More Details About Paramount's Offer To Law Schools To Teach Them About The Evils Of 'Content Theft'

from the counterbalance? dept

On Friday, we wrote about reports of Paramount Pictures sending overnight letters to a variety of universities, asking to come speak to their students about the whole SOPA/PIPA debate, and why they're all "content thieves," before asking for the students' thoughts on what Paramount should do. The whole thing seemed pretty sketchy. Either way, we've been getting more details on the letter, and have now seen three different copies of the letter -- with one copy (with identifying info redacted) embedded below. Separately, we've seen that the letters went to law schools -- and it appears that Paramount only chose to target some of the bigger name law schools. Basically, it looks like Paramount went through the top law school rankings and just sent the letter to an arbitrary number at the top. I'm curious what the reasoning is here. Why pick just law schools? And why just a few of the big names? And, if the real goal is to understand what happened with SOPA/PIPA... why target law schools at all? Those aren't the students who were heavily involved in all of this. It seems like a transparent attempt to try to convince the next generation of lawyers to come help them try to cripple the internet, rather than work towards advancing innovation.


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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 7th, 2012 @ 7:40pm

    Well duh.

    Who else amongst the next generation would be interested in criminalizing common behavior?

     

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    Endtimer (profile), Feb 7th, 2012 @ 7:46pm

    Kinda makes sense

    I guess they figured they'd get more sympathy out of future lawyers then the average student body. I would have thought that if they targeted any schools in paticular it would be film schools or the like, but if all they want to do is reach a new generation with a message of 'grrr, law breaking is bad!' then the top law schools are as good a place to start then any. I doubt it'll work out for them though.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:37am

      Re: Kinda makes sense

      stop confusing then and than.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:40am

      Re: Kinda makes sense

      I agree, if they were sincere about helping content creators they would have targeted film schools. The fact that they are targeting law schools is almost a tacit admission that the objective is to help the lawyers that contribute nothing of value and not the content creators.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:55am

        Re: Re: Kinda makes sense

        I agree, if they were sincere about helping content creators they would have targeted film schools.

        They're in film schools. And have been for a long time.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 8:00am

          Re: Re: Re: Kinda makes sense

          Read the OP, they targeted law schools.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 8:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda makes sense

            Read the OP, they targeted law schools.

            Right. Today they've expanded outreach to law schools. But they have been in film schools for quite awhile. Somehow that is not an issue that Masnick can make to sound nefarious, so it is ignored. Watch out for when they start hitting business schools and seminaries.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 9:09am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda makes sense

              That actually doesn't sound too difficult to believe but do you have a citation anyways?

               

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    The Moondoggie, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 7:51pm

    Totally weird...

    The question I'm seeing is: why is there a need for an open discussion anyway? They could just Google the question and lazily take suggestions that would appear.

    No going to schools, no stupid presentations and after making your report of possible actions taken based on online sources you can log in to Facebook and spend the rest of the day secretly playing games.

     

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    Pseudonym, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 7:51pm

    Why not?

    Going to law schools is a great idea if the object is to have an actual discussion on the merits of SOPA/PIPA from a legal perspective. I can't think of anyone better than a room full of law students to ask some probing questions.
    Of course, that's not Paramount's objective. But hey, a guy can dream.

     

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      DandonTRJ (profile), Feb 7th, 2012 @ 8:29pm

      Re: Why not?

      I'm actually reaching out to Paramount et al to send representatives to my law school later this year for a symposium on international efforts to combat infringement. I want them to identify the scope of the problem (and have reliable data to back up its seriousness), explain the methods being used to address it (justified procedurally and substantively), and prove their efficacy (in light of the SSRC report). I'd love to have Mike there to be on the anti-SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/TPP side, actually. The goal isn't to browbeat one side or the other, but have a serious dialogue about what the data actually says about these issues. Hopefully they're willing to participate.

       

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        Pseudonym, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 8:58pm

        Re: Re: Why not?

