But Sensenbrenner did go on an $18,000 junket, comped by the RIAA, to speak to government officials in Thailand and Taiwan about copyright law, according to the Webcaster Alliance, Boycott-RIAA, and the Congressional Accountability Project:
- Las Vegas, NV July 11, 2003 “As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, James Sensenbrenner wields tremendous influence over new legislation as it pertains to Copyright law and the DMCA. If he has committed an ethical violation and has an inappropriate relationship with the RIAA – the American public deserves to know,” said Webcaster Alliance President Ann Gabriel today.
Ms. Gabriel, President of Webcaster Alliance, a Las Vegas-based organization dedicated to the concerns of the streaming media industry said, “Today our organizations, Webcaster Alliance and Boycott-RIAA, join together and call on your support. We are concerned and believe that American citizens need to demand accountability from Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) involving the $18,000 trip he took in January on behalf of the RIAA to speak to government officials in Thailand and Taiwan about copyright law.”
Records reflect that Representative Sensenbrenner accepted $18,000 from the RIAA for a January trip to Taiwan and Thailand to speak to officials about copyright law. Because there is a House rule against accepting private money to pay for official trips, Gary Ruskin, who heads the Congressional Accountability Project, a non-profit government watchdog group stated, “When the recording industry pays for the chairman of the Judiciary Committee to level threats at these governments, it creates an appearance of influence-peddling.”
Ruskin has been trying unsuccessfully to find a Democratic member of the House who would be willing to do what it takes to start the ethics violation procedure against Chairman Sensenbrenner. “We need a House member to provide the Congressional Accountability Project with a letter of transmittal so we can file the ethics complaint,” Ruskin said.
But getting a House member to sign that letter of transmittal is virtually impossible at this point. Ruskin claims both parties have an “understanding” between them with regard to ethics complaints and points out, “Since 1997 no citizen or citizens group has filed an ethics complaint in the U.S House of Representatives.” When asked why this was, Ruskin stated, “Because both parties are corrupt as hell.”
Gabriel says her Webcaster Alliance members, all of whom have already been seriously compromised by Sensenbrenner’s bait-and-switch tactics last October with HR 5469 are concerned and looking for some answers. “The House Committee on the Judiciary has jurisdiction over intellectual property issues and is engaged in keeping our nation’s copyright laws up-to-date in the face of new and evolving technological advancements. We believe it is the responsibility of the House Judiciary Committee to ensure that the public is protected against monopolies like the RIAA seeking to manipulate the legislative system, and to control American businesses and American consumers. Therefore it is deeply concerning to us that Chairman Sensenbrenner has put himself in this ethically questionable situation.”
“DMCA reform is a major item on our agenda, and we know the RIAA will fight against the types of changes we will be pressing for; changes that are long overdue,” said Gabriel. “We are tired of the RIAA using the DMCA to bully their way into Americans’ lives – it needs to stop.”
Boycott-RIAA’s Bill Evans said, “The appalling actions of the RIAA have equally affected independent artists, independent labels, the P2P community, the streaming community and the American consumer. The only way we can stop the RIAA is to demand accountability from all parts of the system. Today we are calling on Americans to call, fax or email your Congressional Representatives IMMEDIATELY. Ask them to step forward, provide the Congressional Accountability Project with the letter of transmittal they need to file the complaint, and stand up against the actions of the RIAA.”
Gabriel concluded by saying, “If Chairman Sensenbrenner has nothing to hide, we are sure he will not only cooperate with this process but welcome it, since it will clear up any questions the American public might have over his seemingly inappropriate dealings with the RIAA.”
I have a hard time getting too indignant about this since crap like this happens all the time and piracy is rampant in Asia, but how exactly is it appropriate for an elected official to accept a perk like this no matter how innocent the actual agenda of the trip? It isn’t, and if nothing else demonstrates the ease with which the RIAA and its anti-consumer agenda interacts with our governmental officials. See the sties linked above to voice your concerns.