MPAA Tells The FCC: If We Don't Stop Piracy, The Internet Will Die
from the moral-panic dept
The Commission has projected that it could cost $350 billion to ubiquitously deploy broadband networks capable of delivering 100 Mbps, which is rapidly becoming the international standard. The Commission, however, should not ignore that illegal content accounts for a vast amount of online traffic. Thus, it could generate substantial savings in this tremendous build-out cost -- to be borne by both government and private sector investment -- by encouraging construction of networks that are designed not on the basis of accommodating capacity-hogging transmissions of unlawful content but rather with the goal of providing consumers a rich broadband experience.And, of course, it pushes for kicking file sharers off the internet (it hides this by calling it "graduated response," of course, rather than the more common term "three strikes"). The filing also goes on about how the MPAA is just so sure that ISPs can stamp out piracy, and because of that, it thinks the government should force them to get on it.
The MPAA wastes little time mocking those who disagree with its position, and suggesting that the FCC "pay no heed" to consumer concerns:
[The] Commission should pay no heed to assertions by some members of the advocacy community that the problem of content theft can be ignored because some amount of legitimate e-commerce already occurs through vendors such as iTunes.... The same holds true for the preposterous notion that the law should be ignored unless a property owner can demonstrate that a thief, in the absence of stealing, otherwise would have legitimately purchased a stolen product. A shoplifter who steals a DVD from a store in a mall is not immune from security intervention, let alone prosecution, simply because he might not have planned to buy the product that he attempted to steal.Except, of course, there's a huge difference there. If someone steals a DVD it's no longer there for someone else to buy. If someone who never would have purchased the movie views it online there's no loss. it's difficult to see how the MPAA can simply ignore this while assuming that FCC commissioners are too stupid to grasp this rather simple economic concept.
But where the filing really comes into its own in being laughably funny is where it tries to claim that if the FCC doesn't do this, the internet will effectively die. How does it get there? Well, first, it claims that the reason people use the internet is to view content from Hollywood. And, if file sharing keeps up, there won't be any of that content left, and then why would anyone use the internet? Think that's an exaggeration? How else do you interpret this:
Quite clearly, it is the promise of access to the content flowing over the Internet's network architecture that motivates Americans to adopt broadband. The Internet without content would be nothing more than a collection of hardware; a series of computer links and protocols with great capacity to communicate but nothing to say. Television once was unfairly derided as little more than a toaster with pictures. In the absence of compelling content, the Internet would offer consumers even less value than that proverbial toaster. It is the content that flows over and through the Internet that makes the breakthrough technology so potentially powerful.Yes, because even though the internet existed for decades before the folks at the movie studios had even heard of it, they had nothing to say, at all, until people could start sharing the latest camcorded blockbuster. Do they really think people are this stupid? Sorry, Hollywood, but it's not "the content" that you're thinking about that makes the internet so powerful. It's the ability to communicate. Sure, the content is a nice-to-have, but the internet grew and grew because it let people talk to each other, not because it was another broadcast medium. This fantasy story by the MPAA also leaves out the fact that more content than ever before is being produced today, even as "piracy" numbers have gone up. And, oh yes, once again, the movie business is hitting record highs at the box office. Funny that the MPAA seems to spend so much time insisting that its industry is dying, while leaving out the record revenue bit. Instead, it just keeps jumping out and yelling that piracy will kill the movie business...
And then it gets into rewriting history, by insisting that every new technology is only successful if the big media companies support it:
Throughout history, whenever transformative communications technologies have captured the imagination of consumers, compelling content has been the vehicle for forward progress.Apparently, the MPAA is unfamiliar with the telephone. Hopefully, the FCC is a bit more familiar with that particular technology.
The filing goes on and on like this, designed to "scare" the folks at the FCC with a bit of a moral panic, but only inducing laughter (good show, Hollywood) from anyone with any actual understanding of technology, history and copyright. Another favorite tidbit is the MPAA's demand that the FCC not pay attention to how incredibly screwed up every single attempt at using technological measures to stop piracy has been in the past:
MPAA does not want the Commission's consideration of the important overarching issue of unlawful online conduct to be derailed by backward-looking debates about the pros and cons of any given technology, particularly those that already have been surpassed by new innovations. MPAA firmly believes that future developments will yield an entirely new generation of ever-more-sophisticated online protection technologies.In other words, please ignore how badly we've screwed up in the past. Don't worry about things like rootkits and security vulnerabilities we've created. Also, ignore the fact that DRM doesn't work and only punishes our legitimate customers while driving more people to piracy. That would be a waste of time. Really.
And finally, I leave you with the most stunning statement of all, along those lines. One that I'm amazed the MPAA lawyers let go through in this filing, because it absolutely has to come back to haunt the MPAA in the future. In responding to concerns from lots of different people, including consumer advocates and consumer electronics firms that the various technological protection measures the MPAA wants to force on ISPs will harm, the MPAA states:
That a tool intended to stop unlawful conduct could be put to ill use, however, is not an argument for prohibiting the use of the tool....Wait... isn't that exactly the argument that the MPAA has used for years against every new file sharing technology out there? Wasn't it the crux of the Grokster lawsuits? That because the tool could be put to ill use, it needed to be prohibited? Yet, now, suddenly it doesn't want its own technologies prohibited just because they can be put to "ill use." Double standard, much?
This is nothing but a typical moral panic from Hollywood. They are storytellers out there, and they know how to craft a horror story. Hopefully, though, the FCC reviewers of this particular fantasy will give it the thumbs down for simply being totally unbelievable.