Surprise: Rep. Bob Goodlatte Thinks The Justice Department Is Too Cozy With Hollywood

from the didn't-see-that-coming dept

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the current head of the House Judiciary Committee, is seen as a friend of copyright maximalists — generally supporting their legislative efforts. He’s not nearly as extreme as his predecessor, Lamar Smith, but he’s hardly seen as a problem for Hollywood. So, it’s a bit surprising to see Goodlatte pen an article for Politico, talking about “waste” at the Justice Department, where he explicitly calls out the DOJ’s cozy relationship with Hollywood.

While he isn’t talking about the cozy relationship that worries us — the domain seizures, the willingness (and eagerness) to act as Hollywood’s personal police force, and the revolving door between DOJ lawyers and big entertainment lobbying and litigation firms — it is still interesting to see Goodlatte less than happy about some aspect of the DOJ and Hollywood’s close and personal relationship:

Tax dollars are also used at the department to help the entertainment industry. The FBI has its own Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit, which is dedicated to helping Hollywood make movies and TV shows, including “The Kingdom,” “Fast and Furious 4,” “CSI,” “Numb3rs” and “Without a Trace.” This perk for Hollywood comes with an annual price tag of $1.5 million to the American taxpayer.

We actually agree that this is a sickening waste of taxpayer funds. And while it’s less concerning than those things we mentioned above, it does serve to provide more reasons why the DOJ seems so eager to buddy up with Hollywood when it comes to law enforcement. They’re star-chasing. Either way, kudos to Goodlatte for calling out this point, and hopefully it will also lead to him recognizing that the improper relationship between Hollywood and the DOJ goes well beyond making TV shows.

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Comments on “Surprise: Rep. Bob Goodlatte Thinks The Justice Department Is Too Cozy With Hollywood”

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Akari Mizunashi (profile) says:

I just read the linked article, and I found this line to be frightening:
“Despite the clear disapproval from Congress last year, the DOJ purchased an unused prison in Illinois.”

Translation: Congress has no authority over the DOJ.

While it’s nice to see Congress calling out the DOJ/Hollywood relationship, they obviously have no power to stop them from having children named “F”, “B”, and “I”.

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Read the same thing.DOJ went against Congress.
What I am seeing and what I believe is we will within 20 years be some type of Dictatorship/Police State.
All the signs are there.Unfortunately there are to many Sheep and they do not see or they think they see and follow the Dis-Information.
I base my negative pessimistic outlook on Reading a lot of History Books and trying to learn how Political systems Work.
I can say they always take away things little by little.And in between taking more they always release a lot of Dis-Information.Then after time people wake up to their new Ruler and they wonder how it all happened.

Akari Mizunashi (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I should have used “influence” rather than “authority”, but yes, they are separate branches.

That’s why I said they obviously have no power to stop them (from creating other authorities to sleep with Hollywood, such as the FBI and ICE).

I was going to make a crack with the “FBI”, but I couldn’t think of anything for “B”.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Honestly, I think the domain seizures are going too far… someone should have to be convicted of a crime before the government can seize their assets – domain names included.

As to the government being the Copyright Police… isn’t providing law enforcement part of the government’s job? I’ll agree that DOJ should not be treating Hollywood any differntly than any other group of citizens, but let’s face it: what are the biggest targets of IP theft? I’m betting it’s Hollywood and Microsoft.

Now when it comes to liasing with TV studios, I am down with that, provided TV studios are willing to pay a consultation fee.

When I was in for Jury duty recently, the prosecutor and defense attorney both brought up CSI. Essentially, their comments were “You realize we’re not going to provide you with a cut and dried case like on CSI, right?”

I think it’s important that TV get law enforcement right, but I also think it’s important that the studios pay for that.

But really, $1.5 million a year? That’s chicken feed when you consider the overall Federal budget… and if I had to choose between Hollywood getting that service for free or not having that service at all, I’d rather the taxpayer spend the money.

At least it’s not paying for another bridge to nowhere.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure you are correct about where the most copyright infringment happens (“IP Theft”… lol!) There are a lot of people pirating software. The software companies often will count on it as part of their business strategy. Then the music industry also probably has a lot of pirating going on since music is so much smaller to move than movies.

Anyway, the issue with the personal police is basically because the copyright issues that they are persuing are civil issues rather than criminal. Yes they are law enforcement, but that doesn’t mean they should be investigating people’s divorces for them and such, they should be handling actual crime.

As for domain seizures.. You shouldn’t worry because being accused by hollywood of infringement will soon be a crime in and of itself anyway. They own the law.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Your forgetting the payout we give for each episode shot in various places that they reupped in the first fiscal cliff save at the end of last year. It was so important we give this massive money making industry handouts to create their product with tax payer dollars.

I bet if you keep looking you can find many more.

Your facet might be dripping just a little, but over time you can waste hundreds of gallons of water.

Lets get someone to turn the facet all the way off.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m not sure what a facet is, but I fix my faucets as soon as they start leaking.

