As NAFTA Negotiations Finish Up, Hopefully The USTR Remembers That The Internet Has Been Good For Creators Too

from the that-would-be-good dept

Over at MorningConsult I have an op-ed piece I co-wrote with Rachel Wolbers from Engine talking about why the continued attempt by Hollywood to portray debates over intermediary liability protections and fair use as being “tech” v. “creators” is completely misguided. As we’ve noted, Hollywood has used this framing to try to use the NAFTA renegotiations as a backdoor way to adjust US policy both here and in Canada and Mexico. And the end result would harm not just the internet but most creators who rely on the internet to create, promote, connect with fans, and to make money.

If Congress and the courts have established a framework that has led to unprecedented growth of content creation and a booming technology industry, why would NAFTA negotiators weaken these rules through international trade agreements? Unfortunately, legacy copyright gatekeepers, such as the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, are using their outsized influence in Washington to undermine internet safe harbors and rewrite copyright law to protect their bottom line. To do this, they are unfairly trying to pit content creators against the tech community. That argument may resonate inside the Beltway, but outside D.C., small tech companies and independent content creators work hand-in-hand to promote innovation and creativity.

Startups and artists frequently work together to launch new platforms that help creators collaborate, share, distribute, promote, and monetize their content. And that makes sense because startups and artists know they must constantly hustle to grow their respective customer bases and attract investments and a following. To do this effectively, both groups need access to foreign markets so that they can scale. But they also need a legal framework that lets innovators pursue the same business models abroad that they do at home. And while Canada and Mexico remain the largest markets for U.S. startup exports, the internet has exponentially expanded the growth potential of entrepreneurs and artists alike. This trend will only continue if we continue to have a clear legal framework guiding how content can be shared.

There’s a lot more in the piece, so go check it out. And, as a reminder, we’re still collecting stories of how you use the internet to create over at our site

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Comments on “As NAFTA Negotiations Finish Up, Hopefully The USTR Remembers That The Internet Has Been Good For Creators Too”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Unfair competition for the top slot that

We remember that the USTR is paid, vicariously as their appointments are made by elected officials who receive bribes (a.k.a. campaign contributions), and stand to gain from post appointment employment (and possibly other means) to do what their benefactors desire, rather than the business of the people. Those benefactors are gatekeepers, not creators. Those that scream that ‘pirating is killing creators’ tend not to mention who holds the copyrights of the creators. It is often not the creator.

This whole Internet thingy, where one can publish their own works and retain their copyrights, is a threat to those gatekeepers. That is why those gatekeepers spend so much ‘graft’ money to protect THEIR interests. They could give a damn about creators.

To those who then argue that the gatekeepers provide valuable assistance to creators need to understand two things. The the first is Hollywood Accounting™ owned by Hollywood Accountants et. al.. The second is that all that valuable assistance is available directly to the creators without giving up ones copyright. Yes it might have to be paid for. But if your creation is valuable, and you cannot provide those things considered assistance on your own, it may be just part of doing business. And if your creation isn’t valuable, then a lesson is learned about how value is created, or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: WHERE is this "This whole Internet thingy," of which you speak?

"where one can publish their own works and retain their copyrights"

THIS is actual position of Techdirt and fanboys on copyright:

"But not the natural rights to copy and distribute. Those existed prior to copyright law and exist with or without copyright. Copyright restricts those rights by law, that’s all. Once a work is released beyond the original author, the natural rights of copying and distribution exist. Period. The only way to truly restrict those rights on a particular work is to lock that work in your bottom desk drawer and never let anyone else see it."

As I asked long ago: IF Masnick "supports copyright" then what are all the pirates doing here?

Anonymous Coward says:

Msnick doesn't "support copyright" only opportunity to publish.

Then, after a work is published anywhere in digital form, he regards it as an "infinite good" that should be freely available to all, with the creator getting any income indirectly — most famously the suggested method is by selling T-shirts.

Masnick does NOT support the "Exclusive Right" to control copies which is in the body of the US Constitution. Masnick does not believe that Authors have the Right to control copies, and his argument is that in the modern age, Authors CANNOT in practice control copies, so they might as well give up, try to gain money some other way.

But it’s always been easier to copy than to create, and the moral imperative of paying tribute with a pittance to enjoy someone else’s work remains. — In a key evasion, Masnick never wants to discuss the moral aspect.

Just read Masnick’s "Can’t Compete" piece. The trick there is that he sets up conditions of having an expensive work in hand, and its "sunk (or fixed) costs" recovered, so he can then argue that bandwidth is the only cost remaining, therefore selling price should be just above that. — His argument applies to "file hosts" and torrent sites, but not to anyone who’s out costs yet to be recovered before can gain from their work. (Note in particular that CAN work for music and books because only small up-front costs, while Masnick states a movie having $100 million costs. The notion does not scale up. It’s deliberate lying. Masnick promised to show how even high "costs can always be recovered", but has not for ten years.)

