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View Diary: Confessions Of A Hollywood Professional: Why I Can't Support the Stop Online Piracy Act (UPDATED) (272 comments)

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  •  While I despise the people (11+ / 0-)

    who seem to think that Peter Jackson should spend five years and hundreds of millions of dollars to make movies that they somehow deserve to see for free, SOPA/PIPA is like setting the house on fire to get rid of cockroaches.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 08:27:24 AM PST

    •  I agree...sort of. (10+ / 0-)

      The reality is that Peter Jackson isn't spending that money out of his own pocket.  Either himself or the movie studio get investors to fund much of the movie.  They also make a lot of money up front selling distribution rights.  

      I'm going to use Kevin Smith's latest, Red State as a simple example.  He found people willing to invest 5 millino or so into the movie.  By the time he sold foreign and distribution rights, he already made that 5 million back...without ever selling a single ticket yet.

      Meanwhile, we hear all the time about movies that report hundreds of millions inbox office "not making money".   Forest gump?  Hell, even Star Wars technically only NOW is reporting a profit.  this is because the studios in many cases also own the distribution chain but they keep separate sets of books.  So what they do is they essentially "gouge" themselves with distribution charges to hide the actual profits made by the movie to avoid paying people who get paid based on profit percentage.

      So in short, piracy isn't hurting box office.  There is no evidence of that as profits in general keep going up.  And there is no shortage of content since it is becoming more and more common for TV or movie studios to only support content they fully control themselves.  How many TV shows get cancelled because their ratings are decent, but not high enough for the TV network to keep paying someone else the rights to air?   Especially when they can keep trying and failing to make their own fully owned shows a hit until they get it right?

      I agree that nobody DESERVES to see anything for free.  But the reality is that there is nothing that can be done to stop it, and as far as I can tell the only people being hurt are the "old school establishment" themselves who profit more from control and near-monopolization than actual creativity.

      •  So your argument is that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul

        as long as someone's making a profit, it's OK to steal from them? I'll have to try that out at a BMW dealer sometime.

        Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

        by milkbone on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 09:52:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  copy the car (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sb, kurt

          hey, if you can lay your hand on a beamer, wait 5 minutes and make a second identical beamer without damaging or causing the dealer to lose use of the first one, then maybe copyright infringement isn't exactly the same as theft.

          i'm not saying there's not a loss in profit, but it's not quite the same as taking my mom's ring from off her nightstand and creeping back out the window.

          We keep electing whores to congress, and we wonder why we get screwed while the money flows to their pimps.

          by papa monzano on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 10:11:34 AM PST

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          •  true, the dealer doesn't lose use of the first one (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Susan from 29, Bill W, Wood Dragon

            but since you got yours for free you are making it harder for him to sell his for $40,000.

            especially if you make another copy of your free one and give it to another friend who copies it and gives it to another friend who copies it and gives it to another friend.

            pretty soon all the people who work at the dealership are out of jobs, as are all the people who work at the local coffee and sub shops that the dealership people go to, as do all of the people who those people would have hired to babysit their children and mow their lawns.

            I don't support SOPA, but as someone who once worked in the creative arts I have a problem with artists and their assistants and support staff not getting paid for their work because technology has made the work so easy to steal and share for free.

            "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
            Must see video: When Mitt Romney Came to Town

            by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 10:38:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Not at all. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sb, Chi, kurt

          I openly agree that nobody deserves to see something for free.  I totally disagree with that sort of overly-entitled thinking.

          What I'm saying is that SOME of this problem has been caused by companies ignoring developments in technology, and hoping everyone will stick to the "old ways" which they control and therefore make massive and extreme profits off of.   That sort of corporate thinking - the myth of infinite profits - is just as much self-entitled thinking as the logic used by piracy advocates.

          So the end result is one side thinking they deserves to make an insane amount of money by abusing or unfairly restricting normal market forces and/or limiting what people can get for their money, battling a group who thinks that just because they CAN get something for free they deserve to have it.   The intelligent solution - moderation - is no longer acceptable in our heavily corporatized economy.

          What I am saying is that there is always going to be ways to create new works/art and ways for artists to profit off of it.  There will alway be people willing and able and HAPPY to make new music, movies, paintings, or whatever, and others willing to invest in those things.  That isn't going to change.

          The way I see it though is that something HAS to give, and like or not, it isn't going to be the "pirates".  Not without seriously problematic and draconian legislation coming into play like SOPA which restricts the freedoms and rights of everyone (whether in the US or not) in a majorly bad way.  The ones who are going to have to budge are the corporations like the music and movie studios, publishers, etc.  And they are going to have to accept that their massive profits are no longer sustainable or even possible given the current technology.  

          In fact, given the current technology, those "gate keepers" may no longer even be necessary at all anymore.   The market is going to change and it appears to be changing in a way that more directly connects the actual artists/creators to the consumer.  There is no more need for the middle man - or corporations in this case.  Because under our current system, the corporate gatekeepers end up making all the money but do very little actual "creating".  And then customers are paying a ton of money to buy that product only a very tiny fraction goes to the actual creator.  And they may not even own the actual songs anyway in many cases.  Loko at Michael Jackson who owned the rights to the Beatles music because of how the studios work.  So HE had the rights to sell and profit off of Beatles songs however he wanted regardless of how the actual bandmembers felt.  How is THAT not stealing also?  But it is allowed because the corporate gatekeepers LIKE that part of copyright law.

          Going back to your analogy it isn't like stealing a car because BMW still makes money.  It is more like realizing why should be be buying from car salesmen at all, haggling and negotiating,etc, when we can (ideally) just go directly to the BMW manufacturing facility and pay cost plus %10 or whatever markup BMW decides.   Then again, car sales are a terrible example specifically because of the way dealerships work and do business.

