by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 25th 2016 1:35pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 25th 2016 10:46am
from the copyright-as-censorship dept
Earlier this year, we wrote about a crazy lawsuit filed by Gene Kelly's widow, after finding out that a college professor named Kelli Marshall was working on a book collecting interviews with Gene Kelly. Marshall and her publisher reached out to a number of people associated with those interviews to clear any legitimate copyright claims (interview collection books are pretty common, and the copyright issue rarely gets in the way). Kelly's widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, claimed that she held the copyright on all of Gene Kelly's interviews, and sued Marshall for infringement. This was crazy for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that the person being interviewed very rarely holds a copyright in the words they said (and Kelly's widow made a mad dash to the copyright office to try to register these interviews right before suing). There's also the whole fair use thing.
A couple months back, the court tossed out the lawsuit -- but not over the issues mentioned above. Instead, the court noted (correctly) that the issue wasn't "ripe" for court, because Marshall hadn't even written the book yet, so it's crazy to claim that it's infringing when we don't even know what's in it. So that's a victory, but not a great one for Marshall, since it likely means she's still facing a lawsuit once the book is done. And based on that Marshall has announced that she will no longer write the book.
Despite the judge’s ruling in our favor, I have decided not to move forward with the book. After much frustration and deliberation, I realize I have neither the time nor the resources to endure another potential lawsuit. I regret this for my research. I regret this for academia and the university press. But mostly, I regret this for the fans of Gene Kelly.I can totally understand why she would do this. Yes, you could argue that she could file a lawsuit for declaratory judgment of non-infringement -- and probably win, but what a hassle that would be (not to mention an expensive hassle). Instead, we get yet another example of a completely bullshit copyright claim being used to censor -- and in this case, an academic book.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 25th 2016 8:27am
from the well,-this-should-be-interesting dept
U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante was removed from her job Friday morning (Oct. 21) by the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, who has authority over the Copyright Office. Officially, Pallante has been appointed as a senior adviser for digital strategy for the Library of Congress, although it’s clear she was asked to step down. Karyn Temple Claggett, currently associate register of copyrights, has been appointed the acting register.There are all sorts of rumors flying about this. Pallante has, apparently, been advocating strongly for moving the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress, and either making it an independent agency or linking it up with the Patent & Trademark Office under the Commerce Department. That would be a big mistake, frankly, because copyright is not supposed to be about "commerce" and "industry" but about benefiting the public. That's why it makes sense to leave it as part of the Library of Congress.
Pallante was locked out of the Library of Congress computer system this morning, according to two sources who spoke with Library employees. Earlier, Hayden had called several members of Congress to tell them about her decision. Later, she called the heads of several media business trade organizations to give them the news, according to one who received such a call.
Still, when Hayden was first announced, basically all of the copyright maximalist front groups put out statements vaguely suggesting that they'd support Hayden if she promises to leave the Copyright Office alone. It would appear that Hayden has decided not to take that advice. Of course, there are some concerns about what Pallante will do in advising on digitization at the Library of Congress (see update above, noting she is not accepting the position), but it does seem odd that at basically the same time this news leaked, I received notice that the the Library of Congress was going to start archiving Techdirt (yes, this is 100% a coincidence, but a funny one):
That said, I should admit that I don't think Pallante herself was as bad as some critics made her out to be (though she did surround herself with a lot of people with really bad ideas). She at least seemed marginally better than some of the previous heads of the Copyright Office, and was actually at least slightly open to some good ideas on copyright reform (and plenty of bad ones). But it does seem like today's Copyright Office needs someone who isn't just representing Hollywood's viewpoint and recognizes that copyright itself is supposed to benefit the public first and foremost -- something Pallante denies.
Pallante's temporary replacement, Karyn Temple Claggett, is unlikely to change very much. Beyond it just being an interim position, Claggett came to the Copyright Office after working for many years at the RIAA, where she helped in the litigation against Grokster, Limewire, XM and Usenet.com. This is not exactly someone who recognizes the changing nature of the internet and says "let's embrace it."
