by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 27th 2014 1:27pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 1st 2014 8:13pm
from the punchline:-she-wasn't dept
Phew! Another pirate stymied!
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 22nd 2014 12:11pm
from the a-big-pat-on-the-back dept
The burden of proof was very obviously on the public interest, civil society groups. Stan McCoy of the USTR, who was presiding over the hearing, joked about the two-phonebook-sized submission by the International Intellectual Property Alliance. (Lol?) Sadly, there is no independent verification of these industry reports and there were no tough questions for industry regarding their testimony. Several times, McCoy interrupted civil society groups’ testimony to chide them on speaking too generally about IP policy, but refrained when industry witnesses did the same.Given all that, it should be no surprise at all that McCoy, the failed strategist behind ACTA and the TPP's IP provisions... has received his reward and pat on the back from the industry: a shiny new job at the MPAA. As Tim Lee notes in that link, this is just the latest in the never-ending revolving door between maximalist lobbying groups and the USTR:
Last year I wrote that at least a dozen former senior USTR officials have moved to industry groups that favor stronger protections. McCoy's hire makes it a baker's dozen. Previous hires include including Greg Frazier, who (according to his LinkedIn page) spent 8 years as the executive vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America after a stint at USTR. Other former USTR officials took jobs at drug and medical device companies.As Lee notes, the revolving door between maximalist lobbying organizations and the USTR goes round and round, with USTR officials joining the lobbyist organizations and then going back to the USTR. It's a clear case of regulatory capture by the industry. None of those folks go on to public interest or civil society groups, nor does the USTR ever seem interested in hiring those people. It's entirely a one-sided effort to help out the biggest lobbying interests. Work for a few years pushing through policies that favor those companies, and then get "rewarded" with a nice, high-paying job for those very same lobbyists, and no one ever seems to point out the obvious corruption in the entire process.
McCoy's old job, assistant USTR for intellectual property and innovation, made him the Obama administration's highest-ranking trade negotiator on patent and copyright issues. Jamie Love, director of the public interest organization Knowledge Ecology International, notes that this isn't the first time USTR's top intellectual property official has gone on to take a lobbying job. McCoy's predecessor, Victoria Espinel, is now the head of the software industry group BSA.
Espinel's predecessor at BSA was Robert Holleyman, the man Obama just nominated to a senior post at USTR. While at BSA, Holleyman supported the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have created an official internet blacklist to aid in anti-piracy efforts. (He backtracked a few weeks later after an uproar in the technology community.
Another of McCoy's predecessors as USTR's top IP official is Joe Papovich, who later spent seven years as a lobbyist for the recording industry.
As Lee notes, as easy as it is to ascribe comic-book levels of ill-intent here, that's unlikely. McCoy and others genuinely believe what they're doing is the right thing. But the end results are clear:
I doubt public servants like McCoy consciously pursue dubious policies in an effort to curry favor with future employers. McCoy's press representative hasn't responded to my interview request, but I assume McCoy sincerely believes the Hollywood-friendly policies he advocated at USTR were in the interests of the nation.And it's even worse than that, frankly. Because, when you combine that revolving door, with the proposals seen in ACTA, TPP and elsewhere, it undermines the public trust in all of this. People see it and naturally assume corruption, even if the intent is pure. In other words, even if we give McCoy and others the benefit of the doubt, the very fact that he spent 5 years pushing entirely for the MPAA's policies, while brushing off any and all claims from the MPAA's critics, and then took a job at the MPAA, confirms in the minds of many people that the USTR has no interest in representing the public good. And that perception (regardless if the underlying intent is real or not) corrodes public trust in the federal government, and the USTR in particular.
But the revolving door between USTR and industry groups creates a strong but subtle pressure on USTR's culture. Like many government agencies, USTR regularly turns to outside experts to help it sort through complex trade issues. Naturally, they turn to people they trust: their former colleagues — or even former bosses — who now work at trade organizations with plenty of resources to devote to understanding the minutia of trade policy.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 18th 2014 12:21pm
from the couldn't-bring-themselves-to-support-google? dept
- Public Citizen's brief, submitted a while ago, focuses on whether or not an injunction against Google is appropriate, and explains why it is not.
