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Termination comes after RIAA and MPAA "went ballistic"

While corruption in Congress is nothing new (see: Lincoln), with the rise of modern lobbying things have reached impressive new proportions, as chronicled on OpenSecretsMaplight, and other well-researched online voter resources.  

I. MPAA, RIAA Get Republican Staffer Fired

One of the most active lobbying influences in Washington D.C. have been media corporations, represented by trade groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).  Recent estimates indicate that big media paid 10 percent of members of Congress's total reelection budget in the previous election cycle -- and the payments almost paid off as big media's Orwellian SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) was only struck down in the eleventh hour amid a storm of citizen lashback.

Now comes word that a top traditional conservative (or in some source's words "Libertarian-leaning") staffer on the Republican Study Committee (RSC) has been terminated for his stance on copyright reform.

The fired staffer's name is Derek Khanna, and he turned heads in mid-November when he authored a pro-reform memo [background], which was thoroughly vetted and published by the RSC, a key advisory body to the conservative wing of federal Republican Representatives in Congress.

RIAA Steal a Car
In his memo, Derek Khanna took issue with the RIAA's traditional rhetoric that piracy is a crime worth punishing with fines of up to $150,000 USD per song. [Image Source: RIAA]

In the memo (available below), Mr. Khanna argued that punishments of up to $150,000 USD per work for private citizens found guilty of filesharing are grossly out of line with reality.
Republican Study Committee Intellectual Property Brief

According to TechDirt's sources:

As soon as [the Khanna memo] was published, the MPAA and RIAA apparently went ballistic and hit the phones hard, demanding that the RSC take down the report. They succeeded.

RSC director subsequently complained that the memo had been published without adequate review, denying that the vetting process (which did occur) was sufficient.  He essentially bowed the RIAA and MPAA demands, disavowing the Libertarian/reformist memo.

Representative Steve Scalise (R-Lous.) recalls being "approached by several Republican members of Congress who were upset [about Khan's memo]", according to The Washington Examiner and ArsTechnica.  Among those representatives (according to The Washington Examiner) was Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who according to The Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets) received more money from the music industry than any other Republican Congressional candidate.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn
Funded by the music industry, Rep. Blackburn demanded Mr. Khanna be sacked for his comments, which offended her corporate masters. [Image Source: AP]

In the wake of the not-so-invisible hand exerting its influence on the elected officials, Rep. Scalise reportedly successfully pushed the RSC to fire Mr. Khanna, who will not be returning when Congress reconvenes in January.

II. Disavowing the Conservative Wing to Placate Special Interests

The move potentially puts the end to the career in the Republican party of the prominent-tech savvy 24-year-old, who many viewed as among the faces of young conservatism in the party.  Active in Republican politics during his undergraduate education at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Mr. Khanna's first official post was working as an advisor to Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

Mr. Khanna has international experience, having studied in the Middle East, and was a key advisor to the RSC in cybersecurity with his resume [LinkedIn] citing his interest in "building computers and beta testing software" and experience in "C++, Backtrack, Python, Sql, Java, Dreamweaver/Photoshop, statistical modeling".

Derek Khanna
Derek Khanna, former RSC staffer [Image Source: ArsTechnica/Derek Khanna]

The firing represents a key schism in the Republican ranks.  After all, Mr. Khanna may be singled out as the sacrificial lamb in the face of RIAA and MPAA wrath, but his sentiments were clearly shared to an extent by fellow staffers who vetted the memo.  

Conservative authors and IP analysts Chris Sprigman and Kal Raustiala echoed Mr. Khanna's sentiments in a post-election commentary, suggesting the Republican Party shift to a position of copyright reform to court young voters and libertarians.  Likewise, Jerry Brito, a scholar at the conservative/libertarian Mercatus Center think-tank, has just published "Copyright Unbalanced: From Incentive to Excess", a book which was honored by a special discussion panel by another top conservative/libertarian think-tank, The Cato Institute.

In other words, Reps. Scalise and Blackburn may have succeeded in firing one voice of reform, but their actions are dividing the Republican Party from its conservative/reformist backers.  In that regard the copyright reform question is perhaps a microcosm of the more macroscopic search for identity and the balance of special interests with principles that is occurring among Republicans on The Hill.

