On Thursday, Congress is expected to pass The Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act through committee. That there’s even a rumor going around about the Senate making this a No. 1 priority when they come back from their holiday vacations is an indication of how fierce the push back has already been about these horrible pieces of legislation.
Indeed, a full page ad opposing the legislation has now been placed by the founders or co-founders of internet powerhouses such as Yahoo!, YouTube, Craigslist, Netscape, Google and Twitter. But Hollywood may still have its way, thanks to having former Senator Chris Dodd as head of the MPAA pushing for this along with other lobbyists. You can be certain that low-budget filmmakers don’t have the same influence.
What Congress is about to do is to waste taxpayer money, ruin lives, destroy jobs, stifle creativity (of artists like The Underground Multiplex) and help create the biggest folly since The War on Drugs.
This is because, in large part, Congress doesn’t understand that movies released on torrents sites are not stolen, they are shared. It’s a very basic misunderstanding of human nature. You can still do whatever you want with the original. You still own the rights, plus you still can make money based on the quality of that film, as you are still the person connected legally to it.
Several ads take Hollywood’s position, the most famous being the “You Wouldn’t Steal” video that blares onto your screen as soon as you insert a DVD into your player. (Parodies have been made of that since). The industry is also banking on using such heavy hitting celebs as Jack Black and Jackie Chan to combat who they perceive as job killing evildoers.
But instead of trying to find a way to use file sharing to the studios’ advantage, execs are trying to force draconian rules stifling creativity and having rules set in place similar to what’s being done in China and Iran. Critics of the bill have already embarrassed proponents by mentioning that there would be no Justin Bieber–the very personification of viral marketing–without file sharing.
Instead, the industry has tried to unsuccessfully shut down The Pirate Bay in a highly publicized raid, causing a 35% drop in internet traffic in all Europe when the site went down for a few days. Recently, another attempt at restricting access to The Pirate Bay in Belgium was laughably circumvented by the bit torrent company at the cost of less than $20.
That’s not the only recent embarrassment for the entertainment industry. It seems that the composer for the music of the anti-piracy ad “You Wouldn’t Steal” mentioned above was never paid his due royalties when his music was used on DVDs without permission. When he pressed for his revenue share, the royalties collection agency stated they would do so but only with a massive bribe attached.
If that weren’t enough to turn Hollywood red-faced, there’s the very recent debacle regarding Megaupload, Kim Dotcom’s highly successful online download site. A Hollywood industry’s recent video portrays Dotcom as practically evil incarnate to the movie industry (go to this video and watch at the 5:10 mark). Dotcom, however, just released perhaps the biggest thumb-nosing video ad yet, lining up major stars talking about the greatness of Megaupload. That ad was then forced out of YouTube and other sites by Universal, claiming artist Will. i. am didn’t consent and forced its removal–a claim the artist says is completely false. Meanwhile, Kim Dotcom came forth with Will.i.am’s legal consent papers, making Universal look like lying dumbasses.
Pissed off, yet? How about the immense big fat lie being spread that Hollywood is headed for pauper town? Yes, that’s right: Hollywood has got the big brass nuts to cry to you about how they’re losing cash, but this non-partisan Congressional report says not only otherwise, but that the studios are already nailing Netflix for $1 billion this year for the privilege of streaming their mostly crappy movies onto your small screens. Next year they plan on almost doubling the fees.
The more the general public understands about what the entertainment industry is doing in regards to piracy, the more I’m convinced they’ll see file sharing is an inevitability. A number of independent filmmakers and producers have learned where the future lies: in distributing works freely on torrents sites and having fans patronize and become part of future productions. Using independent theaters to screen films from local talents and thereby supporting those venues. Utilizing independent video stores as DVD tours and merchandise circuits to meet fans and emphasize the importance of having meeting places for film fans. It’s what we strive for with The Underground Multiplex along with our continued outreach to the enormously talented Chicago arts community to create the best series, features and podcasts around. Join us and join each other’s projects. Together we can show Hollywood how it can be done with the help of those kind enough to share.
Get wise to what’s happening and take action!