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. identicon
    Indie B, 14 Feb 2014 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Maybe you could call me a bit biased as I work on the business side of the music industry. However, as a consumer and not an "artist" I will still not side with consumers in copyright battles. It's refreshing that Nadler is not taking this approach. I do not feel consumers are entitled to consume media freely at the expense of the artist, whether that be an independent artist or not. That said, a balance does need to be struck, even if that means a more difficult time for technology companies. Who decided that the artist should suffer on behalf of the ease for these companies to make a profit exploiting their works? Some companies will adapt and prevail, and others won't. That's business 101.

    As for abolishing IP laws and allowing free copying...that's just purely absurd to me. Yes, IP laws have become extremely perverted since their inception, no doubt. But, as far as I'm aware, there's no such thing as a "natural right to freely copy," and never was. The "limited times" language has been abolished with all of the copyright extensions, yes. We need to find the balance, not abolish IP laws completely. What would we be left with besides amateur artists who never have the opportunity to protect their work and thus never have the opportunity to make a lucrative career? I'm not just thinking on behalf of the content itself. You abolish IP laws, you abolish rights. For example, should we really make things even more difficult for artists and take away their rights and ability to sell merchandise at shows without others exploiting their likeness cheaper in the parking lot without consequence?

    Despite this narrow viewed article, I have hope Nadler will help find this missing balance between content creators, content distributers, AND the consumer. Nadler has shown an interest in the interests of indie artists and not just big media, and for that I'm very grateful and eternally hopeful.

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