MPAA chairman Chris Dodd spoke before the Center for American Progress today, and made parallels between the efforts to pass healthcare reform and Wall Street reform when he was in the Senate to current efforts to pass controversial anti-piracy legislation.
Dodd said that “not unlike what we experienced during the debate over health care and financial reform legislation, misinformation – spread both knowingly by those who have a financial interest in the status quo and by those who are well-intentioned but misled – threatens to derail much-needed reform.”
Dodd was a co-sponsor with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) of financial reform, and he filled in for an ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as it took up healthcare reform.
Dodd, a vocal critic of Google and other Internet firms that have been lobbying against the legislation, tried to push back against notions that Hollywood is trying to stifle innovation.
“Hollywood is pro-Internet,” he said. “We stand with those who strongly oppose foreign governments that would unilaterally block websites, and thus deny the free flow of information and speech.
So I want to make it clear right at the outset that our fight against content theft is not a fight against technology. It is a fight against criminals. Nor is it a fight to protect a stagnant and outmoded business model. Indeed, it is fundamentally a fight to protect jobs.”
Working against the supporters of the legislation is its complexity. Just as opponents of healthcare reform and the Dodd-Frank bill were able to demonize it with rhetoric of “death panels” and regulatory overreach, the Stop Online Piracy Act and its sister bill in the Senate, the PROTECT IP Act, have been characterized as efforts to censor the Internet. Chances are that the first time the average person has heard of the legislation has not been via one of the industry’s messages that it will save jobs, but via the many sites on the Web now campaigning to have it stopped.
Dodd added in his speech, “There is a difference between believing that the Internet should be free and open, and believing that just because something’s on the Internet, it should be free.
“This is an argument that echoes the one Barney Frank and I made often, as two progressives fighting for common-sense regulation of our financial system.
“Progressives believe in free and open markets. It’s just that, for free markets to function, they can’t be lawless. No one would keep their money in a bank if there weren’t protections for their deposits. No one would invest in a company if there weren’t protections for shareholders. You simply can’t have capitalism without rules. And the same is true online.”
Dodd’s complete remarks are here.