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Thu Dec 6, 2012, 01:41 PM

Staffer axed by Republican group over retracted copyright-reform memo

Staffer axed by Republican group over retracted copyright-reform memo
Big Content doesn't like the GOP advocating for copyright changes.

The Republican Study Committee, a caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives, has told staffer Derek Khanna that he will be out of a job when Congress re-convenes in January. The incoming chairman of the RSC, Steve Scalise (R-LA) was approached by several Republican members of Congress who were upset about a memo Khanna wrote advocating reform of copyright law. They asked that Khanna not be retained, and Scalise agreed to their request.

The release and subsequent retraction of Khanna's memo has made waves in tech policy circles. The document argues that the copyright regime has become too favorable to the interests of copyright holders and does not adequately serve the public interest. It advocates several key reforms, including reducing copyright terms and limiting the draconian "statutory damages" that can reach as high as $150,000 per infringing work.

The memo was widely hailed by tech policy scholars and public interests advocates. However, it raised the ire of content industry lobbyists, who applied pressure on the RSC to retract the memo. The organization did so within 24 hours of its release. Khanna's firing will only further raise the memo's profile.

His firing is a surprising move for a party that has been looking for ways to attract younger voters. Copyright reform enjoys broad popularity among Internet-savvy young people, and taking up the cause could have attracted the support of thousands of youthful redditors. But evidently, Hollywood's lobbying muscle was too powerful for the Republican leadership to resist.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/12/staffer-axed-by-republican-group-over-retracted-copyright-reform-memo/

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