Cowardice: Gutless House Republicans retract copyright paper in less than 24 hours

It took less than 24 hours for the entertainment industry's lobbyists to bully the House Republican Study Committee into retracting its eminently sensible copyright position paper. They did it with a mealy-mouthed apology, claiming the paper "was published without adequate review." Here's Mike Masnick on the subject:

The idea that this was published "without adequate review" is silly. Stuff doesn't just randomly appear on the RSC website. Anything being posted there has gone through the same full review process. What happened, instead, was that the entertainment industry's lobbyists went crazy, and some in the GOP folded.

Frankly, if they wanted to win back the youth vote, this was exactly how not to do it. If you just look through the comments on our post on the original, or through the Twitter response to this report, there were tons of people -- many of whom were lifelong Democrats -- claiming that they would switch parties if the GOP stuck with this. Instead, they folded like a cheap card table in less than 24 hours.

Here's a mirror from KEI, and another from the MD Pirate Party.

That Was Fast: Hollywood Already Browbeat The Republicans Into Retracting Report On Copyright Reform

(Image: Chicken., a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 29278394@N00's photostream)


  1. Next on “Extreme Republican Makeovers”– how long can the GOP last in our “Fund The Arts” torture chamber? We’ll see if they can break the 24-hour record they set in the Copyright Crusader Challenge! It’s all coming up, right after these important announcements, so stay tuned!

    1. “Would you like some more coffins, Warden?”
      [klump,klump, klump, lump]
      “Er, ah no, I think I’ve seen enough {cough}”
      “Well then, open up your cells and let GO!”

      –Ersatz Coffee, the REAL one!!–

      [Apologies. I am doing it from memory. And Dr. Memory has left the building!]

  2. What is most shocking about this is that it appears that, wonder of wonders, there still exists a few sane Republicans. Not to worry. They will be found and exterm…, dealt with. 

  3. Well that was pathetically fast. Dems, you can now feel smug that Reps are as firmly bought off corporate whores as your guys are. Disney Uber Alles.

    1. Doesn’t that seem like false equivalence? The Democrats at least tried to pass significant financial reform, while the GOP threw bricks at them in the Senate.  This is /during and immediately after/ the Great Recession.

      1. What the heck does financial reform have to do with being bought off by media interests? As much as I despise then on other topics, there’s no Republican who can compare to Fritz Hollings on this specific subject. This is the sort of ‘Well at least we’re not as bad as those guys on [hot topic]’ tai chi that allows you to do whatever you want on anything else but [hot topic]. ‘Our guys are for gay marriage, so all those drone strikes are super copacetic!’ Please feel free to make an [american apparel] joke here.

        1. BS.  If you want to be an idealist, and expect perfection in a massive, diverse political party and huge executive branch, then go find a tiny Scandinavian country with plenty of money, no military to speak of, and no huge corporate structure with terrible incentives and unchecked power.  In the *Real World* here, we have to take what we get.  The good with the bad.  Change is ALWAYS necessary, and the Democrats and Obama do many terrible things, drone strikes among them.  But the Democrats have always been better on copyright than the GOP and pretending otherwise, or imagining that voting for the Green party will magically convince the 92% of the country that barely knows what copyright is that the system needs intense reform (or to even care about it as long as they have their tivo), is somewhat… limited.  Our democracy works in a blunt, crude and maladjusted form, and the most effective way to advocate an issue is combining your/our activism with votes.  Votes that punish the worst corporate whores in politics.

          Who, coincidentally, are most likely to be Republicans.  


          1. No, he mightily bitchslaps.

            GOP scumbags take the cake when it comes to being unrepresentative corporate whores, hands down.

            Anyone who denies this is living in an alternate reality.

          2. Yes, yes, Kimmo, great job at attacking anyone who won’t commit to unconditionally backing your tribe against that other tribe.

          3. But the Democrats have always been better on copyright than the GOP and pretending otherwise,

            Yeah, because traditionally the GOP has been the party of Hollywood, artists, and various associated trade unions and guilds.  I’m sure the Dems deserve no blame whatsoever for the current state of IP law.

          4.  I’d like some direct evidence on this question.  My sense is that on this issue Democrats and Republicans have historically been more or less equally bad.  There have traditionally been huge bipartisan majorities for terrible copyright laws.

