Chris Dodd Extends SOPA 'Olive Branch' To Silicon Valley… And Proceeds To Bash Them Over The Head With It

from the there-is-only-one-answer-and-it-is-sopa dept

Not this again. Ever since SOPA/PIPA were shelved, we’ve been hearing from MPAA and RIAA officials about how important it is that they “sit down and meet” with “the opposition.” Part of the problem is that they still can’t figure out who the opposition really was. They usually blame Google. And sometimes Wikipedia. We keep hearing these requests to work together, but when people take them up on the offer and agree to meet… they seem to chicken out. Another big part of the problem is assuming that the only answer to the challenges they’re facing is more legislation… but that’s clearly not true.

Either way, a news report making the rounds says that Chris Dodd has “extended an olive branch” to the tech community with a speech he just gave. Already, that’s framing this discussion incorrectly. Folks in Silicon Valley have been plenty happy to meet for many, many months. No “olive branch” needed. The MPAA and RIAA done everything to keep the tech industry from the table for nearly all of the SOPA debate. Even after everything happened, folks in Silicon Valley have made it clear that they’re happy to meet and discuss stuff with Hollywood. It’s just that many of them would like it to be “open.” I’ve heard from a few different folks where “feelers were put out” to see if they wanted to take part in some secretive backroom “negotiations” — but when they requested more open proceedings, the MPAA/RIAA guys insisted that was a deal breaker.

But really, what you see in this report isn’t an olive branch, it’s a baseball bat, where Chris Dodd talks up all the opportunities there are, and then starts wacking away at evil pirates destroying all.

MPAA Chief Chris Dodd made a peace overture to Silicon Valley Wednesday, telling an audience that “Hollywood is pro-technology and pro-Internet.”

But he also made clear the legislative battle against piracy wasn’t over, maintaining that “a strong system of copyright protection for online content is critical to the continued success of the flourishing Internet marketplace.”

Except, that’s not clear at all. A strong system of content protection has had nothing to do with the current success of the “flourishing internet marketplace.” And putting even more protectionism in place only seems likely to make things worse, and drive more people underground. To say that it’s critical to the success of the internet seems really preposterous considering how little evidence there is that copyright really plays a major issue here.

The real problem here is that Dodd still continues to refuse to define the problem correctly. He still assumes (or publicly proclaims) that the answer is content protection. A truly open conversation wouldn’t start with such assumptions, but would do more to establish a framework and details. And then you get things like this:

Speaking to the Atlanta Press Club on Wednesday, Dodd said that “nearly one-quarter of all global Internet traffic is copyright theft. And at the heart of the problem is the proliferation of parasitic foreign rogue sites whose sole purpose is to facilitate, and profit from, the theft of international property.”

Of course, as has also been pointed out, this “one-quarter of all global Internet traffic” bit is misleading, because it’s counting all sorts of things that might not be infringing. But, more to the point, Netflix alone appears to use up about approximately the same amount of bandwidth. And what that suggests is that the problem isn’t that big. If you converted everyone who he’s talking about to Netflix… you’d just have another Netflix. That’s a decent-sized company, but nothing miraculous. It just looks big because everyone’s focused on the wrong numbers — such as the byte size of traffic, rather than what’s actually being shared and why.

“We cannot draw up a business model that accounts for the wholesale theft of our product,” he said. “It’s true for pharmacies. It’s true for the automobile industry. It’s true for software developers. And it’s true for us.”

Of course, once again, he’s misusing the term “theft,” which is pretty disappointing and again suggests the lack of a real “olive branch” here. But, furthermore, this statement is also plainly wrong. What he’s arguing is that companies can’t compete with free. But, er… plenty of “copyright” businesses do exactly that. One need look no further than the open source community. There, Dodd would discover that there have been some very large companies that built on top of products that the company can’t lock down, and that versions of those products will be available for free. And many open source companies have done well — even as they have to compete with free versions of identical products. They’ve built great business models. To say that Dodd himself (or the studios) “cannot draw up a business model” that deals with the market situation is a statement on Dodd and the industry — not on the possibility of such business models. Of course, there are more and more people discovering business models that work… but rather than let that happen, Dodd is demanding a law?

And, really, it comes back to this again: this isn’t an olive branch. Dodd isn’t seeking input from those who understand these issues. He’s pretending to offer an olive branch to get some “negotiations” started, where they won’t listen or take the time to understand the real issue. Instead, they’ll just beat everyone over the head with the branch and insist that their ridiculously bad plans to expand copyright enforcement are the only way to go.

