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Internet wins: SOPA and PIPA both shelved
January 20, 2012 12:58 PM   Subscribe

SOPA and PIPA dropped by Congress. The ideas present in both SOPA and PIPA may return, but both bills in their present form—and with their present names—are probably done for good.
posted by asnider (99 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah. Until this happens.
posted by the dief at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2012 [22 favorites]


Give them 6 months. We've got short attention spans, and they've got loads of cash and a dead business model.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2012 [34 favorites]


DING,DONG. . . . .
posted by Danf at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2012


By "dropped" you mean "delayed."
posted by eriko at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


.




Hamburger
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2012


"Dropped" is definitely misleading.
posted by Ardiril at 1:01 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now I can go back to calling my grandparents Sopa and Pipa.
posted by michaelh at 1:03 PM on January 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Dropped" is definitely misleading

Congress is definitely misleading.
posted by Fizz at 1:03 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mmmmm... sopapipas
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:04 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a really misleading post phrasing. This battle is not won, merely delayed.
posted by strixus at 1:04 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good point.
posted by Ardiril at 1:04 PM on January 20, 2012


The cost of freedom, as they say, is eternal vigilance.

Or, to put it another way, we're the ones who need to watch the watchmen.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:04 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ideally for free.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:05 PM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Total victory. There's literally no way they can come back from this.

I'm making a note here, people: huge success.
posted by gauche at 1:06 PM on January 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


There's literally no way they can come back from this. - Don't bet your career on that.
posted by Ardiril at 1:08 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's literally no way they can come back from this.*

*Except to wait until November.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:09 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm making a note here, people: huge success.

Just as dead as GlaDOS and all those traps. Oh, wait...

Greed never sleeps
posted by tyllwin at 1:09 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not good enough. Still voting Ron Paul '12
posted by Ad hominem at 1:09 PM on January 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


We must still make sure at least some representatives and senators loose their seats over this shit, preferably Lamar Smith among them. We could achieve this with some attack ads about the various co-sponsors "trying to kill the internet".. or youtube videos if we cannot afford ads.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:10 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the New York Times is doing a very poor job of reporting on this. Postponement is not the same as dropping the bill. Whoever is the editor for their SOPA coverage should be fired.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:10 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marco Arment: The Next SOPA
But what will happen when the MPAA buys the next SOPA? We can’t protest every similar bill with the same force. Eventually, our audiences will tire of calling their senators for whatever we’re asking them to protest this time.

Eventually, we will lose.

Such ridiculous, destructive bills should never even pass committee review, but we’re not addressing the real problem: the MPAA’s buying power in Congress. This is a campaign finance problem.
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:11 PM on January 20, 2012 [40 favorites]


It's true. We have a signed document from Lucy saying she won't pull the football away.
posted by Legomancer at 1:11 PM on January 20, 2012 [30 favorites]


I wonder how many of them said "oh $@!, I can't live without wikipedia for a day!!"
posted by Melismata at 1:11 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm making a note here, people: huge success.

Just as dead as GlaDOS and all those traps. Oh, wait...


I initially just read the comment as "I'm making a note here, huge success" and thought it was ironic and Portal referencing, but then I saw the people and was sort of confused.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:11 PM on January 20, 2012


It was ironic. I forgot the sarcasm tag.
posted by gauche at 1:14 PM on January 20, 2012


I initially just read the comment as "I'm making a note here, huge success" and thought it was ironic and Portal referencing, but then I saw the people and was sort of confused.

I don't personally allow my confusion to stop me from posting to any Internet forum. I'd never say anything.

Yeah, I obviously assumed it was a Portal joke.
posted by tyllwin at 1:16 PM on January 20, 2012


This is a really misleading post phrasing. This battle is not won, merely delayed.

This is technically correct, but the analysis seems to indicate that, at least in their current forms, SOPA and PIPA are dead.

Still, perhaps a mod should change the post phrasing if it is deemed to be too misleading.
posted by asnider at 1:19 PM on January 20, 2012


What I learned:

In a vacuum these fuckers will just go whatever direction will get them paid. For years, the republican grass roots have been putting pressure on their people to show them there will be consequences if they fuck up. We need to put constant pressure on our guys as well.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:21 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I now see where they went wrong. If they'd retitled it like this, they would have been fine:

PROTECT IP Act Interwebs Family Protection and Liberties Act of 2012
Stop Online Piracy Act Internet Media Reproduction Freedoms Act

You sugarcoat it with positive adjectives, with the tacit assumption that the moneyed interests are the ones enjoying the freedoms the bills allow.
posted by crapmatic at 1:21 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well I'm glad someone did something...
posted by CautionToTheWind at 1:24 PM on January 20, 2012


Whoever is the editor for their SOPA coverage should be fired.

ha ha ha! Like they still have editors! Ha ha ha!

*cries*
posted by rtha at 1:28 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I swear, we need to go on the offensive. Demand the return of fixed length, registration-required copyright terms of 14 years. Lobby for laws eliminating software patents. Require "property tax" be paid on "intellectual property". Something. Make them have to be the eternally vigilant ones.
posted by fings at 1:29 PM on January 20, 2012 [31 favorites]


Require "property tax" be paid on "intellectual property."

