Slowly but surely, mainstream publications are catching on to the fact that the debate over PROTECT IP and SOPA involved giant corporate interests on both sides. In a smart New York magazine story, Jason Zengerle points out that “SOPA is just an old-fashioned Washington battle between two entrenched corporate camps.” I am biased, since he quoted me, but I think he’s right.
Does that mean we should simply accept SOPA the way it is? No – I think that debating these issues is important, and I hope it leads to a more specific bill that will accomplish the same goals. But having that debate means recognizing how much money Google and other technology companies are spending to influence it. Say what you want about the MPAA – they’re very open about where their funding comes from. The New America Foundation is not nearly as transparent. The organization does important work on many issues, but it seems worth noting that it made technology policy more of a priority after Eric Schmidt became chairman of its board of directors. If Disney chief executive Bob Iger ran a think tank, I don’t think journalists would take what it said at face value – and they would be right not to.