        That sounds like a brilliant idea. I hope it happens.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 3:34am

        Re: Re: Why not?

        It does sound like a brilliant idea, and that is the reason it will never happen. The major labels and studios have repeatedly proven they don't want anything even close to resembling an honest discussion, and that anybody who's opinions don't agree with their own have absolutely no value.

         

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        weneedhelp (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 8:35am

        Re: Re: Why not?

        "The goal isn't to browbeat one side or the other, but have a serious dialogue about what the data actually says about these issues."

        Dont let them know that, they will never come.

         

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        ifhlatky (profile), Feb 27th, 2012 @ 11:23am

        Re: Re: Why not?

        At my invitation, Mr. Perry is coming to my law school this week for a multi-panelist debate very much like the one you describe. I only hope that the level of ad hominem toward content-providers reflected in the comments here doesn't preclude us reaching the actual issues at stake here-which are real and significant on all sides.

         

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    Isaac the k (profile), Feb 7th, 2012 @ 7:56pm

    phase 2 of the MPAA offensive

    In my experience, law students are the likeliest individuals to blatantly accept the law irrespective of whether it makes sense or has negative consequences: law is inherently virtuous. And such a presentation is most likely to be attended by impressionable first year students studying constitutional law.

    What is really scary to me is that even though they are clueless about technology, they know precisely where to strike to further their goals and encourage artificial, damaging protectionism.

    The citizens of the Web need to stage a counteroffensive, and either present opposite these corporate shills or contact the professors involved and work with them to encourage an honest, rigorous debate.

    Facing their cannons with our Truth is the only way we can prevail.

     

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    Juan, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 7:56pm

    well...

    buying off Congress didn't work.

    Stacking the Department of Justice with RIAA lawyers didn't work..


    so they're hitting them in school and working on the brainwashing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 8:18pm

    Maybe the reason is just simply because they are probing the system to see what they can get away with and what better ground than to start with law students that would raise a stink first on all the legalities of the issue at hand, to then move to other places with the lessons learned with the initial probing.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 8:38pm

      Re:

      If this is the case maybe students who're unfortunate enough to be visited by these guys can shoot footage of these visits to reveal what sort of stuff they're pulling off in court.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 8:43pm

    I want them to identify the scope of the problem (and have reliable data to back up its seriousness), explain the methods being used to address it (justified procedurally and substantively), and prove their efficacy (in light of the SSRC report).


    As Suzie Derkins said, as long as you're wishing, you might as well ask for a pony.

    Paramount/MPAA specialize in fiction - that's what they do. Even in the event their subject is something that really happened, they 'dramatize' it to within an inch of its life, and it becomes fiction.

    And it's not just their "content" that is subject to this treatment.

    History? Fiction.

    Accounting? Fiction.

    Statistics? Fiction.

    Laws? Fiction.

    You're asking an entity that has absolutely no idea what "truth" means to be honest with you. You might as well wish for that pony.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 8:59pm

      Re:

      The Jack Nicholson Answer to Hollywood Moguls on SOPA and PIPA: 'You Can't Handle the Truth'

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/art-brodsky/hollywood-sopa_b_1258240.html?ref=technology

       

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      DandonTRJ (profile), Feb 7th, 2012 @ 9:26pm

      Re:

      Up until about a month ago, I'd have agreed -- what would legacy media companies have to gain by engaging the opposition when they already have lobbyists to carry out their agenda? But then the SOPA/PIPA protests happened. The public woke up. And all that lobbying effort was for nothing. Now that the public has been galvanized, the IP industries have to start making strides in the court of public opinion. And to do that, they -will- have to engage. And that's something I welcome with open arms. I don't want them to think I'm leading them into a lion's den. But I also don't want them to think they can just curtly accuse everyone who opposed them of spreading misinformation and not have to walk us through that charge. If they want to win minds, they'll have to start engaging minds.

       

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    TDR, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 8:46pm

    Copyright Trolls: The Last Generation
    Cowardly shilling where all trolls have shilled before!