- An excellent brief from EFF, ACLU, Public Knowledge, CDT, New Media Rights, American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries covers a lot of ground in under 2,500 words, highlighting the "novel" nature of the copyright claim and its "dangerous implications." It also highlights how the focus on the potential harms to Garcia are not copyright-related harms. Finally, it notes that the gag order Kozinski ordered was unconstitutional.
- A bunch of news organizations, including the LA Times, the Washington Post, NPR, Scripps, Advance Publications, the California Newspaper Association, RCFP, First Amendment Coalition and DMLP, submitted a brief on both the First Amendment issues raised by the ruling, and how it might lead to news organizations being blocked from publishing newsworthy content.
- A separate brief from California broadcasters focused on the oddity of Kozinski's interpretation of copyright law, and how that will "create confusion."
- Another fantastic brief comes from a variety of tech companies, including Twitter, Automattic, Kickstarter, Facebook, Yahoo, Tumblr, eBay, Adobe, IAC, Gawker and Pinterest. It highlights how the injunction goes way beyond what the law allows, placing (again, as we noted in our brief) tremendous liability on intermediaries, such as requiring them to block all future uploads. It also challenges the gag order that was originally placed on Google as setting a very dangerous precedent.
- Then we have the academics. A brief from internet law professors (written by Eric Goldman and Venkat Balasubramani, but signed by many more) covers the intermediary liability issue (like ours did) and highlights how this appears to be Garcia trying to use copyright as an end-run around Section 230.
- Then there's a brief from IP law professors (written by Christopher Newman, Chris Sprigman and Julie Ahrens but signed by many more) focusing on the core ridiculousness of the claim that Garcia has a legitimate copyright interest in her performance. As they note: "the panel opinion in this case makes new law with corrosive implications for these foundational principles of copyright law."
- Netflix weighed in to point out that this creates a "new species of copyright" and would give "an effective veto right to any performer."
- Finally, a bunch of independent filmmakers, including the International Documentary Association, Film Independent, Morgan Spurlock and Fredrik Gertten, all submitted a brief about the "chaos" this will cause for filmmakers.
And yet, so far, the MPAA appears to be sitting this one out. Eric Goldman, in his post, speculated as to possible reasons, none of which look good for the MPAA:
Noticeably absent from the amicus brief roster are the big entertainment companies, such as the major movie studios and the record labels. Given that this case involves video production, something Google/YouTube don’t know much about, where are the real experts on this topic? One possibility is that they are hubristic enough to believe that they run such a tight legal ship that they will never run into problems with the court’s holding. Another possibility is that they are spiteful enough to delight in Google’s misery, even if the rule ultimately hurts them too (i.e., the enemy of my enemy is my friend). Yet another possibility is that they are happy to free-ride on Google’s efforts, getting all the benefit of Google fixing the law without any of the financial or reputational costs of siding against Garcia or supporting a deceitful rogue film producer. Whatever the reason, I can’t say that I favorably regard their decision to stand on the sidelines as the Ninth Circuit is trying to wreck their industry.It is quite a glaring absence.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 11:02am
Hollywood Has Been Pressuring Australian Attorney General To Pressure ISPs Into Being Copyright Cops
from the because-of-course-they-are dept
Of course, Hollywood (AFACT is Australian-in-name-only -- a Wikileaks State Department cable revealed it to be an operation wholly controlled by the MPAA in Hollywood) continued to freak out, leading the Australian government to hold "stakeholder" meetings between the entertainment industry and the ISPs (note: no public representatives, even though they're the real stakeholders), to try to broker an agreement to make ISPs act as copyright cops. Of course, because Hollywood's position is inherently ridiculous, the ISPs noted that it was like negotiating with a brick wall, and talks soon broke down. The ISPs made it clear that it was silly to blame them when Hollywood itself was to blame by not making works available.
