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Copyfight: EFF co-founder enters e-G8 "lion's den," rips into lions (arstechnica.com)
192 points by grellas on May 25, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 73 comments



The thing that strikes me whenever I hear those crusty old old-media guys talking is that the reality of the generations growing up today is so entirely different. Nobody I know in my generation, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum, gives a shit about copyright. Nobody. Everyone downloads music, movies and TV shows freely and without thinking about it.

That's not to say they don't ever pay for stuff, just look at the success of iTunes or the record-breaking opening weekends of popular movies. But the young generations fundamentally do no have any respect for copyright, especially if it restricts their abilities to enjoy consumption of content.

The times, they are a-changin', whether "the industry" likes it or not.


I find the comments people make on YouTube around this non-understanding somewhat interesting. The "stealing" metaphor seems to have led to the unintended consequence that people are confused by what "copyright infringement" even means, thinking that maybe it only applies to something like plagiarism--- "stealing" a work by claiming that it's yours when it was actually made by someone else.

So the solution is to still post the video, but with a confusing disclaimer like, "this video isn't mine, all music belongs to [artist], no copyright infringement intended". Saying "no copyright infringement intended" while still uploading the video is strange thing to be doing, unless you have a nonstandard understanding of what copyright infringement means.


I find it funny that you think that's a misinformed view of copyright. That's exactly what copyright exists for in the first place. Not to provide a sales monopoly, but to provide the artist the right to take a claim against someone else if they pass off that artist's work as their own. If it went back to that and shorter terms we might actually see some innovation....Oh wait, it basically has outside the corporate content industry.


You are mistaken. Copyright is exactly about providing a temporary monopoly so creative people have a window to exploit their work commercially. The idea you are describing about credit/recognition is also recognised as a legal right in many places (typically called something like "author's right") but is different to and typically independent of copyright.


"Temporary"? 100 years is far from temporary.


I agree it's gotten a bit ridiculous, but I also agree with the substance of the historical correction: copyright was initially about providing a temporary monopoly on copying and distribution, not just for guaranteeing proper attribution. The original monopoly period was considerably shorter, though.


More ridiculous to me than the long terms is the perpetual extension - that copyright terms are increased regularly to prevent works from entering the public domain. The US Supreme Court ruled that protection "forever minus a day" (as Larry Lessig put it) is not incongruous with the definition of copyright as a "temporary monopoly".


I have a small hope that the recent review in the UK and our government's current political drive to win over small companies will act as some sort of catalyst for at least starting change in the right direction. Even more than the Gowers review a few years ago, this latest survey describes the current copyright system bluntly as being unfit for purpose in the Internet age. Combine that with the disaster on top of a screw-up surrounded by mess that is HADOPI in France (how many laws have they and their agents clearly broken now?) and we might actually make some headway in the coming months.

I may actually go and visit my MP to discuss this issue in person (as opposed to writing, which I have occasionally done in the past but which I suspect doesn't make the same impact as someone looking you in the eye and saying you're doing it wrong for reasons X, Y and Z).


I certainly agree that the current implementation in many jurisdictions is far from the spirit of the original idea and leaves much to be desired. Still, copyright isn't about an author's right to credit/fair attribution.


Window? 75 years after creator's death, you'd better say "barn door."


Copyright(s) come in two forms: (1) moral, and (2) economic. You are talking about the moral rights, OP is talking about economic rights. Both are part of copyright law (at least in Canada). Also IANAL.


I totally agree. I can't help but feel like they're holding on to "the way things were" because they've been through it. Children born today will - as they should - have a different perspective on IP and what it means and that's reflective of the movements that have been made in the last few years. These dinosaurs on stage can't comprehend change because they're so out of touch.


It's not true that no young people care about copyright. Young people have varying opinions too.

One could argue that young people are less supportive of copyright because they don't own anything that can be copyrighted.


...or as more of our culture becomes based around copyrights, what else do young people have to reference that is not syndicated or trademarked?

Our commons are the copyrights.


I don't know about that. I'm seeing more and more content made freely available for sharing. Take a look at some of the artists on Bandcamp, for example. These are mostly younger people, and plenty of them make their music available for free (thanks Petrychor!).

I honestly can't think of a time when I've seen a younger person strongly defend copyright, but that could be my bias.


I only knew 2 my age that defended copyright. And they were 2 brothers.

The reason they gave was that it was against the Bible to steal, and it was stealing. They were your standard crazed Jesus-freaks that are found every so often.

After their hundredth time telling X person they were going to hell for not believing the same exact way they did, everybody ignored them.


I hypothesise it's down to the ease of access to pirated content and the lack of money.

