VP & Commerce Secretary Suck Up To Hollywood, Cite Bogus Stats And Promise Misguided Action

from the just-what-wasn't-needed dept

The Obama administration continues to give in to pretty much every wish of the entertainment industry. At an MPAA-sponsored dinner, VP Joe Biden repeated a bunch of Hollywood talking point myths as fact, and promised stronger intellectual property enforcement. He incorrectly referred to file sharing as "pure theft," claimed that it hurt the economy (with no evidence to support that) and said that it caused lost jobs. Of course, the industry has been putting out bogus studies claiming such notions, but they're easily debunked when you look at the details. Biden also promised that the "IP czar" would be "the right person," which (given the audience was Hollywood execs) almost certainly means someone who will roll over and obey the industry, rather than focus on actually increasing innovation and protecting consumer rights.

Earlier at the event, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke noted that the recent leak of Wolverine "underscores the problem the industry faces," while saying that he "believes in the full and impartial enforcement of the law." Again, as has been discussed widely, the leak of Wolverine doesn't demonstrate any problem at all. Plenty of people will still go see the movie in the theater, and if the industry had reacted intelligently, it could have turned the leak into a marketing coup. Instead, it acted stupidly, and because of that, the administration is going to bend over backwards to help the industry keep acting stupid rather than adapt. What a shame.

These moves represent a real loss to the economy, society and culture. For whatever reason (money has a lot to do with it), the administration seems to have bought into the totally unsubstantiated claim that there is only one business model for entertainment (selling content), and thus it needs to create laws to make sure that such a business model works. In doing so, it's creating massive inefficiencies, decreasing content production and making it even more difficult for new and innovative business models and services to thrive.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 7:11am

    Lessig had the right idea

    You can't reason a man out of a notion he was paid to hold.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 7:23am

    Biden is just showing his humorous side and wants a shot at the latenight slot on ABC in four years.

    He's such a jokester. No, really, he is!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 7:24am

    That's change I can believe in. More government spending and more ties to corporations. Go Obama.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 7:46am

    Is Gary Locke's real name Two Headed Janus?

    HIGHLIGHTS FROM GARY LOCKE'S TENURE AS GOVERNOR
    Source:
    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/401204_lockewash24.html

    1997
    Locke imposes more vetoes than any governor in state history. Still, Locke and lawmakers negotiate historic welfare reform.

    1999
    Voters approve Tim Eyman's Initiative 695, to replace car license taxes with a flat $30 fee, despite Locke's opposition.

    2000
    The state Supreme Court throws out I-695. But legislators and Locke went ahead and wrote the tax cut into law.

    Locke sails to easy re-election over Republican radio host John Carlson. Voters approve two statewide ballot initiatives: I-728 aiming to reduce class sizes and I-732 requiring teacher pay raises.

    2001
    The Boeing Co. announces it will move its headquarters from Seattle.

    2002
    Faced with a $1.6 billion shortfall, lawmakers and Locke agree not to raise taxes. Instead, they use short-term fixes, including borrowing against the national tobacco settlement.

    2003
    Locke earns praise for his "Priorities of Government" budget-writing process, similar to zero-based budgeting.

    Locke and legislators fill a $2.7 billion state budget shortfall partially by suspending education initiatives. (Presumably I-728 and I-732, approved by Voters in 2000.)

    Locke puts together a $3.2 billion tax break package for The Boeing Co., while also receiving over $715,000 in campaign contributions from benefactors. Hoping to help the state win a contract to produce a new line of commercial jets. Boeing would eventually choose Washington.

    Locke announces he won't seek a third term.

    2004
    Locke backs Initiative 884 to increase the state sales tax to pay for education. The measure is trounced.

     

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    Joe, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 7:47am

    Hope and Change

    "the administration is going to bend over backwards to help the industry keep acting stupid rather than adapt"

    I'm sorry, what industry are we talking about?

     

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      A Dan, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 8:11am

      Re: Hope and Change

      Is this post a joke?

      Assuming it's not, he's talking about the "entertainment industry" which he mentioned near the start of the post. If it is a joke, I commend your sense of sarcasm.

