What Would The Movie Business Be Like If The MPAA Succeeded In Killing The VCR?

from the a-thought-exercise dept

As the fight over the E-PARASITE/SOPA bill continues, it’s worth taking a step back, and conducting a short thought exercise:

What would the movie business be like today, if the MPAA had succeeded in banning the VCR?

Remember, in the Betamax case, the studios sought to kill off the VCR, leading to the famous quote from MPAA boss Jack Valenti:

I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.

And, Valenti and the MPAA came very close to convincing the courts, who only granted immunity for those offerings with substantial non-infringing uses by the narrowest of margins (though court initially decided to side with the MPAA before changing its mind). Unfortunately, while SOPA seeks to couch its broad upending of the legal and technical frameworks of much of the internet in the claim that this is “just” about “stopping pirate sites,” twenty years ago, this case was about “just” stopping this “pirate technology.”

But what happened after that? Once the court finally declared VCRs legal, suddenly the movie industry exploded. With this new method of video distribution, the entire movie business was reinvented in a good way. It meant no longer just viewing in the theaters. An entire new category soon took over: home movie viewing (and renting). Before long, the home video market actually overtook the theater. And, these days, ironically, what do you hear the MPAA whining about the most? That online sharing is decimating the home video market. Of course, if the MPAA had had its way 20 years ago, we wouldn’t even have a home video market.

So the thought exercise of where the movie industry would be today, if the VCR had been declared dedicated to infringing purposes twenty years ago, seems particularly relevant. That’s doubly true, seeing as the E-PARASITE bill effectively looks to overturn the court’s Betamax decision, and open up the floodgates for the MPAA (and others) to cut off all funding from any new technology it believes is “dedicated to the theft of US property” under the exceedingly broad definitions in the bill.

Take a moment, and consider where the movie business would be today, if the VCR never existed. And think about just how wrong the MPAA was then to freak out about a technology that later saved it. And consider that perhaps we should wait before changing the law to allow the MPAA to kill off the next “VCR” in the digital age.

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Comments on “What Would The Movie Business Be Like If The MPAA Succeeded In Killing The VCR?”

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147 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, I think that if the courts could see then what they see now, it is likely the ruling would have gone the MPAA’s way. The VCR itself didn’t lead to massive infringement (but certainly to some) but technologies that have piggybacked on the ruling (Tivo, as an example) have significantly changed both the way consumers view TV and movies, and the business models the support them.

Almost everyone I know uses DVRs in some manner, and the most common popular feature is the “skip ahead 30 seconds” button. This has a very great impact on how commercial programming is paid for in the long run, because DVR viewers are just not following the same patterns as classical live TV viewers.

I think that seeing this alone, the courts would have likely ruled the other way, because there is clearly harm done, and people are clearly using the technology to avoid the parts that pay for the content to be created.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, but I think that if the courts had realizes that there would be so many infringing uses based on their judgement at the time, they likely would have ruled the other way. Mike has already pointed out that the decision at the time was very narrow, and I can only imagine that the current situations we find ourselves in would have made it very easy for the courts to rule against the technology.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

But isn’t the purpose of copyright law to progress the useful arts? Surely you aren’t arguing that hasn’t been done? There is more content available in more formats and more widespread distribution than at any time in the history of man and probably many alien nations. Not only that, those industries are doing better financially than at any other time. Don’t you think there might be some correlation here? Just maybe if we make things even more widely available than they are today the market will get even bigger still?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It’s a balance. I am not sure that widespread piracy does anything to progress the arts, and in fact something that might have significant impact on the business models of those who in fact seek to progress the arts could actually hurt that goal.

Simply, it isn’t a one way street. Wide distribution appears to be good one one side, but has serious consequences on the other. If it kills the business model, have we not all lost something?

Aaron Martin-Colby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

No, we haven’t. We have found a new business model that does what the old one did, transported entertainment/data from a producer to a consumer, but with a different profit vector.

This evolution happens constantly even in industries that don’t have the scapegoat of illegal behavior. The entire industrial revolution is an example of this. And, big surprise, we saw the rise of people who hated the machines.

Their plight even birthed Karl Marx’s philosophical wellspring, who began working on what would become communism after learning of the working conditions of Britain’s lower class. So, in that regard, we’re pretty conservative in our response. We created a few misguided laws; they created a whole fucking country.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Not really true. Your freedom of expression doesn’t trump anyone else’s freedoms.

Nobody is claiming a right to profit (that is twisting things pretty hard), they are claiming only the rights to what is theirs, and the rights to control it as granted by the constitution (which includes the provisions for copyright). Are you suggesting that only some rights are rights, the rest are just ideas, or some bogus claims?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“If it kills the business model, have we not all lost something?”

No. Just those that benefit from a government granted business model. No one is entitled to a government granted business model.

