Writers Guild Realizing That SOPA Goes Too Far; Union Support For Censoring The Internet Begins To Crack

from the well,-look-at-that dept

Supporters of SOPA have been trying really, really hard to pretend that this bill is a “jobs bill.” They keep touting the “union support.” They try to downplay that the bill is really designed mainly to protect the big Hollywood studios from having to innovate (while their execs take home record salaries and the industry itself brings in record box office revenues). But it appears that the unions — even those representing content creators — are realizing that supporting legislation that props up the giant gatekeepers isn’t in their best interests either. The Writers Guild of America West recently made the rounds on Capitol Hill to talk about a number of issues. On the list? How SOPA will do more harm than good:

On the House side, Keyser and Barrios met with Reps. Henry Waxman, Howard Berman, and Janice Hahn. They thanked Waxman for his strong support of Guild issues and discussed concerns with the recently introduced Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Because Berman is a co-sponsor of SOPA, the pair discussed their concerns with the bill?s implications for competition and an open Internet. Although the WGAW strongly supports combating piracy, the competition, First Amendment, and due process concerns the bill creates must be addressed.

It seems that the folks who represent content creators are recognizing that SOPA goes against their own best interests as well. By setting up a system that props up the gatekeepers, rather than encouraging new tools and services that help content creators directly, laws like SOPA don’t actually help the creative community at all. It’s nice to see that WGAW recognizes this, and don’t be surprised if other groups of content creators start realizing the same thing pretty quickly.

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Comments on “Writers Guild Realizing That SOPA Goes Too Far; Union Support For Censoring The Internet Begins To Crack”

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58 Comments
John Doe says:

What are the odds SOPA gets through?

So after all the people and groups have come out against SOPA, what are the odds it gets passed in its current form? I hope slim. If not, then we need to seriously re-examine what is going on in Washington, not that we don’t need to do that anyway. If a very small, very specialized, gatekeeper industry can have this much pull then something is seriously wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

The likelihood that is passes is quite high, because in the end the potential benefits to the IP economy are higher than the downside risks. The IP economy is big, and getting bigger, and the US is in weak enough economic shape as to not to want to miss out any potential income.

Smart players against the bill would let it pass, and then set up test cases that can lock it in court for years, making it hard to enforce.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

I agree, the likelyhood of SOPA and PIPA passing are high. The problems I see are all the afore mentioned ones having to do with the constitutionality of the act-bill, the privacy issues, the surveillance issues, and the unintended consequences. The unintended consequenses are the ones that concern me, as the other issues will push IP and copyright into the political arena over the next election cycle or two. You already see some senators and congress critters waking up to this issue.

The unintended consequences are many. The expansion of the use of digital currencies like bit coin. The creation of new distributed tools for sharing of information. The creation of distributed, anonymous, untraceable, non-removable, websites. Think WikiLeaks on steroids, Drugs, CP, etc and you get the picture. The people pushing this think it will calm the ‘Wild West’ of the internet, it will do the opposite, and over a rather short period of time.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What are the odds SOPA gets through?

a motion to unlock your device! Claimed!

Yes, you’re right. Still I wouldn’t call that “IP economy” unless… ooooh so that’s why there are a lot of patent trolls. The US needs the money from them to prop up their failing economy. That explains it. Good luck East Texas, you’re going to need a bigger (publicly funded) courthouse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

The supposed calamities that would happen when this bill passes are the most hilarious and hysterical lies I’ve ever seen on the web.

Pirate sites that can’t come up with legal business models will suffer. They need to adapt or die.

For everyone else, life will go on exactly as before.

And *we* will all say, “I told you so”, and *you* will all be the boy who cried wolf, with no one ever paying attention to you again.

yeeeaaaaahhhh says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What are the odds SOPA gets through?

fun fact: according to the RIAA singing a song in public *not even a concert or anything* is a violation of copyright. one group even tried to pass a law that makes ringtones a public performance.

you know why you and the rest of the leeches in the entertainment industry need to buy laws? becuase your troll logic is the worst ever. yeah i really trust you people to police the internet.

but what else did i expect from people that sue dying kids with luekimia for miollions of dollers?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

The IP economy is big, and getting bigger,….