But, of course, Hollywood never stops. AFACT rebranded as the Australian Screen Association, and apparently has been very busy pumping new Australian Attorney General George Brandis full of misleading information and pure propaganda. We recently noted that Brandis was supporting website blocking and three strikes like programs, despite them failing elsewhere. And, he's also come out against fair use, because, fuck the public, Hollywood is upset.
Josh Taylor over at ZDnet used the Freedom of Information Act to get emails from between Neil Gane -- the "contractor" who ran AFACT and now the Australian Screen Association -- and Brandis, showing an ongoing campaign in which Gane continued to push Brandis with a series of one-sided misleading emails about how anti-consumer programs in other countries were the way forward:
In nine emails from Gane to the Attorney-General's department secretary, Roger Wilkins, and first assistant secretary in the civil law division, Matt Minogue, sent between the election and this year, obtained by ZDNet under Freedom of Information, Gane appears to be providing education notices of his own to the department, offering insights into how copyright infringement is being dealt with in other countries.There are a number of other emails, including a few that regular Techdirt readers may find especially amusing, including one mocking the "vocal minority" who were complaining that draconian copyright enforcement on things like Game of Thrones downloading might have serious unintended consequences. Update: The "vocal minority" has responded.
In one email pointing out Canada's moves, he notes that the Canadian government was not buying into the notion that ISPs should be compensated for having to warn customers for downloading infringing content.
Meanwhile, Brandis -- who has also been vehemently defending the NSA -- recently took a trip to the US, in part to explore issues around copyright. Did he meet with copyright scholars or other experts on these issues? Nope. Instead, he met with the director of the Center for Copyright Information, who runs the US's "six strikes" program. Brandis seems to have made up his mind, after being pushed on it by the MPAA, and with no respect at all to facts or reality.
All in all, Brandis appears to be only listening to one exceptionally biased party, even as a very long and thorough review process by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) found that fair use was important, and that copyright reform needed to be modernized to pay attention to the important rights and uses of the public. But apparently, that all gets thrown out the window because a Hollywood spokesperson has a direct email line to the Attorney General.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 11th 2014 9:03am
from the because-that's-not-infringement dept
Let's start at the beginning. Here's how the MPAA describes what Megaupload does:
Megaupload amassed the millions of popular content files that it hosted on its servers and offered to the public for download by openly encouraging and paying users to upload these files. Any Internet user who went to the Megaupload website could upload a computer file, whether or not the user registered as a member. When the upload was completed, Megaupload reproduced the file on at least one computer server it controlled and provided the user with a Uniform Resource Locator ("URL")"link" beginning with "megaupload.com." The uploader could then propagate the link broadly over the Internet, so that anyone interested in downloading or otherwise accessing a copy ofthe file could easily find it on Megaupload's servers.And the RIAA's version:
Any user who had the URL link could access and download the associated content from Megaupload's servers. By "clicking" the URL link (or copying it into any web browser), the user was taken to a "download page" on the Megaupload website that allowed the user to download a copy of the file from a computer server controlled by defendants.
Beginning in late 2005 and continuing at least to January 2012 when Defendants were indicted, Megaupload amassed the millions of popular content files that it hosted on its servers and offered to the public for download by openly encouraging users to upload these files. Until mid-2011, Megaupload went so far as to actually pay its users to do this. Any Internet users who went to the Megaupload website could upload content files, regardless of whether the users registered as members. Upon completion of the uploads, Megaupload reproduced each file on at least one computer server it controlled and provided the users with a Uniform Resource Locator ("URL") "link" beginning with "megaupload.com" for each uploaded file. The uploading users could then propagate the links broadly over the Internet, so that anyone interested in downloading or otherwise accessing copies of the files could easily find them on Megaupload’s servers.Yeah. That's pretty damn similar, including numerous identical phrases. Someone's copying something. Okay, how about the lack of a search (which, as we noted previously, is ridiculous, since Napster got in trouble for having a search, and now everyone's saying that not having a search is just as damning). Here's the MPAA:
Users in possession of the Megaupload URL links could access and download the associated content from Megaupload's servers. By "clicking" the URL links (or copying them into any web browser), users were taken to a "download page" on the Megaupload website that allowed users to download the content, including Plaintiffs’ recorded music, from computer servers controlled by Defendants.