If the government pays me money to simply dig a whole and fill it back up over and over for no good reason and suddenly they decide to stop, have we not all lost something now that I have lost my business model?

Not all business models ought to be protected. Not all business models ought to exist. It’s not the governments job to provide you with your easy business model through bad laws that everyone else must pay for. It’s your job to find your own business model in a free market.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So you want to use IP, which is supposed to advance (technological and other) progress, and use it to stifle progress?

The purpose of IP is to advance progress, not merely to prevent your definition of the word ‘harm’ done by violating someones IP privileges. It’s purpose is to advance social benefit, not to minimize this alleged ‘harm’ caused to IP holders. Stifling innovation would have harmed the consumers. Our current overreaching IP laws harm consumers. The only harm being done here occurs when the government-industrial complex steals from the public domain through retroactive extensions and through insane copy protection lengths. There is no public harm being done and any ‘harm’ caused to IP holders shouldn’t be the primary focus of IP since these privileges aren’t something that IP holders are rightfully entitled to. These laws should exist for the public good, not for the sole benefit of IP holders. The problem here is that a few IP holders have gotten way too spoiled over the years and we need to put an end to that.

Hans says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

AC: “I think that seeing [people using DVRs to skip commercials] alone, the courts would have likely ruled the other way, because there is clearly harm done, and people are clearly using the technology to avoid the parts that pay for the content to be created.”

rubberpants: “Are you suggesting that if a new technology changes they way an existing business must operate to be successful that it is inherently wrong and should be made illegal?”

AC: “No, but I think that if the courts had realizes that there would be so many infringing uses based on their judgement at the time, they likely would have ruled the other way.”

Please, try to make a consistent argument. You look like a fool. First it’s the courts would ruled the other way “because there is clearly harm done” by using DVR skip technology, and then when rubberpants calls you on it, you say “if the courts had realizes that there would be so many infringing uses” they would have ruled the other way.

So either you can’t make up your mind, or you think the DVR skip feature is an infringing use. The latter being laughable at a minimum. Next you’ll be telling us that the courts would have made horseless carriages illegal if they had known there would be “clearly harm done” to the horse and buggy makers.

Come back when you’re not whining about the world simply changing. Time moves on. The old way is inefficient, and is replaced by newer better ones. And since I’m an old fart, get off of my lawn.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

OK, but then you’ll be paying $200 for cable.

Or cable companies who charge $200 would go out of business because they overvalued their product. I suspect that in a couple years, given the false inflation within the cable companies, the price will be $200 and there will still be commercials, even though the price of the product will be slightly less than it is now. Cable companies don’t understand now why their customers are cutting the cable…

What kills me is that customers are cutting the cable, so instead of the companies going “Jeesh, what are we doing wrong…oh, maybe it is because the alternatives are far cheaper and our price is too high, what do we do to fix that,” they are pushing for laws to outlaw their competitors and force their customer to pay higher costs (and playing stupid games like restricting alacarte pricing, etc.)

I watch 4 channels on cable. Why should I pay for ESPN when I never watch ESPN? Make ESPN a special package and charge more for it. Allow me to buy the channels I want. At this point, if History, Discovery, and NatGeo were available through some other system, I’d cut the cable too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Specfically made illegal? I am not sure how you would do it. But I will say that the advertisements are the part of the deal you make in order to get the free content. Bypassing them, blocking them, or skipping them to some extent breaks that agreement.

Like anything, it’s okay if a small number of people are doing it. But at a point where a significant part of the viewership is doing it, you create an economic problem. The short term positive of no having to see the commercials might be wiped out by the long term failure of the very business model that brings you that content to start with.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

It would be, I suppose, unless I actually opened up my head, removed the idea, and then GAVE it to you! Ah HA! No more stealing! I’m gifting you my idea!

(And thus, fair children, was the Emmy nominated series “Dancing With Your Pets In Your Underwear” picked up for syndication on USA. It was thus also how Dark Helmet died trying to give physically his idea to another person so as to avoid thought stealing. Let it be a lesson to all: if you think thoughts can be stolen, you’re probably going to end up killing yourself. Amen.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“But at a point where a significant part of the viewership is doing it, you create an economic problem.”

Lets be fair, they’ve always done that. The problem is, until recently the ones selling the ad space were able to more easy fool the ones buying the space. These days its a little more difficult (competition notwithstanding)

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“The short term positive of no having to see the commercials might be wiped out by the long term failure of the very business model that brings you that content to start with.”

I see what you’re saying and can get the viewpoint…but the problem is that in other industries the solution is NOT to just make the technological progress illegal. I’ll give you an example:

I work for an MSP (Manages Services Provider). By utilizing some pretty slick management and automation technology, we’re able to support a large number of users/companies with a relatively small bullpen of engineers. Now, I can imagine there are lots of folks who hate us. Individual engineers we might put out of a job, for instance. Or take a company that does IT Tech staffing. They must HATE us since companies are using our service instead of theirs to find an internal tech.

