Biden Takes Part In MPAA Board Meeting; Suggests Studios Tell Paying Customers They're Thieves

from the that'll-teach-them dept

For all their talk about piracy and yearly losses measured in billions, the big movie studios sure do seem to enjoy smacking their paying customers around with anti-piracy warnings and ads. Consider the poor sucker who actually went out and paid cash money for the latest shiny disc and now has to watch a multitude of eagle-laden logos and horrible analogies parade unskippably across his or her screen before finally being allowed to watch the unskippable trailers before finally being allowed to watch 15 seconds of unskippable animation before they can actually watch the movie they’re now regretting having shelled out actual retail price for.

Now, 20th Century Fox has found a new way to pack up paying viewers for another guilt trip, all expenses paid (by the viewer.) If the viewers failed to pick up on any of the front-loaded anti-piracy “education,” they’re now being graced with a reminder of the “true cost of piracy” right as they exit the theater.

It’s hard for Hollywood to explain to consumers about the losses to the movie industry caused by piracy. Especially when talking heads like studio moguls and government officials try and fail. So kudos to Ted Gagliano, president of 20th Century Fox feature post-production, who began putting end cards on the studio’s movies like this one.

I agree. It is hard to explain to consumers about these losses, especially when so many highly successful movies have failed to turn a profit. It’s also hard to explain things using imaginative interpretations of severely extrapolated data that turns the kid bagging your groceries into the equivalent of an executive producer.

This bit of information could conceivably deter a few people from rushing right home and onto the internetz for the “home version.” When they see that many people worked many hours, the few not shouting “Citation, needed!” will sleep the sleep of angels, knowing their full retail price ticket purchases will keep the grocery bagger off the street at least one day longer. Their sleep will be even more angelic when they realize who’s behind this new idea.

Twentieth Century Fox Film Chairman/CEO Jim Gianopulos tells me that the end card anti-piracy project was suggested by the Obama administration. “It was actually an idea of Vice President Biden’s when we visited him during a MPAA Board meeting earlier this year. We thought it was an excellent suggestion and adopted the idea and will continue for all movies going forward.”

Yes. An elected official in the second most powerful position in the world took time out of his busy schedule to help out some buddies of his who looked like they could use a hand: the always-right-on-death’s-doorstep movie industry. And the fact that Joe Biden sits in on MPAA board meetings should concern no one in the slightest, especially when it comes time to discuss things that affect the movie industry — like free trade agreements that value draconian IP protection over all else.

There’s not much real estate left for anti-piracy infotainment. The front end has had it for years. This takes care of the back. Maybe they’ll start popping up factoids and warnings at the bottom of the screen during the actual running time, making the movie-going experience indistinguishable from a night in front of broadcast television. Or maybe they’re just waiting for the President himself to suggest that one. Perhaps at the next MPAA board meeting.

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Comments on “Biden Takes Part In MPAA Board Meeting; Suggests Studios Tell Paying Customers They're Thieves”

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90 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

O good, yet another thing to make piracy even more attractive.

Regardless, one must be astonished at how large and steady the MAFIAA’s feet are given how many shots it has been taking for the last few decades. You know, not only they treat costumers like thieves and offer a horrible experience (unskippable stuff, really?) but they also keep taking losses even with mind boggling revenues from uber successful movies (!?). Talk about steady feet…

As for me, I’ll keep having a push’n play experience from my infringing sources. And in case they actually manage to stop those then I’ll simply “go without”. Unless of course they offer a decent value in the future (and trolls, I’m not talking about price alone…)

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ve just given up watching movies. I was weighing renewing my Amazon Prime on Sat night because I don’t anticipate ordering as much next year so I decided to see what was available in the free prime section. Right at the top was Transformers Dark side of the moon. On a lark I hit play.
The movie started immediately. No logo no warnings just the movie. I still haven’t recovered from the shock. Now I have to reconsider the Prime membership.

