The Knights Who Say SOPA

At last count, the EFF has over 40 attorneys on staff* and lord only knows how many communications minions.  So, if this organization is going to maintain its loose relationship with reality, they might at least take a meeting and invent some fresh exaggerations.  But no. SOPA is just too provocative a buzzword to let go. And as part of their unrelenting strategy to keep trying to scare the hell out of people, the EFF has invoked SOPA so many times, I’ve personally run out of colorful metaphors by which to mock them for it and have had to resort to Monty Python references.

For instance, in this recent missive, EFFer Mitch Stoltz uses the acronym SOPA seven times in the first four paragraphs, which might lead the reader to think that the subject of the article has something to do with SOPA.  Of course, it has nothing to do with SOPA.  Heck, SOPA didn’t even have anything to do with SOPA, but let’s not worry about that right now.

What the knights at the EFF are saying SOPA about at the moment is the fact that as part of the major motion picture studios’ litigation against the pirate network MovieTube, they are seeking injunctive relief that would include disabling domains registered to the network and the discontinuation of services to MovieTube sites by third-party providers.  Granting such an injunction, according to the EFF, is reason to say SOPA, meaning that such a ruling by the court would inevitably lead to crippling the Internet as we know it.  Sound familiar?

But true to form for the EFF, Stoltz neither acknowledges that MovieTube is doing any tangible harm nor the fact that the relief being sought by the studios is far from unprecedented legal territory.  It is well-settled law that injunctions against a named party, which is directly harming a plaintiff, can also bind third parties that may be contributing to, or facilitating, ongoing harm.  And although this principle is nothing new in legal terms, it is a chronic sticking point for Internet companies because they are frequently facilitating harm, whether they mean to or not.  But, in another case involving injunctive relief, the British Columbia  Supreme Court demonstrated in the Equustek case that Google may be ordered to de-index on a global basis all sites (and not just pages) belonging to a business that was engaged in counterfeiting the plaintiff’s products and using its websites to hijack Equustek’s likely customers.  And still the Internet hums along.

Of course, Silicon Valley doesn’t like this sort of thing, but not because of anything to do with your freedoms so much as with their bottom line. News flash:  industries don’t like regulation.  And so, the Web industry likes to portray every prospect of this type of legal action — especially when it involves the motion picture industry — as the beginning of the end.  They say SOPA, and hope the peasants cringe. (And make no mistake, to the wealthy .01 percent of that industry, we are all peasants.) Thus, the EFF invests tremendous energy in this strategy, breathlessly warning us about the inevitable doom that will surely follow if, heaven-forbid, the rule of law might apply to trade across our precious tubes.

Stoltz’s post implies a lack of due process and a dangerous slippery slope, despite the fact that injunctions are court ordered on a case-by-case basis.  And just because an entity is granted this type of relief in one case does not mean it will then have free reign to seek random, baseless injunctions at will. (Or is the real problem that the Internet companies are acutely aware of how much global traffic is driven by piracy, that they really don’t want to go there; and they can always rely on millions of people who like free media to help evangelize their erroneous legal claims?)  If so, they should at least call it what it is and lay off the pretensions to be upholding some principle for the greater good.  Yet,  Stoltz writes:

“If the court signs this proposed order, the MPAA companies will have the power to force practically every Internet company within the reach of U.S. law to help them disappear the MovieTube websites. Regardless of whether those sites are engaged in copyright infringement or not, this is a scary amount of power to confer on the movie studios. And it looks even worse at scale: if orders like this become the norm, Internet companies large and small will have to build infrastructure resembling the Great Firewall of China in order to comply.”

Of course that makes perfect sense. Because what could filmed-entertainment companies want more than a completely dysfunctional Internet and a “wall” of censorship? Filmmakers love censorship! And they certainly don’t want their products to be seen by the paying public via the growing number of legal streaming services that are entirely dependent upon a well-functioning Internet. Naturally, the MPAA is looking for a legal wooden shoe that it can wield to the ultimate sabotage of these distribution portals for studio products.  And in a related story, the Teamsters are going to lobby to defund highway maintenance.

But to put it less sarcastically, if Internet companies truly cannot help to foster a web ecosystem that honors certain rights, including intellectual property rights, without “building a Great Firewall of China,” then maybe they just suck at what they do.  Because, in the long run, we don’t need an Internet that remains the proverbial Wild West, we need one that matures into a vital component of a functioning civilization.

Anyway, if you want a proper (and admittedly calmer) legal analysis of the relief being sought by the studios in this case, I recommend this post by Terry Hart because he actually knows, y’know, legal stuff. I’m mostly being a smart-ass because this kind of fear-mongering is at least as offensive as it is repetitive.  Above all, I resent the tone the EFF consistently takes with regard to piracy — as though it’s some adolescent prank that doesn’t hurt anybody. I and others have cited volumes of data that proves piracy is a big, black-market business that causes tangible and multi-faceted harm to real people.  I will also add that during the anti-SOPA campaign, organizations like EFF, as well as the Googles of the world, implied in their populist messaging that they cared about ending piracy, but the bills SOPA and PIPA were too flawed.  Where in the last four years, have we seen any substantive indication that anyone speaking for the Internet was remotely sincere when they made those statements?

So, if as a general rule, any of EFF’s writers framed these articles by stipulating that a site like MovieTube is — and damn-well should be — illegal and deserves to be shut down, then by all means they should play the role of the public advocate they claim to be.  Instead, the organization’s thesaurus appears to favor repeating SOPA as often as possible and using calculated, provocative language, like the way Stoltz uses the word disappear as a verb to imply that MovieTube is akin to a political dissident being silenced by an authoritarian government. (If nothing else, this kind of rhetoric is just irresponsible in a world with real dissidents and real tyrants.)  For all the attorneys on staff at the EFF, they rarely seem to produce an even-toned, nuanced analysis for public consumption regarding cases of this nature.  I guess it’s just easier to be The Knights Who Say SOPA.  Maybe if somebody brings them a nice shrubbery, they’ll knock it off.


