Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has been elected ranking minority member of the House Judiciary subcommittee that oversees issues vital to the music industry. A member of the House Judiciary Committee for 22 years, Nadler’s selection is expected to be approved the next time the full committee meets.
The Courts, Intellectual Property, and Internet Subcommittee has jurisdiction over one matter of particular interest to the entertainment industry, copyright. It has been especially active in recent months, holding hearings on various copyright issues as part of efforts by House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte to update copyright law.
Tuesday’s hearing on fair use was preceded by hearings on the scope of copyright protection and digital content delivery methods. The subcommittee also oversees matters of patent, trademark laws and the regulation of information technology, among other things.
David Israelite, president/CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, tells Billboard that Nadler is an expert in constitutional law and has a knowledgeable staff. “For him to become the ranking member, that’s a significant development in the music world,” he says.
In a statement to Billboard, the Recording Industry Association of America says, “Nadler is an individual who likes to dig into challenging issues and figure out how to get them right. That’s just the kind of member we all need to confront the complex issues that the Subcommittee deals with.”
Nadler is not the head of the Subcommittee but will hold an important role. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) is the chairman and Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) is the vice chairman. But Nadler’s election to ranking minority member places him closer to a position to influence matters before the Subcommittee. As Israelite points out, control of the House has been known to change. If Democrats take control of the House, the Subcommittee’s ranking minority member would become its chairman.
Nadler’s election is also notable for who it prevented from being elected. Considered to be a strong advocate of copyright, Nadler is friendlier to the music industry than some other Democrats on the Subcommittee. For example, Subcommittee member Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was a sponsor of the Internet Radio Fairness Act, or IRFA. Introduced in 2012 and opposed by the music industry, IRFA would have lowered the statutory royalty rates paid by Internet radio services. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), also a Subcommittee member, was an original cosponsor of IRFA. In contrast, Nadler was said to have drafted competing legislation — it was never introduced — that would have raised the statutory royalty rate for Internet radio.