An abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today

As Xeni wrote on Tuesday, the MPAA isn't pleased about sites like this one going dark to protest SOPA and PIPA. Former Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America called it "an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today."

Well, he should know.

After all, he is the CEO of the organization responsible for inserting those unskippable FBI warnings (which are highly prejudiced and factually incorrect, advising, for example, that DVDs can't be rented, even though the law says they can) before every commercial DVD. He's the CEO of the organization that inserts those insulting PSAs in front of every movie chiding those of us who buy our DVDs because someone else decided to download the same movie for free.

And he's the CEO of the organization responsible for the section of the DMCA that makes it illegal to build a DVD player that can skip these mandatory, partisan, commercially advantageous messages.

So he knows a thing or two about "abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today."

(Image: Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick)


  1.  It takes a lot to make me really angry, but the MPAA has gotten quote good at it. As I wrote on twitter, this peace of PR is so full of spin, it propably takes quantum physics to new levels.

  2. Money is power and might makes right until the People say different but the PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY DIFFERENT.

    1. Money is power only when it is centralized. What is really interesting is watching local communities deploy their own currencies and actually prospering because it removes the economic leaks to big conglomerates.

  3. The MPAA’s mental model of the Internet appears to be that it is run by a consortium of business leaders with unconscionable influence over a large number of excitable and easily led code monkeys. Most of that seems mid-numbingly ignorant, but I guess yesterday proved the “excitable” part.

  4. Hey, I’ve got a plan; how about commerce and the people of the USA choose to ignore these laws, even if they are brought into power?  Seriously, if the public unilaterally ignore the legislation then it’s barely worth the paper it’s written on.

    Although maybe this would work better in a country that wouldn’t prefer every citizen behind bars…


    1. The problem is, SOPA and PIPA are designed to starve sites that are blacklisted of money, by going after ad and payment providers, too.

      So, not only do you need guns to attack the LEOs who come to try to arrest you, you need them to violently compel MasterCard, Visa, AmEx, PayPal, and such companies, as well as Google, to do business with you.

      1. Hmm, i wonder how hard it will be to set up a payment processor in the Pacific somewhere. Oh wait, they could just force the big ones to not do business with me. Or “incentivize” by making them immune to prosecution as long as they take proactive steps when they learn about a (potential) infringement.

    1. If you are in the UK (or can fool the internet into thinking you are) you can watch the whole thing for free on4OD via youtube  

  5. “Those unskippable FBI warnings . . . before every commercial DVD”: not every DVD. The Criterion Collection puts them after the movie. It’s one reason why I like buying Criterion DVDs.

  6. This… actually seems like a weak example of the MPAA’s abuses.  I mean the unskippable FBI warnings in particular.  They’re simple notifications about the law, after all, and though it can be annoying to be reminded endlessly about a law that nobody follows, it’s a minor inconvenience.  The DVD player example is a little better.

    Come on, we all know the MPAA is evil, so there’s gotta be meatier examples to provide!  There’s gotta be dirtier dirt on them than this!  We may need it too in order to kick them to the curb.

    1. I think they’re a much better example of an “abuse of power” as Wikipedia choosing to go dark for a day, or Google putting up a banner with a link to information about how terrible SOPA is to the Internet.

      Since neither of those two things are in fact abuses of power, and that the unskippable misleading messages on the front of DVDs ARE an abuse of power if only a mild one, I think that kind of makes Cory’s point.

    2. “They’re simple notifications about the law, after all, and though it can be annoying to be reminded endlessly about a law that nobody follows, it’s a minor inconvenience.”

      People who don’t follow the law don’t see the notice.

    3. Even if they would be factual correct information *and* skippable – even than it does not make a law *right*
      Law and right should be the same, but often they are not. And the percentage of not-the-same is a good rule of thumb for how much freedom or dictatorship there is in a society.