*To be fair, and at last count, the EFF had what I counted as over 40 attorneys spread among staff, board, special counsel, and advisors, which is not exactly the same as 40 staff attorneys.  But in the spirit of this post, suffice to say, they have a buttload of lawyers to keep coming up with the same talking point over and over.

NOTE:  Within an hour or so of TorrentFreak citing this article, I received comments from anonymous trolls with handles including Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden calling me “faggot.”  I think the EFF should be proud to have such erudite supporters.  I don’t know what I was thinking by criticizing their rhetoric, which has clearly elevated the debate.

© 2015 – 2017, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

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70 comments

  • The EFF hasn’t found an infringer (patent or copyright) yet who is guilty of stealing proprietary work – apparently they are like the Innocence Project for IP offenders, representing the only non-guilty parties in the cellblock. Of course if they were to reveal who their private donors were, I suspect the “public” flavor of their altruism would take a taste for the worse.

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  • In order for piracy to be a business, doesn’t somebody need to be making money off it? I’m not convinced that this is happening in the vast majority of cases.

    • Piracy is a multi-million-dollar a year business. If you’re not convinced, only you know what data you’re looking at or choosing to believe. This report is just one http://illusionofmore.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/latest-DigitalCitizensAlliance5.pdf

      At the very least, you should recognize that running a pirate site has costs, and nobody incurs those costs without a profit motive. So, it is just counter-intuitive to assume piracy is not an enterprise.

      • “There is nothing anti-technology about either my position or that of my many colleagues who support copyright”

        Oh, there absolutely is. You’re just a new iteration of the old “VCR is the boston strangler” idiocy.

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  • Copyright steals from us all and must be abolished. End of story. You can’t have freedom of speech and copyright. It’s impossible. This is to do with basic math and physics. No amount of special pleading will change the laws of information theory. Get it through your thick skulls. What you backward anti-internet fools want is impossible. You’re not fighting pirates, you’re not fighting for hearts and minds of people. You’re fighting math. And math always wins.

    • Huh. Let’s see, first we had the intellectual property clause, and then the first amendment, and then the two principles coexisted and even thrived for more than two centuries. But I guess that equation stops adding up now that we have Twitter and YouTube? Pity. Always thought the end of civilization would be more interesting than that.

      • Most developments in information theory happened in the 20th century actually. By Shannon, Turing and the like. We actually do understand much better than previous centuries. You guys are living in the past, seriously. You seem to think us techies are holding something back. We’re not. We work with information and computing devices every day. Copyright monopoly or Liberty. That’s the choice society phases, and I’ll fight to the death for Liberty.

      • There is nothing anti-technology about either my position or that of my many colleagues who support copyright. And the idea that copyright itself is inconsistent either with technology or liberty is beyond ignorant. But, think what you like. It’s not even an interesting debate because it’s predicated on too many fallacies.

    • Fine. Then Google should stop taking ads and release all their algorithms into the public domain.

      • Why? You’re misunderstanding something. If I have “1234567” written on a piece of paper, and you have “1234567” written on a piece of paper, they are different things! 1234567 is just a number. You’re acting like you think it’s a thing that is valid to own. It isn’t. You can own your copy and I can own my copy. I am under no obligation to give you a copy if I don’t want to. Google’s algorithms are effectively just numbers too (see: Goedel numbering). So are pictures, songs, programs etc on the internet via your computer (which works entirely by copying at a fundamental level, ultimately making more copies onto photons that hit your eyes) You have a simple, easy way to avoid anyone copying some information – don’t release it.

        Basically, the copyright monopoly supporting idiots haven’t grasped the fundamental lessons of 20th century information theory.

      • That’s a real eye-opener because I’ve never encountered that proposal before — that creative media is just data. Okay. That’s fine. Just don’t enjoy any music, film, TV, etc. because then you’re a hypocrite. You’re only looking at the final product, not the process that produces it. But seriously, I’ve had this argument too many times, and I don’t care to have it with every individual who thinks like you do. If nothing else, your future is boring as hell.

    • Copyright “steals” from no one and is, as Mr. Newhoff stated, entirely consistent with the principles laid out in the U. S. Constitution. Of course, if you studied the Federalist Papers and constitutional law this would be readily apparent and you would likely be reluctant to make such outlandish statements.

      • Human law doesn’t matter here. Physics and Maths matters. Human law could assert Pi is 3. You can accept how reality works, or you can try to shoot the messenger. What you can’t do is legislate away reality.

      • And what you can’t do is continue to support a black market and assume the products you take from that market will continue to exist. But whatever.

    • Moop, I’m afraid you’re the one with the “thick skull”. I’ll just leave it at that.

      • Lol, you can imagine the kinds of comments running thru my head, as I read “MOOP”‘s (ie EFF employee) nonsensical brainwashed asinine childish manifesto. I’ll not sully David’s site with the vile brewing within..

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  • Here’s a thought: Maybe if the copyright industry, Disney in particular, hadn’t perverted copyright far beyond its original intention, the public at large would have more respect for it. Copyright was supposed to provide a *LIMITED* time that authors could benefit financially from their work before it *INEVITABLY* passed into the public domain. This was supposed to benefit both the authors who could earn money from their work for several years and the public who would get new works which they could freely use after the copyright expired.