This? I love this.
posted by gauche at 1:33 PM on January 20, 2012 [25 favorites]


Oh, I'd call the new version, umm, the "National Online Safe Protection for Your Wide Area Risk Elimination" (NO-SPYWARE) act, toss in a couple of provisions that look like they're about malware but which really forbid torrent clients, and then repeating stay on talking points that eliminating malicious viruses is the point of the thing.

But today, I am only a bill....
posted by tyllwin at 1:33 PM on January 20, 2012


This? I love this.

Why? We don't make you pay property tax on your television, your computer, your clothing, or your set of steak knives.
posted by Justinian at 1:35 PM on January 20, 2012


Interwebs Family Protection and Liberties Act of 2012
Internet Media Reproduction Freedoms Act


Nothing in Washington is accomplished unless it has a good acronym. IFPLA and IMRFA don't sound good enough to make the cut. Instead, let's go with:

Internet Fair Air Play and Legal Opportunity Trade act, aka IFAPaLOT.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


We have to take control of the conversation. It needs to be something like this: the media companies want to be paid for making copies of things, when making copies of movies and music is free. At one time, they provided an invaluable service, the ability to get music and video into the hands of the masses. Mass duplication used to be very difficult and expensive, and record and video companies were very important.

But, guess what, record companies? Things have changed. Every computer in this country is now capable of doing that. You are in competition with hundreds of millions of tiny factories that can make the exact same product you do, for free.

Record companies are obsolete, and they are trying to preserve their business models using the guns of the government. They are demanding to be paid for something that anyone with a computer can do for nothing. They need to adapt their business model to the new reality that distribution is easy and free. They can still get paid to distribute goods, but they'll need to charge rates that are more reasonable. In another domain, ketchup is easy and cheap to make, but Heinz has made many fortunes doing it cheaply enough to be worth just buying instead. They probably make like a dime a bottle, but they ship a LOT of bottles.

This is the model the record companies need to be going for -- cheap per-transaction costs, extremely high volume.

As the inestimable Bruce Schneier has said, trying to make bits not copiable is like trying to make water not wet. SOPA and PIPA are laws that are trying to privilege some bits over other bits, and put the content companies in total control of what conversations we can have on the Internet. By Bruce's analogy, they say you can go swimming, but you can't get wet. If you do, you'll be put in jail. Worse, you'll be put in jail if someone says they SAW you get wet, without actually having to prove it. All your swimming gear will be taken away, as well as the car in which you drove to the beach, simply on the bald assertion that you got some water on your skin. You have to prove you were dry all along, and MAYBE you'll get your stuff back. Maybe not.

It needs to be pointed out most stridently that total spending on music and movies is UP, and has been up every year. It's just going to the artists directly, instead of to the people demanding to be paid for providing a useless service. People love artists and want to support them; they love it when the artists get rich. It's an affirmation that they picked a winner. Artists are doing exceptionally well by connecting directly with their fans and bypassing the recording companies altogether.

People do not love recording companies, and don't care if THEY get rich. It is these parasites that are trying to buy legislation before the tide of history sweeps them away, and we absolutely must make sure that they do not succeed. Eventually, the smart ones will come up with new business models, and will end up making very comfortable livings.

But any company that depends on being paid hyper-premium pricing, purely for making a copy of a bitstream, is doomed. But they are willing to set off as many nuclear weapons on the internet as possible in a vain effort to survive. They're going to die or change anyway, it's just a matter of how much damage we allow them to do to society as they flail around, so we need to keep them under control. From an economic perspective, they're not even that big -- the Internet is much, much bigger and more valuable than the media companies are.
posted by Malor at 1:39 PM on January 20, 2012 [38 favorites]


I'd love to learn if there was a specific tactic that turned the tide here. Because it seems like Congressional support for SOPA / PIPA melted almost overnight. I saw lots of tactics employed against the bill: appeals to call your congressman, online petitions, industrial pressure from Google, Facebook, etc., the blackout pages. I wonder which of them worked? Or maybe none of them did, and the bill was withdrawn due to closed-door political-sausage-making deals that we'll never know about.

Anyone got any ideas? I'm just thinking, whatever worked, we should be getting that tactic ready to fight the next incarnation of this bill.
posted by molybdenum at 1:40 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I doubt that the MPAA/RIAA will be back in a few months with a new SOPA/PIPA that they will be able to pass while we aren't looking. With the tech industry looking to keep their interests in D.C. protected (and who now have shown what they can do when they flew their considerable but until now underutilized lobbying muscle), and flanked by the internet activist crowd, I don't see how the entertainment industry will be able to drum up support for anything similar in the foreseeable future.

I think that this legislative fight is best viewed in the context of an industry vs industry proxy fight (like the swipe fee fight a few years back) rather than a David Versus Goliath fight between ragtag activists and the big bad entertainment industry. And in that perspective, you can see that the entertainment industry was completely outgunned, even if they spent way more money trying to get the bill passed. The value of the front-page links to call your Congressman that sites like Wikipedia and Google put up could never be matched by the amount of money that the entertainment industry were throwing around.

This fight will leave bruises, and I don't think that legislators will be eager to put their names onto similar bills for a while.
posted by Weebot at 1:45 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


$94,000,000+ of lobbying money wants to fight the The World!

$94,000,000+ of lobbying money fainted!

