by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
chris dodd, pipa, republican party, sopa


MPAA Shifts Its Funding Efforts To Republicans After SOPA Defeat

from the but-of-course dept

You may recall that, as SOPA/PIPA were in their final death throes, MPAA boss Chris Dodd made a significant political faux pas in flat out warning politicians that if they refused to stay bought, the MPAA might not keep funding them:
"Those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake,"
Historically, of course, it has always been the Democrats that Hollywood has backed the most. While there are some high profile exceptions, Hollywood is a Democratic town. And, of course, with the Democrats failing to give Hollywood its desired censorship tool, the MPAA has apparently shifted strategies and has ramped up its funding of Republicans (possible paywall, depending on where you visit from):
Last year, the MPAA replaced its longtime lead lobbying firm, considered to be close with Democrats, with a lobbyist with ties to key GOP lawmakers. Its political-action committee now gives more donations to Republicans than Democrats. And it has sent money to a GOP super PAC, a conservative antitax entity and a business lobby helping Republicans in the 2014 elections.
Of course, this isn't so much the end result of Dodd's promise, rather it appears to be the MPAA recognizing that the party that bailed first (and most loudly) on SOPA and PIPA... were the Republicans, who have begun showing sparks that suggest that they may break from the bipartisan support for copyright maximalism.

While it's easy to be cynical about the MPAA here, it's more likely that this is all by design by Congress itself. For all the belief that lobbyists drive the agenda in Congress via money, when you dig down, you realize it's often the opposite, with the politicians themselves effectively extorting money from lobbyists by threatening to push certain laws.

In fact, right before SOPA blew up, a cynical, but knowledgeable (and all too prescient) friend of mine pointed out that the whole point of SOPA/PIPA was to pit two "rich" industries -- tech and Hollywood -- against each other to make donations rain from the sky. As this friend pointed out, for years, Congress would pit two other "rich" industries -- radio broadcasters and the recording industry -- against each other by pushing a performance rights bill, and both sides would donate heavily to various candidates in support of or against it. However, by 2010, it was quickly becoming clear that neither the radio industry, nor the recording industry were going to continue being huge successful industries with lots of money to throw around lobbying. So, folks on the Judiciary Committee looked around and sought a bill that would get the tech industry and Hollywood all riled up to start donating. It didn't much matter if the bills passed or not -- just that people got angry.

And that's more or less what happened.

And, now the MPAA is raining dollars on candidates it hasn't in the past:
In 2010, MPAA had a budget of about $50 million, down from $70 million in 2008, according to tax forms. In 2012, the last year for which tax forms are available, MPAA's budget was back to nearly $70 million....

The fastest-growing part of the MPAA budget is donations to interest groups and political organizations. It made $2.5 million in grants to third-party groups in 2012, up from just $120,000 in 2009. Many were routed to nonpolitical organizations that share Hollywood's interest in copyright protections or lower taxes. About $600,000 went to organizations that play a more political role.

MPAA gave $75,000 to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is a top supporter of Republican candidates for Congress; $100,000 to Americans for Tax Reform, the antitax group run by conservative advocate Grover Norquist ; $25,000 to the large pro-Republican super PAC American Action Network; and $20,000 to Let Freedom Ring, whose mission is to "counter the attacks of anti-conservative groups," according to its website.
Cynical or not, if the plan all along with SOPA/PIPA was basically a fundraising plan for Congress, well, mission accomplished.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    I believe that's more fitting anyway. The MPAA isn't about actors and art, it is about corporate control and money. Now they're pitting the people who make the movies against the people who fund them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 12:08pm

    Yeah, let's see how the "freedom supporting" Republicans try to explain to the public how MPAA-supported copyright monopoly laws are good for "freedom".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Binko Barnes (profile), Feb 28th, 2014 @ 12:20pm

    That's about as blatant a "we pay you to buy the legislation we want" statement that I've ever seen. Blatant enough to risk criminal investigation if Mr. Dodd wasn't a golden, highly-connected, Washington insider.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    anon, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 12:21pm

    Seriously when are the people goign to start protesting , I seriously do not understand why the American people are not having riots and demanding the governemetn rule for the people and not big business, why are citizens so laid back and allowing this to happen, surely they must be pissed off with being treated like peasants. I thought the class divide was big , but it seems like it is growing at an astounding rate, The youngsters complain about the baby boomers in the US , those people that fought for their rights, and they complain all the time about the boomers having caused all the problems, when it is this generation that is so yellow they cant get out on the streets becasue they are scared they will be abused by their police force, or the army..yellow i tell you.This generation needs to look back and see how the baby boomers demanded change and demanded fair wages and fairness for all...now the middle age and younger could not be bothered making a phone call or sending a letter, it is too hard they want to send emails and texts or write on the internet complaining , they have no guts no strength they are weak and need to get of their lazy asses and complain...maybe then they will not be ripped off at every turn, maybe then they will enjoy what the rest of the world is enjoying...freedom from oppression...and yes there are many countries like America, many countries that are worse, but America was supposed to be the best...at the moment they are on par with some of the smallest and poorest countries in the world as the rich horde the wealth offshore and refuse to invest in America...allowing the country that has helped them gain that wealth to drop to the bottom of a lot of the lists of the worst in things in the world...And yes i am pissed off, the Americans are throwing away a country that was once respected and looked up to...do something dammit take your country back from the idiots that are raping it..cos if you dont you will end up like Greece begging others for money just to pay the bills....what a waste of a lovely country.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 28th, 2014 @ 12:34pm


    Maybe because ultimately, to most people, it's just movies.

