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SOPA backers caught off-guard, make 'incremental' compromise

updated 06:05 pm EST, Wed January 25, 2012

MPAA only now edging towards balance

A new exposť of some of the actions behind the scenes of SOPA's rejection has shown the fundamental disconnect between the MPAA and differing points of view as well as signs that there may be progress, if slow, on an alternative. MPAA president and former Democratic senator Chris Dodd explained to The Hollywood Reporter that he had been "assured" there would be no major opposition from the White House and was caught unawares when the administration suggested it would veto either SOPA or its Senate equivalent PIPA if they passed a vote. MPAA members had started to "pick up signals" of resistance at the start of January, but they sincerely thought they had made concessions and felt "bitterly betrayed" as a result.

Follow-up conversations, however, suggest that the MPAA and those supporting it had little contact with, or understanding of, the technology industry side they saw as their opponents. California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein had reportedly been trying to have MPAA representatives talk to technology companies up to January 9, but they, including Disney CEO Bob Iger, had turned down conversations. The MPAA's senior executive VP for global policy, Michael O'Leary, has also made a more direct admission that the movie advocacy group doesn't have a strong grasp of the technology industry but was trying to push these measures past its gatekeepers.

"This was a fight on a platform we're not at this point comfortable with, and we were going up against an opponent that controls that platform," he told the magazine.

Many critics have pointed to the well-known November committee hearing on SOPA as an example of how little the technology field was consulted. While a wide range of supporting politicians, the MPAA, and other advocates were present, the only opposing force was Google's policy counsel Katherine Oyama. Those at the hearing joked about their lack of technical knowledge, made inaccurate statements about Google search results, and in many cases had never heard of the DNSSEC security initiative that SOPA would have compromised.

An insider has told the magazine that there might be signs of progress on reaching a balance. There is reportedly "incremental" movement on a compromise, the person said. Whether that was a heavily modified SOPA/PIPA, a new bill altogether, or something else wasn't apparent. However, Dodd has suggested that the measures weren't likely to be touched during an election year. Piracy has never been a major topic during US federal elections, and the uncertainty of who would be in office to vote on a bill makes discussions impractical.

Some of the blame has been put on President Obama wanting to cater to the $52 million in lobbying from technology companies. Dodd is well known for his debated claims that "big tech" had been influencing the opposition to SOPA and PIPA. It was publicly interpreted as an ironic statement, however, as it's commonly understood that the MPAA spends over seven times more in lobbying efforts. The ex-politician undermined his claim after the defeats of the two bills during a Fox News segment, when he directly asserted that the MPAA had been writing checks for campaign support with the assumption it would get the laws it wanted.

He has since partly backtracked, saying that he had just made an obvious statement, but has done little to quell accusations in a petition to the White House website which assert he was openly admitting to bribing politicians to pass laws.

MPAA head Chris Dodd



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Mar 2004

    +25

    Payocracy

    Imagine, bribing politicians to pass laws. Duh. That is _all_ the US political system is about. Why would anyone ever think otherwise? Do folks think that PACs would pay politicians all those millions every year if they were not receiving political payback on an ongoing basis?

    People like Dodd should be in jail, but instead they are accepted as legitimate and are very, very well paid. And insider trading that the rest of us would go to jail for is legal for members and staff of the US Congress. Welcome to the USA, pay at this window.

    We in the US have a pure payocracy. Our politics will continue to degrade until we find a way to remove money as the primary motivator in the election process.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Apr 2011

    +12

    Mega Upload's bust

    proves SOPA is not needed, it's just one more way the government guided by big interests wants to turn US citizens with rights into subjects with obligations to "the state".

  1. aduffbrew

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2009

    +4

    Bitterly betrayed?

    Ha! The American people have felt that way for YEARS! Now the betrayer feels betrayed. Alas, they'll just write BIGGER checks next time and this whole "setback" will be but a distant memory. Super-Pacs, special interest groups, lobbyists... remind me again why we bother voting?

  1. Mr. Strat

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2002

    -5

    Pfffft

    Chris Dodd along with Sodomite Barney Frank are both largely responsible for the current state of the nation's economy.

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