Office of Management and Budget

On August 30, 2013 KEI filed the following FOIA request for copies of any email correspondence between Victoria Espinel, the former US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, and employees, representatives, or member companies of the Business Software Alliance (BSA). Espinel assumed the position of President and CEO of BSA just weeks after stepping down from her position at OMB. KEI is interested in the ethical dimensions of Espinel’s new employment, in light of Executive Order 13490 — Ethics Commitments.

——– Forwarded Message ——–
From: Claire Cassedy
To: Dionne Hardy
Subject: FOIA Request regarding Victoria Espinel and BSA
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2013 12:21:23 -0400

Dear Dionne Hardy,

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) requests any emails between Victoria Espinel and employees or representatives of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) or BSA member companies (Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, AVG, Bentley Systems, CA Technologies, CNC Software-Mastercam, DELL, IBM, Intel, Intuit, McAfee, Microsoft, Minitab, Oracle, PTC, Rockwell Automation, Rosetta Stone, Siemens PLM Software, Inc., Symantec, and The MathWorks). The period of the request is from January 1, 2013 to the present. Particularly important are emails involving Microsoft or the BSA.

KEI is interested in writing a story for the Huffington Post regarding US government employees working for lobbying firms immediately following their tenure in their government post. According to new reports and the BSA web page, Victoria Espinel has left OMB and, within days, become the President and CEO of BSA, an organization focused on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Our story, to be published in the Huffington Post or elsewhere, will examine the ethical dimensions of Espinel’s new employment, in light of Executive Order 13490 — Ethics Commitments.

As a non-profit organization, KEI requests a waiver for the fees for this request. KEI intends to widely disseminate this information. KEI itself has published or been quoted widely as regards issues of ethics in government, and on the relationship between industry lobby groups and government officials. One recent example of this are the following stories that were based upon a FOIA request to the USPTO regarding communications between the MPAA and the USPTO over a different intellectual property negotiation.

  • Kimberly Kindy, Filmmakers’ group tries to reshape treaty that would benefit the blind, Washington Post, web version, June 22, 2013, print version June 23, 2013.
  • Paige McClanahan, US film industry tries to weaken copyright treaty for blind people: Treaty to make copyrighted works available for visually impaired people – 90% of whom live in global south – coming up against film lobby. The Guardian, Monday 24 June 2013
  • Mike Masnick, MPAA’s Actions, Emails Show That They’re Doing Everything Possible To Screw Over The Blind: from the how-can-they-deny-it? dept, TechDirt.Com June 24, 2013
  • Catherine Saez, WIPO Negotiators Reach Breakthrough On “3-Step Test” In Treaty For Blind, IP-Watch.Org, Published on 24 June 2013

The above stories demonstrate that in the past, KEI has effectively used FOIA requests to widely disseminate information that is in the public interest. We are willing to provide additional information regarding the fee waiver issue if that is necessary. Thank you.

Claire Cassedy