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Piracy Bill Backers Say Issue Must Be Dealt With on Hill

The content industry was regrouping Friday after the major erosion of Hill support for online piracy bills they had strongly backed, saying they would continue to work for legislation addressing what the industry sees as a massive threat to the increasing necessity of putting their TV shows and movies online.

MPAA chief Chris Dodd said critics would have to work with his association to find a meaningful solution, while the Chamber of Commerce was adding its own kumbaya note. "Throughout this debate we have been encouraged that all parties have recognized the need to address this critical threat to consumers and American jobs," the group said. "The Chamber will continue to work with Congress to help advance solutions that will both effectively protect intellectual property while preserving a vibrant and innovative Internet."

Various reports had Dodd threatening to cut off campaign funds to legislators who had opposed the bills, which translates to MPAA not feeding the hand that bit them on this issue, but generally the tenor of the public conversation from the studios focused on addressing the problem somehow.

AFTRA, SAG and other unions that stood with the studios in support of the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House (SOPA) stood by their support, while acknowledging that there was legitimate criticism. "We recognize that we are currently part of a complex and important debate about the future," they said, "not just of the Internet but also of creativity, the American economy, free expression, and a civil society. We believe that the light should be shined on every aspect of this discussion and on all of those who have a stake in it. We believe we should discuss what an unregulated ‘free' Internet means for the future of content, just as we should also discuss the importance of an open Internet."

Backers of the OPEN Act, Rep. Darrell Issa's alternative bill that would direct the International Trade Commission to investigate illegal digital imports as it does hard goods, were seeing the virtual demise of SOPA and PIPA as a chance to pitch theirs as a compromise. But the studios have been almost as critical of that Google-backed bill as Google and company were of the studio-backed legislation.