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House Republicans fire staffer who wrote copyright reform memo

Derek Khanna wrote a copyright proposal that could have gained support from both sides of the aisle, but the memo was pulled, and Khanna has been fired from his job with the House’s Republican Study Committee.


Kevin Collier


The strange case of Derek Khanna, who wrote a highly praised proposal for copyright reform on behalf of an extremely influential Republican group—a memo that was mysteriously yanked mere hours after publication—has reached its sad, perhaps inevitable conclusion.

Khanna, a 24-year-old staffer, has been fired, according to the Washington Examiner, which added that “the copyright memo was a main reason.”

The memo exposed a rift in the Republican Study Committee (RSC), which counts more than a third of the House of Representatives among its members. Khanna wrote that copyright reform was in line with Republican ideals like ending corporate welfare and encouraging innovation. He also called for an update to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the 1998 law that allows copyright holders to demand sites take down content that but doesn’t penalize rights holders for making false claims.

But soon after the RSC published the memo, it disappeared from the RSC site. According to the Examiner, music and movie industry representatives who donated to Republicans’ campaigns were adamant that the RSC take down the memo. Multiple sources from within the RSC said it was Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) who spearheaded its removal. Blackburn was among the House Republicans who received the most campaign contributions from the entertainment industry in 2012.

On Nov. 28, the RSC held a Twitter town hall, inviting users to ask them any questions about policy. Though a number of users barraged the official RSC account, asking the group to explain why it retracted the copyright memo, it only addressed the topic once: “It failed to account for other views among conservatives. Copyright not a clear cut issue on left or right.”

Khanna refused comment to the Daily Dot, as to a number of other publications. His normally active Twitter account has been silent since Thursday, when he tweeted, in response to a user noting the debate about copyright, that “I love that people are thinking, questioning, and debating these important issues.”

Photo via Republican Study Committee/Google+

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