          •  Michael Jackson & the Beatles (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chi
            Look at Michael Jackson who owned the rights to the Beatles music because of how the studios work.  So HE had the rights to sell and profit off of Beatles songs however he wanted regardless of how the actual bandmembers felt.  How is THAT not stealing also?  But it is allowed because the corporate gatekeepers LIKE that part of copyright law.

            That doesn't strike me as the best example, since I'm pretty sure that Michael Jackson was only able to own the Beatles' catalog because somewhere along the line they were either greedy enough or stupid enough to sign away their rights.  

            •  It is appropriate. (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brown Thrasher, sb, Cassandra Waites, Chi, kurt

              Because most young new acts, even today, have to sign away their rights in order to be picked up by the big studios who will get them on the radio.  Research what has happened to most of the "boy bands" of the 90s including N*sync, Backstreet Boys.  I guarantee that Britney Spears doesn't own her own music, the production company and/or music studio do.

              This is common practice and has been for quite some time.

              •  It's "stealing"? (0+ / 0-)

                No, it isn't.  It may be taking advantage of someone's greed or stupidity, but it's not stealing.  Nobody "has to" sign with a big label, they choose to do so because there are certain benefits associated with that.  They have to decide whether or not those benefits are worth giving up future earnings.  
                It boils down to: don't sign a contract if you don't know what you're doing.  

                •  You misunderstand (0+ / 0-)

                  I never said that record companies are stealing when they control the rights of music they pay artists to record.  We've gotten way off topic.  But what I said was that when someone like Michael Jackson can own someone else's music, such as with the Beatles, that to me is not all that different from stealing - especially if we are going to call anything involving the artist/creator not being able to profit off their own work for ever "stealing".

                  •  Well, what you said was... (0+ / 0-)
                    "...Michael Jackson who owned the rights to the Beatles music because of how the studios work.  So HE had the rights to sell and profit off of Beatles songs however he wanted regardless of how the actual bandmembers felt.  How is THAT not stealing also?"

                    And my answer is that it's not stealing because he paid for it.  
                    If an artist wishes to sell the rights to their art to some other party, then that party owns the rights.  I don't see any parallel at all with the practice of copying and redistributing artists' work without their permission.

                    Funny thing -- I remember the uproar over Michael Jackson's acquisition of the Beatles catalog, and how angry the fans were.  Of course, that was right around the same time that "Sir Paul", who owned the Buddy Holly portfolio, was licensing those tunes for floor wax commercials and the like.  

          •  I refrained from reading the rest of (0+ / 0-)

            your comment

            I openly agree that nobody deserves to see something for free.

            as per your request.

            Fear is your only God.

            by JesseCW on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 09:37:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Do they lose their movie when you watch it? (0+ / 0-)

          Then in what sense have you deprived them of anything that was actually theirs?

          Fear is your only God.

          by JesseCW on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 09:36:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Deserves to see anything for free (8+ / 0-)

        As someone who plays in two community bands that give free outdoor concerts, donations gladly accepted, I take issue with the claim that art belongs only to those who can afford to view it.

        Especially since the only way I can afford to see live art, most of the time, is to help create it.

        •  Well, and I help run community events, and in my (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassandra Waites, sb, kurt

          experience, people are generous when they know its going directly to the artist. I am firmly convinced that a big chunk of piracy comes as a response to corporate greed and callousness. If people saw it as a matter of supporting vs. depriving an artist, the picture would look a lot different than it does to people wondering whether they should support or deprive Universal Studios.

    •  I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting that. (9+ / 0-)

      Most people, lets say 90%, are fine with the idea of paying for content, while let's say 10% will pirate content come hell or high water.

      The more laws Hollywood passes to ratchet down restrictions on distribution of content, the only people who are going to face the consequences are those 90%. The other 10% will continue downloading content as usual.

      Software like Bittorrent is just a tool. Like any tool, it can be used to cause great damage, or do great good. If the Hollywood studios were intelligent, they'd utilize such tools to create a distribution channel that would bring in boatloads of money. A great example is World of Warcraft- their patches are issued in the background via torrent.

      I personally get my movies on Amazon Prime nowadays. But I'd happily switch to something else if a better mousetrap came along. The danger if legislation like this passes is that the litigation risk will be so high for new startups that nobody will have the incentive to get in the mousetrap invention business.

      We already have death panels. They're called insurance companies.

      by aztecraingod on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 10:25:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  THIS (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sb, Cassandra Waites, Chi, kurt, samanthab, melo

        I'd suggest that there is a percentage at each end that will always purchase and will always steal. The middle ground of people are the ones who you want to reach.

        The best way to reach them, in my opinion, is to make it easier and safer to buy something than to steal it. Itunes did that for music. The bulk of college people I knew who were into original Napster/Limewire/etc, swapped to Itunes as it came out. It was safer: legally and from viruses, it was just as convenient, and the cost was, on it's face, reasonable.

        Did it solve musical piracy? No. Did it cut out a large chunk of casual pirates? Yes, and it removed a philosophical underpinning from people who want to argue about why what they're doing isn't "stealing."

        Game makers are constantly fighting against IP theft, and the people who end up paying for it are those who buy a game with limited functions, poor performance and foolish IP protection (only works online, installs malware, etc.) The pirates still pirate, don't have to deal with the pain and annoyance of the protection software and don't pay.

        This is the trap that MUST be avoided, or your customer base will rebel, because they're punished financially, and in user friendliness for staying legal.

        Argh.

        It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic. - WSC

        by Solarian on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 01:21:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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