Freelancer Cari Lynn is contributing to Deadline’s coverage.
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman acknowledges that it will take time before Congress revisits the anti-piracy bills that Hollywood supported: the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). But the one-time lawyer says that studios and their representatives at the MPAA didn’t lose the recent lobby push on the merits of their case. There was “a lot of misinformation” from Silicon Valley, he said today at a conference sponsored by All Things D. Opponents including the tech industry said that the bills giving the government the power to block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content could be misused to stifle innovation and free speech. “It became almost religious dogma,” Dauman says. He still considers the proposals to be ”very reasonable”, adding that piracy “makes the standards more difficult in greenlighting a film.” Read More »
Incredibly, there’s still some chatter in the infotainment lobbying community about launching another effort this year to pass tough anti-piracy legislation — even though lawmakers decided more than a week ago to scuttle the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). After all, the thinking goes, even people who opposed the Hollywood-endorsed bills agree that the piracy problem needs to be addressed. The idea is to come up with a more palatable version of the proposals, and then try to gain traction with the public by running ads featuring A-list stars talking about how a new law would protect U.S. jobs. But don’t worry. Cooler heads probably will prevail as it sinks in that 2012 won’t be the year when Congress will adopt a variation of Hollywood’s proposal to let the government block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content. Read More »
Here’s one reason why the MPAA and other lobbyists may have felt blindsided last week by the outpouring of protests against the Hollywood supported anti-piracy bills: Young people cared about the subject far, far more than the rest of the population did, according to a weekly measurement by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The researchers found that 23% of people between ages 18 and 29 tracked the news about the debate over the Senate’s Protect IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act more than any other story — making it No. 1 for the week for this group. By contrast, just 7% of all adults considered the dispute, which resulted in Wikipedia going dark for a day, to be the week’s biggest news. For them it ranked behind the Italian cruise ship accident, the elections, and the economy. Read More »
Here’s MPAA CEO Chris Dodd’s response to Sen. Harry Reid’s decision this morning to postpone the vote planned for next week on the Protect IP Act:
“We applaud those leaders in Washington who have chosen to stand with the millions of hard working Americans all across this nation whose livelihoods are threatened by foreign criminal websites designed to steal. As a consequence of failing to act, there will continue to be a safe haven for foreign thieves; American jobs will continue to be lost; and consumers will continue to be exposed to fraudulent and dangerous products peddled by foreign criminals.
With today’s announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property. The threat posed by these criminal operations has been widely acknowledged by even the most ardent critics. It is incumbent that they now sincerely work with all of us to achieve a meaningful solution to this critically important goal.”
Looks like Wednesday’s massive Internet protest against the Hollywood-supported anti-piracy legislation worked. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this morning that “in light of recent events” he’s calling off the planned Tuesday vote for the Protect IP Act — which would give government officials the power to block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content. Shortly afterward, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said he will ”postpone consideration” of a similar bill — the Stop Online Piracy Act – “until there is wider agreement on a solution.” Both lawmakers claim the issue isn’t dead: Reid says that he’s “optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks.” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer tweets: “You’ve been heard. [The Protect IP Act] has been pulled so we can find a better solution.” But the general feeling is that supporters of the legislation will have a hard time getting the bills back on track — and certainly not with the enforcement muscle that Hollywood wants. Here’s Reid’s statement:
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Internet Blackout: 7,000 Sites Join Wikipedia
There’s still some life in the Hollywood-backed proposals that would empower the government to block overseas websites that traffic in pirated content. But it seems to be ebbing fast: Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Misouri), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) dropped off the list of likely supporters of the Protect IP Act, which is due to come up for a vote in their chamber next week. They and other lawmakers backed away on a day when websites and individual protesters coordinated their attacks on the proposal, which they say could dangerously chill Web speech and commerce. Blunt, who co-sponsored the Protect IP Act, said on Facebook that it ”is flawed as it stands today, and I cannot support it moving forward.” Rubio, another co-sponsor, also used the social networking site to say that he has “decided to withdraw my support” while urging Majority Leader Harry Reid to ”abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor” and “come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.” Meanwhile, Cornyn co-signed a letter to Reid saying that “the process at this point is moving too quickly,” making a planned vote next week ”premature.” Meanwhile in the House Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) withdrew as co-sponsors of a similar bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). That bill is due to be marked up by the House Judiciary Committee next month. Read More »
The Hollywood lobby group has finally weighed in on the plan by Wikipedia and others to go dark tomorrow to protest the MPAA-supported anti-piracy bills in Congress. The money quote is at the end: CEO Chris Dodd says he hopes that “the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this ‘blackout’ to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.” The House’s Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s Protect IP Act would empower the government to block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content. The MPAA says that will save U.S. jobs. But tech companies say officials might abuse their power by using it to punish legitimate sites.
