Bitter, Table for One?: What do Harry Reid and Creative Commons have in common?

An interesting tweet from @maplight asks the question “How much money has @SenatorReid received from interests supporting bill to making streaming a felony?”

That’s a very interesting question as it turns out, although it sounds a bit bitter.  It was so interesting, important and of course innovative that it received a retweet from @lessig.  I’ll get to that presently.

I find it offensive that people like this are always trying to foist the idea that just because somebody got a campaign contribution means that they are in somebody’s pocket–particularly when trying to raise money for their own organizations that purport to investigate a self-defined version of “corruption”.  Just because a politician gets money from an interest group doesn’t mean that they carry the water.  President Obama, for example, got lots of money from Google, yet his Administration has the strongest record on IP rights of any in recent memory–completely antithetical to Google’s goals.

But let’s see–so who are the top contributors to a leading U.S. senator from Nevada?

Even if you didn’t know any actual facts, you might guess that the gaming industry would be in the lead to support their local senator, right?  The gaming industry.  You know, gaming as in PartyGaming.  Dot com.

An invaluable source for researching political contributions tells us that Senator Reid did indeed receive contributions from one of the top industries in his state–gaming.  As in casinos.  (MGM and Harrah’s, for example, but there isn’t one entertainment company on the top 20 list of Senator Reid’s 2010 campaign contributors.)  Just like every other senator receives contributions from the top industry in their state, Nevada’s happens to be gaming.  Having said that, the gaming industry has a lot of interests, but you know that copyright and felony streaming is just not an obvious connection to gaming.

Unless you work for PartyGaming.com.   Or if you are a founder of PartyGaming.com more precisely.  Then you are very interested in copyright–or at least with @lessig’s Creative Commons.

Andrew Orlowski of The Register took a look at the connection between the gaming industry and Creative Commons in his recent article “Poker Money and the Ethics Professor“:

“What does an ethics professor do when a self-confessed felon bankrolls his favourite causes? Give the money back? Turn it into a case study for his students? We may soon find out.

The professor is the director of Edmond J Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard, and he’s no ordinary professor. It’s Lawrence Lessig, the copyright activist turned crusader for political transparency, and scourge of corporate lobbying. So the extent to which gambling interests have supported two of Lessig’s favourite causes may be one of the strangest stories you have never read.”

Now what is interesting about this is that there is a local connection between Senator Reid and his support from the gaming industry in his state.  I’m just not smart enough to find a plasible substantive connection between Creative Commons and PartyGaming.com.  Read all about it in news from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, “PartyGaming Founder Pleads Guilty in Internet Gambling Case and Agrees to $300 million Forfeiture” and in The Register.

So what is the connection between Senator Reid’s fundraising and the copyright issues in the felony streaming bill? A lot less than Creative Commons’ fundraising with PartyGaming founders.  No confessed felons as far as I know.