  7. What is the solution though? Creatives have a right to not have their work stolen from them and not everyone wants to live in a communist society. “Sharing” is just a rationalization for greed and pretending that theft of other people’s property. It is not ok. It is no better than Gordon Gekko saying greed is good. Greed is not good. Wanting to profit at someone else’s expense is destructive. Just because people have been able to get away with it doesn’t make it right. It isn’t right. Piracy is immoral. It’s not ok. Just because people make things you want doesn’t give you the right to just take them and enjoy them yourself. It’s wrong.

    Stealing is wrong. Sharing is just a modern euphemism for communism and if you think you have a right to my property I’ll stop making it because I need to live. I’d like to know what the alternatives are. Taking down the web sites where thieves put their stolen goods sounds like a good idea to me.

    I am a poor person, not even middle class, but I pay for the things I use or I find open source  alternatives. I own Photoshop CS5, Luxology’s Modo 501, ImageSynth, TheaRender, Filter Factory, Autodesk SketchBook Pro, ArtRage Pro, Autodesk Image modeler, Stitcher, Messiah Studio 5. I assembled the PC I am using right now and I paid for the Windows 7 pro it is running on just like I paid for Windows XP pro before. I buy music through iTunes, I watch movies and TV shows I like when they are broadcast or on the network’s own channel when it’s available.

    Why can’t you do that?

    1. You are the only one implying we arn’t doing the right thing by supporting adobi, or microsoft, or whoever.

      For the over nine thousanth time this is not about copyright infringement. This is about gutting the internet so the clock is wound back twenty years where the MAFIAA had a lockdown on the distribution channels. They’re simply bellyaching that we as their consumers are getting huffy over the fact they’ve bought out our congresspersons and have the unholy nerve to point out that every single copyright extension and copyright related act on the books has favored them rather than us.

      And even with DNS breaking removed it’s still pretty evil. Having a site’s revenue streams (which can /ONLY/ be returned if the site owner goes to a judge and files a motion in… I think it was like five days? Not much notice at all could be wrong there even if you arn’t getting hit by a judge that simply sees you’ve already been punished thus are already guilty of something.) Nevermind the fact that this throws innocent until proven guilty out the window.

      I create content. Granted I’m not in the league of Mr. Doctorow but all the same it is how I make money. I oppose any bill that would place all the burden on the accused with little to no realistic repercussions for false accusations. I would rather anything and everything I write get pirated and BILLIONS made off of it in movie/tv/music/whatever derivatives that I wouldn’t see than to have this or any similar bill pass.

      The article writers of this blog have time and again rewarded people who have shown creativity by linking to their content and driving business their way. Yet you equate them with people stealing bread from somebody else’s mouth.

      Have you no shame?

      1. “You are the only one implying we arn’t doing the right thing by supporting adobi, or microsoft, or whoever.”

        No, I’m implying that you are a thief if you use their property for your financial gain. Are you? Do you own the copy of photoshop you use to make money? I’m also asking, what your solution is. Take it as given that SOPA and PIPA are bad legislation. What would good laws protecting my property from being stolen by thieves and distributed on the internet while at the same time not breaking it look like. I’d really like to know.

        The ideal solution is to have all nations observe IP laws and for local police to go after thieves. That isn’t realistic, so what is the solution?

        1. Then reword your statement to be less accusing and more in line with reality.

          Again. ‘Thief’ This implies somebody can somehow reach through your eathernet cable and start stealing things from your home. Granted there is identity theft (which is a very real problem) but we’re talking about software, movies, music and the like.

          The proper term is Copyright Infringement. Start using it because I am fairly sick of downloading being equated with Somali pirates going after cruise ships. One means one thing the other means something else. Stop mixing the two up!

          The problem here more has to do with distribution and service. Netflix? love it. iTunes? Meh, great proof that you can compete with free if you have quality service, however I dislike apple so I look elsewhere like Amazon, Barns and Noble, Smashwords, or go to the artists themselves and cut the middleman out altogether.