He said that “copyright legislation helped to create the Internet of today — not to mention providing companies like Apple with the incentive to — as they say — think different, and to think big.”

This part is just intellectually dishonest. Very little of the success of the internet today had anything to do with copyright law. In fact, large parts of the success of the internet were due to exceptions to copyright law, such as those from the open source community.

“The coalition supporting a crackdown on … criminal sites includes companies large and small who produce movies, TV shows, music, software, photography, prescription drugs, consumer electronics — everyone from Gibson Guitars to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.”

Um, sounds like Dodd’s talking points need a refresh. Gibson Guitar dropped its support of SOPA…

“If you believe that freedom of speech does not imply, and the ability to innovate does not require, a license to steal, if you believe that the men and women who work hard to make films and TV shows deserve to be fairly compensated … I invite you to join this coalition and help us move towards a solution to this problem.”

See, that’s not an olive branch at all. That’s just flat out misrepresenting the position of those who opposed SOPA. No one says that there’s a “license to steal” or that people should be allowed to break the law willy nilly. Nor is anyone saying that those who “work hard” shouldn’t be compensated. There are tons of laws on the books already — many of which are already being overaggressively enforced. We’re saying that there are existing ways to deal with these issues that don’t have the collateral damage that a SOPA or PIPA would have — by not involving legislation at all, but letting the market figure things out, as it’s already been doing.

Again, if Dodd wants to meet and put forth a real olive branch, he should try not attacking those he’s supposedly reaching out to or misrepresenting their position. Otherwise it’s tough to see much sincerity there…

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Comments on “Chris Dodd Extends SOPA 'Olive Branch' To Silicon Valley… And Proceeds To Bash Them Over The Head With It”

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111 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

“sounds like Dodd’s talking points need a refresh. Gibson Guitar dropped its support of SOPA…”

Many companies did, after they saw the amount of crap Godaddy got about it. The vocal minority tries to shut down the free speech rights of everyone else. “Agree with us or suffer!”

Free speech – only for those who think they are right.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re:

Many companies did, after they saw the amount of crap Godaddy got about it. The vocal minority tries to shut down the free speech rights of everyone else. “Agree with us or suffer!”

[Citation Needed]

The vocal minority, in this case, is the gatekeepers who try to shut down the free speech rights of everyone else…right? Otherwise this clearly doesn’t make much sense, because nobody else is complaining about their free speech rights being trampled on.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re:

There you go again on your whole “Godaddy’s free speech rights were violated” crap. Their rights were not violated. They were free to continue supporting SOPA if they wanted. They would have just lost some business over it as their customers disagreed with them. They weighed the options and made their choice. They were not forced to do anything. No one is entitled to customers. No one is required to do business with a company they disagree with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

” They were free to continue supporting SOPA if they wanted. They would have just lost some business over it as their customers disagreed with them.”

Here’s the thing: They changed their political stand to appease the noisy group, because the other side wasn’t going punish them for changing their view.

They changed their views not because their views changed, but because an unruly mob was doing a digital beatdown on them.

The first step to eliminating free speech is to make having an opposite opinion too expensive or too painful to maintain – even if you believe it.

gorehound (profile) says:

Re:

Chris Dodd is a liar and an asshole simply put !!!
My closest friend owns a high end professional gear Audio Company and he sells gear to Hollywood, ETC.
Two nights ago we were hanging out so I showed him Black Mirror Episode One and then I showed him some Anonymous Videos off youtube.I asked him what he thought of the Internet Censorship & RIAA/MPAA.
He said that the whole Industry pretty much missed the boat and that is why they hate the Internet.They screwed up and dicked over people and now he and others like him suffer because of the suits who are a bunch of bozos.
They could of competed offering a decent product with no DRM but instead they just try and Control stuff more and more.He is not happy at their decisions.He is a business owner.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re:

Most of the SOPA dropouts occurred after those attacks started.

And yet according to what was said on Techdirt, Godaddy gained a net positive effect. Smaller than they could have if they hadn’t put the foot in their mouth and shown support for such a crappy bill…

I believe this is the very definition of free-speech. If I don’t like you — I certainly don’t have to buy what you are selling and I can be as vocal as I want to about it. Me being vocal is in no way restricting your freedom of speech.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re:

Wow, this is amazing.

