Indeed, behind the protests and public posturing, both Hollywood and Silicon Valley spend generously to lobby causes in Washington. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the movie, television and music industries spent a combined $91.7 million on lobbying efforts in 2011, compared with the computer and Internet industry's $93 million.
In the 2012 election cycle, the movie, television and music industry offered up $7.7 million in direct campaign contributions to congressional candidates. The computer and Internet industry contributed $6.6 million.
Despite the uproar on websites and blogs, PIPA remains firmly in play. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said Tuesday that he intends to push the bill toward a floor vote on Jan. 24. He said much of the criticism of the bill is "flatly wrong."
It remains to be seen whether the two industries can come to the table and negotiate a compromise.
"There are good companies, and then there are companies simply out to preserve the Wild West, free-to-steal business model," said Recording Industry Association of America CEO Cary Sherman. He expects to know "within the next few weeks" whether the legislation can survive.
Lawmakers may have a personal incentive to keep online piracy on the nation's political radar, said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a non-partisan government-accountability watchdog. If the issue stays alive through the current election cycle, it may help bring in campaign contributions from high-tech donors and Hollywood later this year.
The issue "becomes an opportunity for raising more money from these groups," Wertheimer said. "If you're into an important issue and money is flowing in on both sides, then both sides can up the ante."
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