P2P Bill Hearings Tomorrow
The House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property will hold a hearing on "Piracy of Intellectual Property on Peer-to-Peer Networks" at 9 a.m., Thursday, September 26 (2141 Rayburn House Office Building). The Berman-Coble bill will be discussed. The hearings are open to the press.
Tomorrow's event is an oversight hearing, a prelude to the mark-up session that will result in the bill's final language. The process still has far to go. Ed McDonald, Howard Coble's chief of staff, says that the subcommittee could still make significant changes to the bill. "This is the first step--I doubt the full Judiciary Committee will have a hearing on it this year," he told me on the phone this morning.
The hearing will involve a panel of four witnesses: RIAA boss Hilary Rosen; Gigi Sohn, head of the advocacy group Public Knowledge; songwriter and producer Phil Galdston; and a tech executive, Randy Saaf of MediaDefender. McDonald says he would prefer more witnesses but that new House rules won't permit it. That's a shame, because this panel seems stacked toward the corporate side, and the user side needs to be heard.
Defenders of the proposed P2P bill don't seem capable of getting into the details of why it isn't so bad--they are faced of course with the reality that it is so bad. So they change the subject and keep talking about how bad the problem is. Fine. Agreed. The problem is bad. But this solution is bad, too, so it needs to be changed.
That's what needs to get through to the subcommittee: a clear and rational explanation of why this set of remedies is wrong--who it will hurt and how it will play with voters in their districts. And the people who are for it must be challenged to do more than describe the problem they want fixed--they need to address this proposed method of fixing it.
Keep sending email to members of the subcommittee. Be polite and concise and clear about why the proposed bill is no good. Coble's email: Howard.Coble@mail.house.gov.