Paramount COO Shows FCC How To File Share, Blames Tech Companies, Has FCC Hide Its Presentation

from the funny-how-that-works dept

Last week, the FCC held what was ostensibly a panel discussion about the National Broadband Plan, but which was actually focused on copyright issues. How, exactly, is copyright an issue for broadband? Well, mainly because the entertainment industry has been trying for years to get ISPs to act as copyright cops… and apparently the FCC felt the need to hear them out. While the deck was mostly stacked in favor of the entertainment industry in terms of speakers, thankfully the FCC allowed Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge to take part as well — and she questioned whether the FCC even had any mandate over such issues and wondered why the hearing was even being held. However, beyond stacking the deck of speakers, it appears the FCC gave significant other beneficial treatment to entertainment industry speakers.

Paramount’s COO, Frederick Huntsberry, not only was given twice the amount of time to speak as the rest of the speakers had (10 minutes, instead of five, as Gigi was told), but also was able to convince the FCC that his talk was “owned” by Paramount, and should not be placed online — as the FCC has done with all its other hearings. Wow. Yes, this was a public government hearing. Thankfully, the folks at Public Knowledge went through a low quality video of the whole proceeding and pulled out Huntsberry’s part, where he not only demonstrates how file sharing works for the FCC, but goes on to implicate plenty of companies as aiding in the process, including Google, Yahoo, eBay, Boxee and others:

In the video, he demonstrates using Mininova and (which is an amazingly useful site for many things that have absolutely nothing to do with unauthorized file sharing — and is now being unfairly tarred by Paramount). There isn’t really anything surprising in the video. He basically shows what everyone knows: it’s easy to share files these days. But he seems to miss the point of that. That is, he wants the gov’t to come in and try to stop this (an impossibility), rather than recognizing that it’s time for him to shift his business model. Yes, distribution is cheap and easy these days. In most businesses when distribution becomes cheaper and easier, that’s a good thing. Why is it that Hollywood top execs still can’t figure out how to take advantage of it?

Mehan Jayasuriya points out the many problems with the way the FCC handled this whole event:

  • Any presentation delivered at a public government hearing should be made available to the general public in a convenient format. Not everyone is able to travel to Washington D.C. for hearings and those who cannot should not be excluded–rather, they should be encouraged to participate in the debate. The mission statement on the Commission’s new site seems to agree: “A great way to create a connected America is to involve all Americans in the development of a National Broadband Plan. The FCC welcomes civic participation, and we look forward to more interaction through this website.” If Paramount was concerned that its video would encourage “piracy,” then the company should not have presented it at a public hearing. It’s as simple as that.
  • All of the other presentation materials for all of the other workshops are available on the FCC’s website, so that citizens can download, read, comment on, reference and critique them. Why should Paramount’s statement be treated any differently?
  • During the presentation, Huntsberry seems to suggest that a number of legitimate technology companies, including, Twitter, Google, Facebook, Apple, Boxee, Sony, LG, Yahoo!, PayPal and Rapidshare, are arguably acting to enable or encourage unlawful filesharing. These companies and the users of their products should have an opportunity to respond to this allegation.
  • In the beginning of the clip, Huntsberry walks us through a timeline of when various camcorded copies of Star Trek were leaked to the Internet. This timeline provides a great example of how widespread the problem of camcording is, though it’s worth noting that camcording is already illegal in most U.S. States and has little relevance in the context of this workshop (it’s also worth noting that Star Trek made over $200 million at the box office regardless of the fact that camcorded copies were available within hours of its theatrical release). This evidence that films are commonly pirated while still in theaters undermines many of the arguments made by the studios in the FCC’s Selectable Output Control proceeding (i.e. “We need to be granted the power to shut off outputs on the back of your A/V gear, otherwise you will unlawfully copy the films that we broadcast via cable”).

Not only did the FCC treat Paramount’s presentation with kid gloves, the agency also treated the Hollywood execs preferentially throughout the course of the workshop. Upon entering the room where the workshop was held, attendees were greeted by a massive vinyl banner–presumably belonging to Paramount–on which the aforementioned Star Trek timeline was printed. While I appreciate the fact that a visual aid can be helpful, I can’t help but feel like a PDF file submitted to the record would have sufficed.