So, by your rather odd definition of what eliminating free speech means, then there could never be political change, reform, or progress. There could never be meaningful political action. There could never be meaningful political speech, as doing any of that would constitute censorship.

Nobody was trying to shut GoDaddy up. People were arguing with them, and some were deciding they couldn’t support GoDaddy’s actions with their business. That’s freedom in action right there.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re:

Citizens exercising free speech rights cannot, by definition, do anything that impinges on the free speech rights of others. It’s just not possible. That’s the entire point of free speech. A government can curtail your free speech – another citizen cannot.

They changed their views not because their views changed, but because an unruly mob was doing a digital beatdown on them.

No, they changed their view because they are a business, and their customers wanted them to. It doesn’t matter if you characterize them as an unruly mob or as a well-educated request, or as voodoo priests for that matter – it’s not a free speech issue. In fact, it’s exemplary of what free speech permits.

GoDaddy and every other company is completely free to take whatever stance they want. Their freedom was never limited in any way. All they did was listen to their customers, and they had every right to ignore them, too.

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

Re:

.

“They changed their views not because their views changed, but because an unruly mob was doing a digital beatdown on them.”

No. Wrong.

Now follow this -carefully- you intransigent clod…

They changed their views because their CUSTOMERS were doing a RIGHTLY DESERVED beatdown on them.

When your CUSTOMERS demand compliance, you either comply -OR- you go out of business.

No amount of political toasting can obscure which side your bread is buttered on.

.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re:

I saw the trailer for the new Syndicate game a few days ago

OOOOOHHHHHH! Yippee. Just a couple days ago I was thinking about how cool it would be if GOG bought the rights to distribute the original game. I might have to break my current blockade on the video game industry to buy the new Syndicate, but only if it is DRM free.

That game rocked!

If the GOG guys are reading this — Syndicate (Bullfrog) was one of the most awesome games I’d love to see GOG distribute in the future.

Anonymous Coward says:

3 points, really

1) was Dodd born a complete prat with the sense of a rocking horse, or did he have to take lessons?

2) trouble with this and similar articles is that they are believed by those in power, not because there is truth in the article but because they choose not to believe anything else

3) there is never a mainstream article (press or TV) debunking what is said and actually stating the alternative

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re:

What a sad day we live in when unhappy customers who are ready to take their business elsewhere is the same thing as an “unruly mob”. What a sad day when the loss of business is the equivalent of a “beatdown”.

You are an idiot if you think that. In a free market we are free to choose which businesses we want to deal with. We are free to air our grievances with those businesses. We are free to accept change from those businesses or not.

This is not censorship. This is business.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Give and take

I’m sure that many more people would be up to support SOPA/PIPA if copyrights were ratcheted back to 10 or 20 years maximum, and the statutory penalties were lowered substantially or eliminated completely so that the rightsholder would have show actual financial harm.

We might all be ok with increased enforcement if the public domain didn’t suffer so much. People deserve to be compensated for their work, but not in perpetuity throughout the known universe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Just because you are free to say something doesn’t mean you’re not a jerk.

Or is your reasoning part of the rules for the New Democracy ™? It’s shocking — and somewhat amusing — to see how all these copyright lobbyists take our arguments and turn them right back on us. Unfortunately for them, people against more freedom-destroying legislation can actually argue their points, while their only argument seems to be, “You’re wrong because you’re against us”.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re:

Points 2 and 3 are the most important.

If the old school news is biased in favor of SOPA, and the Internet has all viewpoints about SOPA (including pro-SOPA AC’s on TD) then the world will be divided into groups.

Those opposed to SOPA who understand and use the internet, and understand SOPA. Those who have seen countless discussion of SOPA from both sides. Those who have seen the excesses and overreaches of the SOPA supporters.

Those in favor of SOPA, who neither use nor understand the internet, and who have been spoonfed pro SOPA lies. More frightening is that these are probably the legislators receiving the corruption checks.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re:

You idiots really need to learn what free speech is. It is not “Free from consequences”.

Free speech is the freedom to say whatever you would like to say without being censored. No one censored GoDaddy. Other people voiced their opinion opposite of GoDaddy and GoDaddy had to accept the consequence of going against the wishes of their customers.

