More Details About Paramount's Offer To Law Schools To Teach Them About The Evils Of 'Content Theft'

from the counterbalance? dept

On Friday, we wrote about reports of Paramount Pictures sending overnight letters to a variety of universities, asking to come speak to their students about the whole SOPA/PIPA debate, and why they’re all “content thieves,” before asking for the students’ thoughts on what Paramount should do. The whole thing seemed pretty sketchy. Either way, we’ve been getting more details on the letter, and have now seen three different copies of the letter — with one copy (with identifying info redacted) embedded below. Separately, we’ve seen that the letters went to law schools — and it appears that Paramount only chose to target some of the bigger name law schools. Basically, it looks like Paramount went through the top law school rankings and just sent the letter to an arbitrary number at the top. I’m curious what the reasoning is here. Why pick just law schools? And why just a few of the big names? And, if the real goal is to understand what happened with SOPA/PIPA… why target law schools at all? Those aren’t the students who were heavily involved in all of this. It seems like a transparent attempt to try to convince the next generation of lawyers to come help them try to cripple the internet, rather than work towards advancing innovation.

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Companies: paramount

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Comments on “More Details About Paramount's Offer To Law Schools To Teach Them About The Evils Of 'Content Theft'”

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Endtimer (profile) says:

Kinda makes sense

I guess they figured they’d get more sympathy out of future lawyers then the average student body. I would have thought that if they targeted any schools in paticular it would be film schools or the like, but if all they want to do is reach a new generation with a message of ‘grrr, law breaking is bad!’ then the top law schools are as good a place to start then any. I doubt it’ll work out for them though.

The Moondoggie says:

Totally weird...

The question I’m seeing is: why is there a need for an open discussion anyway? They could just Google the question and lazily take suggestions that would appear.

No going to schools, no stupid presentations and after making your report of possible actions taken based on online sources you can log in to Facebook and spend the rest of the day secretly playing games.

Isaac the k (profile) says:

phase 2 of the MPAA offensive

In my experience, law students are the likeliest individuals to blatantly accept the law irrespective of whether it makes sense or has negative consequences: law is inherently virtuous. And such a presentation is most likely to be attended by impressionable first year students studying constitutional law.

What is really scary to me is that even though they are clueless about technology, they know precisely where to strike to further their goals and encourage artificial, damaging protectionism.

The citizens of the Web need to stage a counteroffensive, and either present opposite these corporate shills or contact the professors involved and work with them to encourage an honest, rigorous debate.

Facing their cannons with our Truth is the only way we can prevail.

DandonTRJ (profile) says:

Why not?

I’m actually reaching out to Paramount et al to send representatives to my law school later this year for a symposium on international efforts to combat infringement. I want them to identify the scope of the problem (and have reliable data to back up its seriousness), explain the methods being used to address it (justified procedurally and substantively), and prove their efficacy (in light of the SSRC report). I’d love to have Mike there to be on the anti-SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/TPP side, actually. The goal isn’t to browbeat one side or the other, but have a serious dialogue about what the data actually says about these issues. Hopefully they’re willing to participate.

Anonymous Coward says:

I want them to identify the scope of the problem (and have reliable data to back up its seriousness), explain the methods being used to address it (justified procedurally and substantively), and prove their efficacy (in light of the SSRC report).

As Suzie Derkins said, as long as you’re wishing, you might as well ask for a pony.

Paramount/MPAA specialize in fiction – that’s what they do. Even in the event their subject is something that really happened, they ‘dramatize’ it to within an inch of its life, and it becomes fiction.

And it’s not just their “content” that is subject to this treatment.

History? Fiction.

Accounting? Fiction.

Statistics? Fiction.

Laws? Fiction.

You’re asking an entity that has absolutely no idea what “truth” means to be honest with you. You might as well wish for that pony.

DandonTRJ (profile) says:


Up until about a month ago, I’d have agreed — what would legacy media companies have to gain by engaging the opposition when they already have lobbyists to carry out their agenda? But then the SOPA/PIPA protests happened. The public woke up. And all that lobbying effort was for nothing. Now that the public has been galvanized, the IP industries have to start making strides in the court of public opinion. And to do that, they -will- have to engage. And that’s something I welcome with open arms. I don’t want them to think I’m leading them into a lion’s den. But I also don’t want them to think they can just curtly accuse everyone who opposed them of spreading misinformation and not have to walk us through that charge. If they want to win minds, they’ll have to start engaging minds.

wizened (profile) says:

They might want to get their terms straight

Going before a bunch of law professors and students to talk about “content theft” which doesn’t exist it likely to get a lot of people who understand the legal meaning of words to point out that the correct term is “infringement” not “theft”. I would suspect that the presentation of cooked and false information would go downhill from there.