To conceal the scope of infringennent occurring on the Megaupload website, defendants did not provide users with a searchable index of files available for download from the Megaupload website (although defendants themselves had access to such an index). Instead, defendants relied on numerous third party "linking" sites to host, organize, and promote URL links to Megaupload-hosted infringing content, including plaintiffs' copyrighted works. Such linking sites made infringing content broadly and easily accessible to users by maintaining an index of links to content files organized by category and/or alphabetically by titles of the copyrighted work; some such linking sites also offered search boxes where users could enter queries quickly to find the content they wanted. Many of these linking sites were blatant pirate sites, hosting thousands of links to infringing material. Any visitor could quickly see the widespread availability on many linking sites of links to infringing content on Megaupload. Defendants knew of this open infringement on pirate linking sites and closely tracked the traffic from those sites to Megaupload. Furthermore, defendants provided financial incentives for premium users to post links to these sites through the Uploader Rewards program.Okay, and the RIAA version:
To conceal the scope of infringement occurring on the Megaupload website, Defendants did not provide users with a searchable index of files available for download from the site (although Defendants themselves had access to such an index). Instead, Defendants relied on numerous third party "linking" sites to host, organize, and promote URL links to Megaupload-hosted infringing content, including Plaintiffs' copyrighted works. Such linking sites made infringing content broadly and easily accessible to users by maintaining an index of links to content files organized by category and/or alphabetically by titles of the copyrighted work; some such linking sites also offered search boxes where users could enter queries quickly to find the content that they sought. Many of these linking sites were blatant pirate sites, hosting thousands of links to infringing material. Several of these linking sites exclusively offered Megaupload links. Any visitor could quickly see the widespread availability on many linking sites of links to infringing content on Megaupload. Defendants knew of this open infringement on pirate linking sites and closely tracked the traffic from those sites to Megaupload. Defendants also knowingly interacted with users of linking sites and have visited such sites themselves. Defendants also provided financial incentives for premium users to post links to these sites through the Uploader Rewards program.Right. So those two paragraphs are identical, except the RIAA adds in two extra sentences about the linking sites. It goes on and on like this, with both filings clearly working off of either each other or the DOJ indictment, which they're copy/pasting into their own filing and fussing with a word or two here or there. Here's just one more example. Both filings claim that Megaupload can't be considered a "cloud storage" site because it would delete unpopular files. Here's the MPAA's version of this:
Contrary to some of defendants' public assertions, Megaupload was not designed to be a private data storage provider. Users without premium subscriptions were restricted not only in their downloading capabilities, but also in their ability to store files on the site. Any content they uploaded would be deleted if it was not also downloaded within a certain period of time -- after 21 days in the case of unregistered, anonymous users and after 90 days in the case of registered users who were not premium subscribers. Only premium subscribers (estimated to be 1% of users) could use Megaupload for long-term file storage.And the RIAA's nearly identical text:
Megaupload was in no respect designed to be a private data storage provider. Users without premium subscriptions were restricted not only in their downloading capabilities, but also in their ability to store files on the site. Any content that users uploaded would be deleted if it was not also downloaded within a certain period of time--after 21 days in the case of unregistered, anonymous users, and after 90 days in the case of registered users who were not premium subscribers. Only premium subscribers (estimated to be one percent of users) could use Megaupload for long-term file storage.Of course, Kim Dotcom has now refuted this claim, saying that content that was unpopular was not deleted from Megaupload.
