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Chris Dodd threatens Obama over SOPA/PIPA
January 22, 2012 1:42 PM   Subscribe

With surprising candor, Chris Dodd tells Obama that the Hollywood purse strings are about to get tight. Angry over the Obama administration's siding against SOPA and PIPA, Dodd says openly that the money the Democratic party regularly counts on Hollywood for might not be there this election cycle. One view is that Hollywood considers that it bought something very specific with it's money, and it's angry it's not getting it. Should Obama be worried about this? Perhaps not. The guys from Freakanomics say that our assumption that money is the most important factor in deciding elections is a fallacy.
posted by asavage (240 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Hey! We bribed you the way we're supposed to. Pay up, Mr. President."
posted by curious nu at 1:46 PM on January 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


I thought Obama showed good judgment in selecting Joe Biden for VP when names like Dodd's were being floated as a necessary dose of gravitas/experience/whatever to the ticket.

Shorter Dodd: Christ, what an MPAAsshole.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:46 PM on January 22, 2012 [23 favorites]


We petition the Obama administration to: Investigate Chris Dodd and the MPAA for bribery after he publicly admited to bribing politicans to pass legislation.
(currently 7,312 signatures out of 25,000 needed for response)
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 1:46 PM on January 22, 2012 [137 favorites]


It's a lovely republic you have here. It'd be a shame if something were to happen to it.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:48 PM on January 22, 2012 [80 favorites]


Great work on this issue, Adam!
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:50 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


The guys from Freakanomics are good at exposing old fallacies and replacing them with new fallacies.

But someone needs to remind Dodd that, in response to a question at one of the umpteen debates, Romney, Gingrich and Paul all came out MORE solidly against SOPA/PIPA-type laws than Obama has.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:55 PM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


The guys from Freakanomics say that our assumption that money is the most important factor in deciding elections is a fallacy.

They should've told that to Chris Dodd a lot earlier.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:57 PM on January 22, 2012


Y Combinator is looking for start ups to kill Hollywood.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:58 PM on January 22, 2012 [21 favorites]


I am getting a bit tired of the Freakonomics folks trotting out "counterintuitive" examples for everything and expecting everyone to just believe them. The comments in that link do a good job of pointing this out, but seriously:

"When a candidate doubled their spending, holding everything else constant, they only got an extra 1 percent of the popular vote. It's the same if you cut your spending in half, you only lose 1 percent of the popular vote."

Data please? How do you "hold everything else constant"?

And then they back that up with an example of the Republican Iowa caucus. Because if they used the caucus which they actually began the article talking about it wouldn't support their data.

On preview, oneswellfoup says it more succinctly.
posted by roquetuen at 1:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Dodd, who became CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America after leaving the Senate in 2011, noted the movie "Avatar" was stolen by online pirates 21 million times. Such acts, he said, threaten to decimate his industry.

Oh that's why Avatar was such a financial disaster.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:00 PM on January 22, 2012 [146 favorites]


Hollywood funding of Democratic candidates is a huge Republican dog whistle to begin with. So Dodd is basically threatening to remove one of the Republican talking points from the conversation. Oh no! Please don't abandon us! And whatever you do, please don't take the lawyers with you! *snicker*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:02 PM on January 22, 2012 [23 favorites]


I think it's dumb to say money is not relevant or the one factor in elections. The fact is it is a factor, with varying degrees of importance. But there are so many other variables, and how much it helps probably depends on candidate. For example, Huntsman would probably get a better return for a sum of money than Romney, since Romney is already an established name.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:03 PM on January 22, 2012


Foxnews...
posted by infini at 2:05 PM on January 22, 2012


Fuck Chris Dodd. I'm doubling up my donation to Obama for this month, just for him.
posted by spitbull at 2:05 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Money may not be able to sway the voting population (through advertisements), but it certainly seems to motivate politicians.
posted by Pyry at 2:06 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wouldn't it be awesome if the studios had a venue that could stream videos to your house over the internet to offer a convenient, legal alternative to piracy?

I bet the studios would love to give that venue a bigger library and affordable deals instead of say, delaying adding new films and charging more and more to show films so the rates get hiked.

Someone invent that so we don't need SOPA no more.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:06 PM on January 22, 2012 [35 favorites]


Chris "Friend of Angelo" Dodd involved in something transparently unethical? Unpossible!
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:07 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Angry over the Obama administration's siding against SOPA and PIPA, Dodd says openly that the money the Democratic party regularly counts on Hollywood for might not be there this election cycle.

That's such a silly threat, when the Democratic Party will most certainly vote for a future anti-pedophile or military-funding bill that includes riders that sneak in the same provisions that were in SOPA.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:08 PM on January 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


Spitbull: you know what, I'm going to write to Chris Dodd and tell him exactly that.

AND I'm going to add that I actually had contributed to Dodd's presidential campaign in 2008, in fact. And that I'd contributed to his senatorial campaigns in the 90's, based on my admiration for his record in the 80's (I grew up in Connecticut).

This is what finally soured me on the guy, and I want him to know that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:10 PM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Maybe Dodd should threaten to sell off Obama's senate seat.
I can't tell all the unspeakably corrupt asshats apart anymore.
posted by Vetinari at 2:11 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The problem seems to be that SELF-FINANCED candidates don't do so hot according to their analysis. If you can somehow raise 800 million dollars of OPM for your presidential campaign, though, you're probably going to win. Just a hunch.
posted by Veritron at 2:11 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, so much of campaign money goes for buy commercials on the "Liberal Media" TV stations. But didn't Gingrich pretty much run out of campaign money twice, only rebounding after making doofus-friendly performances in the debates? You know, the free time the "Liberal Media" gave him to bash them?

Wouldn't it be awesome if the studios had a venue that could stream videos to your house over the internet to offer a convenient, legal alternative to piracy?
Unfortunately, the studios are complaining that just such a venue (NETFLIX!) isn't giving them enough money...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:12 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dodd once a favored liberal to be counted on becomes Hollywood Whore...lobbyists willing to shill for any group and care not about what they once believ ed in and supported
posted by Postroad at 2:12 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I must say I'm impressed how open democrats are about these dealings. At least republicans have the decency of keeping it under the table.
posted by falameufilho at 2:12 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nothing worse than buying some sonofabitch who won't stay bought.
posted by eugenen at 2:13 PM on January 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


In 2010, "Democratic candidates outraised their opponents over all by more than 30 percent in the 109 House races The New York Times has identified as in play." And we all know how well the Democrats did then.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:15 PM on January 22, 2012


Unfortunately, the studios are complaining that just such a venue (NETFLIX!) isn't giving them enough money...

This assumes of course that there is such a thing as "enough money" in the studios' minds.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:17 PM on January 22, 2012 [21 favorites]


oneswellfoop: "In 2010, "Democratic candidates outraised their opponents over all by more than 30 percent in the 109 House races The New York Times has identified as in play." And we all know how well the Democrats did then."

This is very interesting vis-a-vis the common accusation of the Tea Party not being a true grassroots movement, unlike OWS.
posted by falameufilho at 2:18 PM on January 22, 2012


I can quite easily see telling Chris Dodd to fuck off being more valuable voteswise than the money. Deep down I think Dodd knows this, hence the flustered desperation.
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought Obama showed good judgment in selecting Joe Biden for VP when names like Dodd's were being floated as a necessary dose of gravitas/experience/whatever to the ticket.

Shorter Dodd: Christ, what an MPAAsshole.
I don't mean to be cynical but does it actually mater? Suppose Dodd had become VP and Biden became the MPAA chair. Do you really think the outcome would be any different?

---

Anyway, Dodd's statements, the news articles about him have really just been disgusting. He's quite openly claiming to have paid off other members of congress and threatening to stop doing so. It's... just incredibly sleazy and this NYT article that's been making the round acts like that level of corruption is just a routine, background thing that should be totally expected. Which I guess it is, but seeing it spelled out without even the suggestion that there's anything weird about it is just kind of gross.
I am getting a bit tired of the Freakonomics folks trotting out "counterintuitive" examples for everything and expecting everyone to just believe them. The comments in that link do a good job of pointing this out, but seriously:
The freakonomics guys are idiots. Seriously. They're much more interested in being 'counterintuitive' then they are in being 'correct'. And as a result, they're wrong a lot. The bit in their new book about Global Warming, for example, was completely wrong and criticized by pretty much everyone who knew anything.
noted the movie "Avatar" was stolen by online pirates 21 million times. Such acts, he said, threaten to decimate his industry.
"Decimate" actually means to kill every 10th member of a group. So if 210 million people see avatar, and only 189 million pay full price then the industry would, in fact, have been 'decimated'. Although I don't think that's what he meant.

----
Wouldn't it be awesome if the studios had a venue that could stream videos to your house over the internet to offer a convenient, legal alternative to piracy?
What the movie industry doesn't want is to "make money" of their IP. What they want to do is make as much money as possible. So, if you have to do something like netflix in order to "compete" with pirates, even though you're making money it's less then you could be. On the other hand, if you stamp out piracy, then you can withhold quality films from netflix and put the latest movies on a "premium" channel for $100 a month, or $50 for movies 6 months old, or whatever.

And you can remove access to old movies, the way Disney does with the "Disney vault". That way, you can put them out on limited access for a short period and charge full price for your back catalog, as well as giving people no choice but to watch the new stuff only (this, by the way, completely screws any artists earning royalties from old work that's unavailable).

Oh, and of course all the un-skippable ads they can cram down your throat.

So basically if you think it's possible for the entertainment industry to compete with piracy, you're right. But you're just not thinking evil enough.
That's such a silly threat, when the Democratic Party will most certainly vote for a future anti-pedophile or military-funding bill that includes riders that sneak in the same provisions that were in SOPA.
Future Bill? From author of SOPA (Lama Smith) the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011" Which requires ISP to record everything you do online, and make it available to any law enforcement for being suspected of any crime, not limited to kiddy porn. I actually think this is an implementation of another part of ACTA. So basically SOPA and this new bill seem to be both aimed at implementing ACTA in the U.S.
posted by delmoi at 2:25 PM on January 22, 2012 [27 favorites]


Anyway, it's a good thing that people are having this moment of clarity about the epic levels of corruption in the US political system at the moment. Now the question is whether or not this energy will lead to anything, or just dissipate.
posted by delmoi at 2:26 PM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm reminded of a line Josh Lyman uttered in the first season of the West Wing on the topic of campaign financing: "Somehow we've legalized bribery."
posted by Dasein at 2:26 PM on January 22, 2012


Glenn Greenwald: Chris Dodd’s paid SOPA crusading

Two lessons from the Megaupload seizure
posted by homunculus at 2:30 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Greenwald on Dodd. Dodd: "But if you get this wrong — what do you got? A trade association. Who wants to be president of a trade association?" Apparently, the person Chris Dodd scorned [in 2007] as someone “who wants to be president of a trade association” was . . . Chris Dodd, who is now President of Hollywood’s trade association.

Dodd is a black hole of a human being.
posted by mek at 2:30 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am getting a bit tired of the Freakonomics folks trotting out "counterintuitive" examples for everything and expecting everyone to just believe them.

Absolutely. Almost everything the Freakonomicists say is completely the opposite of the reality. For example, the assertion that money doesn't buy elections.

OpenSecrets.org: Money Wins Presidency and 9 of 10 Congressional Races in Priciest U.S. Election Ever

The historic election of 2008 re-confirmed one truism about American democracy: Money wins elections.

From the top of the ticket, where Barack Obama declined public financing for the first time since the system's creation and went on to amass a nearly two-to-one monetary advantage over John McCain, to congressional races throughout the nation, the candidate with the most money going into Election Day emerged victorious in nearly every contest.

In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning, according to a post-election analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The findings are based on candidates' spending through Oct. 15, as reported to the Federal Election Commission.

Continuing a trend seen election cycle after election cycle, the biggest spender was victorious in 397 of 426 decided House races and 30 of 32 settled Senate races. On Election Day 2006, top spenders won 94 percent of House races and 73 percent of Senate races. In 2004, 98 percent of House seats went to the biggest spender, as did 88 percent of Senate seats.

posted by charlie don't surf at 2:32 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, apparently Chris Dodd heard all of our pleas to go fuck himself and is happily complying - but what we didn't yet know is that he has a incredibly powerful sexual fetish for the taste of his own feet.

I would like to commend him for his efforts. It takes no small amount of skill and talent to be that offensively wrong so many times in a row.
posted by loquacious at 2:34 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't want to stick up for the Freakonomics people, but I do want to point out that there's probably some mingling of causation and correlation in the statistics that show the more monied candidate usually wins. Donors like to back winners. Giving money to the candidate who wins buys valuable influence, while giving money to the candidate who loses buys you nothing. So donors will tend to side with the guy who wins. Also, fuck people who watch political ads and allow them to influence their votes. Fuck those people.
posted by chrchr at 2:35 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


noted the movie "Avatar" was stolen by online pirates 21 million times. Such acts, he said, threaten to decimate his industry.

MPAA math: 21 million pirates times an "average" viewing of 18 times per download is 378M viewings, and at $17 per ticket at the theater is over $6.4 billion in lost revenue.

Reality: out of 21 million downloads, there might be 500k to 1M DVD/Blu-ray purchases the poor MPAA missed out on. MIGHT.

Dodd has managed to take himself from respected senator to industry shill. What a sack of shit.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:35 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Avatar is such a patently ridiculous example, given its enormous success and its unique format pretty much making a theatre trip mandatory.
posted by mek at 2:37 PM on January 22, 2012


It's gettin' so a businessman can't expect no return from a fixed fight. Now, if you can't trust a fix, what can you trust?
posted by bukvich at 2:38 PM on January 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


Oh Also I was thinking: One thing "The Internet" could do next to raise awareness of the issue would be to go out and buy works from artists who don't support SOPA. Music would be an obvious example, but you'd also want artists who aren't signed to labels that do support it. E-books would also be good candidates (there probably aren't too many movies that would work well)

I was thinking this could be done "moneybomb" style, all at once to get headlines and PR. And it would prove to assholes like Bill Maher who just thinks its about people who "just want to steal, because they can"
posted by delmoi at 2:39 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I *do* want to stick up for the Freakonomics people.

Saying money buys elections is a very serious claim that is NOT supported by the fact that the winners of elections are the ones who have the money. It is very reasonable claim that the candidates who win elections are the ones who people want to give money to, and therefore the fact that election winners have money is only a correlation and not a causation.