Masnick defended Napster, Pirate Bay, Rojadirect, Megaupload, and Aereo. Masnick always defends Google which in large part merely strips headlines as ruled against in the Meltwater case.

Masnick doesn’t even do token defence of any actual producers: he has nothing good to say of them, only nastily advises they find a "better business model".

steell (profile) says:

Re: Msnick doesn't "support copyright" only opportunity to publish.

You win.if you are a idiotic, ignorant troll, or some moron paid by the site to generate posts, I am done. It seems like three fourths of the comments in any thread discussing copyright are simply replies to your trollish posts. And you know what shit for brains?Calling me “kid” makes me want to reach up your ass and yank your head out.

Go fuck yourself.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A digital work is an infinite good, though. A JPEG can be copied over and over and over and over and over without any negligible cost. Compare that to a printed photograph, which requires multiple costly resources to create a single copy. And nowhere have I read Mike say “all digital works should be free, no matter what”. You seem to have confused his arguments about the idiocy of “artificial scarcity” vis-á-vis digital goods with explicit support for piracy.

The “right to control copies” did not, and still does not, account for how cheap and easy anyone can distribute digital works across the Internet. Authors can try to retain complete, iron-fisted control of distribution, sure—though once a single illicit copy makes its way onto the World Wide Web, that battle is lost. The ideal practice, in Mike’s theories about this subject, is to use those digital goods as a “loss leader”, so to speak, for something that cannot easily be pirated or duplicated. If a musician can give away an album for free, they can build up an audience who will pay to see that musician perform live—and while someone can always upload a bootleg of a concert, that does not replicate the experience of being at the concert in person.

Creating a work does not, and should not, guarantee even a “pittance” unless the work was made on commission. “Potential” income is not real income. And if some people do not want to pay that pittance, that is their problem and they, not Mike, must decide whether piracy is something they consider moral.

And by the by, artists and copyright holders should be searching for a better business model. Old models cannot last forever; nothing ever does. Hell, if you want to get down to brass tacks, the furry community has that shit on lockdown: In addition to straight-up commissions, lots of furry artists also do “Your Character Here” commissions (people pay to have their character inserted into a pre-posed image), “adoptables” (characters and character designs put up for “adoption” to the highest bidder), and other custom commission types. They also sell physical items such as con badges, enamel pins, stickers, shirts, artbooks, and even body pillow covers. And the overwhelming majority of furry artists do all of this while posting the bulk of their finished works for free to sites such as FurAffinity. They own their copyrights, they own their own “businesses”, and while most furries frown upon art theft (as in “someone put my art on a t-shirt without my permission”), the community has a somewhat less strict—but by no means universal—position on sharing art, even if it was paywalled. If any group embodies the notion of “find a better business model” in the age of infinite digital “goods”, furries do it better than anyone else. But now I have to wonder: How much do they “count” as “actual producers” in your eyes?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If a musician can give away an album for free, they can build up an audience who will pay to see that musician perform live

I find this "standard" example too limiting. They don’t have to switch to some alternate business like touring or t-shirts; the fans would be just as willing to fund the next album, via a patronage or pre-order model.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I find this "standard" example too limiting. They don’t have to switch to some alternate business like touring or t-shirts; the fans would be just as willing to fund the next album, via a patronage or pre-order model.

That’s what probably my favorite musician does, and he seems to be doing quite well. Puts up everything on Bandcamp, uploads music videos that can be listened to and watched for free on Youtube, and yet despite the fact that by his own actions people can avoid paying him a cent and still hear his music he’s still making $4K a song via patreon from nearly two thousand patrons, in addition to any purchases from from non-patrons.

Given the above is not an isolated incident I’m sure it’s no wonder the parasites hate the internet with a burning fury, as it allows actual creators to completely bypass them and still do just fine.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

And this is a fine business model, but we should remember that it will not work for every artist—which is why the “find a better business model” axiom does not have a “and stick with it” qualifier. Adaptation to changing markets and technologies and audiences will remain an ongoing process, so business models should never stay in one place for too long.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Oh absolutely not(which made the person demanding a ‘this will always work’ silver bullet a few years back all the funnier), different creators will find different things that work for them, some will have it easy, some might never reach the point where they’re making any decent amount.

If I had a point it’s that the new platforms available(in spite of hollywood and the labels, not because of them) enable the possibility to reach the point of making money from their craft available for massive numbers of people, as opposed to The Chosen Few as it worked in the past, where you either signed to a gatekeeper(often signing over any ownership of your stuff in the process) to even have a chance at being known and making money, or you were never known beyond your immediate friends and family.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

All the musicians I know of, who have has a long career in the music business have been those who gave live performances. Think Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones, the Dubliners, Bruce Springstein etc. It may have a lot to so with not needing to create new songs/albums all the time.

For a performing artists, the old is as valuable as the new, however for a recording artist, ones career is limited by ones ability to create new works. This problem is why many authors cannot make a full time living as an author, they just cannot write new books fast enough, and very few have books achieve the popularity of J.K. Rowlings books.