Send in a new method of lobbying? [yes/no]
posted by Slackermagee at 1:49 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


@weebot

so basically the only choice we have is which giant world-spanning monster we work for
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:50 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Until this happens.

Fuck, that's depressing.
posted by cashman at 1:55 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Such ridiculous, destructive bills should never even pass committee review, but we’re not addressing the real problem: the MPAA’s buying power in Congress. This is a campaign finance problem.

And even with campaign finance reform, we can go back to outright bribery and paper bags of cash being passed back and forth in secret like they did in the good ole days.

We are approaching a time when our current methods of governance are inadequate to the problems that we face. I have no clue of what will fix it, but the eternal damnation as the price for freedom is just begging for this scenario to be played out over and over again.

There has to be a better way.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 1:55 PM on January 20, 2012


so basically the only choice we have is which giant world-spanning monster we work for

See: Jennifer Government
posted by Thorzdad at 1:56 PM on January 20, 2012


Why? We don't make you pay property tax on your television, your computer, your clothing, or your set of steak knives.

Apparently, that depends on the state. It looks like Texas charges businesses property tax on personal property used to produce income:

If you own tangible personal property that is used to produce income, you must report this property on a rendition form every year. Businesses, for instance, must report their inventories, equipment, and machinery on a rendition.


More seriously, I'd like to see our legislators pushing for things like re-introducing the Public Domain Enhancement Act, that requires a $1 copyright renewal fee after 50 years (and every 10 years after), or the work enters the public domain.
posted by fings at 2:04 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why? We don't make you pay property tax on your television, your computer, your clothing, or your set of steak knives.

In my State we do, if you're a business.
posted by anastasiav at 2:11 PM on January 20, 2012


I think that this legislative fight is best viewed in the context of an industry vs industry proxy fight (like the swipe fee fight a few years back) rather than a David Versus Goliath fight between ragtag activists and the big bad entertainment industry.

Many people who are personally invested in the Washington lobbying system will continue to explain it that way, but you can't just go out and buy this kind of mass popular support. This fight pitted an alliance between the ragtag activists and a few big tech corporations against the big bad entertainment industry, and the side which spent more money lost.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:12 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


fings: "More seriously, I'd like to see our legislators pushing for things like re-introducing the Public Domain Enhancement Act, that requires a $1 copyright renewal fee after 50 years (and every 10 years after), or the work enters the public domain.
"

I'd prefer something more along the lines of a simple fee structure of $10 for the first year of copyright protection, $20 for the second year, $40 for the third year, $80 for the fourth year...
posted by mullingitover at 2:12 PM on January 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


The Chinese view of SOPA.

"I’ve come up with a perfect solution: You can come to China to download all your pirated media, and we’ll go to America to discuss politically sensitive subjects."
posted by gman at 2:20 PM on January 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


This is a campaign finance problem.

Absolutely. One of my in-laws is a staffer for a member of Congress, one of the principal co-sponsors of SOPA. We've been going around and around for months about how terrible SOPA is, poorly drafted, broad language, draconian punishments, how Congress doesn't understand how the internet works, DNS issues, etc. etc. etc. (Made for fun family get-togethers over the holidays!)

After a few days of being peppered on the subject, she finally snapped and said "you have to understand, this is our bread and butter."

And that right there is the problem: that a member of Congress views corporate donors as their bread and butter, not the paycheck paid for with our taxes; believes their purpose is to represent not to the interests of the human beings who live in their district, but to the corporations they view as their real constituents. None of this will change until we get money out of Congress.
posted by ambrosia at 2:34 PM on January 20, 2012 [39 favorites]


There's a reason Lawrence Lessig went from being a crusader on IP and tech law issues to being a crusader on open government issues, and it's not because he stopped thinking IP and tech law were important issues, or because he won on those issues.
posted by gauche at 2:56 PM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah. Until this happens.

Fuck, that's depressing.


Well, you could always take comfort in the fact that it's entirely untrue.
posted by yoink at 3:05 PM on January 20, 2012


Anonymous' Megaupload Revenge Shows Copyright Compromise Isn't Possible
posted by homunculus at 3:25 PM on January 20, 2012


For an alternative point of view, the ASCAP daily brief (for 1/20/12)presents recent events from the perspective of copyright holders. With links to articles like "Wiki Boss Has Picked the Wrong Fight for Democracy" and "Behind the Music: What If the Culture Industry Shut Down for a Day?", these articles present a view decidedly different than found on metafilter.

Interestingly, a friend who makes a living teaching private music lessons in LA mentioned how many in the creative field looked to sopa and pipa to help salvage careers as lawyers, managers, publicists, etc.

I post this not in defense of sopa and pipa but as a reminder that there are plenty of people who feel like some kind of action is necessary.
posted by ianhattwick at 3:30 PM on January 20, 2012


ianhattwick: ""Behind the Music: What If the Culture Industry Shut Down for a Day?""

Aww, isn't that precious.

The 'culture industry' has hijacked the copyright system and perverted its original purpose--the advancement of the useful arts--by completely halting any contribution to the public domain not for a day, but for decades to come.

Also, basically every musician I know is an enthusiastic pirate, so I don't think the 'culture industry' has the lockstep army they think they have.
posted by mullingitover at 3:46 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rather than push for the copyright term to be reduced, in recent months it has occurred to me that a less direct strategy might be better: first, we should push for copyright to be non-transferable again so that it's inalienable from the original authors and artists. Perhaps some legal framework so that the content creator can grant exclusive license to a work but such licenses have to be renewed (and potentially renegotiated) yearly.

