Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) this morning won a contested race to become the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over copyright. This is an especially important position now, since Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is trying to pass some significant copyright legislation before he retires next year.
Nadler has joined other members of Congress in introducing legislation that would help the music business, including the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, to make terrestrial radio stations pay the owners and performers of recordings, and the CLASSICS Act (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act), which would require online radio services to pay royalties on pre-1972 sound recordings. In a 118-72 vote by the House Democratic Caucus, he beat Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who has often supported of technology companies that generally favor looser copyright laws.
Nadler, who represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, shares many views with Lofgren, another fairly liberal Democrat, whose district includes much of San Jose, and both suggested that they were the most qualified to lead an impeachment process as Committee Chairman if the Democrats were to recapture the House. Nadler had seniority, which usually decides leadership positions among Congressional Democrats, but Lofgren had the advantage of being a woman at a time when the party needs to demonstrate its commitment to diversity.
The race was closely watched by media business insiders, who see it as a potential indicator of how close the Democrats will stay to technology companies. While President Barack Obama embraced Silicon Valley as an engine of economic growth, technology companies have lost much of their luster in the past year, amid problems with sexism, privacy, and hate speech. Although it’s hard to draw meaningful conclusions from a single caucus vote, Nadler’s win could signal that the Democrats’ love affair with Silicon Valley is losing some steam.