Fair Use Devotees Fearful as Hollywood-Backed Berman Is Set To Helm Key Congressional Sub-Committee
Haven't heard of him yet? If you care about a balance of fair use and copyright protections, you really should be aware of this fellow.
That's because with the Democratic Party's takeover of the U.S. Congress next month, Berman will no longer be the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. He'll be chairman, which is a post from which hearings flow and legislation either gets green-lighted or mothballed.
Washington-watchers already know that Berman is an enthusiastic advocate for robust copyright protection.
Some would call this stance one that is largely informed by the desire for constituent service. Numerous entertainment companies, as well as thousands of entertainment industries (it is plural, after all) work and/or live in Berman's San Fernando Valley district in southern California.
Rep. Berman's honesty has never been credibly questions. Yet a pattern of polticial contributions exist that are illustrative of who some of his backers are,
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Berman, who first came to Congress in 1983, has received more than $1.1 million in contributions from employee and political action committees representing television, motion picture and recording companies.
Whether or not you like Howard Berman depends more than a little about where you come from - not only geographically but in relation to digital copyright matters.
"There's two problems with Howard Berman," John Palafoutas, the chief lobbyist for AeA, (formerly the American Electronics Association) a high-tech trade group that prefers fewer government restrictions on digital information, tells the Los Angeles Times. "One, he's really smart. And two, he knows how to represent his constituents, which in this case is Hollywood."
But Hollywood spreads the love.
"He's a huge asset," John Feehery, executive vice president of external affairs for the Motion Picture Assn. of America," also told the LA Times. "He's somebody who understands the importance of our industry to the overall economy and understands the importance of strong copyright laws to protect and promote our industry."
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