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Week 5 Discussion

Please read Chapter 9 Discussion Case "Stop Online Piracy Act- A Political Battle between Old and New Media" (pp. 207 - 208):

Discussion Case: Stop Online Piracy Act—A Political Battle between Old and New Media

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011, along with a companion bill in the U.S. Senate, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). If passed, SOPA would give the owners of film, music, or other intellectual property new tools to protect themselves from online piracy or theft. They could sue to force Internet service providers, search engines, payment processors, and advertisement networks to block or stop doing business with websites linked to online piracy. Business was split on the proposed law. The Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—considered “old media”—supported SOPA. But online companies, such as AOL, Twitter, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, eBay, and others—the “new media”—opposed it. As one blogger remarked, this could become “the biggest controversy in 2012.”

Old media proponents argued that the SOPA legislation was needed since rogue web- sites steal America’s innovative and creative products by attracting more than 53 million visits per year, leading to unauthorized downloads of music, films, and books and threaten- ing more than 19 million American jobs in creative industries. More than 400 businesses and organizations, many from the entertainment or publishing industries, collectively con- tributed $91 million to congressional lobbying efforts in support of SOPA. This was the most the entertainment industry had ever spent on a lobbying effort. Other supporters turned to social media and sent out tweets advocating the necessity of SOPA.

Opponents of SOPA, by contrast, argued that “the bill, as drafted, would expose law- abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of Web sites,” according to a letter sent to members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees by Goggle, Facebook, Yahoo!, and eBay. Several Internet companies proposed an alternative bill that would punish foreign websites that engaged in copyright infringement through interna- tional trade law. “We have a chance to reset the legislative table to find out what kind of legislation is needed,” said Markham Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition, a trade group comprised mostly of Internet companies. “We have an opportunity to step back, recalibrate and understand what the problem is.” Google’s director of public policy added, “Like others, we believe Congress wants to get this right, and we know there are targeted and smart ways to shut down foreign rouge Web sites without asking U.S. companies to censor the Internet.”

The new media organizations introduced novel political strategies to combat the act. Critics created a “Censorship US” day and its website encouraged political protest using social media tactics. In January 2012, Reddit.com, a social news site, was joined by other Internet sites, including the politically oriented MoveOn.org, the popular technology and culture blog BoingBoing, and the Internet humor site Cheezburger Network, for a day- long, sitewide blackout to protest SOPA. Wikipedia, the world’s free online encyclopedia, was dark for a day except for a short paragraph urging users to protest SOPA on the ground it could “fatally damage the free and open Internet.” (Google, Facebook, and Twitter declined to participate in the blackout, despite their public opposition to SOPA. Some criticized the companies, accusing them of being unwilling to sacrifice a day’s worth of revenue.)

 

The critics of SOPA also undertook more traditional political efforts, such a letter writ- ing campaign, sending of e-mails, and making telephone calls to various influential mem- bers of Congress. Facebook hired former a White House press secretary, Joe Lockhart, to push the company’s opposition in Congress. Goggle reportedly spent $5 million in the first quarter of 2012 to combat SOPA (a 240 percent increase from Google’s lobbying spending in the first quarter of 2011), with Microsoft spending $1.8 million, and Amazon and Apple $500,000 each during the same period.

 

The Stop Online Piracy Act “awakened the entire world,” said a Harvard law professor. “They are realizing just how big this fight was becoming.” In response, many in Congress reversed their initial position in support of SOPA. “Thanks for all the calls, e-mails and tweets. I will be opposing #SOPA and #PIPA,” tweeted Senator Jeff Merkley. Later, Sena- tor Grassley, a senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, withdrew his support for a bill he helped write.

 

Political analysts commented that the new media’s protests seemed to have worked. Initially 81 members of Congress supported the bill, compared with only 25 legislators opposed (the rest were undecided), but crumbling support may have contributed to Senator Harry Reid’s announcement in January 2012 that the Senate’s vote on the SOPA counter- part, PIPA, would be delayed. The House quickly followed, announcing that the House Judiciary Committee would postpone consideration of the legislation “until there is wider agreement on a solution.” The committee’s chair, Lamar Smith, commented, “I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem on online piracy.”