However, even beyond that, I fail to see how having a service like this that deletes unpopular content suddenly disqualifies it from being a legitimate service. Lots of other legitimate services have similar terms. While it appears to have recently changed this, the popular image sharing site Imgur (which we use at Techdirt) used to have a very similar clause, saying that "images that are not viewed for 6 months may be removed. However, images with pro accounts can only be removed by you." That doesn't mean they were not a legitimate service.
Nor does it mean it's not a "cloud" service. Different cloud services serve different markets, and services like Megaupload (and Imgur) tend to be more focused on the immediate sharing of content (not necessarily infringing content). In fact, if you look back at the origins of Megaupload, it initially resembled services like the old "YouSendIt," which were focused on making it easier for people to move any file from one person to another. That's not encouraging infringement, it's encouraging being able to transport a digital file it's completely neutral to whether or not the content is or is not infringing.
Either way, the RIAA's lawsuit is a near carbon copy of the MPAA's, and is just as faulty in its reasoning. It's nothing more than a blatant pile on in the attempt to twist copyright laws to their liking.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Apr 9th 2014 9:01am
from the collateral-damage dept
That's because the lawsuit makes a whole bunch of claims about Megaupload that are perfectly reasonable activities for tons of user-generated content and/or cloud computing companies. But, because Hollywood has spent years demonizing Kim Dotcom as a movie-style villain a la "Dr. Evil", it seems to be hoping that the courts won't notice that it's basically making up what they want copyright law to be, rather than what it is.
First, it describes the fact that when you upload a file to Megaupload, the service would then give you a link that you could share. The MPAA paints this as if it's some nefarious scheme to encourage infringement. But it's actually how pretty much any cloud or user-generated content site works.
When the upload was completed, Megaupload reproduced the file on at least one computer server it controlled and provided the user with a Uniform Resource Locator ("URL") "link" beginning with "megaupload.com." The uploader could then propagate the link broadly over the Internet, so that anyone interested in downloading or otherwise accessing a copy of the file could easily find it on Megaupload's servers.But, of course, Dropbox or YouTube do the same exact thing. Then, they call out the fact that Megaupload did not provide its own search engine, as if that's something nefarious:
To conceal the scope of infringennent occurring on the Megaupload website, defendants did not provide users with a searchable index of files available for download from the Megaupload website (although defendants themselves had access to such an index). Instead, defendants relied on numerous third party "linking" sites to host, organize, and promote URL links to Megaupload-hosted infringing content, including plaintiffs' copyrighted works.Except, cloud storage companies from Dropbox to Box to Google Drive don't supply a searchable index of files available on their services either. And that's for a very good reason. Because they're not promoting their services as a place to go to search for infringing works. In fact, you just have to go back to the RIAA's lawsuit against Napster, to see where the exact opposite claim was made. In that case, the court found that Napster was, in part, liable because it had a search feature:
Napster is not an Internet service provider that acts as a mere conduit for the transfer of files.... Rather, it offers search and directory functions specifically designed to allow users to locate music, the majority of which is copyrighted.Yet, now, the MPAA seems to be arguing that not having a search engine means you're trying to hide copyright infringement. Damned if you do, damned if you don't -- just how the RIAA and MPAA like it. If you have a search engine, you're enabling infringement, if you don't have a search engine, you're "concealing" infringement.
The MPAA also tries to paint other perfectly reasonable business model choices as nefarious. Offering premium paid-for services for faster downloads, or access to larger files, is painted as some evil plan to profit off of infringement. But it also makes perfect business sense for a company like Megaupload seeking to cover its bandwidth bills. Similarly, the famed "financial incentives for premium users" is treated as if this is actually paying people to post infringing works. But that makes little sense. It's actually an incentive to get people to post good content. It's the same reason that YouTube today pays top YouTubers who bring in lots of visitors. Is the MPAA really arguing that such an incentive program is illegal?