       

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      Azrael, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 9:42am

      Re: Hope and Change

      Greed industry.

       

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    zellamayzao, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 7:56am

    Biden

    Being a resident of Delaware (Biden's state) I am very sorry for his lack of awareness and ability to reason. We here in Delaware are truely sorry he was put in such an important public office and would love to bring him back smack him on the wrists and tell him to go sit in the corner.

    One of his good buddies former Gov. Minner (D.) also did a terrible job in her 8 years of running this state (into the ground). We had a surplus in our budget when she took control and after raising taxes on pretty much everything also doubling the tolls on highway Rt 1, after the end of her term we had a defecite.

    Thats the type of people that he associates with. Again, truely sorry

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 8:06am

    ...the administration seems to have bought into the totally unsubstantiated claim that there is only one business model for entertainment...

    It has done no such thing, but I guess if you repeat it often enough you can persuade some people that this is the case.

     

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      Mike (profile), Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 11:10am

      Re:

      It has done no such thing, but I guess if you repeat it often enough you can persuade some people that this is the case.

      If it has done no such thing, then why is it saying we need to do these things to protect that particular business model? There is no explanation for what's being said unless you believe that copyright is the only business model for these industries.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 12:10pm

        Re: Re:

        My comment was in reference to your statement concerning only one business model. The copyright laws easily support a wide plurality of business models. See, e.g., Creative Commons, your advocacy for free dissemination of content, etc.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 8:16am

    What's this Wolverine You Speak Of?

    If a movie is available online before it's released, wouldn't that be a problem with the production facility not being able to maintain chain of custody? Shouldn't they fire the post production staff?

    Just wondering.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 8:38am

      Re: What's this Wolverine You Speak Of?

      What if Wolverrine was a big hit? I won't see it, Deadpool has optic blasts. Could anything be more ridiculous? :)

      But if Wolverine is huge despite (or because of) piracy (and it sucks) doesn't that cast some doubt on the entire premise that piracy hurts? The entertainment industry needs to be called out on this one.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 9:19am

        Re: Re: What's this Wolverine You Speak Of?

        It looks like FOX is even downplaying the leak. They even admit that it was an incomplete version:

        "It was without many effects, had missing and unedited scenes and temporary sound and music," the studio said. It's difficult to believe it wasn't leaked from someone inside the studio.

        The article also mentions people buying tickets in mid-February for the May release.

        There is little doubt in my mind the film will be successful, but using the issue as a talking point to introduce what could eventually become new legislation seems somewhat shallow in my view.

        Perhaps the studio would have done better to offer, say, a large bonus (say 10k per person on staff) for keeping screener copies out of reach of those without a "need to know" and also employ whatever secrecy concepts/tools, say, Lucas employs.

         

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          chris (profile), Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 9:58am

          Re: Re: Re: What's this Wolverine You Speak Of?

          Perhaps the studio would have done better to offer, say, a large bonus (say 10k per person on staff) for keeping screener copies out of reach of those without a "need to know" and also employ whatever secrecy concepts/tools, say, Lucas employs.

          the work print for "attack of the clones" film was leaked as well.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 12:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What's this Wolverine You Speak Of?

            the work print for "attack of the clones" film was leaked as well.

            Perhaps there's some truth to that. But the point I attempted to make is one focused at incenting company-positive behavior. If a worker had a carrot equal to a month's work dangled in front of them, I've found that it can provide quite the incentive to follow the damned rules.

            Even more interesting is how such a compensation program quickly weeds out those who don't conform to the rules. (via co-workers who look to find the mole.)

            It's quite brilliant, actually. No need to punish the world, enact legislative changes, or other actions.

            But I digress. Go do your legislative action. It only proves in my mind that Hollywood is made up of sad and weak individuals who have few ideas and too many cigars.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 12:33pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What's this Wolverine You Speak Of?

              Sorry, but I just had to add this final point:

              Perhaps this is what President Obama meant when he said at the G20 conference:

              "If there’s just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that’s an easier negotiation."

              Perhaps that's why Biden and Locke were sent.

