Last week, we wrote about a proposal in Congress to give ICE (part of Homeland Security) at least another $10 million for the next year to continue its program of censoring websites in the name of "stopping piracy." Of course, when Congress and Hollywood get together, they never put all their eggs in just one basket. So, it should come as no surprise that in another appropriations bill, this time for the State Department, and put forth by Senator Patrick Leahy -- who also introduced PIPA -- there's another chunk of "anti-piracy" cash. The bill sets forth $899,600,000 for "civil judicial and security programs." But, amazingly, the only program that is specifically called out with a specific amount is to "combat piracy."
CIVILIAN JUDICIAL AND SECURITY PROGRAMS.—$899,600,000 for assistance for rule of law, justice, corrections, anti-crime, cyber crime, civilian police, and security sector reform programs, of which not less than $5,000,000 shall be made available to combat piracy of United States copyright materials, consistent with the requirements of section 688 (a) and (b) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008
If you're curious about sections 688 (a) and (b) as mentioned in this bill, you can see them here. They just authorize the State Department to "provide training" to foreign judges and prosecutors on intellectual property law. That is, it's part of the US's official IP propaganda program to convince foreign judges and prosecutors that strict interpretations of IP laws are the only way to go.
A couple years ago, we wrote in more detail about how the State Department spends these funds, and it's not pretty. Basically, we send copyright maximalist lawyers to other countries -- countries that have their own copyright laws -- and tell judges and federal prosecutors there that they need to enforce US-style copyright maximalist laws.
I'm really not sure how that's an appropriate use of taxpayer money.
Most people instinctively appreciate the dangers of government surveillance. But at least it's possible to be on your guard when you suspect such surveillance may be present by taking care what you write and send. You might even use some industrial-grade encryption for the important stuff.
The problem with that is it's simply not practical to expect all of your contacts – to say nothing of your grandparents – to do the same, which means that at least some of your emails are going to be exchanged in the clear. And as this fascinating Bloomberg report about the surveillance activities of the former Tunisian regime reveals, that creates another kind of vulnerability that concerns not only what you send, but also what you receive:
Asma Hedi Nairi, a former Amnesty International youth coordinator, says e-mails she and her friends exchanged were replaced by messages ranging from random symbols to ads for rental cars. Opponents of the regime toppled in January’s revolution received threatening messages such as “you can run but you can’t hide,” while people with no role in politics found their correspondence snagged if it inadvertently included words flagged as critical of the government. Ammar 404 even damaged reputations by inserting pornographic images in work e- mails and routing intimate photos onto Facebook, Nairi, 23, says.
It's a clever approach, whereby people start to attribute a deep, possibly troubling meaning to what is in fact nonsense, or begin to doubt the trustworthiness of their online contacts.
What makes this story particularly disturbing is that practically all the technology used to carry out this disinformation campaign in Tunisia was provided by Western companies, who seemed to view it as a test run:
Western suppliers used the country as a testing ground. Moez Chakchouk, the post-revolution head of the Tunisian Internet Agency, says he’s discovered that the monitoring industry gave discounts to the government-controlled agency, known by its French acronym ATI, to gain access.
That's yet another reason to resist Net surveillance for any reason (hello, copyright industries): once surveillance equipment manufacturers have their foot in the door it can only be a matter of time before they start extolling the virtues of Tunisia's more thoroughgoing approach to online spying.
There has been plenty of concern recently about companies sneaking their own marketing material or one-sided corporate propaganda into schools. And while some may differ on how big a problem this is, I think most people would agree that a local government shouldn't be aiding the process -- especially without revealing the corporate sponsor. And yet, that appears to be exactly what New York City is doing. And, to make it even more ridiculous, they're doing so by putting forth a corporate-sponsored contest about the importance of copyright... and hiding in the fine print that by entering the contest, you may be giving up your own copyrights.
You may recall that, last year, New York City began running a dreadfully misleading (and at points downright false) ad campaign to try to "stop piracy in NYC." At the time, we suspected that the campaign was really put together by NBC Universal, and the city did nothing at all to check the veracity of the claims used in the PSA. It later took a freedom of information request to the city to reveal that, indeed, the StopPiracyInNYC video campaign was actually "owned" by NBC Universal.
