Darrell Issa to Chair House Subcommittee Overseeing Copyright & Internet

Darrell Issa

Rep. Darrell Issa was named chairman of a House subcommittee important to the entertainment and Internet industries. The California Republican will take the place of retiring Howard Coble in leading the House Subcommittee on the Internet, Courts and Intellectual Property when the next Congress convenes in January. Rep. Doug Collins was named vice-chair.

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The announcement comes with a wrinkle. The Judiciary Committee's press release regarding Issa's appointment said "all copyright-related issues will be handled at the full Committee." The switch to the House Judiciary would put many issues important to the music industry under the direct supervision of Bob Goodlatte, who announced in April 2013 a major review of copyright law. To date, hearings on these matters ranging from music licensing to copyright term have been held by the subcommittee. Exactly which copyright issues Goodlatte will keep for himself is not clear.

Issa, widely expected to receive the appointment, has both supported and opposed legislation proposed by the music industry. He was a co-sponsor of the Performance Rights Act, legislation introduced in 2009 that would have required terrestrial broadcasters to pay royalties for the performance of sound recordings. But he was a vocal critic of the proposed anti-piracy legislation -- Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in the Senate -- that was backed by numerous entertainment trade groups.

The SOPA and PIPA controversy turned Issa into something of champion of the Internet. In 2012, Issa drafted a Digital Bill of Rights that aimed to provide Americans with a free and open Internet. His desire for Internet freedom isn't limitless, however. More recently, Issa praised Google's effort to change its search algorithms to help fight piracy, calling it a "milestone" of cooperation between a technology company and entertainment companies.

Before going into politics, Issa founded Directed Electronics, the company behind the Viper automobile anti-theft device. As such, Issa's business experience, understanding of technology and appreciation for intellectual property -- he holds 37 patents -- are seen as assets. "As a patent holder himself, Mr. Issa understands the real-world importance of intellectual property," the Recording Academy's Daryl Friedman said in a statement. The Consumer Electronics Association, where Issa twice served as chairman, said "Issa may not always be in agreement with our positions, but he is ethical, thorough and thoughtful."


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