Big Government Sucks Tech Industry Into Their Reality

SOPA/PIPA is on the ropes. Senator Reid postponed a vote on the Senate’s version of the bill next Tuesday, and MPAA CEO Chris Dodd is backtracking and humbled.

Yay. We did it, or nearly have.

But Hollywood still has dozens of laws on the books criminalizing file sharing (read this post by attorney Andrew Bridges pointing out how ridiculous the laws are compared to things like jumping the turnstile on the subway.

Congress is the real winner here. They showed that they can and will pass bills that will cause irreparable harm to the tech industry just because Hollywood is willing to pay them off with huge lobbying dollars. And while SOPA/PIPA may be stalled for now, a big part of the reason is that tech companies got into the lobbying game, too.

From that NY Times article:

Data shows that copyright holders and supporters of the bills outspent opponents substantially in the early stages of the debate. But by many accounts the tech industry has stepped up its lobbying efforts in recent weeks. New spending reports expected shortly indicate whether the balance has shifted.

That’s right, slowly but surely, Congress is sucking the tech industry into their world, making us play by their rules. We have to pay them off, literally with cash, or we get slaughtered.

I wrote about how slippery a slope this is, and hoped that we could put it off for as long as possible – see If We Play By Big Government Rules, We’ve Lost.

Well, we’re now playing by big government rules. Congress can set up a fight pit with Hollywood in one corner and Silicon Valley in the other. Who cares what happens. The money will just roll right in.

This is how criminal organizations run protection rackets. Congress is doing just that, only it’s completely legal.

35 thoughts on “Big Government Sucks Tech Industry Into Their Reality

  1. Simon says:

    Why use the pejorative term “big government”? By doing so, you inject partisan politics into a problem that is as age-old as the system itself. Do you really think that a Republican administration (the party that is supposedly against “big gov’t”) would change any of this? Of course not. Demand political reform of your country without vilifying one side or the other.

    • Well said Simon. “Pay-to-play” knows no party.

    • Ryan Szrama says:

      I suppose some people will see partisan politics anywhere. Could it be that certain observers and commentators (yours truly and perhaps Mr. Arrington) already accept big government as a transparty problem? But hey, maybe I missed the subliminal message in the post saying that Republicans would do better…

      Turnabout is fair play, though, so let’s ask leading questions back to you. Do you really think Mike’s so clueless as to torget that it was both the Democratic Senate in PIPA and Republican House in SOPA advancing this legislation? Do you really think Mike only suspects there to be Democrats making decisions in our bicameral Congress?

      • “two wolves and a sheep voting what is for dinner”. Guess who the sheep might be? :)

      • Simon says:

        You’re right Ryan, Mike is fully aware of all sides of this issue which is what makes his decision to rail against “big gov’t” in this post all the more annoying. Instead of simply dealing with the issue of lobbying, he had to take a pot-shot at the Dems. I like Michael Arrington. I don’t like being reminded he’s a Republican.

  2. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire I guess.

  3. What you guys need is a revolution, or a Zombie infestation. Whichever comes first.

  4. JP says:

    Look at the other side of the coin. When the originator of content is looking at monetization, tech looks very much like a freelancer that uses/abuses your works to further their case, leaving you with scraps. That can’t be the answer either.

  5. Dino says:

    It’s all about the benjamin’s. Who will line their pockets more…

    Get corporation’s out of government… or this country is fucked. Mark my words!

  6. Jane says:

    RON PAUL 2012 baybee!

  7. Brock says:

    Yes, and the only solution is universal disarmament. All entities which are not human being constituents of an office should be banned from contributing to campaigns for that office. Full stop. No corporations, no unions, no churches or non-profits. Just people. If the CEO of Big Media Co. wants to give him own money to his own Congressman, fine. But he (nor his tech peers) should not be able to buy of the whole of Congress. That simply isn’t democracy.

