Hollywood v. Silicon Valley: What’s next?

January 18th, 2012 by Jasleen Ahuja

Even as national politicians boast about giving each other a figurative punch in the nose, the movie and music industries, their lawyers and lobbyists are getting a hard shove back from the online world over legal measures aimed at ridding the internet of intellectual piracy that the entertainment industry loathes and says costs it billions. No, this blog won’t go dark today — instead, here’s our take on today’s Hollywood v. Silicon Valley legal smackdown. The brawling, of course, is over the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill that proposes to clean up the net by giving lawmakers the power to shut down any website that is accused of containing pirated material. Along with SOPA, there’s the Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act, aka, PIPA, backed by the Entertainment Software Association and providing another method to combat infringement.

But these measures, which the influential film and music industries had sought to jam through Congress and looked to have clear sailing for awhile, angered the netizens, who called them an authoritarian overreach that could imperil both free expression and robust commerce online.

So, as the media have blared for a bit now, many prominent net players have expressed their ire on sites seen by tens of millions daily. They’ve shuttered their websites for the day or launched other online protests. The protesters include Wikipedia, Reddit and Google and the collective opposition online to the anti-piracy bills has coalesced into Stop American Censorship Day.

Let’s all see what counter tactics might come in the days ahead from backers of SOPA and PIPA — powerful groups themselves that include the MPAA,  RIAA, DC and Marvel Comics and Universal Pictures and Universal Music Group. The opposition titans include Facebook and Google, which aggressively have opposed SOPA since its inception.

For those involved with the law, especially those who watch how it gets made in Congress (which can be the legislative equivalent of the proverbial sausage factory), the current policy-making campaigns have caused some buzz because, in the 21st Century, much of the action suddenly has moved out of Washington hallways and backrooms and out, very publicly, into cyberspace.

Over the weekend, the White House conveyed its views in a blog post Saturday.

That suddenly led not just to burning phone lines and finger-jabbing to chests of pin-striped polls, but also tons of Tweets. Take for example the testy outburst by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, of Newscorp, who lit into Google in a series of tweets: “Piracy leader is Google who streams movies free, sells [advertisements] around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying.”

And “Understand more than all allege! Google great company doing many exciting things. Only one complaint, and it’s important.” He also said, curiously, he searched Google about Paramount’s latest film, Mission Impossible, and stated “Wow, several sites offering free links. I rest my case.”

 

Posted in Copyright, Intellectual property, Technology


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This site is an academic activity of law students at the Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute. Founded in 2000, the Institute takes full educational advantage of Southwestern Law School's location in Los Angeles and its long history with and deep connections to the entertainment industry.