Last Friday, the Republican Study Committee published a report by staffer Derek Khanna titled Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix It. The brief received immediate attention and was redacted the following day.
Khanna argues in the policy brief that the current copyright regime provides excessive terms of protection, carries excessive penalties, and no longer encourages innovation, as intended by the Constitution. He suggests four reforms – reforming statutory damages, expanding fair use, punishing false copyright claims, and limiting the term of copyright to 12 years, with options for periodic renewals in return for increasing fees. Even after a series of term extensions, the maximum proposed term would be 46 years.
The day after it was publishing the policy brief, the RSC issued a statement trying to un-publish it. Executive Director Paul Teller’s statement said: “We at the RSC take pride in providing informative analysis of major policy issues and pending legislation that accounts for the range of perspectives held by RSC Members and within the conservative community. Yesterday you received a Policy Brief on copyright law that was published without adequate review within the RSC and failed to meet that standard. Copyright reform would have far-reaching impacts, so it is incredibly important that it be approached with all facts and viewpoints in hand.”
Ars Technica reports being told by a source that “content industry lobbyists exerted pressure on RSC leadership to repudiate the memo.” (The Ars Technica story also mentions that the copyright industries lean Democratic, so it may be in the Republican’s best interest to seriously consider copyright reform.) The Recording Industry Association of America reportedly told CNET that it did not request to have the brief un-published.