How Hollywood's Own Pirates Must Inform The Future Of Copyright

from the not-so-black-and-white dept

A guest post from Peter Richman, a lawyer working in the motion picture industry in Los Angeles.

After last year’s Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) debacle, Hollywood quietly retreated from the copyright debate to nurse its wounds and rethink strategy. Now, with recent activity at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the introduction of the Copyright Alert System (CAS), the industry is poised to re-enter the conversation with a fresh plan. As MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd recently admitted to the National Press Club, “I’m looking for a new approach.” But in the wake of SOPA, with opposition from Silicon Valley and little traction in D.C., is there anywhere left to look? As it turns out, Dodd’s answers may be waiting in the unlikeliest of places — Hollywood’s own backyard.

Don’t let the party line fool you — if there’s one thing the film and television industry can’t live without, it’s copyright infringement. Ask any assistant. Piracy in Hollywood is not just a quiet expectation, it’s a stated requirement, and oftentimes a formal part of job training. When I started as a studio assistant, one of the first lessons I learned was how to rip an encrypted DVD. But it’s not just the studios. From agencies to management firms to offices all over town, the volume of infringing material that trades hands on a daily basis makes Hollywood look like a Chinese flea market.

Let’s take an example. An agent wants to introduce her new director client to the town. How best to make the introduction? Burn 40 copies of the client’s debut feature and send them out to producers. Now one of the producers watches the film and sees potential for a big-budget remake. How does he pitch the project to financiers? Burn another dozen copies and send them out. Now one of the financiers watches the film and wants to gauge the opinion of a younger demographic. So he burns a few copies and sends them to his daughters at college. And just like that, 3 executives (and their assistants) have committed over 50 acts of copyright infringement.

Now multiply that by the daily routine of buying, selling, and trading movies, TV shows, books, and comics, and piracy in Hollywood starts to look less like a dirty secret and more like a cultural norm. But beyond the illegality and hypocrisy of the situation lies a much more salient point which is its sheer, bottom-line necessity. Because the truth is, there’s no better alternative, and not even a close second. The quick pace of the industry requires a constant flow of content and infringement is the way to get it done. In Hollywood, piracy isn’t a matter of legal rights; it’s just business.

So where does that leave industry policy? While it’s safe to assume the MPAA doesn’t endorse the casual infringement that courses through the industry, the organization is working hard to distance itself from SOPA’s one-size-fits-all approach to IP protection. From Dodd’s consistent rhetoric of cooperation to the recent appointment of Diane Strahan as COO, the MPAA has made a clear push to partner with the technology industry in the distribution and protection of digital content. Some may question whether these efforts are genuine — is Strahan’s background with UltraViolet and digital rights management the right type of experience for the job? Nevertheless, assuming the best, while it’s certainly refreshing to see the industry operate under a banner of collaboration, the real question is whether these efforts are sufficient to craft a new, comprehensive copyright regime.

Let’s take a step back. In the larger scheme of finding Dodd’s “new approach,” there’s one inescapable reality — intellectual property protection is a matter of law. Business strategies and technological advances shape the means of consuming and distributing content, but without a legal foundation for support, they’ll continue to operate on shaky ground. Because as we’ve seen, whenever a new wall goes up, a new tunnel isn’t far behind. And there’s the elephant in the room of the MPAA’s newfound belief in tech-centric partnerships — what happens when those tunnels are exposed? When the CAS is subverted? When Ultraviolet is hacked? How will the MPAA respond when the new salvos break and we’re left with the same copyright legislation still woefully unsuited to the times?

Enter the Hollywood pirates. This is where industry infringement can move the needle by highlighting the absolute kookiness of our copyright laws. The MPAA professes to support our current policy in the name of the agents, executives, and filmmakers who undermine that policy every single day. So what gives? Does the MPAA ignore its industry’s behavior and retreat to the comfort of the status quo? Or does it stick with its new message, swallow the bitter pill, and truly commit to a new approach?