When a candidate doubled their spending, holding everything else constant, they only got an extra 1 percent of the popular vote. It's the same if you cut your spending in half, you only lose 1 percent of the popular vote

This is an interview and not an article, so you can't really cite the source in a link -- but assuming but if this claim is supported by the evidence, it seems pretty strong. I don't know HOW one can "hold everything constant," I don't know if this study Levitt did was peer-reviewed (I'm guessing not!) but if it was, and if someone with a real knowledge of statistics could verify it, it would be VERY strong evidence that the counterintution is correct.
posted by lewedswiver at 2:42 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Saying money buys elections is a very serious claim that is NOT supported by the fact that the winners of elections are the ones who have the money. It is very reasonable claim that the candidates who win elections are the ones who people want to give money to, and therefore the fact that election winners have money is only a correlation and not a causation.
Simply pointing out that there is a correlation does not disprove causation. People more likely to win are more able to raise money, and people who raise money are more likely to win. There's actually a positive feedback effect, where two things cause eachother.
posted by delmoi at 2:44 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


One percent can make a big difference in some elections.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:45 PM on January 22, 2012


Which 1% is it, lewedswiver? The one percent between 40% and 41% is worth a lot less than the 1% between 50% and 51%. That non-linearity is crucial and may be what you're seeing in that statistic.
posted by chrchr at 2:45 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also since we're piling on the Freakonomics guys, remember the intro to their book, where they just talked about what singularly special people they are? lol.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:46 PM on January 22, 2012


Data please? How do you "hold everything else constant"?

There are different ways to hold things constant...

At the most basic level, you might want to control for the effect of other intervening variables. In elections, the most obvious of these is candidate quality. Most congressional challengers are just hopeless (we actually often call them "hopeless amateurs") whose only chance at winning election is if the incumbent dies or is caught in a horrible scandal so soon before the election that they cannot be replaced.* If you can get decent measurements of these, you can just throw them in as additional variables in a regression model.

Questions like this have more to control for, particularly the dreaded word endogeneity. That is, one candidate's spending tends to respond to the other candidate's spending, and funding support is endogenous too, and all of these are affected by expected closeness of the election. Dealing with this is harder, requires some heroic assumptions, but can be done with an "instrumental variables" approach that tries to "purge" the endogeneity.

I'm not familiar with Levitt's paper, but just from glancing his approach is different -- he looks only at those instances where the same incumbent and challenger have faced off multiple times and looks at how their spending affects their votes over time. This controls for a lot of other factors by, literally, holding them constant across a series of elections. The downside, that (again just glancing) he doesn't seem to address is that these series are likely to exclude high quality challengers. The advantage, though, is that it separates money effects from inherent-quality effects. You can interpret his findings as trying to say that for a given pair of candidates, how much they spend has minor effects on outcomes and that outcomes are much more a result of who the candidates are.

In any case, this isn't some weirdo thing that only Levitt believes -- it's not a patented "Steven Levitt pontificates about stuff he doesn't know about, therefore arriving at the wrong conclusion" sorts of things, common as those might be. There is an extensive literature on the effects of campaign spending, and it goes both ways, with some works showing that incumbent spending has a detectable effect on election outcomes and other work showing that it doesn't, mostly depending on modeling choices. If you look on googlescholar for stuff citing Green and Krasno's paper on spendthrift incumbents, you should find most of it, but the endogeneity stuff means it gets very technical very fast.

My own sense for something that's as common-sense obvious as "Campaign spending causes election outcomes" is that you need to pay attention to the contrary findings. Overall, we don't know for sure that campaign spending has any important independent effect on election outcomes, and there is some real chance that campaign spending is much more an effect of other things than a really causal factor.

*This actually happens occasionally. Viz, Tim Mahoney winning after the Mark Foley scandal broke too late to get his name off the ballot.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


It kind of boggles my mind that Dodd really thought the best way to go about his business was via irrefutably blatant threats and extortion. I think maybe he downloaded Goodfellas one time too many.
posted by elizardbits at 2:50 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


...the movie "Avatar" was stolen by online pirates 21 million times.

Say what you will about Dodd, but under his watch the MPAA has been so diligent as to get it back every single time.
posted by griphus at 2:51 PM on January 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


Actually I think I might just start referring to him as Two Gun Tommy from now on.
posted by elizardbits at 2:52 PM on January 22, 2012


All-Time Worldwide Box Office Records:
1. Avatar (2009) $2,781,505,847
2. Titanic (1997) $1,835,300,000
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) $1,327,655,619
4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $1,119,102,868
5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) $1,114,558,779
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) $1,065,896,541
7. Toy Story 3 (2010) $1,062,984,497
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) $1,041,963,875
9. Alice in Wonderland (2010) $1,023,285,206
10. The Dark Knight (2008) $1,001,921,825

Yeah, Hollywood's really struggling.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:54 PM on January 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


...the movie "Avatar" was stolen by online pirates 21 million times.

$2,781,505,847
posted by Sys Rq at 2:56 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dodd forswears a lobbying career, August 30, 2010, CT Mirror
Satire, Ink on Newsprint, Artist Deirdre Shesgreen
posted by Challahtronix at 2:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Alice in Wonderland made a billion? I give up....
posted by PenDevil at 2:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm reminded of a line Josh Lyman uttered in the first season of the West Wing on the topic of campaign financing: "Somehow we've legalized bribery."

The whole exchange there, between Josh and Vice President Hoynes, is applicable:

JOSH: I don't know how we've done it but somehow we've legalized bribery.
HOYNES: What's your point, Josh?
JOSH: So now we've got two corporate parties. One pro-life, one pro-choice.
HOYNES: I said, "what's your point, Josh?"
posted by Navelgazer at 3:01 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Hollywood" may be left-wing, but the people who own Hollywood are not. Nearly everything the MPAA does is to further the interests of the CEOs of Disney, National Amusements, Time Warner, Sony and Comcast. Oh, and News Corporation. Nothing else matters.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:02 PM on January 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Challahtronix: Alice in Wonderland was a kids movie, which means with any proper marketing at all it's going to be a hit, and it's a well-established enough story that it could do gangbusters in foreign markets. Don't worry about it too much.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:02 PM on January 22, 2012


All I have to say is: Savage & Hyneman 2012!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:02 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I work in the industry. Fuck you, Chris Dodd.
posted by nevercalm at 3:02 PM on January 22, 2012


the movie "Avatar" was stolen by online pirates 21 million times

If the movie was actually stolen 21 million times, it would have taken 6,500 years for all of those pirates to have watched it. To put that in perspective, we're talking about the 7th verse of "In the Year 2525".
posted by eddydamascene at 3:02 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Alice in Wonderland was a kids movie...

Was it? At least that explains why Tim Burton didn't let Crispin Glover be Crispin Glover.
posted by griphus at 3:05 PM on January 22, 2012


In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning

Sure.

The elephant in the room, though, is that most congressional challengers are just terrible candidates who would not be able to win a contested election in any district in the US, and that no non-crazy people want to give much money to... imagine me, literal actual me, running for office. I'd go down in flames no matter how much money you gave me, anywhere in the country.

And a bunch more challengers are a different kind of terrible candidate who might, possibly, be able to win in other districts, but could never, ever, ever win in the district they're running in. Someone to left of Pelosi running in (say) Mac Thornberry's district, or someone to the right of Thornberry running in Pelosi's.

The number of challengers running who could have any realistic hope of defeating their incumbents no matter how much money they might have is small. Under such circumstances, it shouldn't be a surprise that they're generally outspent by their incumbents.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:06 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


The 2006 documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" provides some fascinating insight on why and how the MPAA does what it does.
posted by argonauta at 3:14 PM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Anyway, it's a good thing that people are having this moment of clarity about the epic levels of corruption in the US political system at the moment. Now the question is whether or not this energy will lead to anything, or just dissipate.

I don't feel like it is going away, as far as I can tell it is just getting started and it is international. There are real live pirate party candidates in governments and the poles are expecting to have 100s of thousands participate in a protest of ACTA.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 3:23 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


From the top of the ticket, where Barack Obama declined public financing for the first time since the system's creation and went on to amass a nearly two-to-one monetary advantage over John McCain, to congressional races throughout the nation, the candidate with the most money going into Election Day emerged victorious in nearly every contest.

Not to say that campaign financing laws in the US aren't fucked up, but this statement isn't the slam dunk it looks. There are a lot of completely noncompetitive races inthe US. The winner of many a Congressional election is whoever has an R or a D (depending on the area) after their name. That person will also typically spend more money than their opponent. But they aren't winning because they spent more--they're being given more money because they are going to win.

Ron Paul could be given the combined budgets of the Republicans and the Democrats, and he still wouldn't win the election as a Libertarian candidate. And of course, he won't be given that money, because he's not going to win.
posted by yoink at 3:25 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


All I have to say is: Savage & Hyneman 2012!
Free cannonballs in every home! (j/k :)
posted by delmoi at 3:26 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's just a bunch of bullshit. When a movie company or record label can demonstrate to me, per fiscal year, in a nice spreadsheet any fool could read how many *actual* dollars they're losing to *actual* piracy, I'll feel sorry for them. Until then, quit paying actors millions of dollars to make bad films and quit paying no-talent nobodies to make over-produced records that suck. That'll save a bundle right there.
posted by PuppyCat at 3:27 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Savage & Hyneman 2012!

I'm sure certain (non-MeFite) people will have something to say about the order of names on that ticket. Just like the previous satiric "Stewart/Colbert" bumper stickers; who expects Stephen C. to play 2nd fiddle?
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:32 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


quit paying actors millions of dollars to make bad films and quit paying no-talent nobodies to make over-produced records that suck.

See, proof right there that people who opposed SOPA and PIPA do want to see the destruction of these businesses.
posted by 445supermag at 3:33 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chris Dodd gets more pathetic by the day.
posted by R. Mutt at 3:34 PM on January 22, 2012


"Hollywood" may be left-wing, but the people who own Hollywood are not. Nearly everything the MPAA does is to further the interests of the CEOs of Disney...

Well, not everything. The AFL-CIO supported SOPA, the Writers' Guild and Directors' Guild support anti-piracy legislation. Legally purchased content pays residuals that go to pension funds and help Hollywood workers pay the bills between jobs. Why did progressive hero Al Franken sponsor this bill and the Whitehouse support it? Because creating media content is a labor-intensive job, so it's an industry where labor is unusually powerful vs. capital.

Progressives who think this is an obvious anti-corporate issue are badly mistaken, they are taking the side of the telecom industry that doesn't want to pay licensing fees in the deluded belief that it's some kind of anti-capitalist action. For all the talk of "Big Media" companies, the telecom industry is much larger. And because it relies so heavily on technology, labor is not very strong. Progressives are also getting into bed with the burgeoning Silicon Valley-Republican alliance, betraying labor for a short term and likely short-lived gain of consumer rights.

Chris Dodd was right that progressives are acting as corporate pawns.
posted by AlsoMike at 3:35 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure certain (non-MeFite) people will have something to say about the order of names on that ticket. Just like the previous satiric "Stewart/Colbert" bumper stickers; who expects Stephen C. to play 2nd fiddle?
Savage posted this FPP, so he gets to be president.
posted by delmoi at 3:36 PM on January 22, 2012


Fuck hollywood, let it burn.

I used to buy/rent movies from itunes every once in while (i just bought Tron:Legacy a few days ago), but now I'm just going to torrent everything.
posted by empath at 3:37 PM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Savage posted this FPP, so he gets to be president.

That's why expect "non-MeFite" people to be the ones opposing.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:39 PM on January 22, 2012


Progressives who think this is an obvious anti-corporate issue are badly mistaken, they are taking the side of the telecom industry that doesn't want to pay licensing fees in the deluded belief that it's some kind of anti-capitalist action.

I technically work for a telecom, since I work for an ISP. Do you think that ISPs should pay license fees for their customers downloading pirated media? That seems a little bit crazy to me.
posted by empath at 3:40 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


There are good independent films who made their name through piracy, like Ink and Inner Room, if you ever feel guilty, empath. And non-evil music distributors like bandcamp.com.

I'd support Savage/Savage 2012, but I'd prefer Dan got listed before Adam.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:43 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


empath: "I used to buy/rent movies from itunes every once in while (i just bought Tron:Legacy a few days ago), but now I'm just going to torrent everything."

Dude, if I had spent money on Tron:Legacy I'd be pretty pissed myself.
posted by falameufilho at 3:48 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


it looked good on my new apple display :(
posted by empath at 3:49 PM on January 22, 2012


Tron:Legacy is on Netflix.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:49 PM on January 22, 2012


I would have thought the MPAA would understand better than anyone that just because you paid for it doesn't mean you own it. It's a license...
posted by adamt at 3:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [26 favorites]


Progressives are also getting into bed with the burgeoning Silicon Valley-Republican alliance, betraying labor for a short term and likely short-lived gain of consumer rights.

This framing implies that SOPA/PIPA would actually help Hollywood in the long term, but it won't. It just puts their failing business model on life support while burning Silicon Valley to the ground.
posted by mek at 3:52 PM on January 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


Progressives who think this is an obvious anti-corporate issue are badly mistaken, they are taking the side of the telecom industry that doesn't want to pay licensing fees in the deluded belief that it's some kind of anti-capitalist action.

The big Telecom companies were supporting SOPA.

I actually do think that charging a tax on internet connections, with the cash distributed to artists would be a good way to go about paying for the creation of new works. Just like the BBC License fee for televisions. Obviously I think the tax should be progressive, so poor people would be exempt. But I think that would be a good solution.

You would want to make sure it was done in a 'democratic' way so that the stuff was distributed to the people who actually create popular content, not just whatever some government board decides should get it, or directly to the MPAA to distribute however it wants.

You can see why the major content companies oppose something like this (unless the cash goes right too them) because the money would go directly to the artists, not to middle men or marketers.

And there are things that already work that way in the U.S. Every blank tape you buy, part of that goes to the RIAA to pay for the "Home taping" that was killing music, back in the day. Radio stations pay a flat fee for every 'selection' of audio they play. They don't need to negotiate licensing for each track, and copyright owners have no control over who plays what.

So why not do the same thing with the internet? Flat rate licensing, free to stream/view/whatever you want the same way you can tape whatever you want on cassettes or play whatever you want on the radio.
posted by delmoi at 3:55 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


See, proof right there that people who opposed SOPA and PIPA do want to see the destruction of these businesses.

It's called creative destruction, and it's beloved by both libertarians and Marxists.
posted by mek at 3:58 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Progressives are also getting into bed with the burgeoning Silicon Valley-Republican alliance, betraying labor for a short term and likely short-lived gain of consumer rights.

Only someone completely ignorant of the details of this law could believe that.

This law was like amputating an arm to cure a hangnail -- on the thumb of the other hand.
posted by straight at 4:00 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


So why not do the same thing with the internet?

So who would get the fees, then? Only members of ASCAP, RIAA, MPAA or other similar organizations? What about complete independent artists who are outside that system? What about DJs and underground rap artists? What about MeFi Music?

It's an unworkable concept, as nice as it is. No matter how you slice it, you'll be leaving out someone whose work was streamed/viewed/whatevered. Unless you propose instituting full online tracking of all media consumption and divvying up payouts accordingly. And, frankly, I don't want to live in a world where my internet use is tracked to that extent by a government agency, even if it is for the purpose of paying artists something they may be due.
posted by hippybear at 4:00 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Data please? How do you "hold everything else constant"?

ANOVA
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:06 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


quit paying actors millions of dollars to make bad films and quit paying no-talent nobodies to make over-produced records that suck.

See, proof right there that people who opposed SOPA and PIPA do want to see the destruction of these businesses.


Johnny Depp is going to make $61 Million for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie. That's probably a lot more than whatever "losses" the film will suffer via internet piracy.