               

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    Kevin (profile), Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 8:24am

    I hate this administration. If its not DOJ getting former RIAA heads, then there is this rhetorical BS the VP spouts to industry folks. just Fing wonderful.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 9:02am

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 9:03am

    ..and from the enemies of capitalism you were expecting....?

     

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      Azrael, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 9:44am

      Re:

      A real comment, not just redneck blabber.

       

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      Derek Kerton, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 12:55pm

      Re: crossing party lines

      Hombre, I think you'll find this is one truly non-partisan issue. The reps of both major parties kiss plenty of Hollywood ass.

       

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      femtobeam, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 1:03am

      Re: Capitalism Socialism and Hollywood

      Capitalism has now become synonymous with the Chicago School of Economics or Supply side economics, which has failed miserably, sending jobs down the rabbit hole and industry overseas, while creating a non-gold standard currency inflated by promises of a long term bond ownership of the US by China. Socialism still has the stigma given it by the anti-hippie movement that disliked the extermination of starving Christians sent over the border in Viet Nam by China, forcing an end to the anti-communist war in Asia. Now that China is in charge of our computer systems and the Internet and the so-called right wing is now bashing a new President they cannot control, there seems to be more than one way to freeze people in place and create a reactionary, uninformed, and anti-government population... primed for a communist takeover or alternatively a war with China. Double speak, double act, just get the commentators to do it all for them, sit back and enjoy the Virtual battle.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 9:07am

    Elections have consequences

    And everyone that voted for the present administration should review their choice between now and the next election (not that the other choice would have been any different) but the only way that people can express their displeasure with stupid decisions by their political leaders is to vote their butts out...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 9:18am

    So who leaked Wolverine ?

    If Wolverine was leaked and not in release, who leaked it ? Maybe a screener copy ? Who controls them ? Guess. It looks like the problems are starting out long before the movies end up in theatres. Maybe the studios should have a little better security. Stop blaming file sharing. Put the blame at where it starts.

     

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    Mechwarrior, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 9:41am

    Eh, they can struggle with this all they want. The same thing that happened with videocassettes and DVD's will happen with electronic versions of movies. People (the companies) will end up giving up after seeing how fruitless their efforts were, and how much damage they caused themselves by trying to swim against the stream.

     

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    PorkSoda, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 9:55am

    On the actual topic!!!

    Consider the audience please. As liberals we hate to admit that our guys are politicians too... but they are. As politicians, they need campaign donations and funding, not to mention the non cash benefits that come with those large media producers supporting your cause.

    The right wing screams about the Hollywood elite backing the liberal cause, and it's not all unjustified. A lot of money flows from LA into democratic coffers. But someone can be a social liberal and a fiscal conservative at the same time.

    Yes, even liberals own businesses, and as such have a big vested interest in protecting profit and market share. I'm not condoning the actions of the RIAA or it's members. They're acting like true reactionaries and eventually will change or fail. But they're acting just like any other industry group; they have their own audiences and it's only natural for the administration to respond to them, just like they would any other WELL funded lobbying group.

    This administration is stuck between the frying pan and the fire. They're focusing on what they believe are the most important core issues of their election, but like any political party, they need to make compromises to further their agenda and keep this country from falling to pieces, and try to keep hold of power through a mid-term election.

    Some of the posters here would have you become disenfranchised, change your vote or not vote at all because "Biden is a phoney". Whatever. I know who they'll be voting for next election.

    Don't hate the players, hate the game.

     

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      Tgeigs, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 10:48am

      Re: On the actual topic!!!

      If they wanted to, this could be easily fixed in three steps:

      1. Outlaw corporate donations OF ANY KIND to political contributions/gifts
      2. Cap personal contributions to no more than $200 per individual, per candidate; also, no donations to a "party" are allowed, only to individual campaigns
      3. Enact a law that states anyone attempting to violate or circumvent these laws spends a mandatory one year in Federal "pound me in the ass" prison

      Result? Everyone has a fairly equal voice, at least within an individual's congressional district, lobbying efforts are lessened because they can't pay out and influence the way they used to, and politicians actually have to talk to ALL the people, not just the ones with the most money.

      Of course, this will NEVER happen...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 11:28am

        Re: Re: On the actual topic!!!