We were troubled to learn that the Federal Government, in the form of Homeland Security's ICE division, had also started using the same videos, never once mentioning that they were NBC Universal's videos. That's troubling enough, but it's even worse to find out that New York City has ratcheted up the campaign, still using the same NBC Universal video with false claims in it, and going into city high schools and colleges, asking students to create their own bogus propaganda video that repeats NBC Universal and the MPAA's debunked talking points.
In fact, the contest rules (in the smallest print possible) make it clear that if you produce a video that provides actual facts about how piracy has not harmed the industry -- but a failure to adapt has -- then your video won't be considered. Every entry will be given a series of points, and the single biggest point category is if the video "clearly advocates against digital piracy and content theft." So if you make a video that advocates that NBC Universal and the other major studios stop whining and start embracing new business models, well, too bad. You're out of luck. This isn't about truth. This is about corporate propaganda in NYC schools, sponsored by the city.
If you dig into the actual "rules" (pdf) for the contest (which are quite buried on the site, but are embedded below), you discover some interesting tidbits. While nowhere on the contest website does NYC admit that NBC Universal is the real sponsor behind this campaign, you do find that information buried in the rules. The rules make it clear that this is a joint project of NYC and NBCUniversal, along with some design agencies.
And, um, must we point out the seeming irony that this video contest is supposed to be about promoting the importance of the protection of copyright... but in order to enter, you agree to completely give up your ability to assert your own copyright?
All Submissions become the property of the Sponsor and will
not be acknowledged or returned.... BY MAKING A SUBMISSION, ENTRANT ACKNOWLEDGES THAT HIS/HER SUBMISSION MAY BE
POSTED ON SPONSOR’S WEB SITE, AT SPONSOR’S DISCRETION. Making a Submission grants
Sponsor and its agents the right to publish, use, adapt, edit and/or modify such Submission in any way, in
any and all media, without limitation, and without consideration to the entrant.
Oh, but that's not the best part. You see, if you win, you have to agree to turn over the copyright, and admit that this video is a "work made for hire" under copyright law, so you can't ever use termination rights to get it back:
By accepting a prize Winner (and Winner’s parent or legal guardian if Winner is an eligible
minor) agrees that his/her Submission will be deemed a Work Made For Hire under the Copyright laws of
the United States, but if it cannot be so deemed, then Winner irrevocably assigns and transfers to Sponsor
all of his/her right, title and interest in and to his/her Submission, including all but not limited to all copyright
and trademark rights which he or she may have, in the United States and worldwide, therein, for
consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged. Winner hereby waives in favor
of Sponsor, all rights of “Droit Moral” or “Moral Rights of Authors” or any similar rights or principles of law
that winner may now or later have to his/her Submission. Sponsor reserves the right to alter, change or
modify Winner’s Submission, in its sole discretion. Upon request of Sponsor, Winner (and Winner’s parent
or legal guardian if Winner is an eligible minor) shall execute and deliver such additional instrument of
assignment (“Assignment”), as may be solely deemed by Sponsor, reasonably necessary to establish the
ownership of record of the right, title and interest in and to the Submission and of the copyrights transferred
and “Moral Rights of Authors” waived under these Official Rules. Should Sponsor fail to request Assignment
as stated, that shall not be deemed a waiver of Sponsor’s rights and Sponsor may at a later time request
In other words, the real message of this "contest" is that you should create a video about respecting copyrights... and if you do so, we'll trample all over your copyrights.
Anyway. The grand prize for this is a mere $500. We must be able to do better than that as a community. If anyone is interested in contributing to a fund to create a "competing" contest, hit us up over email, and we'll see if we can offer a better prize for a more truthful contest...
For a variety of reasons, the MPAA chose Australia as the testing ground for its effort to force ISPs to implement a three-strikes type provision. And make no mistake about it, it was the MPAA -- driven by Hollywood -- that was involved. While the anti-piracy group in Australia, AFACT, wanted to pretend it was an Australian effort, some leaked cables have shown otherwise. The effort focused on picking on one particular ISP, iiNet, which was chosen because it wasn't too big (so didn't have as much money) and wasn't too small (so people noticed). The charges? iiNet failed to wave a magic wand and stop piracy without convictions. iiNet turned out to be the wrong target for a number of reasons, including the fact that the CEO had no problem responding clearly and in an outspoken manner that if there's no legal proof of illegality, it did not seem right to cut someone off. Tragically for the MPAA, the courts have agreed with iiNet.