IP economy? What exactly is that? The less than one half of one percent of the GDP belonging to “motion picture and sound recording industries”? Or the less than 3% of the GDP when you combine the above with “broadcasting and telecommunications”.

Wow, if that is your definition of “big” I feel sorry for your significant other.

Source:
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0670.pdf

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

IP is the dominant force in the American economy.

You can’t just say you’re going to protect some IP, and let pilfering of other IP go unchecked.

That makes for a lawless society and never lasts very long.

That is exactly why the 2000s are referred to as the Wild West days of the web.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What are the odds SOPA gets through?

IP is the dominant force in the American economy.

Why do you keep repeating that? According to the stats provided in my link you are off by a huge margin. These so called IP industries are actually a relatively small part of the overall economy. Do you have some kind of proof to back up your assertion?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

Sorry, but I don’t see a lot of benefit to the economy from these bills. The simple fact is most Americans pay more attention to American Idol and Dancing with the Stars than they do politics, and many people have never even heard of SOPA or PIPA, much less what they do. And I can tell you that the vast majority of people who do become aware of it are not at all happy, and much less inclined to spend their money on the entertainment industry.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

Will I have to repeat my post that shows that MAFIAA doesn’t make it to the top 10 companies in value in the US and that all those that are in the tech business (patents, IP any1?) don’t support this insanity and those companies together have a market value that exceeds 1 trillion? Just take 1 search to find it.

This bill is supported by the entertainment industry ONLY. not by the entirety of the IP sector.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

Will I have to repeat my post that shows that MAFIAA doesn’t make it to the top 10 companies in value in the US and that all those that are in the tech business (patents, IP any1?) don’t support this insanity and those companies together have a market value that exceeds 1 trillion? Just take 1 search to find it.

This bill is supported by the entertainment industry ONLY. not by the entirety of the IP sector.

After the manager’s amendment, the ISP’s are on board. Do they count?

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

“The IP economy is big, and getting bigger,”

Even if I accept this assertion, and I don’t, these bills seek to support a very, very, very minor player in the IP field and one that hasn’t contributed anything new to it in years, unless you want to count the Sony rootkit.

The tech sector has come out firmly against these bills and they rely far more heavily on IP than Hollywood does and contribute a few hundred orders of magnitude more to the GDP and to the job market than Hollywood does or can.

Creator unions and representatives are coming out against these bills and they are certainly far more creative in everything but dodgy accounting practices than the higher ups in Hollywood are.

If the intent is to protect intellectual property within the borders of the United States I’m certain they’ll backfire and badly needlessly criminalizing people, imposing censorship and so on while doing less than nothing to stop what they claim to stop.

In the meantime they’ll damage American competitiveness in the sense that some speech and sharing will be illegal in the USA while, ironically, be legal and open in, say, China who will move smartly forward in that area and outgrow the US.

That already seems to be happening, if one goes by patent registrations in that for the first time 2010 saw China, Japan, Brazil, India, Taiwan and, for heaven’s sake, the home of tangled, cobwebbed bureaucracy, the EU accept more patent applications that the United States did. (Keeping in mind, as well, that patent rules in those countries tend to be lot tighter than in the United States.) (I’m relying on news reports for this so take it with a grain of salt.)

What that tells me is that the USA is already missing out on potential income and possibly real income in terms of goods and services.

All SOPA/PIPA will accomplish is to continue this decline while providing welfare assistance to a particular industry that contributes diddly squat to the US economy. And don’t get me started on their “creativity”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

Creator unions and representatives are coming out against these bills and they are certainly far more creative in everything but dodgy accounting practices than the higher ups in Hollywood are.

Let’s see, unions for:

AFL-CIO
AFM
AFTRA
DGA
IATSE
SAG
TEAMSTERS

Against:
Writer’s Guild of America-West

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What are the odds SOPA gets through?

I’d say the odds are pretty good it will pass. Regardless of what your Pelosis, your Rieds, your Gingriches say, their actions have shown that the legacy politicians have stopped caring a long long time ago. Sure, they’ll talk the talk about how this bill could be bad, they might even throw a few people “under the bus” (or a few might go willingly, like your Chris Dodds and move on to very lucrative industry jobs) to preserve the “integrity” of the whole. As long as Congress, as a whole, can keep getting the majority of their legacy politicians reelected, bills like this have a very uphill battle to get defeated.