That said, if the Association of Staffing Agencies or whatever came out and tried to outlaw Kaseya Software just because their business was threatened by how we use the technology, they’d be laughed out of every congressional district in the nation. They have to adapt, change a little or a lot to fit the marketplace. For instance, one of those staffing companies now works directly WITH us, not only to staff US with engineers, but to refer businesses to us for a finders fee as well. That’s how it’s done.

So, the answer is not whining that DVRs allow people to skip commercials. The answer is to adapt so that is actually a benefit, not a hinderance….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That said, if the Association of Staffing Agencies or whatever came out and tried to outlaw Kaseya Software just because their business was threatened by how we use the technology, they’d be laughed out of every congressional district in the nation.

If they did it with LabTech instead of Kaseya then they’d probably be applauded by a bunch of MSPs.

rubberpants says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t disagree that it does cause an economic (a.k.a. business) problem. But, that’s the businesses’ problem. If you find that the way you’re making money isn’t working anymore then try something else, or go out of business. Of course, there’s the third option: get the government to protect your business model with new laws. That’s a popular choice lately it seems.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Dude…Just stop, really.

“advertisements are the part of the deal”
STuuuuuuuuPid. There is no deal. We all pay for cable, and anywhere you advertise is a crapshoot.

“the very business model that brings you that content to start with”
You mean the 107.00 a month I PAY. Hear that PAY FOR.

Arrrggghhhhh!!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

WHen you pay your $107 a month (foolishly) you are paying for (a) premium channels not available over the air, and (b) clear reception of those that do come over the air.

You could use rabbit ears or another antenna to receive local over the air channels, and pay nothing. Your choice to pay more to your cable company for extras beyond what is over the air is your choice, but doesn’t chance the equation.

Sorry.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“but doesn’t chance the equation.”

Actually it does. They pay for the content, it doesn’t need to get payed for twice.

I don’t know how many people here would agree, but I’d pay the $140/m for cable (Verizon FiOs technically) if it didn’t have commercials. And that’s saying something since I only pay $7.99 for Netflix that does the same thing (just a little slower).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Sounds like the same tired argument against website popup blockers.

There is no implicit agreement with viewers of the web or TV. If the only way you can think of to make money is with annoying advertising, and that’s not working for you, then I’m sure there are plenty of people in line who would love to have your airwaves and find a way to make it profitable.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

When you pay your $107 a month (foolishly)- I do not have premium channels by choice. In order to get all the kids channels, they break them up, and get this, PBS is tiered. Under Concast it was 130. When my 3.5 year old wants to watch Olivia, Peppa Pig, Wonder Pets, or Team Umizoomi, 107 becomes reasonable. If not for her, I would have cut the cord long ago.

Rabbit ears? You do know they dont work anymore right? Jus sayin.
Im happy with the content DirectTV (no affiliation) provides.

Whoops gotta go.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No the deal is they try to show ads and I watch them if I want too, they then lie to the people who they sold the ads and the schmucks don’t even get to see the product before it airs, they have to get it all on the faith.

Anyone who tried to buy ad space on TV or radio is told a lot of BS to be impressed.

Now what I want to see is what those stupid people would do if the liability was on them, how about make labels responsible for every singer or every customers of theirs so if anyone is found doing something wrong listening to music the labels should be liable, if any musicians kill, maime or do something wrong studios and labels should be liable after all they are using criminallity to make a profit and that is uneceptable those criminals should not be forgiven but thrown in jail right?

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

But I will say that the advertisements are the part of the deal you make in order to get the free content. Bypassing them, blocking them, or skipping them to some extent breaks that agreement.

I don’t know about the US – but in the UK the Ad people fixed that problem by making the ads themselves entertaining. The next “compare the meerkat” ad is always a must watch!

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

the advertisements are the part of the deal you make in order to get the free content.

No, the advertisements are part of the deal that the advertisers made, in order to get the product name out to as many humans as possible.

And, I don’t need to tell you, it has nothing whatsoever to do with consumers getting the content without paying. For one thing, companies advertise in stuff that is not free, all the time (e.g. magazines). The “ad supported” model is a business model that the content distributors choose – and nobody else. No “deals” were made.

Add to that, the fact that consumers who used TiVo’s were already paying to watch the content (it didn’t record free over-the-air TV, since at the time it wasn’t digital).

Also consider that skipping ads has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with copyright infringement, so wouldn’t have been even considered during the Sony trial.

Add it all up, and you have one massive dose of fail.

Besides – are you honestly suggesting that Hollywood should have been able to shut TiVo down? Because if you are, you are exactly against new technology and/or consumers.