Hopefully that would "starve the beast" to some degree and at least make the corporate interests answerable to the content creators. I would think that such a measure would be much more difficult to argue against than shorter copyright terms. If corporate interests aren't the ones directly benefiting from copyright persisting for nearly a century beyond the death of the content creator I would expect that they might eventually begin to support shorter copyright terms themselves.
posted by XMLicious at 3:52 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, a friend who makes a living teaching private music lessons in LA mentioned how many in the creative field looked to sopa and pipa to help salvage careers as lawyers, managers, publicists, etc.

I post this not in defense of sopa and pipa but as a reminder that there are plenty of people who feel like some kind of action is necessary.


It is absolutely and inarguably the case that there are a lot of people who think they ought to be able to make lots of money off of the creations of others. Nobody needs to be reminded of this.

It seems like those people might need to start accepting that it's not going to be a viable career path forever.
posted by IAmUnaware at 3:52 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I might have a little more sympathy for the "culture industry" if they showed a little more honesty and realism about the "pain" they are suffering.

Dragging people to court and making them face 6-figure penalties for sharing a single song?

Addressing the decline in revenues from cinemas by making going to the movies even more ridiculously expensive and shitty?

Cry me a fucking river. If the "culture industry" shut down for a day, I can guarantee you there would be plenty of culture left out there for me to enjoy, and it would probably of above-average quality.
posted by Jimbob at 4:02 PM on January 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Rather than push for the copyright term to be reduced, in recent months it has occurred to me that a less direct strategy might be better: first, we should push for copyright to be non-transferable again so that it's inalienable from the original authors and artists. Perhaps some legal framework so that the content creator can grant exclusive license to a work but such licenses have to be renewed (and potentially renegotiated) yearly.

The problem with this, really, is that while it's definitely true that copyright extends far too long and should be shortened, that issue is actually almost completely a sideshow in this fight. Let's imagine that copyright gets reduced to, say, thirty years. O.K., great. What percentage of the copyright violations currently being perpetrated on the 'net do you think would suddenly become legal? I'm guessing somewhere south of 1%. Sure, Disney doesn't want to lose money on a handful of classic movies--and there's real money there for them to protect. But let's face it, the movies that the studios are really worried about aren't the classics. There aren't millions of teens out there torrenting Dumbo. There's millions of teens out there torrenting the latest blockbuster before it even gets into the theaters.

So even if you reformed copyright laws so that they were totally rational and everyone thought they were fair, piracy would continue to be a major problem for the creative arts industries, and they would continue to push for more constrictive regulation to try to throttle that activity.

The flip side of this point is that 99.9% of the people who say "I wouldn't be downloading all this stuff for free if it weren't for the lousy copyright laws we have" are simply flattering themselves. 99.9% of what they're pirating would still be copyrighted even if the laws were sensibly reformed.
posted by yoink at 4:11 PM on January 20, 2012


there are plenty of people who feel like some kind of action is necessary.

Yes indeed... but the only kind of action that is actually going to help is letting go of all this denial. Their old business models are dead, gone, and never coming back, and the sooner these people get on with finding a new way to make a living, the happier they are going to be.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:18 PM on January 20, 2012


michaelh: "Now I can go back to calling my grandparents Sopa and Pipa."

Um... Your grandparents aren't Greek, are they? Probably not.
posted by Splunge at 4:30 PM on January 20, 2012


Blazecock Pileon: "I think the New York Times is doing a very poor job of reporting on this. Postponement is not the same as dropping the bill. Whoever is the editor for their SOPA coverage should be fired."

Or a very very good job for their media/advertising cohorts who happen to be in on the fix. "Let's tell 'em that it's over and they'll fall asleep and go home and let us do our business..."
posted by symbioid at 4:48 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


mullingitover: "fings: "More seriously, I'd like to see our legislators pushing for things like re-introducing the Public Domain Enhancement Act, that requires a $1 copyright renewal fee after 50 years (and every 10 years after), or the work enters the public domain.
"

I'd prefer something more along the lines of a simple fee structure of $10 for the first year of copyright protection, $20 for the second year, $40 for the third year, $80 for the fourth year...
"

Penny to the power of the year. Simple as that.
posted by symbioid at 4:52 PM on January 20, 2012


Well, you could always take comfort in the fact that it's entirely untrue.

Lamar Smith has already made the connection in his head though.
I respect the First Amendment and believe that any legislation passed by Congress must protect and defend our constitutional rights. But illegal and criminal activity is not protected by the First Amendment simply because it takes place online. For example, there is no First Amendment right to view, distribute or download child pornography over the Internet. Like child pornography, the theft of intellectual property is also illegal in the United States.
posted by TwoWordReview at 5:01 PM on January 20, 2012


Um, 1 to the power of 50,000 (or whatever) is still 1...
posted by deadwax at 5:02 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I post this not in defense of sopa and pipa but as a reminder that there are plenty of people who feel like some kind of action is necessary.

I might even agree that "some kind of action" might be necessary but some kind of action needs to involve some sort of due process and clarification of what is really a violation of copyright and what isn't, before we start handing out hefty prison sentences.