    Except that now copyrights last the entire life of the author and then 70-90 years past their death. How is that “limited”? Nothing created within my lifetime will become public domain. If I create something, my copyright is not “limited”. For all intents and purposes, that copyright is unlimited for me because I’ll be turning to dust before it expires.

    Disney has based many of its most successful movies on public domain stories, but how much material has it contributed to the public domain for others to build on? Of course the answer to this question is none. In fact, copyright has been extended more than once specifically to keep anything that Disney owns the rights to out of the public domain. I’d love to hear you explain how it’s fair for Disney (and others) to rely on the public domain for material to base their commercial works on, while at the same time fighting tooth and nail to prevent any of their works from being used by others. The copyright on Steamboat Willie now expires in 2023 and you can bet your ass that Disney will be back in front of Congress arguing that their entire business empire will collapse if copyright isn’t extended again to prevent this one cartoon from becoming public domain.

    There have been several studies done which say that copyright terms should be REDUCED, not increased. Of course Hollywood doesn’t ever mention these studies because reducing copyright would benefit the public and not them. They also never mention what a mess copyrights have made of popular culture. Remember the show WKRP in Cincinnati? Music was a big part of that show, but for the person looking to buy a copy of that show through legal sources, they must accept a butchered copy with an edited soundtrack. Why? Because copyrights prevent the show from being sold with the original music intact. That’s not the only show that’s affected either. You can plenty of reviews on Amazon from people who bought DVD sets of 70s and 80s shows only to find that the music they remember has been replaced by other songs. There’s even a rumor that being unable to obtain the rights to two songs was the reason the DVD release of the show Werewolf had to be scrapped (the studio no longer had a separate audio track to allow replacing the music). Of course most of those shows can obtained through piracy with the original soundtracks (usually sourced from TV broadcasts), but “SSSHHHH!!!” Let’s not talk about the fact that you can’t obtain non-butchered, or in some cases, any copies at all, of these shows through the much vaunted legal methods.

    Let’s also not talk about how the copyright industry expects the entire world to help protect their profits. Domain name services, payment processors, ad companies and search engines must all agree to block sites! ISPs should install monitoring software to watch for infringement occurring on their networks, block sites at the copyright industry’s say-so and cancel accounts upon three unproven accusations of infringement! Movie theaters should search people’s bags for recording devices, use night vision goggles to watch the customers and call police at the first suspicion of recording even a single second of movie footage! Producers of blank discs, flash drives, hard drives, MP3 players and anything else capable of storing information should pay the copyright industry for lost profits! Schools must teach kindergarten children about the importance of copyright (but not that icky public domain)! Ordinary people should take an active role in shaming and reporting people who pirate! In fact, is there anyone the copyright industry doesn’t expect to pitch in and help protect their profits?

    Oh and let’s also not talk about how the movie industry keeps telling the media that they’re showing record-breaking profits while telling the government that they’re being destroyed by piracy. How does a company make record-breaking profits while being destroyed? Both can’t be true, so which is the lie?

    You mention legal streaming sites as if they’re Hollywood’s golden dream, but completely ignore that the movie industry initially viewed streaming as being just as evil as the VCR. Remember how the VCR completely killed the movie industry, just like the Boston Strangler killed women? Even now the movie industry calls it “stealing” if a Canadian user (who *PAYS*) wants to use a VPN service to access the larger U.S. catalog of movies. Only in the mind of the copyright industry can it be considered “stealing” to pay for content, but doing so in a way they don’t approve of. Is it stealing if a Canadian drives to the US and buys a movie on DVD? Then why is it “stealing” if they access a legal movie service in a different country?

    You say that letting the copyright industry start easily blocking sites won’t break the internet. Did you hear about Sky News’ live stream being knocked off YouTube by a copyright claim by its own parent company? Then Fox’s own news channel was also temporarily knocked off YouTube. Two channels owned by the same company knocked off YouTube by a mistaken copyright claim from the company who owns them both. If that isn’t the definition of broken, I don’t know what is. And that’s far from the only time that mistaken copyright claims have taken down videos on YouTube. In fact, it happens all the time and the dispute process is so heavily slanted in favor of the copyright industry that it’s an uphill battle to argue that something is fair use. Oops, I’m sorry for using such an obscene term on your website. Please forgive me!

    If you read TorrentFreak, you’ll know that many of the DMCA notices sent to Google are for completely legitimate websites, like the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) and in some cases, the studios own movie websites. And despite all this, you think it’s a good idea to make it EASIER to nuke websites that the copyright industry doesn’t like? Sure, what could possibly go wrong…

    Tell you what; I’ll start respecting copyright when all the giant corporations agree to return copyright to its originally intended purpose of being a limited incentive, and stop pretending that the entire world depends on their continued profits.

    • You have a right to your opinion, but your history is inaccurate. And while your long-winded narrative is commonly believed and widely repeated, it is also deeply flawed. Most especially your presumption that copyright law has exceeded its original intention is a weak premise, and is the standard argument of pretty much any American who doesn’t like something and feels his/her position is supported by “strict constitutionalism.” There is no body of law that is not more complex than the one or two sentences establishing the precedent in the constitution.

      Regardless, your entire rationalization as to why you don’t “respect” copyright has nothing to do with whether to not the EFF is exaggerating the consequences of injunctive relief in the MovieTube case.

    • Disney actually made much of its fortune not on public domain but on works for which they paid the rights. They had to pay PL travers for Mary poppins and the estate of JM Barrie for Peter Pan, respectively.

      Please cite the notices for movie companies against imdb, please. Oh, and btw imdb isn’t some plucky independent site – it’s been owned by Amazon for 15 years.