          5. I’m guessing you are a partisan aka a party man – defending the party and toting the line. 
            Defending party A while villainizing party B is a special form of crazy that’s become all too common. These partisans have got to be stopped.

          1. Democrats were equally responsible for gutting Dodd-Frank in the Senate, most notably Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Democrats agreed in conference to support the amendment to Title II, which preserved the practice of public bailouts for industry malfeasance and bolsters the too-big-to-fail system that caused the financial disaster. Democrats refused to include punishments for failing to meet CFTC regulatory deadlines (which banks promptly ignored). Obama blustered rather than just enforcing existing CFTC guidelines.

            It was Obama’s former colleague Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Democratic Whip, who admitted in 2009 that “the banks own the Senate” and his statement is as true now as it was then.

        1. Nope.  It’s an argument about misdirection, false equivalence and general lack of grounding in reality.  But I’m sure if you search hard enough, you can find a relevant Latin phrase.

      2.  Well, Chris Dodd is the head of the MPAA.  I’ll agree that oldtaku’s comment is a bit over the top, but pretty much everyone in Congress is covered with the stink of entertainment lobbyists.

  4. I wish I could say I was surprised…

    But really I was surprised when they published this in the first place.  Very uncharacteristic.  I supposed they got their reviewer wrong; maybe they ran this past Exxon-Mobil instead of the RIAA?

    1.  Or maybe they were just trying to drive a wedge between Congressional Democrats and Hollywood interests? 

      1. Possibly.  I say, let them do so; this issue could be so much more easily addressed if it was a clear partisan divide; as it is there is an RIAA segment in the Democrats that freezes things up, and a bigger one in the Republican party.  It makes for a poor democratic solution.

  5. Not “cowardice’, just policy. Republicans are the party of corporate elites. No possibility of copyright reform from that direction. Republicans will never put free markets, public interest, or Hollywood-bashing ahead of corporate protectionism.

    1. Ironically it seems like Hollywood would be more Republican by that token.  I mean the A list actor/actress are making more money than the average middle income person would see in a decade for a single film.  Wouldn’t they want to protect the companies that pay them?

  6. How any of those guys manage to walk upright is a mystery to me, considering that they have no spine whatsoever.

  7. And that, gentlemen and ladies, was yet another brief glimpse of the puppet masters.

    For SOPAPIPAs, long campaigns culminating in Wikipedia blackouts are necessary.
    For the opposite type of legislation, these bastards have only to raise a pinky finger and in less than 24 hours, presto!

      1. When we make a stink, as happened here. 

        The big lobbyists seem poised on the brink of a discovery: money does not necessarily outweigh popular disgust. Witness Rove’s failed super-PAC campaigns.

      1.  I think it’s fair to say that 90% of politicians are complete and utter Kochs. Not seen it spelt that way before though…

  8. An honest Republican belief in copyright reform or shaking down Hollywood for Republican donations too? We report, you decide.

  9. Two more years, and you can vote them out and give their seats to Democrats — you know, the party that’s famous for standing up to their masters in the entertainment industry to protect us little guys and our tech. Right guys? uh… hello? Anybody?

    1. Vote out republicans, give their seats to democrats and open doors for third party candidates down the road.  With republicans, the door is nailed shut.  At least with democrats there’s a crack in the door.

      False equivalency doesn’t keep the status quo in place, does it?  uh… hello?  Anybody?

      1. Yup.  But don’t spout that nonsense here in BoingBoing; we like our cynicism pure and unadulterated.  It helps justify our righteous stance of not facing political realities and working for practical compromise.  Except when it’s really really easy.  

        1.  The world would be a much better and more interesting place if everyone just automatically agreed with you, wouldn’t it?

  10. Ironically, real chickens are braver than people accused of being chicken. Chickens are actually industrious jungle birds.

    What we may have actually seen today is a splitting crack suddenly appearing in the looming Hollywood monolith. Some of us may have feared that the defeat of SOPA and PIPA was meaningless, that it was just be the beginning of permanent war against the country’s owners, who would quietly retreat only to attack again another day. But today, we’ve seen that our efforts have indeed roused those in power. Imagine the sheer panic that struck the lobbyists today and keep up the pressure. They know their regime is falling apart.

    1. Don’t be too proud of this democratic terror you’ve constructed. The ability to derail our legislation is insignificant next to the power of our lobbyists’ groupthink.

