MPAA Sends Five Key Propaganda Points To Politicians

from the break-it-down dept

Deadline Hollywood has the story of the MPAA sending out a list of key “talking points” to the two major presidential candidates, though we’ve heard that the same letter is being distributed to folks in Congress as well. It’s the expected fluff and bogus info, but since these talking points will undoubtedly get parroted by clueless politicians, we might as well take a moment to cut through some of the clutter and point out where the MPAA is being deceitful, dishonest or just marginally misleading.

The television and film industry is an important economic pillar of the US economy – and a major private sector employer. Film and TV production takes place in all 50 states across the country.

The American film and television industry is a massive contributor to the US economy, generating $42.1 billion in wages from direct industry jobs and distributing $37.4 billion in payments to nearly 278,000 businesses around the country in 2010. Making movies takes more than just stars – it takes a vast number of hardworking creators and makers whose work takes place behind the camera and beyond. In fact, the entertainment industry is a major private-sector employer, supporting 2.1 million jobs across the country in 2010. These jobs exist in every state, and boast average salaries 32% higher than the national average.

Whether or not the TV and film industry is an “important” economic pillar depends on how you define “important.” But let’s grant the premise, and then ask: what does that have to do with the government or copyright? Answer? It doesn’t.

As for the specific numbers, it’s worth noting that the TV and film business has been growing massively over the past decade — even though (as the MPAA constantly reminds us) copyright has been getting less and less respect, and infringement has been spreading. An organization based in reality recognizes that perhaps the weakening of copyright laws is not a “problem” in such a situation. As for the specific numbers, those are complete bunk. 2.1 million jobs? No. The Congressional Research Service looked into the movie industry and found a grand total of 374,000 employees in 2010 — which is a number that the MPAA tries to hide by pretending that all sorts of ancillary jobs, such as flowershops and laundromats that service film crews while shooting, count in this calculation.

Free expression and free speech are cornerstones of the entertainment industry.

Copyright law, which is enshrined in our constitution, protects those who create everything from books to movies, from songs to software. Copyright is not censorship. Rather, it incentivizes innovation and creativity; the Supreme Court has called copyright the “engine of free expression.” Free speech is vital to creators and innovators, and the movie business wouldn’t exist without freedom of speech and expression. In fact, the motion picture industry has fought aggressively for freedom of speech on behalf of its storytellers for over a hundred years.

An intellectually honest person admits that copyright has two conflicting impacts: it may encourage some increase in production by providing a limited monopoly, but it can also prevent expression. The real question is which side you think outweighs the other. But the MPAA document simply refuses to admit that copyright can be used for censorship, despite the fact that its own members are quite familiar with using copyright to take down legititimate content. The MPAA’s extremist position here is clearly bogus on its face. Copyright can absolutely be used to censor. To claim that the two things are mutually exclusive means you’re either lying or clueless.

As for the MPAA fighting for free speech, how about its close involvement with ICE and the DOJ in censoring websites? So far, ICE and the DOJ have had to admit that they totally screwed up two of those seizures, censoring blogs and forums for over a year — and we fully expect to see ICE and the DOJ have to admit a few more, similar mistakes. However, one thing that ICE has also stated? That these seizures came about thanks to its close working relationship with the MPAA. In fact, the very first time ICE seized domains, it made the announcement from Disney’s headquarters. Imagine if the federal government seized a news blog… and did so from the offices of the NY Times. People would point out that this doesn’t seem right, but the feds have been able to get away with this blatant crony protectionism.

If the MPAA can’t admit that it’s been involved in blatant censorship, then it has little recognition of its own abuse of the law.

The motion picture and television industry is an industry of innovators.

Our companies embrace and harness the rapid development of technology. From IMAX to 3-D to shooting films at 48 frames per second, movie studios are on the cutting edge of entertainment technology. They are relentlessly innovating to bring audiences not only the latest in moviemaking, but also a seamless content experience that allows them to watch the shows and movies they love where and how they want. Hulu, HBO Go, Vudu, Crackle, UltraViolet, Epix, MUBI, Netflix, Amazon – and that just scratches the surface.

We’ve already addressed this one at length. Offering something is not the same thing as offering what people want. Furthermore, the MPAA had to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept some of these offerings, and not because of the foresight of the movie industry, but because the tech innovators it now wants to shackle kept pushing and prodding until Hollywood came around. Netflix and Amazon came much more from the tech industry than Hollywood. Hulu may have come out of Hollywood, but it gave the team (with a tech background) pretty free rein in building out the service… and the second it started taking off, Hollywood sought to kill it. To present these as signs of innovation is like saying that I “innovated” in the food business because I ate a Korean taco. Having a tangential relationship with those who actually innovate is not innovation itself. And when Hollywood then seeks to kill off said innovation, it shows how they really view the world.