So now the big question is really what happens next. Lots of people are gearing up for a fight over who will take over the Copyright Office on a permanent basis. Is it going to be someone who comes from that world where copyright is supposed to only benefit the big copyright gatekeepers? Or will it be someone with a more nuanced view on how copyright works, how it's supposed to benefit the public by providing tools for creators. Either way, it seems like the fight over this is going to get messy. You already have lobbyists whispering to the press about how awful all of this is:
That executive, and others who represent creators and media businesses in Washington, D.C., expressed surprise and dismay that Pallante, who had the job since 2011, had been removed. “The people in the creative community are furious about the fact that this was done,” says a lawyer who works for organizations that support strong copyright laws, “but especially about the way it was done.”Wait just a second here. How the hell can the RIAA/MPAA's of the world claim that they represent "the creative community"? That's bullshit. They represent a few large gatekeepers, who have a long history of screwing over the actual creative community any chance they get. More and more of the actual creative community these days have found that the internet is a wonderful tool for creating, promoting, distributing and monetizing their works -- and they recognize that the legacy industries and overly oppressive copyright laws get in the way of that, rather than helping. But, no matter what, you can bet that when a new Copyright Register is announced, we'll see more of this kind of misleading language and attacks -- and it will be something of a preview for the eventual fight over actual copyright reform bills that are expected to show up in the relatively near future.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 20th 2016 6:25am
from the can-i-introduce-you-to-fair-use? dept
Some interesting points about the lawsuit. Kittos did register the image... but not until after all this went down. The Copyright Office lists the registration date as October 3rd of this year:
The bigger issue, though, is that this is almost certainly a bogus copyright infringement case. The Trump campaign has a pretty strong fair use argument, helped along by Kittos himself originally admitting that "I have never put this image up for sale" and "I was just experimenting with something called off-camera flash." There goes prong four of the fair use test, the "effect on the market," when the plaintiff has already admitted there never was a market. Also, the lawsuit itself makes it pretty clear that the lawsuit isn't really about copyright infringement, but about Kittos being upset about the message of the Trump meme.
I get that. I mean, I agree that the tweet is stupid and ignorant. But that's not the role of copyright. And yet, throughout the lawsuit, Kittos' lawyer keeps pointing to the "offensive" nature of the content as the reason that it's infringement. But that does not matter at all for a copyright infringement claim.
The unauthorized use of the Photograph is reprehensibly offensive to Plaintiff as he is a refugee of the Republic of Cyprus who was forced to flee his home at the age of six years old.That's an interesting news hook, but it has nothing to do with copyright.
Also, given that this is someone trying to silence a political campaign, it seems fairly obvious that this is actually a SLAPP lawsuit, rather than a legitimate copyright lawsuit. Of course, that may explain why the lawsuit was brought in Illinois (remember, Kittos is in the UK, and the Trump campaign is certainly not based in Illinois). Illinois has an anti-SLAPP law, but it's been interpreted narrowly, and it's unclear if it would be allowed here -- though it's possible. The key case, Sandholm v. Kuecker, does include a test on "the plaintiff's intent in bringing the lawsuit." If it's to stifle speech or participation in government, then the anti-SLAPP law may apply. So Kittos may actually end up in trouble himself for filing this lawsuit. Notably, if the Trump campaign argues that this is a SLAPP suit and it wins, Kittos himself may be responsible for Trump's legal fees.
In other words, while I can understand why Kittos may have filed this lawsuit, it seems like someone may have given him some bad advice, and it may cost him.
