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White House Instrumental In Getting ISP Deal For RIAA/MPAA

Posted by: , 14:05 AEDT, Mon October 17, 2011

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Freedom of Information request reveals emails that show the friendly relationship between the Obama administration and the lobbying arms of the music and movie industries, the RIAA and MPAA

Emails retrieved from a freedom of information request reveal the full extent of the White House's involvement in the RIAA/MPAA and major ISP 'graduated response' deal, with Vice President Joe Biden's and IP Czar Victoria Espinel's offices working hard to ensure the RIAA/MPAA got the best deal.

Biden's links to the music industry has long been known, and his voting records show he was very much on the copyright lobby's side during his time as a US Senator.

But the FOI request revealed emails that showed the full extent of the administration's support of a backroom deal between the RIAA/MPAA and America's top ISPs, a deal that has nothing to do with the government, as it was a deal between private companies (and one that bypasses the legal system). The emails highlight the close relationship between the administration and the lobbying arm of the music and movie industries. 

Critics, such as Internet security and privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian, who actually initiated the FOI request, say that these kind of backroom deals are potentially "scary", due to lack of judicial reviews. "I wanted to find out what role the White House has played in the negotiation, but unfortunately, the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) withheld key documents that would shed further light on it," explained Soghoian on why he sought more information on the White House's role in the deal.

More disturbing though is the lack of involvement by organisations representing the interest of consumers. While groups like the CDT and Public Knowledge were eventually informed of the deal just prior to public release, they were not asked to be involved in the secret backroom negotiations, and so had no say in the final outcome of the discussions. 

With the American public currently expressing their displeasure at the inappropriately close relationships between lobbyist and policy makers in Washington, most notably expressed via the Occupy Wall Street movement, these latest revelations will add to the growing anger against the Obama administration for its role in aiding the copyright lobby to pass laws and, now apparently, helping to negotiate private deals that take away the rights of consumers, highlighting an administration, that at least on copyright issues, secretly backs lobbyists and private industries at the expensive of public interest.

Not that the other side is any better, as Republicans, who receive equal amounts of attention from the copyright lobby, have also been leading calls for tougher copyright laws, and even calling for a "bigger government" approach (by making what was civil legal matters, into criminal matters, and forcing the DoJ to get involved) when it comes to helping the movie and music industry fight the online piracy problem.


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