Republican Study Committee Dumps Derek Khanna, Author Of Copyright Reform Brief, After Members Complain

from the not-how-to-attract-the-next-generation dept

We’d heard this last week, but it’s now been confirmed that, due to significant lobbying pressure by the entertainment industry and (even more so) the US Chamber of Commerce, Derek Khanna, the Republican Study Committee staffer who penned the first thoughtful policy brief on copyright reform to come out of US government offices in a long time, has been let go from his job. There was expected to be some staff turnover in January, as the new RSC leadership took place, but several Republican members of Congress explicitly asked incoming RSC boss Steve Scalise not to retain Khanna in response to the copyright brief.

If this is how the “new” GOP expects to interest young people, it seems to be going about it exactly backwards. Khanna wrote a thought-provoking paper that expressed views that many people believe to be true — in a voice that is rarely heard in Congress. And, for that, he got fired. While the RSC and various copyright maximalists have been insisting that the paper was not properly vetted, we’ve had it confirmed that this is simply not true. The paper went through the standard procedure of any RSC brief, and was properly reviewed and vetted. It’s just that once lobbyists hit the phones to various members of Congress (friends of Hollywood, mainly), pressure was put on the RSC to retract the document, and to jettison Khanna.

This is not going to interest very many young people, when a thoughtful critique of policy that finally raises issues that concern many leads to the staffer in question getting the axe. Khanna, for his part, has been valiantly continuing the conversation via his Twitter feed, but various lobbyists are now ensuring that elected officials can safely stick their fingers back in their ears.

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Comments on “Republican Study Committee Dumps Derek Khanna, Author Of Copyright Reform Brief, After Members Complain”

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164 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

this shows the power the entertainment industries have over those in positions of power. it shows how much those in positions of power benefit from the entertainment industries. it shows the contempt the party has for anyone that has different views from the old farts and the ever greater contempt when the conflicting views are voiced. the last thing this shows, to me anyway, is the lack of balls the party has. the young are the future. the old are the past. if the old dont adapt, they will eventually become fossils, remembered for what they didn’t do, not what they did.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It is scary when politicians in this case gets to be the Hedy Lamarrs of politics. It is pretty obvious that the party has completely changed opinion of Khannas work. Why that is, seems to be 100% driven by people outside their own organisation. It doesn’t take much leap to get to the lobbyists/contributors making the decission. That is a scandal and even deeper than most people think since it shows a lack of debt in the debates going on in the parties (essentially it is bigotry).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“I pledge allegiance to the Profit Margin of the United Corporations of America, and to the conglomerate for which it stands, one Plan under Copyright, indivisible, with profits and bribes for all.”

Exactly! And at least the RSC understands it’s time to look at Google and not let them buy the GOP and legislation! Couldn’t agree more!

jameshogg says:

"Free speech stops at the office door."

This is from an article by Nick Cohen which I thought would be of interest:

“In case you think I am BBC-baiting, I should add that at least the BBC allows challenges to its hierarchy. After the Savile scandal broke, George Entwistle had to go on the Today programme, whose presenters are never happier than when they can tear their managers apart on live radio. When Entwistle implied that the editor of Newsnight had no need to worry about his bosses circling over him like glassy-eyed crows, Evan Davis did what any sensible person would have done and burst out laughing.

Consider how rarely such laughter is heard. One of the least explored aspects of free speech in Western societies is the power of employers to enforce silence. Citizens can go on television ? on Newsnight, if you wish ? and denounce their politicians. The secret police do not come for them. Yet if they criticise their employers they can expect their managers to demote or fire them. After the great crash of 2007-08, we ought to understand the importance of plain talking in the workplace. Insiders at NatWest knew that Fred Goodwin was leading his bank to ruin. HBOS fired its own risk manager for saying that its habit of giving mortgages to anyone with a pulse was insanely risky. But it is still taken as a given that employees who speak out against public or private bureaucracies have no one to blame but themselves if their career suffers. Confusion persists between the interests of managers ? who want to protect their status by silencing criticism ? and the interests of organisations, and the shareholders or taxpayers who fund them, which need the freedom to scrutinise rent-seeking or incompetent managers.”