I am 19 and make enough that every time I want something (an album, movie, book) I can buy it and I do. I care about copyright, the reason most young people don't is because they don't want to spend their limited income on something they can get for free.

If you give a young person the income to purchase everything without meaning they have to limit their spending on something else I suspect the majority would buy it.


Whether the youth give a shit about copyright - or indeed any other issue - is neither here nor there. Policy should most definitely not be drawn up in accordance with what the young give a shit about. That would be disastrous.


The youth become the adults, and if the majority of the voting citizens dislike copyright, then you may see copyright wane in power. In theory, anyway.


I'm talking generally here: the fact that youth don't care about copyright is not an argument against copyright. Young people believe all sorts of things and have all sorts of ideals. As they grow up they (hopefully) starts to see the bigger picture: many of these positions will change as they mature.


Who is arguing against copyrights?

Please care to enlighten us as to what the "bigger picture" is?


I'm not arguing for or against copyright. I'm just saying that basing policy on what young people think/believe is not necessarily a good idea. Obviously as you grow up and learn more about the complexities and subtleties of a particular issue your position on it might change. Things seem very black/white when you're young, when in reality there's a lot of grey areas and a lot of different opinions, agendas and competing demands to account for. Your simplistic stance/solution might in fact be a hopelessly naive one that would in reality do more harm than good.

Edit: I cannot believe I am being dv'd for this. Are people seriously telling me they don't believe opinions and attitudes willl change as they get older? Do you think you're as wise as you'll ever be when you're young?


I didn't downvote you, because I think you're still adding to the conversation, but I don't necessarily agree with your reasoning.

While many young people's views will change over time on many issues, it seems kind of rude to assume that it's certain they will. For example (and this is not meant to be a comparison to copyright, just an example of attitudes not changing), while it appears to mostly be older people against gay marriage, that does not mean that younger people are misinformed and will change their minds on it as they grow older. Somethings are actually generational shifts in attitude, independent of the generation's age. I do agree that it's possible that the current generation may shift to a more conservative view on copyright as it ages, since that happens with many issues, but it can sound somewhat offensive depending on how you worded it. I think it's a point worth considering, but sadly many people will have a negative reaction against something that looks "You'll get it when you're older", and that may prevent them from considering the idea in a more neutral light.

As for whether it's correct, I'd lean towards "No". I think young people who grow up to produce content they want to commercially develop may, but that's likely going to be a minority. I don't think the majority that casually illegally download things without a second thought will have a change of heart. It being wrong just doesn't seem to enter most people's minds. I think part of the reason is the overly harsh propaganda against it. While there is a core ideal worth considering ("Artists should be compensated for their work"), the ridiculous exaggeration ("Pirating movies supports TERRORISM") leads to people ignoring the issue.


It's also worth noting that copyright law is not something that encapsulates the kind of deep wisdom that only age produces. Indeed, the very new and deeply intractable problem of the law vs. reality is that in the digital world, anything you do involves copies. Suddenly, there’s no part of human intellectual activity that’s outside copyright regulation. If anything, wisdom regards this with horror.

The current, and notoriously short-sighted beneficiaries of the copyright cartel see this as a good thing, as it appears to hand them a massive (and totally unearned) expansion of their power. The (mostly young) people who are most exposed to this hubris display a reassuringly mature recognition of this badness, and resist accordingly.

Good government (i.e. government of, by, and for the people) would avoid open conflict by adjusting the law to the benefit of the people's constitutional liberties, challenging the old commercial order to adapt peacefully or die gracefully. The fact that this isn't happening is de facto evidence of growing corruption. If anything, the wisdom of age makes this less - not more - tolerable as time goes by.

After all, there is no precedent (at least in America) that suggests a system providing total domination over all aspects of cultural and intellectual is a good and worthwhile thing. Indeed, much of America's involvement in the 20th Century revolved around violent opposition to the horrific and miserable places that did try to institute this level of control. Today, we're discovering that we can't even be 'friends' with countries that behave like this (Exhibit A: Egypt), since majorities everywhere find these orders deeply hateful, rendering them inherently unstable. Indeed, no modern totalitarian regime has survived for more than a few decades, let alone the lifetimes that democratic republics boast.


I think a lot of the new anti-intellectual property thinking is deeply flawed in that it seems to ignore a huge elephant in the room, which is that participation in the copyright regime is voluntary. If you don't like the license don't use the product. You can do this. What is happening now is that there are all sorts of compelling things floating around that were only ever produced because the producer understood that he would be able to profit off of it (because the law would stop people from being able to simply take the results of his effort without paying. Kids say "Hey I like that...but wait, I don't want to pay for it...oh, look it's digital so it's easy to take ...[insert some inexplicable leap of logic]... it must be moral to take it, too." Yeah, I think a lot of us do grow out of that, actually.