          Bits will not get harder to copy. Mr. Doctorow introduced me to that with a few of his essays (freely available off his site by the way.) Trying to make bits harder to copy punishes honest consumers and encourages them to look up ways of downloading illegally to fill the niches proper legitimate content disallows (backups so your sticky fingered four year old won’t destroy your copy of Toy Story, or Barney, or whatever…. yet ripping a DVD you own onto a networked drive so you can stream that copy and keep the disc in a safe place is illegal. Nevermind you own the physical media and arn’t intending ot share it. Very much a service like what Netflix offers, except theirs is legal and privately doing the same and not renting the bits out is not legal.)

          As for ‘all nations observing ip laws.’ Same laws that won’t allow you or I to sample clips from movies or music or whatever from fifty years back or attribute more than a handful of words out of another book without paying insanely expensive fees because we have to wait for the author/rights holder to die, then wait another seventy years after that? Copyright has gone from compensating a person for generating work that is then allowed to enter the public body of knowledge to ‘forever minus a day.’ 

          How do we fix this? An overhaul of the laws governing Intellectual Property and Copyright would be a start. Rewrite from scratch to take into account the current realities, have fair use explicitly spelled out and protected. Give rights holders tools to have content removed from a site that isn’t playing by the rules, and most importantly have transparency for the whole process along with accountability for intentionally false accusations to try shouting down opposition, or for using heavy handed methods that are knowingly going to harm by-standards.

          1. “Again. ‘Thief’ This implies somebody can somehow reach through your eathernet cable and start stealing things from your home.”

            No it doesn’t. Theft occurs when you take something that you do not have permission to take. It doesn’t matter how it is done.

            “The proper term is Copyright Infringement.”

            The proper term is piracy and it has been used for labeling the theft of protected content for 400 years.

            The fact that making information hard to copy may or may not be a wise decision does not make piracy right. The fact that one legal streaming service works better than another does not justify downloading from Pirate Bay. You already have the right to make back ups of your DVD’s. No one is taking that away.

            “How do we fix this? An overhaul of the laws governing Intellectual Property and Copyright would be a start.”

            Well then the way you do that in a free democracy is you convince enough people that your way is right and then you lobby your representatives to change the laws how you want them or to sign treaties with other nations to observe international laws. That is how change happens and that is what the studios are doing. Why aren’t you?. In the US less than half of the people even bother to vote. It seems hypocritical to me to then complain about the government you (3rd person) can’t even be bothered to vote for.

            I’m in favor of fair use, overhauling the laws (HOW?) and transparency. What I don’t know is what a good copyright law would look like.

        2. Neon, you are truely dense. Theft is defined as the illegal taking of anothers property without their permission or consent, with the intent to DEPRIVE THE RIGHTFUL OWNER OF IT.
          That is to say, copying data can be: Copyright infringement, Counterfeiting goods, Intellectual property violation.
          It cannot be theft because the rightful owner, still has his property.

    2. If you don’t want your work stolen, then don’t put it where it can be stolen.

      That said, talking about “have their work stolen” is already inside a framework that the MPAA and others have set. They have given you a hammer and now everything looks like a nail to you.

      Copyright was created to promote the sharing of information (and to get money to the members of the bookprinters guild and with that to make books easy censorable).
      Paying creators was added later on as a thought that that would hopefully made them make more of whatever. That was in the so-called Statute of Anne, which was an Act to promote learning.
      Paying creators is just a means to this end, and having third parties like printers or the MPAA ist (was) just an unwanted necessarity.

      That doesn’t mean that not paying creators is good. I like creators beeing paid. I would applause a world where nobody needs to get paid for beeing creative, though (and not only because money as a motivator is bad for creativity as science has shown). But whatever:

      Making laws that preserve a certain kind of the unwanted third parties is just rediculous, because that damages both goal *and* means. And it is even more rediculous if that damages creativity and basic human rights, as SOPA and all these laws would do.

      1. “don’t put it where it can be stolen.”

