Another Friend Of The Recording Industry Joins The House Subcommittee On Courts, Intellectual Property And The Internet

from the another-revolving-door dept

There's a new ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, and it's another copyright maximalist. Mel Watt, the former ranking member and one of SOPA's biggest supporters, has moved on to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Before Mel Watt, there was subcommittee chair "Hollywood" Howard Berman, whose nickname clearly spells out which side of the copyright argument he espoused.

The newest ranking member is Jerry Nadler and he's virtually indistinguishable from his preceding party members. Nadler's previous legislative efforts have been the (unofficially titled) "RIAA Bailout Act of 2012" (in which he sought to raise satellite and cable radio royalty rates to match the exorbitant amount demanded of internet streaming sites) and an attempt to create a "resale right," which would give rights holders a cut any time a creation was resold. Nadler also supported extending copyright protection to fashion designers, something that industry has proven it doesn't actually need.

Now, he'll be advising Bob Goodlatte (another SOPA supporter), who's currently in the middle of a "comprehensive copyright review." The deck seems to be rather well-stacked in favor of the copyright industries at the moment, and if the past is anything to go by, this won't be changing in the future.

Back in 2008, there was a good chance that Rick Boucher, a legislator who had a history of siding with consumers in copyright battles, and who had been pushing to rewrite the DMCA, would succeed Berman. Rather than allow this opening to be filled by someone who might push for copyright reform, John Conyers (the head of the Judiciary Committee at the time -- and another pro-copyright legislator) simply declared the subcommittee "unnecessary" and shut it down. When Boucher lost his reelection run, the subcommittee was magically resurrected and the open position given to Mel Watt.

Nadler issued some bland "working together" assurances in his press release about his new position.

"These laws are at the core of how we consume media, from watching TV and listening to music to enjoying a movie or sharing photos,” Nadler said in a statement announcing his new assignment.

“We will seek to strike the right balance between how artists, authors, musicians, photographers and other content creators are compensated for their work with the desire of technology companies to provide new and innovative ways for consumers to access this content like never before," he said.
As The Hill's article notes, the recording industry seems pleased with this decision, noting that Nadler's views are aligned with outgoing member Mel Watt (and, of course, the industry's) on the issue of levying royalties on AM and FM radio stations, formerly known as its preferred promotional tool. Nadler namechecks the future but his supporters have their sights set on extracting a revenue stream from old school, terrestrial radio. In context, the "right balance" means siding with the copyright industries and those not inclined to do so may find themselves to be ranking members of nothing, personas non grata on a subcommittee that no longer exists.

Filed Under: bob goodlatte, howard berman, jerry nadler, mel watt, revolving door, sopa


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    bob, 12 Feb 2014 @ 2:01pm

    Sounds good to me

    The content industries are, in general, much kinder to the people who work in them than the tech industry. They're unionized and they get medical benefits unlike, say, the little people in the tech industry. If you're not in the first dozen employees at a startup, you usually get a small amount of stock. And if you're not in a startup, you'll probably get run over by a GOOG or AAPL bus.

    The fact is that all of the talk about "censorship" and "fair use" around here is really just a smoke screen for making sure that the few billionaires in silicon valley get ALL of the money. Anyone who stands in the way of Silicon Valley taking something without paying for it is accused of the worst human rights violations.

    But we can translate:

    "censorship" means "someone is trying to stop Google from taking everything that's not nailed down."

    "net neutrality" means "GOOG or NETFLIX gets to take everything it wants without anyone getting in the way."

    "fair use" means "GOOG gets to make its profits without sharing anyting with non-billionaires outside of GOOG."

    Thank goodness there's a democracy and not every member of Congress is bought by the tech billionaires.

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