Of course, he may be hoping that the Trump campaign just pays him off to go away. After all, the lawsuit mentions another copyright lawsuit filed against the campaign earlier this year, over a bald eagle photo -- and in that one, the Trump campaign settled the case, though no details were given on how it was settled.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2016 9:42am
from the that's-not-a-copyright-issue dept
What that video used to be, according to the original description was:
GTA 5 Mod Showcasing the explosive Samsung Galaxy Note 7. You can blow people up with a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 in GTA V.And there's the little thumbnail that was shown in the Twitter card for the video before it disappeared:
GTA 5, of course, is the video game Grand Theft Auto 5. And, like many video games, it's possible to mod (modify) those video games to add in other elements. And so it appears that someone took the "ripped from the headlines" stories of exploding Note 7s and created a GTA 5 mod that made such things into weapons you could use in the game.
It's kind of funny, actually.
What it is not, however, is copyright infringement. I don't care how you slice or dice it. It's not copyright infringement. Samsung may be embarrassed by its exploding devices, and it may not like people making fun of them or turning them into weapons in video games, but that doesn't matter. There's no copyright infringement against Samsung's copyrights in doing that. And it's flat out ridiculous that Samsung appears to have made a copyright claim over such a video. Hopefully whoever put up the video challenges this and YouTube comes to its senses...
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 13th 2016 9:34am
from the no,-he's-on-first dept
The district court sided with the producers of Hand to God based on fair use, skipping over the more thorny question of whether or not there was a copyright at all. Basically, the court (correctly) noted at the motion to dismiss stage that it needed to interpret things in the most favorable manner to the plaintiff, and thus it would just assume that the copyrights were valid, and said that even if the copyrights were valid, fair use would lead the case to be dismissed.
Astoundingly, the heirs of Abbott & Costello have appealed... and they've lost on appeal as well at the Second Circuit court of appeals. But... the reasoning of the appeals court is very different, and potentially dangerous. Basically, the court here says that there's no valid copyright (which is probably correct), but then for no good reason also concludes that if there were a valid copyright, this would not be fair use. This is bizarre on a number of levels, starting with the fact that once it's decided there's no valid copyright, there's no reason at all to also do a fair use analysis, and it may mean that the fair use analysis is effectively meaningless dicta -- but you can bet that others will make use of it in trying to undermine fair use in other cases, and the fair use analysis here is bad. Really bad. Laughably bad... and not laughable like the Abbott & Costello routine.
First, on the question of the copyright's validity. The court goes fairly deep into the wording of various contracts in determining who had the responsibility for renewing the copyright in question in the movies, and basically finds that Abbott & Costello did not actually transfer the copyright to the movie studios, and thus, the team (or their heirs) failed to renew the copyright as necessary in 1968 -- and thus, the act is in the public domain (this ignores, again, that the actual act predates the movies, and even predates Abbott & Costello, but whatever). The only mention of the fact that the act was performed previously was to toss aside the estate's claim that the act should be considered a "work made for hire" so that the copyright could have actually gone to the movie studio (so that it could later be transferred to the estate). Yet the judge points out that it can't be a work made for hire, since Abbott & Costello had already performed it earlier, so they didn't make it for the movie studio (I'm not sure this actually makes sense, since the copyright would be in the specific fixed work, but, again, this is getting deep into the weeds).
Either way, the end result is no copyright, and that's a good thing, even if the reasoning is a bit weird for why.