The answer comes down to leadership, and if Chris Dodd’s words are anything to go by, I’m inclined to hope for the latter. In every speech, press release, and policy paper, the MPAA makes sure to stress one common point — job creation. The film and television industry creates jobs — not just in Los Angeles and New York, but across all 50 states. Those jobs are what the MPAA says it’s fighting for, and when the industry says stop pirating, those jobs and a respect for their craft are a reason many of us listen. There are a host of issues wrapped up in the copyright debate — creative, business, legal, technological — but when the dust settles, the industry spends nearly $15 million a year on lobbying to protect its own interests and that means the jobs of its constituents.

So when a core requirement of those very jobs is to pirate copyright material, it is incumbent on the MPAA leadership to take a close look at the industry it represents and figure out why. If Dodd takes that look, he’ll see the reality on the ground — that there are scenarios where an owner can’t control all uses of her work. That speed, or convenience, or necessity may take priority over a legal claim. In short, that content “in the wild” can take on a life of its own.

And sometimes that’s a good thing.

Piracy facilitates business in this industry – and that means jobs. Obviously, the physical copying of Hollywood mailrooms is a far cry from the digital and international piracy truly threatening the studios, but the takeaway remains the same — copyright is complicated, content is malleable, and any honest attempt to institute a new intellectual property regime needs to be flexible enough to accommodate the times. It may mean carve-outs and exceptions, it may mean years of research, and it may mean a renewed commitment to the legislative process. No matter the path, it means that as Dodd continues looking for a new approach, instead of starting on Capitol Hill or in Silicon Valley, Hollywood might be the place to look after all.

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Companies: mpaa

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Comments on “How Hollywood's Own Pirates Must Inform The Future Of Copyright”

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Akari Mizunashi (profile) says:

Re: Re:

” This is from a lawyer working within the movie industry.”
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, that if Universal had not lost its case against Sony, if this lawyer would have his job today.

Some of the points he made I can see, but this is coming from a regime that’s been hell bent on suing everything out of existence and I don’t see any light at the end of the Hollywood tunnel.

For that light, I rely on those who are doing the digging.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This. This will be the troll bait article. There will be no way has_got_an_ass_crack_of_bob’s_average_lube will be able to stop themselves going ape shit over this.
I wonder how long it’ll take them to realize that this isn’t Mike. This is from a lawyer working within the movie industry.

What would be the point? The comments are full of nonthinking trolls like yourself, and Mike is too chicken shit to engage detractors on the merits.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Again, how can Mike be “chicken shit” aka cowardly, if he daily publishes articles like this? If he were a coward, he’d be doing the opposite, wouldn’t he?

Non-thinking? And how would you define me as non-thinking? For that to be true, I’d have had to have never had a debate, or practiced critical thinking. Seems maybe you ought to do that yourself, or maybe you wouldn’t have embarrassed yourself as you just did.

Your constant complaint of Mike not debating you? Nullified, because it is completely pointless. I don’t care if he doesn’t. Mike doesn’t care. You don’t care, otherwise you’d be more serious about trying to have an actual debate, rather than constantly screeching about in a way that you cannot help but know will hurt what you’re preaching.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Mike is too chicken shit to engage detractors on the merits.”

I don’t seem to recall that.

I DO seem to recall someone pestering Mike for days for him to respond to something akin to the old “do you still beat your wife?” thing.

Other than that, I have no clue what the heck you are talking about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Other than that, I have no clue what the heck you are talking about.

It’s not difficult to understand. Mike pumps out article after article, making ridiculous claims that he can’t back up. When challenged in the comments, he runs away like a little girl. Every. Time. I know you guys think he’s great. I think he’s a manipulative asshole who can’t back up what he writes.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“making ridiculous claims that he can’t back up.”