It's been argued that, if copyright law is taken verbatim, that each and every one of us casually commits copyright violation to the point of millions of dollars in liability every day. Meanwhile, look at the number of DMCA take down notice horror stories out there (like SFWA's Adrew Burt's hose down of Scribd including every file containing the string "Asimov"), or Sony creating and deliberately releasing a new class of computer virus. (That they violated the license of some code they co-opted for this purpose is just icing on the cake.)

Also, of the 50 highest grossing films, 18 of them (36%) of them were released in the last three years when high speed internet has become widely available.

So where while some kind of action might be necessary, it's really hard to argue that the motion picture industry is hanging by a thread, that if we gave them power to initiate some forms of punishment (serve shutdown) without due process they wouldn't abuse the hell out of it, or that they couldn't find some violation (or at least something they could threaten to prosecute for, which to court would probably find fair use, but the average man could not afford to defend against so will sheepishly pay the "out of court settlement fee" rather than try to fight everywhere they looked.

So yeah, maybe something needs to be done. But giving them carte blanche to whack chunks of the internet and increase their power to extort money outside of the court is not the something they need.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:06 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


99.9% of what they're pirating would still be copyrighted even if the laws were sensibly reformed.

Again, basing laws around making bits not copyable is like basing laws around trying to make water not wet. It doesn't work. It never has worked. It never will work. If you can see a bitstream, you can copy it. This is hard reality... content companies want to be paid for making copies, but making copies is free.

They need to come up with another method of getting paid. If they want to be in the make-copies business, then they need to outcompete free. This can absolutely be done, but it means they'll have to provide a good product with a great deal of convenience. Look at Louis C.K., who's made at least a million dollars doing exactly that -- just putting up a video file with no DRM whatsoever for five bucks. By now, it might be two million.

THAT is how to survive and thrive in the digital age. Stop pretending that making copies is somehow precious and unique. It isn't. If you want to charge for a copy service, fine, but it better be cheap.

The real money is starting to go directly to the artists, and it's happening simply because they ask for it. "Hey, I made this great thing, and I'll make you a copy for five bucks." And they get to keep all of the money, instead of seeing 8% of gross revenue that's fraudulently underreported on a routine basis.

This is way, way better for artists. It's just bad for the record companies. Overall, it's a HUGE win. We don't need to make any changes in the law whatsoever. Nothing needs to change, and it's all going to come out WAY better than it is right now. You probably won't see very many super-hyper-megastars with hundreds of millions of dollars, but you're going to see a HELL of a lot more artists able to make a living wage, or even become modestly wealthy, doing what they love.

And all we have to do is stay out of the freaking way and let it happen. If we do absolutely nothing to the legal system, we will get a much better systemic outcome than if we pass anything like SOPA or PIPA.
posted by Malor at 5:12 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, of the 50 highest grossing films, 18 of them (36%) of them were released in the last three years when high speed internet has become widely available.

Um, if we adjust that list for inflation (and it's pretty meaningless if we don't) we get a very different picture. Only one out of the top 50 was released in the last three years, and that comes in at number 14 on the list.
posted by yoink at 5:13 PM on January 20, 2012


* Adjusted to the estimated 2012 average ticket price of $7.94.

We're well into fantasy land here, folks.
posted by Talez at 5:14 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


yoink - if more of the money generated by the creative arts industries were going to the actual creative people producing the stuff rather than the corporate interests involved maybe piracy wouldn't be as much of a problem. There might be more room in the business models of authors and artists for a margin lost to piracy if the revenue they're getting weren't being trimmed down to a tiny sliver of the actual pie to support an immense byzantine industry that has little to do with actually producing the content. Obviating that sort of arrangement would be the objective of requiring copyrights to be re-licensed every year.
posted by XMLicious at 5:14 PM on January 20, 2012


Look at Louis C.K., who's made at least a million dollars doing exactly that -- just putting up a video file with no DRM whatsoever for five bucks. By now, it might be two million.

People paid for that because they liked making an exception to their normal practice to make a point. It's a pretty false reference point for a generalized practice.
posted by yoink at 5:15 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cry me a fucking river. If the "culture industry" shut down for a day, I can guarantee you there would be plenty of culture left out there for me to enjoy, and it would probably of above-average quality.
posted by Jimbob at 4:02 PM on January 20


Yay for this. I'm currently spending six weeks in the lands of low and slow bandwidth, and I don't think I'm going to miss much at all.

I've got the bandwidth to get my news, email, contact with distant friends, and a little bit of chat on sites like this.

Then there's the fact that my hard drive is already stuffed with interesting things to read, listen to, and watch. There's years (maybe decades) worth of that shit on the drive. I am never going to read all the ebooks. There are tens of thousands of them (thanks to gutenberg).

But, should all that get boring, I can read one of the real books already on the shelf here, head into town to go to a library or art gallery (or an open studio to watch someone create), maybe watch some buskers or catch a live act at a bar, stop off at a friends' house for a friday night or saturday afternoon barbecue (the guitars always come out), and then there's a piano here, and another one round the corner.

So.. sorry Hollywood, but I get the sense your culture industry could shut down forever, and those of us in the rest of the world would just keep doing our thing. We might need to get back to you in a generation or two. But I doubt it.
posted by Ahab at 5:17 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


We're well into fantasy land here, folks.