        You don't know much about FEC regulations that are already in place. It would almost be impossible for CACs to follow your restrictions. It is hard enough as it is.

         

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          Tgeigs, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 12:04pm

          Re: Re: Re: On the actual topic!!!

          Following the restrictions would be far easier if you scrap the FEC regs. Sometimes it takes a dictator like me to put democracy in place :)

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 10:15am

    What is so difficult with creating a new industry?

    Gary Locke has and will continue to be a disappointing choice. When I read his bio, I'm left with the feeling that Gary is something of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde person. He seems to have a record of saying one thing, and doing another.

    Surely the Current Administration knew about this when they chose him as the third commerce secretary candidate, and what little I've read about him really is concerning. However, if you look at the actions of the Current Administration over the past 100 days, it seems that the ideal of the administration is to grow the green industries. It seems Mr. Obama has drawn his line in the sand, and that is what he's quite passionate about, and God Bless Him.

    However, as I survey the landscape and see the amazing numbers coming from internet-based content distribution, I've come to believe that the desire to reform copyright and content distribution laws to better fit the reality we live in is not a priority as evidenced by the quite hollow interpretation of the market as interpreted by those with most to loose.

    When we look back at the past 4 years, we see an amazing revolution in the hobby video and music business that can (and ultimately will) transfer a considerable amount of control from what ultimately is inbred Los Angeles culture.

    People can takeup a hobby of production which results in a product. A product that people are willing to pay for. The last time this was seen on this scale was during the industrial revolution when little companies could be started in garages, apartments, or extra bedrooms.

    When Thomas Edison started his notorious Menlo Park laboratory, I doubt he believed his ideas would go forward to create one of the most powerful companies of this day.

    When Francois Isaac de Rivaz of Switzerland used designs from Christian Huygens to develop the first combustion engine, I doubt he believed his ideas would go forward to create one of the most prolific industries of this day.

    When Bill Hewlett and David Packard started a small business in a garage, I doubt they believed their ideas would go forward to create one of the most powerful technology companies of this day.


    The point is that industries don't start by themselves. Today, there are a number of stories that are locked up by copyright, and there's a growing number of people who want to re-interpret them to something of today's standard. However, often copyright gets in the way of being able to create new art. New art. New art. New art people will pay for. New art people will pay for.

    To assume that something from the 1960s or even the 1980s can't be re-interpreted, re-packaged and re-sold as new with new artists, new actors, new performers, new scores is absolutely absurd.


    So to think that Green Energy is the only new business that can create wealth is silly and shortsighted by our current administration. Perhaps let's figure out how to create new art based on old art. When we look at how complex the current system is, a song comes to mind:

    Licenses dissolving...and licenses removing!
    There are licenses at the bottom of the ocean!

     

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    Freedom, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 10:33am

    101 Socialism...

    Why would you expect any different out of the Obama administration? The won't let the banks fail, the car companies fail, so why would they let the entertainment industry fail.

    One of the great things I thought America had was our willingness to let business fail based on real, live market forces. While this is sometimes EXTREMELY PAINFUL in the short term especially for those closely connected, it ultimately means that are system is one of the most efficient and productive. To me, trying to save these companies is just delaying the inevitable.

    For an administration that preached change, I've never seen one more scared of it. I see the republicans as no better for that matter. Just like in broadband, having only 2 choices isn't the best for the 'consumer', and I think in politics, having 2 parties is no real choice at all. Competition is good and it is time we got some in our political system as well!

    Freedom

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 1:59pm

      Re: 101 Socialism...

      Why would you expect any different out of the Obama administration? The won't let the banks fail, the car companies fail, so why would they let the entertainment industry fail.

      I hope your kidding. As such an ascertainment is fundamentally wrong. When you mention the Banks, well, there exists an unregulated shadow banking system that needs to be addressed.

      See:
      http://vimeo.com/4137538

      When you mention the car companies, they shared their need to re-tool long ago.

      The Entertainment Industry fundamentally is in the same boat as the car companies, and is need of a major re-tooling.