Anonymous Coward says:

If neither side strongly supports or opposes something but lobbyists strongly support it then expect it to pass John Doe.

The best way to stop SOPA would ironically be the democrats strongly coming out in support of the bill, which would make the house suddenly refuse to even vote on SOPA, and would cause the bill to be filibustered in the senate. Why, because republicans have to oppose anything Obama/democrats are for.

Republicans strongly supporting SOPA would also likely kill it. The house would pass it, and Reid would refuse to even bring it to a vote in the Senate, or would bring it to a vote knowing that it’ll lose just to show republicans that it can’t pass the senate.

If you doubt me then look at the payroll taxcut fight going on right now. Republicans always support tax cuts, except when Obama & democrats support it, like the payroll tax cut being discussed.

The pharmacy lobbyists know this as well, there was part of Obama’s healthcare law (I forget what part) that big pharma wanted removed from the bill that a lot of democrats had opposed when the healthcare law was written. Big pharma lobbyists told Republicans not to go on a public rampage demonizing that provision and blaming it on Obama, republicans demonized it and Obama for signing it into law anyway, and dozens of democrats who had previously voiced opposition to the provision voted against repealing the provision when the House voted on it months ago, and Reid refused to even hold a vote on it.

So the moral of the story? If we want to kill SOPA we just need to convince one political party to strongly support SOPA. The other party will reflexively strongly oppose SOPA and block it from ever becoming law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So the moral of the story? If we want to kill SOPA we just need to convince one political party to strongly support SOPA. The other party will reflexively strongly oppose SOPA and block it from ever becoming law.

While you might be right, it’s too late. PROTECT IP ‘s 41 cosponsors are split almost down the middle. SOPA’s 32 sponsors leans more toward the Republican side but the unions are delivering Democrats. This Congress has been under withering criticism over its inability to work together to pass meaningful legislation. Everyone on the Hill depicts it as a jobs bill; and because jobs are front burner and to counter the loud criticism, this bill will fly through to prove to the country that they can work together to address job creation. Hearing begins tomorrow at 10 a.m and will be webcast. Techdirt will CwF by offering special, commemorative crying towels.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Techdirt will CwF by offering special, commemorative crying towels.”

Ah yes, isn’t that the same comment you were throwing around what was it, like 2 or 3 weeks ago?

What happened?

Oh that’s right, you were wrong and the bill didn’t pass like you said it would when you said it would.

What happened then? You came to this site every day since ACTUALLY CRYING (and pissing and moaning) and doing the same ol’ same ol’. Will we never be rid of you? What will it take to be rid of you?

If I say “better business model” again do you promise to leave like OotB? Better business model!

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

I'm wondering

Everyone who goes before a politician has some long winded way of saying anything.

“Although the WGAW strongly supports combating piracy, the competition, First Amendment, and due process concerns the bill creates must be addressed.”

Wouldn’t it be way easier to understand if they said “This is a bad bill and needs to be stopped”? It’s just like writing a thesis, you don’t dive straight into detail, you give an overview at the beginning.

Joe Publius (profile) says:

Re: I'm wondering

Wouldn’t it be way easier to understand if they said “This is a bad bill and needs to be stopped”? It’s just like writing a thesis, you don’t dive straight into detail, you give an overview at the beginning.

I think it’s a business writing thing. As contradictory as it sounds, being wordy can be confused with eloquence. I often have to write things twice when I’m working, the second time just to simplify my purple prose.

Not that it worked in this instance.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

It has always struck me as odd that the people who are supporting censorship for the last several years are artists and organizations that purport to represent artists. This has been true since Napster; most of the measures that have been put forward to block unauthorized copying have had strong censorship implications. Most of the methods put forward could be turned against the artists themselves very easily. SOPA and Protect IP are worse than most, but they are not the first.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

When even your friends think you've gone too far...

I think the -AAs thought they had everything wrapped up, what with their large amounts of money, powerful lobbyists and a million special interest groups aligning with their plans.

