Will Howard Berman Step Down From Leading Copyright Subcomittee?

from the the-representative-from-Disney-goes-international dept

A year ago, we noted how ridiculous it was that Congress was allowing Rep. Howard Berman to run the Congressional subcommittee dealing with intellectual property issues. Berman is a well-known supporter of Hollywood and the major record labels (and they, in turn, support him back). He's from LA and has been referred to as "the Representative from Disney" or "Hollywood Howard," and he's yet to meet a bill proposing stricter copyright laws that he hasn't been in favor of approving. As Larry Lessig noted at the time of Berman's appointment, it was like allowing a representative from Detroit to head a committee on auto safety standards. However, Copycense alerts us to a story from the Hollywood Reporter, suggesting that Berman may leave the chairmanship of the subcommittee in order to take on the more prestigious and desired role as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

If Berman does step aside, then the next in line for the job would be Rep. Rick Boucher, who has been a very strong (perhaps the strongest) fighter for consumer rights when it comes to copyright issues. For many, many years he's been pushing to rewrite the DMCA, for example. So having him take over the subcommittee would be big step forward. However, as the Hollywood Reporter notes, Boucher may be too busy on other committees that are more closely related to his Congressional district and the head of the full Committee (the IP part is just a subcommittee), is Rep. John Conyers, another friend of Hollywood, who probably wouldn't allow Boucher to push initiatives that lessened the power of copyright law. If Boucher doesn't take the job, then the article notes it would likely fall to Rep. Jerry Nadler, who represents parts of Manhattan that happen to include many major entertainment companies. It's not clear what Nadler's stance on these issues are, but he was a supporter of the ridiculously backwards bill to extend copyright protection to fashion designs, a policy that is both unnecessary and potentially dangerous to the industry -- suggesting that he's fairly susceptible to poorly reasoned arguments in favor of stronger copyright.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2008 @ 9:50am

    Berman does a good job of representing his constituents. That is the way government works. Don't criticize him for doing what he is supposed to be doing.

    That being said, maybe he shouldn't be running that subcommittee.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2008 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    Yea, he's great at representing Hollywood. It's whoever put him in charge of that subcommittees fault that he IS in charge of it. Just like you said about Detroit, its a perfect analogy. I wonder if anyone in Congress is dumb enough to do the same thing in that case.

     

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  3.  
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    matt, Jan 24th, 2008 @ 10:29am

    Christmas in January?

    Wow, if we saw Shillman go down, I would rejoice as would every person I know. Not that I want anyone to be on that subcommittee who seems to be horribly misinformed of the situation, but at least if Shillman was gone, things may end better. MAY. Likeliness: 5%. Actuality: it'll probably get worse.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2008 @ 12:07pm

    So allowing Howard Berman run the IP Subcommittee is "ridiculous" because he is said to be a "a well-known supporter of Hollywood and the major record labels". Yet allowing Rick Boucher -- "a very strong (perhaps the strongest) fighter for consumer rights when it comes to copyright issues" -- would be a "big step forward". Now there's a principled approach.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    4-80-sicks, Jan 24th, 2008 @ 12:54pm

    Re:

    ... Now there's a principled approach.

    You've got it backwards, Bob. Yes, "a very strong...fighter for consumer rights" is indeed the correct person to have on this subcommittee. The United States government is there to represent the people...not corporations or conglomerations.

     

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  6.  
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    angry dude, Jan 24th, 2008 @ 12:59pm

    Berman's dichotomy

    "So allowing Howard Berman run the IP Subcommittee is "ridiculous" because he is said to be a "a well-known supporter of Hollywood and the major record labels"

    And a very well-known adversary of all enterprising inventors and new technology startups in this country...

    Copyrights and patents go hand in hand as far as US Constitution in concerned.

    Go fugure...

     

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  7.  
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    Mike (profile), Jan 24th, 2008 @ 2:29pm

    Re:

    So allowing Howard Berman run the IP Subcommittee is "ridiculous" because he is said to be a "a well-known supporter of Hollywood and the major record labels". Yet allowing Rick Boucher -- "a very strong (perhaps the strongest) fighter for consumer rights when it comes to copyright issues" -- would be a "big step forward". Now there's a principled approach.

    The most hilarious thing is being able to see your IP address, which I will not reveal, of course. Of course, you could have mentioned your personal bias towards the situation. Quite telling, and fitting, that you would defend Berman.

    That said, Congressional Representatives are supposed to represent the people, not companies. Rick Boucher defends consumer rights because he understands that he represents consumers -- not because they give him money for his re-election campaign.

    There's a pretty big difference there. Are you honestly saying that you prefer someone who is compromised by lobbyists to someone who takes a principled stand on what's right -- even if there are no lobbyists supporting that stance?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2008 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Re:

    "Are you honestly saying that you prefer someone who is compromised by lobbyists to someone who takes a principled stand on what's right -- even if there are no lobbyists supporting that stance?"

    It shouldn't surprise anyone that some of Mr. Boucher's biggest campaign contributors include lobbyists and companies that support the stances he takes. I wouldn't suggest that he's "compromised" by those contributions or that he takes the positions he does because these people give him money. I do not believe that. I'm simply saying it is wrong to assume that Mr. Berman's views are any less principled than those of Mr. Boucher. I would guess Mr. Boucher would agree with that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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