For one, I hope you understand that Mike didn’t write this, but a move industry lawyer?
Second, Mike’s articles ARE backed up. Every time! See those words in blue? Those are links. Try clicking on them. He’s telling us where he gets his information from!

And what about the thousands of times you’ve been challenged in the comments, but you’ve run away like a little girl? What’s your excuse? At least Mike has explained why he doesn’t with you: because he feels it isn’t worth it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

The fact remains that Mike is a complete coward who will not–nay, cannot–stand behind his posts. My challenge to him remains: He picks the topic, place, and time. He can get all of his minions and hordes of lawyers to chime in backing him up. I will have no help whatsoever. Let’s debate. Even under those extremely lopsided conditions, he’s too chicken shit to defend even one point that he’s made. Total fake. Total coward. Total bullshit and he knows it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

“Why won’t you debate me?” This again AJ? Really?

It’s been said repeatedly. YOU DON’T WANT TO, NOR ARE YOU CAPABLE OF, DEBATE.

Mike backs up what he claims and believes all the time. He just doesn’t do so with you. See the link above for all of the reasons why.

I find it freaking hilarious that it gets your panties in such a twist because of this.

I seriously hope Mike never ever responds to you ever again. For any reason whatsoever.

Just. Go. Away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

He reminds me of those trolls that yet at people and call them cowards to try and get them to “live debate” on some stupid website so when they connect they can yell at them and scream obscenities until they disconnect and then they return to the chat and start talking about what a no nothing moron the person was.

I still have no idea wtf is wrong with these people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Just. Go. Away.

It’s a simple fact. Mike Masnick is too chicken shit to have a debate with me about copyright on the merits where we answer each other’s direct questions with direct answers. Mike has nothing but excuses. He won’t debate me because he can’t, and because he knows for a fact that I make him look bad every time. That’s the ONLY reason why he makes excuses. If he thought he could beat me, he’d be more than happy to have a debate. But because he KNOWS he can’t, he makes excuses and runs away. It’s hilarious to watch you guys defend him. What a chicken shit bullshit artist. Any time, any place, any issue, Mikey. Bring your horde of lawyers and sycophants. I don’t care. Just stop making excuses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Yep. And I’m right. I love to rub it in Mike’s face that he’s too dishonest to defend his positions even when he’s on his home turf with his sycophants and sockpuppets to defend him. Somehow it never gets old pointing this out. Thanks for playing. Too bad Mike’s too chicken shit to play too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Not something you should be proud of. You’re a lot like a jealous exgirlfriend, along with the petulant child bit. You really don’t see how childish, immature, and just plain dumb you look every time you post here? I expect not, you somehow think you are righteous and courageous and a lot other things you really aren’t. I’m sorry dude, but the only one who looks bad here is you. And you know it and You CANNOT. FUCKING. STAND. IT.

[citation needed or GTFO] says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“Softball questions?” Really?

Rikuo is asking exactly what you want to know without pertaining to ad hominems, moving the goal posts, using logical fallacies or circular arguments.

But knowing you, you would rather keep arguing for arguments sake.

Besides, why do you care what Masnick thinks? To you, he’s just a nobody with a blog. There are hundreds of political/tech blogs out there. Why single him out? He must be really “special” to you if you find him worth your time commenting about him every chance you get.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

What ‘tough’ questions? The one’s he’s answered before but you ignore? The ones where you ignore him flat-out stating the answer in the article or comments but you keep asking? Or the ones where you act like a pre-kindergardener not getting your way?

Why not ask them again, politely (i.e. without the ‘neener neener’ bit), and actually accept the answers you are given – assuming you haven’t just decided ahead of time that Mike is ‘avoiding’ you, that you disbelieve his answers automatically, and the Earth is indeed flat.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Hi, Mike Masnick. Long-time reader here. I’ve got a question about this article, I’m hoping you can answer it here in the comments. Why exactly did you publish this article and do you agree with it fully? Do you have dissenting views on certain points?