      I’m a huge WKRp fan and I recently bought the new DVDs and frankly they were worth the wait. There were a few holdouts but they managed to get most of the music, but frankly so what if it’s not all there? I’m able to watch a show that came out nearly 40 years ago any time I want, an unprecedented development in entertainment.
      I recently read that almost 90% of movies made before 1929 are lost to time. That’s a bigger tragedy than missing an Eagles song in a TV episode.
      (And is the solution to download bootleg copies? Is it the fault of the actors and writers who still get royalties – albeit tiny ones- from legal sales?)

      The everything-is-free movement seem to have taken the old maxim Property Is Theft and turned it into Intellectual Property Is Theft, only they really mean Some Intelletual Property Is Theft – can’t have anyone swiping Sergey and Larry’s latest innovations, can we?

      I think they haven’t gone far enough down the rabbit hole – the end result is All Property Is Intellectual Property, and that includes one’s claim to any property. (If you think you own your house in perpetuity, I suggest reading up on Eminent Domain). The only thing that says anyone owns anything is ultimately an abstraction, usually written on a piece of paper – and pieces of paper can be copied.

      • Also, Rekrul, this canard that Disney — and I can be plenty critical of Disney in various contexts — single-handedly extended copyright terms is a naively useless view of history. The U.S. expanded terms to current status in order to remain consistent with the terms of trading partners around the world, these terms are based on rationale established decades before the 1970s. The principle is that copyright protections extend to two generations beyond the life of the author. You may argue with that rationale if you feel so inclined, but it has NOTHING to do with the supposed caprice of Disney Studios.

    • If you read TorrentFreak … to make it EASIER to nuke websites that the copyright industry doesn’t like?

      See the ‘copyright industry’ is just another word for the ‘content industry’ and I quite sure the neither TorrentFreak, pirate sites they uphold, nor any of the other hangers on over there have created much of anything. No bands, no movies, no books, no illustrations that hold the attention of the masses. Why do I say that, well because if they had y’all wouldn’t be bitching about the ‘copyright industry’ you’d be off consuming the works of the ‘non-copyright industry’. Except that industry doesn’t exist.

      • I’m not as unique as you think. Plenty of content Creators watch torrentfreak. Not all of us are anticopyright either. I support copyright just like you. Just because I release software under osl or lgpl etc doesn’t mean I’m anticopyright. Infact it shows I’m pro to some extant.
        What I’m against is protection that lasts more than 20 years.
        And… any restrictions on in house copying transfering or converting.

        Someone here made my comparison between buying cheese puffs from store be when store a didn’t have them and totally missed the point. That’s fine. But when store b says you must eat them here or here but never there and you need to install all this extra software because we can’t create a program that’s reasonable.
        So i go to store c and find out i can eat them in the parking lot of store a b and c but i can’t remove them from the original bag. No paper bag. No Ziploc bag to protect my purchase for use later.

        Once we purchase a movie or book or disc in hard format or digital we need the total and complete right to transfer convert and backup as we please.

        Just to reiterate I’m a “content creator” and not part of the copyright industry.
        I read torrent freak. And I’m pro REASONABLE copyright. I don’t want to steal. But when microwave massacre was stuck in limbo…! Because someone closed and someone else died. !!
        We need, as a content creator, to protect our work reasonably while , as a consumer, protecting our ability to use and secure our purchased materials.

      • Just because I release software under osl or lgpl etc doesn’t mean I’m anticopyright. Infact it shows I’m pro to some extant.
        What I’m against is protection that lasts more than 20 years.

        There is very little software that is more than 20 years old. Most people that have been out of the game for more than a few years will tell you that they doubt that any extensive amount of the software they wrote is still in existence. I’m probably one of the few you’ll ever meet that can tell you that the code I wrote almost 20 years ago is still in production. Actually the other day I opened up a source file to show some university summer placement and the date in file said 1994 quick look at the date and he said “I wasn’t born then!” I mentioned to a new starter something about the NextCube and he looks it up on wikipedia and says “I was only three years old when that went out of production.”

        In general software has a short lifecycle and it goes into production the moment it is created. That is different to other creative works. A book may be written decades before it ever gets published, or turned into a film. A good one will last well longer than copyright terms. People still buy and adapt works by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante, Dickens, Austen, …

  • “You’re only looking at the final product, not the process that produces it”

    You’re wrong actually. All processes are physical. What is a chair but the information pattern of a chair embodied in a physical medium? Everything works that way. This will become clearer as 3d printing moves closer and closer to the atomic scale.

    What you’re doing is mistaking the fact something might take effort to do for the idea you’re entitled to be compensated for that effort. That’s a “labor theory of value “and again generally well-understood to be invalid since the early 20th century (it’s why communism failed, and why stuff like giving people copyright and patent monopolies to avoid normal free market economics is doomed to fail too).

    Value is subjective – when I exchange a dollar for an apple, I value having an apple more than having a dollar (and the shopkeeper is the other way around). If I make something with lots of effort, it has no bearing on its value to other people.

    Remember, Linux is valued at somewhere over a billion dollars to reproduce ( http://www.linuxfoundation.org/sites/main/files/publications/estimatinglinux.html ) , applying labor thinking. No one person is even remotely likely to produce anything appproching the “labor” cost of a linux distro. So perhaps we should give each screaming toddler “artist” a linux cd, and maybe a glass of milk and a cookie. After all, they’ve just got something “worth” far more than the labor put in.

    • And what exactly do you do that is worth paying you for? I don’t mean art or product… I mean do you actually accomplish anything, it is it all already there because of math or physics being absolute or some such nonsense?

    • Oh and your “don’t release it” argument ignores that to the most extreme free proponents that trivial matters like privacy and security don’t seem to matter. I’ve seen people defend revenge porn as “information wants to be free”, or hell even upskirt photos as part of the “privacy is an illusion” nonsense.

