Over the summer, the Huffington Post's Zach Carter put together an absolutely brilliant look at the politics and lobbying behind patent reform
. He's now back... with a similar (and equally fantastic) look at some of the behind-the-scenes dealings concerning SOPA and PIPA
. It's a long piece, but well worth the read, highlighting a bunch of key points -- including things like how the MPAA is being misleading
about how many jobs there are in the movie industry:
"Behind Hollywood's red-carpet image lays a blue-collar reality. Most of those 2.2 million jobs are held by middle income families and small-business owners, men and women whose names will never appear on a theater marquee, but whose efforts are critical," Dodd said in a Nov. 16 speech before the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the organization responsible for the "Hollywood Walk of Fame" honoring film and music celebrities.
Dodd's 2.2 million jobs figure, however, exaggerates Hollywood's contribution to the American economy. According to supplemental data provided to HuffPost by MPAA, only 272,000 people work for movie studios and television companies. The lobby group claims that an additional 430,000 people work in related "distribution" jobs dependent on Hollywood, legal web streamers like Netflix, the few remaining video store clerks and cashiers checking out DVD purchases.
Wow. 272,000 is even less than the 374,000 number we'd seen. And this is from the MPAA directly. So how do they get up to 2.2 million jobs? By throwing in all sorts of crap:
But the vast majority of the jobs Dodd & Co. claim are threatened by online piracy are only peripherally related to the entertainment business. MPAA takes credit for nearly 1.6 million jobs at florists, catering companies, hardware stores and other industries that work with major movie studios, assuming that these jobs could not ultimately be out of a job without Hollywood help.
Of course, anyone who's intellectually honest knows that those jobs are not in the movie industry, nor does it appear they're threatened by file sharing. As we've noted, the number of movies being made (where those folks may get some business) has only been going up.
"This is a joke," says economist Dean Baker, co-Director of the progressive-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research. "This bill will have very little impact on jobs directly. And of course the money that people don't pay to the MPAA, they spend somewhere else. So this is about the distribution of jobs, not the number."
What it comes down to, of course, is the amount of money that Hollywood continues to pump into DC. In fact, many of us wondered why SOPA was so bad, given that Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who is generally tech friendly, had promised to fix the problems found in PROTECT IP. Yet, Carter reveals that Lamar Smith pulled the crafting of the bill away from Goodlatte:
By October, Smith, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, who declined to comment for this article, stripped tech-friendly Rep. Goodlatte of responsibility for the House version of Protect IP, sparking panic among tech firms. Smith delivered for Hollywood, expanding Leahy's bill to give governments and corporations the power to bring down foreign and domestic websites alike, and broadening the definition of a condemnable site to anything that "infringes or facilitates infringement."
And, he notes that, on the Senate side, Hollywood has long been a "friend" to Senator Leahy, who's leading the charge for PIPA.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) is Hollywood's current favorite son in Washington. His top two career campaign contributors are Time Warner and Disney, according to data compiled by Center for Responsive Politics; Time Warner has even given him cameo appearances in Batman movies, an experience Leahy talks of proudly.
All in all, this is an excellent and detailed read about what's been happening in DC when it comes to SOPA and PIPA.