Hey Rikuo, nice to see you. I published the article because I thought it provided an interesting perspective from inside the industry — a side that we don’t often hear about.

No, I don’t agree with it fully though I do think it raises some interesting points. For some background, the article went through a series of drafts, and this end result is quite different from what was initially presented. In earlier drafts there were a few assertions made that I found hard to believe and questioned the author, noting that such claims were difficult to support, and suggesting that posting such claims would lead commenters to focus on those points, rather than the crux of the article. So in most cases, he eventually either removed those claims or changed the language to present the situation more accurately.

The key point, and the one that I found most interesting, was how much the industry makes use of piracy itself.

Personally, I’d also like to know how this might influence policy — and I think that particular point might make for a useful follow up post.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The comments are full of nonthinking trolls like yourself”

Dude, that’s harsh.

I mean, sure, it’s true that you’re a nonthinking troll, but that’s harsh to say things like that about yourself.

Besides, maybe if you provided proof to your comments that proved Mike wrong, maybe people would believe you.

Oh… What’s that? You say you can’t? Tis a shame.

trish says:

Maybe I’m misunderstanding here, but it seems you’re saying it’s okay for Hollywood to pirate and do exactly what it’s asking the government to outlaw for the little people, becuase they employ people. As opposed to “the digital and international piracy truly threatening the studios”.
Threaten the freedom of the people? ok. Threaten the profits of greedy corporations? Call the lawyers.

out_of_the_blue says:

SHEESH! Lawyer redefines ripping a single DVD as "piracy"!

“When I started as a studio assistant, one of the first lessons I learned was how to rip an encrypted DVD.”

Is it possible you’re so stupid as to not be able to figure that out on your own?


Where you’ll find THOUSANDS of torrents to definitely infringed content.

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up at same place!
What are you stoopid pirates doing here? Mike supports copyright!

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: SHEESH! Lawyer redefines ripping a single DVD as "piracy"!…you and your ilk have defined ripping a single DVD as piracy. And he didn’t claim to have found it, whatever that means. When he was an assistant, ripping DVDs was more than likely the fastest most convenient way of infringing. Today, yes, the fastest most convenient way is simply Piratebay, but back then, speeds were slower, storage options were much less etc.
Eight years ago, I ripped DVDs. Now, I just download rips.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: SHEESH! Lawyer redefines ripping a single DVD as "piracy"!

This is the image I get in my head when I read that comment.

You’re walking along, and you see a new article on Techdirt on your smartphone(the site that you hate so much and yet can’t stop reading). You see its about copyright. You don’t read it, just let your eyes skim over the text until a fairly innocuous sentence jumps at you (why that one in particular?).
A rope then magically appears, you grab it and swing into the nearest building with a web connected computer, smashing through the glass window tits first, hollering and screeching and foaming at the mouth. You run to the computer, slam yourself down on the seat so fast you leave a permanent shit stain on it and fire up IE6. You then type as fast as possible and post.
Meanwhile, in all that time, you have not devoted a single pico-second to thinking about what you’re writing.

End Result: You’ve exposed yourself for a fool. Again.

[citation needed or GTFO] says:

Re: Re: SHEESH! Lawyer redefines ripping a single DVD as "piracy"!

I see him more of skimming the article, go straight to the comments, and if there’s any mention of OOTB at all, he’ll “think” to himself, “I was going to stay out of this, but it seems I’m being summoned by my peons once again. I better put my virtual horse blinders on, get my signature ready and turn my snarky attitude from “Suck” to “Blow.” I hope my “fans” appreciate the sacrifices I make to give them this entertainment for free!”

Actually, maybe that’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s connecting with his “fanbase” and giving people reasons to come to TechDirt via his insecure jock-like signature.

Wow, he’s pulling off the CwF + RtB formula without even trying. Clearly he’s the TechDirt messiah we’ve waited for! [/sarc]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: SHEESH! Lawyer redefines ripping a single DVD as "piracy"!

