to serve as the first U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator," said Copyright Alliance executive director Patrick Ross. "Her leadership roles at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative not only put her front and center in intellectual property promotion and enforcement, they also allowed her to demonstrate her ability to work with multiple agencies and stakeholders in a productive, effective manner."

Reaction came thick and fast over the electronic transom after the White House announced the nomination Friday afternoon.

"We applaud the administration for its action today in filling this critically important position," said NBC Universal, which has been one of the strongest voices for intellectualy property protection, in a statement. "This new White House executive, once confirmed by the Senate, should be well-positioned to ensure that American innovation and creativity generate American jobs. We look forward to working with the administration, and the nominee once confirmed, to protect and grow well-paid IP jobs that will help the US economy recover from the recession and thrive in the 21st century."  

Key Hollywood constiuents also gave their thumbs to Espinel's nod.

"We welcome the announcement today by President Obama of the nomination of Victoria Espinel to the position of this Administration's Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator," said a collection of unions, including American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America, West. "There is no issue more important to our unions than the protection of the films and television programs that our members create. Too often in public debate these works are given the abstract labels of "content" or "information." In reality however, they are much more than that-they are one of our country's greatest economic and cultural contributions loved by both the American public and by billions around the world. And, most importantly, they are not abstractions, they represent real jobs and real income to millions of people in this country."

The Motion Picture Association of America also voiced its approval.

"Given her extensive experience working on intellectual property issues as the former Assistant United States Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation along with her work as the chief U.S. trade negotiator on IP issues before the World Trade Organization, Espinel brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the position. We look forward to working with her in this new and increasingly important role," said MPAA president Dan Glickman.

Microsoft noted: "This position, created by Congress one year ago, represents an opportunity to bring new focus to the government's efforts to curb intellectual property crime. With her strong expertise in intellectual property law and her extensive experience in domestic and international policy matters, Ms. Espinel is well-suited to serve in this important capacity. We look forward to her confirmation."

Public Knowledge president GiGi Sohn also issued a statement in support of Espinel:

"She is well-qualified for the position, having served as the assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation. We look forward to working with her upon confirmation by the Senate. We believe she will be fair in her approach to intellectual property enforcement issues."

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