You think the Lord of the Rings movies would ever have been made without copyright law? What Kinsella is arguing is that we have no business setting up rules such that a project like that can be economically feasible. (That, I suspect, is likely because Kinsella is an anarchist. He realizes that his preferred system of government (that is, absence thereof) could not support IP; ergo, one must argue that IP is not a desired thing, cuz it sure ain't going to exist in utopia.)

It seems really poorly thought out. If you want copyright-free material, produce it! If you object to copyrighted material, don't consume it! If you're right about it being abhorrent in the digital age, then let all the abhorrers not buy it. It's so easy to just opt out.

If you buy Kinsella's argument, you don't need anything to change about the laws. Just don't participate in the copyright regime. If you really believe in his theory, the moral thing to do is boycott it all. If you say you believe in Kinsella's theory, but go ahead and copy and use stuff the author thought he was going to get paid for, it seem really, really likely to me that what you're really doing is just using intellectual blather to salve your looter conscience.


Even with copyright law, Lord of the Rings was almost not made.

Trouble struck when Marty Katz was sent to New Zealand. Spending four months there, he told Miramax that the films were more likely to cost $150 million, and with Miramax unable to finance this, and with $15 million already spent, they decided to merge the two films into one. On 17 June 1998, Bob Weinstein presented a treatment of a single two-hour film version of the book. He suggested cutting Bree and the Battle of Helm's Deep, "losing or using" Saruman, merging Rohan and Gondor with Éowyn as Boromir's sister, shortening Rivendell and Moria as well as having Ents prevent the Uruk-hai kidnapping Merry and Pippin.[9] Upset by the idea of "cutting out half the good stuff"[10] Jackson balked, and Miramax declared that any script or work completed by Weta Workshop was theirs.[9] Jackson went around Hollywood for four weeks,[10] showing a thirty-five minute video of their work, before meeting with Mark Ordesky of New Line Cinema.[11] At New Line Cinema, Robert Shaye viewed the video, and then asked why they were making two films when the book was published as three volumes; he wanted to make a film trilogy. Now Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens had to write three new scripts. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings_film_tril...]

And because of copyright law, we now have a shitty screen version of Atlas Shrugged that takes place in the future? C'mon!

I am not advocating abolition, only reform. I am not sure it is even possible to create copyright-free material in the United States. The producer of the content would be required to explicitly waive copyright.


Laws in general seem to mostly ignore volunteer work, despite that having always been an essential part of community economies. That's just an area that hasn't sprouted many conflicts.

It seems to me that the new change is that suddenly, discovery and dissemination are enjoying large-scale volunteer effects, where previously it was just word of mouth. The pre-existing laws presume to deal with for-profit redistributors, and as such are hardly applicable.

The burning question in my mind is whether the volunteering will persist and suffice to meet the offering of the distribution business. Will it result in a karma economy, or will there be a new business area in archival? Will people tire of providing free service when they find themselves preoccupied with the worries of middle age, or will they merely scale back?


As a contrary point, when I was 18 I thought nothing of going on Napster and downloading every song I wanted to hear. Five or so years later I found I was uncomfortable with doing something like that and stopped doing even casual pirating. Not really as a rule, but because the act made me feel morally uncomfortable. In the intervening years I had thought more about the issues of compensation and false feelings of entitlement.

Please don't confuse this with endorsing the draconian punishments heaped on people who infringe on copyrighted works.


Sure, every issue is always more complicated than people think, and I'm not saying that just ignoring copyright is necessarily the "right" thing to do.

But just think about this: I am 23 years old, I barely remember a time when there was no internet. Kids today grow up taking their iPods for granted. They take for granted that music, movies, media of all kind is digital. The take for granted that is easily shared. That there is no fundamental restriction on the consumption of content. Technologically we are at the point where virtually all content is available to virtually everyone at virtually no cost.

Politics and law do not matter. This reality is neither a good nor a bad thing, it just is.


Your simplistic stance/solution might in fact be a hopelessly naive one that would in reality do more harm than good.

This is a mistake only young people are capable of making?

You are confusing young people with ignorant people.


I think perhaps you were downvoted because your posts were mainly attacking a straw man. I don't think anyone has been supporting the idea of basing policy solely on the beliefs of young people.

(FWIW I did not downvote you)


We just need to wait a bit longer for those crusty old-media types to die.