(http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/4705/full)

Just imagine how many people inside the MPAA want to voice their concerns about the industry’s aggressive copyright attacks, but cannot… in case they lose their jobs. And not just those jobs in particular, but possibly any future job in that field of work due to black-balling. These people HAVE to exist, because it CANNOT be the case that 100% of MPAA workers are insane – some must surely see the virtues in tapping into the internet revolution, but are compelled into silence.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: "Free speech stops at the office door."

“These people HAVE to exist, because it CANNOT be the case that 100% of MPAA workers are insane – some must surely see the virtues in tapping into the internet revolution, but are compelled into silence”

Maybe that’s what’s up with Out of the Blue. His insane comments are doing nothing for his side other than convincing other people to join the other side. Maybe he’s one of those who realize that the MPAA is insane, but he can’t say so directly for fear of losing his job. So he goes out and posts as much insanity as possible to discredit his own side without looking like he’s trying to.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "Free speech stops at the office door."

But that’s all you do, you endlessly fight for their side and their laws. You go out of your way to mock Techdirt and harass Mike specifically. If you were anywhere near logic you would at least attempt to debate things with said logic and evidence instead of posting personal attacks.

These two posts are the closest thing to logic that you’ve posted in a vary long time and they’re not vary logical in themselves.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Beware the party purges.

The GOP seems to be all about the accumulation of power anymore to the point where no dissent is tolerated. No one is interested in a diversity of opinion. If you deviate you are thrown under the bus. It doesn’t even matter if you are a presidential candidate and the ex majority leader.

It comes off as communist.

Don’t toe the line: get purged.

I can’t see how anyone that leans libertarian can’t be turned off by the kind of thing.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And Derek, likewise, feel free to tweet me @Crosbie.

However, I’d say we should be about fixing the law, i.e. abolishing copyright.

You cannot fix an instrument of injustice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_of_Man#Arguments

It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect ? that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few… They… consequently are instruments of injustice …

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m going to try and recreate a comment I read here on Techdirt a while back, can’t remember who said it or the exact wording but here goes.

Let’s say you come home from work only to find your house is now a pile of smouldering debris. Standing outside the house, not far, is a man who is known to be an arsonist and who has vowed revenge on you for some reason. He looks like he’s been in a smoke-filled area. At his feet are a few bottles, labelled “High Flammable Liquid”. In his hand is a box of matches. Now, no-body saw this man commit the deed, but using logic, we can infer and say that it’s extremely unlikely, just short of impossibility, that this man is innocent.

Same thing goes for the entertainment industry. Sure, there’s no smoking bullet proof, but they have the means, motive and opportunity. They have the means, enormous influence over law-makers. Motive, to want any discussion of weakening copyright law squelched. Opportunity, the entertainment industry has tons of lobbyists.
That means that, barring evidence to the contrary, it’s pretty much a given that Hollywood was involved in this in at least some way. Or are you going to now say Hollywood wouldn’t have done anything about the brief, anything at all, to ensure that any talk of copyright reform would be silenced?

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Aren’t you the same ones who insist that internet users should create all their own content? So why don’t you go start your own website instead of coming on Techdirt? What’s wrong, too much work for you? I guess it’s tough when you don’t have the skills necessary to garner public support, so you need to rely upon someone else’s work.

Sound familiar? These are the exact same talking points you guys love to drudge out every chance you get.

Cory of PC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

OK, if you see it as a lie, do you have something to back it up?

… And I’m not getting into a discussion about what I do about the stuff that I get. If you want to paint me as a freeloading pirate that can’t afford the stuff I can get for free online, go right ahead! If you want to believe that I’m some junkie that downloads items left to right without handing over my hard-earned money to every creator out there, go right ahead! If you want to believe that all of Mike’s articles is douchebaggery, go right ahead!

I know I can’t defend everyone because I don’t have the knowledge needed to really defend these people. At least I’m free to admit that I’m not suited to do that. But I do like to speak my mind and say what I believe needs to be said because I got my own opinion and I want to say it!

If you don’t like what I say, then fine! I don’t have to respond to your comments as well. Nobody is going to stop us.

TroutFishingUSA says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I know. Something really strange is going on here. The brigade hasn’t noticed that there’s no citation for Mike’s “confirmation” either.

Maybe it’s just my sociology studying, but the groupthink here is marvelous. I’m not completely unconvinced that this isn’t some sort of Petri dish to see just how many logical knots a group can tie itself into when fed fascist net-utopian propaganda. This place is very much like an alternate version of Fox News; it even has its own Tea Party in the rabid group of zealots like DH, Marcus/Leigh, Heph, PaulT, and a cluster of other misguided minions.