Here’s the full MPAA statement:
WASHINGTON —The following is a statement by Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) on the so-called “Blackout Day” protesting anti-piracy legislation:
“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.
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The dominant search provider won’t follow Wikipedia by going dark tomorrow. But Google will use its popular home page to cite its reasons for opposing two bills designed to thwart overseas Web sites that traffic in pirated content. “Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet,” Google says. “So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our US home page.” Tech companies including Reddit and Cheezburger Network hope that their Wednesday protests will galvanize public opinion against the proposals that would give the government the power to shut foreign-based sites that sell copyrighted entertainment. Prospects for the legislation — the Senate’s Protect IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act — dimmed this weekend when the White House said it shares tech company concerns that the law might be used against legitimate sites, or dampen investor interest in the Web. The MPAA still hopes to work out a compromise, saying that the legislation is needed to protect U.S. jobs. But News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch has used his new forum on Twitter to campaign for the bills, attacking Google in the process. “Piracy leader is Google who streams movies free, sells advts around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying,” he tweeted on Saturday. … Read More »
The online encyclopedia says it will, making it the most prominent participant to date in a planned Wednesday protest over a Hollywood-supported effort to fight online piracy. “We have no indication that SOPA [the House's Stop Online Piracy Act] is fully off the table,” Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted today. Also, a similar bill in the Senate, the Protect IP Act, “is still alive and kicking. We need to send Washington a BIG message.” The plan is for Wikipedia’s English-language site to go down for a day beginning Wednesday at midnight ET. “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!” Wales tweeted. He added that “My goal is to melt switchboards!” Last week news aggregator Reddit said it would go dark for 12 hours on Wednesday; Cheezburger Network also will join the protest. The companies, along with most of the tech community, bitterly oppose the proposals that would give the government the right to block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content. They say the legislation could backfire if the government used its power to close legitimate sites or thwart free speech — or if it dissuades investors from backing innovative new Web businesses. The MPAA says that illegal sales of copyrighted work endanger U.S. jobs by making movies and TV shows less lucrative. The White House said on Saturday that it shares many of the tech community’s concerns. That dampened the likelihood that the bills will … Read More »
UPDATE, 12:10 PM: Diplomacy is the order of the day for the MPAA in its response to the White House. The trade group says it’s still willing to work on a compromise. It hopes that ”the Administration’s role in this debate now will help steer the attention to what can be accomplished and passed into law to protect American jobs,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs. He adds: “Meaningful legislation must include measured and reasonable remedies that include ad brokers, payment processors and search engines.” Failure to pass an anti-piracy law “will result in overseas websites continuing to be a safe haven for criminals stealing and profiting from America.”
PREVIOUS, 9:53 AM: An online statement today from three White House officials indicates that President Obama sides with the tech community — and against Hollywood — in opposing proposals that give the government the right to block overseas Web sites that traffic in pirated content. The administration “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and Special Assistant to the President Howard Schmidt write. Their concerns match the objections that tech companies have raised about two similar bills: the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP Act. The trio acknowledge that piracy is a serious problem that hurts “everyone from struggling artists to production crews, and from startup social media companies to large movie studios.” But they called for new proposals that narrowly target ”sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law,” focus on criminal activity, and protect Internet intermediaries including
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Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes and Viacom’s Sumner Redstone are among the honchos under attack by Anonymous — a group of so-called Internet “hacktivists” – The New York Times reports. Bewkes apparently has already been hit with threatening phone calls and emails after the group disclosed his home addresses and phone numbers on the Web. Anonymous also revealed contact info for people at NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Disney. While it didn’t spread Redstone’s contact info, the group did circulate other material about his family. The attack is part of Anonymous’ “Operation Hiroshima,” a newly launched campaign to protest the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s Protect IP Act — similar bills that would empower the federal government to block overseas Web sites that traffic in pirated content. Hollywood says they’re needed to stop rampant theft of movies and TV shows, among other things. But Internet and tech companies say the bills could end up being used to quash free speech or attack legitimate Web sites. “You take our speech. You take our Internet. You take our Bill of Rights. You take our Constitution. We fight back,” Anonymous said in a video that announced Operation Hiroshima.