        That is not acceptable. Are you saying that I can’t create and sell my property over the internet? How is that a a solution? Even if I sell it privately and don’t put it on the internet someone else can. That’s what they do now.

        “Copyright was created to promote the sharing of information”

        Yes and in order for that to work in a capitalist economy there must be protections from theft for those who create intellectual property. What is your solution, I’d like to know.

        I don’t accept your conspiracy theory that the only motive for copyright law was to enable censorship and I don’t live in the 18th century.

        “money as a motivator is bad for creativity as science has shown”

        I don’t accept this claim either. I think the clear message of the 20th century is that socialism doesn’t work. Without the profit motive people just don’t work or create as much as they do when they can see a personal benefit for themselves.

        “Making laws that preserve a certain kind of the unwanted third parties is just rediculous”

        Who is talking about third parties? What is the average creative person to do? Today you are a fool if you make your hard work available on your website. You either don’t put it there at all or you lock it up or plaster your signature all over it.

        If people could be assured that their property would not be stolen there would be *more* of it for you to consume, not less. Allowing thieves to steal everything that isn’t nailed down harms *me* because I cannot survive in that kind of environment.

        What is the solution?

        1. Guess you’re going to have to evolve then because you’re on your way to becoming a dodo bird. People survived just fine for thousands of years before the idea of copyright existed.

          1. I don’t want to live like a hunter gatherer and neither do a lot of other people. I suspect that it is not I who will go into the dustbin of history. I think today’s pirates will be a lot like yesterday’s pirates…. history.

        2. Just because it can’t be said enough times:

          Copyright infringement is not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft.

          They are distinct by definition. It’s been affirmed by courts over and over. Copying something the law forbids you to copy is illegal, but it’s not stealing. If there was something you actually had and now don’t, that’s stealing. And it’s not what happens here.

          1. THANK YOU! 

            I am not saying downloading without paying for the latest blockbuster is kosher. I am saying it is INFRINGEMENT. Only when you have the proper vocabulary can you discuss the issue.
            Now then @bvonahsen:disqus Neon. I do not know whether you are willfully ignorant of the situation, or if you have connections with the people wishing to back SOPA, PIPA, and any other bill past or future on the issue of Copyright and attempting to destroy the internet. I suppose it shouldn’t matter since it’s clear either way you don’t perticularly wish to listen to anybody that disagrees with you.Yes that could be leveled at me where you’re concerned right now but you’re not giving me any solid arguments. You’re doing, from as near as I can tell, the textual equivalent of nod and agree and continue to shout that we’re morons.

            Just because a middleman is not needed does not mean it couldn’t be done. Advertising, currating on a storefront site (such as Amazon’s createspace, Etsy) or rolling your own storefront is hard freaking work. So is trying to get word out.

             However from what I’ve seen in my haphazard research shows at agreements made by either recording or movie industries are highly lopsided unless you happen to be a Big Name and thus are able to negotiate multi million dollar contracts. Otherwise get in line man-cog, you are replaceable. Book sales arn’t much better with a writer having to write several books a year just ot make an equivilent to minimum wage.

            With Books it’s the article writing or live speaking engagements that get you money (Just asc Mr. Doctorow.) With Music it’s the live shows. Guessing with Movies it’s also with appearances and endorsements.

            A middleman eases things since you arn’t having to do it all yourself and presumably they can lend experiance and the credibility of their name to throw behind you. However as is it’s often just as well to go it solo, give away digital copies of your product as promotional material for hard copies, live shows, speaking arrangements, and the like.

            The Web enables those of us that aren’t Stephen King, Tebow Brown, Christian Bale, or Justin Beiber to have options. So that should be, in a free society, encouraged. Let the better service win.

            Instead we’re looking at people that wish to put a thumb on the scale to disallow people from taking options other than go through anything but them for anything better than local distribution.Fer Christ’s Sakes with just a netbook I can make a slick book, layout, cover, and all to send off to a printer and bypass the fuss of rejection lettters and having to nicker around with whther I get to keep the rights to the things I’ve written. I could use freely avalible open source software to record, mix, and image a whole CD’s worth of music.

