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Hollywood's SOPA testimony links job loss to piracy

MPAA executive who is testifying today in support of the copyright bill says that piracy kills jobs--not just for the super-rich Hollywood actors, but people who sell paint and do the dry cleaning for movie and TV productions.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read
Greg Sandoval/CNET

Representatives of the six largest Hollywood film studios will attempt to link job loss to piracy in testimony this morning before the House Judiciary Committee.

Michael O'Leary, who oversees policy and external affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America, the trade group for the top film studios, will tell lawmakers that "fundamentally" the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is about saving jobs.

The fight over SOPA is white hot. Supporters say the legislation is designed to speed up the process of shutting down Web sites accused of trafficking in pirated or counterfeit materials.

Critics say the bill is a means for big entertainment companies and other copyright owners to thwart innovation and stifle free speech.

In addition to the MPAA, Pfizer, the AFL-CIO, and Mastercard, all of which support the bill, will be testifying tomorrow before the Judiciary Committee. The only dissenting witness planned to speak will be Katherine Oyama, a policy counsel at Google. That more people who oppose the bill were not invited to testify has angered SOPA opponents.

In O'Leary's written testimony submitted to the Judiciary Committee, the MPAA exec wrote that the motion picture and television industry supports more than 2 million American jobs in all 50 states. He adds that the industry also includes more than 95,000 small U.S. businesses with the vast majority employing fewer than 10 people.

"These are businesses like Fletcher Camera & Lenses in Chicago," O'Leary wrote, "whose full-time staff of 25 employees works to provide equipment for film, television, and commercial productions in the Midwest."

One other point worth noting is that while many copyright owners are saying that the existing Digital Millennium Copyright Act has failed to protect copyright owners, O'Leary said that the DMCA works.

"And where these sites are legitimate and make good faith efforts to respond to our requests, this model works with varying degrees of effectiveness," O'Leary wrote. "It does not, however, always work quickly, and it is not perfect, but it works."

The DMCA is supposed to protect Internet service providers from liability for copyright violations committed by users. They must satisfy a requirement that includes removing pirated content once they receive a so-called takedown notice form a copyright owner.

MPAA Testimony