The internet hates Chris Dodd right now.
The former Democratic Senator is a perfect illustration of a lot of what is wrong right now with greased slopes in regards to money, politics, influences and lobbies, and just a year out of the Senate himself, Dodd is now hard at work as a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America, or MPAA- an organization created in the 1920s with a stated goal “to advance the business interests of its members.”
Organizations like the MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA, have been fighting for many years to inhibit technology they feel poses a threat to the ability of their respective industries to wring every last cent from copyrighted works. It’s a bit like suggesting your town shut down roads because someone might drive to your business on them and rob it, proposals like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), and naturally, users of the internet had a bit of problem with the idea that we should heavily restrict the web of the many to protect the large financial coffers of the few.
Protests were organized, petitions were signed, and at the end of the day Wednesday, more than a few lawmakers had hopped sides on the issues of SOPA and PIPA- not nearly enough, but it shows that the web action did make a bit of difference in the viability of those bills. Even PIPA co-sponsor, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, abandoned his support of the bill due to concerns raised about harming American businesses.
But Dodd and his ilk are so ballsy, so singularly focused, they have no issue with publicly stating that it’s their money alone lawmakers should consider in passing bills that are nearly guaranteed to destroy the internet. Dodd actually said this, unless Fox News is making things up out of whole cloth:
“Candidly, those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”
“I would caution people don’t make the assumption that because the quote ‘Hollywood community’ has been historically supportive of Democrats, which they have, don’t make the false assumptions this year that because we did it in years past, we will do it this year… These issues before us- this is the only issue that goes right to the heart of this industry.”
I think that it would be difficult to find a time in recent history where people are less sympathetic to the idea of job losses. But it’s clear to any thinking person that hobbling the free and open internet to protect the financial interests on an industry that flat out refuses to adapt at every turn is a ridiculous idea. This is not in dispute. But what should be noted is Dodd- a former lawmaker himself- would so openly speak of buying legislation that is clearly restrictive of the freedoms of American citizens to use the web for perfectly legal reasons.
Even more loathsome is that Dodd- a man who uses his inside knowledge of politics to serve corporate masters- had this to say about the fully grassroots protests occurring this week across the web:
“It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power… when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.”
Chris Dodd and the MPAA should be ashamed, and anyone who relies on the free and open web to make their living, connect with their lover, keep in contact with friends or make use of any number of legal technologies should think long and hard about financially supporting the industries who wish to kill innovation in order to keep their frankly dated business model on life-support.