Biden’s Briefing: Media, Anti-Piracy ‘Big Dogs’ Convene

Joe Biden

The US-based anti-piracy battle has so many chapters ahead, and the appointment of ‘IP czar’ Victoria Espinel is just the beginning.

On Tuesday afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden hosted a roundtable to discuss the administration’s ongoing anti-piracy strategy, and details are just starting to emerge.  The meeting was a collection of ‘big dogs,’ according to one ‘Inside-the-Beltway’ insider, and the attendee list included Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and US Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan.

That was just the beginning, as top CEOs from a swath of major media companies (studios, television, book publishing, newspaper, music) were also on deck.  On the music side, the cast included Edgar Bronfman, CEO, Warner Music Group; Linda Bloss-Baum, Vice President, Warner Music Group; Zachary Horowitz, President & COO, Universal Music Group; Matthew Gerson, Executive Vice President, Universal Music Group; Mitch Bainwol, Chairman & CEO, RIAA; David Israelite, President & CEO, NMPA; and Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, National Executive Director, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).  The ‘other side,’ including technology, ISP, and consumer representatives, were not invited.

So what was discussed?  One insider characterized the meeting as ‘introductory in nature,’ while noting that ‘enough big dogs were present’ to stir some serious action.  But Biden clearly took the side of media holders, pointing to a problem with ‘flat unadulterated theft’ that ‘should be dealt with,’ while calling for the Justice Department to coordinate anti-piracy efforts at a local level.  Additionally, Attorney General Eric Holder called for an international meeting to discuss the issue, a stance that makes sense given the borderless nature of file-sharing technologies.

Perhaps all of this is too late for the recording industry, though Hollywood is just starting to get energized.  “Once Hollywood gets freaked out, this whole thing goes to another level,” another executive relayed.  Perhaps that moment has already arrived.