DC Republicans Bow to Big Media "Friends", Fire Pro-Copyright Reform Staffer
December 7, 2012 11:11 AM
Termination comes after RIAA and MPAA "went ballistic"
While corruption in Congress is nothing new (see:
), with the rise of modern lobbying things have reached impressive new proportions, as chronicled on
, 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
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
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
The fired staffer's name is Derek Khanna, and he turned heads in mid-November when he authored a pro-reform memo [
], which was thoroughly vetted and published by the RSC, a key advisory body to the conservative wing of federal Republican Representatives in Congress.
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
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
. Among those representatives (according to
The Washington Examiner
Rep. Marsha Blackburn
The Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets) received more money from the music industry than any other Republican Congressional candidate.
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
[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, 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
, suggesting the Republican Party shift to a position of copyright reform to court young voters and libertarians. Likewise,
, a scholar at the conservative/libertarian
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.
The Washington Examiner
“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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