CopyrightBehold: the principled conservatives! Behold how they stand up to powerful interests in the name of free markets and free minds! Behold how they fold like a cheap card table the moment those powerful interests open their mouths!

The House Republican Study Committee released a report on Friday calling for reform of our nation's intellectual property laws. It presented four very good policy prescriptions. First, statutory damages reform. This would stop the ridiculous practice of granting awards before judgement is made—of up to $150,000 per "infringement." According to Statutory Damages in Copyright Law: A Remedy in Need of Reform (PDF), the courts have interpreted "willful" infringers in a most liberal way (i.e. in a way that helps corporations and screws everyone else).

Second, the House Republican Study Committee suggested that we expand fair use. Third, they say we should punish false copyright claims. This would curtail the tactic of large companies destroying smaller companies with illegitimate copyright lawsuits. And fourth, they suggest that we limit copyright times.

Anyone who regularly reads me will know that I think these are all very good ideas. I don't think they are nearly enough, but they are movement in the right direction. So let's hear it for the House Republican Study Committee!

Or not.

The report had been out less than one day when it was pulled. Paul S. Teller, the House Republican Study Committee director, sent out a memo claiming that the report went out without "adequate review." What's more, "Copyright reform would have far-reaching impacts, so it is incredibly important that it be approached with all facts and viewpoints in hand." What do you think those viewpoints might be? Perhaps the viewpoints of corporate copyright holders who cut big checks to House Republicans? (I'm not suggesting that this isn't also a huge problem with the Democrats.)

This isn't a bill. This is just a brief. It's just information. But the corporate overloads can't even allow us to talk about such things. Because if we don't talk about it; we can't do anything about it. And we really must do something about it, or we will be extending copyright further every few years to stop Micky Mouse from falling into that nasty world called Public Domain. Public baaad! Corporate profits gooood!