President Barack Obama selected former RIAA lawyer Donald Verrilli to become the US Solicitor General as the fight against Internet piracy rages on. International pirate cases have received significant coverage, but the Obama Administration and copyright holders will look to create new ways to combat piracy within the United States as well.
Verrilli will replace Elena Kagan, with Verrilli best known among PC users for helping the RIAA put together a crippling case against peer to peer file sharing service Grokster. Specifically, Verrilli represented 28 companies that sued the company behind the P2P program, which shut down and forfeited $50 million to copyright groups.
Also of note, Verrilli led legal action against Jammie Thomas, along with spearheading Viacom’s efforts to sue Google for $1 billion. It’s these high-profile cases that has helped make Verrilli notorious among PC users, though these efforts have greatly helped his professional career.
The solicitor general serves as “the 10th justice” for the federal government in front of the Supreme Court, and Verrilli must wait to be approved by the US Senate later in 2011. I guess it makes sense that Verrilli was chosen — he’s well-respected among the copyright enforcement industry — and has proven to be a snake when necessary.
The current administration already recruited Verrilli and several other former industry executives on to the staff when Obama took office, and government involvement in piracy crackdowns have increased because of it. It seems Obama wants to align himself with content industry executives and tech industry figureheads looking to better enforce intellectual property and copyright efforts.
There has also been a stronger effort for the US to influence trade partners into acting against piracy. During a joint-press conference in Washington, D.C. last week, Obama applauded Chinese President Hu Jintao for increasing efforts to reduce piracy — and the US government is now teaching judges in other countries how to enforce copyright.