Sen Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Darell Issa (R-Cal.) were preaching to the choir today when they vowed at the 2012 International CES that they’ll try to blunt the Hollywood supported effort to give the government the power to block websites that traffic in pirated content. “Our hope is we can slow down this effort to pass two ill-advised pieces of legislation” Wyden said referring to the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act and a similar bill in the Senate called the Protect IP Act. Consumer electronics and tech companies have opposed the bills, saying that they could be used to block legitimate Web sites and stifle free speech. Issa added that “we’re up against people who have a history of resisting technological innovation.” He says that at a January 18 hearing he’ll bang the drum for his Online Enforcement and Protection of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) which gives the International Trade Commission more authority to regulate piracy allegations. ”You’re going to hear venture capitalists talk about the real impact (on Internet investment) if Congress gets something wrong,” Issa said. Speaking of Hollywood he said that “if there were no SOPA they’d embrace this (OPEN) as a great idea.” He added that SOPA is “too flawed to be fixed.”
MPAA president Chris Dodd today lashed out at critics of SOPA and PIPA antipiracy bills who equate the proposed legislation with corporate censorship and the repressive Internet policies of foreign governments. “It’s an outrageous and false comparison,” Dodd said in a speech at the Center for American Progress, according to reports on The Hill and Broadcasting & Cable websites. “Hollywood is pro-Internet. We stand with those who strongly oppose foreign governments that would unilaterally block websites and thus deny the free flow of information and speech. So I want to make it clear right at the outset that our fight against content theft is not a fight against technology. It is a fight against criminals.” Critics of the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s Protect IP ACT contend the legislation threatens Internet speech and lacks sufficient due process. These opponents include Google, other websites, Wikipedia and a significant chunk of Silicon Valley and consumer electronics companies. “Contrary to piracy apologists, the operators of these fraudulent sites aren’t overzealous film buffs or political activists making a statement about freedom of information,” Dodd said. “They are criminals, plain and simple: they don’t innovate, they don’t adhere to manufacturing standards, and they certainly don’t pay taxes on the proceeds from their scams.”
Dodd described the entertainment industry’s position as a fight to preserve good jobs. The studios aren’t the only ones affected, he stressed. Some 95,000 businesses and the … Read More »
MPAA Arranges Studio-Guild D.C. Lobbying
UPDATE, 1:50 PM: Movie studios took Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and California Rep. Darrell Issa to task today after they unveiled draft anti-piracy legislation that could serve as an alternative to the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act. The two current bills have created a furor about how to police overseas Web sites that traffic in pirated entertainment: Content companies want to give federal officials authority to block the sites. Tech companies say that would put too much power into the government’s hands, which could lead to abuses. The MPAA supports PROTECT IP and SOPA, and challenged a key part of Wyden and Issa’s legislation: They would have the U.S. International Trade Commission, instead of federal courts, handle anti-piracy cases. That “allows companies profiting from online piracy to advocate for foreign rogue websites against rightful American copyright holders,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior EVP Global Policy and External Affairs. ITC is set up to oversee patent cases, not criminal ones, and therefore would favor tech companies that deal with patent law all the time, he adds. But Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) — a co-sponsor of the new legislation, called the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act –told The Hill blog that it’s ”a good starting point for future discussions on how to best protect U.S. intellectual property rights.”
