Jack Valenti… Misunderstanding The Digital World Right Up Until The End

from the buy-him-a-clue... dept

Jack Valenti is getting ready to retire, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to give interviews where he says stuff that are clearly false or purposely misleading. My biggest complaint with the interview isn’t with Valenti, actually. It’s that the interviewer, JD Lasica, who definitely knows better, didn’t challenge Valenti on any of his ridiculous answers. Not once does he say anything. Even when Valenti trots out his ridiculous excuses for why you should never be able to back up a DVD, where, in a single answer Valenti confuses the different between digital and tangible items and then insists that there should be no reason to back up digital items because they last forever. Of course, they only last forever… um… if you can back them up. So, there’s a bit of a disconnect there, and it should have been hammered home. Also, Valenti continues to insist that there’s no such thing as fair use. Or rather, he makes a series of contradictory statements about fair use, none of which fully make sense. He first seems to say that you can only use fair use on content that belongs to you, in which case you wouldn’t need fair use (it already belongs to you!). Next, he claims that if someone fast forwards through something in classroom, that is fair use, but follows it up by saying the law doesn’t recognize fair use (which is simply false). These are all things he’s said before, so there’s nothing that new in the interview, but how could the interviewer, especially someone who has written a new book about these things, let Valenti get away with them? That’s why he continues to think he’s right — because no one tells him to his face that he’s wrong when he spouts this stuff.

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Comments on “Jack Valenti… Misunderstanding The Digital World Right Up Until The End”

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Anonymous Coward says:

pirate this, jack

“I’ve talked to about 3,500 students at Harvard, Yale, NYU, Stanford and Duke – eight universities in all. When I ask, how many of you believe that what you?re doing is wrong, morally and legally, most of their hands go up. But they rationalize it by saying, yes, it is a kind of stealing, but everybody else is doing it, and it costs too much to go to a movie. There’s a rationalization that goes on, but I am convinced if we keep putting this moral imperative before them and if the professors follow through on this, it will have an effect.”

So Valenti and the MPAA want to maintain the status quo just so they can keep ripping off consumers? Nice. Perhaps if he and the movie studios put as much effort into delivering quality content at reasonable prices as they did blowing hot air about “piracy”, the problem would solve itself.

Permanent4 (profile) says:

Irony so think you need a fork...

Some new business model may want to put a movie out on the Internet just after it leaves theatrical exhibition. We can?t afford to let that be copied at that juncture because it?s the [home entertainment] aftermarket where you make your profits.

Really? Would that be the same aftermarket that you tried to prevent by comparing the VCR to the Boston Strangler 25 years ago?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: A rebuttal is needed...

Well, it’s not necessarily fair to compare the Wikipedia hating reporter to the interviewer here. In the past, JD Lasica has shown that he clearly understands the issues at hand. He’s not misrepresenting anything, I just feel that he didn’t do a good job in this particular interview.

Anyway, I have emailed him asking if he’d like to make a response here. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume there’s some reason why he let Valenti’s statements pass unchallenged.

JD Lasica (user link) says:

Talking with Valenti

Well, fair point. I think the explanation lies in the fact that this interview was set up to get the MPAA’s position on a host of issues important to the tech community. I’m writing a book on the subject, and I’ll be offering counter-arguments to Valenti’s claims when it’s published. I thought his remarks would be of interest to an audience hip to the issues surrounding technology and electronics, so I excerpted his remarks for Engadget (he knew the interview was for both the book and for a publication). So, only about a third of our interview was printed here.

So, that’s the explanation. On reflection, I think you’re right, and I should have included more skeptical responses in the excerpts I chose for Engadget. But Jack won’t be getting away so easily when the book comes out. (“Darknet: Remixing the Future of Movies, Music & Television,” Wiley & Sons, spring 2005).

Thanks for the good critique.

thecaptain says:

Re: Talking with Valenti

To Mike and JD Lasica.

You are correct Mike, it WAS unfair to compare JD to the other guy. Please blame it on a late night after a bad day 🙂

JD, I think its great that you are willing to come on here and post up your own comments, it clears things up a bit and I enjoyed your honest reflection. Apologies to you…

Thomas Hawk (profile) says:

Re: Talking with Valenti

Personally I think it was nothing short of amazing that J.D. was ever able to get the interview in the first place. Obviously Valenti doesn’t know how to use Google because if he’d bothered to Google J.D. and read some of what his interviewer has written about in the past I’m sure he’d have had second thoughts.

I think the interview actually went fairly well and I think that as an interview it was probably good that J.D. didn’t go for the throat as some might be quick to discredit it with bias. No, I think it was better to let Jack hang himself with his own words and let the online community do the after-analysis. The important thing is that by getting the interview in the first place it brings to light once again the problems with the adversarial tactics of the MPAA and their cousin the RIAA.

Below are my comments from the post at Engadget:

“What would you say to a mom who wants to make a backup of her kids? DVD movies?

When you go to your department store and you buy 10 Cognac glasses and two weeks later you break two of them, the store doesn?t give you two backup copies. Where did this backup copy thing come from?”

Look, either you are selling content or you are selling physical goods — you cannot have your cake and eat it too. When you buy a DVD you are buying content. The DVD is merely the delivery vehicle for the content. If I buy a tune from itunes and then burn it to my CD and it breaks, should I then also not be able to re burn it? It infuriates me that people like Jack Valenti have no problem gouging the public with expensive dvds and then when the medium is no longer useable try to compare it to a pair of cognac glasses.