There's a lot of truth to this. In his seminal work "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" Thomas Kuhn pointed out that paradigm shifts (a term he coined) don't happen because lots of people who used to think one way start thinking another. Rather, a very select few who are capable of changing their minds start thinking differently, providing a guide around which new entrants can form their own opinions. This continues until the advocates for the displaced view have reduced themselves to a minority by literally dying off.

In other words, you never see a true paradigm shift take place in a single generation. Two or three is the more realistic norm.


No, retire. That said, 20 years is still a long time.


You're right about the times changing. But "the industry" has good reason to be concerned - in a world where people don't pay for their product (or certain aspects of it), they won't keep making that product. And I share their concern - I love movies/music/television/etc., and I'd really hate to live in a world without them.


Your "concern" is a red herring. Revenues are steadily and broadly marching upward for the content industries, especially in areas where they have (been forced to) adapt to the changing times, e.g. mp3 sales, ebooks, on-demand movies, etc. It happened decades ago with audio tapes and VHS, and it'll happen again.

You are sort-of right about one thing: people won't pay for the overpriced legacy products to which Big Content clings, and those products will eventually die. Good riddance.


What if a hundred million people paid US$ 1 to help James Cameron make Avatar? Would you pay US$ 10 to help making a sequel to Tron with the creative freedom a Disney movie would never be able to enjoy? Just plug Kickstarter into Facebook and you have the tools to do it.

Without Disney overhead, I doubt it would cost US$ 170 million.


It's 10 years since Metallica sued Napster. We just had a major motion picture (The Social Network), set in the past, where this event is in the past in the film.

If piracy could kill the music industry, it would have killed it by now. The music industry is not dead. Ergo piracy will not kill it.


The MPAA famously predicted that it would die due to home taping because of the VCR, only to go on and make billions from it.

The industry has always been short-sighted.


I guess PBS is fucked, huh?


If PBS decided to ask for donations through some kickstarter like site (or through kickstarter) I'd be more than happy to donate some money. And, mind you, I don't even live in the US - I would probably have to download their programming.


> "When someone comes to you and says I need a few hundred million dollars to make a movie about 10 foot tall blue people on another planet, that's not an easy decision to make. But if you do make that decision and it does turn out to be Avatar, then you'd like to be compensated."

This seems to imply that 20th Century Fox feels entitled to making the kind of profits that would support such exorbitant investments. I liked Avatar as much as the next guy, but the concept of making that much money off of something like music or film is a relatively recent phenomenon, dependent upon the combination of wide distribution with artificial scarcity. Even if Avatar couldn't be made without the kinds of conditions that allow for those kinds of profits, I'm pretty sure I'd trade it for all of the direct and indirect casualties of the recording and film industries; but really, I'm just thoroughly unconvinced that high quality work can't be motivated by more reasonable profits and other less tangible benefits.


the decision to invest the $100M is a business decision. Wanting the laws changed to favour your business decision is understandable I guess but if you extend that line of thinking - why aren't they lobbying for, oh I don't know, people have to go to the cinema once a month? or that there should be a cinema tax. Everyone has to pay $10 a month to the film industry.

see how far you get with any investor if your plan involves changing the law to create more favourable conditions for your profit.

these business models will all eventually die and be replaced by younger people who grew up in this copy and copy alike world and will find new ways of making money but there might be a hell of a lot of collateral damage to the law as they go down.


Everyone has to pay $10 a month to the film industry.

We already have the IP tax. In my country, it's essentially a value added tax on all digital mass media, regardless of use. The money from that is lumped in with the money from concerts and from playing radio in public, and goes to an entertainment organization that then distributes it to its members and partners as it sees fit.



The metionned 'HADOPI' group has been very productive as an entertainement provider lately. In particular, the specifications for 'netwotrk security softawre' (that should help one prove his innocence in a piracy trial) are a great read :

* compliant software must implement reversible hashing (my favorite)

* use of compliant software may not be used as an argument to prove one's innocence in court

* cloud computing is actually a 'network protocol'

etc.etc.etc.

(a short analysis (in french) http://www.pcinpact.com/actu/news/63264-hadopi-analyse-speci...)


The whole idea of the "eG8" is offensive both on the one hand to the concept of the real G8, and on the other hand to the accordance by which matters pertaining to the politics of the Internet should be debated.

The G8 is a group of elected officials who represent their respective countries based on democratic process.

The eG8 is a bunch of industry folks who represent no one but their own self-interests.

If the 'real G8' was the heads of General Electric, ExxonMobil, Toyota, ConocoPhillips, Samsung, Berkshire Hathaway, Ford, etc we'd all horrified and out raged.

If the eG8 was a private meeting of industry folks to shoot the shit on whatever, go in right ahead. But if they're going to debate policy it's a total red flag.

