Copyright Infringement Congressional Hearings

The House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property will be holding a hearing later this week entitled An Update – Piracy on University Networks.” This subcommittee is a subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary and is chaired by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA). As this is the first such hearing under Democratic leadership, it will be interesting to see how it differs from previous hearings. I’m not sure how much things will really change as Berman is very beholden to his Hollywood constituents and in favor of expanding strict controls on copyright and copyrighted materials. However, Rick Boucher (D-VA) is also on the subcommittee and he is one of the strongest proponents of copyright reform in the House so that may provide some balance.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will also hold a hearing on “Strengthening American Competitiveness for the 21st Century” on Wednesday. It’s unclear if this hearing will feature any technology-specific issues but they have held at least one hearing specifically related to higher education. The House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness held at least one hearing last year specifically addressing the issue of online copyright infringement on college and university campuses; it remains to be seen if their counterparts in the Senate follow suit.