A reasonable scaling down on exorbitant budgets would not mean destruction of the industry; if anything, it would mean 1. more movies could be made, 1a. more people could be employed, 2. lower overhead means bigger potential profit. Bigger potential profit times more movies equals "destruction"? Really?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:11 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Very nice analysis ROU_Xenophobe on holding the variables constant to determine if campaign spending matters.

It is interesting that Levitt uses same participant elections over time to come to this conclusion. I would argue that this really isn't holding everything constant as candidates (and many other variables) change. Looking at Obama today, he is a very different candidate and his funding may come from very different sources, then in 2008. Indeed, even the voters, and their opinion of the candidates, change over time; either in their opinions or actual persons through people moving or redistricting. All sides have a memory, so the tests aren't truly independent.

I am surprised by the sheer number of contests where the identical candidates have faced off again, more than 1000. I would have guessed there would be a lot less.

As you note, the literature is split on this, which makes me think that the Freakonomics folks are being disingenuous when they present it as a settled matter that the public foolishly continues to believe. It may not be a time where they pontificate on something totally out of their wheelhouse, but it does seem like another example where by choosing the proper model and look at the data in the right way, you come to a conclusion that is counterintuitive and surprising. So, the counterintuitive example sells books, and that is what they go with.
posted by roquetuen at 4:12 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, Kid Charlemagne, ANOVA helps in this situation. But this is an observational study, not a randomized trial. Hence, the subjective modeling. From your link "In practice, "statistical models" and observational data are useful for suggesting hypotheses that should be treated very cautiously by the public."

I am very skeptical.
posted by roquetuen at 4:21 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is worth noting that the petition mentioned up thread has gone from 7,312 signatures to 10,548 in only two and a half hours.
posted by Potsy at 4:22 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dear Big Media,

I can get re-elected easily enough without your help. Want to play hardball? Fine. Have some comprehensive IP law reform, including ten-year limits on copyright, complete elimination of software patents, and prison time for false DMCA takedowns.

You're fucking middlemen. You create nothing, and soil the bed of the houses of literature, cinema, music and journalism. The sooner you starve, the better off America and the world will be.

Hugs and Kisses,
Barack Obama Sourcequench

And while I'm dreaming, I'd like a nice comfy chair, a good solid C compiler and a pony.
posted by sourcequench at 4:24 PM on January 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


Short and simple understanding of SOPA: The MPAA and RIAA are the guardians of the old gate. Throughout most of their history, there has been only the one gate, and they could charge what they wanted for access to it.

Today, there are other gates available. There are also a bunch of ladders people can use to simply sneak over the walls. Many or perhaps most people still use the old gate but it is no longer the only option. The MPAA and RIAA are complaining officially about the people scaling the walls with ladders, but their only solution - the only one which could really mean shit to them - is to mandate that the Old Gate be the only gate, and that they keep on being able to make whatever they want while no alternatives exist.

This is both anti-progressive and anti-competitive, hence the love for creative destruction from both Marxists and libertarians that mek mentions above.

As for the DGA and WGA being on board with SOPA, well, directors generally get paid Above the Line, meaning they get a percentage (in points) of a movie's profit margin. Also, the DGA is made up of established, working directors within the system. If they believe that piracy (or alternative venues for legitimate payment) are having any negative impact on the points, they've got a reason to fight for the old system. I'm guessing the WGA is on board because they've been negotiating with the MPAA for internet royalties and don't want to screw the pooch there. As for the AFL-CIO, well, I have no idea.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:26 PM on January 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Investigate Chris Dodd and the MPAA for bribery after he publicly admited to bribing politicans to pass legislation.
posted by mincus at 4:27 PM on January 22, 2012


Yeah, that's the one that I was saying was mentioned up thread.
posted by Potsy at 4:36 PM on January 22, 2012


All-Time Worldwide Box Office Records:
1. Avatar (2009) $2,781,505,847
2. Titanic (1997) $1,835,300,000
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) $1,327,655,619
4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $1,119,102,868
5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) $1,114,558,779
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) $1,065,896,541
7. Toy Story 3 (2010) $1,062,984,497
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) $1,041,963,875
9. Alice in Wonderland (2010) $1,023,285,206
10. The Dark Knight (2008) $1,001,921,825


How interesting that all of those are essentially kiddie / tween / teen movies.

I wonder if their record revenues aren't largely brought about by the fact that adults are often forced to tag along for the ride, so the magic formula for success would seem to be to produce a kiddie movie that manages to be sufficiently appealing enough for a parent to consent to seeing it? Also: craptons of CGI to compensate for a lack of decent plot or acting.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:46 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas - that is precisely correct. Parents crave decent movies to bring their kids to, and in my anecdotal experience will lower their standards for what counts as "good" a hell of a lot. (i.e. my sister praising The Smurfs.)The kids go, the parents add extra asses in seats, and then the parents buy the DVDs so their kids can watch them over and over as kids like to do.

Alternatively, yeah, get a good teen movie blockbuster going on, though that formula is a lot tougher to master.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:50 PM on January 22, 2012


They're "all ages" films. Are you legitimately wondering why films that can be legally be watched by everyone rather than films that can only legally be watched by a subset of everyone are the highest grossing?
posted by panaceanot at 4:56 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Imagine if we restricted the lifetime elected officials. There would be no limitations on the income limitations imposed by holding elected office, meaning ex elected officials may not accept any substantive form of income, period. No cash, no stocks, etc. And they must announce all stock transactions six months in advance.

Instead, we'd pay them an extremely generous pension designed to keep them out of trouble. A president gets $1M per year for life, a senator gets $200k plus $100k per term up to $500K, a one term representative has no restrictions and minimal pension, but restrictions and pension gradually kick in as they keep going.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


This framing implies that SOPA/PIPA would actually help Hollywood in the long term, but it won't. It just puts their failing business model on life support while burning Silicon Valley to the ground.

The other thing on life support is the middle class, something that Hollywood's "failing business model" supports far, far better than Silicon Valley libertarians ever will. Why do progressives want to stick another knife into the back of the middle class?

SOPA is bad legislation? Maybe it is, but I'm hearing that we need to kill Hollywood, presumably replaced by some kind of user-generated content website where creators don't get paid at all, much less get healthcare or pensions. I'm also hearing that this shows we need to get money out of politics - so the group you guys want to go down first is the unions? Do you think the financial industry and telecom industry is just waiting to follow them?

It's called creative destruction, and it's beloved by both libertarians and Marxists.

First, Marx may have admired the creativity of capitalism, and believed that its upheavals planted the seeds of its destruction, but this is a far cry from "beloved." Second, Marxists also say that if conditions worsen without a viable Left alternative -- the kind that progressives are currently abandoning so they can have cheap movies -- the people are seduced by fascism.

An alliance with more reform-minded unions is a good thing, not only for the concrete reasons of improving the conditions of workers, but also because it keeps alive the concept of collective solidarity and class struggle. It is important to oppose the individualizing ideology of capitalism that pits the working class against itself by subjectivizing us as entrepreneurs in competition with each other.

But anyway, progressives aren't Marxists. It doesn't seem very likely that progressives have suddenly embraced some Marxist theory of heightening the contradictions.
posted by AlsoMike at 5:00 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a magnificently stupid thing to have said. All of SOPA and PIPA's supporters now look corrupt. If Obama changes his mind now, it looks like he's openly accepting a bribe.

It's also almost certainly an empty threat, as Hollywood knows it is hosed if the religious conservatives get into power.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:01 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


s/lifetime/lifetime income of/
posted by jeffburdges at 5:02 PM on January 22, 2012


So who would get the fees, then? Only members of ASCAP, RIAA, MPAA or other similar organizations? What about complete independent artists who are outside that system? What about DJs and underground rap artists? What about MeFi Music?

Create a division of the U.S. Copyright Office. Require that any file sharing/streaming site over a certain threshold (averaging over 100,000 files/day, whatever) report stats to the Copyright Office. Only those who have registered their copyright get to collect fees.

Yes, that means MeFi Music doesn't have to report stats, and also that the artists who post there don't get paid -- just like today. But if someone hits it big, they get rewarded.
posted by fings at 5:05 PM on January 22, 2012


Umm, you realize that Hollywood doesn't generate that much revenue overall, right AlsoMike? DVD sales are only a few billion across the entire U.S.   Extinction for the dinosaurs in Hollywood!
posted by jeffburdges at 5:14 PM on January 22, 2012


SOPA is bad legislation?

Yes.

Maybe it is, but I'm hearing that we need to kill Hollywood, presumably replaced by some kind of user-generated content website where creators don't get paid at all, much less get healthcare or pensions. I'm also hearing that this shows we need to get money out of politics - so the group you guys want to go down first is the unions? Do you think the financial industry and telecom industry is just waiting to follow them?

I'm afraid you might be hallucinating. Who has said any of those things?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:14 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


They're "all ages" films. Are you legitimately wondering why films that can be legally be watched by everyone rather than films that can only legally be watched by a subset of everyone are the highest grossing?

"Legally watchable" is not the same thing as "something an adult would choose to watch, if kiddies weren't part of the equation". You can call them "all ages" but that's only a technical truth: they are primarily childrens' movies that adults just happen to be able to watch as well.

It is interesting to me that (with the possible exception of Titanic) no film aimed at a purely adult audience has been compelling enough to overcome this multiple-kiddie-bums-on-seats effect.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:17 PM on January 22, 2012


Freakanomics completely misses the point. SOPA, DMCA, etc. were not elections. They were laws drafted by industry and their passage into law assured by money. It took a full on public revolt to derail one bit of corruption, but those revolts are rate while the corruption is the bread and butter.

Electionshave nothing to do with it. Everyone is on the take.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:17 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It took a full on public revolt
To derail one bit of corruption,
But those revolts are rate
While the corruption
Is the bread and butter.

Electionshave
posted by Sys Rq at 5:21 PM on January 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


I think we should just auction off half of the senate seats and ban all corporate money for all the other elections. We can use the extra revenue to pay for social security.
posted by empath at 5:21 PM on January 22, 2012


AlsoMike, nobody is calling for an end to Hollywood or for the end of Made-for-Profit content. What I am calling for is an end to the MPAA, which is an organization with too much power in Hollywood whose purpose at this point is to rigorously defend outdated business models. Others might not be quite so harsh.

But killing SOPA doesn't spell the end of L.A.'s middle class, and I don't see where you're coming to that conclusion, nor is the middle class supported by Silicon Valley small in comparison, by any metric I can imagine.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:00 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas: How interesting that all of those are essentially kiddie / tween / teen movies.

Your category is excessively broad. On one hand, we have Toy Story 3, an actual children's movie (albeit a fairly deep one with themes adults can appreciate). On the other hand, you have the Dark Knight, where one of the main character's faces is burned half off and the Joker surgically implants explosives into his living henchmen.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:00 PM on January 22, 2012


Electionshave

(I was writing from my phone. It's awkward :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:08 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The bribery accusation has gotten me thinking a bit. If money is speech, as the Court assures us, is bribery even possible anymore? I mean, it can't be illegal for me to speak to my representatives and try to convince them by argument that they should do this or that, right? (At least, assuming the "this or that" is legal to do.) But if that's the case and if money is speech, then I should just be able to put a bunch of money on the table and say, "Hey, this is me saying that I want such and so legislation passed."

Under the assumption that money = speech, the quality of my argument appears to be directly proportional to the size of my bank account.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 6:10 PM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


The bribery accusation has gotten me thinking a bit. If money is speech, as the Court assures us, is bribery even possible anymore? I mean, it can't be illegal for me to speak to my representatives and try to convince them by argument that they should do this or that, right? (At least, assuming the "this or that" is legal to do.) But if that's the case and if money is speech, then I should just be able to put a bunch of money on the table and say, "Hey, this is me saying that I want such and so legislation passed."

Please do not say this anywhere around Scalia. Thomas should be fine, he'll be asleep.
posted by jaduncan at 6:14 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


12,094 signatures.
posted by chronkite at 6:22 PM on January 22, 2012


So how come when Chris Dodd does it there is a petition. But when the American Petroleum institute does it there isn't one?
posted by dobie at 6:32 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, you have the Dark Knight, where one of the main character's faces is burned half off and the Joker surgically implants explosives into his living henchmen.

Which is rated PG-13 by the MPAA, and globally is considered OK for teenagers, so fits into the teenybopper category.

Of course, a movie needn't be rated R+ to qualify as 'adult' but something based on a comic book tends strongly towards the childish, as opposed to, say, the emotional & intellectual dramas of a bunch of instrospective but witty upper middle class suburbanites as they struggle to come to terms with the impending death of a relative from some hideous disease, for example.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:32 PM on January 22, 2012


So who would get the fees, then? Only members of ASCAP, RIAA, MPAA or other similar organizations? What about complete independent artists who are outside that system? What about DJs and underground rap artists? What about MeFi Music?

It's an unworkable concept, as nice as it is. No matter how you slice it, you'll be leaving out someone whose work was streamed/viewed/whatevered. Unless you propose instituting full online tracking of all media consumption and divvying up payouts accordingly. And, frankly, I don't want to live in a world where my internet use is tracked to that extent by a government agency
Everything you view online is already tracked somewhere. If you watch a video on youtube or Hulu, those sites know someone watched, even if they don't know who. And it's dead easy to get statistics for the number of people who use bittorent to download something - that's not private at all. And guess what: Your ISP also sees every URL you access.

All you would need to do is collate publicly available information. We can already estimate which files get torrented the most, we already know which videos get viewed the most on youtube (it shows you right on the youtube page) we already have all the data - you wouldn't need any additional tracking (and you only need a statistical sample, not every single record)
The other thing on life support is the middle class, something that Hollywood's "failing business model" supports far, far better than Silicon Valley libertarians ever will. Why do progressives want to stick another knife into the back of the middle class?
Supporting the middle class through economic rents imposed on other middle class people is not a good idea, nor is it even logically feasible. (I suppose you could argue that the rents would be imposed on huge internet companies, but I think it would mostly affect the middle class). And lets not forget: Piracy improves poor people's quality of life by giving them free music and movies, the equivalent of hundreds of dollars a month in free entertainment. Not just the actual pirates, but the fact that people need to 'compete' with pirates by putting all their shows online for free (Hulu, comedy central, etc)
Maybe it is, but I'm hearing that we need to kill Hollywood, presumably replaced by some kind of user-generated content website where creators don't get paid at all, much less get healthcare or pensions.
Obamacare means everyone gets healthcare (at least by 2014). It's almost like we're a first world country now!
AlsoMike, nobody is calling for an end to Hollywood or for the end of Made-for-Profit content. What I am calling for is an end to the MPAA, which is an organization with too much power in Hollywood whose purpose at this point is to rigorously defend outdated business models. Others might not be quite so harsh.
Eh. At this point I don't really even care any more. If they went away tomorrow it wouldn't affect my life. It would take several lifetimes to consume all the content that's already been produced and recorded.
posted by delmoi at 6:37 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, you have the Dark Knight, where one of the main character's faces is burned half off and the Joker surgically implants explosives into his living henchmen.
Which is rated PG-13 by the MPAA, and globally is considered OK for teenagers, so fits into the teenybopper category.
If you watch carefully all the actual violence is offscreen, It's all implied. But people have said basically the movie should really be R rated but was given a PG-13 basically due to insider corruption at the MPAA (i.e. it was a huge movie, and tens of millions of dollars were on the line with a PG-13 rating)
posted by delmoi at 6:40 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: that insider corruption thing is interesting. Anyway, I didn't mean to derail or get into arguments. I just found the stats interesting, that's all; like if I suddenly learned that the top-selling records of all time were by Justin Bieber & The Wiggles.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:44 PM on January 22, 2012


What puzzles me about the pro-SOPA/PIPA comments in this thread is the assumption -- sometimes implicit, sometimes not -- that being anti-SOPA means you're pro-piracy, and interested only in consuming content without paying for it. Dodd gets paid to believe that, but I'm surprised that anyone else would. Being opposed to a gateway for internet censorship, or to the handover of police powers to private corporations, or to blatant threats to due process and free speech -- apparently these are merely the fantasies of "progressives acting as corporate pawns"? I'm baffled. Being pro-freedom doesn't make you pro-piracy.