Anonymous Coward says:


They aren’t brainwashing – they are “mining”, i.e. looking for a few students who have a brilliant new legal tactic that they can use. A lawyer’s job is to represent their client and in this case Paramount (or whatever studio) is their client.

They probably will steal (pirate) a ton of ideas off these students.

This is not a 2 way debate they are entering. They are presenting their case as a client.

Anonymous Coward says:


“Some school should take them up on the offer”

Was Harvard on the list? When RIAA started the J.Does college lawsuits, not a single letter went to Harvard. It seems Harvard adopted class projects representing defendants in those cases.

Out of the hundreds of thousands of claims against ip addresses, until a couple of years ago, only two lawsuits had been successful.

Their lawsuits were a failure in court. That could be another reason why they are engaging law students – to find a successful strategy.

But they really need to take their case to Harvard to be impressive in this situation.

Pete Austin says:

DandonTRJ's Symposium

@DandonTRJ Debating the future of art is unlikely to be constructive if you set it up as a pro-vs-anti debate on SOPA/PIPA etc.

The real issues are:
(1) how to remove the current business-model roadblocks so that art gets efficiently from creators to fans, and most of the resulting income gets back to creators?
(2) how to roll back legal intervention in so-called “intellectual property” to the minimum needed to achieve a reasonable amount of new art and science?

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Dear Mr Perry,

Over the last few weeks, you have been slammed by the publiic for your ham-fisted overreaches which you like to call SOPA and PIPA. The amount of public pushback only surprised you as you obviously believe that with large amounts of money dedicated to such lofty goals as lobbying, you get to write all the rules and the public be damned which motivates us to respond to you with a mass wave of the “one fingered salute”.

We have attempted to open discourse with you and your colleages several times over the last few years through several means about these and related issues. We would be happy to give you a formal presentation followed by an open discussion period and have in fact, made several such offers in the past yet you and your colleages seem intent on being resistant to any such discussions.

Either way, our goal is to foster an understanding about the importance and proper enforcement of copyright and the exchange of ideas which would lead to a reduction in copyright infringement while still fostering better ideas to bring content to consumers in a method that is benificial to the industry in general AND consumers rather than the one way over-reaching methods which are quite honestly, very anti-consumer. We think about and discuss these issues on a daily basis but over the last few months it has become painfully clear to us that you still have a lot to learn. We would love to bring these ideas to the table and discuss them openly with you and other representatives of your industry, but you have continually locked us out of the process and we have come to the eventual realization that you simply do not care about your customers.

Please feel free to reach out to us at any time should you wish to talk about possible dates where we can meet and discuss the issues that both parties feel are incredibly important.

Many thanks,

The rest of the internet around the world.

Hephaestus (profile) says:


No matter what laws they get pushed through. Someone like me will come along, spend a couple weekends coding and destroy their next $94 million dollar lobbying effort for the Lulz.

A simple way to remove the effects of SOPA would have been to combine two pieces of software. Mix the back end database and search functionality of a distributed search engine like yacy with the code to search for torrents from Ants, shareaza, or aMule. If you want to go further take onion routing and encryption from TOR, and toss them in.

No DNS record to remove. No money being made, so no payment processors to intimidate. And built to help people in oppressive countries communicate freely, so no violating the SOPA section that makes it criminal to circumvent these laws.

Anonymous Coward says:


Your post reads like a Troll comment thread. Fine, I will take the bait. You open your post with a blatantly false statement, at no point in the letter is anyone called a content thief. That first lie sets the stage for all the misinformation you present in the post. You wonder why the letters were sent to law schools, and then suggest that they only sent them to prestigious law schools. The reason for that is obvious; they are seeking expert advice on future legislation. I would hazard to guess that these letters went to expert legal scholars. The letters weren’t targeting these schools because of infringement or in an attempt to sway the student population or even public opinion; they are an attempt to seek advice for future legislation.