On Thursday night someone broke the window of my car at the West Oakland BART station and in addition to stealing the dvd player in the car stole all of my kids dvds — about 20 of them which were hidden in the glove compartment. They stole the dvd player even though I had taken the face plate off and it is essentially worthless to them without it.

Now Vallenti wants to tell me that I’m SOL and why don’t I just go out and drop another $500 buying my content all over again — and he has the audacity to speak about a “moral imperative.”?!

This guy is classic. How about this Jack. How about I just download everything I want for free and use any resource I have to avoid ever paying for another dvd for the rest of my life. How about I just copy everything to my PC and burn it to dvd for play in my car in the future and don’t give you or your friends another god-damn dime. There is a reason that you are portrayed as a “villian” in cyberspace. And while you may have a modicum of power based on your previous position with the MPAA, the tide is turning and things like you opening your mouth and saying really stupid things will ony bring about both grass roots political change and technological pirating tools faster.

You, my friend, are a hypocrite — someone who talks about the value being the content one day and the form the very next.

achacha says:

Re: Re: Talking with Valenti

Not to stereotype, but most (not all) of the communication and journalism majors in my school were athletes who figured that if their career in sports doesn’t pan out, they can always become announcers and reporters. Same people that never showed up to classes and got their passing grades through dubious means went on to become journalists and I sometimes see articles that they write and wonder at how many people out there will read it and not question it. Happens all the time and it is an insult to the great journalists out there that actually think, ask questions and challenge the interviewee… a lost art it seems.

I, for one, am happy that a luddite like Valenti is retiring, his lack of understanding and greed has set the movie industry many years back.

momo says:

Media doesn't question, just repeats.

“My biggest complaint with the interview isn’t with Valenti, actually. It’s that the interviewer, JD Lasica, who definitely knows better, didn’t challenge Valenti on any of his ridiculous answers.”

You may not have noticed it, but the media no longer challenges anything.

Christ just look at all the swift boat crap that’s been debunked. Frankly at this point in time we’re lucky that all of the news casters aren’t as bad as Novak, actively pushing crap like the swift boat book because his son is an executive for the company distributing it.

bunion says:

Re: No Subject Given

Valenti is a moron. He is too old to understand the technology. There are many of us who are not pirates and want to back up legitimate copies of our own legally purchased dvd’s and tapes and lps. These assholes at the film and record companies don’t mind selling us this overpriced shit. I am not copying anything but I will never buy anything ever again. I listen to my free radio station. I won’t buy satelite radio or satelite tv either because the same assholes who run the film and recording companies control the pay services too. All citizens should defeat them by listening to free broadcast material. Granted they might be owned by the same assholes too but they give it to us free. These liberal hollywood pukes such as streisand, robbins, sarrandon, garrafallo, sheen can all shove their overpriced movies and records up their ass. Suggestion, go to the library and check out their pitiful materials and watch them and then return them to the library. It is all quite legal and you don’t support these greedy assholes.

bunion says:

No Subject Given

People should just quit purchasing movies, they should quit going to movies, they should boycott cds and not rent movies for a whole year. If everyone boycotted these assholes for one year and held to it, these hollywood assholes would come begging back with price reductions. As long as they have suckers (consumers) ready and willing to buy their shit, they will peddle it a high prices. Piracy has caused them to rethink their price structure and reduce the price of cd’s. Just think if they were to be boycotted for just one year. What if no one went to a movie or rented a tape or bought a cd for just one year. They would be begging to sell us cd’s for a reasonable price which should be about 2.00 per cd. We are the ignorant ones for buying their shit. I have boycotted their shit for a whole year now and I figured out that I am about 2000.00 richer. It is not against the law to boycott these assholes. Steven Spielburg and Barbara Streisand, Charlie Sheen, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Saan Penn, Ben Affleck and on and on and on. These flaunt their affluent wealth to the public and then they moan when someone copies a movie. They are greedy whores and we don’t have to sit and take their shit. We can do a legal boycott. When you boycott their movies, they don’t make any money and you don’t have to worry about the assholes at the mpaa or riaa knocking on your door. I just wish I could convince someone with national recognition to champion a world wide boycott of their shit. Now of course, there would be some turncoat neanderthals who could not live without the shit that they spew out. If just two million people felt the same way I do, and those two million people went to the movies twice a month at an average ticket price of 6.00 per ticket, a boycott would costg them 288 million dollars. If those same two million people would refrain from buying 2 cd’s/mo at an average cost of 15.00 each, it would cost them 720 million in revenue. That is a billion dollars. That is just two million people. Those money worshiping son-of-a bitches in entertainment understand money. That is the only thing they understand. Two million boycotters would hurt the hell out of them. So anyone reading this. Boycott the son-of-a – bitches. Let a man make a doller from you and he will take you for granted, boycott the son of a bitch and he will come crawling to your door. So jump in there with the bunion and boycott the hell out of the bastards. Don’t do anything illegal. By doing so you empower them. Practice the politics which worked so well for Dr. King. Peaceful-legal-boycott and protest. It is not against the law if you don’t buy but you must not copy either. You can live without thier shit. I have and I enjoy reading and sailing and motorcycling and biking. I have lost weight and my cholesterol; is lower. Think of it as a heal;thy retreat. signed bunion for legal protest

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