Um, that's the national average--including tickets to children and seniors and other forms of discounts and including theaters that are not in large metropolitan areas. The figure is broadly in line with other estimates I've seen.
posted by yoink at 5:18 PM on January 20, 2012


So.. sorry Hollywood, but I get the sense your culture industry could shut down forever, and those of us in the rest of the world would just keep doing our thing. We might need to get back to you in a generation or two. But I doubt it.

This is a form of the "that restaurant is always so crowded, no one goes there anymore" paradox. "The reason you guys have a problem with everyone avidly downloading everything you make is because the stuff you make is so shitty no one really wants it."
posted by yoink at 5:20 PM on January 20, 2012


Um, if we adjust that list for inflation (and it's pretty meaningless if we don't)...

Fair enough. But looking at your list (which is better than mine anyway since it includes more films) 15 of the top 200 (7.5%) are from the past three years. If things were evenly distributed over time, that's what you'd expect if the motion picture industry was only 40 years old. And that given that film is now competing with many other entertainment options that didn't exist in "the golden age of cinema."
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:32 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


No yoink, that's not the crux of it. I've downloaded my share of stuff (ie the full hard drive), but (with the possible exception of the ebooks) I'm pretty sure I could get by without it.

It's not that mainstream US culture is shit (we can have that argument some other time), it's just that if Hollywood got nuked tomorrow, we would still have our own culture. Our own music, visual and performance art, books, films, hippies twirling fire on stilts, men blowing into tubes and bangin sticks together.

So, even short of the nuking, when we can't access mainstream US culture, or it costs too much, we fall back on our what we make ourselves. Happily and easily.

To take it back to the restaurant analogy. If McDonalds is always full, I'm happy to go to the local grill across the road.

Anyway, I've gotta get to the beach before it gets too hot. Have a nice evening.
posted by Ahab at 5:38 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


15 of the top 200 (7.5%) are from the past three years.

But they're not evenly distributed in terms of rankings, are they? They're disproportionately in the lower quarter of the rankings. And this is in a box office regime that is highly dependent on "tent pole" movies--so there really should be a larger proportion of "blockbuster" films from recent years than before (budgets are way higher on average, for example).
posted by yoink at 5:38 PM on January 20, 2012


So, even short of the nuking, when we can't access mainstream US culture, or it costs too much, we fall back on our what we make ourselves

Except that in the real world "when it costs too much" people simply take it, for free.
posted by yoink at 5:39 PM on January 20, 2012


For free, except for all of the other money they've paid into the creative arts industries and the other value that has been extracted from them. We're talking about industries that have contrived to get people to actually pay to be advertised to in the form of things like cable television. For some reason it's just assumed that media companies can cram as much advertising into any product, for free, or gather and resell marketing data from customers' consumption patterns for free, or sell customers' contact information for free. Consumers aren't the only ones helping themselves to free stuff in this situation, they're just the ones with the fewest lobbyists.
posted by XMLicious at 5:58 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seems weird to just look at box office numbers in isolation when home video and merchandising are a huge part of revenue in the modern era, a much bigger part than piracy in fact.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:08 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


yoink: People paid for that because they liked making an exception to their normal practice to make a point. It's a pretty false reference point for a generalized practice.

In other words, "that guy's successful business model doesn't match my preconceived notion of a bunch of dirty pirates out there to steal stuff, so I'm going to ignore that million bucks in Louis' pocket because I refuse to reconsider my givens."

Dude, this business model works. There are a zillion games on Steam that they knock down to five bucks and move hundreds of thousands of copies. They make way more money on sale than they do at full price, because making a copy is free.

When your marginal cost so closely approaches zero, that needs to change your pricing.... particularly when your customers can be your competitors if they feel like bothering. So you make sure they don't want to bother, and lo and behold, you make tons of money.

Look how much money Joss Whedon made off Dr. Horrible -- trivial to pirate, and yet people bought it in droves. Why? Because it was cheap.

Your broken business model is the problem, not the dirty, filthy, stinking thieves out there. Smart businesspeople don't look at them as thieves, they look at them as customers, and they provide a good service at a fair price, and lo and behold, they make tons of money. It's not the bloated tens of millions of the record company monopolies, but the people creating the content get to keep tremendously more of the profit. Less total revenue overall, but more actual money ends up in artists' pockets.

And, in the end, it's really about the artists. Right? Right? Or maybe you work in distribution, and you think you should get paid for making copies of bits?
posted by Malor at 6:43 PM on January 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yes, when they have to compete with 157 channels of cable and computer games and every other thing out there now, during a deep recession, they aren't making as much money as they used to. (Comparing price per hour of entertainment, Skyrim beats a 50 ¢ movie ticket.)

But check this out. If you look at the trend prior to 1994 (before the internet existed) the trend line was falling. Since 1994, after the internet came around, it's actually been falling more slowly than it was prior to the internet being existing.

NOTE: looking at just the top grossing films is a skewed approach, but think about your logic here - "And this is in a box office regime that is highly dependent on "tent pole" movies--so there really should be a larger proportion of "blockbuster" films.... People are only going to go see so many films whether Hollywood things they should be blockbusters or not, so if you make the denominator bigger, the sum is going to go down every time.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:06 PM on January 20, 2012


If your guy or gal supported PIPA/SOPA on Sep 19 don't vote for them. That is what will prevent the next wave from having steam. They know they'll get booted from office.

