Slick anti-corruption video takes on US copyright system

This anonymously funded movie satirizing the corruption of the copyright system in the USA has been viewed more than 10,000,000 times. The creators, who maintain the website, explain that "the U.S. Government is making a major push to enforce its laws abroad with complete disregard for sovereignty of other nations in order to extradite so-called 'criminals' to the US where they will be tried for their 'crimes' in American court."

Ars Technica's Timothy Lee spoke to some of the creators:

On Wednesday, Ars talked to an individual behind the video. He said he and a friend paid for the video out of their own pockets. They are hoping to "raise awareness" of what they view as America's repressive copyright policies.

The video has three scenes. In the first, the "American Motion Picture Association" announces it has hired "Senator Chris Rodd" (clearly references to the MPAA and its chairman, former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)) to represent Hollywood. In the second scene, police carry out a military-style raid on a London home. The final scene takes place in an "undisclosed location." The kid arrested in London is now in chains, wearing an orange jumpsuit and a hood over his head. The young soldier guarding the prisoner asks an older American in a suit what the suspect did, and looks incredulous when he's told that he's been arrested for copyright infringement.

Obviously, the video is over-the-top. Nothing exactly like the incident depicted has happened in real life. The US government doesn't subject copyright defendants to the same harsh treatment as suspected terrorists. But after the commando-style raid on Kim Dotcom's mansion in January, it may be close enough to the truth to make effective propaganda.

As Lee points out, this movie is as slick as a Hollywood film itself.

Anonymous donors bring Hollywood production values to anti-MPAA video


  1. ‘The US government doesn’t subject copyright defendants to the same harsh treatment as suspected terrorists.’

    But they’d certainly love to!

      1.  It was totally necessary. Dotcom had a self-destruct device that was going to crash the world’s markets, cause pregnant women to miscarriage, poison the atmosphere to make the planet uninhabitable, and erase the evidence on the servers that the FBI had already seized…

  2. IP has only been around several hundred years and is a largely failed social experiment.

    The lie that was used to sell it to the public was that it would encourage innovation, protect the small innovator, and without it the small innovator would not be able to innovate.

    In reality, most IP is not owned by the small creators and innovators, controlled markets in almost every sector have seen to that.  It drastically limits innovation because we are seeing the common domain and the very pieces that innovation is built upon locked down and restricted.  The small innovator and creator cannot bring the legal firepower to the game to even benefit from these laws.  Even the large corporations are choking out each other and have to buy up and merge into each other in order to have enough IP to continue to compete and innovate.  The small innovator and creator doesn’t stand a chance anymore.

    IP has only ever served to benefit the few at the expense of the many.  It has stifled innovation and is increasingly doing so at an exponential rate.

    Artists and small innovators are increasingly being pushed out.  In the past they have always benefited from those that appreciated their work directly, this too is becoming increasingly impossible.

    All innovation and creation is built on the backs of those that went before us, the last thing we want to do is prevent that.  The single best thing we could do to encourage innovation and creation is to scrap IP open up all knowledge for everyone to be able to build and innovate off of.  I don’t know why this is frightening to people, this how things have worked for all of humanity up to the last few hundred years when we allowed the few to steal from the commons for their own profit.

    IP has had the exact opposite effect of the lie that was sold to us.  It has done more damage 100 fold over what it was supposed to prevent.

    (this is just my opinion. take from it what you will.)

  3. I weep for humanity, the government and corporations are trying to label making copies of something, making more of something, into an evil, morally and ethically deplorable act. A criminal act no less. Future generations, with their replicators and nano-bots, will look back and wonder; how did the people of this age just accepted these labels and bullying tactics, and yet had the means to fight them all along.

    1.  I agree completely, except for the weeping for humanity bit.  I weep for the politicians, who are labouring under the misapprehension that they have enough power to control the behaviour of their citizens without their consent.

  4. The important parallel is a powerful commercial interest group is influencing (writing) policy to the detriment of ordinary citizens and governments are playing ball (and colluding with one another to do it).

    That’s plenty scary for me, without the threat of armed arrest.

    1.  London *is* in England.    And although it’s technically equally correct, I’ve never heard anyone say “London, UK”, ever, except when writing a postal address.  

