Commentary

Who Is Howard Berman?


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Howard Berman (D-California) is co-sponsor with Howard Coble (R-North Carolina) of the Peer to Peer Piracy Bill). I’d like to make sure you know that Congressman Berman’s top five financial contributors (via PACs) are:

Walt Disney Co. $31,000
AOL Time Warner $28,050
Vivendi Universal $27,591
Viacom Inc. $13,000
News Corp. $11,750

Other major contributors include well-known intellectual property law firms in Los Angeles, like Irell and Manella, Phillips and Cohen, “the nation’s only law firm that is dedicated solely to representing whistleblowers,” Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca & Fischer, the Los Angeles entertainment firm, responsible for, among other things the Divx DVD scheme to charge users each time they viewed a Divx digital video. In fact the two top industries who have supported Mr. Berman are:

TV/Movies/Music $186,891
Lawyers/Law Firms $97,100

Now, granted, I’m just a naive digital medievalist from rural New Hampshire, but to me that looks like Mr. Berman isn’t so much interested in doing what’s right, or what’s best for his entire constituency, or even in doing what’s sensible. He’s acting in the best interests of his largest contributors, two groups who stand to benefit financially from his proposed legislation. Take a look at what Dan Gillmore of the San Jose Mercury Newshas to say about recent legislation regarding distribution of content, paying particular attention to Mr. Berman’s role. Now, it’s more than likely that Mr. Berman is simply naive about the technology involved, and is therefore assuming that the “truths” he is given by various lobbiests and special interests are in fact true—you and I, then, need to let him know what we think.


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