Monday, 09 April 2012 20:04

Netflix Opens Its Own Lobby Group to Support SOPA... FLIXPAC is Born

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17The war for and against SOPA has once again heated up. We have already told you that the entertainment industry, content owners, and lawmakers are working very hard to push through legislation to get what they want (control of the internet as a means of distribution of their content). It does not matter that the simple act of do this violates many Civil Liberties or that it represents a violation of the very basic tenants of the existing Anti-Trust laws that we have. Now only a few days after Chris Dodd let slip that the MPAA is working to reopen SOPA (or something worse) we find that a new power lobby has sprung up from the ground to take the banner of censorship and wave it.

This new group is Netflix which may come as a shock to many people, but to be honest we are not all that surprised to see them go in this direction. It has not been all that long that we saw Netflix de-authorize the plug-in for Windows Media Center. At the time Netflix tried to hide behind Microsoft and claim it was a Windows issue, however after a couple of days and the loss of a few accounts they finally admitted it was due to a change in the way they identified different players (the web interface and smaller “play-only” devices worked, just not Windows). This SNAFU lost them a considerable number of customers and hurt their bottom line enough that they almost lost their contract with Starz (a group that owns the rebroadcast rights to quite a few movies including Disney). Netflix changed tactics at the speed of light and was able to maintain the relationship with Starz in the end.

However, over the years Netflix has been secretly building up the money they spend in Washington. In 2011 they spent an estimated 500,000 on lobbying. Now they have opened up a new corporate lobby called FLIXPAC. They are in Washington to support anti-piracy legislation (which is not necessarily a bad thing) but as with all things we have to wonder who is really pulling the strings. Not all that long ago many may have noticed that Netflix lost a few movies. They were mostly Starz and Sony owned titles. If you remember both Sony and Starz were big supporters of SOPA and PIPA. The official contract with Starz ended in February of this year and Netflix would love to get them back.

It is also important for Netflix to take a stand now so that they can head off competition from companies like Time Warner and Comcast. Both of these companies supported SOPA on the surface while complaining about the issues they would face in implementing the needed infrastructure (an infrastructure that might already be in place). So Netflix has a ton of motivation to get things done in this sector. We would honestly not be all that surprised if an announcement was made saying that Starz and Netflix signed a new deal. There is an old saying that whenever you want to find out what is going on all you have to do is follow the money. Netflix is putting their money behind anti-piracy legislation in the form of a lobbying group. We know that they are the ones that opened the doors on the new shop, now we need to see who else will walk in the door and do some work.

The problem that Netflix now faces is the same one that GoDaddy faced not all that long ago. As new spreads of their intent and their push in this direction you can bet that groups like Anonymous, Fight For the Future and others will rally people on the internet to show their displeasure with Netflix over this situation. In fact we already know that this is happening, according to many tweets a large number of people are already cancelling their accounts under the cry for a general boycott of Netflix. We will be eagerly waiting on what Netflix has to say especially as their stock closed down 3.46%. We would not be surprised to see it drop more over the next few days as they bleed customers over this decision.

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