    We should get Vincent Gambini to shoot these MAFIAA execs down: "The two yoots..."

    Judge: You know this infringer?
    MAFIAA: Yeah, she's my customer.
    Judge. Well, that certainly explains the hostility.

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Feb 7th, 2012 @ 8:49pm

    Some school should take them up on the offer, except set it up as a debate format with Mike or some other worthy opponent on the other side. It would be fun to see how fast Paramount could run in the other direction.

     

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      Greevar (profile), Feb 7th, 2012 @ 9:00pm

      Re:

      They'd just cancel it citing some bullshit excuse to avoid admitting they had no intention of honest discussion because they just wanted to brainwash a bunch a law students to believe their lies.

       

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        Jay (profile), Feb 7th, 2012 @ 9:19pm

        Re: Re:

        The problem is, this would work quite well.

        It's already an understood notion that whatever these companies pay for in lobbying has very high rates of returns. But I believe Paramount is really underestimating how much public sentiment is against these backroom deals.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 11:20pm

      Re:

      "Some school should take them up on the offer"

      Was Harvard on the list? When RIAA started the J.Does college lawsuits, not a single letter went to Harvard. It seems Harvard adopted class projects representing defendants in those cases.

      Out of the hundreds of thousands of claims against ip addresses, until a couple of years ago, only two lawsuits had been successful.

      Their lawsuits were a failure in court. That could be another reason why they are engaging law students - to find a successful strategy.

      But they really need to take their case to Harvard to be impressive in this situation.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 9:01pm

    Obviously we can't we can't win if we try to influence those that actually already know the law, we have to pre-buy them.

     

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    wizened (profile), Feb 7th, 2012 @ 9:32pm

    They might want to get their terms straight

    Going before a bunch of law professors and students to talk about "content theft" which doesn't exist it likely to get a lot of people who understand the legal meaning of words to point out that the correct term is "infringement" not "theft". I would suspect that the presentation of cooked and false information would go downhill from there.

     

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      Andrew F (profile), Feb 7th, 2012 @ 9:37pm

      Re: They might want to get their terms straight

      Even more problematic, there'd be people in the audience who take seriously things like the First Amendment and due process .

       

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    Pixelation, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 10:10pm

    Copyright this

    I'm sensing the beginnings of a documentary...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2012 @ 11:42pm

    School system purpose is now both Government and MAFIAA's indoctrination.

     

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      mike allen (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 12:25am

      Re:

      Both government and MAFIAA indoctrination is nothing more than propaganda and as such should be ignored by the populaces. Until they get in one of the folm industries many time machines and go back to 1942 Germany were propaganda was believed.

       

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    Pete Austin, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 3:33am

    Re: DandonTRJ's Symposium

    @DandonTRJ Debating the future of art is unlikely to be constructive if you set it up as a pro-vs-anti debate on SOPA/PIPA etc.

    The real issues are:
    (1) how to remove the current business-model roadblocks so that art gets efficiently from creators to fans, and most of the resulting income gets back to creators?
    (2) how to roll back legal intervention in so-called "intellectual property" to the minimum needed to achieve a reasonable amount of new art and science?

     

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    abc gum, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 4:33am

    Maybe the Paramount talking head will produce more gaffes for our pleasure. I'll make the popcorn.

     

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    Colin, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 5:38am

    So is this like a training camp, and any students who side with Paramount get drafted to their legal division?

    But seriously, any school who accepts should also schedule someone from the opposing viewpoint and have a debate rather than a presentation, and let students ask questions based on that. Won't happen, but still.

     

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    Iam marklar, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 5:49am

    I worked with Al Perry...

    and he is a tool's tool. The answer to the question as to why Paramount sent these to law schools is obvious. The studios (all of them) are largely run by legal departments. Sure there are creative people, backoffice people, etc. who make the world "go around", but lawyers run the business.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 5:52am

    Is that like a paper letter? Asking people to reply over email? Does paper look more serious, or does it look anachronistic?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 6:21am

    It seems like a transparent attempt to try to convince the next generation of lawyers to come help them try to cripple the internet, rather than work towards advancing innovation.