But the really problematic part of the ruling is the fair use stuff. Again, it's not at all clear why the court is looking at fair use at all, since it says there's no copyright anyway. But it does. And it does so badly. While the district court found the use in the play clearly transformative (taking a pure slapstick Vaudevillian comedy routine and putting it in a dark & disturbing play), the appeals court disagrees, basically saying that since the use is recognizable, it's not transformative:
Far from altering Who’s on First? to the point where it is “barely recognizable” within the Play... defendants’ use appears not to have altered the Routine at all. The Play may convey a dark critique of society, but it does not transform Abbott and Costello’s Routine so that it conveys that message. To the contrary, it appears that the Play specifically has its characters perform Who’s on First? without alteration so that the audience will readily recognize both the famous Routine and the boy’s false claim to having created it. Indeed, it is only after Who’s on First? is performed—at some length, almost verbatim, and with the Play’s characters mimicking the original timing, tone, and delivery of Abbott and Costello—that the boy’s lie about creating the classic Routine—no part of the Routine—becomes the triggering event for the puppet to assume an independent persona.This seems like a very odd way to interpret transformative work -- and one at odds with a number of other cases, such as the Swatch v. Bloomberg case (also in the 2nd Circuit) that clearly states that "a secondary work can be transformative in function or purpose without altering or actually adding to the original work." That is, the purpose of the use is what matters. Bizarrely, this ruling tries to basically walk its way out of that in a footnote, saying that in that case, it only meant data and "not the creation of new artistic work." Huh? It also seems to go against the ruling in Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley (again, in the 2nd Circuit) where reusing full concert posters in a book was declared fair use because it was for an aggregated book, rather than to advertise concerts. Again, it was using the work, but for a different manner. And that wasn't about data, but about new works of art.
Defendants nevertheless maintain that using the Routine for such a “dramatic,” rather than comedic, purpose was transformative. Appellees’ Br. 18 (stating that Play’s use of Routine was “far cry” from original “comedy schtick”). The argument will not bear close scrutiny. The “dramatic” purpose served by the Routine in the Play appears to be as a “McGuffin,” that is, as a theatrical device that sets up the plot, but is of little or no significance in itself. To advance the plot of the Play, specifically, to have the puppet Tyrone take on a persona distinct from that of Jason, defendants needed Jason to lie about something and for Tyrone to call him on it. But the particular subject of the lie— the Routine—appears irrelevant to that purpose. Such unaltered use of an allegedly copyrighted work, having no bearing on the original work, requires justification to qualify for a fair use defense.
Basically, this ruling seems to ignore existing precedent in its own court for no clear reason at all.
Also troubling is the analysis of "the nature of the work," stating that "an original comedy sketch created for public entertainment lies at the heart of copyright's intended protection." Except that's ridiculous -- and not the least because (as noted earlier) this was a classic vaudevillian act that was performed by many others first and eventually by Abbott & Costello. Furthermore, as we've discussed in detail in the past, there's quite a fair bit of "joke copying" in comedic circles, with individuals copying bits and routines from others, and it rarely has anything to do with copyright. Instead, various social norms generally are used to "police" this kind of activity, and lots of comedians admit that the power of an act is in the performance (delivery, comedic timing, flourishes, etc.) rather than in the idea of the joke itself. The idea that copyright is specifically necessary for a comedy routine is simply disproved by the history of comedy and comedic acts, especially at the time that Abbott & Costello were performing.
The court also rejected the district court's (correct) decision that there was no impact on the market of this use, since it would not usurp the market for Abbott & Costello's performance. The appeals court falls for a favorite claim of copyright holders, which other, smarter, courts have disregarded: it's the "but what about the possibility of licensing the work."
In so doing, however, the district court disregarded the possibility of defendants’ use adversely affecting the licensing market for the RoutineOther courts have rejected this kind of argument, because it would undermine this factor of fair use in every single case. This ruling kind of admits that, but then brushes it off, and notes that since there are lots of requests to license "Who's On First?" that this would impact the market. But it doesn't explain how.
Overall, none of this matters in this case, but it is troubling for potential future fair use cases, especially those in the Second Circuit, which has traditionally been really good on fair use cases.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 13th 2016 8:26am
us chamber of commerce
from the really-now? dept
Millions watched the presidential #debates on illegal streams. The harmful #piracy trend must endAnd it links to this Forbes article (adblock blocker warning) presenting some data on how many people watched unauthorized streams.