I'm surprised there hasn't been more outcry frankly.


From the article: "Expression is not like that. The notion that expression is like that is entirely a consequence of taking a system of expression and transporting it around, which was necessary before there was the Internet, which has the capacity to do this infinitely at almost no cost."

Is that accurate? I thought copyright was invented specifically to give a monopoly to creators, in order to encourage innovation/creation.

I think that statement is conflating two separate issues in order to confuse people (the logic being, we needed copyright before mass distribution was possible; it's possible now; therefore, we don't need copyright).


Does this letter from Thomas Jefferson - before telegraphs, let alone radio - answer your question? http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_8s12....


It seems like he was wrong, from this letter.

"Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from anybody".

Also worth reading the next few sentences:

" Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices."


Try again.

The argument is not that copyright is unnecessary. The argument is that "honoring copyright" and "taking legal action and attempting to secure government oversight to prop up an obsolete, commodity-based business model" are nowhere close to being the same thing.

To assert that Barlow is attempting to confuse is totally disingenuous. The two issues are conflated. They're conflated because the rights-holders have conflated them. He's not sitting on that stage debating a panel of artists and philosophers; the majority of them aren't even proper economists. They're just the guys who have the most to lose if things change, and they're attempting (I would argue illegally/unconstitutionally, but until we can get a handle on lobbyism, 1st and 4th amendment rights violations, and continuing trends towards oligarchy in this country... que será, será) to leverage as much influence as they can muster to legislate their poor business model into continued existence in a world which no longer supports it.

Let's take the honorable Mr. Gianopulos' example: when someone asks you for a couple hundred million dollars to make a movie about some blue aliens, you'd like to be compensated.

First of all, "some blue people on another planet"? Now, I'll be the first to say that I felt Avatar was mostly Pocahontas with better visual effects. But come on. Gianopulos was a poor Greek kid from New York City, he attended college and law school, then immediately went to work in Hollywood. This is his entire life. He's on a stage insisting that the sanctity of these (his?) arts must be protected by any means (currently legal or not) necessary. And he still can't get six words out of his mouth without being completely dismissive of the art he professes a desire to protect. This is one of the two biggest successes of the man's professional career. I wonder if he refers to Titanic as "some fucking thing about a sinking boat."

(The attitude illustrated in the preceding paragraph is the foremost reason many of us consider these people to be pig-fuckers, incidentally. I'm going to step outside the bounds of rational discourse for a moment and risk some downvotes to make an audacious assertion: If you (not you, edanm, who I'm replying to, but you, the reader) believe that these multi-billion dollar media conglomerates actually concern themselves with art or the livelihoods of artists, or that they intend to protect anything but their own bottom lines, or that they are somehow entitled to the role of sole, perpetual rights holders and distributors of any media created by anyone, anywhere, ever (as their comments indicate that they believe they are), you need to please see your way right the hell out of this discussion—maybe do some light reading, I'd recommend starting with Lessig's Free Culture— because you clearly don't understand what the fuck is going on here. Yeah, there was a lot of hyperbole in there. I'll leave it up to you, dear reader, to sort out whether or not I'm full of shit.)

Now, down to brass tacks. What Mr. Gianopulos is really concerned with is Avatar as a vehicle for his well-deserved compensation. So let's take a look, shall we?

   Avatar budget: ~$237,000,000
   Avatar worldwide gross as of Jan 2011: $2,039,472,387+
According to News Corp's 2000 Annual Report [1], 20th Century Fox grossed roughly $1 Bn worldwide for all films released in FY 2000, and nearly half of that (~$494 M) was a result of them duping viewers worldwide into watching Star Wars: Episode 1 (including me, on opening day, the bastards). I was a freshman in high school by the end of FY 2000, which means Napster was in it's last throes, but Opennap networks were as numerous as they'd ever been and more configurable clients like WinMX were widely distributed, Newsgroups and IRC Warez/Scene channels had been hot for years, and the Kazaa's of the world were coming soon, with Torrents and an infinity of blogs posting an infinity of Rapidshare links on the horizon. I "knew" (on the internet) a guy at the time who had over a terabyte of music available for download, when a terabyte was an unfathomable amount of data. He had a cushy job where he could more or less take home as many hard drives as he wished, whenever he wished, and he filled them up largely with multi-hour trance and techno DJ sets, at quality levels way above the average back then.

All of this is to say, in FY 2000, if you knew how to work the internet and were so inclined, you could get anything you wanted, for free. Maybe you had to wait a few days for it to download on your dial-up connection, and it may have occupied 20% of the remaining free space on your 20 Gb hard drive, but you could get it. All those people who paid repeatedly to see "The Phantom Menace" multiple times in theatres? They definitely knew how to download a copy of it well before it was released on DVD. And yet they still paid. Weird, right?