And if you think that Sony should have gone the other way, then you’re also against movie studios making money. There is no question whatsoever that the VCR helped studios far, far more than it hurt them – and that includes the VCR’s progeny (DVR’s and what have you). It is better for the studios that they exist, just as they are now, than if they did not.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Here is a novel idea, make ads that people actually enjoy watching like Old Spice did. Forcing people to sit through boring ads never has worked. They just hit the fridge or bathroom or pick up their conversation with whoever they are watching the show with until it comes back on.

I don’t remember who said it, but half of all advertising is wasted. The only problem is knowing which half. So advertising used to be like using a shotgun, you point and shoot and hope to hit something. Now with the information gleaned it is getting more like using a rifle where you can target your audience.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

So you are saying that people will watch it many times until they get bored? Well if they watch it that much and don’t buy the product then it seems nothing would entice them to buy the product. So maybe they just don’t want or need the product in which case you are advertising to the wrong people anyway. What do you want, someone to force them to buy like maybe the government?

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“But I will say that the advertisements are the part of the deal you make in order to get the free content. Bypassing them, blocking them, or skipping them to some extent breaks that agreement.”

You’re focussing on a technology that allows you to skip the ads, but in fact the end result is no different to flipping channels, muting the sound or simply leaving the room. Are all these actions also breaking this so-called agreement that none of us agreed to? Do you really think we need a “solution” to these problems as well?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Like anything, it’s okay if a small number of people are doing it. But at a point where a significant part of the viewership is doing it, you create an economic problem.”

It sounds more like the market screaming,”You’re doing it wrong”. If they truly listen, they might find a way to satisfy the consumer and their need (addiction) to profit.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Ill keep it short. What a fu*king idiot.

“The VCR itself didn’t lead to massive infringement”
Never been to NY 10-15 years ago huh?
Dont remember all the pie-rated videos on the street vendors tables huh?

“commercial programming is paid for”
OHHHHHHH NOOOOOOO!!!! So I only see 4990 commercials instead of the 5000 or so. Ouch what are they gonna do? I skipped 5-10 commericials. Gouge out my eyes and throw me in jail.

“skip ahead 30 seconds” button. This has a very great impact”
Because VCR’s didnt have fast forward buttons. What a tool.

“I think” Is that what you call it?

Another Anonymous Coward’s public FAIL.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Statements like
“The VCR itself didn’t lead to massive infringement”
Just fly in the face of logic, and I believe couldnt have been made honestly. Also statements like:
because there is clearly harm done – Really? I could not find anything to back up this statement.

Even after users point out we pay for cable, he/she still insists we are getting something for free.

See:
Rich, Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 11:32am

Yeah, but TV is no longer free. I pay $100 for cable. I shouldn’t have to sit through ads!

Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2011 @ 11:40am

Turn on your TV. That is the free content you are getting with these ads.

So just because he is “well spoken” or “civil” does not mean he is not just trolling, and should not be called out.

Sorry if my abrasiveness offends… gotta go.

anonymous says:

Re: Re:

people dont have to sit through adverts. it isn’t a legal obligation. most times when people want to make a coffee or go for a pee, it happens when the adverts are on, not when the program or film is on. further, just because people have the option of skipping the adverts, doesn’t mean they always do. it doesn’t mean that the adverts are not there. so, regardless of whether they are watched or not, payment is still made for having the adverts included.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s funny, but when i PAY money to watch TV, i don’t feel obligated to further supplement their earnings by watching commercials.

Personally there are only ever a few shows out that i’d be watching on a regular basis. I can buy the box sets brand new for a lot less than it would cost me to watch them on cable. Not only that but there are NO commercials. So basically, it’s cheaper to stamp them onto a DVD and ship physical copies all over the country than it is to transmit them over a wire, and that’s without counting the money they make from commercials.

Yea, i have no sympathy for the cable cos having to restructure their commercial programming…

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I know this is old already in today’s net but here goes:

Look at your comment, now back to mine. Now back at your comment now back to mine. Sadly it isn?t mine, but if you stopped babbling and started posting thoughtful comments it could look like mine. Look down, back up, where are you? You?re scrolling through comments, writing the comment your comment could look like. What did you post? Back at mine, it?s a reply saying something intelligently. Look again the reply is now rated funny. Anything is possible when you think before you post.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> Almost everyone I know uses DVRs in some
> manner, and the most common popular
> feature is the “skip ahead 30 seconds”
> button.

Why is it that people continue to act like commercial-skipping was invented by the DVR?

I, along with everyone else I know, was recording shows and skipping commercials with my VCR for twenty years before the DVR emerged onto the scene.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> because there is clearly harm done, and
> people are clearly using the technology
> to avoid the parts that pay for the content
> to be created.

I hate to break the news to you, but for most people, a commercial break is equivalent to a bathroom break if they don’t have a VCR or a DVR. They get up and do other things– use the restroom, make a sandwich, fold some laundry, whatever. Either that or they do what I do when I’m in a hotel and can’t FFW: I hit the mute button and read a book for a few minutes.