The point, boy, is that the studios and associated personnel commit “piracy” (as defined by themselves) on a daily (and probably hourly) basis.
It’s hypocricy of the highest order…”Do as I say, not as I do.”

Make your quota of comments for your corporate masters yet, boy?

Robert Doyle (profile) says:

Re: SHEESH! Lawyer redefines ripping a single DVD as "piracy"!

Hold on – I just want to make sure I understand this – are you saying that piracy is only a matter of scale?

These guys have millions… and if they think the director/producer/actor whatever is worth promoting, why don’t they just buy those 10 copies? It’s still likely to only cost them lass than 50 bucks. And it would allow them to travel on the “moral high ground.”

Put your money where your morals are.

S. T. Stone says:

Re: SHEESH! Lawyer redefines ripping a single DVD as "piracy"!

?Lawyer redefines ripping a single DVD as ?piracy?!?

According to the DMCA, ripping a DVD with any form of copy protection/DRM on it counts as an act of copyright infringement (i.e. ?piracy?). Each successive act of copying also counts as piracy.

Oh, and copyright law itself defines ?piracy? as making unlawful copies of a copyrighted work without the consent of the copyright holder. How many of those burned DVD copies do you think the copyright owner in the fictional scenario talked about in the article knows about, much less approved of from the start?

Yes, ripping DVDs and BDs (Blu-ray Discs) counts as piracy. Yes, the MPAA fighting against The Pirate Bay while using piracy to help create jobs counts as hypocrisy.

Besides, the MPAA doesn?t really fear its own content getting out on The Pirate Bay.

It actually fears the tools for easier content creation getting out on The Pirate Bay.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: SHEESH! Lawyer redefines ripping a single DVD as "piracy"!

I’m telling ya.. I’m sure that OOTB is a lead up to one of the biggest April fools pranks in this decade.

It’s a conspiracy to get us all commenting.. (It works too) and becoming blas? about OOTB and his/her/its weirdness and then on April 1… BAM!!! It will all be revealed that [Editor: due to technical difficulties this comment could not be finalised ]

Anonymous Coward says:

You have to realize, IP law is not just about stopping infringement. IP laws is about stopping competing services that attempt to legally distribute content created by authors and artist who wish to distribute it.

For example, if a restaurant or another venue attempts to host independent performers they will either have to pay a parasite third party a fee or they will face an expensive lawsuit. This deters these entities from hosting independent performers which stops competition, not just infringement. It hurts artists, performers, and the public and only helps the parasite middlemen executives that don’t have to compete as much.

Veoh was shut down for no good reason, even though it did nothing illegal, because it offered a competing services and it couldn’t pay for the lawsuits against it. Even bakeries are afraid of allowing children to put custom drawings on birthday cakes because they may put something that infringes and the bakeries don’t want to get sued.

Until this is fixed, until the penalty structure in IP law is more balanced and those who go after others with bogus lawsuits and simply attempt to use these laws as a means of stopping competition are sufficiently and proportionally punished, these laws will continue to serve the intended purpose of stopping competition and not just infringement.

DannyB (profile) says:

The real issue is circumvention of DRM

Let’s not call it piracy. After all, these copies may be being made with the blessing of the copyright owner.

The real issue is that they feel it is okay for themselves to circumvent the DRM of an optical disk, but it is not okay for everyone else to — even for legitimate purposes such as playing it back later on my tablet.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The real issue is circumvention of DRM

Sorry, I should have put this in quotes before saying “Not likely”.

“After all, these copies may be being made with the blessing of the copyright owner.”
It’s often not likely that any infringing like this is done with the blessing of the copyright holder, since as the article describes, its done by people who are not employees of the studio, who retain the copyrights.

cosmicrat (profile) says:

Wish I could +10

So very true. The crews I work with trade burned DVDs and mp3s frequently. It’s not uncommon to hear a producer say to an actor “…oh, you should see that. I’ll burn you a copy”. It’s simply the most convenient way. One thing to keep in mind about the industry is that the crew in the trenches, even lower level producers, have little love for the accountants/lawyers/exec. producers/CEOs at the top of the food chain. About as much in common as a liberal democrat working stiff bank teller has with the CEO of BofA.