      You know what’s also “just a number?” A bank account. But I don’t see the Google boys handing out theirs to the public.

      Hell, the “free market” is just another intellectual concept with no real value. There is no empirical reason why Bill Gates or Donald Trump are worth more than the man on the street.

      It’s rather telling that the argument against IP is that it’s a monopoly when 15 years ago when Microsoft was under attack from antitrust laws Wired and others were praising monopolies to the point of quoting John D Rockefeller approvingly. I guess some monopolies are more equal than others

      • You’ve got things very backwards. A bank account is the bank’s copies of a number Say my balance is 10000. I can increment my copy all I want, I don’t get any richer. It’s the banks copy that matters. Again, physical things are what is real.

        Also- wat? Microsoft? Microsoft are (or were, even they are showing signs of getting a clue lately) on the pro-corporateanti-techie intellectual monopolist side, you idiot, or did you miss the part where every linux user in the world hated them for years? It’s no surprise they had a monopoly though, given they were handed copyrights and patent monopolies on a silver platter. They should have had their copyright and patent monopolies annulled, would have solved the “Microsoft problem” in a day.

        It’s usually people who are against copyright who are pro-privacy. This makes perfect sense when you think about how information *actually* works rather than how the MAFIAA wished it worked.

      • 100% of my copyright colleagues — and some of these are serious experts — are also pro-privacy. Of course, we define “privacy” as needing protection from private interests like Google as much as from any other entity.

    • Copyrights and patents were written into the Constitution because of the Founders’ emphasis on free-market economics, and because the young U.S. didn’t have the resources to create anything akin to European models for publicly-funded cultural and scientific works. It was also ideological — consistent with the Constitution’s explicit rejection of nobility. In a free market, a dollar is just an analog instrument for labor. The price of the apple you buy is mostly a reflection of the labor required to make that apple available to you. That’s a good thing because it means that disparate, individual (not collectivist) labor supports broader prosperity for everyone in the market. Prices are not a pure expression of labor — movie tickets are about the same whether the film cost 100 million or 100 thousand — but the market value of some thing you want (a movie or an apple) is still tied very much to the work (i.e. investment) required to produce and deliver that thing to you.

      • Nope, just no. Honestly, you’re just all kinds of mixed up, it would likely take weeks to straighten you out on free-market economics and history. The nascent USA was in fact importing bad European (insofar as the English are European) law.

        Read some Jefferson, some Hayek, some Boldrin and Levine. Stop wasting your time on this, you’ve picked up a bad meme. Free yourself. You could be off actually creating cool stuff like me and countless others on the net here in the present.

  • “They say SOPA, and hope the peasants cringe.”

    So, everyone whom disagrees with you is automatically an uneducated poor person? This is why people don’t like people like you.

    • While I certainly don’t mind pissing people off, you seem to have missed the parenthetical statement in which I included myself among the “peasants.” The point being that the agenda served by EFF in this case is ultimately serving the wealthiest .001 percent of people in our market and who run some of the most monopolistic and economically hazardous companies in the world. The point is if you think the owners and VCs of Silicon Valley give a damn about your rights and don’t treat you like a peasant — a data point to be traded in their market — you are not paying enough attention.

  • I’ve been saying this for years and don’t hide who i am. You want to stop piracy the make media available and affordable. Anywhere anytime.
    I will happily pay the same $8 to watch a new in theatre film… in my own home. On my own tv. To get up and leave only to pick up the film in the waiting room from on my phone. And finish it up later that evening.
    I will pay $10-$12.
    I will NOT pay $8 or even the $5 matinee to see it at a theatre. With some guy moaning in the back while his girlfriend goea down. And staff wonder around in night vision goggles looking like acid tripping aliens lumbering over my shoulder to make sure I’m not recording anything on a camera. Like a birthday party or my friends crotch.
    There will always be thieves. Period. But “piracy ” is not about free. It’s about freedom and convenience.
    I have Amazon prime. Netflix. Hulu. And a dozen other specialist services for independent and specific genres I enjoy. I happy pay for my entertainment.
    Why must the movie industry continue to segregate releasing?
    Many independent second and third tier companies are now releasing “in theaters and on demand”. And making many times their pre streaming incomes.
    Must be the multi billion dollar legal side. Lawyers make alot of money off copyright.
    Fact is “piracy” isn’t killing the mpaa. The independent film industry is. I get films i want to watch when and where I like.
    The mpaa companies can join the information age and make more money. Or sit on 500 year old control mechanisms and pay the lawyers till they blink out existence. Not with a bang. But with a fizzle.

    • Your movie experience resembles no movie theatre I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been going for nearly five decades.

      And guess what? Creators do try to offer their stuff cheaply and conveniently and they’re still pirated.


    • Fact is “piracy” isn’t killing the mpaa. The independent film industry is. I get films i want to watch when and where I like.”
      You must be joking. Indie filmmakers are feeling the piracy the worst, and told “people only pirate major studios, and you should be glad for the exposure.”

    • John, as more legal services have come online, piracy has actually continued to increase. Additionally, making every bit of filmed entertainment in the world legally available on-demand, and maintaining production values you probably like as a viewer is not nearly so simple as just saying it. Your analysis of the relationship between the studios and the independents is common, but incomplete. And piracy is hurting the indies first (regardless of Day and Date releases), and the studio films second. Additionally, piracy’s harm goes beyond just lost-sale analysis, as I’ve cited in numerous pieces on this blog.

