Angelenos: public "piracy" hearings TODAY in Van Nuys!

Congressman "Hollywood" Howard Berman (who once proposed legislation that would allow rightsholders to hack American net-users' PCs if they believed the machines were involved in infringement, but excused them from liability if they targeted the wrong machine) is holding "piracy" hearings in LA later today (Monday), and the speaker's list consists of nothing but representatives of giant studios and theater chains, as well as someone from the "Global Intellectual Property Strategy Center."

If you're a copyfighter and you're around Van Nuys today, why not attend the meeting and see if you can't ask an impertinent question or two?

On Monday, April 6, Congressman Howard L. Berman will chair a field hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to assess the financial impact of global intellectual property piracy. The public is welcome to attend this hearing, which will be held in the City Council Chambers at the Van Nuys Civic Center, 14410 Sylvan Street, from 10 a.m. to noon...

Witnesses will be: Steven Soderbergh, National Vice President of the Directors Guild of America; Richard Cook, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios; Michael F. Miller, Jr., International Vice President of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE); Zach Horowitz, President and Chief Operating Officer of Universal Music Group; and Timothy P. Trainer, President of Global Intellectual Property Strategy Center, P.C.

Congressional Hearing in Van Nuys Will Explore How to Sink the Copyright Pirates (Thanks, Lewis!)


  1. WTF is the *stage* union guy doing there?!

    The biggest pir8 of stage media is movies and TV, not downloaders. Heck, I’ll admit it, I’ve looked for soundtracks for musicals on bittorrent before, and for the most part they’re non-existent! (at least for the stuff I want)

    It’s amazing how some smooth-talking professional con-artists (many of whom have “lawyer” business cards) can convince people — using FUD, of course — that the only reason they are struggling financially is the filthy *individual* thieves!

  2. Sounds like it’ll be a big intellectual property circle-jerk…

    I love how these representatives of large industry meet on a regular basis to try and figure out how to stop Billy Jointsmoker from downloading their wares, and as of yet, despite all of these bigshots and their years of wisdom working together hand in hand, can’t stop me (and many thousands of others) from downloading a crap workprint of Wolverine a month before it comes out.

    Just like the war on drugs, this whole thing is a goddamn farce.

    I really hope a few folks sneak in there with some ‘V’ masks and deliver a live-action rick-roll to these fucks.

  3. I think it’s funny how major labels have been fighting piracy for so long, and still losing money, while independent labels have realized the power of ‘free downloads’ and used to to their advantage.

  4. legislation that would allow rightsholders to hack American net-users’ PCs

    I forget — did this apply to all rightsholders, or was it another one of those things where Disney and Viacom get to trash your computer in defense of their property, but the big corporations retain the right to steal yours?

  5. @Mars! is that strictly true?

    I noticed that when there was a lot of stuff withdrawn from availability on Spotify that there was a significant chunk of it that was on indies (Constellation, being one), plus I have read numerous rants from indie labels about the reduction in their sales “because” of downloads. I haven’t studied this empirically, but I suspect nor have you. In other words, I’d be suspicious of “Big label bad, small label good.

    (Note, I’m not saying that they were necessarily right – perhaps the reason that the former sold 20,000 and the latter only 5,000 is because the latter was less popular)

  6. It’s very true these large companies RARELY even think about the copyrights of artists whose work they often use and repackage. I licensed punk photos back in 1977 to NBC. A few years ago, fans wrote me, asking if my photos opened a new DVD packaging which included what looked like my photos.

    I did my net research, which let me to Universal, who told me Shout! Factory were responsible. I talked to the main man there who admitted they NEVER EVEN THOUGHT to TRY to track down who owned the photos which opened the show. He had to figure out if they or Universal owed me money.

    (Fortunately, I’ve saved EVERY receipt, invoice, contracts, etc since 1976. However, because of my name, rep and photos online, no one ever argues when I state a photo is mine. I can always dig up the original and scan, as well. In this case, they were surprised I had the payment stub.)

    I never get paid for the time I spend tracking down, negotiating, billing, as well as sending them jpgs showing them the whole scan.

    But IF I ever used THEIR products, they’d be on me like a hungry dog on a bone, their lawyers out for blood.

    Years ago, when interactive CDs first came out, the BIG issue was the cost of licensing photos, art, content. The companies were ALL bemoaning this. Oh they couldn’t make a profit cos the creators wanted to be paid.

    I know one major company, who went from CDs, to laser disks to DVDs (and considered quite a classy company), who routinely NEVER paid for visual content, if they could get away with it. I also know photographers who spend a great deal of time tracking down their work, and some are able to get some money.

    It’s just awful, makes me literally turn my back on my work. I can’t use MY photos to make merch, cos of celebrity rights of privacy, but companies bootleg my work all the time. Then people think I’m a bootlegger, circumventing the laws of the land. The money I can recover is minimal. The hardest part is finding out who is using my work. I don’t have a big staff like these companies.

    It’s a racket. Copyright laws were meant to protect the artists, so they and their families could survive after years of hardship. They were never meant to be used the way they are used now.

    Why is that? Cos photographers won’t organize! They won’t tell each other ANYTHING about their business. They don’t have unions nor standard pricing, like for licensing footage or music. I’ve talk to so many entertainment photographers who are SO CLUELESS about their rights, what they can or can’t do. Most don’t want to know.

    So we get what we deserve, I guess. No one at the table standing up for the rights of visual artists, especially entertainment (rock) photographers.

  7. the speaker’s list consists of nothing but representatives of giant studios and theater chains, as well as someone from the “Global Intellectual Property Strategy Center.”

    Hasn’t Steven Soderbergh historically been pretty forward-thinking about digital distribution?

  8. Wait..

    does this mean that hacking becomes legal if you can prove a belief in copyright infringement?

    if so , I’m all for this! Think about day 0 — the MPAA tries to scout hackers, meanwhile everyone is hacking the MPAA , IRS, and credit card companies to clear records — and has a new federal mandated defense!

  9. I called Berman’s office to obtain minutes for this meeting (left a message). I will post up the copy if/when I get them.

    Sometimes I think I’m the only CC-loving, copyfightin’ nerd/student in Van Nuys (well… technically from Van Nuys. I go to UCSD now :/)… Hmph.

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