It is no secret that the MPAA and RIAA spend millions in Washington to guarantee that their anti-piracy interests are secured. However, it turns out that not all the lobbying dollars go to secure the well-being of workers in the entertainment industry. The MPAA has also spent significant funds on the implementation of a Wall Street reform law, one that was proposed by the new MPAA CEO Chris Dodd when he was senator.
With several new anti-piracy bills in the works, the MPAA and RIAA have ramped up their lobbying efforts in Washington. With more than a $5 million spend in the first half of 2011, this year might even break all previous records.
As is tradition, the RIAA is the biggest spender of the two entertainment industry lobbying groups. In the first two quarters of this year the music industry representatives spent over $3.8 million in Washington.
The topics covered by the RIAA are as expected. They lobbied at the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives in favor of ACTA, the PROTECT IP Act, and to support new legislation that will make streaming of copyrighted material a felony.
And then there’s the MPAA.
Thus far, the MPAA’s lobbying efforts have cost over $1.2 million dollars this year. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but some of the topics they are lobbying for in Washington are quite interesting to say the least. Aside from focusing on the traditional copyright-related matters, the movie industry group is also concerned with reforming Wall Street.
By hiring Michael Torrey Associates, the MPAA has spent tens of thousands of dollars to advance the implementation of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Unusual, since the topic doesn’t relate to the interests of the thousands of movie industry workers whose jobs are at stake.
No, these lobbying efforts are only meant for MPAA’s Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd.
The Wall Street Reform Act the MPAA is heavily invested in is also known as the Dodd-Frank Act, as the current MPAA Chairman proposed the act late 2009 when he was still a senator.
Looking at the history of MPAA’s lobbying efforts we see that Wall Street Reform was already a topic the movie studios where interested in while Dodd was still acting as senator. Dodd was officially announced as MPAA Chairman March 2011, but the MPAA’s lobbying efforts already started in the last quarter of 2010.
The timeline above suggests that the MPAA was putting money into supporting Dodd’s legislation in the hope of convincing him to join them as Chairman. And it worked, as he signed on for the job by the end of February.
And it looks like the MPAA and Dodd made a long tern deal to support his old work. Even today the MPAA continues to put money in supporting Dodd’s Wall Street Reform plans ($180,000 and counting), all at the expense of those poor lighting technicians and makeup artists who work in the movie business.
Update: It appears that we jumped to conclusions.
The MPAA informed TorrentFreak that the lobbying efforts with regard to The Wall Street Reform Act are limited to combating a proposal to let financial traders speculate on motion picture box office revenues.
“Contrary to TorrentFreak’s accusation that this matter “doesn’t relate to the interests of the thousands of movie industry workers whose jobs are at stake,” derivatives based on box office futures are “no more than over-under bets on a movie’s performance and would have a detrimental impact on movies industry workers and businesses,” as we said at the time, working together with a broad coalition that included entertainment industry unions, independent filmmakers and distributors and theater owners.”
“Both the House and Senate, through their respective Agriculture Committees, wisely decided to examine this issue closely. Recognizing the serious problems that could be caused by these proposals, Congress approved a ban on trading box-office derivatives, sponsored by Senator Blanche Lincoln, as part of the much larger financial reform bill.”
“Because the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is still in the process of implementing these provisions of the financial reform bill, the MPAA is continuing to monitor the situation. We are NOT, nor have we ever been, engaged in lobbying any other issues concerning the financial reform bill.”