SOPA on the other hand wanted to have the power to shut down web pages. This was taking away the persons ability to speak. That is a lot different than what happened to GoDaddy. No on shut down GoDaddy’s homepage or told them they could not express their opinion.

Richard (profile) says:

Re:

The first step to eliminating free speech is to make having an opposite opinion too expensive or too painful to maintain – even if you believe it.

If you are going to give up speaking out on an issue because you are unpopular on lose some business over it then I would say that your heart in not really in it.

Being discouraged from voicing an opinion because of financial loss is a very different thing from being censored.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Sounds to me like millions of people exercised their right to free speech and it resulted in the vocal minority backing down once they realized they were outgunned.

But of course, you wouldn’t understand anything like that as you think that corporations bribing lawmakers into creating legislation that favors them counts as “free speech”. Which is apparently what Mr Dodd still thinks is the correct way to approach this (btw how is it that this guy hasn’t been investigated yet?)

Now I just wonder as to what little rebuttal you’ll throw in my direction that showcases both your lack of understanding about the issue while formatting the argument into a nice little ball of “NO U”.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re:

What I mean is…it shows a world where corporations ARE the government…you know…lie what the MPAA and RIAA would love to exist so they could censor the net as much as they want

Sorry, got your meaning…it fell by the way-side by my mental orgasm (oh, sh*t, sorry Mike, giving Germany more reasons to block us) of the game itself.

However, I am not sure RIAA/MPAA would like to live in that world as much as they might. From what I remember (I have the original disks, should probably try loading it up again,) the companies hired thugs to come in and kill off the competition. I suspect the “freetards” like Google might be able to find more thugs who are willing to do it for free.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“The first step to eliminating free speech is to make having an opposite opinion too expensive or too painful to maintain – even if you believe it.”

It wasn’t “too expensive”, because it didn’t cost them a cent.
It simply wasn’t profitable enough since potential customers refused to do business and current customers chose to leave.
Now if they were being sued by, say a movie studio with deep pockets who could keep them tied up in expensive litigation, now THAT would be too expensive!

As for “pain”…well if you can’t take the heat, get out of the digital kitchen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Sorry, this is free markets in action. If you want someone to give you their money you really should be paying attention to what their telling you. If they tell you that if you continue a certain course of action they will stop spending their money with you, well it’s up to you to make a decision.

Think of it as free market research,…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“GoDaddy and every other company is completely free to take whatever stance they want. Their freedom was never limited in any way. All they did was listen to their customers, and they had every right to ignore them, too.”

Again, should I type slowly? You seem to be having a problem even understanding your own logic.

GoDaddy exercised their freedom, and got a beat down for it. In order to maintain their business when faced with this sort of bullying online, they changed their official opinion to appease those who where yelling and causing their business damage.

They have two choices: Stick with your free speech and possibly lose your business, or CHANGE YOU OPINION, limit you free speech, and be part of the “good side”.

Basically, your first amendment rights to free speech end where they stop being about free speech, and start being about intimidating others to change their views to agree with you “or else”.

As an example, cross burning, even in a public location, when done to intimidate a person or group is not protected free speech. While I am not suggesting that what happened with Godaddy in any way matches up to this sort of thing, it is clear that intimidation is not protected free speech.

You have the right not to do business with GoDaddy. You have the right to tell others why you are not doing business with go daddy. When you get to the point of intimidation (change your public opinion or we will ruin your business) you have crossed the line. At that point, it isn’t much past mafia types demanding protection money.

Tim K (profile) says:

Re:

You have the right not to do business with GoDaddy. You have the right to tell others why you are not doing business with go daddy. When you get to the point of intimidation (change your public opinion or we will ruin your business) you have crossed the line.

I’m missing the part where people said they’d ruin their business. Did people start showing up at their hq and try and break in or destroy their servers or interrupt their servers? No, I believe people just dropped their service, or chose to not to do business with GoDaddy and told others why they shouldn’t do business with them

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re:

Once again, you have no idea what free speech means. It does not have anything to do with how well your business does.

You have the right not to do business with GoDaddy. You have the right to tell others why you are not doing business with go daddy. When you get to the point of intimidation (change your public opinion or we will ruin your business) you have crossed the line.

No, you haven’t. Absolutely nothing that happened to GoDaddy was not a matter of individual, personal choice. Nobody forced anyone to stop doing business with them. They expressed their opinion, encouraged others, and made statements. They banded together to make their voice louder. They used consumer pressure to encourage a company to make a certain choice. All of that is the very LIFEBLOOD of free speech, and if you think otherwise, you have tragically missed the point.

