Ex-Rep. Howard Berman lobbying for Hollywood

Former Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) is lobbying for Hollywood’s top trade group.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) signed a retainer on June 30 with Berman, who is now a lobbyist with the K Street firm Covington & Burling. The news was made public in a federal disclosure form.

Berman had close ties to the movie industry in Congress, representing a district that included parts of Hollywood until 2012, when redistricting thrust him into a fight against Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) for an open seat. Sherman triumphed, pushing Berman out of Congress after two decades.

Now Berman is paid advocate for the Hollywood studios, representing them on "issues related to intellectual property protection," according to disclosure forms.

ADVERTISEMENT
The MPAA has been one of the most vocal advocates of strong copyright and intellectual property laws in an effort to stop illegal piracy, which some estimates have shown cost studios in excess of $6 billion per year.

To fight the black market, the MPAA has occasionally turned to controversial legislation.

The trade group was one of the heaviest supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in 2012, which critics claimed would have stifled expression on the Internet by targeting foreign websites that allowed copyright theft. The bills were halted on Capitol Hill after a massive backlash from Web activists and corporate giants like Google and Wikipedia, who flexed their muscle in opposition.

Since then, the trade group has advocated for a stronger system of making sure that websites take down pirated content among other means of protecting studio's films.

The MPAA is led by another former member of Congress: former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).