      Part of the problem, John, is that the only entities with the resources to address piracy, at either the policy or legal level, are the major studios. And it’s always easy to hate on the majors for any number of reasons, including the fact that they’re big. Independent production companies, who make most of the films by the way, do not have the resources to sue a MovieTube, but that should not be construed as evidence that they are not harmed by piracy. You might want to consider that, overall, the motion picture industry has actually adapted rather quickly to some radical transformations in the market (huge changes in the past 5 years), and that contending with a black market at the same time is not helpful.

  • “You’ve got things very backwards. A bank account is the bank’s copies of a number Say my balance is 10000. I can increment my copy all I want, I don’t get any richer. It’s the banks copy that matters. Again, physical things are what is real.”

    And your money isn’t physical. It’s entirely an abstraction. Even if you had stores of gold underground it would only have value based on an abstract value, nothing to do with physics or math.

    And yes, the anti-copyright people are pro privacy. Which explains all the celebrity nude photos on Reddit. Those photos were just numbers wanting to be free!

    • Money has no value but that which humans assign, but that’s not particularly relevant here.

      Each copy is a physical thing. As it happens I actually have worked securing financial systems, I really couldn’t begin to do that if I was as confused as you/hollywood/copyright-supporters about how information, math and physics actually works.

      Do you understand how “moving” a file really works on a computer? Do you begin to comprehend just how many copy operations took place even so you could read this message? How many copies existed, even if only transiently? Well, I don’t know either exactly (and in fact it will vary significantly in fractions of a second) but I assure you it was an awful lot.

      There’s something fundamentally wrong with your understanding of the world. And it’s why you think you have all these terrible problems and your misguided solution to them is to try to control and punish everyone else in the world like an asshole.

      Do try to remember, there are in fact billions of people in the world, each choosing to act of their own accord, everyone who is not-you is not the same person.

      • Yes, there are billions of people in the world, and most are grown up to understand that if you want something you should compensate the person offering it.

  • “100% of my copyright colleagues — and some of these are serious experts — are also pro-privacy”

    That is fundamentally inconsistent. Hey, humans hold logically inconsitent positions based on emotion all the time, you’re not unusual there…

    If you’re pro-copyright you logically have to be anti-privacy. The MAFIAA do understand this – witness their recent telling anti-privacy attacks on ICANN/DNS, comments of support and admiration for the great firewall of china from U2’s manager, etc.

    C wants to stop A telling (copying information onward to) B something (that is the essence of copyright, censorship and a bunch of other names for what is mathematically and physically the same thing in a digital world) . How can C do that without total privacy elimination, a global police state, every single communication monitored and intercepted/tampered, given today’s (in fact decades old) technology? They can’t. Even then, it’s already doomed, because of math (steganographic encryption) that already exists and is already known worldwide. But we do need to avoid complacency and oppose them – even if they are doomed, they are holding us back by wasting everyone’s time, so I’d like to seem them gone in my own lifetime, not next century.

    And dude, it’s google historically doing things like working with the MAFIAA to remove stuff from Youtube and cooperating with government intelligence services to allow backdoor access to gmail. Hopefully Google will learn from their historical mistakes given the evidence from Jim Hood and friends, and stop naively appeasing Hollywood and their federal government friends, but I still don’t trust Google one little bit. “The enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy, nothing more.”

    The same information principles apply, though – google actually only knows what you let them know.

    • Okay. As suspected, you’re trapped in a fog of conspiracy theories backed by really bad information. Hence, I refer to my earlier statement of “whatever.” I have no desire to disabuse you of your world view.

      • Sigh, no, you’re definitely the one who is trapped. I understand and rely on information theory daily in my professional and personal life. This isn’t like a “select a subjective belief that doesn’t matter from a menu” of a religion, this is the hard stuff that means computers and transatlantic fibre optic cables work and magic doesn’t.

      • In addition to information theory, you might want to consider information itself because a lot of what you’re working with is bad data.

    • Jim Hood? You mean the guy who tried to stop Google from helping out illegal pharmacies – a criminal enterprise involving actual, physical goods?

      And again, how is Reddit making money off of advertising on illegally obtain private photos respecting privacy?

      • Bbut what does that have to do with the price of fish? Isn’t it horrible how moon-men suffer in purple season?

        “Reddit” isn’t a person and has nothing in particular to do with this.

  • “In addition to information theory, you might want to consider information itself because a lot of what you’re working with is bad data.”

    Sigh, no, you’re just trying to string pretty words together like beads now. The sheer irony of you publishing to the internet is probably lost on you.

    • Not nearly so ironic as presumptive defenders of liberty who favor tech industry oligarchs and reveal all the Constitutional scholarship of Rand Paul.

      • “tech industry oligarchs” are empowered because of copyright and patent idiocy too, I certainly don’t favor them. When we abolish copyright and patent it will help to deal with them too.

        Though it is funny how the MAFIAA fixates on Google. Leaves the rest of us in relative peace I suppose, I shouldn’t complain…

      • Google is the 9,000lb gorilla in the room — one of the wealthiest, most pervasive, and most politically influential companies on the planet. So, yeah, people are going to fixate on them.

      • When we abolish copyright and patent it will help to deal with them too.

        Here we have a member of Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s LDD. No not one of Legion of Dynamic Discord, but a Little Deluded Dupe. Just as in the 15th through to 19th century the Common land was expropriated and enclosed by wealthy magnates, these idiots have allowed their ‘free speech’ space and the intellectual Commons to become fully expropriated and enclosed by tech corporations. They can’t do jack shit without paying a tithe to tech oligarchs.

  • The piracy forever people are just as harmful as the copyright forever people.
    Not targeted to any single post but looking at the overall set of links from torrentfreak…!
    Nothing is going to change or get fixed by bashing people over the head on either side.

