Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., indicated he likely will seek the chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee in the next Congress.
While such a move would depend on his re-election bid, which is likely, and the Republicans maintaining control of the House, Goodlatte said Wednesday during a taped appearance on C-SPAN's "The Communicators" program that "it would be a great honor to serve as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee."
The panel's current chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is barred by House GOP rules from seeking another term as the top Republican on Judiciary. Goodlatte is a senior member of the committee and currently chairs its Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Subcommittee.
Still, at least two GOP members have more seniority: Reps. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who served as committee chairman from 2001-2007, and Howard Coble, R-N.C.
Goodlatte said the decision over who will take over the spot would be up to the House Republican Steering Committee. For now, he said he's focused on his re-election bid and helping his party maintain control of the House. "At the appropriate time, we would be communicating our interest" in the chairmanship, he added.
Goodlatte has been a key player on many tech-related issues over the years including helping to draft controversial anti-piracy legislation known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, which was aimed at curbing piracy and counterfeiting on foreign websites. The bill was sidelined earlier this year after facing a huge backlash from tech companies and Internet activists, who worried the measure would hamper free speech and innovation on the Internet. Goodlatte indicated that the issue remains a priority for the panel but action would have to take a different form.
Both SOPA and its Senate counterpart the Protect IP Act "are not coming back again this year or any year for that matter," Goodlatte said. "The issue, however, is still very much a problem."
He said he would encourage both sides in the debate to try to find areas of agreement and then forward proposals that would require legislative action to lawmakers. "If there are legislative solutions in the future, I would expect they would come out of that type of discussion and we would move forward hopefully with a lot more consensus than you had earlier this year," he added.
One area where he said there could be legislative action is related to performance fees. The music industry has been calling on Congress to require terrestrial radio stations to pay musicians for playing their music on the air. Music industry officials and online radio stations like Pandora argue that traditional radio stations are the only platform not required to pay such fees. Broadcasters argue that musicians benefit from the exposure they get from radio airplay.
The Judiciary Committee took on the issue a few years ago, but the legislation was derailed after facing stiff resistance from broadcasters.
Goodlatte, however, said it's an issue the panel should revisit. "There is a fairness issue that needs to be examined and addressed here," he said.
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