What level of commitment does the Entertainment Software Association have in the anti-piracy bills before lawmakers? About $190,000's worth according to a Kotaku report.
What level of commitment does the Entertainment Software Association have in the anti-piracy bills before lawmakers? About $190,000's worth according to a Kotaku report.
Update: This story is apparently ancient history from March 2010. While it's fun to refresh your memory, it's not news. We apologize for presenting it as such.
The Australian Christian Lobby is doing its best to slow down the momentum of an R18+ ratings classification in Australia by using a new tactic: comparing mature video games to cigarettes. The group used the public consultation period for the R18+ classification to assail the games industry.
While lawmakers are arguing over SOPA and Protect IP - two bills that could change the way the Internet works in order to fight piracy - it seems that many staffers on Capitol Hill are spending a lot of time downloading movies, TV shows, music, games and books via BitTorrent. According to a report from TorrentFreak over 800 IP's that originate from Capitol Hill are at the BitTorrent trough, even as they write laws against illegal downloading and file-sharing.
The House Judiciary Committee has released this PDF with a list of organizations and companies that support the anti-piracy/rogue web sites bill, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). We have listed some of the companies that have publicly thrown their support behind this controversial legislation, but today we offer the full list.
It looks like the Writers Guild of America West has some concerns about SOPA. In a recent post on the trade group’s site, they wrote about a recent visit to Washington D.C., where they met with various lawmakers and other trade groups about SOPA and other legislation they think is important such as Net Neutrality and the ATT/T-Mobile merger. From the paragraph about their visit to the House of Representatives (I’ve highlighted the important stuff for emphasis):
In the late 1990's and early 2000's a politician proposing an internet sales tax would have been ridden out on a rail. It used to be that lawmakers were scared of the subject. Now even retail associations - some of which represent huge internet companies - say they support the idea. One of those trade groups, the Consumer Electronics Association, has changed sides this week.
Two former high level Washington staffers who helped write SOPA and Protect IP have joined major lobbying firms that... are helping to get the law they just wrote passed. Now their work addresses are "K Street," where all the lobbyists in Washington call home. Halataei recently joined the National Music Publishers’ Association, and Pastarnack is joining the Motion Pictures Association of America. These two lobbying groups have been pressing Congress to pass the proposals.
Anti-virus and security software maker Kaspersky is not happy with the Business Software Alliance's early support of SOPA and Protect IP in the U.S. Even though the BSA later walked back its support of SOPA, the Russian firm has had enough. It announced that it plans to leave the BSA over its support for SOPA. Kaspersky has announced that on January 1st 2012 it will withdraw its membership of the BSA.
If you want to know why your favorite senator or congressional representative is supporting Protect IP and SOPA, all you need to do is follow the money. First where is the money coming from? Big media, of course. The Sunlight Foundation does an excellent job of gathering all the info on this topic in one easy post.
Environmental groups and open Internet activists are not happy with President Barack Obama's pick to lead his 2012 political campaign. That is probably because the president has picked a lobbyist that represented the NBC Universal / Comcast merger and the Keystone XL pipeline. The lobbyist in question is Broderick Johnson of the lobbying firm Bryan Cave LLP. According to U.S. House of Representatives records, Johnson lobbied our elected officials to “support submission of a presidential permit for Keystone XL pipeline” in the final quarter of 2010.
The National Retail Foundation has launched a $10 million dollar advocacy campaign to push its national agenda onto the political scene for the rest of the year. The trade group representing traditional retailers says that it will spend some of that money on lobbyists to push a 13-point legislative agenda important to its memberships. Notable exceptions include corporate tax reform, fixing or repealing the employer health care mandates passed by President Obama, and enacting the "Main Street Fairness Act." The latter should be noted by consumers because it wants U.S.
According to a report in The Hill streaming video giant Netflix is lining up lobbyists to take on Washington to protect its interests. The company, who hired its first in-house lobbyist earlier this year, is aligning itself with internet reform groups. This makes sense, as net neutrality has the potential to protect the company's core business - steaming video - from usage fees that broadband companies might try to impose on them if given the chance.
Netflix is aligning itself with Free Press, the Media Access Project, Public Knowledge and Consumers Union, who all have a common interest in fighting overage fees on Internet users who access a high volume of data. You know, people that use streaming video like Netflix, Hulu, and other content online.
As the economy trudges along and prices rise across the board for the working man, you’ll be pleased to note that the business of lobbying is apparently recession proof.
