Intellectual property issues will be elevated from the subcommittee level in the House of Representatives to that of the full Judiciary Committee when the new Congress convenes in January.
Rep. John Conyers Jr., who chairs the Judiciary Committee, decided to bring IP issues up to the committee level because the Judiciary subcommittee that has handled them “had expanded so much over the years,” a Judiciary Committee aide said. “It was almost two-thirds the size of the full committee, and since all committee members are interested in the issue, it seemed logical that they all have a part in discussing it.”
Move should come as relief to the copyright industry, which has been fretting over the expected departure of IP subcommittee chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.), whose district is home to a number of showbiz entities. Berman, considered a strong industry ally on IP, will become chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee in the new Congress. Parliamentary rules prohibit him from chairing both a committee and a subcommittee.
However, Berman is also a member of the full Judiciary Committee, and rules allow him to remain as one.
Conyers has also been a proponent of IP protection, having sponsored and overseen the successful passage and enactment earlier this year of the PRO-IP bill, which the content industry supported.