The tweet is ridiculous (as is the article, but we'll get to that...). First of all, the presidential debates are an important part of our democracy and understanding who will be leading our country in another few months. The idea that you need copyright to put that on is ridiculous. Second, partly because of what I wrote in the first sentence, the debates are available in a variety of places for free -- including TV and streaming on the internet via both YouTube and Twitter. For free. Third, there are no commercials and no fees associated with the debate -- again because of the importance of civic engagement. Who is actually "harmed" by people watching the debate through unauthorized streams? Why is this "harmful"? Why must this "end"?
Or, as Parker Higgins points out, "warning that piracy could lead to participation in democracy" is particularly ridiculous -- but I guess that's how the US Chamber operates.
Normally I don't acknowledge trolls but that's the literal Chamber of Commerce. Warning that piracy could lead to participation in democracy— Parker Higgins (@xor) October 12, 2016
VFT Solutions tracked 420 live streams of Sunday’s debate and recorded 22 million views. This includes accessing legal streams from media sources like the New York Times and Fox News, which streamed the debate on live-streaming platforms. But it also includes massive views of illegal streams. According to VFT’s CEO, Wayne Lonstein, “Perhaps what is most interesting is that 41% of these views were from illegal live-streams, also known as nano-piracy.” That’s about 9 million nano-pirate views, and this is just a sample.WTF is "nano-piracy"? What does that even mean? Hollywood has been complaining about streaming piracy for ages, so there's nothing new here. Granados then admits that the debates were available for free basically everywhere, but doesn't immediately realize how ludicrous it is to then call this "piracy" (nano or otherwise). Instead, he just jumps to fretting about what this will mean for copyright holders. Really.
Why are viewers watching these debates on illegal live streams despite having plenty of free legal options? What does this signal for copyright owners who expect to get paid for their content?It signals nothing. It signals that people use the internet and they look for the most convenient way to watch the debates for their personal situation. And that's a good thing. It's good that the debates aren't sponsored or filled with commercials and that they're widely available. That's a good thing for democracy. Piracy and copyright have nothing to do with this.
Does the US Chamber of Commerce and real-life professor Nelson Granados honestly think that without copyright no one would have the incentive to put on or stream Presidential debates?
Of course, the pivot is to claim that, well, okay, maybe this is okay for the debate, but gosh darnit, if they can do that for the debate... why, they could do that for other content too!:
Live-streaming the presidential debates in platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live is great for politics, but it should also raise a big red flag about the emerging threat that nano-piracy on these same platforms poses for artists and entertainers.Yeah, but that's been going on for ages, since well before the debate. The use of it for the debate is actually a good sign, showing how interested people are in civic engagement and understanding what the candidates for President are talking about. Why would anyone complain about it other than to (1) sell some stupid "service" or (2) push a ridiculous argument about "harm" from this kind of streaming.
Within the current system, where copyright holders have to request the take-down of every single piracy source, it has been an uphill battle to keep up with download piracy infringers. Nano-pirates are making things worse, with the aggravated fact that live streams leave less trace than downloads. Ironically, illegal live-streaming of the presidential debates is rampant, so hopefully the winner will be motivated to take matters into his or her own hands.Did you get that? Because so many people watched the presidential debate, this professor thinks that whoever wins the election should crack down on people getting to watch the debate.
This feels like a parody, but unfortunately, it appears to be real.
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Oct 5th 2016 8:38am
from the sorry-you-didn't-get-the-memos,-stakeholders dept
The EFF is publishing a series looking at the multitude of ways gatekeepers and governments can make content disappear from the web -- using everything from legislation they helped craft to applying pressure to multiple points between the content they want removed and the person who put it there.
But not every tool used to remove content comes in a form that can be contested by the general public. Some of these tools are the result of private agreements with private entities -- agreements in which users have no say. The EFF calls it "Shadow Regulation."
For example, agreements between copyright holders and Internet companies that give copyright holders the ability to effectively delete users' content from the Internet, and agreements on other topics such as hateful speech and terrorism that can be used to stifle lawful speech. Unlike laws, such agreements (sometimes also called codes, standard, principles, or guidelines) aren't developed with public input or accountability. As a result, users who are affected by them are often completely unaware that they even exist.