If quasi-bribery and threats are all that Big Content has left in terms of a business model, then they should be very worried -- but not for the reasons that Dodd's talking about.
posted by a small part of the world at 6:45 PM on January 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


"Decimate" actually means to kill every 10th member of a group.

I actually find it facinating that at some point, we found it helpful to have a word that means to kill every tenth of something.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:47 PM on January 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


All the talk of "bribery" in this thread (and the links) is just silly, by the way. There is absolutely no legal bar to any industry or union or political pressure group whatsoever saying, quite openly, "I'm giving you this money because I think you will pass laws favorable to my industry/union/cause." Similarly, there is no legal impediment to saying "don't come cap in hand to my industry/union/cause if you're not going to pass the legislation we think is important."

In fact I can't count the number of times I've read such feelings being expressed on this very site by angry former Obama supporters--who I don't think regarded their donations as having been outed as "bribes" because of uttering those sentiments.

I think the US should have much, much stronger regulations keeping industry money out of politics, but given that that isn't the way the current system works, there is nothing even remotely illegal or improper in what Dodd has said here.
posted by yoink at 6:47 PM on January 22, 2012


I actually find it facinating that at some point, we found it helpful to have a word that means to kill every tenth of something.

Roman Empire military punishment. 10% of the terrible unit were executed (most often by the other 90% of it for bonus horror).
posted by jaduncan at 6:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


9. Alice in Wonderland (2010) $1,023,285,206

Okay, I was not expecting that to be on this list.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Roman Empire military punishment. 10% of the terrible unit were executed (most often by the other 90% of it for bonus horror).

Fascinating. Thanks for sharing that.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:50 PM on January 22, 2012


Navelgazer: AlsoMike, nobody is calling for an end to Hollywood [...]

Oooh. Me-me-me. Right here. I am. End to Hollywood? Where do I sign?

While we have Hollywood, we're going to keep getting SOPA and PIPA in different shrink-wrap. We're going to keep getting mindless, interchangeable pop crap at the expense of actual content.

Copyright and patent were intended to incentivize creativity. What we have now does the exact, polar, opposite. When I was talking about comprehensive IP law reform, I wasn't just trying to be funny.

Seriously. Burn it. Burn it all. Salt the ground so no new one can grow. Leave not one stone standing upon another.

P.S. I say this as someone who makes his living writing software.
posted by sourcequench at 7:04 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


So an illegal download of a movie is, according to the MPAA, generally viewed 18 times?

Not here. I downloaded Avatar and it was watched one third of one time and then deleted.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:14 PM on January 22, 2012


Leftfield - Open Up
posted by panaceanot at 7:15 PM on January 22, 2012


All the talk of "bribery" in this thread (and the links) is just silly, by the way. There is absolutely no legal bar to any industry or union or political pressure group whatsoever saying, quite openly, "I'm giving you this money because I think you will pass laws favorable to my industry/union/cause." Similarly, there is no legal impediment to saying "don't come cap in hand to my industry/union/cause if you're not going to pass the legislation we think is important."
There is, however a law that bars former congressmen/senators and their staffers from lobbying congress at all for a few years after they leave. I think it's three. And while the NYT article claimed he wasn't lobbying these people in person, how is what he's doing now not just lobbying in public?
posted by delmoi at 7:16 PM on January 22, 2012


The other thing on life support is the middle class, something that Hollywood's "failing business model" supports far, far better than Silicon Valley libertarians ever will.

Who do you expect to pay the costs of SOPA, exactly? You think telecoms and tech companies are just going to magically absorb the costs without passing any on to their low and middle class customers? The net effect of SOPA is to destroy the business model of most of SV while increasing the cost of basic media in a regressive manner (everyone pays more, including those who can afford it the least). It's a perfect continuation of MPAA's "sue single moms" practices. If we have to drown the poor to save the middle class, we're already doomed.
posted by mek at 7:16 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


So an illegal download of a movie is, ...

Could the attorneys here help me out: I am under the impression that down-loading is not illegal; whereas, up-loading is illegal. Is that right or am I making an error?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:17 PM on January 22, 2012


It's been my understanding that both are illegal, it's just that the theory is that targeting the uploaders (suppliers) is more effective than targeting the downloaders, as if nobody uploads, then no one can download, and many people can download from one uploader.

Of course, that gets murky, since P2P has almost everyone uploading and downloading to some degree. And many people will supply different rips of the same media, so that strategy isn't so effective.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:21 PM on January 22, 2012


It's been my understanding that both are illegal, it's just that the theory is that targeting the uploaders (suppliers) is more effective than targeting the downloaders, as if nobody uploads, then no one can download, and many people can download from one uploader.
Downloading is as illegal as buying a bootleg. Which is not illegal, as far as I know.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on January 22, 2012


(If you download with something like bittorent, or old school P2P software like napster, Kazaa, though, you're also sharing chunks back)
posted by delmoi at 7:33 PM on January 22, 2012


I'm unaware of any particular law that makes downloading illegal, but probably some jurisdictions make it so. If you're downloading with bittorrent, then you're also uploading, but maybe they couldn't make it stick if you weren't seeding. I'd imagine they mostly pursue long term seeders because otherwise the courts might start slashing the damages.

There are dedicated torrent hosting services if you need higher speed downloads or wish to seed long term very safely. If you're paranoid, select one outside your country and buy the service through a prepaid credit card.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:45 PM on January 22, 2012


"If you're downloading with bittorrent, then you're also uploading"

Some clients can be adjusted to render this untrue, although at the cost of becoming a leech.
posted by jaduncan at 7:48 PM on January 22, 2012


There is absolutely no legal bar to any industry or union or political pressure group whatsoever saying, quite openly, "I'm giving you this money because I think you will pass laws favorable to my industry/union/cause." Similarly, there is no legal impediment to saying "don't come cap in hand to my industry/union/cause if you're not going to pass the legislation we think is important."

I disagree.

Here's the federal bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. 201. It appears to me that this behavior could well be prohibited by the statute, depending on the intent of the money-giver. For example, see section (b)(1)(A), which punishes:

"Whoever - (1) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official [...] with intent - (A) to influence any official act."

It seems to me that if you put this question to a jury -- was Dodd giving money to a Congressperson with the intent to influence them into passing SOPA -- that any reasonable jury would convict him.

Note that this is statute is an "attempt crime", meaning that you don't even have to succeed in your bribery. All you have to do is give a Congressperson money with the intent to influence their official actions.

Based on the facts I know, I'd convict Dodd.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:15 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


But killing SOPA doesn't spell the end of L.A.'s middle class, and I don't see where you're coming to that conclusion, nor is the middle class supported by Silicon Valley small in comparison, by any metric I can imagine.

Here are my numbers:

The US film and recorded music industry generated $95 billion in revenue. Sounds like a lot, but the non-alcoholic beverage industry earned $197 billion. That's right, the worldwide revenue of "Big Media" was about half of what Americans spend on soda in a year. In contrast, the telecom industry that Silicon Valley is part of made $985 billion dollars, so in terms of revenue, "Big" Media is the little guy.

It's pretty obvious why - households pay for cable TV, a land line phone, a cell phone or two with data plans, broadband internet. The average household spends around $2400 a year on data services and that has been increasing every year, but only around $250 a year on movie tickets, DVDs, CDs, digital downloads, etc.

The movie industry spend a lot on lobbying, just over $100 million in 2008. We think this is a sign of corporations getting too powerful and buying legislation to screw us, but I don't think that's it. It's because they're a dying industry. This is happening, but not because people don't want to watch movies -- it's because they're being strangled by the telecom industry.

Of the $2400 that the average household spends, a substantial amount goes to paying the telecom industry for access to entertainment content produced by the content creation industry. The telecom industry has all the customers, so they have the upper hand in licensing negotiations, and they have an interest in driving down the cost of the content that people are actually paying to see in the first place.

User-generated content is one way of doing that. An hour of YouTube videos costs about the same to transfer as Hollywood content, but it's cheaper because it has no licensing costs. But so is piracy. Telecom industries make money for transferring those files around, why would they want to license it? They certainly don't want to spend money cracking down on piracy either. On top of that, piracy undermines the content producer's ability to charge for exclusive licensing -- the telecom industry can encourage piracy and then say, "Oh, look at all this piracy! I guess we can't do an exclusive deal then, oh well..."

This is the "dying" business model: telecom industries devaluing content to improve their profits. The content industry is using legislation maybe to make sure people buy content, but there's data showing that piracy is not a huge drain on consumer purchasing. At least, not in the US. I think the industry know that, and the piracy fight is a way to improve their position in negotiations with telecom providers. It looks like "corporations are too powerful and buying legislation" but actually it's because they are the smaller, weaker industry looking for state protection from a stronger predatory industry. Google's revenue alone is about the same as the total US revenue from the box office, DVD sales, Blu-ray, etc.

This is about making sure that Hollywood gets a fair cut of telecom profits, not about letting Hollywood extract rent from other middle class people. Our bills continue to rise (over 300% in the last 20 years), but telecom providers placate us by offering us as much free content as we want, plus the "opportunity" to create royalty-free content for them.

It's not because Hollywood hates our freedom. The anti-SOPA "anti-corporate" mobilization of internet users against this legislation was a counteroffensive by the telecom industry to protect their profits at the expense of Hollywood. This is a much bigger game, and we're just corporate pawns. The question is whose pawn are you?

There are 361,900 jobs in the motion picture and film industry, compared with 1 million in the telecom industry. That means $985,000 of revenue goes to support 1 job in the telecom industry. The same number supports 3.75 union jobs in Hollywood. This is because content production doesn't scale well because it has high variable costs like labor. Telecom is a fixed-cost business, which means they can grow without hiring new workers.

The only conclusion you can make is that progressives are on the wrong side of the issue, and have been suckered by internet companies and venture capitalists peddling vague slogans about "this threatens the internet" to sell out labor.
posted by AlsoMike at 8:36 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


For all the talk of "Big Media" companies, the telecom industry is much larger. And because it relies so heavily on technology, labor is not very strong. Progressives are also getting into bed with the burgeoning Silicon Valley-Republican alliance, betraying labor for a short term and likely short-lived gain of consumer rights.

It's the AFL-CIO that's being short-sighted if they support reactionary legislation -- legislation that would break the Internet and have a serious chilling effect on free expression, all for the sake of lining their bosses' pockets and giving corporate interests even more power over our lives -- just because they mistakenly believe it will protect jobs in the entertainment industry. Not that there's anything new about mainstream labor organizations ceding ground in the larger struggle because they're scared to rock the boat.

An alliance with more reform-minded unions is a good thing, not only for the concrete reasons of improving the conditions of workers, but also because it keeps alive the concept of collective solidarity and class struggle. It is important to oppose the individualizing ideology of capitalism that pits the working class against itself by subjectivizing us as entrepreneurs in competition with each other.

I agree, but I don't think it means we should support unions when they make bad calls like supporting SOPA/PIPA. Laws that facilitate censorship in the name of property rights don't build solidarity.
posted by twirlip at 8:44 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


"a substantial amount goes to paying the telecom industry for access to entertainment content produced by the content creation industry"

Wrong. They're paying for access to Youtube, Amazon, Wikipedia, Google Maps, Facebook, eBay Reddit, CheapTickets, etc. If movies disappeared from the internet tomorrow, we'd probably all watch stuff on youtube instead.

"mobilization of internet users against this legislation was a counteroffensive by the telecom industry"

Wrong again. As mentioned upthread, the biggest telecom companies supported SOPA because they favor controlling their costs and keeping mobile users on a micro billing model.

There is enough new media that we no longer need Hollywood. Kill it with fire.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:47 PM on January 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


The anti-SOPA "anti-corporate" mobilization of internet users against this legislation was a counteroffensive by the telecom industry to protect their profits at the expense of Hollywood.

AlsoMike, you're kind of embarrassing yourself by consistently ignoring the specific nature of the proposed laws, which were horrifically stupid and violated even the most basic rules of due process. I seriously doubt the Stanford Law Review analysis is driven by telecom industry profit concerns; you should read it before going any further down your "YOU'RE ALL BEING TELECOM INDUSTRY PAWNS!" road:

Both bills suggest that these remedies can be meted out by courts after nothing more than ex parte proceedings—proceedings at which only one side (the prosecutor or even a private plaintiff) need present evidence and the operator of the allegedly infringing site need not be present nor even made aware that the action was pending against his or her “property.”

Again: the operator of the accused site didn't even have to be told the process had begun. SOPA/PIPA were disgustingly broad and overreaching pieces of legislation with deeply serious problems, not least among them a total lack of anything like due process. That's what got folks riled up - the unprecedented attempt to grab for Hollywood new and almost certainly unconstitutional powers.
posted by mediareport at 9:03 PM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


It kind of boggles my mind that Dodd really thought the best way to go about his business was via irrefutably blatant threats and extortion.

Perhaps that is what worked on him as a Congressman?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:05 PM on January 22, 2012


There is, however a law that bars former congressmen/senators and their staffers from lobbying congress at all for a few years after they leave.

Well, that's a nice pipe dream, but it's a pipe dream nonetheless. There is no such law. There's an Obama administration policy (which is what I think you're thinking of) whereby all members of his administration have to sign an agreement not to lobby for a certain period of time after leaving the administration. Dodd wasn't part of his administration however.

It seems to me that if you put this question to a jury -- was Dodd giving money to a Congressperson with the intent to influence them into passing SOPA -- that any reasonable jury would convict him.

No, any reasonable jury would laugh in your face. Of course it wouldn't get to a jury because the DA would laugh at the idea of bringing the charge and if you got a lunatic enough DA to try the judge would laugh it out of court. Money openly given by a registered lobbying group to a politician is not "corruptly given" under the bribery act. If it were, then almost all campaign financing in the US would be illegal. Every union official who ever gave a politician money because they promised to be a staunch friend of labor would be a crook. Every green group that gave money to a politician because she promised to fight to preserve the EPA and to fight global warming would be indictable. Etc. etc. etc.
posted by yoink at 9:07 PM on January 22, 2012


This is about making sure that Hollywood gets a fair cut of telecom profits, not about letting Hollywood extract rent from other middle class people. Our bills continue to rise (over 300% in the last 20 years), but telecom providers placate us by offering us as much free content as we want, plus the "opportunity" to create royalty-free content for them.

