Former senator turned MPAA CEO, Christopher Dodd, managed to earn the public's ire this week by making remarks which many claim are akin to a public admission of bribery. A petition to investigate the former senator has already garnered over 25,000 supporters -- enough support to warrant an official response from the White House.
While discussing SOPA with Fox News, Dodd stated that Hollywood would pull its financial support from politicians -- especially democrats -- if they chose to support the tech industry over Hollywood. The former senator said:
Candidly, those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake. …
I would caution people don’t make the assumption that because the quote 'Hollywood community' has been historically supportive of Democrats, which they have, don’t make the false assumptions this year that because we did it in years past, we will do it this year. These issues before us -- this is the only issue that goes right to the heart of this industry.
While the underlying mechanics of quid pro quo seem apparent in Dodd's message to public officials, a spokesman for the MPAA worked to smooth over the CEO's verbal misstep with this rather truistic statement, "Senator Dodd was merely making the obvious point that people support politicians whose views coincide with their own. When politicians take positions that people disagree with, those people tend not to support".
The interview came just after a MPAA public statement which criticized (PDF) website operators for participating in the anti-SOPA blackout protest. Although it names no names, the open letter accuses websites like Wikipedia for furthering their own corporate interests by abusing the power and freedom they are afforded as a business. The letter states:
"some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.
It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.
A so-called 'blackout' is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials,"
Dodd's recent words also drew a direct response from Wikipedia Founder, Jimmy Wales. During the Design Life Digital (DLD) conference in Munich, Wales voiced his belief that Dodd ought to be fired.
"That’s not an abuse of power, that’s democracy," Wales fired back, responding to accusations that websites were abusing their power by staging blackout protests against SOPA. He also said that Dodd "had best get used to it", indicating that over 10 million people contacted Congress about SOPA.
Dodd left public service early last year in order to become the Motion Picture Association of America's chief executive officer. He admits the road has been bumpy.
"Up until a week ago I thought that was a pretty good decision," Dodd jokingly quipped. "the white noise has made it impossible to have a conversation about this," he continued. "We’ve gotta find a better way to have that conversation than we have in the last two weeks."