Sources: The Washington Examiner, ArsTechnica, TechDirt

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Fascism, anyone?
By Motoman on 12/7/2012 12:25:40 PM , Rating: 5
Don't worry about Big Brother or Little Sister. The Media Mafia is the one calling the shots.

Here's how we fix it:

1. Outlaw lobbying
2. Massive patent and copyright reform
3. Oust all existing congresscritters and elect into them anew.
3a. Preferably after outlawing political parties, but that's not necessarily germaine to this issue.

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By retrospooty on 12/7/2012 12:41:44 PM , Rating: 5
5. Term limits.

So many of them make ALL decisions based on getting re-elected and not on what is best for the country.

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By Dr of crap on 12/7/2012 12:57:46 PM , Rating: 5
You have as good a chance as paying $2 for gas again!


They do not vote as their electors want - only "along party lines" - epic fail!

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By Amedean on 12/8/2012 7:28:12 PM , Rating: 1
About those term that not a bandaid on a broken arm. Its subsidizing poor citizenry.

When the politician is a weasel and yet he get reelected over, and over....what does that say about the voter? Its like that analogy of the bar whore complaining about only meeting bad men, yet she is attracted to assholes!

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By Omega215D on 12/9/2012 12:20:33 AM , Rating: 2
Sadly this is a pretty accurate description of how the average citizen thinks.

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By Low Gravity on 12/10/2012 11:53:40 AM , Rating: 1
Ill fix your analogy for you:

Its like a bar whore complaining about only meeting bad men except the bar is the only place to meet people in town and she only has two people to choose from and they are both assholes.

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By tayb on 12/10/2012 9:30:14 AM , Rating: 3
Term limits will make the problem worse. At least now they are somewhat responsible to the electorate and have the fear of being removed from office as motivation. With term limits these guys will have a couple of years to do just whatever the heck they want with absolutely no repercussions.

The only way to fix Congress is to remove the money and there are lots of ways to do that.

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By Nutzo on 12/7/2012 1:43:41 PM , Rating: 4
Simpler solution:

1. Limit campaign contributions to registered voters only. No Corporate money, no Union money, no foreign money, etc.

2. Full discloser of all donations, and the requirement that the don’t vote on any legislation that would help large donors, under the penalty of being kicked out of office.

Will never happen, as they LIKE all the money lobbying brings in.

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By polishvendetta on 12/7/2012 3:28:56 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to see something akin to inside trading, similar to #2.

If a campaign contribution is over x% of your over all campaign donations or it exceeds a certain threshhold you are no longer allowed to vote for issues impacting those parties.

Also this should be tracked year over year or elcetion over election so a group couldnt donate a billion dollars to someone just to have them vote for issues the next cycle.

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By Rukkian on 12/10/2012 2:31:43 PM , Rating: 3
I know that any government employee or even contractors are not allowed to take anything from a company they will do business with.

I was at IT security conference, and a few of the guys I hung with were government contractors. They could not even put in for raffles by companies they may do business with. There was one company giving away a Harley, and each of them did enter, but just said if they won, they could just not give any business to that company.

Why is it that all other governement workers cannot even take a McDonalds lunch from a potential business contact, but congressmen (who make the laws) can do whatever they want.

I don't see why it would be any different. If you take any money that came from in any way from a company, you could not vote on anything for that would effect that company.

I think to get rid of lobbying, you would also have to get rid of the corporate tax rate (or at least make it a low flat rate with no loopholes). That way you cannot say they need a voice, since the laws should not effect them. In the end we all pay the corporate taxes one way or another.

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By sweetca on 12/7/12, Rating: 0
RE: Fascism, anyone?
By FastEddieLB on 12/8/2012 1:10:46 AM , Rating: 2
3a. Preferably after outlawing political parties

It'll never happen. Even if political parties are abolished, they'll rise again in another form because people gravitate toward the like-minded. Not allowing political party titles would help a lot, forcing people to think and pay attention when they watch politics, but somehow, some way, political parties will always exist.

