Updated to reflect Congressional dropouts from SOPA and PIPA bills NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Critics of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Wall Street's richest dealmakers have a common enemy who was seated at Sunday's Golden Globes. Former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), a namesake of the 2010 Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that's tearing at the earnings of banks like Goldman Sachs ( GS), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), Bank of America ( BAC) and Citigroup ( C), is now a SOPA and Protect IP Act advocate in his new job as head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
Dodd, who chaired a key Senate Banking Committee, became an advocate for Wall Street reform after America's largest banks required billion dollar bailouts to survive the financial crisis. In 2010, Congress passed a bill co-authored by Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank (D., Ma), which restricted many of Wall Street's trading practices while overhauling derivatives markets and rules surrounding mortgage and credit card lending. In June, JPMorgan Chief Executive openly criticized the Dodd Frank to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. After reporting its first quarterly loss since the crisis, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein chimed in and said in a November conference that the Act's "Volcker rule" could harm businesses that rely on Wall Street market making. For more on financial earnings see why Wall Street may lose in a jobs recovery. Now Dodd is taking some of the government rule making that was directed at banks and is applying it to the Internet through his support of SOPA and seat at a powerful Hollywood lobbying group. In Jan. 2010, Dodd announced he wouldn't run for re-election to the Senate, ending a 30 year career. His re-election campaign would have had to address an ongoing investigation into alleged "VIP" mortgage loans he received from Countrywide Financial. SOPA is designed to give the U.S. Department of Justice powers to eliminate Web sites that sell counterfeit goods and content. The legislation would force Internet-service providers, domain registrars, search engines, payment services and ad networks to stop working with these sites and provide technical measures that would remove them from the Internet. For other SOPA connections, see the legislators that support the bill. For more on Web blackouts, see how to survive SOPA blackout day. The bill is supported by media giants like Time Warner ( TWX), Walt Disney ( DIS) and Viacom ( VIA), who are sick of seeing their movies and T.V. shows streamed online for free. However, sponsors of the bill first floated by Congress in October dropped their support of it on Wednesday. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) but withdrew their support after protest campaigns permeated the Web. "Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the Internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time," wrote Cornyn about on his Facebook page about dropping his support for the bill. Overall, six lawmakers dropped their support for the bills on Wednesday.
|Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) a namesake of the 2010 Dodd Frank Act and SOPA proponent.|
Companies like Google ( GOOG) and eBay ( EBAY) say that the Act compromises the openness of the Web and more closely resembles the Internet policies in regimes like Iran, Malaysia and China and are petitioning Congress to oppose the October bills, which have since seen amendments and waning support. Sites like Wikipedia, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger and Reddit see the bill as such a threat to users and even their viability. Some of the sites and other media outlets like Wired are undergoing a 24 hour blackout and petition campaign to underscore SOPA's threat to Web openness. While petitions appear to be making an impact on the progress of the bills, its sponsors still indicate interest in proceeding. Speaking as MPAA Chairman, Dodd criticized the blackouts on Tuesday. "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," wrote Dodd in a statement. He added, "a so-called "blackout" is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals." The Dodd intersection between Wall Street and SOPA opponents is filled with irony. The Dodd Frank Act is seen as a protection for consumers from greedy Wall Street practices. In contrast, as the MPAA head, many SOPA and PIPA opponents argue that Dodd is serving the interests of media conglomerates over the Web freedom. SOPA opponents and Wall Street traders and bankers are now united in their opposition to Dodd, which may give the likes of Google pause as they currently run protests and blackouts to protest the Act. While the Dodd Frank Act saw a watering down of many provisions, opposition to the Act by key bankers and drop in subsequent bank fees and risk taking should be a relief to depositors and customers. People on all sides of the SOPA debate should at least consider that Dodd is making a similar effort with his advocacy against Web piracy of movies and T.V. shows. While the Golden Globes may have portrayed Hollywood glamour as usual, there's no amount of lipstick that can paint over its declining numbers. Cinema attendance fell over 4% in 2011 to a 16-year low, Bloomberg reports, meanwhile, streaming service, DVD and Blue-ray disc movie sales fell over 2% in 2011. Piracy is a real issue that warrants a solution, even if SOPA and PIPA in their current states have big unintended consequences. Google said so much even as it joined SOPA blackout's and petitions. "Because we think there's a good way forward that doesn't cause collateral damage to the web, we're joining Wikipedia, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Mozilla and other Internet companies in speaking out against SOPA and PIPA," wrote Google in a blog post. To be seen is what happens next with the bills, which are due for Congressional vote's starting on Jan. 24. -- Written by Antoine Gara in New York