Bankrolled by the computer and video game industry, the Entertainment Software Association currently tops all Washington tech trade associations, alliances, coalitions and other groups in lobbying spending.
According to numbers compiled from opensecrets.org, the treasure trove of data by the Center for Responsive Politics, the ESA has spent $2.9 million since the beginning of last year to influence Congress and regulatory agencies like the Federal Trade Commission.
Trailing the ESA in top five trade group lobbying dollars are the Business Software Alliance ($2.2 million), the Digital Media Association ($1.3 million), the Semiconductor Industry Association ($1 million) and the Computer & Communications Industry Association ($895,000).
According to the ESA Web site, the group opposes efforts to "regulate the content of entertainment media in any form." That would include proposals to criminalize the sale of violent games to minors and government-imposed ratings systems.
As you might imagine, the ESA also wants the U.S. to put strong copyright enforcement protections in any free trade agreements.
It must have been a pretty successful year for the ESA in 2007. After spending $2.8 million on lobbying last year, the group only dropped $87,500 on opinion influencing in the first quarter of 2008. The Business Software Alliance and the Computer & Communications Industry Association have already spent approximately $500,000 each on lobbying so far this year.