    Jim hood is a bully. Like a standard middle school bully. He plotted in secret to secure his own view of what should be.
    His henchmen got caught and he got busted. He just happened to be plotting against an even bigger bully.
    Hood alone (and be honest mpaa copyrights were included) was attacking a map maker for showing where a store was. that is literally like (i don’t remember the source but it stuk) removing an address from a building because of a crime. Not a past crime but a current one. Ongoing.
    You remove the address and it’s slightly more difficult to find. But you can still visit once you get there.

    Laws aside.

    If a song i want to hear on my phone isn’t on Amazon why must I use iTunes? Why should i not be able to buy the disc and copy it to my phone? The record company (don’t tell me riaa/mpaa is about paying artists fairly the discussion is moot with me) gets more money if i buy the cd new over the song and i don’t want apple on my pc.

    Why is the new Jurassic park not on demand. They get more money if i pay the 12.99 2 day cross platform rental than if i paid $5 at a theatre.

    Why is my text book not available in mobi/or epub format and why should i purchase a new device.or program for reading the only one in fb format. Why shouldn’t i convert to something usable? And why shouldn’t i scan my book to my tablet or laptop… or both?!?

    Keep in mind that I’m not a genZ or millennial. My own birth coincided with the pc. I’m not a now-free! And i think those shits half my age should try loading machine code from a spool of tape like i did with my c64 and tandy.
    I /am/ a now HERE. A now on THIS DEVICE . Oh. And that one too! There is little logic (little, not none) in most current copyright regulation.

    i AM an artist. Both a musician and a software programmer.

    And most of my work is freely available. The only exceptions being contracts i naively signed not understanding that i was no longer in control. That for absolutely nothing more than having them press a few 10c discs i gave up my ability to control my work. (Hence above on discussion).
    I agree with payment.
    But things need to change!

    • “If a song i want to hear on my phone isn’t on Amazon why must I use iTunes?”

      Same reason if Kroger doesn’t carry the brand of Cheeze-Doodles you were looking for, you might have to stop in another store to find it.
      My God, how fugging lazy people are these day… you can’t even be bothered to make an extra ‘click’ ? Pfft, let me play you a song… on the world’s tiniest violin…

      “Why should i not be able to buy the disc and copy it to my phone? ”

      Uhh… you can…
      …That is, if you actually bought the disc…

    • John, you raise a lot of topics, more than I can respond to, but I’ll pick a few.

      1) I’m not sure why AG Hood is a bully when the focus of his investigation is whether or not Google is complying with a non-prosecutorial settlement made with the DOJ for the record-setting fine of a half-billion dollars. Copyright infringement is part of that investigation, though not the largest part of it. I’m far more concerned as to why Obama’s DOJ and FTC have treated Google with kid gloves compared to their counterparts in Europe, and I would say this about any other industry.

      2) While it may seem logical to you that Jurassic Park should come out Day and Date, you don’t have $150 million (or whatever) worth of skin in that bet. Windowed releases of motion pictures remains a sound practice, especially for big budget films. There are still audiences that want to see the big spectacle on the big screen, and that opening weekend is critical to investors making a return at that scale. To release Day and Date might yield more money on the grounds that you will still get box office plus viewers like you who want to stay home, but it’s a potentially career-endng gamble, if you make the wrong call with that amount of money at stake. That’s not quite the same thing as greed. Plus, I suspect we will see more and more Day and Date releases of first run films as the market demographics continue to shift.

      3) I respect that you’re an artist, and it sounds like you’re one who’s been screwed by corporate interests. I hear those stories often and am no apologist — I have no reason to be — for those practices. Having said that, I believe you are in danger of throwing out a lot of babies with the bathwater when you say there is no logic left in copyright regulation and/or rationalize piracy as a response to scarcity or even issues with cross-platform protocols for digital media.

      • “That’s not quite the same thing as greed.
        “” said that, I believe you are in danger of throwing out a lot of babies with the bathwater when you say there is no logic left in copyright ”
        I don’t see greed anywhere but in the law offices. I believe it’s the same stubbornness i saw in my mother on keeping an ancient flip phone. She now loves the G3 i forced on her and won’t put it down. It’s stubbornness of fear.
        I fully support copyright. It’s necessary.

        Release windows are falling apart. That’s a good thing. There’s little doubt that selective releasing will be outlawed in the eu vote. The PAEG in Eurasia will certainly follow the eu example (either way) in November. These are positive steps in reform.

        While ripping a cd is legal here in American it was just once again banned in the uk. And backing up or transferring my dvd is not legal. the protections in the dmca for artists also make it illegal to back up or format shift my dvd or bluray. Raid mirroring you’re computer drive is technically illegal in American if you have Microsoft office 2010 or 2013! For example. Because of the EULA. Meaning installing office and using Microsoft’s own backup tools can get you in trouble.

        But some things are out of hand.
        Life+ is a joke in an “open market”. How many rich gems are stuck in format limbo because this. The 8/16/35mm films are long disintegrating. As are vhs and beta. But dvd releases and bluray upgrades can’t be had because companies have changed possession so many times that no one knows who even has the rights. Artists have died (or crashed planes) and no one can move forward now.

        Dmca takedowns are so mis- handled that companies are taking down their own servers. Laughable but not funny. And how many dmca letters claim 192.168.xxx.xxx.?!
        Good props to Google on actually looking at this stuff. Or no one would know about any films from the internet.

        As for AudioNomics:
        Did you even read. Or are you just going to spew fire and be one of those head bashers i reference in my first post.
        It’s not about being lasy. It’s about system stability. It’s about not paying some other company. Installing more software. Adding more security issues with yet another program.
        It’s about not having to buy three different ebook readers to read 3 books. It’s about being told i can buy any car i want bot only fords can use the interstates and only gm can use state routes and i can only listen to the radio if i buy an aftermarket adaptor and a Toyota to go with it.