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By inperfectdarkness on 12/8/2012 6:37:48 AM , Rating: 2
SimplEST solution:

1. Reverse the order of the primary and secondary elections. Vote for PARTY in the primary, and CANDIDATE (previously-declared party affiliation before primary election) in the secondary.

Candidates cannot shift party affiliations after the week before primary elections (not that people would vote for them anyways, as said candidates would be flip-floppers).

Legitimate 3rd parties? Here we come!

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By Rob749s on 12/9/2012 8:58:37 PM , Rating: 2

"Our politicians do not serve us; they serve the multinational corporations that pay them. It's time to change that. Let's end the corporate takeover of our government".

You guys should look into this.

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By GotThumbs on 12/10/2012 10:29:12 AM , Rating: 2
Wasn't Obama going to take on item number 1? Just another failure.

I do agree with all your points, but maybe the best thing would be to stop buying music and put the record industry on its knees.

We have the power, but need to act as one. I doubt it will ever happen. Americans tend to have a short attention span. Sad but its true.

Best wishes on the next four years,

RE: Fascism, anyone?
By NellyFromMA on 12/10/2012 2:49:42 PM , Rating: 2
Lobbying needs reform, not banning. Banning it in its existing form essentially.

Lobbying actually originates from a very real peopel for individuals and, more likely now, groups of people who want their common specific issues (special interest) heard.

What there probably should be is a form of cap on money corporations are allowed to spend on hiring / employing lobbyists. Good luck with that though; donors and public officials won't be happy with those results. Hence, why only the people talk about it, politicians will never consider legislation that upsets friendly lobbyists, even if it means upsetting their own constituents. They can't be re-elected if the donations dry up.

By quiksilvr on 12/7/2012 11:43:47 AM , Rating: 3
I was always under the impression that most (if not all) of a movie's "value" is reached when it is out in the theaters and they rake in the cash at the box office.

Even without pirating, how significant would legitimate disc/digital sales actually be in the grand scheme of things? Is it worth losing all this money on lobbyists, DRM, and bad PR?

Honestly, if all movies/shows were available for streaming for $25 a month, I'd buy that in a heart beat, and I'm pretty sure a significant number of people would too. Why not rake in the dough this way instead of kicking and screaming about how the world is moving to the 21st century?

RE: Confusing...
By someguy123 on 12/7/2012 12:01:36 PM , Rating: 2
Depending on territory disc scales can be extremely more profitable per sale since they aren't negotiating rates with theaters, and since the costs are much lower for stamping/shipping discs. I doubt it's actually worth the money wasted on these campaigns, though.

This is just about power. They don't feel in control of the consumer so they'll keep on lobbying until they can manage to get one government worker in every household monitoring your computer habits.

RE: Confusing...
By Shig on 12/7/2012 12:12:39 PM , Rating: 2
It's happening slowly quicksilvr, Netflix just inked a major deal with Disney to start supplying their content. It's the first time a major studio has picked the internet over paid cable.

At 150,000$ a song, most people would owe them billions of dollars, seems legit.

RE: Confusing...
By RufusM on 12/7/2012 12:36:04 PM , Rating: 4
Yes, disc sales can be huge since many times it's global in scale and reaches more markets where film distribution doesn't.

After trying all manner of DRM solutions, they have come to the realization that there is no technological solution for their "problems" so they seek a legal solution to control the market.

Never mind that breaking DRM and copying/distributing copyrighted content is already illegal and has very stiff penalties, they don't want to have to do things like: show proof, perform investigations, etc. They want to setup the legal system so the infrastructure providers become their watchdogs and policemen.

Bills like SOPA and the others is like mandating road construction crews need to document all passing motorists they see speeding. If they don't then they themselves will be charged with a crime for not following through with reporting. Ridiculous!

RE: Confusing...
By x10Unit1 on 12/7/2012 2:49:08 PM , Rating: 2
they don't want to have to do things like: show proof, perform investigations, etc. They want to setup the legal system so the infrastructure providers become their watchdogs and policemen.

Considering this is the path the legal system is headed toward, I don't see what makes MPAA/RIAA's request unreasonable.

