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MPAA chief says technology firms and big media need to reach an "understanding"

It was a curious juxtaposition.  After seeing many of his top donors -- notably big media and tech giants like Google Inc. (GOOG) -- at odds over Congressional punitive proposals of copyright enforcement, President Obama's administration threw its weight behind sinking the Orwellian "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) (H.R. 3261).  In the end, it left copyright watchdogs like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) coming up empty after pouring out nearly 10 percent of active Senators election costs.

In a post-mortem interview about SOPA, the MPAA's new chief, ex-Democratic Senator Chris Dodd seemed to threaten President Obama for appearing to join the push against SOPA.  But that warning seemed a bit suspicious, given the record $4.1M USD members of Hollywood's elite -- top actors and companies -- had given U.S. President Barack Obama in his reelection bid.  Whether MPAA chief Dodd and the President were truly enemies was further called into question when the President approved the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an executive order that many saw as a way of sneaking in SOPA-like permissions without Congressional approval.

In a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Sen. Dodd drops former hints that his former colleague might really be on board with the MPAA and RIAA's goals, and that his former rhetoric might have merely been a clever bit of social engineering designed to divert public vehemence over SOPA away from his close ally President Obama.

Chris Dodd
MPAA's corpulent CEO Chris Dodd
[Image Source: Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom]

In the interview Sen. Dodd says that he is "confident" that Obama is working to bring technology firms on board with a SOPA-like proposal.  The interviewer asks, "What is the status of the Stop Online Piracy Act?...Are there conversations going on now?"

He first responds, "I'm confident that's the case, but I'm not going to go into more detail because obviously if I do, it becomes counterproductive."

But when asked about the President, he unexpectedly cites him as a supporter in such efforts, stating, "I'm not going to revisit the events of last winter. I'll only say to you that I'm confident [Obama is] using his good relationships in both communities [tech, big media] to do exactly what you and I have been talking about."

Obama flag
U.S. President Barack Obama [Image Source: SFGate]
 
The optimism echoes that of the RIAA's CEO Cary Sherman who in a New York Times opinion piece mocked the SOPA protests as "demagoguery", not "democracy".  In the piece Mr. Sherman expressed hopes of a SOPA revival, stating that he believed the public's outrage was a "one time" performance.

Indeed, it is feasible to think that Congress could bea bit more subtle in terms of slipping SOPA-like provisions into other bills, rather than bundling them together into one easy target for opponents.  Likewise, if such efforts were sweetened by offers of money for tech companies -- from either the big media themselves, or by government supplied tax breaks -- they could get behind the idea.  In fact, telecoms have recently bit at precisely such a scheme (media providing the cost of enforcement), when offered.

So will the RIAA and MPAA get there way?  We won't know for some time.  But former Senator Chris Dodd is confident they will.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, New York Times





"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer






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