November 30, 2004 4:00 AM PST
Newsmaker: Fighting for file swapping on Capitol HillSee all Newsmakers
That's not a trivial task for Corwin, the lobbyist for Kazaa's parent company. When making the rounds on Capitol Hill, Corwin, 54, is up against the dual political powerhouses of the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America.
Being an underdog is a switch for Corwin, who spent much of his career lobbying for the influential American Bankers Association, the Commercial Finance Association and the Independent Bankers Association of America, after a stint as a U.S. Senate staffer. Now he's a partner at the Butera & Andrews lobbying firm.
Kazaa is one of the largest and most successful file-trading networks. It boasts about 2.48 million users a day, roughly the same as eDonkey's claimed 2.54 million.
CNET News.com spoke with Corwin about piracy, pornography and his experiences as a lobbyist.
Q: What's it like lobbying against the RIAA and the movie studios?
A: Personally I get along fine with them. But they play real hardball when they lobby, and we play just as hard when we're lobbying back.
RIAA President Cary Sherman told Congress last year that pedophiles were using Kazaa to seduce children. Is that what you mean by hardball?
They spend an awful lot of time dwelling on the allegations that minors are being exposed to pornography when they use peer to peer. I think this whole content path is a very dangerous one for them to go down.
|It was tough lobbying on behalf of Kazaa in this Congress. Hollywood's forces have a lot of people on retainer.|
Also, I think there's a real question about whether we need to create a new federal bureaucracy. It doesn't just create a new post. It creates a whole new staff for that person. When you've already got people at the Department of Justice, at the State Department, at the Commerce Department, at the Copyright Office involved, there's a question about why we need a new office in government with new staff.
Look ahead to the 109th Congress that will take office in January. Your predictions?
I'm not privy to the inner sanctums of the RIAA and MPAA. There are individual members of Congress who have their own views too. But I'm very optimistic about the 109th Congress. It was tough lobbying on behalf of Kazaa in this Congress. Hollywood's forces have a lot of people on retainer. They have big PAC funds. They put a lot of effort into slandering peer-to-peer technology. They put a lot of effort in trying to push these bad bills through Congress.
Now there are better alliances between industry and (nonprofit groups, thanks to opposing the Induce Act). It'll make it much more difficult to push bad bills through in the 109th.
What are your views on Sen. Arlen Specter, who seems to be the next Judiciary committee chairman?
I really have no idea. Sen. Specter hasn't been particularly vocal or active in copyright areas. We just don't know. I--and others--plan to meet with his staff as soon as possible and try to gauge what his agenda will be. There's also talk that Sen. Hatch would try to convince Sen. Specter to create an intellectual property subcommittee that he'd chair.
I'm sure you'd be delighted with more proposals from Hatch.
If that does happen, my only publicly expressed hope is that we'd see these ideas from Sen. Hatch get much more debate than in the last Congress. (Ed. Note: The Pirate Act permits federal prosecutors to file civil lawsuits against copyright infringers.)
The Pirate Act got through the Senate without any hearings, without any committee markup, without any Senate floor debates. Ultimately that was not in the interests of the proponents of that legislation.
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