 

Sources: “Google, Facebook Warn against New US Piracy Legislation,” BBC News: Technology, November 16, 2011, www .bbc.com/news/technology; “Bills to Stop Web Piracy Invite a Protracted Battle,” The New York Times, January 15, 2012, www.nytimes.com; “Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA): 2012’s Biggest Controversy-to-be?” Toonari Post, January 16, 2012, www.toonaripost.com; “In Fight over Piracy Bills, New Economy Rises against Old,” The New York Times, January 18, 2012, www.nytimes.com; “Wikipedia Dark, Google Lobbies in Protest of Anti-piracy Bill,” Canada.com, January 18, 2012, www .canada.com; “PIPA Vote and SOPA Hearing Pushed Off as Copyright Bills’ Congressional Support Collapses,” Forbes, January 20, 2012, www.forbes.com; and “Under Scrutiny, Google Spends Record Amount on Lobbying,” The New York Times—Bits, April 23, 2012, bits.blogs.nytimes.com.

Using the concepts presented in Chapters 8 & 9 as well as the facts presented in this case, provide a one (1) paragraph response to each of the following five questions:

1.Figure 8.1 provides the types of regulation and U.S. regulatory agencies that impact businesses and society. In your opinion, what U.S. regulatory agency oversees SOPA and why?

 

 

174 Part Four Business and Public Policy FIGURE 8.1 Types of Regulation and Regulatory Agencies

 

Economic regulatory agencies

 

NRC FAA FCC FERC FRB CFTC FREDDIE MAC DOT

 

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Federal Aviation Administration Federal Communications Commission Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Federal Reserve Board

 

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation Department of Transportation

 

FTC Federal Trade Commission SEC Securities and Exchange Commission NLRB National Labor Relations Board IRS Internal Revenue Service BATF Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms

 

and Explosives FDIC Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation DOE Department of Energy NTSB National Transportation Safety Board

 

CPSC Consumer Product Safety Commission FDA Food and Drug Administration EPA Environmental Protection Agency NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration CFPB Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

 

Social regulatory agencies

 

EEOC Equal Employment Opportunity Commission OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration MSHA Mine Safety and Health Administration FTC Federal Trade Commission

 

HHS Department of Health and Human Services

 

FTC, JUSTICE DEPT.

 

AGRICULTURE DEPT.

 

Antitrust

 

SEC, CFTC

 

Securities and investment

 

Agribusiness

 

FRB, TREASURY DEPT., FDIC, FREDDIE MAC

 

n

 

Labor practices

 

t

 

a

 

Banks

 

l

 

NLRB, LABOR DEPT.

 

u

 

g

 

e

 

r

 

c

 

i

 

m

 

o

 

n

 

o

 

c

 

FERC, DOE

 

IRS, BATF

 

E

 

Taxation

 

Energy

 

Vehicle safety and economy

 

NHTSA

 

n

 

Radio, TV, phones, cable

 

o

 

i

 

FCC

 

t

 

a

 

l

 

u

 

g

 

Environ- mental protection

 

e

 

r

 

i

 

a

 

l

 

o

 

i

 

c

 

o

 

S

 

EPA

 

Transportation

 

FAA, DOT, NTSB

 

Safety and health

 

Nuclear industry

 

Consumer protection

 

FTC, CPSC, FDA, CFPB

 

Discrim- ination

 

NRC

 

OSHA, MSHA, HHS

 

EEOC, LABOR DEPT.

2.Which of the seven (7) political tactics discussed in Chapter 9 are evident in the case? Provide justification for your choice(s).

Political actions by businesses often take the form of one of the following three strategic types, also shown in Figure 9.2: • Information strategy (where businesses seek to provide government policymakers with information to influence their actions, such as lobbying). • Financial-incentives strategy (where businesses provide incentives to influence govern- ment policymakers to act in a certain way, such as making a contribution to a political action committee that supports the policymaker). • Constituency-building strategy (where businesses seek to gain support from other affected organizations to better influence government policymakers to act in a way that helps them).7

 

3.According to this case, Google “reportedly spent $5 million in the first quarter of 2012 to combat SOPA.” In your opinion, would Google be considered a member of a PAC or a Super PAC?  Provide justification for your comments.

4.In your opinion, what can traditional organizations learn from the new forms of political activity described in this case?

5.The support video identifies two (2) tactics used within American borders. Briefly describe both tactics.

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