  11. Well, before you call them gutless cowards, let’s see how long the other side of the aisle takes to propose and submit their position paper.

    I, for one, am not waiting for the gutless, cowardly Democrats to even propose one.

  12. The only way to stop them is to stop giving them money. Don’t buy music from big labels, don’t buy movies from big labels, give the theatre a miss and put your money into independent films and music. There is plenty of it, and some of it is good. Part two of the big plan, unfortunately, is to NOT PIRATE these films and music you won’t buy. Otherwise you risk feeding them through lawsuits and settlements. When all their money is gone, they’ll die. Unless they convince the Prez they need a bailout or America will fail.

      1. The MPAA is strong, but the RIAA is crumbling, with labels even threatening to leave from time to time, so it’s possible.

    1. Everyone in big business contributes to both sides.  That way they’re both marginally beholden to you.  You then tilt the scales one way or another by deciding how much to give to each party.

  13. Dave X, Coffee-spray win! I’d watch that show with the same gusto much of America enjoys Booboohunichyl. I’d set aside the night of the week that it aired and, so help me, make nachos and popcorn. And I don’t even eat nachos. I’d just set ’em out like some kind of ritual offering to the gods of reality television.

    Just for the record, I’m a registered Democrat and 99 times out of 100, I vote that way. Often more with pragmatism than enthusiasm. And yeah, the GOP horrify me. 

    But dear BoingBfans, don’t kid yourselves into thinking that the Dems have your back on this stuff. Ever heard of Chris Dodd? 

    And I would like to remind you, as I often do, that Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a chestburster piece of legislation that  has had devastating consequences. We are rightly concerned about Citizens United. Democracy requires informed voters. But it turns out that not everybody falls for campaign advertising (So there Linda McMahon! I guess politics isn’t exactly like pro-wrestling after all.). We need good journalism. Holy f*ck, we need it! We need it even if most folks feel overwhelmed and would rather watch Honeybubucheyel.

    We vote for the best option we have. But if we stop there, we are f*cked. Now’s the time to push, push, push them. Actually, it’s always the time to press your elected officials. In a democracy, we all do the work. Otherwise you might as well have one of those less-appealing forms of government.

    1. Query. Wasn’t Chris Dodd republican (in a gerrymandered district so he basically couldn’t lose if he was the republican candidate for said district?)

  14. I take back all the nice things I have ever said about Republicans.  Which admittedly, isn’t very many.  But still.

  15. Who are these “…lifelong Democrats…” that are willing to overlook racism, misogyny, elitism, Judeo-Christian identity privilege, anti-science and anti-intellectualism and the most horrendous fiscal policies — in return for proposed intellectual property reform? For a statistical anomaly?

    1. Internet Democrats.  They’d also jump if the Republicans offered to create a new holiday called “Zombie Day”.

    2. I wouldn’t overlook those things in return for copyright reform.

      However, if a Republican candidate could manage not to toe the party line on those subjects AND propose copyright reform, he’d have a shot at my vote.

      The Democrats have set a fucking low bar.  Which could be their downfall if Republicans ever manage to notice how low it actually is.

    1. At present, the Republican party is even more divorced from reality than politicians usually are, so I wouldn’t say that the two parties are completely identical.

    2. In how they play the game not so much, but their long term goals always seem similar.

      -Well at least the part of the GOP in power…the Tea Party would have us all living in some pseudo 1950’s hell.

      (I mean I can romanticize the shit out of every decade just about, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t issue in everyone one of them.)

  16. if people really cared they would take it to hollywood instead of making them billions and giving them the power to buy the politicians in the first place.

  17. I advocate Mailing the guy listed in the generic notice that replaces the report. Then emailing the guy that wrote the report explaining that we support the thing his name is attached to and hope he isn’t politically dead now.