Flash forward a decade, when broadband is prevalent, storage is cheap, and the tools and understanding required to download any given copyrighted work are not merely the domain of geeks and organized crime, but are in fact readily available to your dentist, my mom, an increasing percentage of the elderly, and everyone on earth under 25 years old. Also, probably dogs. Yet 20th Century Fox managed to nearly double FY 2000s yearly gross with a single film. But Mr. Gianopulos is concerned about compensation. Better call the lawyers. Actually, better just get international heads of state to issue mandates that henceforth Sony/BMG, Time Warner, CBS, NewsCorp, Viaporn...I apologize, Viacom, NBC/Universal/GE?/Comcast??/Whatthefuck and the weeping ghost of Walt Disney are the sole arbiters and proprietors of any creation which may be construed as "media," and furthermore will act as government contractors wherein they will be responsible to define and enforce the meanings of the words "art," "artist," "music," "culture," "innovation," and most importantly, "deserve."

None of this even begins to address the astronomical budget of a film like Avatar in an age when a $200 cell phone can record higher quality video for a longer period of time than a $15,000 professional camera and $40,000 worth of film could 15 years ago, nor the fact that marketing ANYTHING to a worldwide potential customer base has gone from "complicated and expensive" to "marginally free, and the easiest shit ever." My passion, music, also suffers great tribulation resulting from the decisions of the aforementioned pig-fuckers, and as you'd imagine I have quite a lot to say on the topic, but I've already written a ton here, best to let some of you tell me why I'm doing it wrong before I carry on.

[1] http://newscorp.com/report2000/filmed_ent.html

(edit: changed caps to ital, removed superfluous characters)


Yea, many of this I am well aware of already. In fact, I have a series on artificial scarcity and it's problems. The problem is how to get the media companies to finally change and fix the problem completely. Doing the debugging to find out exactly what is happening internally would be a good idea.


For example, has someone investigated the exact history of "Hollywood accounting"?


I, for one, would love to know where those hundreds of millions to produce Avatar went, for instance. I wonder what slice of that pie was attributed to "Marketing Expense." Turns out it's free to upload a video (like, a trailer, let's say) to YouTube and link to it elsewhere. Go figure.

But insofar as media conglomerates addressing this matter internally, why would they? It's not a problem for them.

Their revenues have been on a steady climb since ever. They know god damn well how little overlap exists in the groups "definitely going to pay for it" and "would consider downloading it for free." But they would have you believe that every "illegal" download represents a lost conversion.

Now there's blood in the water, because "Hollywood" is one of the few industries left in America which still makes any money, and as belts continue to tighten, highly compensated lobbyists (including the most highly compensated, Cary Sherman [1]) will be more and more successful in convincing conservative politicians that they need to vote to protect entrepreneurship and (not really) free market capitalism, and liberal politicians that they need to lend their support to secure the livelihoods of our poor struggling artists. The more sinister elements in all of our governing bodies will jump at any opportunity to introduce legislation which further erodes liberty but allows them to monitor/control that damn Internet thing. All the while, most artists still get fucked by the system, ClearChannel/LiveNation/GoldenVoice are still shitty, evil monopolies, and the executives of major media firms laugh uproariously all the way to the bank.

I sincerely doubt that the change will come from within. Not that there aren't people who work for those organizations who care passionately about the arts, who understand technology and its implications in significant and meaningful ways, who generally have their hearts in the right places. There will be a place for them in the arts economy of the future, but somebody new will be signing their cheques (or bitcoins).

The decision-makers at the top are the ones who give off the impression that they'd prefer to hide in their opulent executive chambers, doing their damndest to legislate their competitors out of existence, and ultimately bleed to death, gripping stacks of money, gold bullion spilling from their pockets, then actually compete on the free market, and perhaps die an honorable death.

The Guardian conducted an interview with electronic music pioneer, brilliant composer, omni-talented artist and all-around genius Brian Eno last year, wherein he stated the following:

"I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them for a while were lucky. There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn't last, and now it's running out. I don't particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip. It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you'd be stuck with your whale blubber. Sorry mate – history's moving along."

Two important points here:

1. This was going to happen no matter what. These firms rose to prominence during an odd period in the ongoing history of our world civilization when ideas, emotions, and artistic expressions could be recorded, duplicated, and feasibly distributed to consumers around the world. They happened to exist at an exact moment on the timeline when it was just cheap enough that it could be accomplished, but just expensive enough that a large firm was required to organize workers, consolidate (what was, at the time, very expensive) equipment, and coordinate distribution to drive marginal costs down. That moment in time is passing. Marginal costs to produce and distribute media are rapidly approaching zero.