To be fair though, we must note the author’s final paragraph. We feel no guilt at sharing a DVD with a friend, but very few of us would upload a torrent of something high profile. If copyright infringment never expanded beyond an occasional copy of a DVD between friends, the freakout that led to SOPA would not have happened, or would have been much attenuated. It’s the mass sharing that really has the CEOs and shareholders worried. Since distribution is moving almost wholesale to an online scenario it has them doubly freaked about the future.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Wish I could +10

” It’s the mass sharing that really has the CEOs and shareholders worried.”

I have to differ with you there, my friend. The way you wrote that, it sounds like that mass sharing happened, and only then, did the CEO’s get worried about it.
Last I checked, they’ve regularly fought against each new technology as it was developed and oftentimes before it was released. They sued the makers of the first MP3 player, back when the thought of mass infringing of MP3 song files had yet to hit the mainstream consciousness.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wish I could +10

So according to your post:

1) It’s okay to share something with a friend, but not okay to share it with the public (upload/torrent)

What’s the limit to a “friend”? I have 500ish Facebook friends (and that used to be over 1,000). Do they all count?

2) CEOs get to determine what’s wrong and make the laws

Why? They’re paycheck is already in the millions. Let the people/public have a say too.

3) burning/ripping DVDs is okay because it’s convenient

And torrenting is not? Or is it the file size that’s the issue? If so what’s the size limit?

4) We pirate everyday and we understand for a business to run efficiently it has to happen but it shouldn’t be done recreationally cause it costs businesses.

Copyright in general is supposed to serve and protect the public not the corporations. I supposed you can argue jobs, but making more jobs shouldn’t be the full goal/focus of our economy. I mean hell, if it is, let’s take every job and split it into 2 or 3 or 4 right? I’m sure the CEOs could afford to split their pay with some of the “liberal bank tellers” right?

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

It’s interesting, I found this article – that vaguely mentions a certain DMCA exemption that allows people to rip CDs to their computers (may explain why the RIAA has never taken a position on whether or not ripping to your computer and ipod is making an “unauthorized copy”).

It also mentions how the MPAA has been fighting to prevent DVDs from entering into an exemption for copying (I’m guessing because DVDs were or still are a big chunk of their revenue), which is pretty two-faced given that the ones signing their checks are doing that exact thing.

MD says:

Not Exactly

Much as it pains me deeply to defend Hollywood in any way, shape or form…

If this were all the studios had to worry about, then there wouldn’t be a hue and cry about piracy. Sneakernet, or snailnet, copies for “non-entertainment” purposes more like research, education, critique, etc.?? Where have we heard that before? it’s the classroom-type exception that should be part and parcel of copyright law. It simply proves the point that the copyright law does not give the necessary flexibility for normal business opertations.

The Hollywood studios’ problem is that there is a massive free-for-all on the internet, coupled with a massive commercial rip-off or knock-off industry. As a result, it is arguable that the movie studios lose revenue, like the recording studios before them. Much of this is, of course, their own stupidity in not getting in front of the parade and leading it to the correct place of availability and price-point.

There’s a big difference between making a few copies for friends (or business reasons) and making it available to a hundered million of your closest friends.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Not Exactly

Have to differ with you too. You may have somewhat of a point there in the difference when sharing between different numbers of friends, but Hollywood’s actions in attempting to destroy every piece of technology as its developed are clear proof of how they think. If the RIAA had succeeded in legally ban-hammering MP3 players, the music industry as a whole would be much smaller than it is today.

Besides, the copyright cartels have never been holden to the ideals of the fair use exceptions, given that they massively DMCA takedown content without once thinking about them. If they’re not going to bother with fair use, why should I? Why should you?