        Back to my reply.
        Copyright was formed out of censorship to protect religious and monarch control over dissemination of heretical material.
        It’s grown to be a great tool for content creators to protect themselves. But it is, as it stands now, seriously flawed. I’m not looking for free I’m begging for reason. That’s two totally different things. I never said without logic. I pointed out it’s dated. Like release windows. Ir the c64 i still enjoy using.
        It just needs some rather hefty upgrades.

      • John, you’ve made it clear that you don’t believe in taking things for free and that you’re looking for balance. And that’s a good thing, though some of your analyses don’t reveal much balance in your data. For instance, the futility of using DMCA by rights holders with legit claims far outweighs mistakes and especially outweighs purposeful abuse. It isn’t even accurate to characterize the way DMCA works to suggest that rights holders can take things down at will; the site owner has to comply voluntarily. Plus nearly all takedowns, no matter how legit, are registered with Chilling Effects, as if any rights holder who issues a takedown request is always harming free speech.

        But above all, your statement about the basis for copyright needs examining. The IP clause in the U.S. Constitution was viewed by the Framers as a key mechanism to sustain their/our opposition to monarchs, nobility, and even state religion. It was written into Article 1, in part, because the Framers did not want science and written works to be at the sole discretion of the elite. And the irony about many of today’s anti-copyright arguments is that they ultimately lead to placing more power in the hands of the wealthiest oligarchs in the country. You may have gotten a raw deal once from a label or something, but the predatory nature of YouTube’s Music Key strategy is far worse, far more insidious, and has implications that go beyond music and other creative works.

        On the other stuff, we all share frustrations with multiple platforms and devices, but you can’t blame the existence of copyright alone for that when you’ve already stipulated that you believe in paying for things and not stealing them. Copyright is the basis for why the work was a business in the first place. The inevitable fight for dominance among the Apples, Googles, Amazons of the world cannot be grounds for removing or weakening the rights of authors of new works. I could bang on about this but won’t.

        On a side note, celluloid is actually still a leading choice for archiving filmed material. It does eventually disintegrate, even when properly stored, but digital archival has more than a few challenges given the lifespan of protocols, etc. In fact, a few years ago, there was even discussion of digitally storing films and then copying the 1s and 0s onto celluloid. I know it’s SOP to assume everything could be at our fingertips if we just let the Googles digitize and organize it all, but I’ve actually noticed how circumscribed and limited search can be when seeking even some bit of hard news from perhaps a decade ago. If it isn’t trending or isn’t tied to something for sale, you basically get Wikipedia and maybe not much else. I’m not convinced the migration to all-digital, especially when data is stored and manipulated by one or two companies, wouldn’t lead to an even shorter lifespan for many works.

      • “As for AudioNomics:
        Did you even read.”

        I thought I did, but correct me if my understanding of what you said isn’t accurate, by all means.

        You still didn’t address my point, which hasto do with how markets work… you can’t sell shit you don’t have a right to sell… if that inconveniences you as a customer, take it up with the platform that doesn’t have what you want.. it’s their cheap ass that is responsible.

      • She now loves the G3 i forced on her and won’t put it down. It’s stubbornness of fear.

        No its gimcracks and distractions. Did you tell her that the G3 will be tracking her every movement, that all her communications whether its to her children or doctor will be analyzed and most likely sold on at some point? Did you tell her any of that or did you just say hey look how kewl this is?

      • You may have gotten a raw deal once from a label or something, but the predatory nature of YouTube’s Music Key strategy is far worse, far more insidious, and has implications that go beyond music and other creative works.

        Exactly. If you get ripped off by some publisher you can put it down to experience and arrange not to be ripped off that way again. With the likes of Google you can never do that they will always exploit your work and push ever harder to make that exploitation easier, more profitable to them, and universal.

      • John Clark said-
        ” It’s not about being lasy. It’s about system stability. It’s about not paying some other company. Installing more software. Adding more security issues with yet another program.”

        While I can sympathize with format lockin type stuff…. this ISN’T the fault of the content producers. When you use…say..Spotify for instance, You are not a customer of whatever band you are listening to, but you ARE Spotify’s.

        This short article by Faza at the Cynical Musician explains it well:
        http://thecynicalmusician.com/2014/11/we-dont-care-if-youre-paying-for-spotify/

      • You’re missing the point by shifting the blame.
        A personal use/compatibility exemption… that’s irrevocable – needs to be added to amend the dmca.
        With that it doesn’t matter if Amazon or emusic or b&n or whatever has the whatever format I’m buying. I can make it work.

        THAT is the bottom line I’m getting at.
        That was and remains my issue with our first album’s distribution deal (they not we chose how and where it can be distributed ) and from a consumer point of view where my issues lay in the great format jungle of media.

      • Well, i’ll hope you will note exactly who is the profiting party of formats and format lock in… I’ll give you a hint… it isn’t the guy at the end of the line hoping pennies will form from whatever’s left when everyone else has their hand in the till… but that seems to be the only person punished.

        Copyright is literally the only protection the little guy has against the corporate machine. The only bargaining chip… you can see why a large corporation might find that a hastle and dupe the people into lobbying against their interests. Copyright belongs to the public. It is everyone’s right to the fruit of their own labor…. sad days when people are fighting against their own rights, just to save a couple bucks on some media.

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  • Jeez, I noticed there were a lot of comments on this excellent post and thought they might be worth reading, but found about half of them were, in Shakespeare’s words (in the public domain!) a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. With the emphasis on ‘idiot’.

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