Unless you’re also suggesting we outlaw the ability of people to mute their TVs or make it illegal to leave the room during a commercial break, the practical reality is that people are (and always will) “avoid the parts that pay for the content to be created”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: You've uncovered 'The Brain's' plan (don't tell Pinky)

Obviously you’ve uncovered the real intended purpose of all the camera’s being attached to TV’s these days (Kinect, etc).

Once all TV’s have a camera allowing the TV to watch the customer, commercials will pause when nobody is watching… Get up to go to the bathroom, the commercial will pause until you return and then resume your programming….

Decide to pull out a book during the commercial… TV detects eyes not directed at it and pauses the commercial until the viewer is looking back at the TV…

Of course this will be sold as a ‘benefit’ for the customer… Don’t you hate when you have to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of a show? New TViewU (patent pending) will pause the show until you return. Ever glanced away for a minute and missed that important part of the show…. TViewU will pause whenever it detects that the eyes in the room are not directed at it’s programming.

TViewU… by Big Brother, next time you’re watching TV, just remember we’re watching you 😉

Total Sarcasm, but anyone using this idea must license it from me for only $1 (per viewer, per eye, per month) or a one time licensing fee of only 1 Bazillion dollars….

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> Almost everyone I know uses DVRs in some
> manner, and the most common popular
> feature is the “skip ahead 30 seconds”
> button.

What does that have to do with copyright? Skipping an ad is not a copyright violation and since the Betamax case was an issue of copyright, ad-skipping wouldn’t have been considered by the court in a copyright case even if it had been a recognized use for the technology at the time.

Failboat says:

Re: Re:

What you state is not 100% true. I know enough people that will enjoy a show to the point where they watch the live broadcast rather than wait till it has aired and then pass through the commercials. If creators can make content drawing enough people will do as they normally did and get up for the bathroom and snacks during the commercial breaks like they were originally intended.

Jason says:

Re: The Giant Anonymous Coward

And there he is. The idiotic industry shill that never uses his real name and parrots the MPAA party line.

Give it up. Its clear you work for either the recording or movie industry. No real person could possible swallow all the garbage that the content industry spews out.

Look, I depend on the internet for my job. The crap they movie and record industry wants to do will jeopardize the stability of the internet. They’re claiming that their profits are more important that the stability of an industry that DWARFS them in size.

As far as I’m concerned they, and you, can go to hell.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So… you’re saying that you would want to willingly give up the video, DVD, DVR, streaming and download markets because some people pirate over the internet? Because the industry is no longer predicated on theatrical releases and they lack the control the studio system once had? OMG! People no longer use their TVs in the same way as they did in the 50s! Disaster!

I really, really hope you’;re not actually part of this industry. If you are, you’re a moron who’s apparently willing to give up massive profits on some misguided “moral” crusade.

Scooters (profile) says:

“An entire new category soon took over: home movie viewing (and renting).”
There’s the “and rental store ruination” missing from this, since it’s Hollywood’s ridiculous scheming which killed off legal businesses trying to help it.

Perhaps this should be a focus, that piracy isn’t what killed Blockbuster, limits Netflix and other streaming services, and illegal actions taken against startups like Redbox?

Dang. I couldn’t keep a straight face while typing this.

AJ (profile) says:

It really does seem like the AA’s are suicidal doesn’t it? How many other industries spend so much time and money trying to convince politicians that their customers are thief’s? What other industries spend so much time and money trying to destroy the very technologies that make them billions?

It’s like hanging off a cliff with a rope, then chewing on the rope because it’s tasty and your hungry. Sure, you may get a full belly, but at what cost? Why not just climb up the rope and order a pizza? Damn.. Sorry about the food analogy…it’s lunch time and I’m starving…

AC says:

Be careful Mike, this one has me heading back toward the fence. From the way I see it after reading the post, it would seem as if the two situations aren’t as similar as they seem on the surface.

The VCR would be today’s internet connected device, and the ‘rogue site’ would be like a video store that was providing it’s customers access to pirated tapes. No one is talking about branding computers & smart phones et al as “dedicated to infringement” (I’m sure some want to, but that’s not what the bill is talking about)…just some of the sites people may try to visit. Seems to me the argument should really be about due process, no?

I’m sure I’ve got this all twisted up in my head, and even more sure the folks ’round here will set me straight…so I’ll look forward to that. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Studios and labels one day may find themselves also liable for their musicians and actors actions.

And people will use the same idiotic argument that you people are trying to use, that crime should not be tolerated and other people should take responsability for the act of others.

Sure when the studios stop financing drugs, murderers, pedophiles and a lot whole other set of crimes first then I will believe it.

What happened to that dude who had the dogs fighting? or that lady caught shoplifting in Bervely Hills?

Did Visa stop doing business with a well know pedophile who took of to Europe and happens to be and award winning film director?