They think they fight for the internet, but what they’re buying into is the belief that economics is a science, which it’s not. It’s a value system. It’s a value system that has been tearing the globe apart for more than 30 years. Wall St. and Silicon Valley are the same thing now; Wall St. invested in and tore apart the land; then they invested in and tore apart the global labor market; and now they’re investing in and tearing apart “computers” and turning the internet into something very different from the working market that it could be just so that the key big players in Tech can keep their massive slice of pie at the expense of the rest of humanity.

And the idiots here are blaming Hollywood?! You can see they’re serious in this belief, the people here honestly think that Hollywood has greater control of government than the oil companies, than Wall St., than the pharmaceuticals, than the food congolmerates, than Google, Microsoft, Apple, and the rest of the MASSIVE companies that make up the “tech sector” (a Wall St. designation, it should be pointed out). They gobble up reports from conservative think tanks on a daily basis, and never connect the dots. “It’s those big bad millionaires in Hollywood, not the BILLIONARES who run everything else that are wrecking everything!”

Watching the foundation crack and crumble is going to be interesting. I hope all the suffering that follows will be worth that rip of Game of Thrones.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

When you have corporations that can pseudo-legally tell the government to go after children and grandmothers you’d be certain there’s a fuckton of sway that Hollywood has over the government.

Chris Dodd publicly threatend to stop sponsoring people for not passing SOPA. Are you blind as well as stupid?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well, when their collection agencies employ known and convicted fraudsters in the US and elsewhere, then I’;d say that there’s a problem.

Moreover, I know that economics is not a science. Neither is Sociology. And groupthink isn’t a sociological phenomenon: it’s a psychological phenomenon. Just because it happens in a social context doees NOT mean that sociological models apply.

And we don’t blame Hollywood, per se – we blame the trade unions (sorry, “trade organisations”) that keep trying to funnel money from imaginary uses and into their pockets constantly.

Karim says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Nobody pays me to post here or express my opinions anywhere else.

I’m simply disgusted by what a lying sociopath Mike Masnick is and have every intention of making sure people know the truth.

You have the truth? Thank god! Do enlighten us, but make sure your “truth” is served without citation and with a chock full of ad-homs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Maybe...

Yes, spin is a tool. I see mr. Khanna as being in a position where economic support will be hard to get if he wanted to run. Individual donors are rather scarce without sufficient fundraisers, which again is scarce without funds. It is no coincident that more than half the people in congress are in the top 0.05% of wealth in the world and above 5 times the limit of the 1% wealthiest in USA. Why dont I take more than half? Well, I havent got the data to back up that claim:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distribution_of_wealth
http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/243625-the-hills-2012-50-wealthiest-in-congress

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Maybe...

I see mr. Khanna as being in a position where economic support will be hard to get if he wanted to run.

Probably true using the traditional political fundraising.

But I still wonder if someone couldn’t crowdfund a run at office with a completely anonymous donation system. It would remove the cronyism part since the candidate wouldn’t actually know where the money came from and wouldn’t be beholden to the biggest donors. I realize that this is probably not feasible with current election funding laws, but it would be an interesting experiment.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Maybe...

But I still wonder if someone couldn’t crowdfund a run at office with a completely anonymous donation system. It would remove the cronyism part since the candidate wouldn’t actually know where the money came from and wouldn’t be beholden to the biggest donors. I realize that this is probably not feasible with current election funding laws, but it would be an interesting experiment.

Even if you can solve the fundraising issue, you’ve still got to be in a district where you can be elected. Your politics need to mesh at least somewhat with voters during the primary and then the general election.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Maybe...

Your politics need to mesh at least somewhat with voters during the primary and then the general election.

Right. But if you combine that with an idea I had a year or so ago where the the elected representative used some sort of online poll (of only their constituents) to tell them how to vote on each bill you would automatically have your politics align with your voters.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Maybe...

Right. But if you combine that with an idea I had a year or so ago where the the elected representative used some sort of online poll (of only their constituents) to tell them how to vote on each bill you would automatically have your politics align with your voters.

Would we need parties at all, then? Or even representatives? Everything could be done with an online vote.