Also one of those lists was US grosses and the other was worldwide. Apples & oranges.
posted by CarlRossi at 8:15 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If your guy or gal supported PIPA/SOPA on Sep 19 don't vote for them.

Tried that with TARP. Largest protest against any bill, and it ultimately still passed. And short of some initial waves that turned into the TEA Party, most of those who voted for TARP are still in office.

Really now, 94mil changed hands. You don't think there will be some demand for recompense? People are killed for a pack of cigarettes.

While I am overjoyed that this is shelved for the moment, I have misgivings that the howls for blood will lead to something uglier.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 8:38 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, basing laws around making bits not copyable is like basing laws around trying to make water not wet. It doesn't work.

It works fine if you eliminate non-"appliance" computers, plug the analog hole, and treat the user as the enemy.
posted by hattifattener at 9:19 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, it works if you actively enslave your population, preventing them from having access to computers.

If you think that's workable, let me introduce you to the close cousin of that idea, the War on Drugs.
posted by Malor at 9:37 PM on January 20, 2012


Still voting Ron Paul '12

I wonder if "I believe in the Constitution" Paul would lobby Congress to repeal things like the Sonny Bono Copyright act? (*IF* Paul stays in 'till November either by somehow being the Republican or runs independent will 'Dr. No - its not in the Constitution' actually say anything about things like Sonny Bono Copyright act, executive orders, et la? )

And where is the Constitutional Amendment to reset copyright people/group?

the close cousin of that idea, the War on Drugs

So few talk about the inbreeding which resulted in that cousin. Wickard v. Filburn bread and after the wheat was tossed and the chaff was kept someone growing their own crop on their own land for their own use was interstate commerce.

As far as I know, no Constitutional Amendment people one this one either.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:29 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


But any company that depends on being paid hyper-premium pricing, purely for making a copy of a bitstream, is doomed.
Wow dude, what makes you think their demise is just a matter of time? Theoretically you could be right, if one thinks competition by not-hyper-premium pricing companies may eventually crush companies who rely on buying customized law to secure an extraprofit.

But I am seeing some quite dissonant evidence, which if anything confirms that breaking up a determined and financially strong status quo isn't always easy and/or immediate.

SOPA-PIPA was probably pushed by lobbies, who have shown that are able to put up some quite nasty tricks, so much so these interest were about to cripple net development regardless of externalities, pretty much an "up yours" attitude that doesn't die so easily imho.

More anectodal evidence, Hollywood regroups from an article from which I picked the following (bold mine)
"What they need to do is lick their wounds, see what happened and do a lot of test messaging right now because clearly the one they were using wasn't effective," said veteran Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Reputation.com, a reputation management company.
Test messaging? Oh I see, panel interview to see how to better spin this and indeed, quoting you again (bold mine)
In other words, "that guy's successful business model doesn't match my preconceived notion of a bunch of dirty pirates out there to steal stuff, so I'm going to ignore that million bucks in Louis' pocket because I refuse to reconsider my givens."
That notion and its language, which uses the word "pirate" (entirely disregarding the fact "real pirates" kill or loot people at gunpoint, as opposed to people who copy content who don't do any killing nor any physical subtraction of utility to obtain a profit (stealing)) were hammered into people minds by dint of repetition, exactly as the problem with Obama's birth certificate became "a problem" only because it was repeated over and over and over again, until it became "truly" a potential vote swinging issue.

Obviously one can't easily make people believe that companies that who would like to price marginally actually are copyright offenders, but they may still have some aces to play in the perception game.
But they are willing to set off as many nuclear weapons on the internet as possible in a vain effort to survive. They're going to die or change anyway, it's just a matter of how much damage we allow them to do to society as they flail around, so we need to keep them under control.
Gotta page Lawrence Lessig for that, I guess, for control means regulation in a society that lives under the rule of law, which in turn is written by people who may be influenced by money or revolving-door agreements.

Unsurprisingly, I think we'll see hard-core "libertarians", who would like to cut any transfer to actual families by the government (because of its tax implications) or teapartiers, who would just like to do without any government at all, screaming like hell that the lack of SOPA-PIPA will damage american economy; that is, the only government they like is the government helping them and only them, otherwise they'd like no regulation at all, and we all have seen what kind of disasters the financial community has conceived under reduced or absent oversight.

The only "solution" that have occourred to me so far isn't actually a solution, but rather a fait accompli, that is, the net should not only provide people with inexpensive (as opposed to cheap) entertainment or content, but rather an _income_; once that "happens" people is more likely to mass "dislike" any attempt to reduce that income.
posted by elpapacito at 7:36 AM on January 21, 2012


Um, if we adjust that list for inflation (and it's pretty meaningless if we don't) we get a very different picture. Only one out of the top 50 was released in the last three years, and that comes in at number 14 on the list.

Just for fun I took the total gross, adjusted for inflation, of all the top 200 movies for each decade. Since our most recent year is 2011 I ended each decade in the x1 year (ie, 1921, 1931, 1941, etc)

Here are the results--make of them what you will.