            Going up to somewhat pricer hardware I could take footage recorded from a handheld camera. Edit it. Do color balancing. Edit audio levels. And make a fair approximation at near hollywood quality footage on a really low budget.

            All this seems to terrify those that used to hold themselves as the sacrid gatekeepers of what joe and jane public would consume for their entertainment. They nolonger have absolute control. This is not about Infringement. This is about Control.

            I am not as well read as Cory, or Xeni, or many of the staffers here. However they have allowed me a voice. So I’m going to speak.

            Good day to you.

            (Contents of this post Copyrighted Andrew Singleton, licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribute-non-commercial, Share-alike license.)

    3. the point everyone is making is that piracy is indeed wrong, however the SOPA and PIPA acts are taking it to far.

      if passed the internet and what makes it the “internet” would cease to exist. 

      stop the illegal copying of copyrighted material but dont do so to the point that if someone makes a youtube video with a justin beiber song in it or happens to accidentally view a pizza hut sign or something be a law breaker.

    4. a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it*removal of personal property with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it*

    5. “Creatives have a right to not have their work stolen from them.”

      OK, let me put this in terms you might understand.  I think we could all agree it wouldn’t be at all cool if you broke into my house and stole everything that wasn’t bolted down.  Doesn’t mean I’d think killing you, your whole family and burning your house down on the basis of an ex parte action where you’re not even allowed in the room to mount a defense is a proportionate – or proper – response.  Any questions?

  8. I’d love to see real black outs for more than a day.  How about Google, Yahoo!, et al, really shut down their sites?  I know they’d loose money, lots of it probably.  But isn’t the overtone of the whole point to show that technology, freedom, etc…, is worth more than just money?  I applaud BB for really dumping the site yesterday.  I wish the Internet could have just stopped for a couple days and really hit people at home.

  9. May not always work for the “FBI Warning,” as it is the first thing to pop up, but at least you can skip unwanted PSAs, previews, and everything else on a DVD you paid for (rent or own)… many DVD players are hard-coded to either go straight to playing the movie or go to the top menu if you hit STOP-STOP-PLAY or in a few cases STOP-STOP-STOP-PLAY on the machine (ours works only on the machine, not the remote). This has been saving us tons of unwanted viewing on rental DVDs for quite a while now… Handy little hack. Give it a try.

  10. The worst part about this has nothing to do with any particular “abuse”, but rather the fact that this guy (or anyone) is the CEO of a company that’s responsible for a law.

  11. Dodd is also the guy who, as a Senator, took in more money from Wall Street than any other.  He also accepted gifts and special consideration on his loans from banks.  And he is the co-author of the Dodd-Frank legislation that is nothing more than “show” legislation.  Dodd-Frank does nothing to rein in the recklessness on Wall Street.  Just look at the pay levels the fat cats earn while taking extraordinary risks using taxpayer-guaranteed funds.

    Honestly, I can’t understand why the Occupy movement and the Tea Party movement can’t find common ground on fighting big banks, corporate cronyism, and big media.

    1. Because the Tea Party is funded and paid for by people with deep pockets that wish to use their sideshow to discredit libertarianism.

  12. Cory: Can you explain something to this bear of little brain.  If these “FBI warnings” are factually inaccurate and (if what I’ve read elsewhere is true) not authorized or even scripted by the FBI can’t the Feds do something to stop them? 

  13. The technology that makes FBI warning unskippable has now migrated to dvd trailers. I rented the “The Debt” from Netflix that starts off with 5 minutes of trailer that can’t be stopped or fast forwarded past. On the same dvd was a list of special features that you can’t watch unless you buy a disc. It’s only a matter of time until this catches on and I wait five minutes before switching the tv output to dvd after putting a disc in the player because I resent being held hostage more than once per disc.

  14. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. How can this kind of rampant hypocrisy stand in the United States?

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