What I’d like to see is some sort of game program so that people could see what would happen with different policy scenarios. I realize this modeling is only as accurate as the model, but the current system (where everyone lobbies for their particular cause without factoring in how to deal with budgetary constraints, policies that act at cross purposes with each other, and so on) seems unable to deal with the complexities of modern life and global interconnectedness.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Maybe...

sounds like he has not left politics, he has found an issue that fits into his own personal ethis, free market economic philosophy with dislike of monopolies. he is keeping in the game with twitter.

The big test will be 3D printing. If one is going to revise copyright laws, it should be done with 3D printing in mind and the fact that 3D printing has the potential to disrupt many traditional industries (which I hope it does).

Painting Hollywood as the enemy overlooks the bigger issues to come.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Maybe...

Except that the reason we have bigger issues to come is because Hollywood (et al.) doesn’t need any paint.

I don’t get what you mean.

I see 3D printing affecting many industries that produce, sell, and transport actual objects. The sophistication of 3D printers is rapidly expanding.

I was reading that you can’t copyright a pattern, so perhaps that means files of printing instructions won’t fall under copyright, but I’m not sure if that will be the case.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Maybe...

This is what I saw yesterday.

Copyright Law – Patterns

But I don’t know the extent to which something like this would hold up in terms of 3D printing. I do expect that any industry that begins to lose business because people are sharing patterns and printing stuff on their own rather paying others for it will look for loopholes.

I was just reading that that there is now a material that can be used in 3D printers to make electrical circuits (I’d have to pull the article to get the actual details). I really expect entire supply chains will be disrupted in time. Anyone who tackles copyright needs to look way beyond the entertainment and publishing industries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Maybe...

U.S. Copyright Office: Useful Articles

Useful Articles

A ?useful article? is an object having an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information. Examples are clothing, furniture, machinery, dinnerware, and lighting fixtures. An article that is normally part of a useful article may itself be a useful article, for example, an ornamental wheel cover on a vehicle.

Copyright does not protect the mechanical or utilitarian aspects of such works of craftsmanship. It may, however, protect any pictorial, graphic, or sculptural authorship that can be identified separately from the utilitarian aspects of an object. Thus, a useful article may have both copyrightable and uncopyrightable features. For example, a carving on the back of a chair or a floral relief design on silver flatware could be protected by copyright, but the design of the chair or flatware itself could not.?.?.?.?.

Also see 17 U.S.C. ? 101.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Maybe...

Thus, a useful article may have both copyrightable and uncopyrightable features.

Thanks.

Yes, copyright is going to get bigger, messier, and involve a lot more industries than entertainment and publishing. Whatever is going to happen in terms of entertainment/publishing is already happening and working itself out in one way or another.

But copyright as it pertains to supply chain issues is going to involve lots of people who think it doesn’t involve their jobs or their companies. When that article yesterday said copyright should revert back to charts, maps, and books, I thought, “Yes, sure, that either opens up or doesn’t open up a lot of stuff depending on what you mean by ‘charts.’ Have fun with that.”

out_of_the_blue says:

"Free speech stops at the office door."

“Maybe that’s what’s up with Out of the Blue.” — Since nothing worth railing at here, I’ll respond to yours: THOUGHT I’d made clear over time that I’m NOT at all supporting the MPAA on their too greedy of practices such as amount they get adn extending copyright to forever, and that I want to tax the hell out of the essentially unearned income of both executives and artists, BUT on the point of MPAA being right that copyright is necessary and good, I’m forced to side with them by logic and principle, besides that Mike doesn’t have a workable alternative. — I focus on the morality of who owns the creations, and SURELY that’s enough to separate me from both Mike and the MPAA!

Cory of PC (profile) says:

Re: "Free speech stops at the office door."

Yeah… considering all the talk you’ve been saying the past few weeks, I can guess which side you’re on…

But with everything, your spelling is awesome!

So, you want to focus on the morality of who owns creations? Hey Blue, focus on morality! I’m a Creator, so give a crap about me! I surely don’t give a crap that you’re following me!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: "Free speech stops at the office door."

I focus on the morality of who owns the creations, and SURELY that’s enough to separate me from both Mike and the MPAA!

You don’t focus on those things at all. What you focus on is Mike, being as insulting and rabid as possible, and taking the opposite stance of anything that’s said here just because it’s said here.

Regardless of that, though, it certainly wouldn’t be enough to separate you from both Mike and the MPAA. Both are also very concerned about the morality of ownership and talk about the issue quite often.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "Free speech stops at the office door."

