UPDATED: There is a widespread perception that Hollywood's media industries have friends in high places because they have spent money buying influence compared with the poor tech industry. But Reuters reports that the tech industry has outspent the entertainment industries.
Epic clash: Silicon Valley blindsides Hollywood on piracy
By Sarah McBride and Lisa Richwine
The technology industry has ramped up its political activities dramatically in recent years, and in fact, has spent more than the entertainment industry -- $1.2 billion between 1998 and 2011, compared with $906.4 million spent by entertainment companies.
The entertainment industries, however, seem better at knowing where to buy friends.
Through the end of September, Hollywood had outspent the tech industry 2-to-1 in donations to key supporters of measures it was backing. More than $950,000 from the TV, music and movie industries has gone to original sponsors of the House and Senate bills in the 2012 election cycle, compared with about $400,000 from computer and Internet companies, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Spending money is not enough, you have to cultivate your friends. You'd think that the tech industry would understand that it's not the number of friends that counts, but the number of friends that can be counted upon.
UPDATE: It looks like Google is happy to buy friends if it can't make friends. Michael Liedtke reported
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google's U.S. lobbying bill more than tripled to $3.76 million in the fourth quarter as the Internet search leader fought proposed changes to online piracy laws and sought to influence a wide range of other issues that could affect its fortunes.
Its quarterly bill is its highest ever. And I'm sure it will grow even higher in 2012. But how much of that money was spent on industry wide issues and how much on Google issues?
Yes, there's an overlap, but Google has plenty of its own legal challenges and monopoly investigations to deal with. It would be interesting to see how much it spends in lobbying around industry issues, such as SOPA, versus its own interests.
Mr Liedtke noted that Microsoft spent heavily on lobbying during the US government's investigation, and then prosecution, of Microsoft for breaking anti-trust laws. Today Microsoft spends much less than Google - just $1.88 million in the same quarter.
Here's a list of some of the topics that Google's influential new friends, its paid lobbyists, petitioned politicians and key government departments about:
...online security; personal privacy on the Internet; renewable energy; international tax reform; the treatment of corporate earnings outside the U.S.; the availability of wireless Internet access; free speech; and free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
Besides Congress, agencies that Google lobbied in the fourth quarter included: the Federal Trade Commission, the White House; the Federal Communications Commission, the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative.