In Greek mythology, the Hydra was a serpent with many heads and according to lore, when one head was cut off, two more would grow back into its place. Like the Hydra, the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) and their allies in Hollywood, it appears that every time one discovers their efforts to use government to promote their interests at the expense of the American people, two more plots are soon found.
When the content industry convinced the then Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives, Lamar Smith (R-TX) to introduce legislation known as the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” most believed the bill would fly through the legislative process. Typically, what the RIAA wants, the RIAA gets. But the bill was a bridge too far. In essence, the bill would have allowed the recording industry and their allies to censor websites and blogs if they contained content they argued violated copyright–without due process at the industry’s whims. Thanks to massive resistance from Internet and technology companies, the bill died. But that was just one head of the RIAA Hyrda. Soon two more were discovered.
Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) introduced legislation, now headed up by Rep. Judy Chu, known as the “Free Market Royalty Act,” that would force radio stations to pay a tax to the recording industry every time they played a song on the radio. The bill is a blatant transfer of wealth from one industry to another and unfortunately, some Republican members of Congress were sucked into the scam. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a proponent of the Nashville music industry, attempted to rally Republican support for the legislation. Members of Congress soon attacked the second RIAA Hyrda head and introduced competing legislation to protect small and local radio stations from the attack. Reps. Michael Conaway’s (R-TX) Local Radio Freedom Act has almost 200 cosponsors and is a line in the sand against the RIAA and their crony’s. Nevertheless, the industry forges ahead with their royalty scheme. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is even trying to convince her colleagues that this scheme is somehow “free market.”
Now yet another head has appeared. Tucked inside the secret The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement is an effort to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. Leaked draft of the agreement show it would damage freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate. In short it’s SOPA all over again.
Hollywood will soon be all over members of Congress demanding they support Fast Track approval of the deal. Whether it is SOPA, a new tax on radio stations designed specifically to put money into the pockets of the recording industry or the TPP “backdoor” SOPA effort, it must be rejected by Congress. These efforts are the epitome of cronyism.