TechWorldNews.com reports that Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will lead a new Senate subcommittee on intellectual property. The article also has comments from Art Brodsky, communications director at Public Knowledge, a digital rights advocacy agency.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), once nicknamed "Terminator" for his 2003 comment that the recording industry should be allowed to remotely destroy the computers of file-sharers, was named today to head a new Senate subcommittee on intellectual property.
While Hatch backed down slightly from that comment the next day, saying, "I do not favor extreme remedies -- unless no moderate remedies can be found," he has remained a staunch ally of the entertainment industry.
The formation of the subcommittee within the Senate Judiciary Committee was expected. Hatch was forced by term limits to step down as the committee's chairman at the end of the last legislative session. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) now heads the committee and appointed Hatch to the subcommittee, which will be responsible for copyright, trademark and patent law, and international treaties intended to protect American IP. It allows Hatch to continue to press the entertainment industry's agenda.
"What the subcommittee does is add another layer, but it doesn't change what happens," said Art Brodsky, communications director at Public Knowledge, a digital rights advocacy agency. "Everybody still recognizes the enormous influence that Mr. Hatch has over IP issues."
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has been an ally of Hatch's in the past. The two last year introduced the "Induce Act," which was aimed at peer-to-peer networks but was worded so broadly some said it could outlaw the ubiquitous iPod. It would have held technology companies liable for any product that might "induce" consumers to make illegal copies of IP, such as music, movies or software. The act failed to pass last year and has not been reintroduced this year.
Brodsky held the "Induce Act" up as an example of what's at stake in the battle over digital rights -- the ability to design new content products and ways of delivering content to consumers.