How much democracy can $91 Million buy?
And now, a word from my favorite Star Trek actor:
Today the US Senate is considering legislation that would destroy the free and open Internet.
“Why is it that when Republicans and Democrats need to solve the budget and the deficit, there’s deadlock, but when Hollywood lobbyists pay them $94 million dollars to write legislation, people from both sides of the aisle line up to co-sponsor it?” - Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian on CNBC.
The TL:DR version is this: legislation proposed to stop online piracy has drawn sharp criticism and now online blackouts in protest from those who say the real effect is that the legislation:
- Will not stop the piracy they are targeting
- Contain language that is highly ambiguous and extremely broad making them ripe for abuse, and
- Introduce regulation and enforce censorship on what should be a free and open internet.
“A technical examination of SOPA and PROTECT IP” (Jason Harvey, Reddit.com, 1/17/12)
Whether or not you have opinions on the motivations and merits behind the proposed legislation, it’s important to note the factors making the wheels turn: Politico recently reported that so far this year, the entertainment industry has spent $91 million on lobbying Congress, based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Now industry execs–like former Senator and current MPAA chief executive–say that coordinated blackouts of top Internet sites protesting the legislation amount to a “gimmick,” a “stunt,” “hyperbole,” “a dangerous and troubling development,” an “irresponsible response,” and an “abuse of power.”
Wil Wheaton makes two important points:
When you complain that opponents didn’t “come to the table to find solutions”, do you mean that we didn’t give NINETY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS [sic] to congress like the MPAA?
Protesting to raise awareness of terrible legislation that will destroy the free and open Internet is an abuse of power, but buying NINETY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS [sic] worth of congressional votes is just fine.
Again, the issues are complex but the view from up top isn’t: Hollywood is getting what it paid for.