Say That Again

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
duped, lies, pipa, sopa, taylor hackford


Directors Guild Boss Insists That Everyone Against SOPA/PIPA Was Duped

from the wanna-run-that-one-by-people-again? dept

We're still waiting for the supposed "new tone" of the conversation from Hollywood following its failed attempt to expand copyright/anti-piracy laws for the 16th time in the last 3 decades. There were some early claims that the widespread protests had made Hollywood realize that rather than passing bad legislation by working out deals with "friendly" Congress people in backrooms, it wanted to have a "conversation" with those who opposed SOPA/PIPA.

Well, Taylor Hackford, the head of the Directors Guild of America, apparently has a different opinion on all that. He went on the Pat Morrison radio show to go off on a wild rant about how everyone against SOPA/PIPA were duped via lies from companies like Google who want to protect all their profits. What was amazing was the number of blatantly false statements Hackford made in making his argument. Beyond the fact that he ignored tons of very legitimate concerns from engineers, online security experts and First Amendment scholars who clearly were not "duped," he also makes a bunch of statements that don't pass the laugh test.

For example, he repeatedly claimed that the movie industry employs two million people -- and he mocked the tech industry for not employing many people at all (and implying that they mostly employ people outside the country). According to the Congressional Research Service, the movie industry actually employs 374,000 people. Further research showed that jobs in actual film and movie production have been growing. Meanwhile, a recent study showed that just the Facebook apps economy alone created nearly 500,000 jobs. That second number may be exaggerated somewhat, but comparing how many jobs the movie industry has created with how many the internet industry has created isn't going to make Hackford look very good.

Then there was the specific attack on Wikipedia, where he first said that Wikipedia was a "stalking horse" (and he suggests an unidentified "they" convinced Wikipedia to shut down). Then he says that by shutting down:
"They robbed the public of important information in order to make their point"
The "they" is still not identified, but a good way to demonize opponents is to take away any identifying marks, so it's this mysterious "they." But, seriously? Robbed the public? This from an industry which has repeatedly pushed for extensions to copyright term -- something that actually does take away content that the public was supposed to have a legal right to? I recognize that Hollywood has trouble understanding what "robbed" actually means, but Wikipedia blocking access didn't rob anyone of anything. But, if we're going to go with Hackford's claim that withholding content from the public is theft, then, as Derek Kerton suggests, doesn't that mean that the movie release windows that Hackford and his buddies in Hollywood rely on are "robbing the public"? After all, it's withholding information -- and it happens for a lot longer than the one day that Wikipedia went dark (and for which there were easy workarounds).

Of course, even more ironic was that while Morrison's show is nominally a "call-in" show... people who called in were told that Mr. Hackford was not allowing any calls during his segment. Instead, people were left to comment on the radio show's website... where the vast, vast majority of folks were quick to pick apart Hackford's ridiculous claims and ask the station why it didn't have anyone expressing a counterpoint.

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  1. icon
    Karl (profile), 17 Feb 2012 @ 12:46am

    Re: Re:

    Some of the gems I have seen on this site - not necessarily the comments of Mike, but none-the-less the general attitude of many people here:

    Not mentioned: that every one of these "gems" is either a) factually true, or b) a perfectly valid viewpoint.

    Obviously you won't belive me, so let's go throug it:

    It's not piracy it's file sharing

    There have been a couple "piracy is for Somalian gangsters and Johnny Depp" posts, but I don't think that's what you're referring to.

    If you're talking about "piracy" as it's talked about nowadays, meaning "internet piracy," then "file sharing" is exactly the right term to describe it. The people who upload copyrighted content, by and large, are not making money off of the upload, are not charging for access to content, and are not selling content. "File sharing" is exactly the right term to describe such people.

    That statement has mainly been a response to the lumping together of counterfeiters, e.g. enterprises that sell counterfeit goods (such as handbags), and entities who charge for access to specific content, with people who simply upload stuff that they like to some Internet site. All of these entities are completely different, and act for completely different reasons. It is both practically and morally disingenuous to conflate those groups.

    Piracy isn't theft

    Objectively true. This is settled as a matter of law. The Supreme Court said, explicitly, that copyright infringement is not theft in Dowling v. United States. Piracy is not theft, and never was.

    Never buy another thing from the MFIAAs

    If you are against the "MAFIAAs," then a consumer boycott is exactly the right thing to do.

    Google doesn't profit from piracy

    True. They don't, and nobody, ever, has been able to successfully show that they do. They're a big company, and obviously some infringing content is bound to slip through the cracks. But they are incredibly anal about cutting off the AdSense accounts of infringers (notoriously so), and they have gone above and beyond what has been required by law do deal with infringement (including providing tools that remove non-infringing content, such as the MegaUpload song). The percentage of money that they earn from infringement is vastly less that even the major labels'.

    Infringing sites aren't making money

    By and large, they aren't.

    The technology industry saved the entertainment industry

    First of all, nobody claimed that. They claimed that the technology industry gave the entertainment industry the tools to save themselves, and the entertainment industry ignored them. Given the fact that the entertainment industry has been reluctant to adopt every single technological change that ended up making them money, this is not an unreasonable claim. (See, e.g., player pianos, radio, VCR's, MP3's, etc.)


    I'm not even sure what that means. Yes, it exists, and its goal is to help artists make money. What's you're point?

    Copyright law was written to serve the people

    The truth is even stronger than this. Copyright law exists to benefit the public, and for no other reason. Copyright holders may benefit, but this isn't the purpose of copyright law, and such benefits must ultimately serve the public good.

    This is not even debatable. Not only is it explicit in the preamble to the Copyright Clause ("To promote the progress of Science and the useful Arts"), it has been explicitly stated, repeatedly, by the Supreme Court.

    Media companies don't help performers

    Media companies previously held a monopoly on the airwaves (radio, TV, etc). In order to get access to them, performers had to sign over their copyrights to the media companies, and usually did not get paid for that privilege.

    I have no experience with the movie industry, but I know from foolish friends that the music industry does not pay performers at all. If you are a performing artist, you do not own the rights to your performances. You are forced to pay back every penny of the recording costs out of your own royalties (they are around 15% - meaning that by the time you make your first penny, the record label has earned about five times the cost of the recording). According to the RIAA itself (in the 90's, when record labels were earning money hand over foot), 90% of performers on their labels were not recouped - meaning they did not make any money whatsoever from their recordings. Even among recouped artists (such as Paul McCartney), recorded music sales are only a tiny fraction of their total income from music.

    The labels never paid performers. That means the only way they "helped" was to make the music available to a wider audience... exactly like file sharing sites do today. But unlike media companies, file sharing sites don't require that you sign over your copyrights to them.

    And, even more luckily, there are businesses that realize that a better business model is to enable music rather than be a gatekeeper to music. Businesses like CD Baby, TuneCore, BandCamp, SoundCloud, or YouTube, which are actually treating artists like they should be treated, and have helped create a new middle class of artists that never existed before.

    Musicians need to get creative and stop trying to make their money from selling their music.

    Musicians never made their money from selling their music. At least, not if "selling their music" means "selling copies of their recordings."

    If "selling your music" includes B2B licensing, live performances, charging for direct access to the musicians, or any one of a dozen other things that involve selling rivalrous goods, then nobody here has ever had a problem with it. In fact, that's what Mike's business models are based upon: focusing on rivalrous goods, rather than wasting time, energy, and money trying to prevent public goods from being public goods.

    So, basically, you're criticizing this site for being absolutely correct.

    Kind of makes you look like a total asswipe, in my opinion.

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