Tech group says lawmakers catering to Hollywood

{mosads} Shapiro made the comments while discussing the Senate’s Protect IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act. Both bills would provide law enforcement and copyright holders with expanded powers to shutdown websites dedicated to copyright infringement. The Protect IP Act cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in May and the Stop Online Piracy Act is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee. 

Movie studios, record companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly support the measures, arguing they are needed to crackdown on copyright infringement and to protect creative industries. Shapiro and other tech leaders oppose the bills, saying they would impose burdens on websites and would stifle online innovation.

Shapiro noted that movie studios and record labels have successfully lobbied to extend the life of copyrights, which are now much longer than patents. 

“Because of their phenomenal lobbying, the content copyright is almost perpetual—it’s about hundred years,” Shapiro said.

He expressed frustration that tech companies have not done a better job of lobbying Judiciary lawmakers.

“The tech industry really isn’t that good at fundraising, frankly, and a lot of them vote on the basis of their social issues,” he said.

According to campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, employees of the television, movie and music industries have donated $450,450 to lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee and $3.2 million to lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But the tech industry is not that far behind. Employees of computer and Internet companies have donated $356,389 to House Judiciary lawmakers and $1.7 million to Senate Judiciary lawmakers.

A spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America said her organization has sway because it makes a strong case for copyright enforcement.

“I don’t think anyone can disagree that business for CEA members has been booming and they have made their presence felt in Washington. If the case we make is at all persuasive, it’s because we have a compelling story of $7 billion in lost revenues and 15,000 layoffs, primarily due to rogue websites,” she said.

The Motion Picture Association of America also pushed back against Shapiro’s comments.

“The fact of the matter is that Mr. Shapiro has chosen to go all negative all the time on the issue of content theft,” Howard Gantman, a spokesman for the MPAA, said. “That does not lead to positive discussions or legislative solutions.”

The C-SPAN episode, which was taped on Wednesday, will air on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

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