But that’s not all. Though these workshops were technically less procedural in nature than a formal hearing would be, MPAA Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman was repeatedly allowed to call his technical expert, MovieLabs CEO Steve Weinstein, up to the stand to chime in with additional comments–even though nothing he said was actually technical in nature. The Commission allowed Glickman to do this so many times that Weinstein also started calling others from the audience up to the stand, including Disney Executive Vice President Preston Padden and Disney Vice President Troy D. Dow. Perhaps I’m being overly cynical but I doubt that the Commission would have allowed any of the other panelists to engage in this kind of behavior.

And, again, uh…. what does copyright have to do with broadband policy in the first place? And where is it in the FCC’s mandate that it has any say in copyright policy?

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Companies: fcc, paramount

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Comments on “Paramount COO Shows FCC How To File Share, Blames Tech Companies, Has FCC Hide Its Presentation”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Dez (profile) says:

Don't forget

AOL… if you’re implicating technology companies you might as well hit them all. What about myspace? wordpress, blogger? people communicate the best ways to pirate over there (it was even talk like a pirate day on saturday… for shame) Ban it all. Let’s go back to the 40’s when the only way to get your news was through one of these companies.

Stuart says:

Not hard to understand

Of course our crappy little bureaucrats with their inflated sense of self importance would allow Hollywood bigwigs that can get them into premier events and the ability to hang out with the stars will fold and give in to whatever they want. The US is the Government of the Unions, Big Business, Bureaucrats, and friendly foreign governments. This is handled by bought off Democrats and republicans that serve only those interests and take from the people to do so.

keith (profile) says:

Tweet and Facebook References...

I found it humorous that they would call out specifically facebook and twitter, repeatedly, as ways to quickly share files once uploaded. Any link between that and the government plan to log all FB and Twitter traffic? OK OK probably not…

Honestly, it was a pretty unsubstantial presentation. And what was the point? Yes, file sharing exists. Yes, its easier than ever. Instead of discussing *why* it has become easier than ever, (Duh! It’s filling a market demand!) or the new opportunities to add value to their customers, they gave a somewhat pointless ‘how-to use the internet’ speech. Seriously? Can I have that job?

Anonymous Coward says:

“Last week, the FCC held what was ostensibly a panel discussion about the National Broadband Plan, but which was actually focused on copyright issues.”

Wow, Mike, you were right. Another great prediction you made a long time ago; this whole broadband plan is beginning to look more and more like a scam to give more money away to big corporations and to use it as a pretext to control the public in favor of big corporations at everyone’s expense.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Paramount’s COO, Frederick Huntsberry, not only was given twice the amount of time to speak as the rest of the speakers had (10 minutes, instead of five, as Gigi was told),”

America is always right and all other nations are always wrong. and more specifically it’s the rich and the powerful in America that are right and everyone else in America that are always wrong. Hence the rich and the powerful get a disproportional influence over our government and everyone else pretty much gets completely ignored because the rich and the powerful are the ultimate authority over what is right.

“but also was able to convince the FCC that his talk was “owned” by Paramount, and should not be placed online”

Just goes to show you the mentality of intellectual property maximists and the mentality of those running the nation (ie: the FCC) for buying into the broken mentality of intellectual property maximists. No wonder why intellectual property laws are so messed up.

Anonymous Coward says:

What, the US Government is up for grabs to the highest bidder??? Say it isn’t so….

Take a look at the policies that have been made over the last 30 years and it’s not hard to see that behind every one of them a major lobbyist group and/or corporation has given massive amounts of campaign contributions or any other form of bribery you can imagine to the folks in congress who introduce the new legislation.

Not much different from the medical field these days,
or the entertainment industry, or the pharmaceuticals, or the legal system, or the major league sporting industry, or the auto industry, or all of the major defense contractors, or just about anything having to do with business. Soon enough corporations will have more rights than citizens, when they shouldn’t even have them to begin with.

My solution: burn it all.

Nobodee says:

Re: Re:

“burn it all”
While I can empathize with your comment I must urge people not to use violence or threats there of against the government. They know all to well how to deal with force, for all government is nothing more then a monopoly on the use of force.
My suggestion, stop paying into the system. Just say no to government.