And now that it’s all starting to unravel, SOPA is beginning to resemble something cooked up at the office over a pile of cocaine. It’s got that blend of confidence and paranoia that seems to be in abundance during brainstorming sessions involving the devil’s non-dairy creamer (or whatever the kids are calling it these days).

SOPA isn’t just a regular big idea. It’s “cocaine big.”

Richard (profile) says:

John Milton opposes SOPA

In breaking news, just 360 years old, the poet John Milton has come out in opposition to SOPA!

“It would be better done to learn that the law must needs be frivolous which goes to restrain things, uncertainly and yet equally working to good, and to evill. And were I the chooser, a dram of well-doing should be preferr’d before many times as much the forcible hindrance of evill-doing.”

From Areopagita.

Anonymous Coward says:

Union "support" for PIPA/SOPA

“Let’s see, unions for:

AFL-CIO
AFM
AFTRA
DGA
IATSE
SAG
TEAMSTERS

Against:
Writer’s Guild of America-West”

The union leaders have used our names to endorse these bills. This was done without a vote on the matter. Most of the rank and file members are essentially unaware of the issue. Of those who know about it I would hazard a guess that most are against it, at least that’s the case in my IATSE local.

It’s interesting to note that the Writer’s Guild is in opposition, because along with SAG/AFTRA and DGA they have the most to gain because they typically get residuals. IATSE members (by far the largest in numbers) have much less to gain since most of us don’t get residuals (that retirement annuity is a cruel joke since most of us will never qualify for it).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Union "support" for PIPA/SOPA

The union leaders have used our names to endorse these bills. This was done without a vote on the matter. Most of the rank and file members are essentially unaware of the issue. Of those who know about it I would hazard a guess that most are against it, at least that’s the case in my IATSE local.

Are you sure? Do you go to meetings?

It’s interesting to note that the Writer’s Guild is in opposition, because along with SAG/AFTRA and DGA they have the most to gain because they typically get residuals. IATSE members (by far the largest in numbers) have much less to gain since most of us don’t get residuals (that retirement annuity is a cruel joke since most of us will never qualify for it).

The biggest threat is to reinvestment, especially low budget. If your film is going to get stolen and offered all over the internet for free or next to nothing, how are you going to recoup your costs? Who it their right mind will lend you the money? Particularly true since few low budget films get a N. American box office release.

DC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Union "support" for PIPA/SOPA

Seriously? you are going to trash an actual member? what an ass.

And then you are going to argue that any of this has any affect on small production investment?

Disingenuous beyond stupid.

By the way, if you are going to post here so much, please pick a tag name. Pretending to be “any old person”?is offensively dishonest.

Freedomordie says:

When they came for the Jews, I did nothing, for I am not a Jew. When they came for the Socialists, I did nothing, for I am not a Socialist. When they came for the labor leaders, the homosexuals, the gypsies, I did nothing, for I am none of these, and when they came for me, I was alone, there was no one to stand up for me. — Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran pastor from Nazi Germany

Anonymous Coward says:

union "support" for PIPA/SOPA

“Are you sure? Do you go to meetings”

I go to most of them. It’s kind of hard to be “sure”. A rather low percentage of union members go to meetings and most of them don’t speak on their views. I’m afraid to speak of it much on the job because my employer is very pro-SOPA and I don’t want to jeopardize my job. But among those I have spoken to the case is as I have put it.

“the biggest threat is to reinvestment…how are they going to recoup their costs…who will lend them the money….”

That’s the standard argument. Please back it up with solid data. I don’t mean “piracy costs us $100bil per year!”, I mean what is the average return on investment for low, medium and large budget productions, both feature and episodic. We know that the media corps are making massive, record profits. Net profit for NBC/Univrrsal was, what, $800mil for one quarter!!! Gross revenues in the tens of billions for all the biggies. That’s an awful lot of capital for reinvestment.

I also want to be perfectly clear: I acknowledge piracy as a problem for capitalism. I just disagree on the scope of the problem. I would support limited, reasonable measures to deter piracy. SOPA/PIPA go way beyond reasonable. The cure is much worse than the disease.

