A few weeks ago, a friend sent over a link to a website called CreativeFutures -- a Hollywood-created organization to (of course) push for anti-piracy efforts. What was really weird about it was that it seemed almost identical to a different such organization, called Creative America, which the same studios had used as a center piece in pushing SOPA
, but which had gone quiet. The NY Times, however, has cleared up the mystery. Apparently, CreativeFutures is
Creative America, with a new name and a new leader... who seems to be pulling out the same bad playbook
on how to deal with innovative technologies that have changed the market for video. Here's a tip: any time you see someone insisting that "the answer" to dealing with widespread infringement is "more education," you know that you're dealing with someone who is either ignorant, or not particularly serious concerning the issue. And yet, here is CreativeFutures new boss, who the NY Times describes as "sassy," Ruth Vitale:
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.
“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.
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.
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.