The movie rental company is pushing for more legislative influence to promote intellectual property laws.
(Image source: Technorati ) BY ZACH TOOMBS Netflix is bolstering its presence in Washington, D.C., forming its own political action committee. Politico reports the decision means the movie rental company is now able to make contributions of up to $5,000 directly to federal candidates for office through the new committee — called FLIXPAC. “... it provides Netflix with another political tool with which to aggressively press a pro-intellectual property, anti-video piracy agenda — an effort it began in earnest in 2010, when the company began heavily investing in federal lobbying efforts.” The move is just the latest in Netflix’s growing effort to catch Washington’s ear. A study from The Center for Responsive Politics shows the amount of money the company has spent on lobbying has dramatically increased over the last few years. “During the second quarter of the year, Netflix spent $110,000 on federal lobbying … That's up from $80,000 during the first quarter of 2011 — and it's up from just $10,000 one year ago. Furthermore, two years ago, Netflix was conspicuously absent from the D.C. lobbying game.” In addition to fighting video piracy and pushing intellectual property laws, a more recent issue could be at the center of Netflix’s lobbying — a 1988 law keeping Netflix from joining up with Facebook to create an app for the popular social network. CNN writes: “The law prohibits ‘a video tape service provider’ from disclosing its customers' ‘personally identifiable information,’ unless the customer provides written consent. It's clear that Congress tried, in 1988, to legislate for a post-VHS world, referring to ‘prerecorded video cassette tapes or similar audio visual materials.’ But Netflix said the vague language leaves the present-day situation unclear.” The Wall Street Journal quotes the executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, who says the political influence of the Internet community is “at its apex.” One Internet giant in particular has led the way in influencing lawmakers. “The Internet industry has found a rare sweet spot in Washington. With Google in the lead, the companies have begun building a strong traditional lobbying force in Washington. And, to complement that inside game, websites' millions of users have become a powerful outside weight on Congress.”