The industry effort to pass an anti-piracy bill has been a rare moment that has unified unions and guilds with management. The legislation even has won the support of the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
But the Writers Guild of America West opposes the House version of the bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act. Today TechDirt linked to a post on the WGAW website that summarizes the guild’s Washington activity, including a meeting that board member Alfredo Barrios and WGAW President Chris Keyser had with Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a co-sponsor of SOPA, to discuss “the bill’s implications for competition and an open Internet.” TechDirt, which has been unabashedly opposed to the legislation, characterized the reference to the meeting as evidence that union support for the legislation is starting to “crack.”
Actually, WGAW has not supported the House version of the bill since its introduction. But the guild did support the Senate version of the legislation, the Protect IP Act, which passed the Judiciary Committee unanimously and is awaiting a floor vote.
A spokesman for the WGAW said, “The Guild has not supported SOPA since its introduction. We remain committed to fighting digital piracy, but in its current form SOPA raises troubling questions about how it will affect free speech, due process, and an open Internet. We are now waiting for the Judiciary Committee’s markup of the bill on Thursday and will review it then to see if our concerns have been addressed.”
House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has proposed a series of amendments to the legislation designed to address concerns of critics, so the WGAW could decide to support it in the end. Unlike Internet companies and public interest groups, the WGAW has not been engaging in mjuch of a public campaign against the bill.
Last week, the WGAW was the sole industry guild not represented in a lobbying swing on Capitol Hill and a meeting with Vice President Joseph Biden. On other issues, like net neutrality and media consolidation, the WGAW has taken a more aggressive posture compared to other Hollywood unions.