Copyright champion Berman may be on the move


The retirement of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) due to illness may open up the top slot at the House Foreign Affairs Committee for Howard L. Berman (D-CA), a move which would move him out of the chairs at Judiciary’s Copyright Subcommittee, where he has been a big advocate for producers and artists over the interests of broadcasters. Lantos, who has cancer, will be retiring at the end of the 110th Congress.

Introducing performance fees for music played over the air has been an issue of late, but at a recent hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, some senators noted that it was not yet a front-burner issue.

RBR/TVBR observation: Berman has been bulldoggish on copyright issues, and any change at the chair of his subcommittee would probably ratchet down the pressure at least a little bit. But the overall effect may not be all that noticeable. This is one of those issues that pits one industry against another — in this case, broadcasters versus the recording industry — and party affiliation is not a strong indicator as to where an individual legislator stands.