But, the MPAA is nothing if not persistent in their global desire to blame everyone else for their member studios' unwillingness to adapt. Even after the loss, the MPAA has been threatening more ISPs, and has now released a highly questionable study, laundered through a few organizations of course, from a company that doesn't appear to exist other than to push out MPAA propaganda. The study attempts to show that a three strikes regime would decrease infringement by over 70%. The only problem? The actual data doesn't seem to support that at all, because it includes asking people who don't file share at all how they would react to receiving a "strike." If you don't file share and someone says you'll receive a strike and potentially lose your broadband, you're pretty likely to say you won't keep file sharing. No sweat off your back, since you weren't already. And, even then, the numbers don't really support the MPAA, because a higher percentage of people said they'd keep file sharing than said they were file sharing in the first place! From TorrentFreak:
If 72 percent say they would stop sharing after a warning, then 28 percent didn’t agree with this statement. And since only 22 percent of the people said they used file-sharing software in 2011 (the only people who would be affected by a three strikes system), this means that warnings from ISPs wouldn’t even deter people who aren’t the target of this system in the first place.
Or put differently, it could very well be that none of the 22 percent file-sharers indicated that they would stop doing so when notified by their ISP.
Hell, if you wanted to be silly, it would be entirely possible to read this study to suggest that sending a strike encourages more people to file share...
For all the stories of doom and gloom in various entertainment industry segments due to "piracy," the deeper you look, the more you realize that each of these areas seems to be growing quite nicely, contrary to what's being claimed. Remember last week, when we showed the US Chamber of Commerce's propaganda video in favor of the PROTECT IP Act, in which various artists claimed that their industries were being "hurt" by internet piracy? It included clips of the author Tracy Deebs (who also goes by the name Tracy Wolff), claiming that "piracy" had hurt the publishing industry badly and suggesting that she might lose her deal because book publishers don't believe she can sell enough books.
Well, tragically for Deebs/Wolff, the actual data suggests she and the US Chamber of Commerce are totally full of it. FormerAC points us to some new reports showing that the publishing industry is growing thanks to the rise of digital:
BookStats, a comprehensive survey conducted by two major trade groups that was released early Tuesday, revealed that in 2010 publishers generated net revenue of $27.9 billion, a 5.6 percent increase over 2008. Publishers sold 2.57 billion books in all formats in 2010, a 4.1 percent increase since 2008.
Deebs, who it should be noted, writes young adult fiction, and who markets her own young adult fiction book as "a paranormal romance," might be most interested in this particular line:
Juvenile books, which include the current young-adult craze for paranormal and dystopian fiction, grew 6.6 percent over three years.
Deebs uses the name Tracy Wolff when publishing "adult fiction." And thus, I'm sure she's also interested in the following line:
One of the strongest growth areas was adult fiction, which had a revenue increase of 8.8 percent over three years.
So, once again, we have to ask both Deebs and the US Chamber of Commerce who is exploiting her apparently false claims, exactly how was she a "victim"? It certainly looks like the market is thriving. If Deebs isn't capitalizing on that, it's probably because either her book is no good or she's not doing a very good job selling it. Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce can help her with that, rather than having her appear in ridiculous videos in support of a bad law that promotes internet censorship.
It's so chock full of blatantly wrong, clueless or misleading statements that the only people this would be convincing for are the purely ignorant -- but I guess that's the Chamber's main target audience. Let's take a look at some of the statements and people in the video, who it appears the Chamber of Commerce didn't review too carefully:
"The idea that I have to accept as a filmmaker that a certain percentage of the people who see my stuff are never going to pay me for it... in film school, I never thought I'd have to live with that. What other business would it be okay to lose 50% of your product and not receive income for it?"
The thing is, most folks who go to film school end up with almost no one ever paying to see a film that they make. If you're actually getting people who want to see your films, then you're doing something right -- and then the challenge is for you to put in place a business model that works. And it does work. We've seen plenty of filmmakers who have embraced having most people see their works for free and they still make good money by connecting with fans and giving real reasons to buy beyond that. And, no, you haven't "lost" 50% of your product. Your product is still there. What you failed to do is to build a good business model.
