by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 19th 2011 6:58pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 15th 2011 12:12pm
from the feeling-of-corruption dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 15th 2011 9:03am
from the tick-tock dept
"Behind Hollywood's red-carpet image lays a blue-collar reality. Most of those 2.2 million jobs are held by middle income families and small-business owners, men and women whose names will never appear on a theater marquee, but whose efforts are critical," Dodd said in a Nov. 16 speech before the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the organization responsible for the "Hollywood Walk of Fame" honoring film and music celebrities.Wow. 272,000 is even less than the 374,000 number we'd seen. And this is from the MPAA directly. So how do they get up to 2.2 million jobs? By throwing in all sorts of crap:
Dodd's 2.2 million jobs figure, however, exaggerates Hollywood's contribution to the American economy. According to supplemental data provided to HuffPost by MPAA, only 272,000 people work for movie studios and television companies. The lobby group claims that an additional 430,000 people work in related "distribution" jobs dependent on Hollywood, legal web streamers like Netflix, the few remaining video store clerks and cashiers checking out DVD purchases.
But the vast majority of the jobs Dodd & Co. claim are threatened by online piracy are only peripherally related to the entertainment business. MPAA takes credit for nearly 1.6 million jobs at florists, catering companies, hardware stores and other industries that work with major movie studios, assuming that these jobs could not ultimately be out of a job without Hollywood help.Of course, anyone who's intellectually honest knows that those jobs are not in the movie industry, nor does it appear they're threatened by file sharing. As we've noted, the number of movies being made (where those folks may get some business) has only been going up.
"This is a joke," says economist Dean Baker, co-Director of the progressive-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research. "This bill will have very little impact on jobs directly. And of course the money that people don't pay to the MPAA, they spend somewhere else. So this is about the distribution of jobs, not the number."What it comes down to, of course, is the amount of money that Hollywood continues to pump into DC. In fact, many of us wondered why SOPA was so bad, given that Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who is generally tech friendly, had promised to fix the problems found in PROTECT IP. Yet, Carter reveals that Lamar Smith pulled the crafting of the bill away from Goodlatte:
By October, Smith, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, who declined to comment for this article, stripped tech-friendly Rep. Goodlatte of responsibility for the House version of Protect IP, sparking panic among tech firms. Smith delivered for Hollywood, expanding Leahy's bill to give governments and corporations the power to bring down foreign and domestic websites alike, and broadening the definition of a condemnable site to anything that "infringes or facilitates infringement."And, he notes that, on the Senate side, Hollywood has long been a "friend" to Senator Leahy, who's leading the charge for PIPA.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) is Hollywood's current favorite son in Washington. His top two career campaign contributors are Time Warner and Disney, according to data compiled by Center for Responsive Politics; Time Warner has even given him cameo appearances in Batman movies, an experience Leahy talks of proudly.All in all, this is an excellent and detailed read about what's been happening in DC when it comes to SOPA and PIPA.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 12th 2011 3:22am
from the wouldn't-he-just-love-that? dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 14th 2011 9:27am
from the time-to-wake-up dept
a frightening reminder of how easily the folks in Washington, D.C. can throw a wrench in the gears of innovationOf course, as Silicon Valley has done for years, we mostly ignore this kind of stuff. In general, the tech world tends to believe that innovation happens best when politicians stay away, and we've tried to accomplish that by ignoring politicians. However, the politicians aren't ignoring us. The cynical viewpoint on this is that the tech and internet sectors are basically the only real bright spot in today's economy... and with the way DC corruption works, they need to tap into that market for campaign donations. What's the best way to do that? Well, propose a bunch of awful regulations that will massively hinder innovation and the startup economy. In the hive mind of DC, that's how you wake up folks to start contributing to campaigns.
Whether or not that's the actual thinking behind this rash of bad legislation, all aimed at the innovation sector, one thing has become clear: cynical or not, the startup world can't continue to ignore DC. Stacey notes:
While people in the Valley are playing at building companies and technology, the folks in D.C. are playing at politics, and when those worlds collide, its likely technologists that will lose.That's only true if we let DC play the politics game as usual. But we have an advantage. While we tend to dislike the entire DC/political circus, we are innovative and we are disruptive. It seems like it's about time to turn that innovative and disruptive spirit towards DC, rather than pretending we can continue to ignore what's happening there.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 1st 2011 3:47pm
from the who-are-they-kidding? dept
"You go down the Latino people, the deaf people, the farmers, and choose them.... You say, 'I can't use this one--I already used them last time...' We had their letterhead. We'd just write the letter. We'd fax it to them and tell them, 'You're in favor of this.'"Yup. What are the chances that the International Association of Fire Fighters has received large checks from those associated with the movie business? But, more seriously, who does the MPAA actually think it's fooling? Is Congress so stupid that it can't figure out for itself that firefighters have no clue what this debate is about? Otherwise, why would they be supporting censorship in America? Read the letter below, and wager a guess how much was actually written by a firefighter, rather than a lobbyist for Hollywood?
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 18th 2011 11:40am
from the say-what-now? dept
"You go down the Latino people, the deaf people, the farmers, and choose them.... You say, 'I can't use this one--I already used them last time...' We had their letterhead. We'd just write the letter. We'd fax it to them and tell them, 'You're in favor of this.'"Sometimes they don't even bother getting permission, such as the time that a Burger King franchise wrote a letter complaining about the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Except, when a reporter called the franchise execs, they had no idea what the CFTC was. There was some actual backlash earlier this year when AT&T got the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to come out in favor of its merger with T-Mobile, upsetting much of the membership, and leading a bunch of board members (including an AT&T lobbyist) to resign.