    In response to the ‘three myths of copyright’ report being pulled I emailed Paul Teller His is a public address ( and even though it is likely never going to reach his actual eyeballs I feel like sharing. I tried to be polite and to the point. My success… Is debateable, but here it is for public viewing.
    Greetings Mister Teller.I write to you in response to the RCS Policy Brief ”Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it’. To be brief, as your time is valuable and not much can be spared the fact this report was pulled citing ‘not properly vetted’ worries me greatly. I find the proposals in this report agreeable to my sensibilities and even though much would assuredly be changed from Report to Bill it signaled that maybe politicians were listening and paying attention to public sentiment over earlier copyright related bills (Stop Online Piracy Act being high on this list.) At the absolute minimum I hope no harm, either in person or career-wise, has been done to Mister Derek Khanna for having his name appear on this disavowed report.There is more I wish to say but any wording used would sound idealistic and likely would be discarded. With that said I support the proposed measures and wish to state that even though the report has been pulled it is being read. It’s measures were met with much celebration by the voting public. Then when the report was pulled and a form letter explanation thrown in it’s place cynicism replaced enthusiasm. It has the feel of a bait and swap. Promise exactly what people have been hoping to hear. Then after less than a day distance from any mention of having ever said anything.It leaves potential voters jaded and unwilling to believe anything they see in the future as genuine.With Respecthttp://www.theamericanconserva…Reply

  18. My interpretation was that the paper HAD initially been released without proper authorization — hey, it could happen in theory — and the higher-ups in the party didn’t agree with it and wouldn’t have let it be released anyway. No direct after-the-fact pressure from Big Content necessary.

    So less “OK, never mind, pretend I didn’t say anything” and more “(SSH!) Ignore these guys, they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

  19. As a moderate/independent voter, I saw this as the most exciting and enticing thing to come from the GOP in years.

    And then they wimped out :(

    1.  The liberals are running us out of money and the conservatives are running out of rich angry white guys. I hope moderation wins out.

  20. Query; The paper has been retracted, the link leading to where the PDF used to be. They may have removed the paper, but luckily enough I still have my copy of it. Do you think we could make it go viral? I know most people frequenting BB probably think there’s no way to change the RSC’s mind on this, but perhaps if more people were aware of what just transpired maybe, just maybe, they continue looking at this issue. They planted the idea and I think it’s up to us to drive it. Thoughts?

  21. Called it. (And, yes, I know how obnoxious “I told you so” is, but really… these are the same people who are willing to lie to their constituents about health care reform, knowing that some of them will die and many more go bankrupt if HCR gets revoked. Did you think that they’d turn over a new leaf so quickly, with all of their leadership (more or less) intact?)

    1. I’m not sure if you understand the far Right.  If you walk far enough to the Right you’ll find people who have had half their blood replaced with pure undiluted kool-aid.  They would rather die/go bankrupt than see a penny more go to another social program. Maybe it’s because they’ve been lied to for so long?  (I wouldn’t even say lie exactly, more like misinformation.)

  22. Why a “lifelong Democrat” would suddenly “switch parties” because of this particular bill is simply beyond me.  Yes, it would have been sensible copyright policy, but switching parties is absurd when you consider the entirety of the GOP platform.  

    1. While it might be “beyond” you, it’s common enough. I’m still regularly surprised by the number of otherwise rational people I know who are single-issue voters. If your single issue is less restrictive IP laws, you wouldn’t have voted for a lot of Republicans. (Though honestly I don’t think you’d vote much at all.)

      I think a lot of people are waiting for one party or another to turn over a rational leaf and appear relevant to their constituents. I, for one, would jump at it, regardless of party affiliation.  It woud make sense for Republican moderates to take the latest election as a rejection of the batshit crazies and try to go for the populists.

    2. Depends on the Republican.

      I don’t know Derek Khanna’s personal politics but I know he’s from Massachusetts and he’s around 30.  Statistically he’s more likely to share my views on gay rights, women’s rights, and science than most of his party is.  A Massachusetts Republican ain’t so damn different from an Arizona Democrat, and I’ve voted for plenty of Arizona Democrats even when I found them less than ideal candidates.

  23. If the RSC is smart enough to write that copyright study, then it is smart enough to foresee the consequences of publication.

    A more nuanced reading is that RSC released the document knowing that pressure from MPAA, would force them to take it down in a public manner, thus assuring that it would go viral.

    Remember that it was the House GOP that bailed on SOPA first.
    It seems that Obama’s re-election has broken the Tea Party’s ideological stranglehold on the Republican party.

    1. “It seems that Obama’s re-election has broken the Tea Party’s ideological stranglehold on the Republican party.”
      If only that were true. 

      Seriously, you guys. 

