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SOPA revolvers: Sixteen former Judiciary staffers lobby on online copyright issues

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As the House Judiciary Committee readies to consider a controversial bill that supporters say will crack down on websites pirating content, some interest groups may have a leg up on influencing the legislators.

That’s because 16 lobbyists, representing various companies and organizations favoring, opposing or watching the bill, used to work on the House panel. The committee plans to markup the measure tomorrow.

The bill, called the Stop Online Piracy Act, is hotly contested, dividing Hollywood, which wants tougher laws to protect copyrighted material, and Silicon Valley, which contends that SOPA would introduce new, uncertain liabilities for web companies. So far, according to Politico, Hollywood has more lobbying spending behind it.

Likewise, a majority of the interests represented by the former Judiciary Committee aides are in favor of the bill—like the Motion Picture Association of America, Comcast, and the National Music Publishers Association. However, five of the lobbyists also represent companies such as VerizonAT&T and Microsoft that have expressed reservations with SOPA and prefer the Senate version of the bill. Only a couple of the lobbyists represent interests flatly against the bill—namely: Google and the Digital Media Association.

Meanwhile, despite opposition from open Internet groups, Silicon Valley, and legislators, the bipartisan legislation marches on. The panel already held a hearing on the bill, released a list of supporters, and the chairman, Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has said he is only open to “legitimate changes" to it.

The 16 lobbyists represent companies or organizations that have been lobbying on the Protect IP Act, a similar bill in the Senate, this year, according to an analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics. SOPA was only introduced in October, so lobbying disclosures mentioning it are not yet available.

A few of the interests backing the bill have hired multiple former Judiciary staffers. Three lobbyists represent the National Music Publishers Association. One of the NMPA lobbyists, Allison Halataei, just recently departed the House Judiciary Committee as the legislative battle kicks into high gear. Two other lobbyists represent the Chamber of Commerce, which has been a leading pro-SOPA voice. Another, Chris Cylke, left the Chamber earlier this year to become the director of federal affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America. Two more former aides lobby for Comcast.

On the other hand, three of the former staffers represent Microsoft, which praised the Senate’s anti-online piracy legislation but reportedly has reservations with the House bill. Two others represent Verizon, which has "a number of concerns with the bill," and wants to help fix parts of it, the Washington Post reported.

All of the lobbyists listed represent one of the more than 120 entities that disclosed lobbying on the PROTECT IP Act, which the Senate Judiciary Committee passed in May.

At the bottom of this post is a list of clients and employers who have hired former Judiciary Committee staffers. Where we have been able to determine each organization's stance on the bill, through public records and interviews, we have listed it.

 

Digital Media Association

  • Stance: Against SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Greg Barnes, former counsel

Google

  • Stance: Against SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Kathryn Lehman, former counsel

Chamber of Commerce

  • Stance: For SOPA
  • Lobbyist: William E. Moschella, former Chief legislative counsel and parliamentarian
  • Lobbyist: Michael J. Remington, former Chief counsel to Subcommittee on Courts & Intellectual property 

National Music Publishers Association

  • Stance: For SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Allison Hallataei, former Deputy chief of staff and parliamentarian
  • Lobbyist: James Alexander French, former Minority counsel
  • Lobbyist: Carlyle Thorsen, former Counsel to Subcommittee on Crime

Comcast

  • Stance: For SOPA
  • Lobbyist: James Alexander French, former Minority counsel
  • Lobbyist: Carlyle Thorsen, former Counsel to Subcommittee on Crime

American Society of Composers, Artists & Publishers

  • Stance: For SOPA
  • Lobbyist: James Alexander French, former Minority counsel
  • Lobbyist: Carlyle Thorsen, former Counsel to Subcommittee on Crime

Motion Picture Association of America

  • Lobbyist: Chris Cykle, former Senior legislative assistant and deputy parliamentarian

Viacom

  • Stance: For SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Stacey Dansky, former Antitrust counsel

Recording Industry Association of America

  • Stance: For SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Mitch Glazier, former Chief counsel to Subcommittee on Courts & Intellectual property

National Cable & Telecommunications Asssociation

  • Stance: For SOPA
  • Lobbyist: William E. Moschella, former Chief legislative counsel and parliamentarian

Broadcast Music Inc

  • Stance: For SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Michael J. Remington, former Chief counsel to Subcommittee on Courts & Intellectual property 

Songwriters Guild of America

  • Stance: For SOPA
  • Lobbyist: James Schweitzer, former counsel

Microsoft

  • Stance: Has reservations about SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Stephanie Peters, former Democratic counsel
  • Lobbyist: Jonathan R. Yarowsky, former General Counsel
  • Lobbiyst: Joseph Gibson, former Chief antitrust counsel

Verizon

  • Stance: Has reservations about SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Kathryn Lehman, former counsel
  • Lobbyist: Michone Johnson, former chief counsel

AT&T

  • Stance: Has reservations about SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Joseph Gibson, former Chief antitrust counsel

American Intellectual Property Law Association

  • Stance: Has not taken a position on SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Vincent Garlock, former Counsel to Subcommittee on Courts & Intellectual Property

American Association of Justice

  • Stance: Has not taken a position on SOPA 
  • Lobbyist: Jonathan R. Yarowsky, former General counsel

US Telecom Association

  • Stance: Has not taken a position on SOPA
  • Lobbyist: Jonathan R. Yarowsky, former General counsel

CC Media Holdings 

  • Stance: Unclear
  • Lobbyist: Joseph Gibson, former Chief antitrust counsel

 

Note: 12/14/2011, 2:55 p.m. This post has been updated from the original to refect information that one organization has provided us on its stance on SOPA.