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
    kisom (profile), 16 Feb 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Ok.. enough is enough

    I just finished listening to Hackford's nutty rant and I've had it. Congratulations Hackford, you've put me over the edge enough to sign-up and post a comment directed at you and all of the Chris Dodd/US Representative types.

    First off, I'm not an "engineer." What I am is smart enough to ask questions and wrap my brain around the answers. Not to mention capable of researching and finding all angles of a story.

    I'm insulted by the repeated insinuation of the film and movie industry that I couldn't possible come up with a conclusion all on my own. You want to know what part Google plays in all of this? Google allowed me to conduct my research. Google didn't suppress either side nor completely block my access to information.

    Do you want to know what the biggest shocker you'll learn about me? I am not into piracy. Yep.. that's right.. I don't want your crappy music or movies for free. You want to know what else I don't do? Regularly purchase movies/music or go watch movies. That's right, I haven't purchased music in the last five years and last year I attended the movies once. It's obvious that the industry doesn't care, but I'm just going to go ahead and say what I want. A theater experience where I don't feel like my family was robbed in broad daylight. Entertainment that is portable. Ability to actually own what I purchase. Entertainment that is flexible enough that I'm not trying out some Houdini tech move just because I got a wild hair to listen to music on my iPod while I work out.

    Lastly, and more importantly, I do not want you Director Guild/MPAA/RIAA types to have the authority to randomly suppress internet content or my voice. Once you start shutting down sites deemed "rogue" where does it stop? Prosecute people who access "rogue" sites? Let's be honest with ourselves. There are already a chocking number of copyright laws on the books. The industry didn't need bills like SOPA or PIPA. The industry already has enough control.. just not ultimate control.

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