Those are real crimes and those people keep finding work how?

The labels and studios should be forced to stop financing those people shouldn’t they?

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The VCR would be today’s internet connected device, and the ‘rogue site’ would be like a video store that was providing it’s customers access to pirated tapes.

Close, but not quite. I’d change it to:

The VCR would be today’s internet connected device, and the ‘rogue site’ would be like the Yellow Pages which listed the address of a flea market where some of the tapes sold by some of the vendors were pirated copies.

(With the implication being that the flea market should be shut down if it doesn’t have the resources to affirmatively comb through the inventories of the millions of merchants that set up tables there daily, and that the Yellow Pages are criminally complicit if they don’t de-list the flea market from their directory immediately.)

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your analogy is not quite finished.
With the private right to action…let’s pretend the flea marketeers all used credit cards instead of hard cash. With just one complaint to the payment processors, they lose the ability to make an income. Now suddenly, they’re unable to sell their goods. Said goods can now only be obtained brand new from the original manufacturers. Thus, we have arrived at the classic monopoly situation, but much worse than that, it is now just one small step from having the words “It is illegal to be in competition with the big corporations” rubber stamped in to law.

AC says:

Re: Re: Re:

Thanks Chris, turns out the fence I saw was just a mirage.

Come to think of it now, I guess you could also go from Yellow Pages to anyone that ever mentions (or is accused of mentioning) the existence of the flea market as well.

One thing though…”millions of merchants that set up tables daily”…Wow! I’d like to see that flea market! 🙂

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“a video store that was providing it’s customers access to pirated tapes.”

They did. I remember getting pirated copy of E.T. from a video store as a kid. Of course, that stopped when the film was legally available…

“just some of the sites people may try to visit”

…which all provide perfectly legal content and provide a non-**AA way to promote works.

“Seems to me the argument should really be about due process, no?”

That’s certainly a part of it (which has been discussed many times), but far from the full story.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

“Once the court finally declared VCRs legal, suddenly the movie industry exploded. With this new method of video distribution, the entire movie business was reinvented in a good way.”

That is why I say give them the laws they want. In the end it removes the distribution channels they will need to survive. It wakes up the multi trillion dollar tech industry. And it pisses off half the worlds population.

rubberpants says:

Re: Re:

It occurs to me that the modern contest distribution business is like the Titanic. They didn’t see the Internet iceberg until it was too late, and now that they have they are so bloated with entrenched interests, contracts, and committees that they can’t steer the ship quickly enough to avoid it even if they wanted to. The strategy they’ve taken at this point have everyone stand on the deck and pray for rescue while the richest guys get to the lifeboats before the ships goes down.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It occurs to me that the modern contest distribution business is like the Titanic. They didn’t see the Internet iceberg until it was too late, and now that they have they are so bloated with entrenched interests, contracts, and committees that they can’t steer the ship quickly enough to avoid it even if they wanted to.

Hm, if the Titanic had kept forward power while turning it might have missed the iceberg. Reversing to slow down while turning made it worse. Maybe the same thing applies to your analogy.

Trails (profile) says:

I'd like to commission an editorial cartoon

Unfortunately I can’t draw for shit, but It’d look something like this:

A man, clearly crazed and sporting army surplus gear, labelled “MPAA & RIAA” points a bazooka labelled “Compliant Congress” with a shell labelled “SOPA” at a mosquito labelled “copyright infringement”. Mosquito is in amongst flowers labelled “free speech”, “culture” and “open exchange of ideas”, all of these growing out of the ground, labelled internet.

PlagueSD says:

What would the movie business be like today, if the MPAA had succeeded in banning the VCR?

Ohh!! Ohh!! I know!! (raises hand)

There wouldn’t be an MPAA as they would have gone out of business a long time ago.

If that’s the case, I’d have to agree with Hephaestus. Let them pass the law. Then we can all point and laugh at them when they do end up going bankrupt.

anonymous says:

i hate to say it but i am pretty sure the new bill will pass. that is gonna do exactly what the entertainment industries want now and also achieve what they didn’t back then. i still say it will be a good thing, simply because after it happens and everything goes to rat shit, the cost to the rest of the country will be enormous. the cost of trying to mend all that gets broken will be even greater, if it can be mended at all! unfortunately, it is going to take this monumental fuck up before those in power see the error of their ways.

John Doe says:

Lets look at all the things that we wouldn't have

Lets expand this mental exercise by looking at all the things that we wouldn’t have if the gatekeepers/Luddites had their way:

Player Piano
Phonograph
Radio
Photocopier (think sheet music reproduction)
Cassette tapes
VHS
CD-R
DVD-R
DVR
MP3’s and their players
eBooks and their readers
Digital entertainment of any kind (music, movies, books)
Netflix
half or more of the current existing internet sites (YouTube, eBay, Craigslist, file lockers, streaming radio stations, etc)
???

