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Of ‘Good’ Lobbyists and ‘Bad’ Lobbyists

Last month, I wrote about a pair of articles published by Forbes, one by Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro, and the other by National Music Publishers’ Association CEO David Israelite.

Both articles touched on the subject of scarpe basket jordan lobbying, doing so in essence to call out just how much lobbying is being done by the ‘other side’, and why that lobbying is a bad thing.

In his piece, Shapiro decries the “massive content lobby” and the “huge well-funded army of lobbyists whose sole purpose is to convince Congress that the interests of the massive content companies are more important than the interests of artists, musicians, innovators and ordinary people.”

For his part, Israelite noted that in the last two years Shapiro’s organization “nearly doubled its lobbying budget,” increasing from $1.9 million in 2010 to $2.83 million in 2012, a figure “dwarfing what NMPA spends.”

Today, the subject of intellectual property-related lobbying came up in another article about a panel held over the weekend at the South By Southwest (“SXSW”) in Austin.

During the session, panelist Wendy Seltzer, who serves as policy counsel to the World Wide Web Consortium and as a fellow with Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, noted that when American copyright law was last given a major overhaul, companies like YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter did not yet exist.

“The way that copyright law gets made is a function of who’s invited to the table when the law is negotiated,” Seltzer said, according to the San Antonio News-Express. “Who’s going to be invited to that party? Well it tends to be the folks that are known, the folks who are in the industry already.”

While it’s unclear whether the SXSW panelists themselves talked about how the fight over SOPA last year signaled to tech companies that they needed to get serious about their lobbying efforts in Washington, the News-Express reports that according to Rackspace general counsel Alan Schoenbaum, the hosting services giant certainly saw SOPA as that manner of wake-up call.

“If we didn’t stay engaged, we could hurt our company,” Schoenbaum said. “We need to make our voice known, and the best way to make your voice known in Washington is to have professionals help you get the attention of the members of Congress and to talk to them and their staffs about the issues that matter.”

The same article reports that Google and Facebook have greatly increased their lobbying efforts following the introduction of SOPA last year. Google increased its lobbying expenditures to $18 million in 2012 (reportedly over $8 million more than the previous year), while Facebook boosted its lobbying from $1.3 million in 2011 to $4 million in 2012.

Whatever one thinks of lobbying as a means of persuading elected representatives, this much is pretty clear: both “Big Content” and “Big Tech” are at this point spending an awful lot of money on it, while simultaneously suggesting that spending an awful lot of money on lobbying is a sign that the other side is up to something unsavory.

To me, the question of how much money each side of this debate spends lobbying Congress is really beside the point. Lobbying, whether we mere mortal citizens like it or not, is just part of the territory in Washington; either side would be horribly, inexcusably remiss if they were not to lobby Congress on behalf of their point of view.

I have no doubt that lobbying expenditure numbers will continue to be batted around by stakeholders on both sides of the copyright reform issue, relevance be damned, if for no other reason than the American public seems to love a good dose of rich-bashing rhetoric, even if the rhetorical bashing is being doled out by someone equally wealthy to the subject of their tongue lashing.

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