Hollywood moguls haven’t given up on their goal of persuading Congress to adopt anti-piracy initiatives. But their lobby group the MPAA is promoting the controversial issue gingerly, issuing today its first-ever election-season memo of stats and talking points for candidates and “interested parties.” It extols Hollywood’s multibillion-dollar contribution to the economy and employment, as well as technological innovation. But it also promotes the need for new copyright protection strategies and opens the door to legislation similar to the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), which were beaten back in January following vigorous opposition by the tech industry and free speech advocates. The document (read it here) says that copyright protection “is critical to ensuring” that entertainment companies can “benefit from their creations” online. It also says there’s no need to fear that the government might use new anti-piracy powers to crack down on dissident speech or legitimate Internet businesses. “We can protect creative works while ensuring that the Internet works for everyone,” the MPAA says.
Paul Brigner, whom the MPAA hired in January 2011 as its chief technology officer, has left the industry’s trade and lobbying organization, CNET reports. He’s now a major critic of legislation championed by the MPAA such as the Stop …
EXCLUSIVE: Hollywood Moguls Stopping Obama Donations Because Of President’s Piracy Stand: “Not Give A Dime Anymore”
EXCLUSIVE: Internet sites on their SOPA-Strike may be conducting a blackout but Hollywood studios are conducting a boycott. I’ve learned that Hollywood studio chiefs individually and as a group are drawing a line in the sand on the piracy issue with the Obama re-election campaign and refusing to give any more donations. The blowup came after President Obama on Saturday dashed moguls’ hopes that he would remain on the sidelines in the dispute over the U.S. House Of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy Act and the U.S. Senate’s Protect IP Act. In a posting on the White House web site, three of the Obama administration’s top officials for Internet and intellectual property matters said that they share many of the concerns that the Internet community has about the Hollywood-supported bills. The trio said that they “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 tried to soften the blow to Hollywood by acknowledging that that online piracy is “a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response.” They added that they plan to host an online event “to get more input” on the matter. But Hollywood moguls told me they “didn’t know it was going to be as over the top as it was” and took this as a declaration of war. “We just feel very let down by the administration and Obama for not supporting us,” one studio chief explained to me. “At least let him remain neutral and not go against it until we can get the legislation right. But Obama went against it. I’m personally not going to support him anymore and not give a dime anymore,” another movie mogul who’s also a well-known Obama supporter told me this week.
So far the most outspoken mogul against the Obama administration on this issue has been Rupert Murdoch who on Saturday told his new Twitter audience: “So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.” But I’ve learned that other moguls privately are having “direct and personal conversations” with Obama and his administration and the Democratic Party. Several moguls have informed Obama’s newly anointed Hollywood re-election liason to the entertainment community Nicole Avant and her husband who is helping her, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, that they are pulling out of major fundraisers planned over the next few days and won’t participate in any more headed by Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (whom they see as in the pocket of the Internet giants like Google).
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
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 …
Action on the Stop Online Piracy Act moved right along today in the House Judiciary Committee where one modification after another was defeated by lopsided votes — until a notoriously prickly Texas Democrat didn’t take kindly to remarks by a Republican. The remarks in question came from Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who tweeted that: “We are debating the Stop Online Piracy Act and Shiela Jackson [sic] has so bored me that I’m killing time by surfing the Internet.” The target of his disdain was Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who’s so notoriously contrary that the Washingtonian magazine has dubbed her the “meanest” member of Congress. Jackson Lee objected. And the hearing ground to a S.T.O.P. It was unacceptable “to have a member of the Judiciary committee be so offensive,” Jackson Lee said. But King was not on the premises by the time she became aware of his tweet. If the two had been in the same room, that would have been entertaining. Jackson’s use of the word “offensive” proved even more problematic than King’s use of “boring.” It seems that parliamentary tradition doesn’t allow fellow members to describe each other as “offensive.” So negotiations began to persuade Jackson Lee to allow her comment to be deleted from the official record. She balked. The single offending word? Nope. SOPA co-author Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) explained that he was trying to “avoid making an official ruling” to the effect that Jackson Lee “impugned the integrity of a member of this committee.” Again, nope. She wanted King to “give the committee an apology.” Which he couldn’t do because he wasn’t there. Jackson Lee consulted