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Twentieth Century Fox Film Chairman/CEO Jim Gianopulos tells me that the end card anti-piracy project was suggested by the Obama administration. “It was actually an idea of Vice President Biden’s when we visited him during a MPAA Board meeting earlier this year. We thought it was an excellent suggestion and adopted the idea and will continue for all movies going forward.”

FUCK YOU MAFIAA.
I Boycott your whole Industry and you will never enter my wallet.you are permanently Banned from my Money.I am not interested in any films or TV Shows you touch.I just want to see your whole Industry die.
Buy & Support Local & Indie Art !
Death To The MAFIAA
If the Democratic Party do not smarten up and sever the Big corporate Ties next Election I will Vote for their Enemy.I Voted for you schmucks this Election to beat the GOP but you just wait till the next one.
Your MAFIAA Support will make me go elsewhere like to a Third Party which I should of done but this election you can consider yourselves lucky that I think the GOP are even worse.
Democrats equals the lesser of two evils.Their Support of the MAFIAA & Support of Special Interests means I am gone by next election.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Content based

There’s not much real estate left for anti-piracy infotainment.

Aww, c’mon, there’s still plenty of room left to grow. Techdirt is doing a serious (srsbzns) disservice to the growing content based antipiracy infotainment business models by implying otherwise.

There’s propaganda-laden “investigative journalism” as covered here: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120830/02534820218/crime-inc-produces-thoughtful-nuanced-episode-about-piracy-haha-just-kidding-cue-scary-music.shtml

And let’s not forget about drop-in mentioning it on episodes of police drama shows or movies. Sure, when having your main character list all the things that smugglers can import, be sure to throw ‘counterfeit software and movies’ in amongst drugs and slave labor, because it’s not jarring at all, and no one with a high speed internet connection would dare laugh at the implausibility of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Consider the poor sucker

Consider the poor sucker…

I haven’t watched a movie in years. People who know me think that’s a little weird…. Friends and family still sometimes continue to try to coax me to go to the theatre, or watch a DVD. Mostly, though, they’ve given up trying.

I’ve got better things to do than watch movies.

And, yeah, privately, I think you movie-goers are all suckers. Mostly, though, I’m too polite to say it. Instead, I’ll just say, ?No, thanks. I don’t like movies.?

MrWilson says:

I think it needs to be more blatant than this. The end of the movie won’t help since many people leave the theater at that point. What you need, ala Bertolt Brecht, is to jar them from their suspension of disbelief by doing a poorly timed, forced intermission in the middle of the movie and show a big depressing commercial about all the people whose children can’t eat because of piracy, preferably at the most suspenseful part of the rising action or even right before the climax and the big reveal. That will surely make sure more people spend their money at the theaters!

And of course the home viewers shouldn’t miss out on this either. These same ads can be inserted into legal streams and DVDs as well!

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As long as it is done using a singing hot dog, I’m in.

Oh, and all those people that are leaving before this message comes up? Those pirates are responsible for a lost brain-washing and need to be stopped. Theaters should have mandatory restraints similar to roller coasters. An additional benefit to these restraints – they would protect the children! Everyone can get behind that!

Beech says:

Re: Re:

But what if the pirates…um, i mean customers, try to use the intermission time to go get refills on beverages, or go to the bathroom to rid themselves of all those refills they had on their beverages?

Clearly there should be a lap bar that comes down (like on a roller coaster) to keep those filthy scum there. Also lock all the theatre doors too, in case someone was already standing

cjstg (profile) says:

just saying

“in the second most powerful position in the world”

seriously, with the exception of dick cheney who was pulling the strings on w, who really thinks the vice president has any power at all? true, the vice president is the second highest position in our government. however, the position of vice-president has only one very limited power and one not used very often at that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Next step

Before you can watch our movie you must read this 400.000 word pamphlet about why piracy is bad. Than answer the 50 questions at the end and send them to us (we are not going to pay for the stamp). If you answer every question right you should receive your 150 digit code to unlock the movie within 2 weeks. If you answer a question wrong or enter a wrong code you have to buy our movie again.
Please note that you have to repeat this process every time you want to watch again.

