Conservatives in Bed with Hollywood on File Sharing

Matt O'Conner
WASHINGTON – In a surprise move, the Christian Coalition of America, the same group that lead the charge to put warning labels on rap CDs and raise fines for broadcasting indecency, came out in support of Hollywood this week in its court battle against peer-to-peer file sharing.

Alleging that P2P networks help facilitate the distribution of child pornography, the Christian Coalition said it had no problem cozying up to the entertainment industry, even if the relationship proves to be something of a one-night stand.

“Hollywood is definitely a strange bedfellow to most of us,” said Jim Backlin, vice president of legislative affairs for the Christian Coalition. “Our goal was to cut down child pornography and other kinds of pornography. And if for some reason we were allied with Hollywood types this time, so be it.”

The case that has brought together the unlikely allies is MGM vs. Grokster. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 29 in the case, which dates back to 2001, when entertainment companies filed suit last year against file-swapping companies Grokster Inc. and StreamCast Networks.

So far, the P2P companies have won victories in both U.S. District Court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the companies are not liable for what computer users do with their software, even if it’s illegal.

“[Appealing to the Supreme Court] is the Hail Mary pass on the part of the content industry to try to put the entire technology sector under their thumb,” said Fred von Lohmann, senior attorney with the Electronic Freedom Foundation. “That’s something they could never get Congress to do, but that’s precisely what they would like the Supreme Court to do.”

Digital media news site said of the religious group’s sudden affiliation with the entertainment companies, “The Christian Coalition of America has fallen hook, line and sinker for spurious big-music cartel claims that P2P file-sharing applications have a major role in the existence of online pornography.”