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Copyright Lobbying in Washington, A Roundup

Posted by: , 14:03 AEST, Mon September 19, 2011

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Lobbying efforts have intensified in the last quarter as the RIAA, MPAA, and even RapidShare, spend millions to get politicians to support their agendas

The details of lobbying efforts on copyright issues has just been revealed for Q2 of 2011. 

With the controversial PROTECT IP act, which will grant government and content owners broad powers to take down, prosecute and block websites that are deemed to be "rogue", still being debated around Capitol Hill, the lobbying efforts have been intense of late. 

The music industry is also keep to support a proposed bill that would force radio stations to pay royalties to performers. The RIAA revealed that it spent $1.25M lobbying the federal government to get this bill, and other friendly bills, passed. The RIAA represents the four major record labels, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner, and have been fighting an uphill battle against declining revenue figures. While the RIAA has largely blamed piracy, and in relation to the new ratio station bill, the declining value of allowing radio stations to freely air songs for promotional purposes, for its declining fortunes, the real threat appears to be consumer's changing shopping habits when it comes to albums versus singles, as purchase of singles (mostly in digital form) is up at the expense of revenue (album sales represented more than 90% of US recorded music revenue up until the early 2000's).

The RIAA's Q2 lobbying efforts actually decline compared to the same period a year ago, when they spent $1.4M. 

The MPAA, representing the major movie studios, also spent up big in Washington trying to get the PROTECT IP bill passed. Even though the movie industry is a bigger one, revenue wise, than the music industry, the MPAA have only spent $470K in 2Q lobbying, up slightly from a year ago. The MPAA is hoping the PROTECT IP bill passes, allowing websites that it describes as "rogue" to be prosecuted by the government, and to force ISPs and search engines to implement filtering to prevent users from visiting these sites, and force financial providers to cease business with these websites. Prominent Internet entrepreneurs, engineers and law professors have all come out attacking PROTECT IP. 

One website that the MPAA (and RIAA) has already identified as "rogue" is popular file hosting website Rapidshare. The company would have the most to lose if PROTECT IP is made into law, which would then force law enforcement agencies to effectively become "copyright cops", and to force the DoJ to pursue RapidShare in the courts, with the final goal of blocking access to RapidShare for US Internet users. And this is why RapidShare have also done their own bit of lobbying recently, with the company revealing lobbying spending of $260,000 in the first two quarters of 2011, a figure that pales in significance to the amount being spent by pro PROTECT IP groups, but still significant in that this kind of lobbying "from the other side" has been rare up until this point.


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