MPAA president Chris Dodd today lashed out at critics of SOPA and PIPA antipiracy bills who equate the proposed legislation with corporate censorship and the repressive Internet policies of foreign governments. “It’s an outrageous and false comparison,” Dodd said in a speech at the Center for American Progress, according to reports on The Hill and Broadcasting & Cable websites. “Hollywood is pro-Internet. We stand with those who strongly oppose foreign governments that would unilaterally block websites and thus deny the free flow of information and speech. So I want to make it clear right at the outset that our fight against content theft is not a fight against technology. It is a fight against criminals.” Critics of the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s Protect IP ACT contend the legislation threatens Internet speech and lacks sufficient due process. These opponents include Google, other websites, Wikipedia and a significant chunk of Silicon Valley and consumer electronics companies. “Contrary to piracy apologists, the operators of these fraudulent sites aren’t overzealous film buffs or political activists making a statement about freedom of information,” Dodd said. “They are criminals, plain and simple: they don’t innovate, they don’t adhere to manufacturing standards, and they certainly don’t pay taxes on the proceeds from their scams.”
Dodd described the entertainment industry’s position as a fight to preserve good jobs. The studios aren’t the only ones affected, he stressed. Some 95,000 businesses and the people they employ are hurt by digital theft. It’s not about star salaries, he said, but the $55,000 average pay for a generally unionized movie and TV worker, as well as the “local lumber yard supplying the material, catering company feeding the cast and crew and car dealership providing the vehicles.” The House Judiciary Committee plans to mark up SOPA on Thursday. Its sponsor Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), has just circulated a revised version he says addresses some of its critics concerns. Opponents plan to introduce their own bill tomorrow. The Senate has already moved PIPA forward toward floor debate.