MD says:

Re: Re: Not Exactly

Like I said, I don’t want to defend Hollywood. They don’t deserve it.

There is of course, no easy way to limit BitTorrent while allowing sneakerNapster; and obviously, Hollywood has no interest in allowing it anyway.

The problem is as described in the article – when does “burning a few copies for the daughter’s friends” stop being research and start being an entertaiment-purposed giveaway? Why “Several copies” if the purpose was “ask your friends what they think?” Plus of course, once someone has a copy, eventually everyone could have one…

Wait until someone figures out how to write the law to allow the necessary and purposeful uses (i.e. “fair use”), but stop the wholesale giveaways, then things might be rosy and everyone would be happy. But I don’t know any way to write such a law – valid sharing is like porn, it can’t be defined but you know it when you see it. Hollywood in its strict fundamentalist way sees porn in every fileshare except the ones it wants to overlook.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Not Exactly

“There’s a big difference between making a few copies for friends (or business reasons) and making it available to a hundred million of your closest friends.”

Sorry, but, you’re quite wrong.

When it’s come to “piracy”, the MPAA has ALWAYS been against it.

The VHS? “It’s going to do to the movies what the Boston Strangler does to women!”

Player Piano? “No one will make music anymore!”

Radio? “No one will go to concerts!”

MD says:

Re: Re: Not Exactly

No, I’m right. The MPAA is wrong.

MPAA/RIAA says there’s no difference. Yes, both sharing with a buddy and sharing with a million buddies are wrong, but there is such a thing as degree of wrong.

As I said in my other post, it’s Hollywood fundamentalist “religion” at work to claim that you should burn in hell forever whether you make one copy or a million copies. A white lie is not the same as perjuring yourself to send someone to the electric chair, except in the eyes of a fundamentalist.

Just cuz the MPAA says its so doesn’t make it so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not Exactly

There are several points to this:

– Difference between “making available” and “copying”
– Where do you draw the line between exempted behaviour and infringement?
– Knock-off can be dealt with under the current regime of laws

Mike has earlier made the case for “making available” being legal and “copying” being illegal. I won’t go there.
The DMCA has some shaky procedure for determining if something is infringing or not. WIPO has a completely different view on exemption that is inconsistent with US interpretation. Information acquiring can be done from person to person and online universities further blur the line between internet piracy and education.
Non-commercial use on Youtube is getting boned and often it can be hard to determine if it is legal or illegal use. “Knock-off” is usually refering to a rewrite of the song and rerecording. There is the possibility of making a forced royalty for such uses to compensate artists already. Why they hijack Youtube videos for commercials is “because they can”, not because it is right or just!

Anonymous Coward says:

i find it it insulting that the emphasis here is put on the protection of/ creation of jobs. how many articles have been released stating that the promise of jobs was accompanied by a request to be able to film in a particular location? that promise turned out on all occasions to be false, with the studios concerned bringing all the necessary staff on location with them. only a couple of weeks a go there was a post here about a town spending it’s pension money or something supporting a movie then didn’t get any employment and got no money back (good ol’ Hollywood accounting coming into play!). if that’s the sort of job creation and job protection you mean, you need to throw it out the window. i know i wouldn’t trust the lying fuckers in the entertainment industries as far as i could spit and that isn’t far!!

Ninja (profile) says:

I agree with the general idea of the article but some of it is misguided or something.

The future will be hybrid systems where people will pay an amount for the access (ie very few bucks) and then a very tiny amount (micropayments, flattr style maybe) to grab those movies via p2p with some extra premium for faster downloads or to maintain the 1:1 ratio (much like private trackers with better structure and support). And people will share whatever, whenever with whoever without any problem.