To ensure a vast and ever-growing supply of popular copyrighted content to which they could sell premium access, defendants paid users to upload popular content to Megaupload's servers. Defendants' Uploader Rewards program promised premium subscribers cash and other financial incentives if they uploaded popular works, primarily copyrighted works, to Megaupload's servers. The rewards program also encouraged users to publicly promote links to that content, so that the content would be widely downloaded.Except, nothing in this program appeared to be about encouraging people to post infringing works. In fact, it would seem like a pretty stupid program for encouraging infringement, as Megaupload would likely be able to bring in a lot more attention and revenue for authorized legitimate content. Such a program, in actuality, appears to be the perfect way for artists to go direct to their fans, offering them ways to get the content for free, while still earning money. In fact, that's why artists like Busta Rhymes spoke out in favor of Megaupload after it was shut down. He pointed out that he could make a lot more money releasing his own music directly via Megaupload, than in going the old record label system.
Furthermore, since this lawsuit is from the movie studios, they list out a number of specific movies that they claim were on the site. However, Megaupload says that the uploader rewards program only applied to files smaller than 100MB, meaning it likely didn't apply to any films that were uploaded. Assuming that's accurate, the studios are going to have quite a difficult time proving that the rewards program induced infringement of movies.
On top of that, even if the program was used by some to make money from sharing infringing works, the program itself is clearly content neutral, and not about encouraging sharing of infringing works. For the MPAA to allege otherwise threatens all kinds of incentive programs on pretty much any user-generated content site.
Next, the MPAA complains that when they sent takedowns to Megaupload, it only removed the specific URL they sent, and not all copies of the content. But, uh, that's all that the law requires. As the court in the YouTube/Viacom case ruled, under the DMCA, the service provider needs to be made aware of specific locations where infringing content is. They can't just be given a single URL and told to "block all copies of that." Nor would such a request be reasonable either, as infringement depends on context, not content. In the YouTube/Viacom case, Viacom initially sued over files that its own employees had uploaded, meaning they were licensed -- yet it argued those were infringing. You run into the same problem here in that the MPAA is arguing that if you know that a particular file is infringing, all similar content must be removed. But the law does not say that. Though, clearly, the MPAA is seeking to change the interpretation of the law.
Next, the MPAA argues that because Megaupload could have used filtering tools to prevent new uploads of works previously claimed as infringing, and did not do so, that proves it's liable. However, that's completely bogus. Many, many, many copyright cases have all said over and over again that nothing in the DMCA creates a duty for service to proactively filter new uploads. In fact, the industry itself admits that this is true, because they're currently asking Congress to change the law to make this a new legal requirement. Yet, in the Megaupload complaint, they pretend it is already the law:
Megaupload could also have implemented various readily available and effective technological solutions (including, without limitation, automated filtering using digital fingerprinting-based content-identification technology) to identify and prevent infringement of copyrighted content. Megaupload chose not to do so.But there is no legal reason why it had to do so. In fact, considering that others have spent tens to hundreds of millions of dollars on such systems, there are perfectly good business reasons not to have spent such money. Here, the MPAA is using this lawsuit to try to get a court to suggest there's a legal duty to filter. This would have a huge negative impact on startups who couldn't afford the tens of millions of dollars entry fee.
You can argue that Megaupload was widely used for infringement. You can even argue that Megaupload management were awful people who didn't care that much about copyright. But if you read this lawsuit objectively, you have to admit that it is a straight up attack on the basic principles of cloud computing and user-generated content, while seeking to change settled law and reinterpret the DMCA in a way the MPAA fantasizes it should be, rather than the way the law is today. That's incredible dangerous.
It's no surprise that they're doing this against Megaupload, a company based halfway around the globe, with all its assets seized, and which is fighting a massive criminal complaint at the same time. That will, obviously, lead to limited resources to fight this civil suit, making it easier for the MPAA to sneak through dangerous changes to the law, via potential court rulings. These are changes that it's been unable to get written into the law for the past few years, so now it's using the courts to try to do its dirty work.