2. The inevitability of these changes in market conditions is no reason to vilify media conglomerates. They did just spend about 60 years betting on all the wrong horses, but no one could know that the Internet (and all it entails) was coming. The reason to vilify these organizations lies in their reactions to these changes. I'm not going to go down the list, suffice it to say that much resentment towards labels/studios/production groups/etc. has built up, not just on behalf of artists and others with a dog in the fight, but in average consumers. That resentment just didn't exist a decade or two ago. The "rights-holders" fought the inevitable, and now not only are they going to lose, but they've so antagonized their customers—the only people who may have been able to prop them up long-term if only due to sympathy—that people who previously wouldn't have given a shit are now positively giddy at the idea of someone like Jim Gianopulos standing, defeated and alone, with nothing but a stupid look on his face and all his fucking whale blubber.

I assert that in no way is the continued existence of these lumbering, bumbling, crumbling dinosaurs a requisite condition for humans to have the opportunity to create, distribute, access or enjoy art, in any of its forms, anywhere.

I'll be happy to watch them suffer, and eventually die. And that's on them. 100%.

[1] http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2011/05/21/a...

(edit: quote formatting)


"I, for one, would love to know where those hundreds of millions to produce Avatar went, for instance."

Not what I mean. I mean things like exactly when and why they started doing it.

"I sincerely doubt that the change will come from within. "

Yea, but someone else could do the debugging and maybe fix the root cause.


My apologies.

If I've assumed at least one thing correctly and by "it" you mean producers and studio heads artificially inflating budgets in order to ultimately line their own pockets and the pockets of their friends, I would find it hard to believe that there has been any point in the entertainment industry's history when that hasn't been prevalent.

As to the "why," what, you don't like money? Here, have some more money, now now do you like it? Rinse, repeat.

I'll venture that we're doing the debugging right now, as we discuss this matter. The debugging occurs every time a 14 year old reads about these issues and wonders how the hell it could be possible, let alone legal, for these entities to behave so miserably.

I'll indicate once more that I believe the root cause of this excess lies in these unsustainable institutions and the selfish people who lead them. Leave art to the artists, we'll/they'll figure out how to make money doing it, I'm sure. If you're a failed lawyer or a failed artist or just a plain-vanilla opportunist and you want to run a commodity business, sell canned peaches. Or literally anything else in the world where there's an economic incentive tied to an actual physical object, anywhere but your own mind.


"and the selfish people who lead them. " I believe "legacy MBA" are the key words. The old MBA courses taught a lot of horrible stuff, including self-interest and control which are probably big factors.


"a $200 cell phone can record higher quality video for a longer period of time than a $15,000 professional camera and $40,000 worth of film could 15 years ago"

Definitely untrue. Consider just the lens.


Noted. I'm willing to rescind that bit, unnecessary hyperbole intended to drive home the point that most of the scarcities which have driven up the real costs of media production over the years have recently evaporated, yet the "budgets" and the compensation which producers expect—and apparently, "deserve"—remain astronomical.

You'll note that despite its phenomenal financial success, Avatar was unsuccessful in its bid for Best Picture, an accolade which one would assume is of greater importance than "moneymoneymoneymoneymoney" to artists (read: the people who actually make this stuff). The Hurt Locker—a film which cost ~$11M to produce—came away with that honor. Perhaps if Mr. Gianopulos is concerned with ensuring his fair compensation, he should stop allowing James Cameron to convince him it costs $300M to make a movie people will pay to see.

As an aside, if you want to float me $55,000 I bet I can find a way to arrange a few dozen iPhone camera sensors into an array that would beat the pants off of any "professional" solution available c. 1995.


When I see all this talk about regulating the internet over the last years, I cannot help but greatly miss the "good old days" when barely any of these gentlemen nor organizations even knew what the internet was and what was going on there...


>I cannot help but greatly miss the "good old days" when barely any of these gentlemen nor organizations even knew what the internet was and what was going on there...

That last part doesnt seem to have changed that much actually. What changed is that now they try to mess with it anyway.


>That last part doesnt seem to have changed that much actually. What changed is that now they try to mess with it anyway.

Exactly. The only thing they have done by intervening is amplified the anarchy. In this, at least, they are fulfilling their role as entertainment providers.

IMO the internet is even MORE of a wild-west type of place right now than it was ten years ago, despite or even because of attempts at regulation and corporate intervention. Whether this is all about to collapse in on itself, well, thats the million dollar question.