Even those who are aware of these agreements have few options for changing them, because users aren't a party to these private deals. They tend to cover multiple companies, so shaming or boycotting a single company isn't an option. And asking regulators to step in might not be possible either, because these agreements often have the active support of government officials who see them as a cheap and easy alternative to regulation.
It may be difficult to battle these agreements, but there's nothing to be lost by exposing their inner workings to those affected by them. The EFF names a few examples: the "six strikes" infringement notification system, Europe's hate speech code of conduct, and the MPAA's "Trusted Notifier" program, which requires domain name registries to disable domains accused of infringement.
But the reach of these private agreements extends much further than this. Pretty much every intermediary between hosted content and those seeking to view it have options at their disposal for disappearing content should they be pressured to do so. The EFF highlights each link in the chain between site visitors and the hosted content, showing how these have been affected by shadow regulation.
ISPs, payment providers, certificate authorities, and search engines all are forms of internet connective tissue that can be severed at any time, and with few recourse options for those whose content has been removed. The private agreements aren't just used by other private entities, like the MPAA and RIAA. They're also exploited by censorious governments to stifle criticism or reporting that's at odds with the official government line.
This is the introduction to a series of posts by the EFF, which will more closely examine each of these "weak links." Just as importantly, the EFF is hoping to provide readers with the information they need to fight back against this unofficial, often-opaque form of speech regulation.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Oct 3rd 2016 11:43am
from the jumping-ahead-of-the-threat dept
A few more wrinkles have appeared in the EFF's attempted legal destruction of the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause. Back in July, the EFF -- along with researchers Bunny Huang and Matthew Green -- sued the government, challenging the constitutionality of Section 1201 of the DMCA. As it stands now, researchers are restricted by the limitations built into the anti-circumvention clause. The Library of Congress can grant exceptions, but these are only temporary, lasting three years and generally vanishing at the end of that term.
Projects and research efforts continue to be thwarted by this provision, opening up those who circumvent DRM and other protective measures to the possibility of prosecution. And their options when facing charges are severely limited. There is no "fair use" exception to Section 1201 of the DMCA -- something the EFF would like to see changed.
The threat of prosecution may be mostly existential, but it's still far from nonexistent. This is why the EFF has requested a preliminary injunction that would prevent the DOJ from trying to put its client in jail.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked a court Thursday for an order that would prevent the government from prosecuting its client, security researcher Matthew Green, for publishing a book about making computer systems more secure.
But publishing the book, tentatively entitled Practical Cryptographic Engineering, could land Green in jail under an onerous and unconstitutional provision of copyright law. To identify security vulnerabilities in a device he has purchased, Green must work directly with copyrighted computer code, bypassing control measures meant to prevent the code from being accessed.
The injunction request [PDF] points out that -- in addition to the anti-circumvention clause being a form a prior restraint -- Green will be performing the sort of actions the DOJ has prosecuted people for in the past.
A rigorous and effective audit of a computer system’s security requires that Dr. Green analyze the software controlling the system. Often, secure computer systems prevent access to their software code through technological protection measures (“TPMs”) such as encryption, username/password combinations, or physical memory restrictions preventing a user from accessing certain stored information. An adversary seeking to extract information about the software code or about the system’s user, or to install their own malicious software, would seek to bypass these measures in order to maximize their ability to locate and exploit vulnerabilities.
To identify security flaws, Dr. Green must do the same; indeed, finding and reporting on the vulnerability of these access controls is a critical part of auditing the security of the system. If he does not bypass access controls in a computer system, Dr. Green’s research is significantly limited. While he may be able to discover some vulnerabilities, he cannot determine with confidence whether devices are secure against an adversary willing to circumvent access controls.