A report from Open Secrets reveals that special interest groups spent over $852 million across April, May and June of this year. Overall more than 11,100 groups hired over 10,500 lobbyists (outnumbering members of Congress by about 20 to 1 it was noted) during 2010’s second quarter.
Companies falling under the umbrella of finance, insurance or real estate spent $126 million lobbying over the three month period, a gain of 12 percent over the same period one year earlier. Commercial banking interests spent $15.5 million lobbying during the quarter, up 20 percent, while firms from the securities and investment sector dumped $27.6 million into lobbying efforts, a jump of 26 percent.
Lobbying efforts in 2010 are on track to outdo 2009 figures, which was a record year:
While lobbying efforts from the tech sector took a slight dip from Q1 - $23 million from April - June of 2010, companies like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Google, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Cisco, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, HP and Amazon still managed to spend $19 million to influence lawmakers in Q2. While those numbers were lower in Q2, they prove that this small sampling of tech companies is spending obscene amounts of cash to get lawmakers behind their various causes.
Comcast spent more than $3.8 million last quarter to drum up support for its proposed NBC merger and other issues. Verizon spent about $4.4 million to to influence lawmakers on an expanded research & development tax credit and the Universal Service Fund. Hewlett Packard spent $1.6 million in lobbying dollars to influence lawmakers on white spaces, patents and taxes. Microsoft spent a small undisclosed part of its $1.85 million lobbying warchest to get the discussion on cybersecurity started. Finally, Google spent $1.3 million in Washington on broadband, cloud computing and a host of other issues.
Source: Politico's Morning Tech
As the hopes of tax incentives for UK game developers continue to tread water, industry group TIGA has stepped up its pressure, now stating that UK videogame makers could aid the economy by occupying a “valuable role” in an “export led recovery.”
TIGA recently commissioned a research report entitled “The UK Video Games Industry: An Export Success Story,” which it claimed showed that 91 percent of UK game developers export their products. That compares to figures cited from other research indicating that only one-third of small and medium sized, non-game producing businesses in the UK exported their products.
Richard Wilson, TIGA’s CEO, stated:
The videogame industry lobby, the Entertainment Software Association, spent nearly $1.2 million USD during the first quarter of this year to lobby on a variety of issues including the regulation of video game content, First Amendment protection, copyright enforcement and other issues, according to an Associated Press story citing a recent disclosure report. The lobbying effort is up 23 percent from the fourth quarter of 2009, where the ESA spent $980,000.
From January - March of this year the ESA also lobbied on broadband deployment, green cards for skilled foreign workers and the H1-B visa program. The increased efforts probably have a lot to do with the Supreme Court's review later this year of California's Videogame law..
The wireless industry's lobbyists are keen to influence policy makers in Washington on a number of key issues - most notably net neutrality. CTIA, which represents the country's biggest wireless carriers, is the organization flexing its muscle with the help of front man, former Oklahoma congressman and Hall of Fame NFL wide receiver, Steve Largent.
In an interview with C|Net, Steve Largent, along with Chris Guttman-McCabe, talked about how the members of its group feel about net neutrality. Of course, no one will be surprised on how they feel about: they think it's a bad idea. When asked why wireless be treated differently than any other kind of broadband service, Guttman-McCabe and Largent responded with the following:
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) spent $4.604 million on its lobbying efforts in 2009, a significant jump over 2008’s total of $3.654 million.
The group spent $1.208 million in the second, third and fourth quarters of 2009 and $980,000 in last year’s first quarter. 2008 saw $980,000 spent in quarters two, three and four, and $714,364.50 in its first quarter.
Taking a look at a report (PDF) on the ESA’s fourth quarter expenditures for 2009 shows lobbying funds spent on issues such as the Constitution (First Amendment Protection, Ratings, Video Game Sale Regulation), Copyright/Patent/Trademark (Anti-Piracy, IP Enforcement), Trade (Free Trade Agreements, Special 301 Designated Countries, Trade Policy Reform), Computer Industry (Internet Governance, Virtual Worlds), Immigration (High-Skilled Workers, H1-B Visas and Green Cards) and Telecommunications (ISP Management, Copyright Enforcement, Broadband Deployment).
Want to learn more about U.S. health care reform in a simple program with a quiz-like interface? There’s an app for that.
People Operating Technology has launched the free iPhone & iPod Touch application Death Panel in the Apple Store. Promised to be “100% non-political,” the app’s quiz questions and facts are fed by data collected from the White House website, StateHealthFacts.org, the NCHC.org, and FactCheck.org.
