UPDATE, 1:50 PM: Movie studios took Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and California Rep. Darrell Issa to task today after they unveiled draft anti-piracy legislation that could serve as an alternative to the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act. The two current bills have created a furor about how to police overseas Web sites that traffic in pirated entertainment: Content companies want to give federal officials authority to block the sites. Tech companies say that would put too much power into the government’s hands, which could lead to abuses. The MPAA supports PROTECT IP and SOPA, and challenged a key part of Wyden and Issa’s legislation: They would have the U.S. International Trade Commission, instead of federal courts, handle anti-piracy cases. That “allows companies profiting from online piracy to advocate for foreign rogue websites against rightful American copyright holders,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior EVP Global Policy and External Affairs. ITC is set up to oversee patent cases, not criminal ones, and therefore would favor tech companies that deal with patent law all the time, he adds. But Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) — a co-sponsor of the new legislation, called the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act –told The Hill blog that it’s “a good starting point for future discussions on how to best protect U.S. intellectual property rights.”
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY PM: Here’s more on that joint MPAA/studio moguls/Hollywood guilds lobbying in Washington DC today from news reports. The MPAA moguls led by News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch included Fox Filmed Entertainment’s Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes, Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer, Walt Disney Studios’ Rich Ross, and Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Michael Lynton converged on Capitol Hill to solidify support for two antipiracy bills moving through Congress — the Senate’s Protect IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Hollywood Big Media are lined up against Internet companies such as Google. Its Chairman Eric Schmidt today told lawmakers that Congress would be making a big mistake to pass the Hollywood-backed laws. Opponents including much of Silicon Valley plan to present alternative legislation Thursday, a week before the scheduled markup of the House measure. Backed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Or) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca), it will narrow the definition of a rogue website and curb private lawsuits.
The Hollywood studios are among 350 large corporations who have come out in favor of SOPA and PIPA. Opponents besides Google and other Internet companies include the Consumer Electronics Association which according to Forbes claims SOPA “allows movie studios, foreign luxury goods manufacturers, patent and copyright trolls, and any holder of any intellectual property right to target lawful U.S. websites and technology companies”. Each side has spent roughly $90 million on lobbying efforts. Allegations are that Big Media have donated millions of dollars to individual senators and representatives supporting the legislation over the course of their careers.