Loads of people have published the list of organizations and businesses who are supporting SOPA. But not everyone knows what these companies are or what they do. And looking at that four page list is kind of overwhelming to say the least. So I’ve put together a little pie chart to help you wrap your brain around where this is coming from. Take a look.
It’s no surprise really that Music is the largest industry represented here. Music was the first battleground in internet change in the early 2000’s (see Napster). Similarly the Movies and Television categories are no surprise either. Of course Law Enforcement advocacy groups are in favor, because increases in enforcement mean expanding budgets. And it’s definitely a sign of the times that the second largest group in favor right now are publishing companies. Further down the chain you start to get into some quirky political action committees and luxury brands who are probably looking to crack down on counterfeiting.
But as I’m a librarian, I’m going to focus on the publishers for now. Here’s the list as I see it.
|Association of American Publishers (AAP)|
|Disney Publishing Worldwide, Inc.|
|Hachette Book Group|
|HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide|
|MPA – The Association of Magazine Media|
|Penguin Group (USA), Inc.|
|The Perseus Books Groups|
|W.W. Norton & Company|
|Wolters Kluewer Health|
A couple of things jump out at me looking at this list.
The first being the academic publishing powerhouses that are Elsevier, Gale (via Cengage), W.W. Norton and Wolters Kluewer. Elsevier owns nearly every academic journal that is published in the world, and they charge a bloody fortune for access to those journals. Gale/Cengage provide a number of research databases, as does Wolters Kluewer. And Norton is a publisher of many things, but primarily academic textbooks, as is McGraw Hill.
Publishers with eBook Axes to Grind
Harper Collins was noted earlier this year for changing their eBook access privileges to library eBook vendor Overdrive, where their eBooks will self destruct after 26 checkouts. Penguin also got into some drama with Overdrive access privileges this November, when, during a dispute with Amazon.com, they chose to pull all of their eBooks from Overdrive. Access was restored fairly swiftly as negotiations resumed, but that spectre of loss is still kind of looming. Similarly, Hachette Book Group pulled all of its titles from all of the eBook distribution channels in 2009 and even up to August of this year was still trying to sort out what to do with library access.
Marvel and Disney (though Disney owns Marvel) own a lot of tradmarked characters, and they enforce the shit out of those trademarks. I remember going to the ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference at New York Comic Con a few years ago. There was a panel discussion on fan fiction and they had folks from Dark Horse, Marvel and Nickelodeon. I remember vividly that the folks from Dark Horse were all about fan fiction, and that they mine sites like Deviant Art to scout new talent. Similarly the guy who produces Avatar: the Last Airbender was really supportive of fan fiction as a way of encouraging children to be creative and tell new stories. The guy from Marvel, sue the shit out of those fan fiction people (paraphrasing). The look of aghast horror on the faces of the other panel members was priceless. But it definitely made the point, and its the point that comic book companies and the Disney corporation have been making for decades. These properties belong to us, and you can not use them for any reason. As for Scholastic, I’m sure you’ve heard of Harry Potter.
Now, all of the groups that I’ve listed here are pretty strictly print/ebook publishers or advocacy groups that focus on publishing rights. There are plenty of other crossover companies like Time Warner, which I classed as a television company, but also produces books and films. So if you want to quibble with my numbers you can find them here. Sorry that this is kind of sucky looking, but Scribd kind of breaks the formatting a LOT.
* In my original analysis I had tagged Pearson Education as a publisher, and its identified as such in the Scribd document, but looking closer into them they are more of a web education portal developer, kind of like Blackboard. I’ve removed them from the table on this article, but the number is still in the pie chart. So the pie chart number of publishers should be reduced to 17. Which is still the second largest industry involved in this piece of legislation.