And even if we really were talking about 50% of your "product" not selling, plenty of businesses end up in that position... and their job, as business people, is to figure out ways to make money. Just because you invest in something and make a product, it doesn't mean people have to buy. No one turns 100% of their "effort" into revenue. Complaining about people not buying is not a legal issue, it's a business model one.
It seems kind of ironic that the Chamber of Commerce of all operations seems to not want to help this filmmaker create a business model, but instead wants to exploit his situation to pass a bad law that won't help him at all.
Oh, and we should mention that the filmmaker in question appears to be Dano Johnson, and he's most well known for the movie Flatland. Flatland, you say? Isn't that the old book? Why, yes, yes it is. And in this little interview clip with Dano Johnson and his producer partner Seth Caplan, they brag about the fact that the book is in the public domain so they didn't have to pay for it.
Yes, this is perfectly legal, but it highlights the cognitive dissonance and internal inconsistencies in Johnson's argument. He talks up the moral arguments for why creators "should" get revenue any time their work is used, but clearly recognizes the benefits of content that can be used without licensing, and which can be built upon without payment. Yet, if there's a "moral" argument for paying creators, then shouldn't he have also paid for this work?
Dano then goes away for a bit and we get an author:
"Used to be where they would give you a two, three, four book contract. That's not the case any more. Now we have to do well with the first book or there won't be a second book."
First of all, while there are some multi-book contracts, they were never quite as popular as some people think, and getting away from them has happened mainly because they were bad deals for everyone (including the author in many cases), which has nothing whatsoever to do with "piracy." This woman, "Tracy Deebs" seems to just assume that "piracy" is why such contracts have gone away. She offers no evidence.
"Internet piracy affects this greatly because the numbers get skewed. People are downloading stuff for free."
Or they could go to the library and get the book for free. Ban libraries, because Tracy Deebs says they're killing her ability to make money!
Perhaps Ms. Deebs should check in on the writings of JA Konrath who found no evidence that file sharing hurts sales. He's also found that he's much better off without one of those "two, three or four book contracts," because he makes a lot more money self-publishing ebooks at much cheaper prices. And this is especially true in the "young adult" space, which is what Deebs writes for these days, where Amanda Hockling figured out how to self-publish and sell over 100,000 books a month.
Oops. Just like with Dano Johnson, it looks like the problem here is the failure to put in place a good business model, rather than anything having to do with file sharing. Perhaps she should be looking to the Chamber of Commerce for help with that, rather than letting them get her to support a law with massive unintended consequences that won't help her one bit.
Johnson then returns:
"As an independent animator, we decided to make this film. We didn't really have any investors, so we were all putting in our time for free, with the hope to sell the film, and once it's successful pay ourselves back... While we've been successful, we can also see that we've lost a significant amount of revenue."
Surely, as a one-time film school student, he knows that most films don't ever become "successful." Just the fact that he has been successful is an accomplishment -- in part thanks to his ability to build on the public domain (and then lock up the resulting work). And how does he know that his success is not due to the film being more widely available and more people knowing about it? If you look at the website for the Flatland movie, you can see that the film is available to buy and it appears that plenty of people are buying it. Furthermore, according to IMDB and Wikipedia, it looks like Johnson has helped make a 3D-IMAX version of the film which will be released this fall. That seems like a smart move. Johnson is figuring out that he can do things to compete with the free versions by making an experience that can't easily be copied. Given the subject matter, I would expect that schools will be a prime target to take classrooms full of kids to see Flatland in IMAX 3D. So where is his proof of "lost revenue"? How does he know that he hasn't gained sales from people finding out about the films online?
Then we move on to a musician, Guy Forsyth.
"There's a hole in the system, and it's where the artists aren't getting paid for the work that they're doing."
Interesting. I was curious about Guy Forsyth and so I discovered that his main claim to fame as a musician was as a part of The Asylum Street Spankers:
Founded by Christina Marrs, Wammo and Guy Forsyth after a legendary party at the famous Dabbs Hotel along the Llano River in Texas, the band began by busking on the streets of Austin and playing for tips in bars. In their earliest days, the Spankers' repertoire consisted almost entirely of country, blues, jazz, swing and Tin Pan Alley songs dating from the 1890s to the 1950s with a particular emphasis on the 1920s and 1930s.
