Skip to comments.We the People: Populist Protest Kills SOPA (Again) (MPAA Chief Threatens Obama, Congress_
Posted on 01/23/2012 2:10:42 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Lobbyist bribery goes to waste for once, as Rep. Smith is forced to "postpone" SOPA indefinitely
UPDATE: PIPA is "dead"/postponed too... details at the end of the piece.
Over the weekend U.S. President Barack Obama's (D) cabinet hinted that he might veto the pending House's "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) and Senate's "PROTECT IP Act" (PIPA) (S.968) out of concern that the bills Orwellian takedown provisions could damage the legitimate internet economy.
I. The Rat Returns
With the support of politically enemy-turned-friend House Oversight Chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Rep. Eric Cantor(R-Virg.) was compelled to promise to shelve any potential vote in the Republican-controlled House in terms of passing SOPA. It was finally over -- the months of populist protest online, media criticism, and criticism from the online industry's top innovators like Google Inc. (GOOG) had paid off. They had won.
Or so they thought. On Monday support SOPA rose up from the dead, after Rep. Lamar Smith (R- Tex.) -- the bill's author in the House of Representatives -- said he would bring the bill to the floor for minor revisions and a February vote. That led to the largest online protest that America has ever seen with tens of millions of Americans taking to the internet to post protest message, email their representatives, call their representatives, and sign petitions.
The bold populist outcry seemed to work. First some Congresspeople jumped ship. Then more did.
But even yesterday Rep. Smith -- whose office had done its fair share of copyright infringing -- was quoted as dismissing his constituents protest as a "publicity stunt" and vowing to ignore the people and bring the bill to vote.
II. Cornered, SOPA Meets Its End (For Now)
But on Friday afternoon a weay Rep. Smith took to the internet, tail tucked and admitted defeat, agreeing for the first time to shelve the bill. The key word is he used is "postponed". So it's fair to say SOPA is dead, but if you've ever played Resident Evil or watched South Park SOPA is a bit like Wesker or Kenny -- it may be dead -- but it will likely return next episode.
The Committee will continue work with copyright owners, Internet companies, financial institutions to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect Americas intellectual property. We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem. The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.
The numbers are debatable, but Rep. Smith is right on one key issue -- online piracy is an issue that needs to be addressed in some form. Whether it should be big media finding easier ways to distribute content legally online, such as challenging Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) exclusivity contracts and bullying, which limit the number of legal distribution outlets, or the government finding a way to balance the rights of intellectual property holders with the people's right to reasonable justice, there's certainly cause to look for level-handed solutions in the public and private sector.
But at the same time Rep. Smith's statement is problematic as it couples two very different issues -- domestic piracy (sharing copyrighted works illegally via torrents, P2P, streaming, etc.) and foreign piracy.
Foreign piracy is already a vast sea to navigate on, as it includes everything from stealing proprietary chipmaking technique from American fabs or engine part design from American fighter jets to your everyday bazaar merchant selling phony DVD copies of popular American films. These kinds of abuses needs to be addressed, but in recent years Congress and the White House have essentially meekly bowed to China -- arguably the biggest single infringer of American goods -- afraid to speak up against it.
So when Rep. Lamar Smith talks about fighting foreign piracy, that's great but SOPA and Congress's past actions have done scant little to challenge infringer nations like China. What they have done a whole lot to impose Orwellian takedown on the internet and punitive punishment on the American people.
III. Federal Bribery Must be Stopped
All of the piracy debate also overshadows a far greater base issue -- the allowance of blatant bribery in American federal politics.
Anti-streaming lobbyists paid an estimated 10 percent of all active U.S. Senators' combined election costs ($86M USD) and an unspecified amount (like in the high tens to low hundreds of millions of dollars) to the U.S. Congress, according to extensive research. It's nice to see this kind of blatant bribery attempt fail for once.
But the real issue here is that if the bribery was smaller and the "bought" legislation didn't involve dramatic erosions of rights and free enterprise that SOPA did, the American people probably would have ignored it -- in fact that's what they been doing for a good couple decades now, as lobbying has grown into a flourishing mega-industry in the capital.
It's hard to get anything done in Washington these days without a bribe.
[Image Source: Google Images]
The end result is that while the American taxpayer and small business labor slavishly to pay their tax debt, the corporations with well-heeled lobbyists enjoy "tax holidays" and government grants. These are kickbacks for bribes, plain as day, but politicians pretty them up with softer speak.
A recent peer-reviewed research study by the University of Kansas' business school showed that for every $1 spent bribing politicians in Washington D.C., corporate donors get an estimated $222 USD in tax exemptions and other financial kickbacks. This bribery must be recognized and must be put to an end. It is anti-innovation. It is anti-freedom. It is anti-American.
It is a huge problem that Americans must address, as they look back on their victory over SOPA and big media special interests.
