Former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd was reportedly paid $1.5 million to help pass the anti-Internet-piracy bill SOPA. (Staff illustration)

A cool $1.5 million a year.

That's what the Motion Picture Association of America is reportedly paying Connecticut's formerU.S. Sen. Chris Doddto slide an anti-Internet-piracy bill through Congress. His insider knowledge, his old-fashioned liberal credentials, and his winning smile were supposed to make it all so very easy.

Except that Dodd and the MPAA and the hoard of other lobbyists stroking this issue for them now appear to be drowning beneath a tidal wave of Internet opposition. And just maybe Dodd's sweet salary might have been better spent on someone more in tune with 21st Century technology issues than old-fashioned congressional politics.

Top U.S. House and Senate leaders have postponed action on their respective Internet piracy bills and there are predictions the issue is doomed. Meanwhile, the feds last week shut down Megaupload, one of the biggest file-sharing sites, and indicted those in charge, leading to questions about why any more anti-piracy legislation is needed.

Multiple critics have trashed the response from Dodd and the MPAA to this lobbying crisis as old-fashioned and ineffective.

Dodd insists he's only trying to protect American ideas and American jobs that are threatened by Internet piracy. He denies claims he's trying to censure Internet freedoms. He told The Hollywood Reporter the charge he is somehow supporting something that would curb free speech "the most offensive line of all."

He labeled the blackout maneuver by Wikipedia and other sites "irresponsible" and "an abuse of power." Dodd, a long-time Obama supporter, also warned that Hollywood's heavy political contributions to the president could dry up if the White House continues to waffle on the issue.

At the same time, Dodd has acknowledged that the tremendous impact of the stunning Internet campaign against the anti-piracy bills came as a shock not only to him but to Washington insiders.

"This is altogether a new effect," Dodd told The New York Times. "This was a whole new different game all of a sudden… This thing was considered by many to be a slam dunk."

Good pol that he is, and now faced with what appears to be defeat in Congress, Dodd is also calling for a "summit" between Hollywood and the Internet biggies that are opposing the anti-piracy bills. It's the kind of move congressional insiders make when they know they don't have the votes to pass what they want, and it raises the obvious question of why such a conference wasn't held long ago.

(Dodd failed to respond to repeated requests for comment on this story, which is understandable. Who needs to talk to a hometown rag when you're in the middle of a vast national firestorm?)

Some cast this as a war between Southern California and Northern California, between Hollywood and Silicon Valley; a fight pitting "content providers" wanting to halt the theft of their products, and new technology geeks fearful of losing the Internet to conservative anti-competitive censorship.

But the vast reach of the Internet and Dodd's old Connecticut connections means this fight has become very personal for some in the former senator's home state.

"To think I respected the man, voted for him, and then he goes and does something like this," says James Elwood, vice president of technology for Tolland-based Geezeo, one of many Connecticut companies that are Internet-dependent.

"I make my living online. The Internet helps clothe and feed my family," says Elwood, whose company provides personal financial management tools for credit unions, small banks and their customers. In Elwood's eyes, Dodd and the MPAA-sponsored legislation being fought over in Congress would "tell me I can't continue to make a living."

The threat that has the web-heads freaking out is that, if an Internet site even links to some other site that might have pirated material involved, both could be taken down or blocked from key revenue-driving search engines like Google.

SOPA is the version that Dodd and the MPAA, U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1, and that bastion of corporate liberty, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, were pushing in the U.S. House. The Senate, with Connecticut's U.S. Sens. Joe Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal on board, was touting a somewhat different bill called Protect Intellectual Properties (or Protect IP).

Both were intended to punish foreign websites that provide pirated movies, music and television material. The biggest controversy was over provisions that would have allowed the feds and copyright holders to force search engines and other sites to delete links to such Internet pirating lairs.

"Ultimately, the government's approach, to rush a bill into law, is going to cause bigger problems, is going to stunt the growth of the [Internet] industry," says David Salinas, CEO of a New Haven-based digital marketing and advertising agency called Digital Surgeons.

He says one of his company's clients gets something like $1 million a week in online ad revenues from their website, and some of the content is user-generated. If any of that material was considered pirated, says Salinas, his client's website could be blocked from major search engines.