Now that's pretty cool, and I'd be interested in seeing Forsyth play, but I'm curious if, when they were out busking, he was paying the rightsholders from those songs that were still under copyright. In fact, the Wikipedia entry notes that it was only after Forsyth left the band that they started playing more original songs. So, once again, we have someone who builds off the culture of others, but now supports laws that would make that harder, if not impossible, for others to do the same. For shame.
On top of that, his claim that there's a "hole" and that musicians aren't getting paid any more has been debunked over and over again. While plenty of studies have shown that record labels haven't been earning as much, they've also showed that actual musicians are making noticeably more money these days. And they're doing it by putting in place innovative business models -- the kind of thing you'd think the US Chamber of Commerce would be helping with, rather than ignoring.
Then the video bounces back to both Deebs and Johnson, complaining about "free," and making assumptions about how each download is a lost sale. That's the same theme pushed by the next person, "actress" Krista Betts:
"As an actress, I'm used to those residual checks coming in and I open the mailbox, and I'm getting all excited... 'Oh! Screen Actors Guild!' And I open it up and the check is for... oh, about eight dollars. And I just stopped for a moment and thought 'I wonder, how much the check would have been had everyone purchased the DVD."
Well, if "everyone" had purchased the DVD you'd have the best selling movie of all time. I'm guessing she means had everyone who downloaded it purchased it, which is ridiculous. Most of the people downloading would never have purchased it in the first place. Anyway, I was curious what DVD this might be, and according to IMDB Krista Betts appeared in one movie... in 2002 called "Lone Star State of Mind," It does not appear to have much of a wide release, and the only five reviewers who reviewed the movie on Rotten Tomatoes all hated the movie. For example, check out this review:
While watching, this tended to remind me of "Raising Arizona", with only one exception: Raising Arizona is good, and this is bad, really bad. There's a movie that you can watch that is so bad that it makes you feel like tearing your eyebrows off one by one just to numb the pain. The cliches are so thick in this film that it inevitably tears down the film with no chance of recovery. There's practically every known cliche and stereotype in this film applying to Texan people.
So, Krista, I'm not sure, but the fact that you're still getting even $8 for a film you did a decade ago, which barely moved the needle and apparently had reviewers wanting to tear their eyebrows out... perhaps that's not something to complain about. No one pays me for the work I did a decade ago, and I don't think it drove anyone to tear out any eyebrows.
Then there are a bunch of quotes comparing file sharing to theft. First from Johnson:
"For me, you buy a ticket. You buy a digital download."
But you don't buy the rights to a story. That's too expensive. Obviously, there are exceptions -- such as the one at the end of the interview video above with Johnson, where he plugs the free showing of Flatland. Sometimes, apparently, you don't have to buy a ticket, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Back to Forsyth:
"You go out to your car and the window is busted and you look inside, and you're like 'oh, they grabbed my wallet, they grabbed the stereo out of the dash.' It's that same feeling that someone has reached in and taken something away from you. Something that you worked hard to earn."
Except it's not like that at all and anyone who's being intellectually honest in this debate knows that. Nothing has been "taken" from him. No one has smashed a window. He's not missing a wallet. He's not missing a stereo. Plenty of musicians have done amazingly well by embracing what their fans want, embracing free, recognizing the value of promotion. That Forsyth apparently hasn't done so isn't a reason to change the law. It's a reason to point Forsyth to some of the many case studies of musicians who are doing it right.
On to Deebs:
"If internet piracy caused me to lose my contracts because I didn't sell enough books, then I would have a really hard time picking up another publisher. And this is my job. This is how I make my income. This is how I support my family."
Actually Deebs, whose real name appears to be Tracy Wolff, admits in various online bios that her "job" is teaching writing at a local college. But, more to the point, just because you make your living one way, does NOT mean that Congress automatically has to pass laws to make sure you always make your living that way. Even more important is that the real problem isn't "internet piracy." Nowhere does she show that "internet piracy" actually harms her sales, and nearly all of the evidence we've seen for books shows no harm to sales from downloadable books. Again, Konrath's writings and empirical studies on this are compelling. The real problem, as she sneaks into the latter half of the sentence is that she didn't sell enough books. That's a business model problem. Since tons of authors are selling more and more books than ever before (and many are doing it through self-publishing), I'm not sure I see the real "problem" here.