Do you honestly not get this? I mean… come on. It’s not that complicated.

Joe Publius (profile) says:

Re:

After all, nobody expects the french revolution.

I thought nobody expects the Spanis-

I see what you did there.

He and the “Content Industry” will always focus on large companies.
In news I think we can all agree on, the **AAs are nothing more than a way to hide the fact that the major content corporations are acting like a cartel. There may not be outright price fixing, but I see this lobbying as nothing more than legacy business model fixing. Collusion to make sure that businesses with contemporary tech oriented models can’t compete.

tracker1 (profile) says:

s/french/internet/

I think that it’s really a lot like a war with the content industry. I have an Amazon Prime account, and pay for Netflix streaming as well… I’d gladly pay $50/month to access any content over a year old, when I want to access it. I’m not willing to pay $200+ a month for another hundred channels of content I mostly care nothing about, with none of the conveniences of streaming.

Al Bert (profile) says:

Dead

Right. The more these jackasses breed public distrust and contempt, the more effort they will need to put into concealing actions taken to support their agenda. You’re right. We might not see SOPA or the next threat — until it’s too late.

That sounds so damn paranoid, but they’re the ones playing offense here. Even if we stop them in their tracks, we haven’t gained any ground. We’ve only narrowly avoided losing it.

AC says:

Re:

GoDaddy exercised their freedom. End of story. They are free to say what they want and run their business how they see fit.

They didn’t get beat down for it. What they got, were customers who did not agree with their points of view and what they stood for, and who used their rights as consumers to take their business elsewhere and voice their reasons for doing so.

That others agreed with them and also took their business elsewhere, or avoided GoDaddy to begin with is not a crime or a violation of GoDaddy’s right to free speech. Nor an abuse of the consumers’. It’s the free market at work and free speech at it’s finest.

That GoDaddy decided to change what they were saying in an effort to stem the tide of customers leaving is their own thing. And was done entirely of their own free will. No one made them do anything. No one forced them to do anything. And you’re seriously grasping at straws (or just flat out being an idiot) when you say they were “intimidated” into doing so.

Basically, your first amendments right to free speech end when you go from speaking to ACTUALLY intimidating through genuine harm (usually of the physical variety). That is correct. But customers boycotting a company is NOT, nor will it ever be, a form of free speech violation/intimidation.

Also, to say that you ARE NOT comparing what happened to GoDaddy with cross burning is a load of crock. If you weren’t making the comparison, you wouldn’t have even brought it up. But keeping that you said it in mind, along with what you’ve been saying, that boycotting or deciding to do business with companies that aren’t pro-censorship, it suits you and your general attitude/stupidity in general.

No one ruined GoDaddy’s business though. GoDaddy did that on their own with their actions and statements. That people noticed them and said “oh heck no” is not intimidation (just repeating that, because eventually, you’ll realize how stupid it is to say otherwise).

Michael says:

If you want to know what effect any piece of legislation written up by the major corps will have on the internet, observe their behavior in real life: utter disregard and contempt for the general public, acting in secrecy and preventing (i.e. censoring) the public to voice dissent in an open platform. Such would be the internet under corporate rule.

Karl (profile) says:

Re:

The vocal minority tries to shut down the free speech rights of everyone else.

This is exactly what SOPA and PROTECT IP were. Good for Godaddy’s customer base, who exercised their free speech rights and stood against it!

I mean, that must be what you’re saying. You couldn’t possibly think a consumer boycott is shutting down free speech rights, but the Government “disappearing” websites is not.

‘Cause that would just be idiotic.

Though, if you were sympathetic to the RIAA/MPAA, I could see how you could believe that lie. In their mind, they’re the only ones who provide “speech,” and everyone else is just providing “noise.” So, any loss to their business would then be an “attack on free speech.”

Especially a consumer boycott… which, when you get down to it, is what file sharing really is.

Dirkmaster (profile) says:

Re:

“Didn’t we petition the president for Chris Dodd to be arrested and put on trial for attempting to bribe the president? Why is he still walking around free and giving speeches? Put this bum in prison already.”

And the White House has already responded. “We Don’t Do That” and now that petition isn’t even listed on the site.

Perhaps we should just keep doing it again and again until they get the message.

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