I’m a grip. What do you do for a living?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: union "support" for PIPA/SOPA

Piracy erodes the market from the bottom up. Go to Ellen Seidler’s website popup pirates (or something like that). She made a $200,000 lesbian-oriented film that ended up on thousands of pirate websites. She still hasn’t made her money back despite the fact that its been downloaded millions of times. She has said she will never make another film because of the uncertainty of financing and recouping investment. You can bet there are a lot of other low budget filmmakers in the same boat.

The studios are less affected because of economies of scale. But understand that the studios are owned by multi-national corporations who have many other business interests. Those corporations first loyalty is to building wealth for shareholders. If a higher rate of return is available to Viacom by deploying capital to some other aspect of its operations than Paramount, be sure that money will be pulled out of an under-performing Paramount and deployed elsewhere.

Right now, SOPA has higher standards for taking action against foreign infringing sites than does US law for action against domestic ones.

As you are an actual stakeholder in the industry, I’d be interested in hearing more about what you think is reasonable and why.

DC (profile) says:

Fun, here we go.

Assertion without evidence, or link.

Anecdote without link. Others must be also suffering.

Over-investment on spec: she made a 200k film without an existing supporting fan base? WTF?

200k is low budget for a lesbian film?

The Studios are huge multinationals so are partially immune (not what they argue — funny that).

The studios will stop producing “art” and there will be no more art.(Yeah right)

SOPA is only more harsh to foreign sites than current law: (false) you mean ICE implementation which is yet to be determined legal.

SOPA is only more harsh to domestic sites than current law: (false)

And to your last point: It is doubtful you want to hear that, unless it is to craft a position paper against these union member’s position (not the union).

BTW: as a consumer, I am an “actual” stakeholder in this policy discussion. Please note that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Fun, here we go.

Assertion without evidence, or link.

It’s a pretty logical conclusion. Love to hear why I’m wrong

Anecdote without link. Others must be also suffering.

Go to her website

Over-investment on spec: she made a 200k film without an existing supporting fan base? WTF?

How many first time filmmakers have established fan bases? Where do you think the fans would have come from to begin with?

200k is low budget for a lesbian film?

200k is a tiny budget for anything but a student film. Most 30 second commercials have vastly higher budgets. But since you have no idea about the industry, I suppose it’s a natural mistake.

The Studios are huge multinationals so are partially immune (not what they argue — funny that).

The studios are OWNED by multi-nationals, not vice versa.

The studios will stop producing “art” and there will be no more art.(Yeah right)

The multi-nationals will invest in the aspects of their business that provide the highest rate of return.

SOPA is only more harsh to foreign sites than current law: (false) you mean ICE implementation which is yet to be determined legal.

You mean yet to be determined illegal

SOPA is only more harsh to domestic sites than current law: (false)

Not sure what you’re saying but SOPA has more protections for foreign sites than current US law has for domestic infringing sites.

And to your last point: It is doubtful you want to hear that, unless it is to craft a position paper against these union member’s position (not the union).

Sorry, you’re babbling.

BTW: as a consumer, I am an “actual” stakeholder in this policy discussion. Please note that.

Good for you!! Make sure to contact your representative as s/he is representing your interests in this matter. As far as I’m concerned you can go pound salt.

Anonymous Coward says:

What would be reasonable

Typing on my phone so can’t respond to all these points.

” I’d be interested in hearing more about what you think is reasonable and why.”

I would support the interruption of payment processing for infringing works, in a stand alone bill that includes more robust due process, including a guarantee for a practical adversarial hearing, as well as strong penalties for misuse.

I feel strongly that these types of laws should be separated as to dealing with counterfeiting where physical goods are being shipped vs. IP only (content piracy)

I feel that SOPA/PIPA are too flawed to even work with -to bring them into reasonable shape would require striking most of the language and rewriting them. Better to just start over. Wyden/issa’s OPEN initiative may lead to a workable compromise.

I leave you with this: I work in the film business, and MAY stand to gain a LITTLE if SOPA/PIPA passes. But I am also a consumer, and one who uses the Internet a lot, and I will certainly lose on those fronts. And remember me and all the other film workers make up less than 1/10 of 1% of the people in this country, even if we did gain some, is it ethical for us to screw everyone else over for that?

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