Report: Author of controversial copyright brief fired from RSC

Khanna's policy brief was pulled from the RSC website a day after it was posted in November, sparking outcry from tech bloggers. A spokesman for the influential research group had said the brief was removed from the site because it did not represent the full range of perspectives of its members and only presented one view.

The spokesman also shot down reports claiming that Hollywood groups pressured the RSC to yank the brief.

Khanna was let go from the RSC before it was decided which staffers would stay on next year, when Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) takes over as chairman of the group, the Examiner said.

The RSC did not respond to e-mail and phone requests for comment on Khanna's status of employment and the Examiner column. His name is still listed under the policy staff section of the RSC website. Khanna declined to comment.

The Examiner, citing two Republicans within the RSC, reported that objections raised by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) against Khanna's brief also played a large factor into the RSC's decision to remove it from the site. Blackburn's district includes parts of Nashville, which is home to the country music industry.

Mike Reynard, a spokesman for Blackburn, declined to comment on the Examiner column, but said in an email to The Hill that the Tennessee Republican has been a strong advocate for intellectual property rights and took issue with the comments in the policy brief.

"She does not believe the radical positions espoused in a recent so-called policy paper regarding copyright," Reynard said. "Conservatives aren’t going to tolerate the ideology that copyright violates nearly every tenant of laissez-faire capitalism, that copyright is a government monopoly, and that property rights don’t matter anymore."

"We were concerned that the RSC’s Executive Director, Paul Teller, and Congressman Jim Jordan associated themselves with these bizarre ideas and were happy to see them denounce the process and the ideas in the paper after it was published,” he added.

But Khanna's brief has also won lots of positive reviews. New York Times columnist David Brooks called Khanna a "rising star" in an op-ed last month about the GOP's future and predicted that he will be among the party's top influencers.

Twitter lit up with concerned tweets from several people in the tech policy crowd this week over the news of Khanna's firing.

Stewart Baker, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson and former administration official, said the fracas over the policy brief signals a future fight in the Republican Party over its stance on copyright policy.

"[Khanna] is in the vanguard of a sea change that the party is going through led by Tea Party Republicans whose first exposure to this issue was the fight over [the Stop Online Piracy Act]," Baker said. "There's going to be a fight for the heart of the party on this issue. It's clear that folks who believe in very strong copyright enforcement haven't given up, but they really have a fight on their hands, and that's in part to Derek."

-- This post was updated at 8:45 a.m.