There might be a notional form of legislation which is about this, but SOPA and PIPA are not it.
posted by mek at 9:08 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


The anti-SOPA "anti-corporate" mobilization of internet users against this legislation was a counteroffensive by the telecom industry to protect their profits at the expense of Hollywood. This is a much bigger game, and we're just corporate pawns. The question is whose pawn are you?

To the extent that this is true, the correct answer to that question is "neither." When capitalist factions squabble over one another's profits, you don't support one side simply because their workers have stronger unions. That's a sucker's game. If telecom workers are less well organized than workers in Hollywood, the right thing to do is to organize the telecom workers.
posted by twirlip at 9:08 PM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


There is enough new media that we no longer need Hollywood. Kill it with fire.

Odd how people keep forcing themselves to steal these movies that they all apparently hate so much. Why would anyone care if Hollywood gets a fully enforceable and even permanent copyright on material they have no interest in ever watching?
posted by yoink at 9:10 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's still bad for culture.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:18 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's still bad for culture.

Sure--but I hate the utter hypocrisy of the "I only steal all this music and these films because the media companies are so crappy!" argument. If you steal it, you think it has some utility for you--and the company and the creators of the work deserve to be compensated for that utility.

Not to defend SOPA and PIPA, by the way--they're crappily constructed legislation and I'm glad they're dead. But the rights they're (badly) designed to defend seem to me to be entirely worthy of (a better designed) defense and I've never heard a non-self-serving argument to the contrary.
posted by yoink at 9:30 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure--but I hate the utter hypocrisy of the "I only steal all this music and these films because the media companies are so crappy!" argument.

Me, I hate the imaginariness of it.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:32 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


If Chris Dodd sincerely and honestly believes that this sort of crap is above board, then it is time not only to charge him with bribery, but to EXAMINE EVERY FUCKING CENT, SHARE AND PROPERTY IN HIS (AND HIS FAMILY'S) PORTFOLIO with a view to assessing whether they were legitimately acquired.

Audit the man. Audit him until he is honest.
posted by Ahab at 9:34 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only conclusion you can make is that progressives are on the wrong side of the issue, and have been suckered by internet companies and venture capitalists peddling vague slogans about "this threatens the internet" to sell out labor.

So, lets talk about some of your "telecom company" boogeymen.

Comcast? For SOPA.
AT&T? For PIPA, had some concerns about SOPA but "like the general framework.
Verizon? Same as AT&T

In addition, several reputable civil-libertarian groups that have been analyzing Internet and privacy-related bills like the EFF and the ACLU were against it, long before Google went dark.

I assume when you sneer "telecom company" you're really trying to tarnish Google with that word.

And Silicon Valley alone has 387,000 high-tech jobs. That doesn't count tech companies in other areas like Seattle, NYC and yes, LA.

An alliance with more reform-minded unions is a good thing, not only for the concrete reasons of improving the conditions of workers, but also because it keeps alive the concept of collective solidarity and class struggle. It is important to oppose the individualizing ideology of capitalism that pits the working class against itself by subjectivizing us as entrepreneurs in competition with each other.

You know what else is a good thing? Providing an international medium where those workers around the world can communicate, collaborate and organize in private and reliably. SOPA would have given large companies and a corrupt government the ability to selectively silence online organizations and groups.

That's what this is about. And while it may be a "libertarian" ideal, it's also an anarchist, progressive and socialist value, as far as I can tell.
posted by formless at 9:39 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


In other news, the 'war on piracy' is increasing a shift to Ubuntu.
posted by infini at 9:44 PM on January 22, 2012


But the rights they're (badly) designed to defend seem to me to be entirely worthy of (a better designed) defense and I've never heard a non-self-serving argument to the contrary.

Personally, I'm partial to this one:
Society confronts the simple fact that when everyone can possess every intellectual work of beauty and utility--reaping all the human value of every increase of knowledge--at the same cost that any one person can possess them, it is no longer moral to exclude. ... But the bourgeois system of ownership demands that knowledge and culture be rationed by the ability to pay.
posted by twirlip at 9:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Note that this is statute is an "attempt crime", meaning that you don't even have to succeed in your bribery. All you have to do is give a Congressperson money with the intent to influence their official actions.

Based on the facts I know, I'd convict Dodd.
I don't think it would be too hard to get a conviction. But prosecution will never, ever happen.
User-generated content is one way of doing that. An hour of YouTube videos costs about the same to transfer as Hollywood content, but it's cheaper because it has no licensing costs. But so is piracy. Telecom industries make money for transferring those files around, why would they want to license it? They certainly don't want to spend money cracking down on piracy either. On top of that, piracy undermines the content producer's ability to charge for exclusive licensing -- the telecom industry can encourage piracy and then say, "Oh, look at all this piracy! I guess we can't do an exclusive deal then, oh well..."
Google and Youtube are not a part of the 'telecom' industry. They're actually pretty antagonistic, with google fighting the telecom on network neutrality (this is changing with android and buying Motorola)

Anyway, if people prefer Youtube over expensive Hollywood crap what's the problem?
This is about making sure that Hollywood gets a fair cut of telecom profits, not about letting Hollywood extract rent from other middle class people. Our bills continue to rise (over 300% in the last 20 years), but telecom providers placate us by offering us as much free content as we want, plus the "opportunity" to create royalty-free content for them.
Why assume that Hollywood actually produces what people actually want to view online? I hardly spend any time watching Hollywood crap while online. The video game industry is bigger then Hollywood, and I would bet people spend more time playing games online. then watching Hollywood crap. Or watching Youtube. Why does Hollywood deserve money for the time people spend watching Youtube? That's what's crazy, the baseline assumption that major Hollywood corporations owed compensation for all entertainment, whether they produced it or not.

I said I thought taxing internet connections to pay for content, the way the UK taxes TVs to pay for the BBC, because content could be considered a social good. But this argument is so bad, and dishonest it makes me less inclined to support that idea. So if you're intent is to persuade people, it's definitely not working. In fact, I find it so distasteful that it's making me like the labor movement less, if this is how greedy they are.

(It's also false, since that the true telecom companies, like ATT and Verizon supported SOPA.)

There is a huge difference between saying "we should pay for this" and saying "We should grant some random group of powerful people an economic rent so they can act as middlemen and soak up tons of money from creators and consumers"

If we, as a society think that we should be paying for the creation of more content, then we should just levy a tax and pay for it with cash. Creating economic rents that go to middlemen isn't a good idea -- especially when the creation of those rents would do more economic damage to others then they would generate, and especially when they're generated by restricting people's freedoms.
Well, that's a nice pipe dream, but it's a pipe dream nonetheless. There is no such law. There's an Obama administration policy -- yoink
My god are you seriously that uninformed?
That shift was exposed this week partly because Mr. Dodd found himself in a political knife fight while being forced to sheathe his most powerful weapon: 36 years of personal relationships with a Congress in which he had served as a representative and then senator since 1975, before joining the motion picture association last March.

Under legislation passed in 2007, Mr. Dodd is barred from personally lobbying Congress for two years after leaving office. Hired as the consummate Washington insider to carry the film industry’s banner on crucial issues like piracy, Mr. Dodd ended up being more coach than player. He helped devise a strategy that called for his coalition to line up a strong array of legislative sponsors and supporters behind two similar laws — the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, and the Protect I.P. Act in the Senate — and then to move them through the Congress quickly before possible opposition from tech companies could coalesce.
Staggaring. I mean I don't even know what to say. I'm honestly amazed both that anyone could be that ignorant and also so certain they're right when actually they're wrong. Obviously it happens all the time but WTF is wrong with people?

(Note, by the way, that I specifically said there was a law restricting the lobbying of congress by former congresspeople and staffers. I didn't say anything about the whitehouse. I read that article the other day, but I was already familiar with the law, particularly from hearing about this scandal where a senator helped a staffer get an illegal lobbying job after fucking his wife)
posted by delmoi at 10:04 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Personally, I'm partial to this one:
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.
(Thomas Jefferson, on copyright)
posted by empath at 10:07 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Downloading is as illegal as buying a bootleg. Which is not illegal, as far as I know.

My understanding is that since downloading a movie involves creating an unauthorized copy, which is a copyright violation, it is illegal. It is as illegal as stacking up two VCRs and copying your friend's VHS version of Gymkata, or taping your favorite Glass Tiger and Bananarama songs off of live radio -- you know, the type of stuff that put an entire generation in prison back in the 80s.
posted by eddydamascene at 10:14 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The name of the law banning congresspeople/staffers from lobbying immediately after leaving congress is called the Honest Leadership and Open Government act
posted by delmoi at 10:17 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


An extrapolation of possible scenarios - playing what if - would be an interesting thought exercise.

a) What if SOPA PIPA went to its limit? What would it be like day to day?

b) What if there's no SOPA PIPA? What are is the alternate timeline like?
posted by infini at 10:28 PM on January 22, 2012


a) Nineteen Eighty-Four
b) the status quo, which is basically fine
posted by Sys Rq at 10:39 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


mediareport: AlsoMike, you're kind of embarrassing yourself by consistently ignoring the specific nature of the proposed laws...

Probably, but isn't that what the internet is for? In any case, my issue is not specifically with SOPA, but with supposed progressives dismissing labor concerns as corporate propaganda.

formless, the fact is that Google and every internet company is a telecom company. They are in the business of transmitting data, whether they get paid by the byte or by the page impression. Comcast, owner of NBC Universal, supported the bill. AT&T basically pulled their support. That seems to line up. Even if Hollywood got some telecom companies on board, that doesn't change the basic economics of digital distribution and content licensing, and where interests align or do not align.

And while it may be a "libertarian" ideal, it's also an anarchist, progressive and socialist value, as far as I can tell.

This I will definitely sneer at for you - it is the deepest kind of post-ideological ideology.

twirlip: Society confronts the simple fact that when everyone can possess every intellectual work...

You still have to pay to gain access to this supposedly free information, right?
posted by AlsoMike at 10:42 PM on January 22, 2012


Once we privatize the libraries, yes, I suppose you will.
posted by mek at 10:50 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You still have to pay to gain access to this supposedly free information, right?

A trivial amount compared to what the content gatekeepers would like us to pay.

We live in a world where it's possible for everybody to have access to everything that's ever been written, performed or recorded, for almost nothing. And it's been held up to protect the monopoly rights of a bunch of corrupt millionaires.

Give it away, all of it. And if they won't give it away, take it. The benefit to the world of having all of this information in the hands of everyone is too much to let laws and economic protectionism get in the way.

And you might say that once we've given it all away, who will make new content for nothing? I'm willing to take the risk that 4 billion people with access to everything will figure out a way to keep creating. And if not, then they already have everything.
posted by empath at 11:55 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why assume that Hollywood actually produces what people actually want to view online?

My thoughts are that Hollywood has produced some excellent work over the years that can profoundly impact people's lives in a way similar to books. YouTube is an advertising company like a TV channel. If a new source of elite YouTube producers emerged that made works that touch people in the same way as Hollywood then I expect that money would find its way to them. But it had better be enough. We don't want the next generations of creatives only coming from the upper class, as that's a nightmare I would not want to live through.
posted by niccolo at 12:04 AM on January 23, 2012


"No, any reasonable jury would laugh in your face. Of course it wouldn't get to a jury because the DA would laugh at the idea of bringing the charge and if you got a lunatic enough DA to try the judge would laugh it out of court. Money openly given by a registered lobbying group to a politician is not "corruptly given" under the bribery act."

You're wrong. If you think you're right, why don't you actually cite to a source of law.

Look at the federal pattern jury instructions for the meaning of "corruptly given" under the statute. For example, here; the Third Circuit Court of Appeals defines it as:

"A person offers a thing of value to a public official “corruptly” if the person acts knowingly and intentionally with the purpose either of accomplishing an unlawful end or unlawful result or of accomplishing some otherwise lawful end or lawful result influenced by the offer of the thing of value value to the public official. Corrupt acts are ordinarily motivated by a hope or expectation of either financial gain or other benefit to one's self, or some aid or profit to another."

If you still think I'm wrong, please answer the following questions:

Do you honestly believe that Dodd and his cronies did not have any intent to influence the lawmakers' decisions on whether to proceed with the SOPA legislation?

And do you honestly believe their actions were not "motivated by a hope or expectation of financial gain"?

Come on. Of course Dodd intended to influence the politicians, and of course him and his clients were motivated by financial gain. You'd have to be a total moron to believe otherwise.

That makes them guilty. I'm an attorney and I practice criminal law in federal court regularly. If Dodd were my client, I'd strongly advise him that his statements could be used as very strong evidence against him, should some prosecutor actually have the guts to bring charges.

Just because prosecutors -- and they would be U.S. Attorneys, not DA's -- rarely bring such prosecutions doesn't make it legal. It just means that the prosecutors are trumped by the politicians.

"If it were, then almost all campaign financing in the US would be illegal. Every union official who ever gave a politician money because they promised to be a staunch friend of labor would be a crook. Every green group that gave money to a politician because she promised to fight to preserve the EPA and to fight global warming would be indictable."


Shorter version of your argument: "It happens all the time, so it can't be illegal."
posted by mikeand1 at 12:05 AM on January 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


AlsoMike: there are obviously not many people willing to step up and defend the tech industry and SOPA so thanks for offering your perspective. Obviously I disagree, but it's good to hear the other sides arguments (at least when they're actually trying to explain their views and not just spouting lies, which is what you saw from a lot of entertainment lobbyists)
formless, the fact is that Google and every internet company is a telecom company. They are in the business of transmitting data, whether they get paid by the byte or by the page impression. Comcast, owner of NBC Universal, supported the bill. AT&T basically pulled their support. That seems to line up. Even if Hollywood got some telecom companies on board, that doesn't change the basic economics of digital distribution and content licensing, and where interests align or do not align.
First of all, I think you're using the word "Telecom company" in a very different way then most people do: Normally when you say telecom you're talking about Comcast, ATT, Verizon, Time Werner and cell carriers. Out of that list, only Verizon wasn't listed as supporter.

SO one problem with your definition is that it's not the common definition. You can't just re-define terms because it sounds better to be against "telecoms" (which everyone hates) then it does to be against Google and the Wikimedia foundation (not to mention Metafilter, LLC!) (which everyone loves)

The second problem is that it's not correct. Internet companies do not transmit the data, they just generate it. The "real" telecoms actually have the job of taking your packets from your house to Mountain View and back.

Finally, and most ironically, your definition is so broad that it includes Hollywood. After all, what do they do other then generate data and send it off, either on blue-ray or on the tubes from Hulu or commedycentral.com. So by your definition the "telecom" industry would actually be fighting against itself, necessitating new terms for the participants, so we're back to "Hollywood" and "Silicon Valley" while ATT/Comcast/etc are on the sidelines, but supporting Hollywood for whatever reason. Obviously all of them are in the "information" business in some sense, as opposed to selling cars or something.