Please add to the list as I am sure this is anywhere but complete.

After listing all the devices and technologies that we wouldn’t have, think about the industries and jobs built around those technologies that we wouldn’t have. Think about what life would be like without even one of those items listed much less all of them. Then ask yourself, do we really think the new law will be beneficial to anyone at all, even the gatekeepers? Even more importantly, do we really want the gatekeepers determining what we can and cannot have as a society?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Lets look at all the things that we wouldn't have

Lets expand this mental exercise by looking at all the things that we wouldn’t have if the gatekeepers/Luddites had their way:

Technology/content we wouldn’t have, with who would like to have killed it in parentheses:

Books (scribes)
Movies (theater)
TV (radio)
Satellite radio (terrestrial radio)
CD and DVD ripping software (copyright holders)

Seems like I forgot another one…

The Logician says:

Curiously enough, movie trailers and previews today still use the line “only in theaters” as if it’s still true. It is not. Anyone who understands the reality of today’s technology knows that such films are most definitely not just “only in theaters” but often found online before they even begin showing at the theaters. Originally leaked, more often than not, by industry insiders. Pretending what is reality is not is merely self-imposed ignorance. A most irrational behavior, yet not unexpected when observing those who oppose technological progress and freedom of expression.

Eric (profile) says:

Valenti's metaphor

I’ve always thought the VCR metaphor was completely wrong, but then I finally thought to read about the Boston Strangler, and now it occurs to me that Mr. Valenti’s metaphor is actually astonishingly apt. The Boston Strangler killed 13 women between 1962 and 1964, when the population of Boston was nearly 700,000. So the VCR was to the American film producer (at least) as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone: paranoid and certain of a horrible, messy death because of alarmist, baseless news stories, and yet in truth is, statistically at least, perfectly safe in her own home.

hmm (profile) says:

Well

So they’re going to cut off funding for DVD systems? that includes manufacture of players AND original discs.

Because an Original DVD can be used to burn multiple copies of a movie (and a DVD player can be used to playback such movies or heavens-forbid to play an original disc to a large number of people), therefore under e-parasite its an item that ‘aids’ infringement.

Far safer to just have a movie shown ONCE in theatres and then locked away safely (in a safe) forever……..

darryl says:

Mike plays Crystal Ball history rewiting with "WHAT IF's"

Trying to second guess history !!!!

Geeez,

Mike “What IF,,, history was different…. “

when will you EVER UNDERSTAND that it is about the content not the formal.

No one really gives a stuff about ‘format’ or the technology, everyone cares about THE CONTENT.

It does not matter if it is a VCR, CD, hard drive or whatever.
If what is on that media (the content)is crap no one will want it.

If what is on that media is the latest blockbuster movie, then you may want that CONTENT.

The media changes with technology and TIME, the media has had little effect on content. It has had an effect of how easy it is to illegally gain access to that content.

The movie industry is not big or successful because of the type of media, it is for the value of it’s content.

The “media” CD, DVD, VCR, NET, whatever is just the ‘transmission’ medium for the CONTENT.

If you got no content, you can have all the media you want.

Losts of people do, lots of people had blank DVD’s and CD’s they are of little value, they only gain value when the media is filled with CONTENT.

Put a good movie on a DVD and you have copied THE CONTENT, which if copyrighted, and you dont own the COPY RIGHT, then you have NO RIGHT TO COPY IT.

Who cares what the media for that is employed, it is the act of copying the content that is illegal, not the act of having the ability to copy content.

You are allowed to own and use data storage and recording technology, you ARE NOT ALLOWED to use that technology for illegal means.

Just as you might be allowed to own and drive a car, but you are not allowed to do anything illegal with that car.

Mike, trying to ‘predict the present’ by re-writing history (not even accurate history) makes you look very foolish.

Mike how are you so ignorant between the issues regarding media and content ?

It appears you are trying to apply the argument of:

The technology made me do it!

That is what you appear to be espousing, that “If we can do it, therefore we have a right TO DO IT”.

Sure, you can drive you car over the speed limit, but you do not have a right to do it.

Mike, switch your “crystal Balls” to “Future” and not “PAST”…….

Prisoner 201 says:

Math

How many people can you squeeze into theaters per evening?
How many homes have VCRs?

If the number of VCR owners is significantly higher than the available thater seats, then it means you can sell more viewing experiences with VCRs than without.

If we add DVD players, BlueRay, computer streaming and digital products, the math becomes even more obvious.

What is the bigger market – the people you can fit into movie salons or anyone with a VCR, DVD, BR or computer?.

The media industry needs to embrace the supermarket paradigm of small profit margins and lots and lots of sales.

darryl says:

Re: Math

media Vs Content

How many people can watch a movie ?

How many people can watch a movie that has not been created yet ?

are you saying that lots of people do not pay for media content. (movies).

