Entertainment Industry Propaganda Organization Kicks Off Hilarious Astroturf Letter Writing Campaign

from the good-luck-with-that,-pat dept

The "Copyright Alliance" is a propaganda organization put together by the entertainment industry, pretending to focus on "the rights of creators," but which has always been focused on strengthening the monopolies of the middlemen (the same folks who quite frequently screw over the creators). Recently, the Copyright Alliance came out with its latest astroturfing attempt, with an automatic letter generator that will pop out cloned letters that the Copyright Alliance itself will send to President Obama and Vice President Biden. The tone of the letter is rather silly, as it seems to suggest that Obama and Biden haven't been supporting the entertainment industry's position all along -- and that there's some huge legislative movement afoot to wipe out artists' rights. It is, as William Patry notes, yet another attempt by the entertainment industry to create a folk devil and a moral panic in an attempt to further prop up its business model. Patry, not surprisingly, takes little time ripping the letter to shreds:
It is very hard not to laugh in the face of such ugliness and to wonder where the reason is in such dysfunctional nonsense, but what came to my mind was Helen Reddy's 1972 anthem, which began: "I am woman, hear me roar/In numbers too big to ignore." The moral panic in the Alliance's letter is that the very essence of what makes America America is threatened by evil forces that supposedly have launched an assault demanding that Helen Reddy and her 11 million colleagues give their works away for free, that the evil doers be permitted to have their way with the vestal virgins of America's copyright sweethearts. This is of course complete baloney. Name one piece of pending legislation that would accomplish what the Alliance claims. Name one lawsuit currently pending that would accomplish what the Alliance claims. There are none.
Indeed. At first, I had considered setting up our own "letter generator" in response, highlighting the problems of stricter copyright law, the vast and ever growing evidence of how copyright law is misused by the very organizations that back the Copyright Alliance to prop up obsolete business models rather than innovate. On top of that, such a letter would highlight all of the creative content creators who have been embracing new technologies for creating, promoting and distributing content along with embracing new business models and finding that they work better than the old models.

But, honestly, I'd like to believe that our President and Vice President aren't swayed by a bunch of form letters from an industry propagandist, and that, instead, people would be inspired to write their own letters highlighting the creativity that new technology has allowed -- and how some legacy industries have repeatedly abused copyright law to stifle such innovation and creativity many times over. Luckily, Jonathan Melber has a nice prototype of just such an open letter, where he highlights our cultural heritage, and how content creators regularly build on the works of others in creating something new and wonderful -- but how that tradition is often blocked by an industry that doesn't like outsiders trying to route around its control.

Separately, the Copyright Alliance should be ashamed of itself for blatantly lying with statistics. It tries to claim the right to speak for $1.52 trillion of the nation's GDP. This is pure farce. It's based on a study done by (you guessed it) the industry itself in the form of the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which is yet another propaganda/lobbying organization made up of the other lobbying/propaganda groups representing different industries: including the MPAA, the RIAA, the BSA and the ESA among others. In other words, hardly an unbiased source.

The methodology of the study is pretty laughable. It's based on WIPO's stated methodology, which is basically "count absolutely everything that even remotely touches on copyright" and then assume that every bit of that revenue is because of strong copyright laws. Hell, by the methodology used in the report, all of the revenue we earn here -- despite all the content on this site being public domain -- gets credited to "the copyright industry." It's such a typical DC-insider move: use totally bogus stats to bolster a weak argument. But that's the game that the Copyright Alliance has played since its inception. Just defining all those industries as "copyright industries" is misleading, because it implies that their revenue is due to copyright. But it's much worse than that. Companies that make furniture or jewelry are specifically listed as being a part of "the copyright industry" for purposes of this calculation. Yes, because without copyright, no one would be making furniture, right?

Even more amusing -- that same report shows continued and strong growth in what it defines as the copyright industries. So much for that massive attack destroying American society, huh? And this highlights the intellectual dishonesty of the Copyright Alliance and its backers. For the sake of making themselves look "big" they have to throw everything and the kitchen sink into their estimates and show that it's "growing." But for the sake of demonizing anyone who might seek to stop abuse of copyright laws, they have to claim that those industries are under constant attack, even as they grow to record levels. Propaganda at its finest.

Filed Under: copyright, propaganda
Companies: copyright alliance

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  1. icon
    jerome (profile), 2 Oct 2009 @ 12:07pm

    What is the message?

    Down the page there is a Captcha system. It asked me to enter the word “attorney.” Are they trying to send a hidden message?
    (I of course made a screenshot)

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