Also, I was thinking about this point from earlier and I wanted to touch back on it because I did find it kind of disturbing.
Of the $2400 that the average household spends, a substantial amount goes to paying the telecom industry for access to entertainment content produced by the content creation industry. The telecom industry has all the customers, so they have the upper hand in licensing negotiations, and they have an interest in driving down the cost of the content that people are actually paying to see in the first place.

User-generated content is one way of doing that. An hour of YouTube videos costs about the same to transfer as Hollywood content, but it's cheaper because it has no licensing costs. But so is piracy. Telecom industries make money for transferring those files around, why would they want to license it? They certainly don't want to spend money cracking down on piracy either. On top of that, piracy undermines the content producer's ability to charge for exclusive licensing -- the telecom industry can encourage piracy and then say, "Oh, look at all this piracy! I guess we can't do an exclusive deal then, oh well..."

This is the "dying" business model: telecom industries devaluing content to improve their profits.

Something like Youtube gives people an unprecedented platform to reach anyone in the world with their own audio/video. And make money (through the partner program -- A lot people make their living as 'professional' youtubers). But from your perspective, it's "Devaluing" "content". Obviously you were talking about Piracy too, but you lumped user generated content in there too.

It seems like you view not just individually copyrighted works as being the property of their creators but also all works created by anyone as property of the 'content industry' -- that people's attention is literally the property of Hollywood, and if anyone else produces their own content and gets eyeballs for it they're stealing that attention from the "content industry", gatekeepers and all.

If you think that's why people were so upset about SOPA then you're right. People feel like they have just as much right to create content and get attention as Hollywood, and that SOPA was an attempt to claim ownership on all content, not just the stuff they produce, but shutting down any information service that doesn't pay them whatever they ask for.

It's a lot like the news industry saying that they own news and the fact that local newspapers are no longer needed is somehow because google is "stealing" something from them, what they lost was their monopoly. But they never had any intrinsic right to a monopoly on news, it just happened.

So SOPA would be like a law making it illegal for people to get their news anywhere but their local paper, in order to protect the local news industry. Instead of news, Sopa was about content overall, and instead of the local paper, it was Hollywood.

But the basic idea (at least from what you're saying) seems to be the same. All content, everywhere is the property of Hollywood, and if anyone wants to create and share anything, they need todo it in a way that Hollywood controls.

Obviously internet users are going to fight that as hard as they can.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 AM on January 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


You're wrong. If you think you're right, why don't you actually cite to a source of law.

Look at the federal pattern jury instructions for the meaning of "corruptly given" under the statute. For example, here; the Third Circuit Court of Appeals defines it as:
If you want an example of how wrong he is, look at the case of Don Siegelman. He was convicted by a jury and sent to jail for accepting campaign donations in exchange for an 'official act'.

Here's the thing. It appears that there was a conspiracy between Karl Rove and some corrupt US Attorneys to railroad this guy, for being a popular democratic politician. Nothing he did is actually all that out of the ordinary at all.

But a Jury convicted him. And a judge upheld his conviction even given evidence of the conspiracy. This was a rare event.

But the point is Juries will convict politicians for accepting campaign donations for favors if they get the chance, even though it's common, and the appeals court decided it was OK, even despite prosecutorial misconduct.

Like I said, no one is going to ever prosecute Dodd, but if they did it might not be all that difficult to get a conviction out of a Jury.
posted by delmoi at 12:23 AM on January 23, 2012


"But the point is Juries will convict politicians for accepting campaign donations for favors if they get the chance, even though it's common, and the appeals court decided it was OK, even despite prosecutorial misconduct."/em>

You're damn right they would. But the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorneys are selected by politicians, and so by and large (not always, but most of the time) they look they other way when politicians commit crimes. It's the same reason why so many financial crimes are going unprosecuted.

If more people understood this, they'd be up in arms. The Occupy people ought to be camped out in front of every city's federal building, directing their efforts at the U.S. Attorneys, asking them, "Why the hell aren't you prosecuting these crimes?? Do your goddamned job!!"

posted by mikeand1 at 12:29 AM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


It like that story where the dentist finds a snake with broken fangs, takes it home and fixes the fangs, then when it's at full strength, it bites the farmer and says "What? You fucking knew I was a snake."

Any law that has the potential for misuse or abuse will be. Of course it will be. When you give authority to do something, that's approval of those actions. You can't say "Oh, I thought it wouldn't be used that way." If it wouldn't be used that it would already be written in a way reflecting that. Don't put fangs in a snakes mouths and then complain the snake bites too much.

I understand a snake has to eat, but I ain't giving him a fang cause then he'll fucking bite me.
posted by BurnChao at 2:10 AM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Actually in terms of whether or not Dodd could be convicted, I would say it's actually probably too easy for federal prosecutors to get a conviction against someone, whether or not they've done anything wrong For example check out This NYT article about a guy who got convicted for mortgage fraud because an FBI agent saw a documentary about him running Sahara Desert, decided if he could afford to do that he must have some hidden income, investigated him in depth and then convicted him for 'mortgage fraud' even though it's not at all clear that he lied on any of the forms (one form had a high number, but he says his mortgage broker filled it out without his knowledge) and in any event he certainly didn't do anything millions of people weren't also doing during the bubble.

So I think it's probably not a good Idea to selectively start prosecuting people for 'ordinary' politics, however, one might want to look into whether or not Dodd is violating the Honest leadership and open government act I linked to earlier that forbids congressional lobbying until 2013.
posted by delmoi at 5:12 AM on January 23, 2012


Dodd has managed to take himself from respected senator to industry shill. What a sack of shit.

You're correct about everything except the "respected" part. His corruption was nearly legendary in Connecticut when he was in office; the Courant probably had to cut back on ink deliveries when he finally left.

He basically spent his term of office plumbing the depths of exactly what sort of nest-feathering a Senator can do without actually being censured; he was allowed to do this mostly because the Democratic party in Connecticut is spineless, but also not insignificantly because he brought back a lot of Federal pork.

Heading up the MPAA was a completely natural career step, though I admit to personally always figuring he'd end up as some sort of scumbag lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. Not sure why, but that always seemed like it would be right up his alley.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:47 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The US Attorney's Manual has more information about the circumstances under which a bona fide campaign contribution could form the basis for a bribery charge.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:06 AM on January 23, 2012


Data please? How do you "hold everything else constant"?

ANOVA


Very very very wrong.

ANOVA is what you use when you have already experimentally controlled extraneous factors. What you actually want is Multiple Regression.
posted by srboisvert at 7:13 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seems like the campaign contribution needs to be some kind of sham -- something like the hush money paid for John Edwards' mistress, rather than a legit campaign contribution.

The manual correctly points out that a large proportion of 'legitimate' campaign contributions are designed to curry favor, which is accurate, but depressing.
posted by empath at 7:13 AM on January 23, 2012


TO: contactus@mpaa.org

Dear MISTER Dodd,

Thank you for reminding me, after your blatant, disgusting, craven threat against Obama during your recent FoxNews appearance, that it's time to again donate to Obama's re-election campaign. However, you've done such an excellent job at personifying all that is corrupt and vile about our political process, that I've decided to triple my usual donation. GREAT JOB!!! Thanks again for the timely reminder, and enjoy your long but inevitable slide into obscurity.

P.S. - I'm rounding up all my friends to do the same! Maybe I'll have an old fashioned 'rent party' to drum up some serious dough.

Yours,
Spicynuts


DONE!
posted by spicynuts at 7:20 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The petition's up to 18,000!
posted by orrnyereg at 8:35 AM on January 23, 2012


Ex CRTC head worries about losing control of Canada's culture

"I'm sorry sir, but we cannot hold back the lolcats. There are just too many of them. Even Quebec is expect to fall to the French within hours, after the degree of the spanophone betrayal became clear."
posted by jeffburdges at 9:43 AM on January 23, 2012


spanophone

Nit: ITYM "hispanohablante."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:53 AM on January 23, 2012


"U.S. Attorney's Manual has more information about the circumstances under which a bona fide campaign contribution could form the basis for a bribery charge."

Here's what it says: "Where the transaction represents a bona fide campaign contribution, prosecutors must normally be prepared to prove that it involved a quid pro quo understanding and thereby constituted a "bribe" offense actionable under section 201(b)."

Exactly. Does anyone think there was no quid pro quo implicit in Dodd's statement? He's basically saying, "We didn't get what we paid for, and so we're going to stop giving to you." That's exactly reflective of a corrupt intent.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:00 AM on January 23, 2012


My god are you seriously that uninformed?

Delmoi, you know perfectly well that the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act" is a joke. What Dodd is doing is perfectly and explicitly legal under the terms of the act. The only thing it debars him from doing is meeting personally with his former Congressional colleagues and lobbying them about specific legislation. There is absolutely nothing in the act that prevents him from taking the position he currently occupies and absolutely nothing that stops him making public statements in the media on behalf of the MPAA and in favor of SOPA and PIPA.

If you want an example of how wrong he is, look at the case of Don Siegelman. He was convicted by a jury and sent to jail for accepting campaign donations in exchange for an 'official act'.

Oh FFS: here's the charge against Siegelman:
Scrushy was accused of arranging $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's campaign for a state lottery fund for universal education in exchange for a seat on a state hospital regulatory board, a non-paying position.
Now, please, tell me how this is remotely similar to saying "I won't keep paying money to your campaign if you don't support the policies I'm in favor of?" Look, here's a link to a recent example of the AFL-CIO president issuing a warning to Democrats, including Obama, "not to take them for granted" in the upcoming elections. He provides a laundry list of legislative initiatives that he wants to see the Democrats fighting for in order to win union support in the upcoming elections. Is that "bribery"? Are we going to see a Metafilter thread full of petitions for his prosecution because of this? No, of course not. Because it's not bribery, nobody thinks it's bribery and a prosecution for it as bribery is utterly risible--just as a prosecution of Dodd for what he said is utterly risible.
posted by yoink at 10:02 AM on January 23, 2012


By the way, note that the U.S. Attorneys' Manual is not really a source of law. It's a set of policy guidelines. Prosecutors have the discretion not to charge crimes, even if there was clearly a crime committed. (For example, here in the Northern District of CA, they don't charge marijuana crimes unless $X of money or marijuana is involved, where X is something like $100k.)

Sometimes the Manual offers interpretations of the law, which is the example above. But you have to look at the statute and the case law to determine whether something is a crime or not.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:03 AM on January 23, 2012


"Look, here's a link to a recent example of the AFL-CIO president issuing a warning to Democrats, including Obama, "not to take them for granted" in the upcoming elections. He provides a laundry list of legislative initiatives that he wants to see the Democrats fighting for in order to win union support in the upcoming elections. Is that "bribery"?"

If you read his statements, he doesn't say anything at all about donating money or not. It's perfectly fine to threaten to "not support" a politician. That could simply mean, "I'm not voting for you, and I'm telling our union members to vote for someone else."

Dodd explicitly talks about "writing checks". That's what makes it bribery.

I'm still waiting for you to cite to some source of law to support your position. Just declaring it to be so does not make it so.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:10 AM on January 23, 2012


Sure--but I hate the utter hypocrisy of the "I only steal all this music and these films because the media companies are so crappy!" argument.

Me, I hate the imaginariness of it.


Any argument about the rights and wrongs of piracy will eventually lead to the claim that it's unfair for media companies to charge whatever price they're asking for their products because what they make is such crap (or, the converse claim, that if they didn't make such crap they wouldn't be facing such economic challenges).

And then if one looks at what people are choosing to torrent we quickly see what utter BS that claim is. Here are the ten most torrented films of all time (well, from 2006-2011):

1 Avatar (2009)
2 The Dark Knight (2008)
3 Transformers (2007)
4 Inception (2010)
5 The Hangover (2009)
6 Star Trek (2008)
7 Kick-Ass (2010)
8 The Departed (2006)
9 The Incredible Hulk (2008)
10 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

What the people who are doing the pirating want isn't beautifully realized, intricately crafted movies with challenging, adult themes. In fact, the people who do want those films are the people who go and see them in art-house cinemas and by and large don't pirate them. Nor do they want classic old films which under a sensible copyright law would now be in the public domain but which remain in legal limbo because Disney wants to squeeze every last penny out of Sleeping Beauty. What the people who are doing the pirating want are big, dumb box office hit movies--they just don't want to pay for them.
posted by yoink at 10:13 AM on January 23, 2012


"Because it's not bribery, nobody thinks it's bribery and a prosecution for it as bribery is utterly risible--just as a prosecution of Dodd for what he said is utterly risible."

You know what is utterly risible? A political system wherein the politicians do the bidding of whomever gives them the most money.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


^^ "whoever"
posted by mikeand1 at 10:15 AM on January 23, 2012


What the people who are doing the pirating want isn't beautifully realized, intricately crafted movies with challenging, adult themes. In fact, the people who do want those films are the people who go and see them in art-house cinemas and by and large don't pirate them. Nor do they want classic old films which under a sensible copyright law would now be in the public domain but which remain in legal limbo because Disney wants to squeeze every last penny out of Sleeping Beauty. What the people who are doing the pirating want are big, dumb box office hit movies--they just don't want to pay for them.

So what you're saying, is that if the pirates win, Hollywood won't be able to afford to make big dumb blockbusters, but that small, low budget indie films will continue to be made. And this is a problem, how?
posted by empath at 10:22 AM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


mediareport: AlsoMike, you're kind of embarrassing yourself by consistently ignoring the specific nature of the proposed laws...

Probably, but isn't that what the internet is for?


Just make sure that sometime soon you read the Stanford Law Review critique, ok?
posted by mediareport at 10:25 AM on January 23, 2012


"U.S. Attorney's Manual has more information about the circumstances under which a bona fide campaign contribution could form the basis for a bribery charge."

Here's what it says: "Where the transaction represents a bona fide campaign contribution, prosecutors must normally be prepared to prove that it involved a quid pro quo understanding and thereby constituted a "bribe" offense actionable under section 201(b)."

Exactly. Does anyone think there was no quid pro quo implicit in Dodd's statement? He's basically saying, "We didn't get what we paid for, and so we're going to stop giving to you." That's exactly reflective of a corrupt intent.


Or, you know, you could quote the paragraph immediately before that which makes abundantly clear why no prosecutor would ever even consider bringing a charge against Dodd:
A bribery charge can be premised on a campaign contribution. But be careful. It is problematical that a gratuity charge under 201(c) can rest on a bona fide campaign contribution, unless the contribution was a ruse that masqueraded for a gift to the personal benefit of the public officer as was the case in Brewster, supra. This is because campaign contributions represent a necessary feature of the American political process, they normally inure to the benefit of a campaign committee rather than directly to the personal benefit of a public officer, and they are almost always given and received with a generalized expectation of currying favor with the candidate benefitting therefrom. For these reasons, recent Federal jurisprudence on the subject suggests substantial judicial reluctance to extend the Federal crime of gratuities under section 201(c) to bona fide campaign donations.
If you read his statements, he doesn't say anything at all about donating money or not.

Oh my god. Are there really no reeds so slender you won't clutch at them here? You think anyone has any doubt what kind of "support" the leader of the AFL-CIO is talking about here? The group that has spent $41 million in US elections since 1990?