It's also probably worth mentioning that for all this talk about how evil it is not to pay the "creators" of various things, the Chamber of Commerce is relying on Drupal to manage the astroturf "Fight Online Theft" site that this content comes from. How much do you think the Chamber of Commerce donated to the Drupal Association? And, of course, they're getting free bandwidth, hosting and high quality video playback software from YouTube (rogue site!). For all this hand-waving about how evil it is not to pay creators, it seems that the US Chamber of Commerce is plenty happy to save money by using free things. Either the folks there recognize the cost advantage of not having to worry about licensing all the time, or they seem to implicitly recognize the "quality" of software and services that (according to them) never should have been created since they're available for "free." Either way, the US Chamber of Commerce appears to be completely inconsistent in what it says and what it does... just like many of the folks in the video.
I have to admit that I'm pretty shocked that this was the "best" that the US Chamber of Commerce could come up with. None of the stories is remotely compelling. You have two folks who relied on the works of others, but now want to block that off for others, and then a woman who is complaining that she's not getting enough money from residuals from a decade old movie that no one liked. And, finally, an author who appears to not be familiar with the new opportunities enabled through publishing today thanks to the internet.
And for this they want us to change the laws in such a way that will break the fundamental architecture of the internet, hinder innovation, tie up companies in needless litigation, apply additional liability to all sorts of companies, encourage blatant censorship of websites without trials and do absolutely nothing to help artists make more money? Sorry, but no thanks.
Things just keep getting more ridiculous with the reaction of governments to things like Anonymous and LulzSec. The latest is that Simon Moores, a UK government "advisor" on online crime issues, is warning that the KGB might "infiltrate" LulzSec:
“If you have a LulzSec or an Anonymous that is perhaps being manipulated by a foreign actor, it takes us back to the days of the Stasi and the KGB, which were manipulating [anti-nulear campaign group] CND quite easily from Moscow,” he said, referring to reports that the anti-nuclear peace movement was unwittingly compromised and manipulated by Kremlin machinations.
According to Moores, mustering popular support for an issue through online hacktivist groups and forums could be used as a tool to drive policy to perform actions that furthered a country's interests.
This is based on... what? It appears absolutely nothing. It appears to be pure conjecture of what could happen, even though it's extremely unlikely. While it could be argued that some members of these groups can be influenced and pushed in certain directions, it goes pretty far to then assume that leads to an effective infiltration and use by foreign powers.
Can you trust one of the biggest companies supporting greater government domain seizures to fairly report on those government domain seizures and their impacts? Well, NBC Nightly News recently ran a report about the government's domain seizures, which you can watch below. To be honest, I had to check a few times to see if this was really done by NBC, since the production quality is awful and really amateurish, the sound mix is dreadful and the background music is too loud and out of place -- something way below the standard that I've seen done by NBC in the past:
Not surprisingly, the report does not seek out truth at all. It mostly just presents the government's point of view -- even when it's totally laughable, and then very very briefly quotes Waleed Gadelkareem, the guy behind Torrent-Finder -- who had his search engine domain seized by the government -- and Gadelkareem's lawyer, who points out, quite accurately, that it's bizarre that the US government appears to be protecting a single business against innovation.
But the really bizarre parts are the quotes from the main ICE investigator, William Ross, on these seizures. It becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that the man has no business running such operations as he doesn't know what he's talking about:
"We try to protect the economic interests of US industries and manufacturers. People are taking their work product and selling it for free!"
Neither of those sentences makes any sense. Protecting the "economic interests" of US industries is way too broad. I mean, based on that, should the US government have blocked the creation of the automobile industry, because it would negatively impact "the economic interests" of the US horse & buggy industry? The economic interests of US industries are often put at risk through disruptive technology... but what comes out of it are new industries. The US government should never be in the business of picking winners and losers of disruptive technologies, yet that's what Ross just admitted he's doing here. Scary.