RE: Confusing...
By StevoLincolnite on 12/7/2012 12:11:52 PM , Rating: 2

They should be giving incentives for people to want to buy their product, not forcing them to buy it with new laws and regulations. (Failing that, suing them for all that they are worth!)

They need to make it so movies and TV shows are readily available, cheap and easier to access than torrents and provide other goodies to make themselves an alternative to the free copy.
Enter: Steam.

Things like Netflix is a good start but again, it's not available across the planet and it's selection is going to be limited and... It doesn't always have the best quality and price point for people... And it's competition isn't any better either.

For example I like HBO TV shows like Band of Brothers, The Pacific, True Blood, Game of thrones... But guess what? However I can't buy it or rent it pretty much anywhere online. The alternative? Pirate it of course.

Mind you, I buy the Blu-ray once it's out, but new discs aren't always guaranteed to work in my Blu Ray player, due to the excessive DRM and the fact I am forever updating the device (Which I would be happy for not to be internet connected). - Talk about not making it easier for a paying consumer.

RE: Confusing...
By GatoRat on 12/7/2012 1:24:25 PM , Rating: 2
It isn't. In general the US theatrical release pays only for the production costs of the movie, sometimes the marketing costs as well, though not as often as you may think. The overseas theatrical release and presales to networks/netflix for showing the movie pre-DVD generates the net profits. Granted there are exceptions going both ways. Some movies make a huge profit in theaters, other never make a profit.

(The movie Cleaopatra from 1963 took ten years to break even. John Carter (2012) tanked in the US, but made money overseas--for example, it sold out in China--finally breaking even.)

RE: Confusing...
By ComputerJuice on 12/7/2012 4:05:38 PM , Rating: 2
1: John Carter was crap, despite breaking even should have lost money because it was not a good film. That may be subjective, but I believe the collective wallet of everyone in the world sort of drives that point home. Basically its called a bad product and thus should lose money. I wish I could have had my $17 refunded for watching that mess. Movies do not deserve to break even just because they are made.

2: Cleaopatra from 1963??? Why does a movie from that era have any bearing on this discussion? Distribution models, profit, marketing, production etc. were completely different in the years between 1963-1973.

Simply, major studios do bank on ticket sales to "break even". Everything else is profit. Thats a very simplified example of the model but it is the model that is used.

However, the argument here is about content profitability and how much those profits are actually impacted by pirates & illegal DL. Which has always been the debate. From the content provider every pirated/illegally streamed movie/mp3/tv show is lost profit. The providers count incomplete DL & streams as lost revenue. 1-bit of content does not mean someone would have paid $1-$25 for a movie/song/tv show nor even completed the DL. This is where the real disputes lie.

RE: Confusing...
By Stuka on 12/10/2012 10:21:58 AM , Rating: 2
I believe his point was that Cleopatra was an Academy Award winning film and John Carter was a complete artistic failure. Yet Carter reached the same financial milstone within months of release that took Cleo a decade. More to the point, you can easily argue that as we speak right now, Carter is 1000s of times more pirated than Cleopatra is even to this day. In the MPAA universe this would constitute a causal link that piracy actually stimlates sales.

By kleinma on 12/7/2012 12:53:11 PM , Rating: 5
How much do they claim is lost to pirating each year versus how much they spend on lobbying, DRM, and other methods to curb pirating?

RE: stats
By espaghetti on 12/7/2012 1:25:44 PM , Rating: 2
I would absolutely LOVE to see that number!
Not the bull crap "estimate" either!

RE: stats
By jRaskell on 12/7/2012 1:53:46 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't matter. Any claims they make are bogus anyways.

RE: stats
By Shig on 12/7/2012 2:20:56 PM , Rating: 5
By DockScience on 12/7/2012 1:33:37 PM , Rating: 1
We have in Democrats, a corrupt party.
In the Republicans, a stupid party.

What a choice.

Rand Paul, seems he's not so crazy after all.

RE: choice
By Noonecares on 12/7/2012 6:23:17 PM , Rating: 4
As I have heard this said many times. The only difference in a Republican and a Democrat is just the name. There aren't anymore individuals in congress. This herd mentality has to stop eventually. Follow the herd to the greener pastures.