Yours sincerely, Hollywood

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: stop stop play

Or, just make a copy of the DVD and leave out everything except the movie. Then just play the copy. As a bonus, if the DVD gets damaged, you can just make another copy.

Rip the DVD and place the rip of the movie and the special features on a server, then place the DVD in a box and put it into storage. Make backups of the server periodically. Never have to worry about making another copy, and the advantage is that you can watch the DVD at any time from anywhere and don’t have to worry about DVDs.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Bits are Bits

It doesn’t even have to be a PC. Any number of video streamer appliances can stream your own videos from your own LAN.

This is an obvious prerequisite for basic use cases like watching your own home movies.

Devices can’t tell your MPEG2 stream of your Alaska vacation from an MPEG2 stream of the 2nd season of Kung Fu.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Most of them are computers anymore...

TV displays and computer displays have been converged for a long time now. Snooty PC users even like to gripe about it. They blame this convergence for the fact that things like “retina” laptops aren’t the norm.

Even before TV went digital, there were a lot of computers that were designed to be plugged into TVs. The main constraint was that TVs were crap as computer displays. This is why BUSINESS machines tended to avoid this idea.

Now you would be hard pressed to find a PC that can’t be hooked directly into a TV.

This mental block you’re suffering from was always pretty artificial even back when TVs and monitors had significant differences.

Ed C. says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Most of them are computers anymore...

How many have an Xbox, Wii or PS3? How many have an AppleTV, a Roku, or other box that’s capable of network connectivity? There’s an increasing number of non-PC consumer-oriented devices that connect to a TV and can either play a digital copy of the movie directly or stream it from PC over a network. The idea that you need a PC connected to your TV to use digital media is becoming antiquated. However, I bet a lot of people you know do have at least one media-capable box and don’t even know what it’s capable of.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: stop stop play

Try an HTPC($25 Raspberry Pi + $80 USB Bluray/DVD + $100 2 TB HDD + $ 230 TV 32″ LED backlight LCD + $40 low profile keyboard(it is also more quieter) + $30 mouse = one time $505 dollars expend for the next 10 years where you will need only to buy new parts and not the whole, with a plus that you now have the ability to use software based players that play anything and connect with the internet, just one TV with internet connectivity costs around that).

VLC and MPlayer can bypass those silly ads.

Anonymous Coward says:

and who now doubts that Biden wasn’t behind the Mega take down? he sits in on MPAA board meetings, he suggests how they can make customers more aware of the (non)plight of the movie industries, without the slightest thought that those customers are gonna be even more pissed off than they already were. i cant help but wonder how someone showing such stupidity, such total disrespect to the US taxpayer, consumer and citizen, actually managed to get where he is? what friends put him in this position? it cant surely be because of personal achievements!

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: A weeks worth of work

10000 were interns who did a bulk of the work for free, 3500 are those promised points if the movie makes money, 400 were positions required to make the movie happen who are being paid less because of “piracy”, 50 were execs of the studio, and the other 50 are an anomaly caused by Hollywood accounting.

PlagueSD says:

Consider the poor sucker who actually went out and paid cash money for the latest shiny disc and now has to watch a multitude of eagle-laden logos and horrible analogies parade unskippably across his or her screen before finally being allowed to watch the unskippable trailers before finally being allowed to watch 15 seconds of unskippable animation before they can actually watch the movie they’re now regretting having shelled out actual retail price for.

Or you can do what I do. Pop in the disk, and while all that “unskippable” content is playing, you can go to the bathroom, make popcorn, and do anything else that’s needed befor the movie starts. That way, when the movie DOES start, you’re ready and won’t need to pause halfway through because you forgot to do something before the movie started.

I have to thank the MPAA for giving me enough time to do all that before the movie starts. When else am I going to find the time to do all the mundane pre-movie watching activities???

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You stinkin’ pirate.* Don’t you realize that “the movie” is just a lead-in to all those quality notices and adverts? By not watching the actual reason for the DVD to exist, you are literally forcing Hollywood directors to kick puppies away from their food dishes** just so they (the directors, not the puppies) can have something to eat.