The entertainment community supports an internet that works for everyone.

It is critical to the entertainment community that we protect the free flow of information on the internet while also protecting the rights of artists and creators. The internet must be a place for investment, innovation and creativity – that’s critical not just for our industry, but for intellectual property-intensive industries around the world. In April, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a report that found that intellectual property-intensive industries – including film and television — support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5 trillion dollars to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). That’s 34.8 percent of US GDP. Simply put, protecting American creativity from theft is critical the U.S. economy – and so is protecting the freedom to express creativity online.

Creators must have the freedom to innovate online, and they must also be secure in their ability to benefit from their creations. Copyright protection is critical to ensuring that. We can protect creative works while ensuring that the Internet works for everyone.

First of all, the infamous Commerce Department “study” was quickly proven to be complete bunk. The whole “IP intensive industries” metric is a joke — highlighted by the fact that the report showed the number one employer in the “IP intensive industries” was… grocery stores. The report just lumped together copyright, patents and trademarks, and most of the “jobs” and GDP being talked about are in “trademark” intensive industries — a definition is so stupidly broad as to include every single person who works at a grocery store. Yet under MPAA propaganda, the teen who checked you out when you bought your groceries is a symbol of why they need a new SOPA bill.

Second, any time someone says they want an internet that “works for everyone,” what they really mean is that they’re relying on a business model that has been disrupted by the internet, and the only way to make things fair is to break the internet where it challenges their old and obsolete way of doing business. The market decides what “works for everyone.” Not the government. If the MPAA can’t keep up, get out of the way and let real innovators step in.

The film and television industry has become one of this country’s most important and most consistent exports.

The movies and TV shows made here in the U.S. tell stories that resonate with people around the globe, and as a result, the film and television industry has become one of this country’s most important and most consistent exports. The entertainment industry boasted a positive services trade surplus of $11.9 billion in 2010, or 7% of the total U.S. private sector trade surplus in services. Maintaining that positive balance of trade is crucial to the continued growth of the U.S. entertainment industry and an important pillar of our national economy. Trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement aim to protect the hard work of American creators and makers around the world, while including important safeguards to protect the free flow of information on the internet.

I agree that the US makes films and TV shows that resonate around the world — and then seeks to make it impossible to view them elsewhere thanks to ridiculous regional restrictions, release windows and DRM. Furthermore, the problem that the MPAA faces around the world won’t be solved by ACTA or TPP. As has been studied in great detail, the international issues the industry faces are almost entirely business model issues, not enforcement issues. Yet, the industry refuses to even contemplate that this might be the case, preferring to support scorched earth campaigns for things like ACTA and TPP.

I recognize that this is how the MPAA has worked for half a century or so. It produces propaganda for politicians, and then tells them to write treaties and laws that support the propaganda. But, really, rolling out the same bogus and debunked stats that have long since been disproved, seems bizarre. It’s as if the MPAA is so stuck in this rut of “we lie, you do what we say” that it can’t get out of it. I’d love to see an MPAA that is willing to engage on issues, but instead we get one whose only mode of doing business is to lie consistently.

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Comments on “MPAA Sends Five Key Propaganda Points To Politicians”

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54 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Google or Apple could buy all of the RIAA and MPAA member companies and not break a sweat.”

Then why don’t they do it and end all this mishigas?
Answer: neither Google or Apple have the on-hand financial resources to do so.
Nor do the RIAA or MPAA member companies (as individual companies) have the on-hand financial capital to buy Google or Apple.

And so it continues…

ASTROBOI says:

Re: How big....

The numbers I’ve seen give the movie business yearly “handle” at 40 billion. Thats theater admission, dvds, streams, cable and tv, the works. So they can’t pass out more than that without losing money.

You know who else generates 40 billion every year? The pet supply business. Yes, sale of leashes, kibble, bird cages and gerbil wheels generates just as much money as all the Spidermen and Batmen and whiney entertainment lawyers. But you don’t see the SPCA trying to copyright dog breeds. I guess politicians would rather have their pix taken with Bruce Willis than Lassie.

I like dogs better than movies.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The MPAA only has a little over 100 members at last check. I want you to seriously consider this. They, and their affiliates, are so miniscule as to be nothing more than a small business that takes the flack for the movie industry. Yet, they have inordinate power similar to the Robber Baron Era, where they are effectively a trust that needs busting.

