Berman out, though industry still has ally

California rep to chair Foreign Affairs committee

A congressional subcommittee instrumental in determining copyright law will disappear in January, alleviating fears that it might have been headed by someone hostile to Hollywood.

The Internet and Intellectual Property subcommittee is run by Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., though he must give up the job to focus on chairing the Foreign Affairs committee next year. Berman has been sympathetic to Hollywood's view of copyright law.

Had seniority been adhered to, Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., would have replaced Berman.

However, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday that the subcommittee will be disbanded and matters that would have gone there will go straight to the full House Judiciary Committee, headed by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. Hollywood lobbyists consider Conyers an ally.

Washington insiders said Conyers decided to scrap the subcommittee rather than name a new chairman for it since it had grown so large and already encompassed a majority of the full panel.