The answer to your piratical ways is obvious. Each quality notice will have to be clicked on before the next one appears. Do your pre-movie-watching activity on your own time.

* Upon knowledge and belief, you are not a stinkin’ pirate.
** Hollywood directors don’t kick puppies away from food dishes. That’s what butlers are for.

Mesonoxian Eve (profile) says:

Well, it can get worse:

In the middle of the greatest action scene in movie history, up pops up a black bar in the lower half of the screen: “THIS MOVIE WILL NOT BE PROFITABLE BECAUSE YOUR FRIENDS PIRATE.”, written in yellow, and comes with animations of an eagle fighting against a pirate ship, with sound effects so loud, it drowns out the dialogue on screen.

In 10 years, though, it’ll be the ultimate annoyance: you have to buy a disk, feature 2 hours of anti-piracy messages, before you’re allowed to access the movie online.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

And they still don’t thank you for paying to see the movie or purchasing the DVD/Blu-Ray. It always makes me feel good when I put in my legally-purchased disc and the first thing that comes up is the anti-piracy warning from the FBI. Hey fuck nuts I paid for the movie.

Oh, and thanks for the stupid copy-protection on DVDs and Blu-Rays that makes it impossible to watch movies on my desktop computer. Thank god I have a program that removes all that junk and creates a file that I can play – and without the FBI warning.

Hey entertainment industry, if you made it easy for me to watch what I want when I want and on what device I want, I’d probably double, even quadruple how much money I spend on your content.

Ed C, says:

Re: Re:

Oh, and thanks for the stupid copy-protection on DVDs and Blu-Rays that makes it impossible to watch movies on my desktop computer.

The software is out there for just about any current desktop OS to play DVDs. The only thing that could possibly stop you from watching is the lack of a DVD drive.

I don’t have Blu-Ray, but the encryption has been cracked for awhile now. There’s probably software out there for any current desktop OS that supports it, whether it’s legal or not is another matter.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The software is out there for just about any current desktop OS to play DVDs. The only thing that could possibly stop you from watching is the lack of a DVD drive.

If you have a Linux OS you can only watch a DVD illegally. Since the powers that be have refused to license CSS for Linux use, you have to descramble the DVD with DeCSS (libdvdcss or libdvdcss2), thereby “circumventing the copy protection” and violating the DMCA in the process.

Basically, I have to break the law to watch the DVD’s I own on my preferred OS. Nice.

Robert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Or you could purchase a distro of GNU/Linux that comes with libdvdcss/2 because they signed a license and paid the fee.

Is there a free version for Windoze? All I have ever seen is the ones that are OEM, which means the cost of the machine (or OS) included the license feel and SW required to read the DVD.

I’m willing to bet that license was a LOT cheaper than what they will charge a GNU/Linux distro.

See, corruption and greed are everywhere!

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Or you could purchase a distro of GNU/Linux that comes with libdvdcss/2 because they signed a license and paid the fee.

Are you sure about this? I know that a few distros offer libdvdcss from their own repositories, but I think they are just gambling with the law.

The problem is that the DVDCAA won’t give a license to a loose organization, only corporations.

Now I know that at one time Linsphere was offered with a DVD viewing license, but was discontinued because no one wanted to pay for the distro.

cosmicrat (profile) says:

In 4 years...

Assuming we defeat the menace of Darth Romney, Biden will be the presidential nominee in 4 short years. We need to keep hammering this administration hard to get them to ease up on the copyright/patent maximalism. Make it a campaign issue. I wouldn’t hope for them to join EFF and condemn the MPAA, but a position of moderacy might be achievable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Real Math Time...

