Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt
from the another-week-another-set-of-comments dept
Taking the gold this week in the “insightful” category by a wide, wide margin, was a short comment by Marcus Carab, which was actually a reply in a thread a few Re’s deep (which is odd — since most comments that win for “insightful” are thread starters, not replies). Since it was a thread, it requires a bit of an explanation. On our post about the hubris of a Viacom exec suggesting that there are no First Amendment issues with SOPA because it’s “pretty easy” to tell what’s an infringing site, we noted that this seemed kinda laughable, seeing as Viacom itself failed that very test in its lawsuit again YouTube, and had included hundreds of videos that it had uploaded itself, claiming they were “infringing.” One of our usual critics retorted that this didn’t excuse any infringement, and that was the comment that Marcus responded to:
No, but it sort of shatters every single argument about how SOPA will only target illegal content, doesn’t it?
Short, sweet, and to the point. This is the problem. Supporters of SOPA think that they don’t make mistakes on this. Everyone else has seen them regularly make mistakes.
Coming in second is another short comment, this one from an Anonymous Coward, pointing out one of the ridiculous outcomes of the SOPA debate:
It is an absolute travesty that we’ve reached a point where the DCMA is pointed to as a reasonable piece of legislation.
I actually had this discussion with a few people this week, and it’s worth pointing out a few caveats. It’s only one specific piece of the DMCA that people are now pointing out is reasonable: the safe harbors. Most of us still agree the rest of the DMCA is horrible. And the safe harbors were something that the tech industry fought really, really hard to get into the bill, because they were not there at all in the beginning. It’s unfortunate that we now shorthand the good of the safe harbors as suggesting that the wider DMCA was “a reasonable piece of legislation.” But, seeing as SOPA seeks to basically decimate those safe harbors, it’s how the debate goes these days.
For editor’s choice this week, I just couldn’t narrow it down to two, so we’re going with three. First up, is DannyB, explaining the economics of regional restrictions and why they work in monopolized markets:
The regions and territories is a mechanism dreamed up to maximize profits at a time when there was monopoly control of the distribution channel.
You point out the obviousness of how consumers don’t care about regions and territories and the internet breaks these down.
But what doesn’t seem so obvious is that regions and territories actually work! — if you have and maintain a monopoly. You point out that if you don’t like Lowes, then you’ll go to Home Depot. What is not pointed out is that with music, you don’t have a Home Depot alternative. You can buy from Lowes, under their terms, or not buy. Take it or leave it.
If a Home Depot competitor emerges, then a bogyman must be invented to control it. I will expand upon your example of the unlicensed hammers from Home Depot. Lowes will complain bitterly and get new laws on the books. After all, we can’t have just anyone buying unlicensed hammers. Hammers are a destructive and dangerous weapon. You could kill someone with a hammer. A child could drop it on their foot or otherwise hurt themselves. Think of the children! People wanting to buy a hammer must undergo a background check and RIAA approved invasive patdown. The manufacture and distribution of hammers must be licensed, in a way that makes it burdensome or simply infeasible for smaller competitors to enter the market.
I will agree that movies are big capital intensive creations, I write software for a living and although it isn’t nearly on the same level, it does give me some insight. Years ago we stopped seeing pirates as people and more as a force of nature. You will never eliminate piracy just like you will never eliminate any crime. You can simply reduce it by using a bit of human psychology. In the software world this has been tried with varying degrees of success using intrusive DRM all the way to simple guilt.
For some of my consulting gigs, there is a direct correspondence to how often our software gets downloaded on TPB (for instance) and how many sales we experience.
Admittedly it’s a little different for your industry (I’m assuming you work in the movie business). The difference is cultural, we have been sharing culture in the form of art, music, and performance for as long as culture has existed. To suddenly try and call it a moral and ethical crime is not going to work, you simply cannot fight hundreds of thousands of years of human nature.
My honest advice to you and others in your field is:
Understand that copyright is NOT a natural right, it is a contract between yourselves and society. We give you a TEMPORARY monopoly on distribution and you give back to the public domain. You have not been fulfilling your end of the bargain so please don’t act surprised when society begins to lose respect for copyright.
Give the public what they want and stop trying to stifle the future. You had been living in a golden age for the last 80 years, you may have to do with less profits. Don’t think of the present as a time of austerity, think of the past as a time of prosperity. Work with Netflix and give the public a low-cost alternative to piracy. Understand that you used to be able to charge an arm and a leg for entertainment, you cannot realistically expect that to continue in the light of technological advances.
The world, she sure is changing. And, along those lines, our final editor’s choice comes from an Anonymous Coward, responding to the news of Viacom’s CEO getting $50 million in stock option compensation this year, raising a rather obvious question:
$50 million would create a thousand $50K jobs. Is piracy really killing jobs or are executive bonuses?
Just a bit sobering. So, with that, let’s jump over to the laughs. Leading the pack was the Anonymous Coward who put the end of EMI into a little ditty (you know the tune…):
Four major labels, complaining about free,
One defaults on debt, and then there were three.
Coming in second, was Jason Still, responding to someone defending a lack of due process in SOPA to the fact that police lock up those charged with murder before they’re tried. Jason broke out the sarcasm:
You’re right, copyright infringement and murder are INCREDIBLY SIMILAR! And since the solution to stop infringement seems to be “skip the legal system, I say they infringed so they automatically lose their hosting, domain names, etc” the same solution will clearly work with murder. We’re going to save millions in court costs! What method of execution would you prefer when I notify the authorities that you may have murdered 77 people?
As for editor’s choice, we’ve got an Anonymous Coward helpfully explaining SOPA to me in one sentence:
Copyright infringement is bad because it’s illegal and it’s illegal because it’s bad, therefore the internet must be more like television.
Makes about as much sense as anything I’ve heard from anyone officially supporting the bill. At the very least, it seems more honest.
I can’t help but think that if or when marijuana is legalized, we will have to contend with “Home gardeners are killing the marijuana industry”
And, on that note, don’t do anything at home this weekend. You might just be killing some important industry. But, when you’re done doing that, come on back and join us this week for some more spirited discussions…