The only thing they have is a lot of money that is slowly dwindling. The movie industry will begin to lose money as they are disrupted by the internet. But before that happens, they’re doing a lot of damage with technology.

You can’t innovate until you either get them to play by the same rules as everyone else or you find a way to become a Google or a Microsoft to make them adapt new rules.

And that’s the saddest part about this entire thing…

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s not the only thing they have.

Glizt, glamour, and a direct pipeline to the minds of American people, something every politician would kill to have.

Until the people stop sucking TV’s tit and turn to the internet for news, entertainment, and opinion, the MPAA will still hold the reigns. They control the content!

droozilla (profile) says:

Counterpoint

I don’t watch TV and Movies, made here in the USA.

Why?

Because all that’s on nowadays is crap. Scripted realities, rehashed ideas, garbage sequels, special effects tests, and all of it sucks. ALL OF IT.

I would sooner watch Korean variety programming, British documentaries, or PAINT DRYING.

There should be no presumption of intellectual property, because the people ‘creating’ in this industry have shown no intellect. How many shows on TV are ripoffs of other shows? How many bad movies need to get remade? And any shows that do well in the US are stolen from other countries.

tl;dr: Kiss my fucking ass, you lying, cheating, thieving penises in suits.

Cory of PC (profile) says:

It is at times like this I begin to think about what to add to this proposition I have in my head. After reading over “— and then seeks to make it impossible to view them elsewhere thanks to ridiculous regional restrictions, release windows and DRM,” I want to put in a part detailing that if you have a build-up of fans in different countries, you give them what they want. If Hollywood were to service their fans, then they should do that instead of holding back and putting all of these restrictions on good material.

It is a dream at this point, but maybe one day, once I have it written out, I will make my way through the system and fight to help get the people what they need!

Anonymous Coward says:

Engine of Free expression

The last time the supreme Court used that phrase was in the Eldred case, where they highlighted that excessive copyright regulation could deprive us of free speech benefits:

The Copyright Clause and the First Amendment seek
related objectives?the creation and dissemination of
information. When working in tandem, these provisions
mutually reinforce each other, the first serving as an
?engine of free expression,? Harper & Row, Publishers,
Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U. S. 539, 558 (1985), the
second assuring that government throws up no obstacle to
its dissemination. At the same time, a particular statute
that exceeds proper Copyright Clause bounds may set
Clause and Amendment at cross-purposes, thereby de-
priving the public of the speech-related benefits that the
Founders, through both, have promised.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Engine of Free expression

Think of brainstorming sessions with the ground rule that criticism of ideas is forbidden (until later). Stifling the expression of criticism is intended to foster expression of ideas that people may have otherwise been too timid to raise.

Their thinking along similar lines. The idea is that more original works might be created if they stifle others from copying those works. If only they had any empirical proof that the idea is effective.

Jesse (profile) says:

Abolishing copyright does not violate 1st amendment

Free expression and free speech are cornerstones of the entertainment industry.

Even if we accept the probably incorrect premise that copyright encourages more speech than no copyright, an absence of copyright does not equal a limitation of free speech. As such, copyright can only be a limitation on free speech, and thus there is no “balancing” free speech pros and cons.

The government may not impede speech (theoretically) but they need not pass laws to “encourage” speech. If people choose not to make speech because they are worried about copying, that’s their free choice, but no one is impeding their speech.

If this reasoning worked, I could propose a law stipulating that anyone who wrote a blog would get $100 per post from the taxpayer. I would say, “This law encourages speech, therefore not passing said law would be an assault on free speech!”

cosmicrat (profile) says:

Back to business as usual

Misinformation like this used to make my head spin with its shear Orwellian, surrealistic disconnect from reality. But now, sadly, I have come to expect it from the likes of the **AAs. Didn’t Dodd come out a few months ago acting a bit concillatory and promise to engage the forces of reason in honest dialogue? I guess they shitcanned that idea and back to newspeak as usual.

“Movies and Television production happens in all 50 states”

This is factually correct, but it bears mentioning that a lot more production happens in those states that pay kickbacks (incentive programs) to the studios. Basically these multi-billion dollar corporations induce the states to compete with each other as to which can offer the highest bribes in exchange for production activity.

Ed C. says:

Having a tangential relationship with those who actually innovate is not innovation itself.