However, one small setback in such practices is no big deal when you have that big list of groups to go through. After "the Latino people, the deaf people, the farmers" apparently there are the religious homeless shelters. The Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission, proud recipients of a $50,000 donation from AT&T, has come out in favor of the merger with impeccably inscrutable logic:
The faith-based service provider offered what it acknowledged was “an out-of-place endorsement” of the AT&T merger with T-Mobile, with Rev. R. Henry Martin explaining that “People often call on God to help the outcasts and downtrodden that walk among us, [but] [s]ometimes, however, it is our responsibility to take matters into our own hands. Please support this merger.”I'm still trying to figure out what that means. First, it seems to be suggesting that homeless people need to step up their game to support the "outcasts and downtrodden" AT&T and T-Mobile that "walk among us." Because, um, otherwise, what does that refer to? The homeless people may be outcasts and downtrodden, but the shelter isn't asking for any help for them.. but rather for AT&T and T-Mobile. I guess it also implies that God supports the merger but apparently God alone can't convince the FCC, so apparently, if homeless folks could lobby and support one of the largest corporations around, that will be helpful.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 14th 2011 11:07am
Worst Kept Secret Now Confirmed: Government Was Very Involved Helping RIAA/MPAA Negotiate Six Strikes
from the well,-duh dept
The emails note that Espinel did make sure to "involve" two groups who represent consumer interests -- CDT and Public Knowledge -- but it's quite clear from the nature of the interactions that those organizations were not really involved in the negotiations, but were shown the details towards the end, to avoid them feeling "taken by surprise" when the deal was announced. None of this is particularly surprising, but it's pretty silly for everyone to pretend that this was a "voluntary agreement between private entities." It was clear from the beginning that the White House was heavily involved, and was very much backing the entertainment industry's viewpoint. In theory, the government should be representing the people, but the cozy nature of the relationship suggests it was exactly the opposite. The government was representing industry against the public interest.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 13th 2011 11:50am
from the join-the-club dept
We honestly couldn't understand the US CoC's extremist position on this particular topic. Sure, the entertainment industry legacy players are members of the US CoC, but so are plenty of big tech companies that would be hurt by PROTECT IP. Of course, that may be changing. The news came out this morning that Yahoo has quietly left the US Chamber of Commerce over its extremist position on PROTECT IP, and it appears that others are thinking of following suit. At the same time, the US CoC's other major extremist position, concerning fighting against anything that results in reduced greenhouse emissions, has already made Apple leave the US CoC, along with a few other companies as well. At the same time, many various local Chambers of Commerce -- who often do help small businesses -- are disassociating themselves from the US Chamber of Commerce.
As this kind of thing continues, our elected officials are going to finally begin recognizing that the US CoC is an extremist organization that clearly does not represent the business interests of today's innovators and job creators -- but instead represents a few increasingly obsolete legacy organization whose unwillingness to adapt leads them to demand dangerous protectionist policies.
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Oct 5th 2011 12:31pm
from the apparently,-trademark-lawsuits-and-$1800-cables-aren't-profitable-enough-any dept
In addition to the expected "contribution" from the AFL-CIO ("online infringement costs jobs, steals wages, and cuts benefits, blahblahblah"), a name well-known to Techdirt has reared its astronomically-priced head to decry the global impact of pirated goods: Monster Cable.
Illustrating the diversity of jobs impacted by online counterfeiting and piracy, David Tognotti, General Counsel of Monster Cable, shared his company's story. Monster Cable, founded by a first-generation American in his garage, now owns 400 patents and employs 500 people. But during the last several years, the company has lost "hundreds of millions of dollars" to counterfeits.I'm really not sure what sort of "good will" these rogue web sites are "stealing" from Monster. Could it be all the "good will" it built up by suing anybody who dared to use the word "monster" in their own ventures, including entirely unrelated businesses such as a mini-golf course, an automotive parts shop and (although it dropped this case before it went too far) the manufacturer of deer salt blocks?
"Our brand is respected by consumers worldwide," he said. But "rogue web sites are stealing the good will we've built, and siphoning off sales."
The implications of counterfeit versions of those created by a company like Monster Cable goes beyond lost jobs and revenues. Counterfeit electronics are made in substandard factory conditions, and can contain unlawful and harmful amounts of substances like lead and chromium, he explained. Consumers have also complained of stolen credit card information, he said.
Perhaps Tognotti is referring to the "good will" built up by Monster's overpriced cables that are pushed via deceptive point-of-sale displays and contain incredibly high profit margins. While there isn't anything wrong with separating fools from their money, your product should at least be able to outperform a wire coat hanger.
If anything's hurting Monster Cable these days, it's the self-inflicted beatings handed out by its pricing structures, questionable sales tactics and general disregard for its public image. With the ready availability of inexpensive cables that perform just as well as Monster's, it's highly doubtful that pirated goods are the driving force behind any "loss of sales" that Monster claims.
(Another small note: if you have a whole lot of spare time, check out Monster's extensive list of "blacklisted sites" on its corporate web site. Topping the list are ebay and Craigslist. Apparently, Monster would rather you didn't purchase second-hand cables, either.)