    Geez Chubby, maybe it is simply people exercising their free speech rights. Is that a problem?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 1:33pm

      Re:

      it is when lies are being presented as the truth in order to forward an agenda. of course you knew that, it was just a chance to poke at masnick,

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 2:25pm

        Re: Re:

        Lies? Really? Since no one has seen the presentation, that's a bold statement. So does anyone expressing an opinion different than yours become a liar? Which side of the abortion debate do the liars reside? How about in the capital punishment discussion?

        What's really pitiful is how the groveling Masnick supplicants jump off of their knees to defend his idiotic assertions. Hopefully your actions will be noted and you will get your well-deserved pat on the head.

         

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          techflaws.org (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 3:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Lies? Really? Since no one has seen the presentation, that's a bold statement.

          Actually it' a simple and credible extrapolation given their constant previous lies.

           

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 6:43am

    Dear Mr Perry,

    Over the last few weeks, you have been slammed by the publiic for your ham-fisted overreaches which you like to call SOPA and PIPA. The amount of public pushback only surprised you as you obviously believe that with large amounts of money dedicated to such lofty goals as lobbying, you get to write all the rules and the public be damned which motivates us to respond to you with a mass wave of the "one fingered salute".

    We have attempted to open discourse with you and your colleages several times over the last few years through several means about these and related issues. We would be happy to give you a formal presentation followed by an open discussion period and have in fact, made several such offers in the past yet you and your colleages seem intent on being resistant to any such discussions.

    Either way, our goal is to foster an understanding about the importance and proper enforcement of copyright and the exchange of ideas which would lead to a reduction in copyright infringement while still fostering better ideas to bring content to consumers in a method that is benificial to the industry in general AND consumers rather than the one way over-reaching methods which are quite honestly, very anti-consumer. We think about and discuss these issues on a daily basis but over the last few months it has become painfully clear to us that you still have a lot to learn. We would love to bring these ideas to the table and discuss them openly with you and other representatives of your industry, but you have continually locked us out of the process and we have come to the eventual realization that you simply do not care about your customers.

    Please feel free to reach out to us at any time should you wish to talk about possible dates where we can meet and discuss the issues that both parties feel are incredibly important.

    Many thanks,

    The rest of the internet around the world.

     

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    Hans, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 6:52am

    Link to Document

    Could we please get a link to the document? Please? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

     

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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:01am

    Sickening arrogance

    This is sickening--they use the term "content theft" which loads the dice. This is question-begging. They are not interested in truth or a dialog.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:26am

    Mike,

    Your post reads like a Troll comment thread. Fine, I will take the bait. You open your post with a blatantly false statement, at no point in the letter is anyone called a content thief. That first lie sets the stage for all the misinformation you present in the post. You wonder why the letters were sent to law schools, and then suggest that they only sent them to prestigious law schools. The reason for that is obvious; they are seeking expert advice on future legislation. I would hazard to guess that these letters went to expert legal scholars. The letters weren't targeting these schools because of infringement or in an attempt to sway the student population or even public opinion; they are an attempt to seek advice for future legislation.

    The only way that any person could draw the conclusions you presented in your post is if that person has such a jaded view that he is no longer able to discuss the issues without bias. You have proven that you are such a person; you have become completely and irrevocably aligned against the content industry. None of your posts are unbiased - in essence you have become the Fox News of content-distribution technology news.

    Just as you claim that the content industry is becoming irrelevant, your own bias is making you less relevant in the content distribution debate. Any content company that would listen to your opinions should have its entire management team fired by its board and if a board of directors approved your consulting services the stockholders should revolt.

    As I said before, your post reads like a troll comment and if it was it was successful. If you were serious, I have lost all faith in anything you write from this day forward.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:29am

      Re:

      I have lost all faith in anything you write from this day forward.

