Thom Tillis received more than $30,000 from entertainment companies and their trade associations last quarter, as he tries to fight off a challenger in one of the key races that will determine control of the Senate.
Lindsey Graham, who is also in a tough race, has received contributions from the Motion Picture Association, Comcast, AT&T and the Internet and Television Association, which represents the cable TV industry.
As much of Hollywood is trying to flip the Senate to the Democrats, the political action committees that represent the industry’s interests in Washington are putting their money on the two endangered Republicans.
Both senators hold influence over the future of copyright law. Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is working on an update of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the 1998 law that governs online piracy. Tillis chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, which has been holding hearings on the issue all year.
Tillis, of North Carolina, is in an especially tough race. The Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, holds a slim lead in recent polls, despite a sexting scandal that dominated local coverage in recent weeks. Democrats need to net at least three seats to take the majority.
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CreativeFuture, a coalition of content companies that advocates for tighter copyright protection, published an interview with Tillis in May, calling him “our hero on the Hill.”
“Copyright law drives creativity,” Tillis said in the interview. “It gives creators an economic incentive to pour their life into making something of cultural value.”
The MPA gave Tillis $5,000 in the most recent quarter, increasing its total for the cycle to $10,000. Tillis also received contributions from the Internet and Television Association and from PACs connected to Fox Corp., Sony Pictures, Amazon, Facebook, Universal Music Group, Warner Music, and Nexstar Broadcasting. Earlier in his campaign, he received contributions from PACs connected to Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, and AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, as well as ViacomCBS, Cox Enterprises, Charter Communications, and the National Association of Broadcasters.
Over the last several months, Tillis has solicited industry input on DMCA reforms. Entertainment companies argue that the DMCA notice-and-takedown process is too cumbersome and time-consuming, and has failed to stop the flow of pirated material.
Tillis has said he agrees that the takedown system is not working, and needs to be reformed. He has also promised to increase criminal penalties for streaming stolen content. He expects to have draft legislation ready in December.
Many of the same entertainment industry PACs have also given to Chris Coons, the ranking Democrat on the IP subcommittee. Coons holds a wide lead in his reelection campaign.
Entertainment companies have also given heavily to Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has also been holding hearings on DMCA reform. They also gave to Doug Collins, who was the ranking Republican on the committee until he stepped down earlier this year to run for Senate in Georgia.
Collins, who bills himself in ads as a “Top Trump Defender,” last month attacked Amazon Prime for promoting a “fawning documentary” about Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who narrowly lost a run for governor.
“Hollywood is a moral cesspool where murder, violence, pedophilia and anti-American views are celebrated while life, family and patriotism are denigrated,” Collins said in a Facebook ad. “Make no mistake about it… these companies are trying to live out President Obama’s wish to ‘radically transform’ America by brainwashing our children into worshipping the likes of AOC and Stacey Abrams.”
Collins received contributions this cycle from PACs tied to Amazon, Disney, Comcast, AT&T, ViacomCBS, Sony Pictures, Sony Music, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Internet and Television Association, the National Music Publishers Association, the Recording Industry Association of America, IATSE and the Directors Guild of America.
Graham’s contributors include PACs connected to Disney, Sony Pictures, the National Association of Theatre Owners, the National Association of Broadcasters, ViacomCBS, the DGA, Fox Corp. and Amazon. All year, he has been running Facebook ads attacking his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, for raising money from Hollywood.
“Hollywood continues to bankroll my opponent, raising tens of thousands in campaign cash to attack me,” Graham said in one ad. “But they fail to understand this simple fact: South Carolinians won’t stand for Radical Leftists telling them how to think and how to vote.”
In another, he asks: “Will you chip in $20.20 to fight back against Hollywood and the Liberal elite?”