Whether this is all about to collapse in on itself, well, thats the million dollar question.

I believe it is. Look what is going on. The people who makes the decisions have no understanding of the technology or its possibilities within a societal context.

It is the same reason Kevin Mitnick was put in solitary for so long. People in power make poor decisions with misinformation.

I say let it collapse and we will move on to the next thing. I remember people in the late 90s, early 00s remarking the internet is a fad. I vehemently disagreed at the time.

Now, I believe it to be more likely than less likely.

Who knows, maybe Mark Zuckerberg is our Francisco D'Anconia?


Yes, but that does not keep those same people from claiming the authority to "regulate" and "change" it. Though I am wondering how they are actually going to enforce all that on something as vast and international as "the internet".

And, let's be honest, all this was and is about absolutely nothing but the music and movie industry crying over allegedly lost sales. Only the wordings used to describe it have changed. (now it was "a more civilized internet"... that sheer smug-ness is hard to miss.)

How can two expendable industries have that much influence on politics??? Even with all their lobbying and "donations". It is not like we would suddenly lose our western culture without them.


Governments have their own non-industry agendas too (i.e. WikiLeaks).


They have a ton of money and cultural/legal obligations which drive them to manipulate legislation and law enforcement in their favor as much as is practicable (and it turns out our governments are corruptible enough that it is infinitely practicable). This fight will probably continue for as long as these organizations exist on the surface of the Earth. Or until they win.


In the real good old days, many internetworking attempts failed because they tried to have a point of central control. Only the current internet protocol survived the evolution.


I'm glad he went I guess, but I think Cory Doctorow had the right idea. All this will serve to accomplish is give the summit an air of legitimacy and they'll just make the invite list more exclusive next time. Meanwhile none of these pig-fuckers are interested their arguments being challenged on their merits. They know what they are about, and it is decidedly not the best interests of society, or even creative expression.

"Speech has to be free but movies cost money."

I doubt he even meant this to be a double entendre. He is literally trying to be reasonable by suggesting that people should not have to pay blood money to 20th Century Fox in order to post something to their blog. He is seriously trying to illustrate benevolence here.

So I doubt that trying to reason with these people serves a purpose.


> I think Cory Doctorow had the right idea. All this will serve to accomplish is give the summit an air of legitimacy[…]

I think this is debatable. It depends on how the summit is eventually presented by mainstream media. If they say there's EFF co-founder, and the panel concluded that we should lock this IP leak machine that is the Internet, then Cory and you are right.

But I've already heard news on the radio (France culture, in France) which talked a good deal about freedom, and let speak a spokesman from LQDN. So there's a good chance that the actual report from a good deal of the mainstream media is that the industries said one thing, and the EFF said another. They may even report that the EFF said the e-G8 is something the EFF doesn't approve of. In that case, Cory and you would be mistaken.

In the end, however we probably need both. Someone who won't go to avoid legitimizing this farce, and another one who go take the heat to secure a minimum media coverage for dissent.


Is it a form of censorship to not go to a powerful forum about censorship and give your ideas against censorship?

If all those against, lets say "censorship", are silent when a major debate is being heard on it, then who do you think will get all the PR, and win in the end?

I think for Cory it is a privilege that he was invited and it would have been a privilege to take part in the debate. It is an important debate, whatever their motives may be. We are at a turning point, and all voices ought to be heard, lest we, our society, makes an irrational decision because of the silence of some.

Speak louder. That is, after all, what needs to be protected.


I am torn on that because I'm not sure that choosing not to attend was a wise decision.

But anyone who didn't back the interests of mass media going into that forum had to know that the deck was stacked against them. That is, that they would be regarded as a sideshow - a token representative from outside the sphere of consensus. That's all John Barlow is here. Let's have EFF put together a similar event and see how many representatives from the copyright regime show up. Let's see if they get Jim Gianopulos from 20th Century Fox.

Let's not pretend this entire conference was anything other than a PR stunt. These are the same assholes behind ACTA.


"Meanwhile none of these pig-fuckers are interested their arguments being challenged on their merits."

I love how you talk about challenging people on their merits, right after calling them "pig-fuckers".

"They know what they are about, and it is decidedly not the best interests of society, or even creative expression."

I'm sure they're after profit first and foremost (like many people), but that doesn't mean what they're advocating isn't in the best interests of society as well.

Why not try making an actual argument instead of name calling and saying that it's not use reasoning with them?


What argument? Let them put forward a justification for what they propose, rather than a naked power play in their own self interest. Let them participate in an actual forum instead of this contrived horseshit. Then they'll hear all the arguments they can stand.




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