Anonymous Coward says:

That has got to be the most horrendous, painful presentations I’ve ever sat through. Every sentence (hell, every *phrase*) ends with a rising inflection, as if he were a 15 year old valley girl. How in the world do you get through college and become Chief ANYTHING Officer in a major corporation without knowing how to speak persuasively in public?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“How in the world do you get through college and become Chief ANYTHING Officer in a major corporation without knowing how to speak persuasively in public?”

Are you kidding me with this?

Bill Clinton was President and wanted a rundown on the definition of the word “is”.

George W. Bush famously stated that most of America’s imports come from outside the country.

Officers of companies are the LEAST of our concerns.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, DH, because common sense is irrelevant. Everything is only understood after being dissected and interpreted by a lawyer. That’s why I have counsel read all Techdirt comments to me, and ghostwrite my comments. At $300/hr, it’s well worth it.

For example, this past week, through my lawyer, Lilly Allen made complete sense. I’ll bet she sounded like an idiot to you. You see what you’re missing out on?

If you’re not looking at the world through lawyer-goggles, you can’t understand it.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yeah, look, in all reality dorp is just making my point for me.

When we, as an English speaking people, in our court system filled with what is supposed to be some of the very best and brightest, need to stop and discuss the meaning of the word “is”, then me and our judicial system no longer have anything to discuss.

What SHOULD have happened in that trial is that Ken Starr ought have smacked slick Willy across the face to wipe that Bilderburger smirk from his face, and then stated, “See? You IS in pain.”

Okay? Is means “to be”, it’s the verb of ego, the verb of existence. For the President to ask that question was the kind of smug bullshit that makes me hate authority. But I’ve got someone telling me that if I was a lawyer, a PART of that system, THEN such a question would make sense.

What do they do to you retard lawyers in law school? Just spend four years hitting you in the head with a hammer? “Welcome to Law 101. If you’ll just put your head on the desk while I beat you over the head for the next hour.” And maybe this goes on day after day after day for four years, and then, BANG! four years later you’ve got a lawyer. Full of statutes and case law, overflowing with rules and procedures, and devoid of any fucking common sense.

Jup says:

so that' s how it's done.

What a great primer on piracy. I should send this video to my dad so he can figure out how to watch movies online.

Obviously the pirates are giving the public exactly what they want because the movie studios failed to do it. Why? Because they’ve wrapped up their contracts in so much legalese that they don’t even have the rights to stream their own films.

We want to watch any movie at any time on any device. The pirates have even figured out how to make money doing that. The studios are upset because they have no control. Welcome to the world of computers.

viperfl (profile) says:

This guy has no clue

I had to laugh at this so called presentation. This guy was portraying legitimate sites like Rapidshare into an illegitimate site. If you follow this guys philosophy, you can say a automobile is illegitimate because the automobile has been used to commit crimes. I can name so many products that are used in crimes, it’s endless.

He says Paramount has 200 deals in place, 600 movies for download and 200 movies to stream. Why are they offering only 600 movies when there movie library is bigger than that? Why is Paramount only allowing 200 movies to be streamed instead of 600? He fails to tell anyone that most if not all the movies they are allowing to be streamed or downloaded is not new releases.

People want to buy but your company created a business model so people can’t buy. Business makes money by selling products and services that people want. If the business limits to what the people can buy, then people will go somewhere else. Wal-Mart wouldn’t be where it is today if they limited what they offered to people. Wal-Mart offers there customers more of a selection so they don’t have a need to shop somewhere else.

If it wasn’t for the VCR, where would the movie industry be today? It would still be stuck with the old business model of people going to the movie theater. The movie industry grew with the VCR because it allowed people more choices. More choices equates to more sales. Of course the movie industry didn’t see it that way.

The other problem we have is the movie industry is using the government to protect there business model instead of creating one on there own. Government don’t know how to run a business, they only create regulations to protect businesses and the people. Most politicians are lawyers, not business people. Because of that, politicians are suckers to what people tell them.

These executives make huge money running billion dollar companies but they can’t grab the concept of retail business. As a customer, I would buy more if I had more choices. If you limit me as a customer, then I will be limited to what I will spend.

There is nothing wrong with the movie companies making profits. We live in a country where we all have the opportunity to make money. Don’t create a business model where people don’t have the opportunity to buy your products at a reasonable price and then blame everyone else because people look somewhere else to get it.

