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 »
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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The movie industry’s chief lobbyist appeared on Bloomberg TV to defend the current and controversial Stop Online Piracy Act winding its way through the U.S. House. He reiterates that opponents and proponents of the legislation agree that something must be done to curb online content theft, but it’s hard to believe the two sides will agree on much of anything at this point in the contentious debate.
After some heated back-and-forth yesterday during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act, the panel adjourned today without a final vote on the contentious bill, which seeks to shut down access to foreign websites deemed to be infringing copyrights. The fight pits content creators — like Hollywood studios and networks — who want their wares protected against tech companies who fear censorship and a curb on innovation. The delay means a vote on SOPA won’t take place until House leadership is called back, which probably won’t be until January. (The Senate’s piracy legislation, the PROTECT IP Act, already has passed out of committee.) House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, was well on his way to striking down various amendments to the bill, meaning it eventually is likely to be approved by the panel and head to the House for a full vote. “The Judiciary Committee’s overwhelming support for the bill shows that the legislative process, when allowed to work, can result in strong, bi-partisan legislation that will protect millions of American jobs and creativity,” Michael O’Leary, the MPAA’s policy chief, said today. The Hill blog said Smith was more open to a suggestion by members to allow a study by cybersecurity experts to weigh the impact of some of the proposed legislation — a concession that has heartened opponents of the bill. “NetCoalition is encouraged that Chairman Smith is considering the requests of … Read More »
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 Read More »
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 »
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales blogs that he is considering a blackout of pages on the popular site to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act. Wales has asked users and editors of Wikipedia to weigh in with their opinions before he makes a decision. The entertainment industry wants the government to take stronger action against “digital theft” and has lobbied heavily in favor of SOPA, while Internet companies, the Consumer Electronics Association and others have argued that the measure is goes too far and is too vague. They fear that SOPA and to a lesser extent its companion Senate measure Protect IP Act would grant U.S. law enforcement sweeping powers to shut down websites and online services accused of facilitating piracy — or even sites media companies simply don’t like — potentially without due process. Google chairman Eric Schmidt says it amounts to a license for corporate censorship. Wales came up with the idea for his protest because “the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian Parliament backed down immediately,” he wrote on his personal User Talk page. Wales considers SOPA a much worse law. He believes that blanking out the site might be the best way to get Washington’s attention.
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 »
The Stop Online Piracy Act was wounded by a tweet on Thursday. “Need to find a better solution” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter in response to a question about her position on the bill that would empower the federal government to block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content. Pelosi’s opposition to SOPA is significant — she’s the House’s most powerful Democrat, after all. But it isn’t surprising: Most of her district is in San Francisco, and the tech companies that dominate the city overwhelmingly oppose the bill. Companies including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, Twitter, and eBay say that it could open the way for the government to attack sites that don’t violate other people’s copyrights, possibly quashing free speech. That view crosses party lines: Republican Darrell Issa, who represents the San Diego area, responded to Pelosi’s tweet: “If even we agree…” Hollywood studios, represented by the MPAA, are leading the charge in favor of SOPA. They say that piracy of movies and other forms of entertainment endangers thousands of jobs. They add that the bill would only affect Web sites that are violating U.S. copyright laws, but can’t be prosecuted because they’re based in other countries.
UPDATED: The House Judiciary Committee has wrapped up its hearing about the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would enable the government to block overseas websites that traffic in copyright-infringing content. Movie studios support the measure and tech companies oppose it. Representatives from the MPAA, U.S. Library of Congress, Pfizer, MasterCard, Google, and the AFL-CIO testified.
Bill opponents complained that the witness list was overloaded with supporters. “Concerns about SOPA have been raised by Tea Partiers, progressives, computer scientists, human rights advocates, venture capitalists, law professors, independent musicians, and many more. Unfortunately, these voices were not heard at today’s hearing,” Consumer Electronic Association CEO Gary Shapiro says. Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo, and Twitter said in a letter to the committee yesterday that the bill poses “a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation’s cybersecurity.” Google says it would rather see lawmakers pass legislation that would trace consumer payments to copyright-infringing sites. “If we can cut off their financial ties, they won’t have a way to make money,” Google counsel Katherine Oyama said, warning that SOPA could lead to “unintended consequences” stifling free speech. “Getting the balance right is important.”
But Michael O’Leary, the MPAA’s senior EVP for global policy and external affairs, says that the measure “is about jobs” noting that movie and TV companies account for more than 2M jobs across all states with $38.9B going in … Read More »