Furthermore, having a tangential relationship with those who actually create is not creation itself. All they have are tangential relationships. Their entire existence not only depends upon their tangential relationships with those who do all of the actual work, but taking credit for the work too. Once enough people wake up and realize that the gatekeepers only exist to legislate their own existence, that they only take from everyone while giving nothing of their own, the game will be over. No amount of draconian legislation can change that.

gorehound (profile) says:

I just wish the MPAA were hacked but good and whatever Dirty Laundry there is leaked fully onto the Internet.I want to see the MPAA put out forever to pasture.
Some people must do a Wikileaks type thing on them.
I Boycott all MAFIAA.
I will not buy any of their new products.I will buy only used physical products.
I will not ever pay to go to a Theater.
I will not use Cable TV, ETC.
I will not allow them any way into my Wallet.
I will Buy & Support Local & Indie Art Only.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Too Bad

Awe, that’s too bad your old business model needs government support. Some would call that an entitlement. Business welfare even.

To hell with your business. People will spend their money on other things and they will be entertained.

Copyright – 25 years. If it hasn’t helped progress the sciences or paid some rent by then well too bad. I’m officially drawing my moral line in the sand. Picture, story, sound or film – 26 years and I’m taking it. TAKING IT. End of story. There are two sides to every coin and it can’t stay spinning forever.

MPAA et al, fuck off. Maximalists, loss. Game over. I win.

Androgynous Cowherd says:

"Where and how we want"?!

They are relentlessly innovating to bring audiences not only the latest in moviemaking, but also a seamless content experience that allows them to watch the shows and movies they love where and how they want. Hulu, HBO Go, Vudu, Crackle, UltraViolet, Epix, MUBI, Netflix, Amazon ? and that just scratches the surface.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Try using any of those a) with a Boxee or similar hooked up to a TV or b) outside of the United States and you’ll find out that Hollyweird has a very odd definition of “where and how they want”.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Whether or not the TV and film industry is an “important” economic pillar depends on how you define “important.” But let’s grant the premise, and then ask: what does that have to do with the government or copyright? Answer? It doesn’t.”

It’s a threat…their saying “if you don’t protect us like we want your economy will crash.

Just like alcohol and tobacco.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Copyright is not censorship.”
It has its roots in censorship, it was thought up by publisher to replace a censorship system and to maintain their control over what was published. While it does not stop creation of speech, it does give publishers control of what is distributed.
The extension of copyright to largely cover quotes from other works, and block derivative works allows the legal system to be used to censor works. Most Individuals cannot afford to fight a copyright complaint.
The desired and currently implemented means of dealing with copyright infringement on the internet is potentially open to abuse as a censorship system, and hinders free speech by automatically blocking legal quotes from other works.
The desire of the MPAA and other publisher organizations to control copyright directly threatens not only the internet, but also unlocked use devices. The direction they have taken leads to a system in which free speech is literally limited to talking to other people, or writing letters etc. Any digital copying and distribution not under their control is considered a means of enabling piracy. This has been their approach since the advent of tape recorders.
While copyright itself is not censorship, the control over the means of copying and distribution desired by the MPAA, RIAA and all is an indirect censorship.
Not adopting business models that would significantly reduce piracy is deliberate, as it give them the means to attack the internet.

Angry Voter says:

Big Media cheats on their taxes. The Double Dutch Sandwich and the Irish Arrangement are depriving the US of tax revenue in time of war. That’s treason.

Big Media cheats artists. They have been proven guilty in courts of law both in the US and around the world of systematically cheating artists.

Big Media has lobbied to keep US broadband speeds low. That damages US competitiveness in the new economy.

Big Media has made the US a hostile environment to start a business in. Many companies have moved to offshore locations.

Big Media price fixing and attacks on free sharing sites has kept profits of physical counterfeiting high. Big Media’s own research has found time and time again that physical counterfeiting is a major source of funding for terrorists.

Big Media should be dissolved via existing anti-trust laws the same way AT&T was.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Big Media should be dissolved via existing anti-trust laws the same way AT&T was.

Ummm… “Big Media” is actually several different companies. So first you’d have to consolidate them into one company and then apply anti-trust law. If you’re all gung-ho to file an anti-trust suit, you might want to have a look at Masnick’s employer, Google first.

Zangetsu (profile) says:

Thank you MPAA

I would like to thank the MPAA for helping prevent damage to the Canadian economy. As I am sure that they know, IMAX is actually a Canadian invention from a company that is not part of the “motion picture and television industry” so it is very heartening to know that they love the technology so much that they have adopted it as their own.

As for filming at 48 frames per second, the first movie to have been filmed that way (The Hobbit) was directed by a Kiwi. The first director to state that they were going to film this way was a Canadian (James Cameron).

As for 3D, who the heck cares?

Anyway, thank you MPAA for your honest and accurate commentary.

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