      I know it’s counter-productive to demonize your political opponent and characterize them as “OTHER”. But the problem lately is that the whole conversation’s been pushed so far to the right that people are calling Obama a socialist when he’s clearly a moderate Republican with sensible attitudes to taxation. 

      If the Republicans today were more like Eisenhower, well, I probably still wouldn’t vote for ’em but I’d be a lot less worried about an incipient econopocalypse.

      1. Beg pardon, but there  are already Tea Party initiatives to start a third party.  If that isn’t a break in the party “discipline” (aka stranglehold) then I’m not sure what to call it.

        To describe Republican party discipline so is no demonization but a blandly accurate statement.

        And, to focus on a perceived sleight to the otherwise discredited GOP while ignoring that the adults in their party just did an end run around the MPAA in favor of sane copyright …

        1. I was unaware of Tea Party efforts to splinter off. If true (and it seems in character) that would be absolutely fine by me, int that it would seem to allow the “adults” in the Republican party to relax on the crazy talk. Edited to add: and they can get back to just running on repugnant economics.
           And, by the way, I find it delightful that the contact listed on this paper (and presumably one of the “adults” you mention) appears to be 24 years old. Even if I may be overstating his responsibility here…

          1. That partly explains the reference to DJ/remix business, and the calling of it ‘retarded’ is a double entendre lost on an older group.

            A sane copyright initiative would draw a lot of young people to the party, too.

    2. It seems that Obama’s re-election has broken the Tea Party’s ideological stranglehold on the Republican party.

      Paul Teller is about as Tea Party as it gets.

      Course, he’s also (apparently) the one who pulled the document.

  24. I think when the original story broke, we all knew it was too good to be true, and completely out of character for either party.

    1. My guess is that part of that was the fallout from SOPA and PIPA, in which the Republicans were more open to challenging those laws than the Democrats were, despite the apparent prevalence of liberals among US opponents of those bills. I believe most of us concluded that this was because the Democrats were strongly tied to the big media companies, but the Republicans were less tied to them.

      Lately, I’ve been trying to make some sense of the world view of conservatives. Among the few conservatives I know, through hobbies and whatnot, in the weeks leading to the election, I was mostly hearing economic populist complaints from them — that is, complaints about the federal government bailing out the banks at the expense of ordinary people, the lack of action on jobs, and the general propensity of governments to favor big business and financial giants over small businesses and ordinary people. This far in the conversation, I couldn’t tell the conservatives from the liberals, or either from the radical leftists. The distinction started to show up when conservatives tended to idealize the concept of the free market, which they identified both with capitalism and with small businesses, and insisted that small businesses needed deregulation.(Given that they think of “regulation” as “nightmarish volumes of paperwork” rather than actual pressure on economic entities to refrain from harmful actions, there’s a point even to that.) There are, of course, a lot of conservative ideas that I can’t stomach. But to my mind, “left” is defined as favoring a redistribution of power from the few to the many, and it requires mass participation in a movement to achieve this. So it’s pretty important to look at opportunities to build upon a broad trend of economic populism.

      Getting back to the issue at hand, I suspect that some Republicans thought there may be an opening to satisfy some of the demands of their own electoral base for economic populism, at little cost to the Republicans and at considerable cost to the Democrats. But, that didn’t go over well with the Republican leadership, because while the Republicans may be less tied to the big media companies than the Democrats are, they’re still tied to them. There’s Fox and the Murdoch media empire, most obviously.

  25. Thank bob the election is over and I can finally say: eat a big turd retardlicans! Kiss goodbye to any relevance as your base shrivels up and dies (literally!) year by year. The entertainment industry might give you cash for a reacharound, but fortunately they are only a few assholes with only a few measly votes. Kissing corporate ass is only going to further isolate you from voters who are waking up to realise you’re fucking the middle class and the poor for the benefit of the rich.

  26. Another way to look at this: These Republicans just showed Hollywood that they’re the ones drawing the line between Copyright For Corporations and Online Pirate Anarchy. 
    During SOPA they were accused of not delivering the goods. After the election, some corporate owners are asking themselves what they got for all that money they poured into the race.So the Republicans just told Hollywood: “We’ll never let copyright down. Of course not. But imagine if we were to change sides, how quickly the snowball would turn into an avalanche. But we won’t do that, because you’re going to support our next campaign. Right?”

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