O.K., let's run with this. Are you saying that if Trumka had carelessly included an overt reference to financial support in that same speech, you would support his federal prosecution under bribery charges? Yes or no?
posted by yoink at 10:25 AM on January 23, 2012


I was thinking about this earlier today. A copy of a film is supposedly worth $15 or $20. A song is worth $1 or $2. And there have been millions of them made. If you suddenly had free copying, according to Hollywood, that's basically like giving everybody in the world a billion dollars worth of free content -- they'd certainly sue you for that much if you had such a library yourself under the current law. Unless you're Oprah, the dollar value each artist would get in free books, movies and music that they'd have available to consume (by Hollywood's own accounting) in return for a new copyright regime of free copying would vastly, vastly overwhelm any actual income they could individually earn by selling their own work.
posted by empath at 10:27 AM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Or, you know, you could quote the paragraph immediately before that which makes abundantly clear why no prosecutor would ever even consider bringing a charge against Dodd: "


You don't understand the statute.

That statement deals with section 201(c) of the statute. Go read section 201(b), which I cited above.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:31 AM on January 23, 2012


You know what is utterly risible? A political system wherein the politicians do the bidding of whomever gives them the most money.

Well sure. I fully believe in campaign finance reform and I think the Citzen's United decision was a blow against genuine democracy. This is not the same thing, however, as fooling myself into pretending that Chris Dodd somehow broke some laws I have fantasized into existence.

And by the way, you might want to notice that both SOPA and PIPA are dead in the water--despite the campaign contributions from megabucks industries. Money certainly buys more influence than it should in US politics, but it's false to suggest that politicians just do whatever they're told to do by campaign donors.

In fact, in many ways I think the worst effect of the current campaign financing regime in the US is not so much in the actual direct consequences it has in terms of industry ability to write legislation to their liking--that would happen to a pretty similar extent even under a purely publicly funded regime (just look at nations that do publicly fund their elections). Politicians have reasons to kowtow to powerful industries regardless of their campaign warchests. I think the worst effect is in the loss of trust. It's the suspicions of the electorate that the legislation is being bought and paid for that really erodes faith in the political system and in fair government.
posted by yoink at 10:33 AM on January 23, 2012


"Are you saying that if Trumka had carelessly included an overt reference to financial support in that same speech, you would support his federal prosecution under bribery charges? Yes or no?"


A "reference to financial support" may or may not constitute evidence of bribery. You'd have to be more specific. What is the wording of the hypothetical statement you're positing?
posted by mikeand1 at 10:35 AM on January 23, 2012


"This is not the same thing, however, as fooling myself into pretending that Chris Dodd somehow broke some laws I have fantasized into existence."


I'm not fantasizing anything into existence. Again, look at 18 U.S.C. 201(b). The explicit language of the statute -- as well as the case law interpreting it -- makes Dodd's behavior illegal.

"And by the way, you might want to notice that both SOPA and PIPA are dead in the water--despite the campaign contributions from megabucks industries."

So what? From a practical standpoint, it only happened because of a tremendous outpouring of opposition -- much of which came from monetarily powerful interests themselves.

And from a legal standpoint, it's also irrelevant. Section 201(b) makes illegal the mere attempt at bribery. So long as the donor "corruptly" gives money to a politicians with the intent to influence an official act -- where "corruptly" means the donor expects some benefit, e.g. a quid pro quo -- then it's illegal bribery. It doesn't even matter if the politician is unaware of the bribe.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:42 AM on January 23, 2012


What the people who are doing the pirating want isn't beautifully realized, intricately crafted movies with challenging, adult themes. In fact, the people who do want those films are the people who go and see them in art-house cinemas and by and large don't pirate them.

People pirate movies in the same proportion they view them legitimately. If anything, I'll bet independent and foreign films are proportionately more pirated since piracy is very often the only way to see such films if you can't get into a sold-out festival. Sure, you could wait the two years it often takes for such a movie to parlay a festival screening into a distribution deal (usually "select theatres" in "select cities" -- don't live in those five cities? missed it during that one week it was showing because it wasn't promoted at all? tough.) and and finally come out on a $40 DVD (plus $10 shipping because it's not available in any local stores) which is region-coded for Europe and, it turns out, doesn't have English subtitles. Or you could download a rip of the festival screener and some fan-made subtitles, see that the movie is awesome, and tell all your friends about it--several of whom might love it enough to buy that DVD when it comes out.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:46 AM on January 23, 2012


A "reference to financial support" may or may not constitute evidence of bribery. You'd have to be more specific. What is the wording of the hypothetical statement you're positing?

Well, I guess that answers my question. Basically you think it's entirely o.k. for Trumka to make it abundantly clear that he'll cut his financial support of Obama if he doesn't see progress on the legislation he wants, and you think it's SHOCKING and OUTRAGEOUS for Dodd to say exactly the same thing--but you'll endlessly parse the minute differences in the wordings of the two statements to justify your radically incompatible positions.
posted by yoink at 10:51 AM on January 23, 2012


I'm not fantasizing anything into existence. Again, look at 18 U.S.C. 201(b). The explicit language of the statute -- as well as the case law interpreting it -- makes Dodd's behavior illegal.

What utter nonsense. Look, variations on what Dodd said are said practically every month of every year by one or another major political moneybag holder who has had his nose put out of joint by some legislative action or other. It took me about 10 seconds of searching to find the AFL-CIO boss saying exactly the same thing, for example. If this is so "plainly" illegal then find me a single comparable instance of someone being prosecuted for it.

And no, as I've pointed out, Siegelman is not remotely similar. There was a personal quid-pro-quo involved there that was not simply "getting the legislation I support passed."
posted by yoink at 10:56 AM on January 23, 2012


People pirate movies in the same proportion they view them legitimately.

I doubt that very much. Different audiences for different media have very different relationships to piracy. One of the reasons for the relative rise of country music in recent years--in terms of industry clout--that fans of country music are much willing to buy the music they enjoy than fans of other genres. Similarly, anything with an audience that skews older (e.g., adult art films) will, by definition, also have an audience who skew out of the pirating demographic.

The hardcore piraters are white, middle-and-upper class teens and college-age students (of course there are exceptions, but as a demographic generalization this holds true). Thus overwhelmingly the things that are getting pirated are things that appeal to that audience.
posted by yoink at 11:02 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The hardcore piraters are white, middle-and-upper class teens and college-age students (of course there are exceptions, but as a demographic generalization this holds true). Thus overwhelmingly the things that are getting pirated are things that appeal to that audience.

You have just described 80% of film festival attendees.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:05 AM on January 23, 2012


Or 90% of Reddit.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on January 23, 2012


"Basically you think it's entirely o.k. for Trumka to make it abundantly clear that he'll cut his financial support of Obama if he doesn't see progress on the legislation he wants, and you think it's SHOCKING and OUTRAGEOUS for Dodd to say exactly the same thing--but you'll endlessly parse the minute differences in the wordings of the two statements to justify your radically incompatible positions."

You obviously aren't a lawyer. Legal cases routinely depend on "parsing the minute differences in the wording of a statement."

Just because a line is thin does not mean there is no line at all.

Look, I practice federal criminal law for a living. I know what the fuck I'm talking about.
posted by mikeand1 at 11:20 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only thing this thread is missing is popcorn. With lotsa BUTTA.
posted by humannaire at 11:33 AM on January 23, 2012


The hardcore piraters are white, middle-and-upper class teens and college-age students (of course there are exceptions, but as a demographic generalization this holds true). Thus overwhelmingly the things that are getting pirated are things that appeal to that audience.

Except outside the US. Which, for the record, makes up most of the world.
posted by humannaire at 11:34 AM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]



Look, I practice federal criminal law for a living. I know what the fuck I'm talking about.


Well, they say practice makes perfect!

(That's a joke...I got no dog in this fight). Carry on.
posted by spicynuts at 1:06 PM on January 23, 2012


delmoi: Finally, and most ironically, your definition is so broad that it includes Hollywood. After all, what do they do other then generate data and send it off, either on blue-ray or on the tubes from Hulu or commedycentral.com.

But that's exactly the point. Content aggregation and distribution is where the money is, not content creation. That's why Hollywood was vertically integrated in the early days of the studio system, owning the actual theaters, and why today the content creators are owned by the distributors. The closer you are to the consumer in the value chain, the more leverage you have. To avoid getting squeezed by bigger, more powerful entities further up the value stream, Hollywood consolidates distribution and content creation, and also uses copyright and licensing to keep in control as content gets passed through the various layers to the consumer. So yeah, Hollywood does do distribution today. The threat is from the telecom industry that controls digital distribution and want to reduce licensing costs, which they do by encouraging consumers to engage with huge amounts of free, low quality content.

That's why were seeing people in here saying that Hollywood makes crap -- meaning any single piece of content from anywhere is crap, what matters is the volume, the endless stream of data. People who love content talk about how they love Star Wars, or Twilight, or Harry Potter, or whatever -- ultimately they love some discrete chunk of bytes. But people on the internet talk about loving Google, or Facebook, or Twitter, or MetaFilter, or just The Internet. Not the creator or the creation, but the means of aggregation and distribution that provides this endlessly varied stream of data.

You celebrate the fact that YouTube gives people a platform for their work, but it actually doesn't because when we see something creative or funny or sad or beautiful, we say "Wow, I love the Internet." Maybe there are benefits to the end of authorship, everything becoming a remix and the romantic idea of the lone genius going away. My problem is that what has replaced it is a corporation, and that creative labor is anonymized and turned into a side effect of technology. The idea that art elevates us and dignifies us is lost, and this idea is the only reason that creativity is considered valuable to begin with. I don't fault technology for that -- the fault lies with internet ideologists and their capitalist paymasters who promote a certain vision of technology that suits their bottom line.

So I deny that user-generated content offers some kind of self-actualization that wasn't available before. We were telling stories, writing music and painting in our basements before the internet came along. The internet democratizes creativity? Bullshit. What the internet "democratizes" is, paradoxically, the chance to become a celebrity, the worst Hollywood invention. We accept anonymization for that reason. Maybe you disagree and think that creation on the internet is worth something, but this is exactly how capitalism reproduces itself - it promotes a kind of meaningfulness and then sells it to us, transforming threats to the system into threats to the self of the middle class, who can then be mobilized in its defense. The first step against capitalism is to overthrow the self.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:07 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Content aggregation and distribution is where the money is ..."

Wrong. We can replace exactly these services with unpaid wiki gnomes, fan advocacy, etc. In fact, that's the real threat the content industry fears : Creators won't need them once distribution and publicity costs sink low enough. Witness Inner Room and Ink.

Amusingly Chris Dodd recently publicly lied that "The entire film industry of Spain, Egypt and Sweden are gone.". These countries are actually doing rather well, largely because the MPAA cannot exclude their films from the English speaking nearly as easily anymore.

"creative labor is anonymized"

Wrong again. We correct vastly more plagiarism now with the internet, google, etc., especially the trivial sorts. Did you notice that ebaum's world never gets linked here nor many other sites? We avoid them because they're plagiarists.

In truth, creative labor is anonymized today by those who control the distribution channel because the organization assigns credit to subsidiaries they not the creators own. You witness this frequently with academic publishers who everybody hates because they contribution nothing except they own the title. How many band breakups trace to contract disputes?
posted by jeffburdges at 1:57 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can not agree with your assessment of the Internet, of telecom, of the ability of the Internet to increase authorship, of the ability of author's to profit directly from ownership of the content they create, and of basically all the opportunity that is right in front of us now. I can't even imagine what type of experiences could result in someone forming those types of opinions.

The Internet makes it possible for anyone to be their own distributor, directly putting the money in their hands. Telecom's only role in this is a dumb pipe, they should not ever know what's going over the pipe. They should never charge based on what type of bits are going over their pipes. They should be a commodity focused on increasing speed, lowering cost, and improving customer service for moving bits, whether those bits are voice phone calls, emails, or purchased movies. They are the FedEx of distribution. If the telecoms were to know what was going over their pipe and be able to control it, then they become the distributors, which I think we all agree an even worse situation than the terrible distribution system that has been in place since the last century.

The internet is about the destruction of the distribution middle-man and the barriers that it puts in front of content creators. These middle-men have perverted the system and screwed over content creators until now, and the Internet is how the middle-men lose their power and the content creators gain power. SOPA and PIPA are some of their last gasps to keep skimming off of the creative class's efforts.

That said, in this future, the content creator doesn't have to be a distributor if they prefer not to; an author could still farm that out to someone who specializes in distribution. But a small exploitive cabal will no longer be able to control it with a stranglehold. That is the potential of the Internet, unless the current middle-men manage to legislate this democratization.
posted by Llama-Lime at 2:02 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


er, "manage to legislate away this democratization."
posted by Llama-Lime at 2:04 PM on January 23, 2012


Alsomike, I disagree with every sentence of your last comment.

Just look at the community around Minecraft, for example. One guy wrote a game based on another game, and earned $50 million and became an internet celebrity almost over night. He included almost no DRM and has encouraged people publicly to pirate his game if they didn't have the money for it. There's a whole ecosystem of programmers developing mods for it, hosting servers for it, and people on youtube making videos of it, all of them earning money from advertising and donations, and a lot of them with their own fanatical followings, and none of them following a traditional distribution model, and most of them not being primarily motivated by profit, but by a drive to be creative and the instant feedback they get from people who see their material.

People create because they love creating. And maybe we'll have few less professionals working on art full time, and a lot more amateurs, but I don't think, on balance, that that is a bad trade.
posted by empath at 2:12 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


What the people who are doing the pirating want are big, dumb box office hit movies--they just don't want to pay for them. - I haven't looked it up for this most recent list, but I did go through a similar list to see what was available for legal streaming (Netflix, etc), and a substantial proportion just weren't available. So if you want to see it Right. Now. then piracy is your go-to option.
posted by epersonae at 2:39 PM on January 23, 2012


The behind-the-scenes campaign to Bring SOPA to Canada and Ireland
posted by jeffburdges at 3:37 PM on January 23, 2012


The internet is about the destruction of the distribution middle-man and the barriers that it puts in front of content creators.

And yet somehow the middlemen of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Metafilter become the central, adored figures in this heroic narrative of our supposed liberation. You say that telecom is just a dumb pipe, but internet sites are just as dumb. This page would be empty without our participation, yet each contribution is ephemeral, one of a million keeping the mighty Metafilter afloat. We're like slaves on a galley, each rower as disposable as the next, but through the magic of the algorithm, our efforts are summed together to generate value.

Does this value come back to us? No, we get "self-actualization," a chance to work even when we're not working to generate profit back to capital. I think we cling to this fantasy of empowerment because to renounce it would be to confront the horror of our true condition of subjugation under capitalism. We know we have no political agency, our world is shaped by forces that don't have our interests in mind and it's impossible to even imagine a different world where that would be possible. We're offered "revolution" for a price and we seize on it, as if we know that word once meant something and did something, but can't remember what it was.
posted by AlsoMike at 3:43 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't looked it up for this most recent list, but I did go through a similar list to see what was available for legal streaming (Netflix, etc), and a substantial proportion just weren't available. So if you want to see it Right. Now. then piracy is your go-to option.