  8. SVE says:

    Lesson learned: When they feel the heat, they see the light.

  9. Brian says:

    Not entirely accurate, Mike. Tech didn’t get sucked in and lobbyists didn’t force the bills to stall. Tech finally decided to show up at a gun fight with an actual gun, and tens of thousands of phone calls / hundreds of thousands of emails, and hundreds of millions of eyeballs forced these bills to stall.

  10. gregorylent says:

    america is a single party authoritarian corporatocracy

  11. the problem absolutely is big government, if the government didn’t have favors to hand out lobbying would cease to exist

  12. gravhari says:

    Reblogged this on Coretan Dinding … and commented:
    Still SOPA and PIPA

  13. Nishant says:

    Didn’t know tech industry also had to match the lobbying power of hollywood for so fundamental a thing.

    Anyways the blackouts and banners did show the power of tech industry as well. Maybe in future these things of value will be the leverage points rather than the dollars.

  14. Mike Thompson says:

    If you haven’t already seen his pitch, I’ve got a feeling you’ll like Lessig and his solution:

    • Brian says:

      I’ve heard the name Lessig several times in the last week, but didn’t know who he was. Watching this video is *horribly* depressing. I’m hoping it has a good ending.

  15. David Callahan says:

    … guys, guys, these two bills are about MUCH, MUCH MORE than Hollywood, copyrights, lobbyists and money — they are about the US federal government’s POWER OF CENSORSHIP, POWER TO CONTROL THE CONTENTS OF THE INTERNET!!!!! which means power to end the constitutional right of freedom of speech in the US, which is something that the Obama administration has been desperate to do: think about communist China and also Iran…
    Just pause and really think about the meaning of all this — now in Congress, they are working on laws to suspend this year’s elections to allow Obama to stay in office indefinitely, similar to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and also to authorize the use of the military against Americans! The US Constitution allows the military to intervene outside the country;s boundaries ONLY. If we put all of this together, the possibility of a tyranny becomes VERY REAL.

  16. Sam G. says:

    How exactly do you propose motion picture and television production/distribution companies fund projects (Noting, the U.S. remains the #1 country for global box office dollars with it’s motion picture Industry, while it is losing it’s tech-edge to other Nations).

    I am not pro SOPA by any means. But, trite, link baiting headlines and articles aren’t a solution.

    I also believe the filmed entertainment industry needs to wean itself off of long term residuals and royalties; but, that will require an entire re-think of the business model. Regardless, the reality is that filmed entertainment properties used to be budgeted in anticipation of at least 7 years of revenue collections that would put the property into profit.

    The digital World is trimming that window down heavily…and, the revenues will not be fast-tracked (Who is going to pay $30 for a ticket to a first run movie?)…Who is going to pay $20 for a PPV film or $80 for a subscription to a television series?

    No one.

    So, how about a solution, rather than faux-Libertarian rants that ignore economic realities?

    • David Callahan says:

      … you just ignore the reality that the US entertainment industry IS NOT LOSING MONEY!!! They are just not increasing their profits as much as they would like to…
      Big difference there.
      The “fight piracy” laws are a very convenient cover for the Obama administration true sinister intentions: destroy the US as we know it — He has already said that he wants to bring the US to the level of a Third World country…

      • Sam G. says:

        Mr. Callahan

        U.S. television revenues have been spiraling down the toilet since about 1999. Budgets continue to be trimmed, but, without a good Foreign market (plus long term residuals), it will continue to be hammered.

        Motion Picture revenue, likewise, is getting a shorter and shorter window to collect income within. When you do a Film Budget and Distribution Estimate (which you’d need to know how to do to have this argument), you (classically) have looked at the initial 7 years of revenues from all markets. Then, you calculate in future revenues coupled with depreciation of the Property.

        That is the model that no longer works and is impacting or the business as they (unfortunately) try to maintain the status quo (or return to a happier time); or, for a few, try to come up with a new business model that Talent, Unions, Banks, Distribution Execs, etc. will all grasp.