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Creative America is the coalition of Hollywood studios, networks, unions and guilds that is supporting anti-piracy legislation the Stop Online Piracy Act (in the House) and the PROTECT IP Act (in the Senate) — both bills have been hotly debated and pit content creators against online distributors (Google, etc) who believe the acts would set too many limits. Creative America’s latest push is an ad campaign launched today to air on broadcast and cable channels as well as in print and online. It also has posted on its site a documentary short that looks at the inside world of movie theft. Here’s the first ad:
Stolen Jobs from Creative America on Vimeo.
The leading supporters of legislation to attack overseas web sites that traffic in pirated entertainment say that they’re prepared to address some legislators’ concerns about potential threats to legitimate Internet businesses. “I think you’ll see some movement,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs. But he adds that it probably won’t be enough to stop tech companies from opposing the bill — known in the House as the Stop Online Piracy Act and in the Senate as Protect IP Act. Some of them “have no intention of agreeing” to a compromise, he says, because they “want the current state of play to continue.” The comments came in a briefing that included the Directors Guild of America and the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employee’s Union. They’re eager to communicate the industry’s reasons for supporting the legislation that would give federal officials the authority to block overseas web sites that sell copyrighted work without the owners’ permission. “Our opposition does not feel constrained by a need to tell the truth,” says Kathy Garmezy, DGA’s Associate Executive Director for Goverment and International Affairs. Tech companies who say that SOPA might violate civil liberties, she adds, are merely trying “to gin people up into a frenzy.”
That appears to be working. The bill has “a lot of hurdles” to overcome, O’Leary says — although he adds that “we will win this Read More »
Creative America, a grassroots initiative to unite the entertainment community in the fight against content theft, has launched today with the backing of major unions, guilds, studios and networks. Its primary goal will be to act as a gathering place (a “unified voice,” according to the group’s press release) where members can learn more about the impact of content theft on their jobs and the future of the industry, and to push for passage of anti-piracy legislation like the PROTECT IP Act, a Senate bill that is supported by content groups but criticized by individuals and businesses like Google who say it limits freedoms online. AFTRA, CBS Corp, the DGA, IATSE, NBCUniversal, SAG, Sony, Fox, Viacom, Disney and Warner Bros have signed on to the initiative. “The goal of Creative America is to bring together people of diverse skills, talents, interests and backgrounds who care about protecting jobs and creativity in this country,” said director Jonathan Mostow. “When the movies and TV shows that we create and finance are stolen, there is a ripple effect throughout our business. As revenue is lost, inevitably less money is available for new production. That translates to thousands of people losing their livelihoods and their opportunity to create. Passing the PROTECT IP Act or other similar legislation is an important step in stemming the tide of digital theft.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP Act), sending the legislation to the floor for a full vote. The unanimous bipartisan action today drew swift praise from the Hollywood creative community, which has lobbied for the bill, which would target foreign-based websites that are pirating American content for profit and close loopholes that shield them from U.S. laws. The Independent Film & Television Alliance, the National Association of Theatre Owners and the MPAA released statements in support of the vote, as did a group comprised of the American Federation of Musicians, AFTRA, the DGA, IATSE, SAG and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). ”The Judiciary Committee took an important step today to stop theft and save jobs,” said Michael O’Leary, the MPAA’s EVP Government Affairs. “By helping shut down rogue websites that profit from stolen films, television shows, and other counterfeit goods, this legislation will protect wages and benefits for the millions of middle class workers who bring America’s creativity to life.” Read More »
Under normal circumstances in these trying times in Hollywood, the indies feel frozen out by the majors, and the exhibitors have big beefs with the studios, too. Yet here they are today united because of proposed federal legislation. A bipartisan coalition of several U.S. Senators — Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) — introduced and/or are sponsoring the Protect IP Bill, which aims to fight online infringement and counterfeiting by deterring, preventing, and rooting out websites that profit from trafficking in stolen content. Uniting in support of the bill are the major studios’ lobbying group the MPAA, The Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).
According to the MPAA, the PROTECT IP Act targets foreign websites:
Formerly operating outside the realm of U.S. law, they would no longer be allowed to exploit U.S. registrars, registries, Internet service providers, payment processors, search engines and ad placement services to sustain their illicit online businesses. Internet sites that steal and distribute American intellectual property are often foreign-owned and operated, or reside at domain names that are not registered through a U.S.-based registry or registrar, setting them outside the scope of U.S. law enforcement.
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