No matter what you think of Megaupload, this is a very dangerous lawsuit.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 7th 2014 1:29pm
from the because-money dept
So you had to know that a lawsuit was coming -- and it had to come soonish, given the three year statute of limitations on infringement claims. The MPAA's press statement simply parrots the DOJ's highly questionable assertions:
“When Megaupload.com was shut down in 2012 by U.S. law enforcement, it was by all estimates the largest and most active infringing website targeting creative content in the world,” said MPAA global general counsel Steven Fabrizio. “Infringing content on Megaupload.com and its affiliates was available in at least 20 languages, targeting a broad global audience. According to the government’s indictment, the site reported more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and cost U.S. copyright owners more than half a billion dollars.”The MPAA is using its favorite law firm for these kinds of cases, Jenner & Block. Of course, there's a (pretty strong) argument that if the MPAA was so upset by Megaupload, it should have filed this lawsuit years ago, rather than convincing the DOJ to twist and turn things to pretend that it was a criminal issue. Megaupload has a pretty strong defense to a civil suit in pointing out how the DMCA works and the fact that the company complied with DMCA takedowns. But, now, with Megauploads' assets frozen, Kim Dotcom separately having to fight extradition charges and the criminal charges, it just makes it that much more difficult to also fight the civil case -- which is exactly how the MPAA likes it.
Really, this is perfect for the MPAA. There's no reason at all for this lawsuit. Megaupload is about as dead as can be -- and, in fact, much of the data has been deleted already thanks to the DOJ's actions. But at this late stage of the game, the MPAA can pile on, likely get some sort of court victory and will then crow about how it fights copyright infringement hard. And those lawyers at Jenner & Block will certainly be paid nicely.
Of course, what none of this will do is help the MPAA or the studios actually deliver more good content in a format people want. That's too much work.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 1st 2014 7:41am
from the good-luck-with-that dept
One idea — though now it is no more than that — is to build alliances with educational nonprofit groups that might enforce the notion that stealing an artist’s work online is just like lifting from a classmate’s desk.For decades, the industry has kept insisting that all people really needed was a bit of "education" and they would magically start shoveling money back down the same payment channels they used to. But, of course, that's never worked. Because it's never been an education issue. It's always been a service problem, in that the industry fails to make works available in a convenient way that consumers want. Yes, the industry has gotten better at this over the years, but they still make it way, way too difficult, and that's why there's infringement.
“It’s as simple as this: One kid does a painting, and another kid comes up and puts his name on it,” Ms. Vitale said.
Second, of course, is if the education is focused on having someone else put a name on your work, well, that's plagiarism, not copyright infringement -- and there's a pretty big distinction there. And, here's the thing: people understand that difference inherently. Pretending that they don't -- as Ms. Vitale seems to do here -- is acting as if the general public is stupid. Pedantically talking down to the very public you want to support you, telling them they need to be educated, and then "educating" them with bullshit misleading analogies that have nothing to do with the actual situation and totally misdiagnose the issue... is not exactly a well thought-out strategy.
Perhaps, instead of throwing money away on bogus groups like the re-christened CreativeFutures, the movie industry would be better off, you know, letting innovators build better services instead of ones that are totally hamstrung and locked up in ways that are annoying and inconvenient to the public. But, if there's one thing we've learned in decades of watching the MPAA and RIAA do the wrong thing it's that, when given the choice between treating consumers as idiots and actually listening to them, they'll always choose the path where they treat customers as idiots.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 28th 2014 12:57pm
from the yet-again dept
The report further notes that ticket prices have continued to rise pretty consistently over the past decade from a $6.21 average price in 2004 to $8.13 last year. For an industry supposedly being destroyed, you'd think they wouldn't be able to get away with raising prices... but, apparently (as we've been pointing out for nearly two decades) going to the movies is a different experience than downloading a film and people are paying for that experience.
And, yes, just to cut off the line of criticism: this only applies to theatrical revenue, and not home viewership. But that's somewhat a red herring, given that, if left to the movie industry, there basically would be no home video market to speak of at all.