For the ten year period ending in X the total adjusted gross of the top 200 movies from that period is Y:

X - Y
1921 - 0.36 billion
1931 - none
1941 - 4.0 billion
1951 - 1.8 billion
1961 - 8.3 billion
1971 - 11.0 billion
1981 - 15.6 billion
1991 - 13.0 billion
2001 - 15.8 billion
2011 - 19.2 billion

If you want to break down the most recent 10 year period more closely, perhaps on the theory that movie piracy is becoming more prevalent as availability of higher bandwidth has become more prevalent:

2001-2005: $9.0 billion
2006-2011: $10.2 billion

Please insert all the obvious disclaimers, such as: This represents only the top 200 movies of all time, it doesn't account for any other movies; it is adjusted by 'ticket price inflation', not real inflation; etc etc etc. Still, the top-grossing movies represent a huge chunk of the income of the entire industry--maybe 25%? 50%?--and if ticket price inflation has outpaced overall inflation then this overstates the income of older movies and understates the most recent years in relative terms.

Either way, it becomes hard to maintain the argument that 'piracy' has decimated the movie industry, unless you want to argue that the decimation happens mostly among low-profile, lesser known movies (when every study of downloading habits shows the exact opposite--the more popular the item is in the wider culture, the more the interest in downloading it).
posted by flug at 7:57 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


molybdenum: " Or maybe none of them did, and the bill was withdrawn due to closed-door political-sausage-making deals that we'll never know about."

Honestly, this is what I think. We have many many protests all the time in many different ways and yet somehow magically *this* one worked?

It might be a combination of closed-door deals like you said (which is my fear -- I feel like you do, that it's a little suspicious that it magically just happened too easily)

Or it may be a legit thing that Repubs know that Dems are Hollywood and they can take a hit on that front while still getting tons of money while complaining about "Limousine Liberals" in Hollywood. A Republican strategic move to siphon some of the more libertarian votes (in the same way that Ashcroft worked against the Clipper Chip that Clinton promoted -- but we know full well what happens when they get in power now, don't we? But some idiots continue to be fooled and that's all they care about, the idiots who would be fooled and give them their "freedom loving" vote).

*sigh*

As IAN A.T. noted above - it's a campaign finance issue at its heart. Too much money, too much power in congress. We're treating the symptoms, not the disease. :(
posted by symbioid at 9:00 AM on January 21, 2012


deadwax: "Um, 1 to the power of 50,000 (or whatever) is still 1..."

Shit. TWO pennies. Damnit.
posted by symbioid at 9:02 AM on January 21, 2012


Folks should also be watching for last minute riders on otherwise innocuous bills.
posted by sammyo at 11:06 AM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Y Combinator has posted Kill Hollywood call for proposals from venture capital stage startups.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:13 PM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cheaper than Free
posted by jeffburdges at 5:34 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Behind the Music: What If the Culture Industry Shut Down for a Day?",
What does that even mean? How could "music" shut down for a day? Only online streaming services could be shut down, stuff you'd already downloaded would still work.

It would be interesting to see, however, what would happen if the content industry decided to do a blackout on their sites and demand people call congress.
Also, basically every musician I know is an enthusiastic pirate, so I don't think the 'culture industry' has the lockstep army they think they have.
Yeah, remember the MegaUpload Song. Obviously those people were paid, but they were willing to take the money.
There's millions of teens out there torrenting the latest blockbuster before it even gets into the theaters.
This isn't even remotely true. The days of being able pirate stuff before it hit the theatres is long gone. Movie studios have gotten much better at securing pre-release video. You can usually only get something worth watching after it hits DVD/Blueray. Maybe the hard-core release groups have that stuff, but 'millions of teens' don't have access to that.
This is a form of the "that restaurant is always so crowded, no one goes there anymore" paradox. "The reason you guys have a problem with everyone avidly downloading everything you make is because the stuff you make is so shitty no one really wants it."
A lot of the stuff isn't even worth downloading. And anyway who even cares? If the 'mainstream' movie and music industry went away tomorrow it's not like I wouldn't survive. There's so much content out there that's already been made. More then enough that can be watched in a lifetime. No one would ever 'run out' of content if copyright went away. I would prefer that outcome over losing the internet.

And look at how much of the stuff they produce is pure shit anyway. Kardashian reality shows, cake wars, shows about midgets, about ghost hunters, and about midget ghost hunters. Who gives a shit?
posted by delmoi at 11:15 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, a friend who makes a living teaching private music lessons in LA mentioned how many in the creative field looked to sopa and pipa to help salvage careers as lawyers, managers, publicists, etc.

My dad, who heads his firm's entertainment practice, is a first amendment and intellectual property litigator. When I sent he and my mom the numbers for their senators and the congressman and a little script for making their No endorsement known, he sent me back an email to say "Called all 3. Took total of 90 seconds. Thanks for making this so easy."
posted by DarlingBri at 12:44 AM on January 22, 2012


ACLU : Congress Trying to Fast-Track Domestic Drone Use, Sideline Privacy
posted by jeffburdges at 4:04 PM on February 6, 2012


Demand Progress : Congress Pushing Broad Internet Snooping Bill
posted by jeffburdges at 4:17 PM on February 6, 2012


Why the House spectrum bill should be ditched: Q&A with Reed Hundt
posted by jeffburdges at 5:17 PM on February 6, 2012


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