The only way that any person could draw the conclusions you presented in your post is if that person has such a jaded view that he is no longer able to discuss the issues without bias. You have proven that you are such a person; you have become completely and irrevocably aligned against the content industry. None of your posts are unbiased – in essence you have become the Fox News of content-distribution technology news.

Just as you claim that the content industry is becoming irrelevant, your own bias is making you less relevant in the content distribution debate. Any content company that would listen to your opinions should have its entire management team fired by its board and if a board of directors approved your consulting services the stockholders should revolt.

As I said before, your post reads like a troll comment and if it was it was successful. If you were serious, I have lost all faith in anything you write from this day forward.

Anonymous Coward says:


and if these laws are designed to benefit lawyers, people that contribute nothing of value, then they are just parasitizing off the work of content creators. Laws that artificially create more lawyers create fewer content creators and they create fewer people that contribute meaningful product back to society while creating more people that leech off of the contributions of others (content creators and the public). We need to encourage the creation of laws that create fewer lawyers and more productive workers. Instead, we have paramount lawyers that contribute nothing of value encouraging other lawyers to do the same.

Anonymous Coward says:


Lies? Really? Since no one has seen the presentation, that’s a bold statement. So does anyone expressing an opinion different than yours become a liar? Which side of the abortion debate do the liars reside? How about in the capital punishment discussion?

What’s really pitiful is how the groveling Masnick supplicants jump off of their knees to defend his idiotic assertions. Hopefully your actions will be noted and you will get your well-deserved pat on the head.

Michael R. Graham (profile) says:

Paramount's Discussion Solicitation

Leave it to an MPAA member to believe that talking with Law School students about theft, without understanding the basic concepts of the limitations on the copyright monopoly or the correct use of the term “infringement” will help their case in pushing another SOPA/PIPA. I would think that engaging in some real open discussions might be a useful step towards content industry’s development of distribution systems which ensure free culture and profit from their creations. However, the tone of the invitation is “Let us come and infect your brains with the notion of theft without infringement, and non-adoptive culture.” As though every new work must ignore all that has come before it.

Anonymous Coward says:


And you would know this since you’ve threatened to leave for how long now? Weren’t you supposed to have left already, dummy?

Or am I violating your right to anonymity by pointing out that you threatened to leave at some point in the it seems now ridiculously distant past?

But yeah, that’s right. Rather than debunk what Mike has said, with proof/evidence/facts/etc, go straight for the ad homs. It just shows how much more intelligent and reasonable you are, heck by my counts, you should be running a site like Techdirt. But PRO-Stupid laws, bad business decisions, etc. Things of that sort. And you can grow a great many followers by insulting anyone who contradicts you or has the tenacity and nerve to ask you to cite some sources and back up what you say.

Hmm. That actually sounds like a good idea. You should seriously get on that, then pay me for the rest of my life (then my children after me, then my grandchildren after them, and so on and so forth) for coming up with one great idea/product. I will no longer have to work ever again and can take a moral high ground whenever anyone questions me by just calling them all “freetards” or “chubby” or “tinfoil wearing”. You know, things like that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Paramount's Discussion Solicitation

I believe a Supreme Court justice stated that infringement was “nothing more than common, garden variety theft”. Sorry if the term “theft” makes you uncomfortable with what you are doing. Maybe you should change your actions instead of trying to change the way the Supreme Court (and most honest people) view it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Paramount's Discussion Solicitation

And I believe a majority of Supreme Court justices ruled in a landmark case, that infringement is NOT theft. You know, that whole Dowling case from 1985. That set the precedent.

You can wikipedia it. Assuming you’re not one of those ACs who says Wikipedia supports piracy and all that. Which shouldn’t matter, because the ruling is a matter of public record and there are other sources confirming what the Supreme Court justices decided.

Which basically says YOU are wrong. The Supreme Court views it, to be honest, in a way that completely contradicts your statement and flat out says it’s not theft, it’s copying. The original is still there. The only crime being committed is infringing on another’s copyright.

Oh you ACs. Really grasping at straws aren’t you? Even straws that are easily disproved with a quick search and some actual information.

I believe you are an idiot. That makes it so. Sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable. Maybe you should change your actions, instead of trying to change reality to suit your biased point of view.

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