          1. No, they aren’t the same thing.  Our “regions” would perhaps be the closes thing to US “states”, so you’d probably put London, Greater London if you wanted to have that effect.  Some people might argue that “counties” are a closer parallel, but either way you still wouldn’t class England as the correct container.

        1. AP style is just “London” because you do that with all world cities. AP style is also “New York” without the “N.Y.”, but the latter is still correct,

          London’s official website describes it as “London, England.” 

          “London, England” is widely used on both sides of the Atlantic. The British will simply be cognizant of the constitutional appropriateness of any given use, whereas Americans will not.

          1.  This, although if it was “constitutionally appropriate” to call it “Borisville,Airstrip One”, I would still call it London, England.  No matter how many people wrote style guides.  

        2. Exactly! We all know London is in Ontario.

          I went on writing Reading, Royal Berks on letters long after  it wasn’t ‘correct’, because I liked it. Whatever. Everything  still got delivered.

          Oh, and I checked the Guardian style guide. It says:

          “Surprising as it may be to some London-based journalists, most of our readers do not work or live in the capital (or, indeed, the UK). So give location, not just name: ie King’s Cross, north London, not just King’s Cross; there is a Victoria station in Manchester as well as in London, so make clear which one you mean”

          So London, England is fine (and accurate!).

        1. A caption a postal address.   Good grief. 

          There IS no “right” or “wrong” here.  There are no police to whisk you off in the night if you qualify a location with the wrong “region”, whatever the hell that means.  Even in London.  

          Even if it *were* a postal address, the only test of “right” would be whether the letter got delivered.   Do you seriously think that a letter to an address ending “London, England” would go somewhere else?

    2. Unless you’re on the Olympic team, in which case it would be London, GB because Northern Ireland existing isn’t as important as having a name that easily rolls off the tongue.

  5. Cool movie!

    And because of the Citizens United decision, this video is definitely legal.   Otherwise, it might violate campaign finance laws just as much as a whiny right-wing movie about how EEEVVVILLLL Hillary Clinton is, or a whiny liberal movie by Michael Moore about how evil the Bush family are, or as much as the unapologetically biased MSNBC and Fox News opinion shows do.  (Only one of those got challenged in court, but the laws that they were charged under don’t realistically distinguish between them and the other targets.  I’d rather have seen liberals get charged and win, because it would be obvious to the liberals that it was a good decision, instead of them perceiving it as Bad Guys Winning, especially because, yeah, Citizens United were bad guys making a bad movie with bad intent.)

    And as far as the “money isn’t speech” argument goes, the First Amendment also protects freedom of the press, and while you can occasionally speak without money, you sure can’t run a press without it.

  6. Should have just used the police home-raid scene from Brazil for the intro, the infringement (or is it fair use?) of which would have made for delicious irony.

  7. They aren’t all whores. I don’t think it’s fair to assume that all politicians are for sale.

    There’s probably a couple who will do it for free because they like the attention.

    1. Nice.  How about bumper sticker style:  “Not all politicians are whores.  Some are sluts.”

      A bit misogynistic.  But more thought provoking than the equally correct “All politicians are assholes.”

      1. Yeah, it’s hard to adequately describe the that combination malignancy and avarice so that it fits on a bumpersticker. Besides, Sluts serve a useful purpose.


        “Politicians == Society’s Cancer”

  8. Prostitutes merely sell their own bodies.  Members of Congress who leave to pursue lucrative lobbying careers, for which they need to serve their future corporate masters while in office, are betraying the electorate.  Suggesting that Christopher Dodd is a prostitute is an insult to prostitutes.  He’s closer to Benedict Arnold.

  9. “The US government doesn’t subject copyright defendants to the same harsh treatment as suspected terrorists.”

    They sure don’t, can’t get suspected terrorists on a damn plane to the  US, but Richard O Dwyer, who’s committed no damn crime here in the UK, is still being targeted for extradition to the  US on copyright offences, despite only hosting links to TV show torrents.

    If I was as cynical as I actually am, I’d suggest that terrorism just murders and injures people, and destroys people and families, therefore it’s not really that important, whereas copyright infringement MIGHT cost a corporation ten bucks somewhere along the line therefore we need to call in a special forces team to take that guy down!

    As above, prostitutes provide a needed service and really earn their money, so it’s a terrible slander to compare them to politicians, because usually they are the ones f***ing us, and then still taking our money anyway.

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