News Corp's James Murdoch and WME's Ari Emanuel both talked tough at the recent Abu Dhabi Media Summit about the illegal downloading of movies and TV shows.... Emanuel said he’s been speaking to President Obama about the U.S. adopting France’s 3-strikes-and-you’re-out stance. (Last year, France introduced a rule allowing legal action once Internet users had been caught illegally downloading 3 times.) The agent, whose brother Rahm is White House chief of staff, told delegates he expects there will be a “fight with ISPs” over the showbiz industry lobbying.This doesn't surprise me; last October I attended a conference where Emanuel strongly endorsed the French model, calling piracy the biggest danger facing the entertainment industry, and fighting it "the most important thing for our business."
Interestingly, Emanuel, whose talent agency business is affected only indirectly by piracy, takes a more aggressive stance than the RIAA, whose members have been devastated by illegal downloading. In an official blog post last month, the record industry's trade association reiterated that "the RIAA has not called for a 'three strikes and you’re out' approach." Instead, it said, the RIAA supports "graduated response policies that call generally for escalating sanctions against offenders caught repeatedly engaging in illegal file sharing, an approach already contemplated by existing law (DMCA) and the ISP terms of services already agreed to by the user."
Update: Josh Gerstein at Politico tracked down what Emanuel actually said in Abu Dhabi. It turns out Emanuel didn't actually say he had lobbied Obama; rather, he spoke about Vice President Biden's anti-piracy efforts. Here are Emanuel's actual words:
In France, they are implementing a three-strike rule. We’re in the midst in the United States of moving forward with the Vice President and some attorney generals of trying to implement the three-strike rule...
It’s graduated response, so if people steal content there’s more penalties…eventually they stop them from doing it…..if we do not get a hold of this with the expansion of distribution, and I think there's a big fight coming with the ISPs and people that create content, all this is going to be for naught.