If you’re not supporting the RIAA and MPAA this is the first ever time I’m hearing it.

What I do know is that for your loathing of corporations, you’ve never criticised the blatant oversight or overreach by those protectionist organisations.

Logic and principle, my obese posterior.

Anonymous Coward says:

As usual, a sane piece of writing gets trashed in favor of the political bribe and corruption. Damn shame good sense isn’t applied all the time to those that make the laws.

If there is anything good in that, it’s a sign of exactly why heads need to roll in Washington, replacing corrupt politicians with some that haven’t quite been tainted yet.

Once again it is demonstrated what is wrong with the republican party. In two years the voters will speak again. They just barely kept the majority of the house seats this time and made no inroads into the presidency nor the senate. Time will not be kind to those who can not appeal to all voters for the vote.

I’d say it’s about time to kick out the source of the do nothing congress.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: The Nixon Principle

That’s assuming that the Republican constituents actually see things that way. They’re probably all too busy listening to Rush to actually pay attention to issues that aren’t religious busybody nonsense.

These are hicks that are being fed class warfare propaganda and eating it up. One elitist snob told them that another set of elitist snobs looks down on them and wants to run their lives.

Until they get over that and religious meddling, most Republican voters won’t be interested in real issues.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

But why was he there in the first place?

Since RSC paper came out, I’ve been asking about the politics behind it.

And as I read about Khanna, I was wondering what appealed to him about the Republican Party. I don’t see it as a young person’s party, for many many reasons. As I have written before, I don’t think pushing for copyright revision would be enough in itself to win new young voters. A lot of other issues would need to be addressed too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: But why was he there in the first place?

if you really want to get into politics you should look around at the going parties and join one, generally it seams like a good fit at the time. time tells you the truth, and it might turn out you need to join a different party, or new party, no shame, personal views evolve.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: But why was he there in the first place?

Why join a party at all?

If a party is out of sync with your beliefs, why that one?

Again, getting back to the politics of all of this. I was surprised that the paper was released when it was and by the group that it was, so I guess I’m not surprised that it was pulled and that Khanna lost his job.

While copyright reform might be a libertarian issue (it’s definitely a copyleft issue), I’ve never thought of it as a conservative Republican issue.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: The Nixon Principle, plus neocons.

If you ignore what Republicans do in practice, and just listen to their rhetoric and political philosophy they don’t sound all bad. The problem comes when they form unholy alliances with religious organizations and pander to the most base fears of rural white voters.

Also somewhere along the lines they got confused about what certain terms mean like “political conservative”.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: The Nixon Principle, plus neocons.

Also somewhere along the lines they got confused about what certain terms mean like “political conservative”.

I’m very much in favor of sustainability, which puts me on the left of many issues. What’s interesting is that the sustainability movement has a lot in common with “traditional” conservative values. There’s support of localization, of being self-reliant (e.g., growing your own food, generating your own energy and getting off-grid), etc. But I have an old high school friend who apparently is a Tea Party type and she puts up links to the most outrageous conspiracy stuff. How, for example, bike paths are a plot by the UN/communists to take over America.

The whole anti-science bias of many of today’s conservatives doesn’t work for me, either. You can’t ignore or refuse to publish research just because you don’t like the results. Science evolves, so what we know now might be refuted in the future, but you have to get the info out there in order to pull it apart and test and retest.

Logan2057 (profile) says:

Re:Re

C’mon for Pete’s Sake, how many clones are there of Bob, O_O_T_B,TAM and the other delusional trolls? As of late when I read the articles here all I see are morons who refuse to take their meds unless it’s the kool-aid that their corporate masters gladly pass around.
I know Mike Masnick from this forum only and I happen to agree with his stance on most things. I find that like most name calling fools those that do the most are the ones guilty of doing exactly what they are pointing the finger at others for.
They have the biggest collections of porn, both adult and kiddie, the most pirated music and movies, and they pretend to be so bloody self-righteous and pompous that it’s a wonder their heads don’t explode from all the BS they
espouse each time they open their mouths.
They try to justify their existence by screaming bloody blue murder if someone disagrees with them and their skewed version of reality.
Mayhap it’s time their nannies and mommies came and gave them all a good spanking and send them to bed with no supper as well as making sure that the parental controls on the computers are working with passwords that our wee trolls can’t guess.

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