RE: choice
By Nfarce on 12/9/2012 10:27:44 PM , Rating: 2
Nonsense. One party is for higher taxes, the other is for lower taxes. One party is for more government dependent handouts, the other party is for promoting self-reliance and individual liberties and free will choices. One party is for minimal influence of government in personal lives and the way companies do their business, the other party is for more takeover of what should be private decision making from individuals and businesses (see: Obamacare).

RE: choice
By ClownPuncher on 12/10/2012 12:11:01 PM , Rating: 2
Look at the actual voting record, not just campaign promises. Rarely is the GOP for less government these days.

RE: choice
By Devilboy1313 on 12/9/2012 11:29:22 PM , Rating: 2
You have that backwards.
The Demos are the stupid ones, and the Repubs are the the corrupt ones.

The Demos actually think they can change the system for the better ... lol ... and the repubs actually own the system and want you to think there's nothing seriously wrong with it.

By Cluebat on 12/7/2012 2:55:31 PM , Rating: 2
Makes be embarrassed to be registered with those clowns.

This would be a good time to purge the establishment.

RE: Disgaceful
By Dr of crap on 12/10/2012 8:03:31 AM , Rating: 2

Sorry for you dude!

Are you really that Naive
By toyotabedzrock on 12/8/12, Rating: 0
RE: Are you really that Naive
By Nfarce on 12/9/2012 10:28:56 PM , Rating: 2
And Democrats don't? Were you born yesterday or did you get dropped on your head as an infant?

By Devilboy1313 on 12/9/2012 11:18:24 PM , Rating: 2
The repubs are, historically, a party of rich corporate people who have rich corporate buddies who they tend to help.

The Demos have some similar connections but also have a large number of naive people who are so silly that they still think they can fix the system.

This is of course not counting the egomaniacs, on both sides, who have their independent agendas and the people who went into politics since they have zero skills other than sucking up to people.

The biggest problem isn't the number of politicians who are bought and paid for, it's the number of them who have no issue of being, effectively, a very expensive whores. The Repubs have more whores as a % ... but at least they are very very expensive ones (unlike the demos who will sell themselves for a small environmental clean-up)

By Concillian on 12/7/2012 4:09:37 PM , Rating: 3
Let's take a moment from discussing how the Republican Party is losing members due to it's own hypocrisy of talking Laissez Faire on one corporate issue and government regulation on the next to just speculate....

This guy seems to make a reasonable argument that current laws are not in line with the Constitution. Do you think someone will ever be able to use that kind of tack in order to get the issue pushed into Supreme Court?

Not sure it would really matter if it did get pushed to Supreme Court, but let's just speculate for now whether you think it's even possible?

now you know
By Dr of crap on 12/7/2012 12:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
These babies screaming at any so called pirates of music and movies HAVE WAY TO MUCH MONEY AND ARE ONLY LOOKING AT GETTING MORE!

No wonder the cable/satellite providers have to fight them so much and the amount they have to pay.

When will lobbing stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

oh really?
By Argon18 on 12/7/2012 1:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
This is a systemic problem and has nothing to do with DC Republicans. It has to do with the massive lobbying power of the MPAA and RIAA. It doesn't matter who is in office, nobody is willing to stand up to these thugs.

What we need in DC is Lobbying Reform, to prevent these deep-pocket bullies from always twisting our politicians arms and getting whatever they want.

RE: oh really?
By Devilboy1313 on 12/9/12, Rating: 0
Hello reality
By Ammohunt on 12/10/2012 1:50:12 PM , Rating: 2
Conservative != Republican its been a constant battle to get the Republican party to represent anything other than Liberal lite. Technically there isn't a Conservative political party in America.

By ginger5010 on 12/10/2012 11:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
I just got paid $6784 working off my laptop this month. And if you think that's cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $9k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do, cloud68doTcom

By Performance Fanboi on 12/8/2012 7:57:50 PM , Rating: 1
Seriously, how is the thumbnail pic for this article not Capt. Kirk?

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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