Congress Brings Back Recently Removed 'IP Subcommittee' Now That Copyright Reformer Won't Lead It

from the shameful-in-the-extreme dept

Back in 2006, when the Democrats took back control over the House of Representatives, we noted that who controlled the "IP subcommittee" of the House Judiciary Committee was going to be Howard Berman, who won out over Rick Boucher. This seemed pretty ridiculous to us, since Berman is from Hollywood and has been the Congressman in favor of stronger copyrights at every turn. As was noted at the time, it would be like making a representative from Detroit in charge of regulating automobile safety. No one would think that's reasonable and yet no one batted an eye when Berman took the job. Two years later, Berman decided to move on to take over the House Foreign Affairs Committee (which is much more prestigious). As we noted at the time, this opened up the spot for Boucher, who was next in line, and has been the leading light in Congress when it comes to copyright reform.

So what happened? Well, rather than let Boucher chair that subcommittee, Congress just got rid of it, saying it wasn't needed any more and that any intellectual property issues could be handled by the full Judiciary Committee. Of course, it's worth pointing out that the chair of the Judiciary Committee is John Conyers -- who also has a history of being a huge supporter of the entertainment industry (such as the time he claimed that radio is a form of "piracy" and that the lack of a performance tax on radio was like slavery).

Of course, now that the Republicans have retaken control over the House, and after Rick Boucher lost his re-election campaign, suddenly, magically, the Judiciary Committee has decided to bring the IP subcommittee back to life (thanks to Alex Curtis for calling this to our attention).

The timing of all this makes the reasoning pretty clear. The IP subcommittee was around for ages, when it was under the control of those who represented the industry. When a reformer is finally in position to be put in charge, the subcommittee is killed and its duties are handed over to the larger committee (controlled by someone who represents the industry). Then, as soon as the reformer is out, the subcommittee comes back? Congress at it's most shameful: a pretty clear indication that Congressional decisions on intellectual property are driven by the industry. This is how regulatory capture works.

Filed Under: congress, copyright, copyright reform, ip subcommittee, john conyers, politics, rick boucher


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  1. icon
    Lance (profile), 23 Dec 2010 @ 7:56am

    Hmm...

    So, are the Republicans "the bad guys" for bringing the subcommittee back? It wasn't a Republican lead HR that gave the job to Berman, was it? And if I am reading the post correctly, it wasn't a Republican lead HR that got rid of the subcommittee.

    Now I'm not a huge supporter of Congress, no matter who is running it; but it seems like there's a bit of conspiracy theory being pushed here. Not all Republicans are "screw the little guy" and give it all to big business, just like not all Democrats are "I never met a tax I did't love" socialists. There is a chance, slight though it may be, that the subcommittee will end up being led by someone that does favor real IP reform.

    To jump to the conclusion that the subcommittee is only coming back because one outspoken IP reform advocate has gone away is a sizable leap. Do we need to start wearing our tin-foil hats?

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