For It Before They Were Against It: Google Spent $400K On SOPA Lobbying

According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, Google spent approximately $390,000 (out of $3,760,000.00 total) on SOPA and PIPA lobbying including efforts to educate lawmakers on SOPA and the DMCA. The question, then, is whether the massive search and advertising giant was for or against the bill – and why so much money was spent to argue the case.

The document, available online in PDF here, is fairly succinct and covers a number of topics, thereby explaining the massive cash outlay. Here’s the specific mention of SOPA:

S. 968 – Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011; S. 978 –
Commercial Felony Streaming Act; S. 2029 – Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act; H.R. 3261 –
Stop Online Piracy Act; Digital Millennium Copyright Act service provider safe harbors; Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The document also mentions a number of other lobbying topics including “Regulation of online advertising; privacy and competition issues in online advertising” and “Renewable energy policies” so it’s not all SOPA all the time over at Google’s New York offices. However, there is a key word missing in the filing – whether Google was for or against the bill and what, if any, opinion they injected into the lobbying effort.

Google was unavailable for comment for this piece but it’s clear that most organizations with a dog in the fight spent some money on lobbying. Wikimedia spent a mere $10K on their efforts, at least according to documents we found. The MPAA made its interests clear in the media but less clear in FEC filings, pouring in $850,000.00 in lobbying money while mentioning nothing of its stance.

According to one reader who performed a bit of data mining on the documents, top spenders are, in order:

RIAA $535,750
The Information Technology Industry Council $390,000
Google $312,500
CSC Holdings $295,000
Comcast $265,816

These numbers are clearly elusive. There’s no value in admitting your position in these documents and clearly there’s no requirement. All we have is a trail of cash going from company to lobbyist to politician. What is said during these glad-handing sessions is unclear, but given the predilections of some of the filers, assumptions can be made.

More interesting are these numbers on the aggregate. While we don’t know what was said, the $1,799,066 represented above talks and it’s clear big business has more resources to pass favorable legislation than any nerd army massing online at SOPA’s gates.