Players take the role of an office holder who “must stand on a virtual platform and answer questions correctly about health care from an anxious public.” Twitter and Facebook integration lets users share their scores too.
People Operating Technology co-founder Jason Petralia stated, “Mobile technology provides a fascinating medium though which businesses and other organizations can gain mindshare. We made Death Panel to shed some light on a hot topic in a compelling way.”
Death Panel also contains a Geo-locational who’s who of congressional members, showing their home state, political affiliation and lobbyist funds received.
An association comprised of fans of classic video games and systems is lobbying the French government to establish a retro video game museum.
The group, dubbed MO5, seeks a National Institute of Digital Sciences where visitors could not only view, but play, the vintage collectibles.
According to the BBC, MO5 currently posses 30,000 games and 1,500 different game systems. The group is reaching out to the French National Library, a Paris Science Museum and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the French Minister of State in charge of developing the digital economy, in a bid to realize its museum dream.
Video game publishers group ESA has released its annual report for the 2009 fiscal year, which concluded at the end of March.
As noted by Venture Beat,
The ESA fought 43 bills aimed at regulating content or controlling access to video games and none became law... Meanwhile, five states enacted tax incentives for the creation of game development jobs. Another 17 states are considering enacting the incentives.
The group said that it will be hard to get the attention of the federal government and Congress, which is preoccupied with issues such as climate change and healthcare. The ESA wants more done to stop piracy of games...
The Associated Press reports that the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the interests of U.S. video game publishers, spent $1.2 million on government lobbying efforts during the period April-June, 2009.
Looking beneath the surface, GamePolitics has obtained an actual copy of the ESA's latest federal lobbying report. The document shows that Big Gaming has its fingers in a surprising number of legislative and governmental pies. The following are issues which the ESA reports that it lobbied on in Q2:
Agencies lobbied by the ESA include some surprising entities. Here's the list:
DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab your own copy of the ESA's lobbying report... (9-page PDF)
Here's hoping that Erik Huey lasts longer with the Entertainment Software Association than did his predecessor.
Huey was announced today as the new head of government relations for the video game publishers' trade group. In plain English, that means Huey is the ESA's chief lobbyist. The post has been vacant since Jennifer Manner departed just a month after coming aboard in February.
According to the ESA's press release, Huey is a veteran attorney who has specialized in lobbying for the entertainment, communications and media sectors. His official title will be Senior Vice President for Government Affairs. ESA boss Mike Gallagher offered praise for the new guy:
Erik’s demonstrated advocacy abilities on behalf of numerous entertainment and telecommunications clients will serve him well as he navigates the specific challenges and opportunities that the ESA and our member companies face. As game technologies and gamer demographics continue to evolve, the entertainment software industry will rely on Erik and his team to help foster a beneficial environment for our industry’s innovation and creativity.
Huey, who starts his new gig in August, also has substantial political experience on the Democratic side, according to the ESA's press release:
Huey helped coordinate voter protection and mobilization efforts in Western Pennsylvania for the Obama Campaign for Change during the 2008 primary and general elections. Huey had a similar role during the 2006 mid-term elections, and served as the Kerry/Edwards Campaign’s “Get Out the Vote” Director for Western Pennsylvania in 2004. Huey also served as an advance coordinator for the 1992 Clinton/Gore Presidential Campaign...
As for Jennifer Manner, her story seems to have a happy ending as well. Coincidentally, we also learned today that she has accepted a post with the Federal Communications Commission.
Michael Rawlinson (left), who heads British game publishers group ELSPA, details his organization's new - and apparently successful - approach to dealing with the U.K.'s government bureaucracy in a guest column for MCVUK.
Despite some difficult recent years in which most of the political dialogue on video games in the U.K. involved criticism of game violence, the British game biz has scored some big wins of late. Most notable among these was the government's recent adoption of the PEGI content rating system favored by the industry.
At its core, ELSPA's strategy seems to involve working both harder and smarter. Rawlinson writes:
PEGI’s ascent to becoming the sole ratings system for games was a momentous achievement for the industry – and just goes to show how we can really get the Government’s attention when we get our approach right.
We’ve deliberately become more professional in terms of our dealings with Government. We’re strategically planning what we do – we don’t just bowl up to meetings, answer questions then leave.
We not only had to convince Government... we also took our arguments much wider, taking in the whole of Westminster, as well as the devolved parliament in Scotland and the regional assembly in Wales as well as the European parliament. Retailers, children’s charities and more were also covered. All of these groups had different needs we had to meet...