      From this day forward??? Chubby's been in full tinfoil hat mode for more than a year.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:26pm

        Re: Re:

        And you would know this since you've threatened to leave for how long now? Weren't you supposed to have left already, dummy?

        Or am I violating your right to anonymity by pointing out that you threatened to leave at some point in the it seems now ridiculously distant past?

        But yeah, that's right. Rather than debunk what Mike has said, with proof/evidence/facts/etc, go straight for the ad homs. It just shows how much more intelligent and reasonable you are, heck by my counts, you should be running a site like Techdirt. But PRO-Stupid laws, bad business decisions, etc. Things of that sort. And you can grow a great many followers by insulting anyone who contradicts you or has the tenacity and nerve to ask you to cite some sources and back up what you say.

        Hmm. That actually sounds like a good idea. You should seriously get on that, then pay me for the rest of my life (then my children after me, then my grandchildren after them, and so on and so forth) for coming up with one great idea/product. I will no longer have to work ever again and can take a moral high ground whenever anyone questions me by just calling them all "freetards" or "chubby" or "tinfoil wearing". You know, things like that.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 9:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          And you would know this since you've threatened to leave for how long now?

          You have me confused with someone else, loser.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:53am

      Re:

      "at no point in the letter is anyone called a content thief. "

      The letter refers to 'content theft' and content theft is presumably done by ... content thieves.

      and it's not theft, it's infringement. Yes, indeed, they still have a lot to learn. and so do you.

       

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      The eejit (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 8:31am

      Re:

      Cool! Does that mean that we can fire Congreess, too? After all, there are some people that listen to Miek's arguments, and you don't know precisely who...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:30am

    Why don't they speak to content creators. Why do you they speak to lawyers? Is it because they themselves are lawyers? Could it be because the primary beneficiaries of these laws aren't content creators but lawyers?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      and if these laws are designed to benefit lawyers, people that contribute nothing of value, then they are just parasitizing off the work of content creators. Laws that artificially create more lawyers create fewer content creators and they create fewer people that contribute meaningful product back to society while creating more people that leech off of the contributions of others (content creators and the public). We need to encourage the creation of laws that create fewer lawyers and more productive workers. Instead, we have paramount lawyers that contribute nothing of value encouraging other lawyers to do the same.

       

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    Michael R. Graham, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 3:23pm

    Paramount's Discussion Solicitation

    Leave it to an MPAA member to believe that talking with Law School students about theft, without understanding the basic concepts of the limitations on the copyright monopoly or the correct use of the term "infringement" will help their case in pushing another SOPA/PIPA. I would think that engaging in some real open discussions might be a useful step towards content industry's development of distribution systems which ensure free culture and profit from their creations. However, the tone of the invitation is "Let us come and infect your brains with the notion of theft without infringement, and non-adoptive culture." As though every new work must ignore all that has come before it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 9:47am

      Re: Paramount's Discussion Solicitation

      I believe a Supreme Court justice stated that infringement was "nothing more than common, garden variety theft". Sorry if the term "theft" makes you uncomfortable with what you are doing. Maybe you should change your actions instead of trying to change the way the Supreme Court (and most honest people) view it.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 7:20pm

        Re: Re: Paramount's Discussion Solicitation

        And I believe a majority of Supreme Court justices ruled in a landmark case, that infringement is NOT theft. You know, that whole Dowling case from 1985. That set the precedent.

        You can wikipedia it. Assuming you're not one of those ACs who says Wikipedia supports piracy and all that. Which shouldn't matter, because the ruling is a matter of public record and there are other sources confirming what the Supreme Court justices decided.

        Which basically says YOU are wrong. The Supreme Court views it, to be honest, in a way that completely contradicts your statement and flat out says it's not theft, it's copying. The original is still there. The only crime being committed is infringing on another's copyright.

        Oh you ACs. Really grasping at straws aren't you? Even straws that are easily disproved with a quick search and some actual information.

        I believe you are an idiot. That makes it so. Sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable. Maybe you should change your actions, instead of trying to change reality to suit your biased point of view.

         

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