    And this is how politics has worked since the beginning. It's always been an exchange of favors. It's nothing new.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Erik Grant, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 1:04pm

    Put the tinfoil down!

    This really isn't so diabolical as all that. It's certainly true that members of Congress tend to benefit heavily financially whenever there is contention between two large industries, and legislation appears as a result of that. But the tension between tech and the entertainment industry has been going on since the days of Napster, this is nothing new. Congress certainly didn't "put them up to it".

    What is far more likely is that, as a continuation of the ongoing battle, the entertainment industry finally pushed (read: paid) hard enough to get legislation introduced to punish the tech industry. As a result, the tech industry began pumping money into the situation to combat that legislation.

    My point here is that both sides pouring money into Congress isn't the goal by design, but rather a byproduct of two large industries in conflict.

    I'll end this post the same way I end a lot of them on Techdirt: not everything is a damned conspiracy, people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    AC, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 1:18pm


    Anon could not have said it better. Your country has about the same human rights as most dictatorships do. your president is not really elected, he is a ruler over you and does not matter what you say he does as he pleases, that sounds like a dictator. Time for a new uprising and time for the people to take back their country, or are you all to yellow to do that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 1:27pm

    As a Conservative

    I cannot stand the Repukelican parties adherence to corporate dictatorship mentality!

    Again.. Dem or Rep, both sides of the coin of evil! Both seek to enslave us, they merely disagree on how to do it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 28th, 2014 @ 1:36pm


    They'll do it just as they always have. This isn't new territory for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 28th, 2014 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re:

    For all the copious faults and failings of of the past few presidents (and the current one), none of them are anywhere near being a dictator.

    The US is not, and is not going to become, a dictatorship. What it is is a corporatocracy -- which, admittedly, is at least as bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 1:40pm

    We need a "sad but true" button for the article itself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    yes, it is a corporatocracy but it's being backed up by those who are trying to get a Police State established. look at reports of how people have been treated, unarmed people, people who were mentally retarded, homeless and helpless, all killed by police officers 'in the line of duty'! ya gotta be fuckin' kiddin' me!! those type of people should never be employed in these roles and should definitely be severely punished for what they did but 99.9% of them get a slap on the wrist, if that, and carry on regardless. all that gives is the impression that to go around shooting people who have done nothing is perfectly fine!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 2:40pm

    Don't worry Mike, Google far outspends the MPAA and the RIAA in lobbying dollars. And almost everyone else as well. But you know that already.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Alien Rebel (profile), Feb 28th, 2014 @ 3:53pm

    Who's Turn is it To Drive?

    Thanks for the reminder that the politicians themselves are often driving, rather than merely being passively driven by the moneyed interests in D.C. I suppose with all the hyper-partisan propaganda these days, it's easy to oversimplify how things really work and forget just how complex our Beruit on the Potomac can be.

    Regarding the MPAA, this news is not some grand revelation in light of their on-going relationship with the Nickles Group LLC, lobbying firm of far right-wing goofball and former U.S. Senator Don Nickles (R-OK). The Copyright Alliance, after all, was a creation of Nickles associates and the MPAA.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    OldMugwump (profile), Feb 28th, 2014 @ 3:58pm


    Well, thank goodness somebody is standing up for the interests of the public.

    (yes, even they do it from self-interest - I take my allies where I can get them)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Kronomex, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 6:01pm

    Definition of the two major political parties (and it makes no real difference what "democratic" country you live in): Democrats (Labor here) - see Republican (Liberal National Party here) and vice versa. Both sides have prostituted themselves to the corporations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Feb 28th, 2014 @ 6:03pm


    Funny then how many politicians seem to be out to slam google on any number of things, while being completely blind to anything the *AA's do...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 6:25pm


    Name "almost everyone else".

    But you know you can't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    David, Mar 1st, 2014 @ 1:06am

    Remember Derek Khanna?

    He wrote a remarkably intelligent report outlining ways to reign the absurd copyright protection durations in. While met with approval first, he got unceremoniously sacked when the lobbyists caught wind of it.

    Now actually his standpoint was a rather Republican one, but obviously he got the cash cows mad. It's likely that they kicked in enough money to fund 100 staffers for 10 years in order to have a public example made of Khanna.

    So that might have been one of the most successful funding drives Derek Khanna could have made, and it probably helped that the conference or whatever it was where he presented his paper passed a sympathetic verdict on it: that's probably what got the big cash rolling.

    Seriously: can the U.S. not pass laws against corruption? The amount to which politicians and parties are funded by rich interest groups is ridiculous. There is hardly a more thoroughly corrupt political class than that of the U.S. because of it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Aussie Geoff (profile), Mar 1st, 2014 @ 8:36am

    I have sympathy for Chris Dodd. I mean how would you feel if you thought you had bought something (like a politician) and when you tried to use it for your own benefit at a later time found you had only bought a revokable, restricted licence?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    loopy pants, Mar 2nd, 2014 @ 9:47am

    Response to: Erik Grant on Feb 28th, 2014 @ 1:04pm

    Your condescending commitment to the idea that 'everything is not a conspiracy people' is clearly the motivation for your post, and not an interest in reality. Smug wins!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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