When the video game industry makes a lobbying push, it brings along the fun.
Canada.com reports that lawmakers played video games while ESA Canada execs pushed anti-piracy legislation this week at a lobbying event for members of Parliament in Ottowa.:
Conservative MP Mike Lake... took a break from playing the popular video game NHL 09 at the event, to talk about the ESAC's requests [for increased piracy protection].
Lake said the government plans to introduce a copyright bill, but wouldn't say exactly when. "It should happen in this Parliament," he offered.
The MP, whose Edmonton riding includes major game developer BioWare, said the bill is a "priority" for the government, adding the bill, if turned into law, wouldn't just benefit the gaming industry, but the music, movie and television industries also.
ESA Canada has been pushing hard in recent times for a north-of-the-border version of the USA's controversial Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Danielle Parr, executive director of ESA Canada, said:
At the federal level, the primary issue for us... is the protection of intellectual property... We really urge [Parliament] to [pass the legislation] as soon as possible... In Canada, [mod chips] are not illegal. They're illegal in virtually every other country.
Earlier this year GamePolitics reported that the Entertainment Software Association hired Jennifer Manner (left) as its new head of government relations (i.e., lobbying).
Apparently, the ESA and Manner were not a good fit. The National Journal reports that the ESA's new head lobbyist is gone after just a month in her new position:
Manner, a long-time Democrat, didn't appear to have extensive Capitol Hill or administration experience. Her background included stints as a vice president of regulatory affairs at Skyterra Communications, chair of the Satellite Industry Association, and senior counsel to former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy. She has also... taught as an adjunct professor of law. ESA is not advertising any new job openings on its Web site.
An association spokesman confirmed that Manner had departed but gave no further information.
As we mentioned when Manner's hiring was announced, an ESA press release made it a point to refer to her as a "long-time Democrat." ESA CEO Mike Gallagher is a former Bush administration official.
Jennifer Mercurio, a seasoned advocacy attorney who has substantial video game industry experience, has been promoted to the position of Vice President and General Counsel of the Entertainment Consumers Association.
Mercurio, who in the past worked as a lead attorney for game publishers' group ESA, was originally hired by ECA President Hal Halpin in 2007. Of the promotion, Halpin said:
Jennifer’s track record of success speaks for itself along with her commitment to our advocacy mission for gamers. With the growing recognition of the demographic power of gamers we felt it important to expand her role to take advantage of our momentum on issues such as free speech, broadband access, and the rights of gaming consumers.
An ECA press release notes:
In her new role Mercurio will oversee all legal, policy, research, advocacy, action, lobbying, and government affairs for ECA...
The promotion signals the increasing influence of the ECA’s government affairs and policy efforts on behalf of gamers following its recent establishment of the ECA Institute, a charitable non-profit that helps develop and implement ECA public policy positions.
FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.
As GamePolitics reported yesterday, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman vetoed HB 353, the Jack Thompson video game/movie bill that would have targeted retailers who sold M-rated games or R-rated movies to minors.
The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Mike Morley (R-UT), told the Salt Lake Tribune:
I think it's simply a result of an e-mail campaign from a lot of gamers that misrepresent the bill and [the governor's staff] has not studied it closely enough to recognize that is not the case. I think it was crafted very carefully to avoid those issues and I think they're mistaken.
However, a source close to Utah state politics told GamePolitics yesterday that Gov. Huntsman was the subject of intense lobbying from retailers. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Entertainment Software Association mounted a major lobbying campaign as well.
Morley complained to the Deseret News that the Guv didn't give him a courtesy call before vetoing the bill:
I would have thought that just common courtesy would have been to call me.
Legislators are now deciding whether to pursue an override of the veto.
As legislators in Texas consider expanding financial incentives for game developers and other producers of entertainment media, ESA boss Michael Gallagher weighs in with an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman:
With over 90 development companies in Texas, the video game industry accounted for more than one-third of the moving media industry's $345 million investment in the state in 2007. In addition to the more than 7,500 jobs that the industry currently supports in Texas, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts found in a recent report that video games "have a ripple-effect and spread technological innovations to other industries..."
The opportunity now falls on the Texas state legislature, however, to pass the bills that will keep the industry's momentum in the Lone Star State going. Texas currently risks falling behind several states in economic incentive programs for the entertainment industry. This year alone, thirteen states are actively considering legislation that will either create or significantly expand their existing incentive program for digital interactive media development and production...
While economic incentives for the video game industry are a sound investment for Texas' cultural legacy, they are an even better investment for the people of Texas.