Disregarding the probability that you can buy whatever mainstream movie you'd like to see from amazon, itunes, etc., this argument is essentially that if it is inconvenient to pay for it then you deserve it for free. While this is obviously the current consensus it doesn't make it ok.

Earlier there was discussion regarding whether art films or dumb pop films are more frequently pirated - I would propose that the ratio (piraters/legal buyers) be used to define the piracy index of a film, assuming that legal buyers>1000.

In addition, alsomike keep up the fight. People seem intent on ignoring the damage being done to the creative industry (not just the creators but also all of the people who support them, managers, publicists, even (shudder) lawyers). Citing minecraft, for example, in order to demonstrate that online distribution of creative work is a viable business model is similar to saying that lottery tickets are worthwhile because you see people win the lottery every day.
posted by ianhattwick at 3:43 PM on January 23, 2012


I think we cling to this fantasy of empowerment because to renounce it would be to confront the horror of our true condition of subjugation under capitalism.

Oh that's right, you're that guy.

Keep on keeping on, comrade.
posted by empath at 4:05 PM on January 23, 2012


Citing minecraft, for example, in order to demonstrate that online distribution of creative work is a viable business model is similar to saying that lottery tickets are worthwhile because you see people win the lottery every day.

I would cite Steam and the indie bundles if I wanted to prove a point about the economic viability of online distribution.
posted by empath at 4:06 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really hesitant about even justifying your comment with a reply, AlsoMike, but I've one comment that isn't simply laughing.

Facebook, Twitter, Google and Metafilter are closer to telcoms than middlemen, they impose some moderation, but only lightly so. And we're seriously rebellious whenever their moderation produces even a whiff of malfeasance.

In particular, Google has pushed harder against repression all over the world than any similarly sized company. Yet, we cheer lead efforts that might reduce their power through a p2p network because maybe Google will turn evil one day and we'll need that back up search alternative.

We certainly aren't slaves here, not even close. We're freer than any generation that came before us, even including tribesmen living in groups of 100 if you get your "from" and "to" freedoms straight. And consumers not being "slaves" is precisely what scares the content industry so much.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:22 PM on January 23, 2012


Keep on keeping on, comrade.

Thanks bro!
posted by AlsoMike at 4:45 PM on January 23, 2012


24388 signatures. Hot damn.
posted by Slinga at 5:33 PM on January 23, 2012


25,203 now. It's over the threshold.
posted by Potsy at 7:16 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yay!!!
posted by Ahab at 8:18 PM on January 23, 2012


I don't really agree with AlsoMikes defense of hollywood as signifying a defense of labor but this comment is quiet good, even if some mefi regulars want to pile on the snark, his comment is actually one worth reflecting upon.

For all the bullshitting and snobbery it is undeniable that Hollywood creates the best (well, most popular) content, the list of top ten grossing films is quiet salient -- everyone here knows all those films, even if they haven't seen the film in particular they could have a conversation about it(have probably snarked on it), and have likely seen and read plenty of cultural references about it. Of course, video games now out perform films, but the industry isn't all that different from Hollywood -- a few gigantic blockbusters and bunch of little winners with occasional "big" winners like minecraft (ala blair witch project), but even 50 mil is pennies to the dollar with MWS selling over 1 billion in 16 days.

It is funny to hear people go on about the internet being the world shattering end of middle men, of a utopia where content creators can latch onto their fan directly and create a more prosperous, more creative today -- it is a seductive idea, and sounds like it ought to be true, but it isn't true, it is little more than the continued screed pushed forward by evangelists like Friedman and his creative class, and the future of the knowledge workers, and all that other bullshit. There's been threads and articles here before on how the music industry or the film industry, of really any industry, supports the failing artist -- the singer who sucks -- the movie no one watches -- the whatever noone cares about, but the internet doesn't support failures, it ignores them. That distorts the market place in a way people don't understand, and leads (I suspect) to less professionalism.

Someone above said they rather have more amateurs and fewer professionals, well, if i were one of those amateurs I might agree (especially if I had no soul) but it is a sad comment on the effects modern democratic/technocratic society has done to ideals of taste and beauty because A Sistine Chapel is worth a lot of amateurs to me (perhaps more than it should if I like to to think of myself as a humanist). Shakespeare, for all his genius, was a product of his times when plays were the ultimate mass entertainment supported and (at times) protected by powerful, and wealthy elites. Look, minecraft is cool, I've spent time exploring it's treasures, but the Sistine Chapel is much cooler, has been and will be seen and admired by more people, and will be around much longer -- in 30 years minecraft servers will be forgotten chambers a few digital spelunkers will find and take pictures of much like urban explorers do today in closed of ny subway tunnels or forgotten paris catacombs.

I don't think anyone really understands the incredible transformation happening to content, and by extension "content creators", I mean content is by definition the very fruits of imagination which is at the core of any recognizable definition of what is it to be human or conscious. It has been said a million times but let me say it again, Google, Facebook, Metafilter, are advertisers, they make money on advertisements. And the sad (or uplifting) truism is you get what you pay for: the same goes for creation, the more that goes into it the more(generally) which comes out of it. If you believe more people are going to make more money generating content because of the internet... you really just haven't been paying attention, but that's alright, it's a great dream, it's a beautiful thought, and it seems almost just, so much so that it is easy to think that it should be true.
posted by Shit Parade at 9:35 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess it would be pointless to point out that Michelangelo and Shakespeare were both working in regimes in which copyright didn't exist, and they were funded entirely by wealthy patrons, which is one possible model for funding art after the collapse of the current dying regime. Although it's more likely to be a crowdsourced patronage model, rather than a church or corporation funded model.
posted by empath at 9:55 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Sorry, Michelangelo was funded by Patrons, Shakespeare earned a living from commissions and live performance, which again, is another model that's been proposed).
posted by empath at 9:57 PM on January 23, 2012


Look, minecraft is cool, I've spent time exploring it's treasures, but the Sistine Chapel is much cooler, has been and will be seen and admired by more people, and will be around much longer -- in 30 years minecraft servers will be forgotten chambers a few digital spelunkers will find and take pictures of much like urban explorers do today in closed of ny subway tunnels or forgotten paris catacombs.

In 30 years, something like minecraft, but several thousand times more advanced will still exist, and there will be servers running all over the world. And people won't just be playing it, they'll be making movies with it. Even as simple as minecraft is now, people are already making movies with it.

Also, minecraft was just an example off the top of my head -- I like videogames and they're way ahead of the curve on digital distribution because of steam, so I tend to offer video game examples.

But if you want other examples, look at Louis CK's last special. Look at any of the thousands of indie bands giving away their songs on blogs, posting their videos on youtube for free or ad supported, and selling music on bandcamp.

The big corporate content model is over. It's dying. And rightfully so. The best thing we can do for 'content' is to stop them from strangling the internet on their way out.
posted by empath at 10:03 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


This page would be empty without our participation, yet each contribution is ephemeral, one of a million keeping the mighty Metafilter afloat. We're like slaves on a galley, each rower as disposable as the next, but through the magic of the algorithm, our efforts are summed together to generate value.

So, Metafilter should go away?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:40 PM on January 23, 2012


I think AlsoMike's reflexive defense of SOPA/PIPA gave way to a very interesting treatise on the impending death of authorship, a trend which is much remarked upon in media studies. Of course, authorship itself is a relatively recent Enlightenment creation, and as such its impermanence isn't all too remarkable... but AlsoMike, if you're still with us, a couple of reading recommendations from a media studies nerd, if you care to go down this particular rabbit hole:

Adrian Johns' Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates is pretty much a must read if you want to historically ground your thoughts on this subject; this guy wrote the book on The Book (The Nature of the Book) and went on to become an academic critic of contemporary intellectual property law based on his extensive knowledge of the historical roots of the notion of authorship. I also read Tim Wu's The Master Switch based on a mefi recommendation and it is both thorough and entertaining in its depiction of the history of American media companies. If you're feeling a little more esoteric (warning: pomo), Brian Rotman's "Becoming Beside Ourselves" critically examines the post-self anxiety emerging from the intensification of digital media.
posted by mek at 1:13 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was Michelangelo Forced to Paint the Sistine Chapel?
"Michelangelo complained bitterly about having to work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, a job he was basically forced to accept."

There are impressive human achievements like the Great Pyramids that effectively required slave labor, oppression, extreme risks, etc., Shit Parade. Avatar doesn't benefit the human condition though, while preventing censorship does, reducing transaction costs does, eliminating middlemen does, etc.

We needed middlemen tyrants like the pharaohs throughout much of human historically because collecting enough leisure time to advance the arts and sciences required them. Yet, we have now advanced so far that conspicuous consumption has grown commonplace, we invent busy work wholesale, traditional food production gets obliterated by subsidized production abroad, etc. We should therefore abandon rent seeking parasites like publicists, lawyers, etc. to find ourselves a more egalitarian division of the spoils of our shared cultural inheritance.

posted by jeffburdges at 8:47 AM on January 24, 2012


Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales: MPAA chairman Christopher Dodd should be fired
posted by Artw at 3:47 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sen. Ron Wyden: PIPA/SOPA Is a Congressional Wake-Up Call
posted by Artw at 9:14 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Delmoi, you know perfectly well that the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act" is a joke. What Dodd is doing is perfectly and explicitly legal under the terms of the act.
So now we've gone from "There is no such law" to "ok, there's a law but that law is a joke!" Either way, you were still wrong in saying "There is no such law".
No, of course not. Because it's not bribery, nobody thinks it's bribery and a prosecution for it as bribery is utterly risible--just as a prosecution of Dodd for what he said is utterly risible.
I don't know why you think I said otherwise. Given that you apparently didn't even know about this law it's likely that you read my comment wrong to begin with. What I said was that I thought there was a good chance that Dodd had illegally lobbied, and is lying about not having done it. If that's true, it would probably be a violation. (even more hilarious is you arguing with an actual federal lawyer about whether or not statements fall under various laws, and arguing that he doesn't know what he's talking about)

Also, given your interpretation of the law, the prosecution of Seigleman shouldn't have been legal, since it was just an ordinary campaign contribution. And lots of people think that it shouldn't have happened. The point was only that juries would be willing to convict even if what happened was ordinary politics. Wanting a specific person appointed to a (non paying) position isn't that different then wanting a law passed.

In any event the only thing "utterly risible" here is your spouting off without knowing anything, and then when that's pointed out coming back and claiming everyone knows the stuff you didn't know is no big deal anyway. It's ridiculous.
. My problem is that what has replaced it is a corporation, and that creative labor is anonymized and turned into a side effect of technology. The idea that art elevates us and dignifies us is lost
Oh yeah, paying record company execs and movie studio lawyers is so much more dignified then getting art directly from the people who create it.
And yet somehow the middlemen of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Metafilter become the central, adored figures in this heroic narrative of our supposed liberation. You say that telecom is just a dumb pipe, but internet sites are just as dumb. This page would be empty without our participation, yet each contribution is ephemeral, one of a million keeping the mighty Metafilter afloat. We're like slaves on a galley, each rower as disposable as the next, but through the magic of the algorithm, our efforts are summed together to generate value.
Are you fucking kidding? The prior world was one where we simply couldn't even have this discussion. Only a few powerful people could pick and choose among people who wanted to express their ideas publicly, and then be paid lavishly for doing so. It's utterly and completely absurd to say that somehow we are worse off being able to actually express ourselves rather then having a handful of celebrities do so and make massive amounts of money, while everyone else simply not be able to speak or have their creative works seen by anyone else.

Anyway -- like I said it's an interesting perspective. But I think you're idealizing the past quite a bit. It seems like you think the end result of creative work should be fame for the creator, people should know who they are. Which is nice, but in the past it wasn't at all true that artists became well known on average. Only a very few did. I think you're confusing what's good for the most notable individuals with what's good for the median individual. It's true that the internet ignores bad art, but so did the content industry in the past, for the most part. Or worse: they would select bad art and make it famous, while lots of artists who were probably better were ignored, and toiled in obscurity.

And anyway, yes it's true that the people who "make money" on user-generated content are the aggregators like youtube, reddit, metafilter (Although YT does pay it's most popular 'tubers, provided they're not distributing copyrighted material) but that's beside the point: people want the freedom to express themselves, even if they don't get paid. You seem to be saying they should not have that freedom, and instead it should go to the hollywood industry because that industry, like, makes a handful of people more famous by limiting the number of people who can express themselves. That... seems terrible to me.
posted by delmoi at 9:16 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


generally the things you get can get for free aren't very good, not always, but generally.
posted by Shit Parade at 10:29 PM on January 25, 2012


Do you mean sex? Or Linux? Or wikipedia? Or the distribution network offered by thepiratebay.org? (Not the content, the bittorrent infrastructure)

As a rule, youtube, lolcats, etc. offer more entertainment value than television because they're equally lowest common denominator, but youtube isn't so constrained to its lcd. And youtube has an infinitely better selection process, namely sites like reddit and metafilter.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:18 AM on January 26, 2012


Sex is free only if your time is worthless.
posted by griphus at 6:55 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Google and Bing accused of directing users to illegal copies of music
posted by Artw at 9:51 AM on January 26, 2012


Google and Bing accused of directing users to illegal copies of music

Heavens to betsy! *Clutches Perls*
posted by delmoi at 10:12 PM on January 26, 2012


There are real live pirate party candidates in governments and the poles are expecting to have 100s of thousands participate in a protest of ACTA.

ACTA protests erupt in Poland
posted by homunculus at 9:03 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sex is free only if your time is worthless.

Then life-prolonging drugs and time-machines are free if your time is valuable enough.
posted by nobody at 12:40 PM on January 27, 2012


Everything AlsoMike has said in this thread feels like carefully-crafted madness. Whether you think "progressives" (this thread is literally the first time I've heard the word used in connection with SOPA, which seemed to have as many D supporters as R) have been co-opted by telecom companies or not, the fact is that SOPA, as written, would make any website that allows random people posting outside links vulnerable to litigation. That directly affects all wiki sites, and it directly affects Metafilter. Ask mathowie!

And why would a telecom company even CARE about web links and DNS blocking? Aren't they the guys who would be deliriously happy if all that bandwidth-heavy bittorrent traffic went away?

Wikipedia is pretty apolitical, but they took a stance on this. That's probably the greatest factor in SOPA's downfall, and it has nothing to do with political leanings. AM seems like he's smokescreening to these admittedly-cynical ears.
posted by JHarris at 5:52 PM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


An Infographic Showing Just How Frequently Hollywood Has Cried Wolf About 'Piracy'
posted by homunculus at 9:36 AM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Official White House Response to Investigate Chris Dodd and the MPAA for bribery after he publicly admited to bribing politicans to pass legislation.
Why We Can't Comment

Thank you for signing this petition. We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on Whitehouse.gov. However, consistent with the We the People Terms of Participation and our responses to similar petitions in the past, the White House declines to comment on this petition because it requests a specific law enforcement action.
posted by Gordafarin at 6:46 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


RIAA wants to scrap anti-piracy OPEN Act
posted by jeffburdges at 7:23 AM on February 4, 2012


Harry Reid Wants a Bigger, Badder Version of SOPA/PIPA
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


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