And the second sentence... um what? How do you sell something for free? Furthermore how do you "take" something if the original is still there? This is the guy we have making the call on whether or not to seize domain names? Yikes! He goes on:
We're protecting them against other people taking their ideas and selling them.
Um. Shouldn't Ross know that "ideas" are not protectable under US intellectual property law? Patents cover inventions. Copyright covers expression. Trademarks cover trademarks. Ideas are not covered. In fact, they're explicitly not covered. So, again, I have to ask, how is it that this is the guy who gets to decide what domains are seized when he doesn't appear to know the law?
The report also makes bogus claims, such as seizing domain names effectively shuts down the websites.
It goes on along these lines, basically repeating all of NBCUniversal Corporate's talking points as fact. It's hard to see how you can expect any reasonable reporting on this topic from a company that is heavily involved in lobbying for laws like PROTECT IP which will expand these sorts of things even further, and allow folks like Ross, who clearly has no business deciding the legality of websites, to continue censorsing websites in the name of the US government, but which is clearly just to protect some businesses who don't know how to adapt.
While the practice of the entertainment industry issuing propaganda to school children is certainly nothing new, every time I see it in practice I shiver involuntairly. But when I came across a story from the BBC regarding a British label actually coming in to talk directly with high school kids about the many evils of piracy, a couple of questions leapt to mind.
But give the label credit for bringing along toys for the kids to play with this time. They showed up with a bunch of their music-making equipment to let the kids have a go at producing their own tracks. But even in this there was an ulterior motive. They were hoping to show kids (KIDS!) how hard it is to actually make the music they listen to, which would then demonstrate all the many people that are involved in the process. Why?
"Paul Shedden, Head of Label at Shed Records, explained the project is about raising awareness of the 'unseen' faces in the industry who rely on music sales for their livelihoods. He said: 'A whole army of people work behind the scenes to bring you new, fresh music. Everything from the songwriters through to production, artists, engineers, radio pluggers, PR companies all those people need to get paid. Otherwise they can't continue doing the jobs they love and the music you love will stop coming out.'"
Okay, the first question here is the obvious one: how can the threat of disappearing music production be used when we see more music coming out than ever before? Want to guess whether the label reps bothered to mention that to the kids? In addition to that question, I wonder if they brought amongst their toys some of the amazing new technology that's come out which allows artists to do more of this work themselves, rather than rely on an "army" of other folks who "need" to get paid.
But beyond that is the real question which is at the heart of why I have a problem with this kind of thing. Why do we let corporate interests speak directly to our children about industry needs and policy? And why aren't there representatives from opposite sides of the debate alongside them?
Would we let McDonalds come in to speak directly to our children about how they consume food? Would we allow gun manufacturers to hold audience in the school auditorium for a quick Q&A on gun control laws without representatives from the opposite side of the debate? Maybe we could get Larry Flynt to come in and hold court at a Saint Mary's School For Girls assembly on what types of jobs are best suited for women?
Or maybe schools should educate and leave industry out of the process entirely. If I were a parent (which I'm not), I'd be more than a little itchy at the prospect of my kid's school bringing in corporations to teach our children.
from the i-mean,-once-they-stopped-worrying-about-surviving dept
There are extremely good reasons to worry about any net neutrality legislation, as we've seen that once the telcos got involved, what came out was really a telco wishlist, rather than anything to actually preserve the key end-to-end principles of the internet. However, that doesn't mean that the principle of "net neutrality" is bad. It's not. There are very good reasons why the internet has been, and should remain, "neutral."
It is a principle of free market. That's a Biblical principle, that's a historical principle. We have all these quotes from Ben Franklin and Jefferson and Washington and others on free market and how important that is to maintain. That is part of the reason we have prosperity. This is what the Pilgrims brought in, the Puritans brought in, this is free market mentality. Net Neutrality sounds really good, but it is socialism on the Internet.
That's wrong on so many levels, you kind of have to marvel at just how wrong it is. A neutral network is not "socialism." For the most part, it's what we have today. And, seriously, getting rid of neutrality is the opposite of a free market. It would be about the telcos taking all of those government granted subsidies they've received over the years, and using them to put up tollbooths on parts of the web. That's not about the free market at all. It's regulatory capture in the extreme. But, you know... the pilgrims. They sure would have hated net neutrality.