by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 26th 2012 6:33pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 9th 2012 7:47pm
Hollywood Wines & Dines Kiwi Politicians To Get Them To Support Hollywood's Copyright Insanity In TPP
from the don't-fold dept
And that actually represents a big problem for Hollywood, because New Zealand has been a key force in pushing back on Hollywood's plans for copyright expansionism in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. But Hollywood (and the USTR) need New Zealand to come on board, so they've moved into aggressive lobbying mode. Prime Minister John Key, fresh off of apologizing to Kim Dotcom, showed up in Hollywood recently to be wined and dined by studio execs:
The movie industry's main motives for wining, dining and flattering the Prime Minister were not about Dotcom or subsidies, although it has an obvious interest in both.And... at the same time he was being catered to by studio bosses, counterparts in New Zealand were aggressively lobbying other officials there:
The end-goal is to get Key's Government to drop its opposition to aggressive United States demands in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations. New Zealand will host the next round of TPPA talks in Auckland in early December.
While John Key was in Los Angeles, top US intellectual property negotiators were in Wellington lobbying for their latest proposals.The article linked above, published in the New Zealand Herald, properly points out that what Hollywood is asking for of New Zealand "is too high a price" to pay, just to keep Hollywood happy, and to bring big movie productions to New Zealand. It will impact too many other businesses and "stifle the growing local industry." Hopefully, politicians in New Zealand understand that keeping Hollywood happy seems to result in pretty damaging situations for people in New Zealand and continues to push back against such overreach.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 13th 2012 9:31am
Hollywood Lobbyist Hasn't Seen The TPP Text, Cannot Read The TPP Text, But Knows What's In The TPP Text?
from the fascinating dept
But, perhaps more interesting was Collier's encounter with Michael Schlesinger, a lobbyist for the IIPA (the International Intellectual Property Alliance -- a sort of "super group" of lobbying organizations, including both the RIAA and the MPAA, among others). The IIPA presentation immediately followed the EFF presentation, and involved Schlesinger promising to debunk the "myths" being spread by folks like the EFF. Key among them? That TPP would mandate disconnecting people from the internet. Myth, myth and more myth, Schlesigner declared: there are "no mandates to kick legitimate users off the Internet." Note the weasel word "legitimate."
However, Collier wasn't born yesterday. So he went and found the leaked draft of the IP section that was revealed back in February of 2011. And he noted that it does seem to include mandates for kicking people offline, such as saying that "effective action against any act of copyright infringement" would include things like "removing or disabling access... [and] terminating specified accounts." So, Collier went and found Schlesigner to bring this up, and Schlesinger made a remarkable admission: he claims he hasn't seen the text:
I asked him whether he stood by his presentation's claim that "TPP will result in 'kicking people off the Internet'" was a myth.Got that? (1) He's not allowed to see the text. (2) He gets upset when someone points him to the leaked text. (3) He... also insists he knows, absolutely, what will not be in the text. How is that even remotely credible?
"It is," he said.
I showed him a printed-out copy of the section of the TPP leak that referred to "terminating specified accounts" of copyright infringers.
He visibly stiffened. "I'm not commenting on a leaked draft," he told me. "From what I know, the TPP framework would not force anyone off the Internet. I don't know anything about the TPP draft."
Had Schlesinger actually read the TPP, either the leaked chapter or the current draft? I can't say for sure. Legally, he can't have read the latter, because he's a federally registered lobbyist, which would bar him from seeing the text.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Sep 7th 2012 9:25am
from the too-much-cynicism dept
Earlier this year, when This American Life did an hourlong episode on lobbying, there was one message that has really stuck with me: yes, lobbying has tremendous power in terms of its impact on Congress and the White House, but votes will trump lobbying every single time. I can't remember which politician said it during the episode, but it was made clear: in the absence of the public speaking out on an issue, yes, the lobbyists will likely win. But if the public is interested, no matter how much money is spent, the public will win, because the votes matter more than the lobbyists. Always.