The Media Wonk (user link) says:

I was there. There were more people on the panel than in the audience, so having Weinstein come up and speak wasn’t exactly a huge breach of protocol. The FCC staff was practically begging people in the audience to participate. Moreover, Gigi herself said she had little objection to most of what Weinstein said. I’m not defending Glickman or the FCC, but your characterization of the event is inaccurate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I see no good reason why a video of the entire event isn’t available online unless there is something to hide. Until the entire event is available online for everyone to see, including me, I will assume that there is something to hide and that Mike’s reporting is correct and I will assume the worst, that these events are incorrectly being abused by big corporations to exploit the general public.

If it’s somehow against the law for these videos to be online then I will assume that the law exists to hide the true purpose of these events, for big corporations to discuss how to exploit the general public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The characteristic is pretty accurate, here is the link.

Much of the debate did revolve around intellectual property and not advancing broadband. It really does look like this whole broadband expansion thing has little to do with expanding broadband and has a lot more to do with intellectual property enforcement.

It looks like this whole broadband expansion thing is a pretext to giving more money to big corporations and exploiting the public and giving more control to unelected officials so that they can use that control to exploit the public in favor of big corporations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Also found interesting about 1 hour and 31 min into it it says that coming up with a government mandate for disclosing what a consumer is buying can be dangerous. How is that so? If consumers buy X and they get Y that’s bad and there should be laws against that. It’s called fraud.

But of course government mandates should only exist and are not dangerous to the extent that they help rich and powerful corporations. To the extent that they require rich and powerful corporations to be honest they are dangerous and should not exist. How one sided is this? But that just goes to show the mentality that intellectual property maximists have instilled our government with. No wonder why intellectual property laws are so messed up.

Anonymous Coward says:

I have a few questions that I thought of.

Given the fact that most of the laws in place are designed to serve special interest groups at the expense of the American people

A: Intellectual property lasts way too long.

B: Someone on the FCC video mentioned how broadcast structure makes it difficult for independent musicians to spread their music on it yet it’s the government that supports this structure (ie: by granting widespread monopolies on the airwaves and by granting monopolies on cable infrastructure and requiring rights of way to build new infrastructure in a way that restricts competition. As a result of these government restrictions broadband in other countries has surpassed us significantly).

As a result of this lack of competition television and cable contains almost nothing but commercials, cable in America is EXTREMELY overpriced, and very important news gets censored.



“one made every musician sign a waiver that they would only play original songs, and ASCAP told him it didn’t matter because there was no way to know if the singers were really avoiding copyrighted music, so he still needed to pay up for a license.”


D: The consequences for copyright infringement are up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine (see yet the consequences for falsely suing someone for infringement with intent is only up to $2,500 provided you can prove intent.

Why should I trust unelected officials to suddenly start passing reasonable laws? All of the existing laws are unreasonable and they give me every reason to believe that this whole broadband expansion thing just looks like an excuse to give unelected officials more power to turn the Internet into the same top down broadcasting structure that the airwaves and the cable structure has turned into.

Also, Dan Glickman in the video mentioned how many people the MPAA employs.

A: This seems to suggest that piracy isn’t destroying the industry.

B: A monopoly employs more people than any independent entity in a competitive market but a competitive market leads to better products, increased innovation, increased aggregate output, at a lower price.

C: Why should the government artificially do anything to increase the amount of people that exist in an industry. The free market is best suited to decide how many people should be in what industry and to figure out what consumer needs are more important. By allowing the government to make laws that artificially inflate the amount of people in an industry you are taking away from industries that are more important to the free market.

Kathy Garmazy in the video also said something to the extent that they are people and their position is the position of the people and that their position represents the people. If that is really so then why are unelected officials making laws? Why can’t the people either elect officials to make the laws or why can’t the people directly vote for the laws? Is it because the unelected officials are afraid that their views do not really represent the people so they must dictate the laws to us against our will?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“B: Someone on the FCC video mentioned how broadcast structure makes it difficult for independent musicians to spread their music on it yet it’s the government that supports this structure”

For example, back when airwaves were first used it was more of a communication structure, much like the Internet is now. Now, thanks to government regulation, most of the airwaves are “owned” by a hand full of rich and powerful corporations and as a result everyone else suffers. I can’t just pick a frequency and start broadcasting what I want, the FCC won’t let me. The government created this mess, why should I trust unelected officials to interfere with the Internet? To turn it into the same mess that airwaves have turned into? I think not.

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