And yes, revolution may start from inside.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“then a very tiny amount (micropayments, flattr style maybe) to grab those movies via p2p “

To me, it makes sense to pay for premium access to a cyberlocker…but pay for p2p? With a cyberlocker, you’re paying the one company to access that one company’s database. But with p2p? Who are you paying? Where does the money go? What does it support? Why would I bother paying for faster acess for p2p?

Milton Freewater says:

EXACTLY. Some sanity, finally.

The sharing and selling(!) of promo copies of music, movies and books has been the norm for decades.

All the Internet did was change the scope of what people were doing all along. The individual acts are the same as they ever were.

Back in the day, we bought used promos and new copies too. Every recently study – literally EVERY one – states the same is true today.

If the RIAA hadn’t lied in 2002, and if their trolls and lobbyists weren’t lying today, this discussion would be over and people would pay at the same rate as they would without “piracy” options.

(The 00s decline in sales was about a recession and declining interest in ownership. “Piracy” was both a symptom and a coincidence, but we now know, not a cause.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: EXACTLY. Some sanity, finally.

It’s not really sanity when a key point he makes is that there is a type of ‘digital and international piracy truly threatening the studios’, a consistently stated, always unproven and regularly disproven view.

He may not be the worst of them but by claiming harm as a fact when it is not a fact will always lead to ridiculous and terrible laws that attempt to address a min existent problem.

I’d also suggest that the internet did not really change the scope of copyright infringement in the average person’s life but simply made it visible.

Added to the fact that the movie and music industries have such a long history of claiming that every new advance that has opened up and increased their markets and profits will be the death knell of their industries from player pianos to VCRs they have demonstrated that their instincts are always exactly wrong.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: EXACTLY. Some sanity, finally.

It’s not really sanity when a key point he makes is that there is a type of ‘digital and international piracy truly threatening the studios’, a consistently stated, always unproven and regularly disproven view.

I think that was really a side point. It could have been left out entirely without affecting his thesis much.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

It's not infringement if it's permitted

The thing is, a Copyright is only infringed if the copy was made without permission.

If all of Hollywood is doing this, then this sort of copying is clearly tacitly permitted, if not outright licensed, by the movie studios and the creative types.

Copying a movie for review by other producers and directors is obviously far different than WaReZ4eVa torrenting movies because he doesn’t want to pay the $9.99 ticket price at the local Hollywood Cinema.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's not infringement if it's permitted

Doesn’t work that way.

You can say that because all of Hollywood does it, it’s fine, but if I burn a DVD to my smart phone or tablet, I’m breaking the law and am a horrible criminal for doing so.

and while ripping a copy to give to a director or producer might be permitted and expected, I’m pretty sure that ripping it and giving it to 50 more people goes into copyright infringement.

Or is it only okay when Hollywood does it and not when someone else does it?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: It's not infringement if it's permitted

If all of Hollywood is doing this, then this sort of copying is clearly tacitly permitted, if not outright licensed, by the movie studios and the creative types.

Even if that’s true, it’s still a violation of the DMCA. That’s one of the things that’s so pernicious about it: it outlaws bypassing technical protection measures even to do something that would otherwise be legal.

cosmicrat (profile) says:

No one pretends it's legal

When crew members share discs with each other, when producers do it, whoever, no one pretends it’s all on the up and up. You don’t do it in front of a suit from corporate, you don’t talk about it. These people understand its infringement. But there is, as I have pointed out, a consciousness about whether it’s low grade or personal infringement vs. massive scale infringement. Do the one and the bosses look the other way, do the other and you lose your job.

Eponyous Coward says:

The Narrative of Hypocrites

I’d imagine the way they would try to rationalize this reality of their piracy is that their piracy creates opportunities, while our piracy destroys opportunities, but that just may be my own strawman though… This illustrates again that piracy can be a positive as well as a negative force for all sorts of creators, though the MPAA, RIAA, et al. just want to push the narrative of piracy as completely negative for them (as if they care about creators beyond someone to leverage to make a paycheck). It brings up memories of:

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