        Everyone in filmed entertainment has watched the music Industry. About four years ago, Studio Execs were getting ready to be downgraded and slammed in their credit and business ratings (I watched one go absolutely pale, on a hot summer day, on a beach in the Hamptons; when he got “the call”).

        Knowing both sides of the business world is crucial if you are going to find a solution forward. Knowing only one side will merely trivialize anyone’s opinion.

        • David Cakkahan says:

          … obviously, you are in the TV business — being what that is, your comment is, indeed, trivial.
          SOPA/PIPA is much, much more than what most people believe it is, thanks to the constant misinformation profusely provided by the “mainstream” media — “your” business.
          Reality check: these horrible pieces of legislation are not much, not less than the veiled, underhanded attempt of the Obama administration to over-reach and control Internet content and, yes, free speech. The same free speech you abuse while shamelessly supporting this administration that IS destroying our country.
          Internet control? YES, as it exists in communist China, a regime that Obama adores, and also in North Korea and other dictatorial, tyrannical regimes that are Obama’s wet dreams — Another Reality Check: all these dictatorial regimes have FAILED all over the world, but , apparently, Obama did not get the memo…
          Freedom, individual American freedom is something that Obama hates and has been trying to terminate for the past three years he has been in office…
          Time to wake up!

          Inter

    • KiranB says:

      Very well described the heart of the matter here. http://abovethecrowd.com/2010/04/28/affiliate-fees-make-the-world-go-round/ Bill Gurley here expands further on what you are hinting towards.

  17. richy says:

    The root of the problem is how elections are won, seemingly at all levels. More spend = more votes. Politicians on all sides needs more money to buy votes so they, throughout their career, nuture relationships that basically equate to selling favours. The money goes directly or indirectly towards their campaigns.
    It’s possible to argue that the people are at fault, why are they swayed by more tv adverts etc? It’s just as easy to take potshots at people who vote for a specific party irrespective of their candidate because their family for 20 generations back has voted for that party.
    A fix would be difficult, removing all external funding and putting a fixed, centrally provided budget in place along with an equal amount of free (mandated by broadcast licences) tv time. Assuming its limited it might also cut out some of the mud slinging and get them on message a bit more.
    The issue then is cutting out funding to external superpacs et al, which would probably be unconstitutional but vital. It’s obvious companies throw money at lobbying and campaigns to buy favours. I remember a quote about tobacco sponsorship in F1 racing, something like the companies were saying the sponsorship never caused anyone to start smoking and the response was well its bloody nice of you to spend billions on it then. Ok it was mostly to do with getting mindspace for their branding but the point remains they’re only doing it because it works.
    I have tried to keep this non partisan, apologies if it comes across otherwise. Personally I’m with Terry Pratchett, they should all be locked up as soon as they are elected, it saves time.

  18. Jumbo says:

    Youre right about everything except for one fact: it is not legal, at all. Passing these laws and enforcing them is a federal crime under US Code 18-242.

    The fact that this federal law is never enforced is why I think “big government” is too kind a term.

    This is the mafia were dealing with. Organized crime. They deserve no respect.

    • David Cakkahan says:

      Right on!
      … there are many examples of the lawlessness of the Obama administration — and the Obama’s Department of Justice.
      It is a fact that Obama himself has expressed several times that he “does not accept” the American Constitution as it is. Accordingly, many of the Obama’s appointees, even, of course, the illegal ones [read czars] constantly express their opinions that the American Constitution “is a living, breathing old dusty document” –which is NOT. However, these beliefs allow them to interpret laws as they see fit…

  19. mwlfrd says:

    It’s sad that this battle has come down to there being really no winner and just two sides trying to feed the most money to Congress to get their side a one-up. Money really is not the reason for this, it’s about copyright owners and the rights of Internet users.

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