I'd been meaning to write about this in response to the defeatism I saw after that letter, but Public Knowledge's Sherwin Siy beat me to it (and did it much better, since he's got a hell of a lot more experience on this front), pointing out that the best way to fight big money politics is to speak out and take part. Yes, it may seem like the deck is stacked, and yes, the lobbyists have plenty of power -- but that power only works if the voting public stays quiet.
In other words: your cynicism only helps the lobbyists.
Trust me, I understand where that cynicism comes from, and there are significant problems with the way money works in politics today and just how corrupt the system often appears. But, as Siy notes, all that money is a means to an end, and the end is to get re-elected (or elected in the first place). And that means that votes -- and the people behind the votes -- can trump money in politics. The larger problem is that we can't do that for any and every issue. But saying that you shouldn't even bother to speak out at all is self-defeating. It's automatically handing victory to the lobbyists.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 4th 2012 9:15am
from the questions-to-ponder dept
How is it that copyright lasts 70 years after death, but licenses expire at death?The simplest answer is that the big legacy entertainment industry players have lobbyists. And their customers do not. So we've created a system that massively favors one side over the public -- despite the fact that, if we believe the US Constitution, copyright is supposed to be for the benefit of the public.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 30th 2012 10:34am
from the system-failure dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 16th 2012 11:26am
from the which-they-probably-negotiated-long-before-leaving-office dept
Republic Report has looked up the details on some former elected officials who became lobbyists and noted that, on average, they got a boost in salaries of 1,452%. Also of note: they can negotiate these deals while still in office and don't have to tell anyone about them or even reveal what their salaries are. That can lead to clear conflicts of interest that are mostly ignored by the public and the press:
For example, former Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) spent his last year in office fighting reforms to bring greater transparency to the derivatives marketplace. Almost as soon as he left office, he joined the board of a derivatives trading company and became an "advisor" to Goldman Sachs. Risky derivative trading exacerbated the financial crisis of 2008, yet we’re stuck under the laws written in part by Gregg. How much has he made from the deal? Were his actions in office influenced by relationships with his future employers?There's definitely a lot of fluctuation in how much these former Congressional Reps and Senators make as lobbyists, but it's clearly a lot more than they were making previously. Here are just a few examples (the article has many more), including our old buddy Chris Dodd:
Former Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) made $19,359,927 as a lobbyist for pharmaceutical companies between 2006 and 2010. Tauzin retired from Congress in 2005, shortly after leading the passage of President Bush’s prescription drug expansion. He was recruited to lead PhRMA, a lobbying association for Pfizer, Bayer, and other top drug companies. During the health reform debate, the former congressman helped his association block a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate for drug prices, a major concession that extended the policies enacted in Tauzin’s original Medicare drug-purchasing scheme. Tauzin left PhRMA in late 2010. He was paid over $11 million in his last year at the trade group. Comparing Tauzin’s salary during his last year as congressman and his last year as head of PhRMA, his salary went up 7110%.And people wonder why the American public feels that Congress is impossibly corrupt.
Former Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) makes approximately $1.5 million a year as the chief lobbyist for the movie industry. Dodd, who retired from the Senate after 2010, was hired by the Motion Picture Association of America, the lobbying association that represents major studios like Warner Bros. and Universal Studios. Although the MPAA would not confirm with Republic Report Dodd’s exact salary, media accounts point to $1.5 million, a slightly higher figure than the previous MPAA head, former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. Dodd received about a 762% raise after moving from public office to lobbying.
