When U.S. Vice President Joe Biden declared war against digital piracy earlier this year, he obviously wasn’t joking.
To be sure, Biden famously stated that piracy is little more than “theft, clean and simple… It’s smash and grab.”
As such, it comes as little surprise that the recent shut down of “rogue” torrent websites was influenced by two major anti-piracy groups with heavy ties to Capitol Hill: the MPAA and RIAA.
It seems as if both groups have shifted their focus from promoting the arrest of individual offenders to urging the unceremonious seizure of Internet domains.
Public record shows that the two groups shelled out $1.8 million in Q3 2010 lobbying in Washington, with an emphasis on legislation and authorities involved in domain seizures.
Their reasoning? Copyright infringement.
RIAA spent $1.29 million investing in the COICA bill, ACTA Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and employed nine full-time lobbyists to work in Washington.
Meanwhile, the MPAA spent $520,000 hiring lobbyists to liaise with the Department of Homeland Security and the US Immigration Customs Enforcement: the two agencies responsible for numerous controversial domain seizures.
Obviously, the influence of both groups in Washington has increased exponentially, as is illustrated by the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) – the latest legislative effort to combat digital piracy.
Such laws, all well as the government’s actions, highlight a clear momentum towards commercial censorship.
But this brings up an important point. Where exactly is RIAA’s and MPAA’s cash going?
It’s abundantly clear in the wake of the recent seizures that that this money has had a significant influence on the federal government.
Remember, the MPAA even helped the Department of Homeland Security file the seizure order of Torrent-Finder and other sites.
Yes, money really does buy action!