Based on the image above, if this were a physical product, by all reasoning, it would be fully paid for once the film makes $12,397,964.32, based on the national average wage index for 2011 (socialsecurity.gov) and the fact that this film apparently required 600,000 work hours. If you add, say, a 13.11% markup (the average grocery store markup, according to Integra Information Systems), this film should belong to the public sometime after breaking $14,023,337.44, with the studio pocketing an extra $1,625,373.12 (or, almost 38 average annual salaries). That’s a weak opening weekend for some films. Even with a 100% markup…

Also, if you look at the numbers in the image, it means that each employee worked an average of about 42 hours, or a full-time week where you skip two lunches. Of course, that assumes that (a) they are all full-time employees with benefits and everything, and (b) they are all getting paid.

Milton Freewater says:

Promoting piracy?

I don’t know anybody else who reads TechDirt or follows news about copyright. These measures have been many of my friends’ first exposure to the idea that free competition exists.

The assumption the everybody knows about “piracy” and knows how to do it is incorrect. This stuff is great pro-piracy advertising. They ]let every paying customer know they missed out.

So why would the MPAA really do this? I have a thought … we’re back to the lie promoted by the RIAA ten years ago that file-sharers are exchanging “perfect copies” just as good as the CDs you buy.

The RIAA used the piracy controversy to promote the idea that MP3s were CD quality and had monetary value. They don’t, and they are inferior, but they have higher margins.

I wonder what the MPAA really wants.

Anonymous Coward says:

“There’s not much real estate left for anti-piracy infotainment. The front end has had it for years. This takes care of the back. Maybe they’ll start popping up factoids and warnings at the bottom of the screen during the actual running time, making the movie-going experience indistinguishable from a night in front of broadcast television.”

Wait…don’t they already do that? Seems like one out of every five movies I’ve seen in the last couple year tends to have annoying “This is a screener copy, do not redistribute” text at the bottom of it…

That One Guy (profile) says:

I can't believe I'm doing this but...

I have to wonder if maybe the reason they(the MPAA) are implementing this isn’t so much that they think it’s a good idea, but rather they are considering who it came from.

It’s kinda like laughing at a boss’ lame jokes. It doesn’t matter if it was funny or not, you’re dealing with a person who has the power to make your life a whole lot better, or a whole lot worse, so it’s in your best interest to stay on his good side.

Anonymous Coward says:

And this is why I’ll never buy one of their products again. They don’t have to worry about me downloading them either because I refuse to buy,rent,download,watch,listen, or talk about any of their products.

I use to be a huge movie and music buff and on many occasions I’ve spent more than I really should have. Ever since the Megaupload shit I quit and trust me it was not easy at all.

Lets just forget the urge for a good movie or song. I’ve had a handful of my friends actually pissed off at me. Why? Well I was usually the one that went to see every new movie on the release date. Same goes for buying music.

I loved talking about the stuff I thought was fucking awesome. I’ve always had a taste for pretty much all genres for music and video.

My point is if I have to give up media for my freedoms so be it.

Violated (profile) says:

Hopeless

So Biden sits on the board of the MPAA now. Another reason to fire Obama/Biden even if their rivals are almost as bad.

It does make you sad that there is no good choice. I well recall Obama’s early promises to transparent government and to respect the law. It is also not like he has done much to earn that Nodel Peace Prize he got.

Then what can you say to yet more anti-piracy messages. File-sharers if they see them just ignore them and it is not like adding more won’t stop them ignoring them still when it only increases their level of annoyance and to validate their belief in piracy.

Joey says:

thieves

I don’t watch much of anything Hollywood has produced, frankly, Harvey Weinstein looks like a able bodied Larry Flynt to me. But then again, I’ve shut off practically all the frills on these browsers because I actually read for meaning. Today, as a former musician, I really don’t have much sympathy for the audiences or the producers. Politicians, one by one, can drop dead over it. It is interesting however that when ever I’m in a liberal town, they expect, frankly demand we do everything as a volunteer instead. So they’ve downloaded all the tunes, and have a taste for trash -note the 2012 election results. Artists always get screwed, that’s life, and that’s not why Biden is so concerned as well. It’s the Harvey Weinsteins of the world Biden is more concerned about. I’ll bet Biden, and Obama, have illegal music on their little gadgets. It probably doesn’t even faze them to talk out of both sides their mouths depending on the audience.

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