Blog Post

House Judiciary Chair Conyers Takes Control Of Intellectual Property Issues

While the transition team piecing together the Obama administration gets most of the attention, other DC players are changing their own playbooks. Multichannel News reports that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is moving oversight for intellectual property matters from a subcommittee to his own direct control. The move comes as the the chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property is about to change. Instead, the subcommittee will take on antitrust issues.

It may sound a bit arcane but it will change the way IP legislation and oversight is handled in the House — and that could have a significant impact on a wide range of issues from retransmission to internet piracy and fair use. An unidentified committee aide explained to Multichannel‘s Ted Hearn that with U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Ca) leaving the subcommittee, “the opportunity presented itself for Mr. Conyers to take over a leadership role on these issues. As everybody knows, chairman Conyers has long had an interest in IP issues.” The aide also mentioned a practical issue: the subcommittee was getting too big because so many people wanted to be involved in IP.

As Hearn notes, this one is seen as a win for Hollywood over the consumer electronics industry given that Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va) is perceived as an ally of the latter and might be more sympathetic towards fair use arguments.