Do you think supermarkets have a small profit margin ?

What if supermarkets are selling movies ?

If someone spends $10 million dollars to have a movie made do you think they intend to sell that movie to one or a few people ?

Say 10 people for $1.1Mil each giving him 10% profit, would you pay $1.1 Mil for a DVD of a movie ?

Somewhere, somehow, by someone, has to PAY FOR THE CREATION AND production of the movie.

That is not the media, the media might be film, tape, video, DVD, IMAX, whatever that is the media.

You can have all the ‘media’ you want (blank DVD’s) but without that person who is willing to risk $10 million dollars to create a movie. All the media in the world is not going to create it for you.

If he decides not to create that movie, you WILL NEVER SEE IT ON ANY FREAKING MEDIA. It wont exist.

You therefore have NOTHING to put on your new blank DVD.

When you buy a DVD player, or a CD player or a VCR do you honestly think movies (content) just magically appears on your blank tapes ??

Or because you buy a DVD recorder, do you think therefore there is no longer a need for people to invest in the creation of content ?

Lets say you own a car…

does owning that car give you the right to steal the gas for it ?

After all a car is useless without fuel.

The car is a blank DVD or VCR tape, the FUEL is the CONTENT.
One is useless without the other.

You can have the best car in the world, and even one that self replicates, but without the gas to make it usefull it is just a lump of steal and plastic.

“the media” is the nature and format that the CONTENT comes in”.

Media can be tape, CD’s DVD, NET, TV, Radio, Movies, Film, wax rolls, records, print.

That’s MEDIA….

CONTENT:

IS what you put ON THE MEDIA.

Have no content ??? then all the media formats in the world are not going to help you….

It’s very simple:

Masnick, is trying to convince you it is ALL ABOUT the media format, and nothing to do with the CONTENT

When in actual fact it is ALL ABOUT THE CONTENT, and almost nothing to do with the media.

The specific form of media changes with time and technology, the CONTENT does not change, it stays the same but can be on different media.

Ie, you can put a very old movie of a DVD, it does not change the movie at all, you have not changed the CONTENT, you have changed only the media..

Masnick, why are you trying to decieve you less bright readers ?

Masnick, I have a million blank DVD’s here, please explain how I can apply CwF+RtB to allow me to sell those blank DVD’s ?

what would you say “put an add on google” and make the price cheaper.

Add on google (connect with fans)
Low price (reason to buy?)

or would you say that I would tell the people that the blank DVD’s can have illegal movies put on them therefore after THAT HAPPENS you have a “reason to buy”.

So their reason to buy is that you told them with black DVD’s you can copy CONTENT ?

I have allready explained to you how stupid and flawed CwF+RtB is. I know you had to make it very simplistic for the level of your base of worshipers.

But you propose you have studied economics !!!! REALLY !!!!

What happend ??? how did you lose even the most basic and fundamental concepts of economics ???? HOW..

Either your stupid or lying, which is it ?

darryl says:

Re: Re:

why has this not got to the USA yet because you backwards, slow and it is clear from this web site and mikes comments that there is a large group of people in the US who believes stealing content is a RIGHT…

We’ve had NET streaming of our Free to air stations for years here in Australia. If you miss a program that you wanted to watch, you just get on the web and watch it there !!

Get with the times USA !!!!

You know here in Australia, we are a demographic population, quite often new release movies will be released here in Aus before released in the States to test market appeal of the movie.

So quite often we get the latest movies well before the US even knows about them, or before it is released in the US.

K.E.Mort (profile) says:

The ACs are so sad.

The content on my TV isn’t free. Not by a long shot.

Comcast inks a deal with content owners to provide said content on its network. Comcast then recoups that cost by charging me a monthly fee.

There is no free now matter how hard you want it to be.

If you’re looking at this as only an over the air discussion then fine you’d be correct 20 years ago, but that’s not how it is today, sorry. The content is paid for. Many times over as it turns out.

I can watch HBO series and get no commercials. I can listen to my Sirius radio and get no commercials. Somehow they all survive. Shocking.

Look, people hate change as a general rule especially when it threatens a comfortable existence. Business is no different. The MPAA and their members need to compete and evolve. Arguing now that the VCR decision was wrong, please, the motion picture industry would be nowhere they are now without the home rental market they so feared and then wildly profited off of.

Why did there need to be subsidy paid to the recording and motion picture business on blank media…just in case it was used for piracy? Remember they wanted the same of hard disk drives? Seriously. The industry can survive. It can be as popular and profitable as ever, but it has to learn to evolve, and it doesn’t want to.

I personally have no stomach for regulation being created to buoy an industry that refuses to innovate and evolve. Just like the buggy whip industry. Evolve or die. That’s how this works. There is no entitlement to profit or survival as a business. You earn it. Artists get that. The MPAA companies and RIAA companies don’t. Simple as that.

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