      To fully understand, you have to understand that Hollywood works on a supply-based system based on the works of Arthur Laffer, introduced to Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeldt, and intrigal to the Neo-Conservative Movement.

      President Obama was elected on a platform of "Change", "Change I can Believe In" and something like "We are the people we've been waiting for." I was expecting a change from supply-side economics to demand-side economics.

      So when you review Hollywood and the Music Industry's history, you'll find that they have lived and thrived on expanded copyright law over the past few decades. Changes to copyright law in the 1970s created the foundation of what we see today and prevent new entrants. It expanded copyright law to a federal case, strengthened the FBI, also perhaps expanded copyright beyond it's original intent.

      From an economic perspective, most of the changes favor a new type of economics, called "Supply-side" economics, and ideology first seeded with Donald Rumsfeldt and Dick Cheney in the mid 70s regarding a new ideology called "Supply Side Economics" produced by Arthur Laffer, famous for creating the "Laffer Curve" in the midst of Donald Rumsfeldt and Dick Cheney in 1974(?). Laffer introduced his new concept to combat Keynesian Economics. Kinda cool, huh?

      Prior to 1976, Copyright laws existed, but it was never a Federal Law.

      It took until 1992 to make standard Home recording legal, 30 years after the invention of the 1930 tape recorder.

      Since then, the industry focused their efforts on maintaining supply-chain and promotion. Perhaps in 1996, the DMCA was enacted, and in return, Hollywood produced some of the movies, and music ever. Quid-Pro-Quo.

      All this may be about legality and maintaining control of a supply-based economic philosophy which doesn't want to regard new demand-based methodology.

       

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        Freedom, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 3:29pm

        Re: Re: 101 Socialism...

        You've been hanging around politicians too long as I see a whole lot of words, but no real content in your long response.

        Congrats - you made my brain hurt.

        Freedom

         

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    roger, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 11:29am

    Quid Pro Quo

    Don't you think the entertainment industry expected to be compensated for putting all their resources into electing Obama?

     

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    TPBer, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 3:25pm

    Wolverine

    The workprint was lacking a few, 10-15 FX scenes, but overall was pretty well finished. The movie was good and I do not believe the leaked will hurt, instead make many want to see on the big screen. I obviously came out of post production, you have to wander if this was not an intentional pre-movie marketing stunt to get more people who would have never went out to see it if they could not get a sampling before.

    The shit that comes out of hollywood now needs to be previewed before spending good money on it. I have to say that 1 out of every 10-20 are worth keeping, the rest get deleted of the drive because they suck that bad.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 7:20pm

    Wolverine

    I watched it, and thought it was pretty good (minus the whole Deadpool thing). I was planning on going to see it when it came out, but after what the music and movie industries did with the Pirate Bay trial (judge Norstrom included), I'm making a point to not give them any more of my money. Screw them, let their business crumble.

    If a US judge does something that dishonorable, are you still supposed to call them "your honor"?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:07am

      Re: Wolverine

      If a US judge does something that dishonorable, are you still supposed to call them "your honor"?

      You better, if you know what's good for you.

       

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    femtobeam, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 1:22am

    Hollywood and the Economy

    Hollywood is a collection of co-located talent that free lances in the production of product that is both supply side and demand side. Only one out of ten big budget films make money, carrying the losses of the others. It takes big Major Motion Picture Distributors to do that, otherwise we are left with dark screens in the theater and forever consigned to live sports of people in difficult positions, like the ancient Romans... feeding people to the lions. The art of film is very expensive and very risky. It is also one of our last industries that have not yet been completely taken over by foreigners, unique to the United States and very difficult to compete with. It is critical to our economy as it is one of the very few exports we still have. Just like everything else, either it is paid for and we have an economic system, or it is stolen, along with the livelihood of many, many people.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:06am

      Re: Hollywood and the Economy

      Only one out of ten big budget films make money, carrying the losses of the others. It takes big Major Motion Picture Distributors to do that, otherwise we are left with dark screens in the theater and forever consigned to live sports of people in difficult positions, like the ancient Romans... feeding people to the lions.

      Hah, that's funny, Hollywood shill! Pretending that you've never even heard of independent films!

       

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