If you want to understand how throughly corporations control our government, take a look at this story on the New York Times' Media Decoder blog:
Look for changes in the proposed antipiracy legislation that has giants in the entertainment and technology industries squared off against each other, but nothing extensive enough to please all of the legislation’s opponents. That was the message from Michael O’Leary, the senior executive vice president for global policy and external affairs of the Motion Picture Association of America, during a telephone news briefing on Wednesday.
“We will come forward with language that will address some of the legitimate concerns” of technology companies that have opposed the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, and a similar Protect I.P. Act in the Senate, Mr. O’Leary said.
He said those who were pushing the far-reaching antipiracy legislation have been huddling with Congressional staff members from both parties and both the House and Senate in the last few days, in an effort to answer some objections raised by Google, Yahoo and others who say the bills reach too far.
Of course, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) is referring to the incredibly negative response to the far-reaching, censorship-enabling SOPA and PIPA bills. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed the petition at stopcensorship.org opposing these bills. I have yet to encounter a single person willing to support or defend the legislation in real life.
But what struck me most about this isn't the supposed promise to "address concerns" (PR speak for "we're going to get this bill passed whether you like it or not"). It's the offhand way the MPAA admits that they, not actual members of Congress, are the authors of this bill.
As Techdirt's Mike Masnick writes:
The more telling point in all of this is the outright admission that the MPAA is the one writing the bill. We've seen some reports making the rounds where defenders of the bill keep insisting "this bill isn't being written by Hollywood," but in the quote above, you can see that O'Leary is confirming that the MPAA is providing the language.
The MPAA, of course, is simply a front group for Disney, Sony, Fox, Universal, Paramount and Time Warner, the most powerful big media conglomerates (the organization is now led by former Senator Chris Dodd).
It seems that Big Media, and their appendages in Congress like Lamar Smith and Al Franken, couldn't give a damn what the public thinks. There has been zero public polling about this bill, which stands to completely transform the internet, and almost no mention on the major networks (even from supposed "progressive" voices like Rachel Maddow, whose parent corporation obviously has a huge stake in the outcome).
According to a Politico story today, "stakeholders" are pushing to pass this bill quickly:
The Judiciary Committee is charging along on SOPA and aiming to mark up the bill on Dec. 15, according to an industry source.
This is so far from a healthy, functioning democratic process it's almost comical. Congress is letting petty commercial interests run roughshod over free speech.
Update: Thanks for the Recs. Updated and added some info. For those not yet familiar with this legislation, the videos below provide a good primer.
You can take action by visiting americancensorship.org and stopcensorship.org.