PIPA, written by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) (very similar to the House's Republican-written SOPA) is also dead or delayed ("postponed"). In a press release Sen. Reid echoes the words of his Republican colleague, Rep. Smith, writing:
I admire the work that Chairman Leahy has put into this bill. I encourage him to continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the internet. We made good progress through the discussions weve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks.
The only major difference between Sen. Reid's and Sen. Smith's commentary seems to be little tidbits of party-appropriate rhetoric, designed to pander to their base's sensibilities.
Sen. Reid's uses a "union" analogy, in an effort to sway Democrat voters, while Sen. Smith's focus on "foreign" threats and his vow to "work with... financial institutions" buzz words he clearly hopes will please his voters.
Sources: Lamar Smith, Harry Reid, NPR [$1 lobbyist = $222 tax breaks]
Jason Mick (Blog) - January 22, 2012 2:30 PM
Ex-democrat threatens his former Senate colleague
"Don't take us for granted."
That was the message the former Democrat Senator from Connecticut Chris Dodd sent his old Senate colleague -- and now President -- Barack Obama on Thursday in an exclusive Fox News interview.
I. MPAA Threatens SOPA opposers
But Mr. Dodd, now CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, didn't stop there. He went on to threaten his former Congressional colleagues -- both Republican and Democrat -- who together formed the bipartisan resistance that sunk the House's "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) and Senate's "PROTECT IP Act" (PIPA) (S.968).
He does his best to argue for Orwellian laws like SOPA, by trying to recharacterize the issue as a matter of little guys getting exploited, "You can complain and say, well, actors make a lot of money and they don't have to worry about this. You tell that to that camera guy, you tell that to that makeup artist, you tell that to that truck driver out there who made, makes a living because they work in this industry."
Chris Dodd ran against President Obama in 2008, but lost. Afterwards he turned to a new career in lobbying, quickly securing his high-paying job as MPAA chief.
II. Editorial Take: Bribery is the Staus Quo in D.C. Today
A CEO threatening the U.S. President and Congress is a pretty bold move, and it is indicative of the sordid web of bribery that Washington D.C. has found itself in. These days it's hard to get anything done at the federal level without a heavy lubricating layer of lobbyists bribes.
The big Hollywood CEO picks an inopportune time to attack President Obama, given that members of Hollywood's elite -- top actors and companies -- have already given him $4.1M USD -- more than the $3.7M USD they gave to his campaign in 2008. And the decision by the administration to break its silence and side with tech firms like Google Inc. (GOOG) in opposing SOPA, is expected to draw more lobbyist bribes from these top tech firms.
The conflict between Google, et al. and the MPAA, et al. in lobbyist dollars is illustrative of the unseemingly current nature of federal politics. Today corporations and special interest groups essentially "own" pieces of the federal government.
When their interests are independent or in line with each other they see their desired goals -- like millions in tax breaks -- easily passed, hidden as line item additions to bloated pieces of legislation. But when their interests run counter to each other, they're forced to wage a war of bribes.
At the same time the U.S. people and small business owners are largely left out of the process, while there relatively high tax burden is funneled towards companies that have "bribed the best" on the Hill. A recent study by the University of Kansas School of Business reveals that for ever $1 USD spent in lobbyist contributions, a corporation receives $222 USD in tax breaks. The bill for those tax breaks is inevitably passed to the usual suspect -- the American taxpayer.
Now that's something I could get behind
The media people have a legitimate beef. But they should not look for help from Congress. Congress is incompetent to deal with the problem (or much of anything else).
About time these nutball control freaks starting fearing the people again.
He comments, "Candidly, those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake."
The problem facing them is that, for many years, Hollywood has worked to undermine morality. The kind of people who are most into immoral movies and music are also the people most likely to use pirated copies of them.
True in the sense that a trial by a jury of the accused peers should take place before any punishment is meted out. SOPA is similar to allowing a cop could summarily shoot a shoplifter or set a Dodge dealership on fire because the shoplifter happened to drive a Dodge and thus the dealership sold tools for theft.
Accuse, punish and then prosecute if you still feel like it.
What a coincidence that you should pick a scene from the most recent royal wedding. As soon as Kate Middleton’s wedding dress had been seen in public, a Chinese wedding dress maker was interviewed and was feverishly copying the dress and taking orders from around the world.
So I guess the photo is appropriate for a thread on pirating and copying in more ways than one.
You did see this right?
Chris Dodd admitting that they pass bills for the payout to themselves.
Takes a person's breath away...
Years ago this kind of crap would have passed without anyone knowing. There are numerous examples of "bought" legislation in American history that obviously went against the People.
Now with the internet, We the People finally have the ability to watch our lawmakers and mobilize millions when they do wrong. This is why they are so desperate to kill it.
Yeah, that happens a lot.
Haute Coutre can be had for a few hundred bucks as opposed to paying full fare to the tune of $25, 000 at Bergdorf Goodman.
Thanks ,...I had not seen that.
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