Gaga Vs. Google: The Super Lobbyists

Posted on January 18, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Caren Z. Turner

Ahh, democracy in action. We never worry about lobbyists’ undue influence of Congress or the Administration. We’ve been through too many legislative battles on Capitol Hill to fear “special interests”. In fact, as any of us inside the Beltway know, for every special interest in favor of a measure, like Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

So we move to the battle of SOPA and PIPA. As noted in Politico, “If you think SOPA sounds like Mexican soup and PIPA is the fetching sister of a certain princess, you can be excused for wondering why Wikipedia, Reddit and thousands of other websites are blacking out in protest Wednesday.” You may also wonder why Anonymous has threatened the likes Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, and Taylor Swift. They are just some of the celebrities who endorse SOPA.

Here is a primer of what is going on. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is the House bill H.R. 3261. Protect IP Act (PIPA) is the Senate bill S. 968. The legislative goals are worthy, in our opinion. Major supporters are the US Chamber of Commerce, the music industry (RIAA), Hollywood and the movie industry (Motion Picture Association), along with big pharma (stop counterfeit drug sales) and luxury goods manufacturers (get rid of the internet luxury knockoffs). Their aim is to stop what is reported to be $130 billion in lost sales from online clicks on pirated websites, unlawful copies of movies and recording artists’ work. Strange bedfellows indeed!

On the other side of the fight is Silicon Valley including Google, Ebay, Wikipedia, Craigslist, public interest groups such as Public Knowledge the Electronic Frontier Foundation and some First Amendment Constitutional law professors, such as the well-known, Harvard Law Professor, Lawrence Tribe (yes, he DID write the book). Here is their beef; according to the bills, the legislation will allow either the Department of Justice or a private entity to seek judicial review and assessment of potential online piracy. A judge may then order an Internet Service Provider to cut access to an “offending” website. In addition, search engines may be ordered to delete “offending” links. Doesn’t sound too bad. However, when you think about it, this gives the Department of Justice (DOJ) unprecedented powers to shut down websites, even for political reasons. It also gives commercial entities a new legal hammer to cripple their competitors through the courts.

The Senate vote is slated for January 24th. The President is stuck in a tug of war with Silicon Valley and Hollywood, each pulling him in a different direction. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is slated to introduce his own new version, “Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN)” today.

And you thought this would be easy?? HAH! That is the week’s big lobbyist battle!
Have a great day!

For a funny and accurate explanation of the “independence” of super PACs please have a look at Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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