Like I said, if Hollywood needs consultants from the FBI, I think they should be paying for it.

But if I had to choose between the FBI spending a million dollars a year on “public relations” or having wildly inaccurate TV shows that skew the public’s opinion and make law enforcement’s job harder, I’ll take the $1 million expense.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to see Hollywood pay for it. It just means that I see the value to the public in having TV reflect reality.

People actually go to court thinking that CSI is real…and juries acquit criminals because the lawyers can’t present a case that’s as cut and dried as what they see on television.

People go to court thinking that because they watch Boston Legal, they know the law. Then they get laughed out of the courtroom by the judge and the other guy’s lawyer.

So there’s value in making sure that the public sees more realistic legal and police procedures. I don’t call that a leaky faucet. I call that a necessary public service.

Anonymous Coward says:

Either way, kudos to Goodlatte for calling out this point, and hopefully it will also lead to him recognizing that the improper relationship between Hollywood and the DOJ goes well beyond making TV shows.

Yeah, it’s so disgusting how law enforcement officials enforce the law against you pirate friends! How dare they! They should sit idly by and do nothing as the pirates violate other people’s rights for profit. Great stuff, Mike. Real classy, as always. Tell us again how you’re on the fence about whether you think copyright is good or bad. I love that one!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The DOJ “favors” lots and lots of rightholders who are having their rights violated. Just because here it’s “Hollywood,” Mike can’t stand it. Why? Because Mike thinks “Hollywood” is so evil! All of it! Why Mike hates “Hollywood” so much is anyone’s guess, but I don’t think you can deny that he hates everything about it and can’t stop writing hit piece after hit piece. But yeah, he’s on the fence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Provide evidence.

He’s never said whether he thinks copywrite itself is good or bad.

Secondly, because he wont answer your poorly worded question and won’t give you an opinion does not make him “on the fence”.

You can dislike his answers, but stop making things up.

The DOJ can favor rightsholders. What this article says is there is an improper relationship due to the money and additional work that goes into assisting hollywood.

This applies to lots of things, not just the DOJ. This is why you have such a thing as “impartial third parties” who do things. In theory, the DOJ is supposed to be an impartial party which enforces the law, not one who favors anyone except the proper reasonable enforcement of the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Let’s see… He claims that he’s on the fence about whether authors and artists should have any exclusive rights whatsoever. Yet, he writes thousands of articles critical of those exclusive rights, and no articles where he speaks positively about them. Seems pretty clear to me that his mind is made up, and it’s also clear that he’s lying when he says he’s on the fence. He just doesn’t want to admit what he clearly believes because he’s ashamed of himself and worried that he’ll be even more of an outcast extremist.

What makes the relationship “improper” other than that Mike hates “Hollywood”? I’m sure the government spends lots of money building up goodwill.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

He’s never claimed that he’s on the fence about anything. He just wont answer your question about whether he believes there should be copywrite or not.

He writes articals critical about the current copywrite regime and how we give out FAR more limited monopolies than we really should be, and that rather than benefitting the public (the reason copywrite exists) it has instead become harmful.

Why focus on the positive? The positive is working, what we need to fix is the negative. Singing someones praises never did anyone any good, unless you believe this new age tripe where we should always focus on positive reinforcement.

It makes it improper because because building up goodwill is paying but nothing else, what Hollywood is doing is paying AND influencing. Influence makes it improper, and they have influence as shown by the DOJ granting them favors and doing things for them that they would not do for other people/industries.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The relationship is only improper if you are against corruption. If you are against corruption, then what makes it improper is that the industry lobbiests provide direct incentives (money, cushy jobs, gifts, parties, etc, etc) to gov’t reps in exchange for pushing through laws that they want passed that no one else wants passed and for otherwise acting as stooges for them.

Or, if you want to be super picky, since we don’t “know” that the money etc is directly in exchange for those favours, you could say “incentives” that create a conflict of interest for the gov’t reps. That much is iron clad.

There have been plenty of articles with evidence about that sort of thing, as I’m sure you are well aware.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s the other way around, the reason we don’t like hollywood is because of how corrupt they are. It’s not that we randomly picked hollywood to dislike and that caused them to become corrupt or something. We just don’t like the instigators of extreme corruption in the legal system. There are plenty of rights holders who are less corrupt that don’t receive the same level of hatred.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re:

We’re talking about spending funds here, not enforcing the law. Get it right eh? You see piracy actually being affected?

If they actually enforced copyright law, they would not be able to make it so ridiculous. I’d love to see them busting into people’s homes and hauling em away for singing happy birthday at a party. All they do is spend funds and randomly pick a few people to pick on.

PlagueSD says:

Tax dollars are also used at the department to help the entertainment industry. The FBI has its own Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit, which is dedicated to helping Hollywood make movies and TV shows, including ?The Kingdom,? ?Fast and Furious 4,? ?CSI,? ?Numb3rs? and ?Without a Trace.? This perk for Hollywood comes with an annual price tag of $1.5 million to the American taxpayer.

