Colbert Takes On SOPA

from the can-we-get-some-internet-policement dept

By the way, I wanted to embed the clips of Colbert's show in this post -- as is clearly allowed by the site. But because Viacom is crazy, they appear to set the embeds to autoplay as soon as you load up the page. And that's freaking annoying. I tried to find hidden variables to stop the autoplay... and nothing worked. So, sorry, no embeds. Meanwhile, Colbert: please, please, turn off autoplay, or at least make it an option. Thankfully, a few folks sent over the secret code to make it work...

Want to see just how mainstream the issues of SOPA and PROTECT IP are becoming? Last night they made it on to The Colbert Report, where he had a bit of a debate about SOPA, between record label owner Danny Goldberg and Harvard professor Jonathan Zittrain. It kicked off with a short segment, where Colbert explained the issue.
As a content provider, I am wholeheartedly against the infringement of copyright... so much so that I had that phrase trademarked and then I had it emblazoned on a Mickey Mouse doll
Which, of course, he then shows to the audience.

But the awesomest part? He quotes the famous $200 to $250 billion in losses claim that always gets thrown around... but then immediately says:
That is a shocking number. Especially when you realize the FBI admits it has "no record of source data or methodology for generating the estimates and that it cannot be corroborated." Now folks, that's what happens when the FBI buys bootleg reports off a card table in Chinatown.
Honestly, this might be the first time I've seen mainstream media -- and a Viacom-owned property, no less -- call out the bogus numbers for being bogus. He finishes by pointing out that YouTube, Twitter and Facebook could be in trouble under the law, and that people uploading infringing videos may face problems as well.

From there, he went into the debate. In his typical satirical way, he introduces Zittrain by claiming he was here to "defend thieves & pirates," and asks him "why do you want artists to starve?" Zittrain did a great job:
"I want artists to thrive. The internet allows artists to find their audiences. When Justin Bieber started singing his favorite songs on YouTube, he got discovered because of the internet. And the odd thing is, under this law, SOPA, the behavior of Justin Bieber, singing his favorite songs, without authorization, over the internet, could make him a felon, in jail for three years."
It's actually five, but close enough. Goldberg, of course, says this is all an exaggeration, and then claims (incorrectly) that the bill only targets foreign sites. Zittrain did note that there were different parts of the bill (but leaves out that many of them target US companies), but then makes the second key point, about how this law uses the same mechanism that China & Iran use to censor the internet there. To which Colbert replies: "I don't know about Iran, but China is kicking our ass in business right now. Wouldn't it be good for American business? Because if we shut down parts of the internet, won't people at work actually do the work they were hired for?"

Goldberg continues to play the "but something must be done" line, leading Colbert to make his alternative proposal: "What if the artist gets something from the company stealing from them? An eye for an iPod?" to which Goldberg says "it's a good line, but..." and Colbert points out, "it's an excellent line, not a good line" and then threatens to sue anyone who "steals" it.

Wasn't expecting much for an under 5 minute interview, but overall Zittrain did a great job, and got in a few key points. The Bieber point is a little exaggerated, because Bieber would have to do a few more things (such as embedding the videos on his own site), but the overall point he's getting at is clear: the bill is overreaching and will harm legitimate activities which artists rely on today.

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  1. identicon
    Ken M, 2 Dec 2011 @ 1:40pm

    Sliding down the slippery slope

    I remember in the day when I could press play/record and copy stuff from the radio to play in my car. Friends would share tapes and sometimes, with some very ingenious methods, we would copy each others tapes. Nobody ever chased us down and cuffed us when we did that. So here we are, a paid medium such as the internet where you are paying for the access to an open network....where just like the free radio waves, you should be able to post or pull data. Enter the music industry....prople start sharing songs the same way we did with tape in the old days. Except not they can be put on CD. OMG the world has come to an end!!! Citizens have the ability to mix their own tracks and share them!! But why does this phenomena occur? Because the music industry is filled with lawyers and coke heads who are entirely too narcissistic to comprehend and will not give the customers what they want. If I for example want several songs that I like from several artists I enjoy, the industry says I have to buy each album thos songs reside on. But, at $30 a piece, and with many tracks I don't give a rats a$$ about, I will not do it. That means I have to find alternate means because, survey says, the customer is always right. AND because I pay for a medium that is inconsistant with said industry's business model, I will do it by any means necessary. Its the same thing as boycotting a bread manufacturer...you won't by their products, but because you own an oven, you can still bake bread. The entertainment industry needs to figure out that with the changes in media, they need to expand their business models and redo many contracts. The artists also have to rethink what they are doing, produce GOOD entertainment where everyone will buy all of it and not just one or two tracks then eleven just for fill.

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