Former Congressman Steve Largent (R-OK) has made at least $8,815,741 over the years as a lobbyist for a coalition of cell phone companies and related wireless industry interests. Republic Report analyzed disclosures from CTIA-The Wireless Association, the trade group Largent leads. CTIA counts wireless companies like AT&T, HTC, and Motorola as members. Largent left Congress in 2002, when his pay was about $150,000 as a public official. His move to the CTIA trade association, where he earns slightly more than $1.5 million a year according to the latest disclosure form, raised his salary by 912%.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 2nd 2012 1:25pm
from the paying-a-little-too-much-attention-to-the-competition dept
Either way, Microsoft appears to be stepping up its "saddle Google with antitrust charges" battle by hiring Randall Long from the FTC. Long was the key "anti-Google" lawyer within the FTC, who led multiple antitrust investigations into Google, and recommended that the FTC block Google's acquisition of AdMob (something he was outvoted on). Microsoft doesn't even seem to want to hide the fact that his role will be to lobby politicians in DC to hit Google with antitrust charges. The WSJ's report on the hiring is pretty explicit:
As part of his new job, Mr. Long will likely continue those efforts before the FTC and other agencies, a person familiar with the matter said.Of course, if Long actually follows the rules, he shouldn't be allowed to do anything concerning any FTC investigations into Google for quite some time. The ethics rules are pretty clear -- even barring "behind-the-scenes" help on such investigations:
Except as provided in this section, or otherwise specifically authorized by the Commission, no former member or employee (“former employee” or “employee”) of the Commission may communicate to or appear before the Commission, as attorney or counsel, or otherwise assist or advise behind-the-scenes, regarding a formal or informal proceeding or investigation...That certainly suggests that Long cannot and should not "continue those efforts before the FTC" for some time. Either way, it's yet another example of the questionable revolving door between government and the private sector, where ex-government officials end up in roles that have a very close connection to their former government role (or vice versa). Even assuming that Long follows all the rules, as I'm sure he intends to do, this kind of thing just looks really bad.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 24th 2012 2:59pm
Hollywood's Latest 'Conciliatory' Effort Towards Silicon Valley? Forcing Lobbyists To Drop Tech Companies As Clients
from the they-may-regret-that dept
"They are doing everything they can to ensure that the tech industry and Facebook in particular doesn't have any talent to go up to the Hill," one tech lobbyist said of the content providers.This is interesting timing. And by "interesting" I mean "bad," for those lobby shops at least. Remember, Facebook, which is growing at an insane rate, just filed for a massive IPO and is going to be flush with cash. Meanwhile, the entertainment industry has actually been scaling back some of their lobbying efforts. Betting on the losing team isn't exactly a winning strategy. Of course, as the article correctly points out, this is Hollywood still thinking that the SOPA/PIPA fight was about lobbying, when it had little to do with that (not to say that lobbying wasn't done over the issue, but no amount of lobbying was going to win that fight -- it was the public activism that did it).
Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, the Glover Park Group and TeleMedia Policy Group have all terminated their lobbying contracts with Facebook, according to sources familiar with the lobbying terminations.
Either way, it's an odd choice to go after Facebook's lobbyists anyway, considering how little Facebook had to do with this fight at all. Of all the big internet companies, it actually seemed the least willing to even bother to do anything about SOPA/PIPA. Of course, Facebook has been ramping up its DC policy efforts on other fronts, so the lobbyists lose out, and this does nothing to benefit Hollywood. Kind of a weird move. Hollywood gets a few more lobbyists on its side... and it's unlikely to have a significant impact on how the public views these attempts by Hollywood to attack the internet, rather than adapt to market realities.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 20th 2012 7:40am
USTR Claims TPP Has 'Unprecedented' Transparency, But It Won't Reveal The Details Unless You're A Big Industry Lobbyist
from the not-how-to-do-things dept
So what could the USTR possibly mean in claiming that the TPP process has been transparent? Well, they like to talk about their "Industry Trade Advisory Committees" (ITACs), who get to see the documents and provide input. The USTR apparently insisted that "no one" on those boards were lobbyists. Yet, Jamie Love, over at KEI (who was present at this meeting) has listed out the members of these ITACs to show that, once again, the USTR is lying. Among the folks on the relevant ITACs are executives from a variety of lobbying groups, including the MPAA, the RIAA, the ESA, and PhRMA. In other words, all of the big corporate interests known for their desire to only expand IP law and enforcement to protect their own business models.
This is exactly the kind of thing that people have been protesting about SOPA and ACTA: crony capitalism with backroom deals involving old, slow and obsolete industry interests helping to write the laws that hold back innovation for the sake of keeping them from having to innovate. The USTR should be ashamed of itself. It should really open up the process. Release the drafts public, request open feedback, and stop just listening to one side of the story.