So tell me again why Numb3rs was cancelled???

tywebb (profile) says:

As someone alluded to earlier, ensuring law enforcement activities are portrayed accurately is valuable to both the entertainment and law enforcement communities. I’m sure that Hollywood would gladly pick up the $1.5 million tab for any consultation they do with DOJ to that end. However, I’m certain that they aren’t allowed to make a direct financial contributions to a federal agency. And one can only imagine what all of you Hollywood haters would say if they were giving money directly to DOJ. Of course, the studios pay a substantial amount annually in federal corporate taxes. This is a non-story, but Mike can’t resist taking a shot at the movie industry whenever he can. Guess what. The US military offers similar technical services to the studios. If everyone on this site has all of a sudden become a flock of fiscal hawks, I suggest we have some articles about how silicon valley companies like Google and Facebook are bilking the taxpayers out of millions of tax dollars so they can offer their employees gourmet meals.

tywebb (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The Wall Street Journal had an article on it, but it is behind a paywall (oh the humanity!)

Below are some links to other stories.

The examples you cited were businesses reimbursing local PDs for their services. I’m not sure the same rules apply for federal law enforcement.

bshock says:

big deal

If a U.S. congressman is suggesting that he doesn’t like something about Big Media’s association with the DOJ, isn’t it more than likely this same congressman is just looking for a hand-out from Big Media?

We’ve read about this again and again: politicians are constantly fielding bad bills so that one business or another will pay to make them go away. The only difference here is that Goodlatte isn’t bothering to push it to the bill stage yet.

special-uninteresting says:

More meaningless corporate sponsored legislation that further erodes personal privacy. Eternal vigilance has slipped so far its almost out of sight atm. Considering that traditional protest rights/methods have been clipped/curtailed/criminalized how does one propagate individual freedoms?

My latest mantra has been rallying donations for the EFF and the few senators who (at least seem to at first, explanation follows) support democratic values, has demonstrated both basic constitutional awareness (has read the Bill of Rights at least) and a skill for articulating that knowledge/wisdom.

Sure a politician/senator/representative/president/etc somewhat responds to written letters/complaints/comments/phone-messages/surveys/questionnaires/etc but what really lights up a politicians eyes and heart IS A DONATION!

Yes. Moolah, cash, checks, bitcoin or whatever will motivate the political heart greater than any (well constructed/worded Ben Franklin level 12 page) essay which, considering the average grade school reading level of todays citizen, would be ignored or put them to sleep. (if anyone thinks thats a derogatory comment… GOOD!) Just sending a letter of congrats costs a politician time and resources just to read/process it.

Imagine the senator who makes a slip up and speaks his/her honest mind and inadvertently comes out supporting/in-favor of some bill that expands individual rights or restrict copyright monopoly? Of course one would expect a through special interest group or industry pounding complete with skewed facts and pointless studies showing how silly anyone who defies big money.

They might also get a bunch of notes/e-mails/letters from ordinary constituents and other citizens congratulating them for wisdom and how great they feel that someone has made the right choice instead of being a stool pigeon… Well thats fine and all that and will at least allow them to feel better. But. So what.

Now what if that same politician received donations (20usd is almost the min these days but give what u can) from their constituents? Yes eyes light up and hearts begin to beat faster. Political contributions force the recipient to, sit up straight in the chair and, take their constituents seriously. Donations are the blood of any political animal and it either flows or not.

Now what if OUT OF STATE citizens started to donate to this same state senator/representative in somewhat significant amounts/numbers? This is a stand up and start pacing the office kind of event. At this point, in time and space, the average politician starts having presidential, Speaker of the House or Senate Minority Leader ambitions/visions growing.

If a popular political movement is supported by generous contributions… we have a political heart beat. ?IT’S ALIVE!!!? (Young Frankenstein emphasis) Considering morals and such the politician who earns a legitimate living from meager but honest citizen donations might be preferable to feeding from the corporate animal feed trough.

Further topics might include; When to stop or change to better politicians. What constitutes a hijacked citizens group? How to learn NOT to vote for the largest (size of donations bankroll) mysterious cash source campaign candidate.

SO. If Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s views on how Hollywood is overrepresented in congress… send him some moolah (not a lot since his views seem to be restrained and limited with respect to corralling over-government) with a SHORT note saying why u like what he said.

SO. You have found a senator who is critical of CISPA, ACTA, TPP, CFAA, fill in the blank… Tell them so by sending a donation check. Its the best (only?) way.

SO. One or two senators raise an eyebrow about eternal copywrong (right?) and maybe copyright should be shortened to 14-28 years or maybe even see tossing it out entirely because that would be better off. (for whatever reason take your pick; eternal cultural destruction, criminalization of civil law, legislative corruption from special interest groups) Forcing something milder and more reasonable to replace it hopefully.

SO. You have found something you want supported in government? Give. Until it hurts because (most likely) nobody else will. (IRS snooping without warrants in e-mails? DRM got your tongue? Etc.)

Sooooo.. (what? Haha) . -ioevil laugh-

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