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Berman, copyright fan, to run key panel

The L.A. congressman's rise cheers the media industry but backers of free content are wary.

December 11, 2006|Jim Puzzanghera | Times Staff Writer

The bill passed the subcommittee unanimously in June but progressed no further. Several high-tech, consumer electronics and public interest groups opposed it, partly because the legislation would extend licensing requirements to home recording. Although such uses would be licensed free, the legal precedent worried them.

Getting that bill and other intellectual property legislation through Congress is tricky. The issues are complicated and don't break down along party lines. Lawmakers' views often are based on the makeup of their constituents. Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), for example, has been a big supporter of copyright protections because of Nashville's role in country music.

Those dynamics make legislative skills important, said Mitch Bainwol, head of the Recording Industry Assn. of America. Berman, he said, has the ability to muster the broad bipartisan support needed to turn ideas into laws.

"Everybody views him as a wonderfully honest broker with a deep substantive grasp of the issues and an unusual ability to legislate," Bainwol said.

That's what concerns people opposed to Hollywood's vision of copyright protection.

"Howard Berman's a smart guy," Palafoutas said. "I wish he wasn't so smart."


For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday December 12, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 76 words Type of Material: Correction
Rep. Howard Berman: An article in Business on Monday about the Valley Village Democrat's pending chairmanship of a panel overseeing copyright issues said the recording industry backed a bill that he cosponsored to create a licensing system that would make it easier for online services to get permission to sell music. Although the Recording Industry Assn. of America supported the goal, it ended up opposing the bill. Also, the bill was introduced this year, not last.

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