The DOJ has already responded (sort of) to some of the claims raised in the EFF's injunction request. Its motion to dismiss [PDF] -- filed the same day as the EFF's injunction request -- claims the EFF and Matthew Green have no standing to challenge Section 1201 of the DMCA. Not only that, but they cannot provide any evidence prosecution is likely if Green continues with his research work.
Plaintiffs’ claims should be dismissed in their entirety. As an initial matter, Plaintiffs lack standing to raise their First Amendment claims on a pre-enforcement basis because the assertions in their Complaint fail to establish a credible threat of prosecution, under the DMCA’s criminal enforcement provision, for engaging in constitutionally-protected activity. None of the Plaintiffs claims to have been threatened with criminal prosecution. Plaintiffs’ conclusory assertion that others have been prosecuted under the DMCA in the past, for unidentified reasons, is insufficient to establish that Plaintiffs face a credible threat, as is their assertion that third parties might bring suit against them under a separate civil private right of action. Moreover, Plaintiffs fail plausibly to assert that the acts of circumvention and trafficking that they wish to undertake qualify as speech or expressive conduct that is entitled to First Amendment protection but prohibited by the DMCA.
The DOJ's arguments roughly align with the assertions made in its motion to dismiss in a lawsuit brought by security researchers and the ACLU against the much-hated CFAA. Once again, the DOJ recognizes that Green's book may be covered by the First Amendment, but actions taken during its compilation may not be.
In both cases, though, the statutes lend themselves to punishing security researchers for performing security research. While the DOJ may have no intention of prosecuting Green for his work, the anti-circumvention clause allows it to hold onto that option for as long as it wants to. The only way to guarantee this won't happen is to obtain an injunction, but chances are the court won't be as interested in staving off the theoretical as it will be in examining the First Amendment claims.
by Karl Bode
Mon, Oct 3rd 2016 10:40am
from the overlords-of-nonsense dept
In reality, the cable sector's opposition was about two things: $21 billion in captive box rental revenues, and a fear of a loss of control. Being an expert in the latter, the MPAA of course was quick to issue a statement applauding the "delay" in the FCC's proceeding:
"The MPAA is pleased that the FCC is taking more time, and we hope they use it to ensure any set-top box proposal remains consistent with copyright policy and avoids harming creators,” said MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd, who emphasized that his organization, along with “virtually the entire creative community” is “standing up for copyright and the rights of creators."Except again, the cable box plan has nothing to do with copyright. The rules would have simply required cable companies pass on their existing programming (and all DRM) to third party hardware vendors, resulting in more competition in cable boxes and ultimately more open and cheaper boxes. Because that might just give consumers a little more control, the MPAA joined the hissy fit parade of inaccurate implausibilities. And to justify trying to keep the cable box locked down and shitty, the best the MPAA can apparently do is reiterate some nonsensical talking points about jobs:
"We support the FCC’s goal of promoting set-top box competition, but we continue to urge the Commission to forge a path that does not undermine the creative economy,” Dodd continued. “Copyright employs more than 5.5 million U.S. workers and generates over $1 trillion in economic value – incentivizing innovation and investment in creative works enjoyed by millions around the world."Except the FCC's proposal wouldn't hurt jobs in the slightest. Under the FCC's plan, customers still would pay for cable, they'd just have more flexibility in how that programming is consumed. And if anything, you'd see more jobs as the cable hardware itself was opened to multiple hardware competitors and streaming vendors looking to make headway in the space. But just like their previous whining session on this subject, the MPAA can't just admit it's terrified of evolution and consumer empowerment, so it apparently has to conflate "copyright" with a loss of control.
Meanwhile, while many media outlets continue to insist this plan is simply on hold, there's really only two likely outcomes moving forward thanks to cable lobbyists, the US Copyright Office, and folks like the MPAA: either the plan gets scrapped entirely, or the end result winds up being so watered down as to be utterly useless.