Anonymous Coward says:

@ "If Congress and the courts have established a framework..."

Everything after an “IF” is fantasy. It’s a trick used by those who want that fantasy taken for a fact, so that the conclusion seems inevitable.

However, “that has led to unprecedented growth of content creation and a booming technology industry,” simply doesn’t follow from NAFTA provision. Note that writer doesn’t say proportional income attended the “boom”: that’s a Freudian reveal, because piracy has cut deeply into profits relative to amount of “consumption”.

Actually, any “boom” producers enjoy is due to new way to distribute (the gadgets are ongoing progress, also not due to NAFTA as such). But actually getting paid when people consume content has become very difficult. Pirates have been fought for over two decades now, new laws have been put in place to deal with new ways to steal. Those laws protecting the producers are reviled here almost daily.

Read 3rd comment above for how the fantasy rosy scenario actually plays out: pirates claim unlimited “right” to “share”, and have zero intention of paying, ever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

piracy has cut deeply into profits

Yeah, it’s not like the industry has been boasting increasing profits every year to the point where they’ve been gloating about how recession-proof they are.

When even your own damn statistics tell you you’re wrong, blue, it means you fucked up. But to you that’s probably the equivalent of getting your rocks off.

Copyright enforcement fanboys were always a twisted, fucked up bunch.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, yes. It helps that blue boy has already set himself up with very obvious speech patterns and a thoroughly obnoxious personality.

Personally I reported the idiot who replied to him, on the principle of not condoning cruelty to animals. But I’ll grant that the second poster is at least not as atrocious as blue is. If you’re expecting the two to be on the same level odds are you’re going to be disappointed.

Bruce C. says:

Corrosive cynicism...

One thing to keep in mind as we all complain about the system and how the power-brokers manipulate it to their advantage. Constructive cynicism provokes people to recognize problems and take action. Corrosive cynicism causes people to become apathetic, which just makes the problem worse. If you’re so disgusted with American political society that you think it can’t be fixed, what are your options? What hasn’t been tried before?

Anonymous Coward says:

Tech Bump and Trump Dump

Since the NAFTA and DMCA became law two decades ago, the size of the “new” internet economy has grown much more than the legacy media industries have grown (and some like the music recording industry, have shrunk substantially) so this should give much more muscle to the tech companies in their persistent fight against Hollywood’s (perceived) financial self-interests whenever it comes to getting new legislation passed.

It remains to be seen if the “blue state” industries, such as Hollywood, media, and tech, will be sacrificed on the Republican altar for the benefit of the “red state” and “swing state” industries, such as mining and manufacturing, as Trump’s political payback to his supporters.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Tech Bump and Trump Dump

If you’re going to declare it a “red state” vs. “blue state” issue, keep in mind that the US exports far more manufactured goods to Canada than it imports. A whole lot of farm produce is exported to both Canada and Mexico. Ending NAFTA would hurt the red states just as much as the blue ones.

Tech – smartphones, PCs and whatnot – is almost all produced in Asia. Ending NAFTA would have no effect on it. Hollywood has gotten good at spreading production around to different countries. It likely won’t be much affected either.

SCREW lazy actors , musicans and copyrights says:

look at the two biggest game company stock

EA despite potential european fines and jail over loot boxes since the starwars battlefront ssue the stock has risen 33 dollars a share from 100 ….a 12-14 billion increase n overall value

oddly activison is following a very similar pattern of growth
wonder whose the main investors in these companies….

the lazy fookers are enjoying quite a nice bit a profit off lil kids and gambling games


Anonymous Coward says:

NAFTA is a sham

And I don’t mean WOW, it’s a backdoor to all the ISDS provisions the could not get into TPP because it was massively opposed in every country, but if canada and mexico sign on to the obscene ISDS and IP violence that the US wants everyone else will have cover to follow suit.

Corporations should be banned and the entire idea of intellectual property is a fraud

It’s just more Class war by the rich

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: NAFTA is a sham

“the entire idea of intellectual property is a fraud “

No it is not. If you spent the time and effort to write a book, you should have the right to earn a living off of that book. Without at least some IP laws that “class war by the rich” will only get worse because a poor author would right a book and the first person to read it will be a rich guy and they will be able to print more of it and faster than the author. But of course a nut like you here at TD would recommend a self defeating solution… its how this place just works. See a problem and try to solve it in a way that looks good but will be actually far worse than the original problem in review.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: NAFTA is a sham

and the first person to read it will be a rich guy and they will be able to print more of it and faster than the author.

How do you make that out, as unless we are talking about paper books published via a publishing company, the author has the same means of distribution and monetization as everybody else. People do recognize that the author needs an income if they are to produce more books, and that the author is likely to produce more books, while a plagiarist has to wait for somebody else to produce a book for them to steal.

These days making money as an author requires a degree of social skills, so as to engage the audience for your works, and build a base of patrons so the author can devote more time to the next work. If you can’t do that, and pass on the marketing to a publisher, guess who get to make the profit. Hint, its not usually the author.

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