Chris Dodd Memorizing Bogus MPAA Talking Points; Says File Sharing Ruins Community Bonding
from the say-what-now? dept
Letís begin with perhaps the single biggest threat we face as an industry: movie theft. At the outset, I want you to know that I recognize and appreciate that NATO members are on the front lines every day when it comes to preventing camcording. Further, I want you to know that the member studios of the MPAA deeply appreciate the efforts you make every day to stop the hemorrhaging of movie theft in your theaters.Let's begin with perhaps the single biggest lie: that copyright infringement is "theft." It's not. Stop saying it is. It makes you look like a dishonest fool, who is in no way capable of actually helping the movie industry adapt to the changing marketplace. As for the "camcording" threat, the MPAA still loves to talk this up, but still ignores the fact that the real issue is industry insiders leaking movies themselves...
Nearly 2.5 million people work in our film industry. The success of the movie and TV business doesnít just benefit the names on theater marquees. It also affects all the names in the closing credits and so many more Ėmiddle class folks, working hard behind the scenes to provide for their families, saving for college and retirement. And since movies and TV shows are now being made in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, movie theft harms middle class families and small businesses all across the country.Yeah, this has become a favorite trope of the industry lately. About all those poor key grips suffering from movie infringement. Of course, this is also a lie. File sharing has no direct impact on those people at all. They don't make any royalties on films. They were paid (not particularly well by the MPAA studios, mind you) for the job that they did, and move on to the next job. Where they suffer is when the MPAA and its member studios fail to embrace smarter business models, such that they have trouble financing new movies. But, as we've seen, the box office continues to do well, and indie filmmakers who are embracing new models are doing increasingly well. Perhaps the issue is that the MPAA should be helping filmmakers understand and embrace new models.
Those who steal movies and TV shows, or who knowingly support those who do, donít see the faces of the camera assistant, seamstresses, electricians, construction workers, drivers, and small business owners and their employees who are among the thousands essential to movie making. They donít see the teenager working their first job taking tickets at the local theater, or the video rental store employees working hard to support their families.
But I guess that's just outside of Dodd's realm of expertise.
We must continue to work together, pushing for stronger laws to protect intellectual property and more meaningful enforcement of those laws. We must also educate parents and students and everyone else about the real world impact of movie theft on jobs and on local tax revenues, and on our ability to make the kinds of movies and TV shows people wish to see.Fascinating that he claims this in the weeks after two separate, well respected research organizations both pointed to tons of evidence that stronger enforcement doesn't work. Nice work, Chris, you're parroting the failed policies of your predecessors, rather than showing any form of leadership.
After three decades in Congress, I have some idea how to attract the attention of a Congressman or Senator. When you return to your states, invite your local governor, state legislator, congressman and senator to your theater and fill it with those who work with you along with video store employees and their families. Tell them about the importance of these issues to you and to your communities. If you become that educator, you will leave a lasting and indelible impression on those who will make decisions about your future.In other words, show them a good time, since the logic behind our positions makes no sense at all. However, if we entertain them for free, perhaps they'll feel indebted to give us protectionist, anti-competitive, anti-innovation policies that will help us wring a few extra dollars out of consumers, rather than innovating to add more value.
What Iím about to say isnít quantifiable in economic terms. I canít put a dollar figure on it for you. I canít give you an unemployment number or some other gripping statistic Ė but as I stand before you this morning one week into this job, I want you to know that it is as important as all data you will have thrown at you during CinemaCon. Our lives are getting more and more complicated. We are increasingly connected to the world by the power of emerging technologies, but at the same time we seem to be increasingly disconnected from each other by the same technology and stream of information and distractions.If I'm reading this correctly, he's basically debunking the entire first part of his speech. The thing is, that "shared experience" is the same thing we've been talking about on Techdirt for ages. It's why the movie industry shouldn't fear file sharing. It should be working towards improving and enhancing that shared experience, because that kind of shared experience can't be pirated.
And yet, in the midst of all of this, if you drop by a movie theater in America or anywhere around the world on a Friday or Saturday night you will see neighborhoods coming together. You will see people turning off their phones and BlackBerrys. You will see families and friends settling in for two hours in a darkened theater. And even though everyoneís eyes are on the screen, it is somehow still a communal experience Ė unlike any other. The value of that shared experience crosses economic, political and even generational boundaries.
Going to the movies together as a community has stitched together the fabric of American society in a way that few other institutions ever have or could, providing a nation of incredible diversity with a common cultural vocabulary and a common understanding of ourselves. Whatís at stake as we face these challenges is nothing short of the preservation and renewal of this quintessentially American communal tradition.
I find it hilarious that Dodd appears to be suggesting that if the MPAA doesn't get stricter enforcement laws, people will suddenly stop wanting to come together as a community to share such experiences. Does anyone take this kind of thing seriously?