In 2010 the MPAA/RIAA Lobbied Extensively In Favor of Domain Seizures

The recent action by US authorities against so-called rogue websites comes on the heels of significant lobbying efforts by two well-known anti-piracy groups. In the last quarter the MPAA and RIAA together spent a total of $1.8 million on lobby efforts in Washington. Public records reveal that the industry groups focused heavily on legislation and authorities involved in domain name seizures.

In recent months the topic of domain name seizures has been reported heavily in the news and discussed widely. US authorities took down dozens of ‘copyright infringing’ domains and the ‘Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act’ (COICA) was drafted to make such takedowns even easier in the future.

Both the recent domain name seizures and the proposed COICA bill were encouraged by the MPAA and RIAA. However, the role of the RIAA and MPAA has not been limited to passively applauding the actions of the Government.
On the contrary, both groups lobbied extensively for more Government control over domain names.

The RIAA’s filings at the Office of the Clerk reveal that the music industry trade group invested the most, $1.29 million in total. This money was spent on a variety of subjects, including the COICA bill and ACTA.
In total, the RIAA listed nine copyright/trademark lobbyists including its CEO Mitch Bainwol.

The MPAA, however, actually increased their lobbying dollars in the fall, though they did not spend nearly as much as the RIAA. The $520 thousand they spent in Washington was up almost $100k over what they had spent in Q2. The report also showed that the organization specifically targeted the Department of Homeland Security as well as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the period.

Although it is no secret that the MPAA and RIAA spend millions of dollars in Washington every year, it is worth looking into where that money goes.
From public filings it becomes apparent that the US Government’s move to commercial censorship is also reflected in the lobbying efforts by the entertainment industry.

And that’s just part of the influence. Aside from trying to influence lawmakers and the authorities, both groups are also playing their role in law enforcement. As we reported last month, the MPAA helped out Homeland Security with the application for the seizure order of Torrent-Finder and other sites.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are in charge of the controversial domain seizers. Why is the Immigration department doing the dirty work of the RIAA and MPAA? I guess it pays to throw money around at government departments in Washington these days. I hope they don’t forget that the US is still a democracy, I will be glad when they all are looking for new jobs in a few years.


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