×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Internet Association CEO: MPAA’s Zuckerberg Letter Was ‘Shameless Rent-Seeking,’ ‘Crony Politics’

WASHINGTON — The head of the trade association representing major internet companies like Google, Amazon, and Netflix slammed the MPAA for a letter that its CEO sent to Capitol Hill lawmakers as Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified last month.

In his letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Oregon), Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association, wrote that “a regulatory debate should not be driven by the proliferation of anti-internet lobbying that has hit Washington in recent months from companies and industries looking to improve their competitive odds through regulation.”

The letter continues, “This is neither in the best interest of consumers nor politically popular with the millions of Americans who use and trust internet platforms. Look no further than the gratuitous letter Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. chairman & CEO Charles Rivkin submitted to the Energy and Commerce Committee during your recent Zuckerberg hearing. The hearing had nothing to do with the Motion Picture industry, but Mr. Rivkin demonstrated shameless rent-seeking by calling for regulation on internet companies simply in an effort to protect his clients’ business interest.”

During Zuckerberg’s visit to Capitol Hill, Rivkin wrote to lawmakers that “the moment has come for a national dialogue about restoring accountability on the internet. Whether through regulation, recalibration of safe harbors, or the exercise of greater responsibility by online platforms, something must change.” At the end of Zuckerberg’s appearance before a joint Senate committee, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the chairman of the Commerce Committee, entered Rivkin’s letter into the record.

In his letter, Beckerman says cautions against rushing through regulation, and says that such a debate “should not be driven by the proliferation of anti-internet lobbying that has hit Washington in recent months from companies and industries looking to improve their competitive odds” through new legislation. He was responding to an op-ed that Walden wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, calling on Silicon Valley CEOs to testify before Congress. Beckerman said that he would be “happy” to testify on behalf of the IA’s member companies, which also include Facebook.

Beckerman wrote that “this blatant display of crony politics is not unique to the big Hollywood studios, but rather emblematic of a broader anti-consumer lobbying campaign. Many other pre-internet industries — telcos, legacy tech firms, hotels, and others — are looking to defend old business models by regulating a rising competitor to the clear detriment of consumers.”

Internet companies and studios have found themselves at odds on a number of policy fronts in D.C. Most recently, they have been pressing U.S. trade officials during negotiations for a revised North American Free Trade Agreement. The IA wants a revised pact to include “safe harbor” provisions, akin to those in current U.S. copyright law, which shield internet companies from liability in the hosting of third-party content. The MPAA and other content groups believe that including those provisions will only worsen the problem of online piracy, as it puts the onus on copyright holders to identify infringement.

Updated: Chris Ortman, spokesman for the MPAA, responded in a statement.

“In response to Chairman Walden’s constructive invitation to the CEOs of dominant internet platforms to testify, the Internet Association turned to a tired playbook—attack Hollywood. As any casual observer would know, the business of creativity is not ‘anti-consumer’ or ‘anti-internet.’ In fact, the internet is a powerful tool that helps connect creators with audiences, offering more viewing choices for films and television shows than ever before while benefitting more than 90,000 businesses, large and small.

“We—along with many members of the House and Senate—are simply asking for accountability from the large platforms for facilitating criminal and other harmful online behaviors. Early on, internet companies were afforded immunities that no other sector enjoys, because they promised to address online problems on their own. Today’s internet has not lived up to that commitment. We support Chairman Walden and the Energy and Commerce Committee’s work on this critically important topic, and hope the dominant internet platforms will take their responsibilities seriously.”

 

 

More Politics

  • Mueller Report Book Editions Top Amazon's

    Mueller Report Book Editions Shoot to Top of Best-Seller Lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble

    Robert Mueller is now a best-selling author. Book publishers’ forthcoming editions of the special counsel’s report zoomed to the top of the Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s lists of book best-sellers Friday. That comes a day after the report was publicly released, culminating the nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election [...]

  • Pete Buttigieg Show Business Donations

    Mayor Pete Buttigieg Is Totally Up for Booking Phish for His Inauguration

    Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign seems to be going Phish-ing… in the best possible sense. (Unless you just hate the band Phish so much there is no best possible sense.) The Democratic presidential candidate has previously indicated his love for the group, and when a reporter suggested Phish play at his theoretical swearing-in festivities in 2021, [...]

  • National Enquirer - Jeff Bezos

    Hudson Media CEO James Cohen Purchases the National Enquirer

    Hudson Media’s CEO James Cohen announced Thursday that he will purchase the National Enquirer as well as American Media’s other tabloids, the Globe and the National Examiner. With the purchase of the National Enquirer, which Cohen reportedly bought for $100 million, he plans to strengthen their collaborative efforts, documentary shows, weekly podcasts, and theme parks. [...]

  • Donald Trump

    HBO Fires Back at Trump's 'Game of Thrones'-Inspired 'No Collusion' Tweet

    HBO is firing back at President Donald Trump after he sent another “Game of Thrones”-inspired tweet in response to the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation. “Though we can understand the enthusiasm for ‘Game of Thrones’ now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer [...]

  • Mueller Report Released: Networks Cut the

    Networks Curb Their Enthusiasm, William Barr Flexes as Mueller Report Goes Public

    The run-up to Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the conduct of President Donald Trump suggested it was just one component part of a busy news day, something close to business as usual. And the broadcast — in which Barr stormily defended the President as [...]

  • Mueller Report: Redacted Version of Trump

    Mueller's Report Details Possible Trump Obstruction but Reaches No Conclusion

    WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation leaves open the question of whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice, making clear that Trump was not exonerated. That was one of many takeaways after a redacted version of the highly anticipated document was released to the public on Thursday, captivating Congress, [...]

  • Attorney General Says Mueller Report Redactions

    Attorney General William Barr Defends Trump, Says Mueller Report Redactions Will Be 'Limited'

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr, in a press conference in advance of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, said that the redactions will be limited. But speaking to reporters on Thursday, Barr also offered what amounted to a defense of President Trump’s conduct as Mueller’s investigation unfolded, in what Democrats and other [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content