FoxNews.com featured an op-ed today by Colin Hanna, head of the conservative group Let Freedom Ring, pushing federal lawmakers to “address quickly and responsibly” the threat facing the film industry from “intellectual property pirates.” This is important, according to Hanna, because “Hollywood sets the tone for the world for the industry while adding billions to the U.S. economy annually. Everyone wants to see American movies and everyone, it seems, wants to be in the movie business -- even if they have to break the law as the price of entry.”
Hanna's over-the-top lobbying for Hollywood and regulatory action that favors the film industry is likely owed to the fact that the Motion Picture Association of America has paid Hanna to do exactly that -- a fact that Fox News neglected to disclose.
The MPAA's 2011 tax disclosure form (the most recent available) shows a $10,000 payment to Let Freedom Ring for the purpose of “promot[ing] film industry.”
Let Freedom Ring received that grant just as the MPAA and major media companies were gearing up to push the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) through Congress. Hanna wrote an op-ed in December 2011 advocating SOPA's passage, and Let Freedom Ring launched an online petition backing SOPA and PIPA as “important pieces of legislation that are consistent with the Founders' view that property rights are important, even vital to America's success.”
The campaign failed, and SOPA and PIPA were famously brought down through a combination of grassroots activism and opposition from big-name online entities like Google and Reddit. That failure left a bad taste in Hanna's mouth. His March 7 op-ed took an oblique and supremely hypocritical dig at the groups that killed SOPA and PIPA:
Congress has tried to address this issue before, but pressure campaigns relying on false information and hysterical allegations of government over-reach -- perhaps funded by entities who do not believe that someone else's intellectual property rights should be a barrier to their ability to make money -- dissuaded legislators from taking action. That must not be allowed to happen again. [emphasis added]
Yeah, we can't have outside actors funded by interested parties attempting to influence legislators on intellectual property issues. That'd be outrageous.