Boing Boing 

Telcos' anti-Net Neutrality argument may let the MPAA destroy DNS


The telcos' ongoing battle against Net Neutrality have led them to make a lot of silly legalistic arguments, but one in particular has opened the whole Internet to grave danger from a legal attack from the entertainment industry, which may finally realize its longstanding goal of subverting DNS to help it censor sites it dislikes, even if it makes life much easier for thieves and spies who use DNS tricks to rob and surveil.

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NYC theater overrules MPAA rating for Snowden documentary


Citizenfour, the acclaimed Laura Poitras documentary about Edward Snowden, has been given an R rating by the notoriously corrupt and opaque MPAA ratings board (see This Film Is Not Yet Rated).

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Kim Dotcom accuses NZ PM Key of conspiring with Warner to extradite him to US


Dotcom claims he has emails between New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Warner exec Kevin Tsujihara in which Tsujihara explains that Dotcom was followed by private security in Hong Kong and that Key had made the extradition promise to Warner as part of the deal to shoot The Hobbit in NZ (the MPAA, Warner and Key's office all dispute the email's authenticity).

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MPAA targeted subreddit is an overnight sensation

Fulllengthfilms, an obscure subreddit with next to no traffic shot up to more than 300,000 daily visitors after it was targetted for takedown by the MPAA. It is now the fastest-growing subreddit on Reddit.

MPAA and ICE admit they yanked an innocent man out of a movie for wearing Google Glass

Representatives of the MPAA and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency confirmed that they worked together to yank a Google Glass wearer out of a movie theater, detain him in a small room against his will, confiscate and inspect his electronics (including his phone) and coerce an interview out of him with legal threats. They believed, incorrectly, that their victim had been recording the movie with his gadget. The Google Glass set he wore had been fitted with prescription lenses and he was watching the movie through them because they corrected his vision.

The MPAA's and ICE's statements are bland and anodyne (ICE says that the interview was "voluntary," though the man's account contradicts this). Neither of them explain how it is that a movie theater employee can call an MPAA hotline, and how the MPAA can then command ICE law-enforcement officials to drop everything and rush down to a multiplex to roust a potential camcorderer and treat him like a presumptive criminal.

The problem for the MPAA of camcordering is that they would like to stagger the release of their films -- first to the theatrical exhibition channel, then to airplanes and hotel rooms, then to pay-per-view and streaming services and DVD, etc. This makes them more profitable, but only if they can keep each channel discrete. Lots of businesses struggle with their profit-maximization strategies, but only the MPAA gets to command the forces of federal law-enforcement in the service of their business-model, putting the cost of that strategy onto the tax-payer.

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Studios increase MPAA funding to $66.8M

The latest tax-filings by the MPAA show that the studios have increased their membership dues to $66.8 million -- up 50 percent. Former Senator Chris Dodd, the architect of the failed SOPA law, has gotten a raise to $3.3M/year. MPAA staffing levels are still down 20% after 2011's layoff of 44 people.

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MPAA asks judge to exclude evidence on piracy losses

In a crowded field of talented practitioners, MPAA piracy figures are standout examples of misleading, silly, outright BS. No wonder then, that the MPAA has asked a judge to exclude any data on losses due to piracy from its lawsuit against Isohunt.

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UN copyright body passes treaty on rights of people with disabilities

The World Intellectual Property Organization's Treaty to Faciiitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired. Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities (the "Treaty for the Blind") has finally passed, after many years of hard work by copyright activists and activists for the rights of people with disabilities.

They were fought, tooth and nail, by the big copyright groups, who were shameless in their willingness to use people with disabilities as pawns in their ideological war on the idea that anyone should be able to do anything with a copyrighted work without explicit permission. The Motion Picture Association was especially terrible here -- a new low for an industry that has made a lobbying career out of plumbing the depths of depravity.

My congratulations to all the copyfighters who made this unprecedented treaty come to pass: the World Blind Union and Dan Pescod (especially!), Knowledge Ecology International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- all of you. As a former WIPO delegate, I can say that this is an unbelievable shift in the way that the UN makes copyright policy.

What's more, it was a (mostly) open process, in sharp contrast to the sinister closed-door process that the Obama administration has insisted upon for the Trans Pacific Partnership and other copyright treaties. Bravo to all of you for setting an example of how copyright policy can be crafted to uphold human rights.

To the shameless lobbyists at the MPA, remember: if you live long enough, the odds are good that you, yourself, will become print disabled. We are all only temporarily sighted. The treaty you tried to wreck was aimed at some of the most vulnerable, information-impoverished people in the world -- and someday, you will join them. For shame. When you see your old parents next, think of them, and what you tried to do to them, and the people of their generation, for the sake of a few extra pennies and some macho gamesmanship.

Marrakech Treaty For The Blind Signed; MPAA Unable To Kill It

Studios regret sending Google a list of every pirate site on the Internet for publication

The movie studios send a lot of takedown notices to Google, demanding that the search engine remove links to sites and files they don't like. Google publishes all the notices they receive, and this has Fox and other studios upset. Now, they're sending takedown notices demanding removal of their takedown notices.

MPAA says "they're doing something" about offering legit services, ignores the fact that they're doing it poorly

Here's Techdirt's Mike Masnick at his finest, nailing a point perfectly:

[MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman] says that somehow, magically, because there are more crippled, annoying, expensive, incomplete movie services out there, no one should complain. You see, in the MPAA's world "offering something" is proof that they're innovating, even if it's not what people want.

MPAA Pretends 'Offering Something' Is The Same Thing As 'Offering What People Want'

How Hollywood-funded corporate vigilantes in the UK shut down SURF THE CHANNEL and sent its owner to jail

Anton Vickerman is a British entrepreneur who operated a search-engine called "Surf the Channel," indexed links to online video content. After an estranged former business-partner filed a complaint, he was targetted by FACT, the UK branch of the Motion Picture Association of America (a shadowy enforcement organization staffed with former police offers), who played every single dirty trick imaginable, from illegal searches to leaning on judges, to make an example of him. He is going to prison for five years. As his final act as a free man, he was written an extensive and well-documented report of all the sleaze and slime that a vigilante group bankrolled by some of the most powerful offshore companies in the world used to shut down his business and get him jailed. It's a long read, and if you're not furious by the time it's over, you're a lot more cynical about corporate-owned justice than I am.

I was convicted of “Conspiracy to defraud the movie industry through the facilitation of copyright infringement” on June 24 2012 after an eight week trial. A trial that was brought not by the UK state prosecutor, the Crown Prosecution Service, but by a private prosecutor, the Federation Against Copyright Theft Limited. For those that are unaware FACT Ltd is the UK regional office of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the same organization that is behind the attempted extradition of Richard O´Dwyer who based his own website TVShack on STC. As will become clear as you read this piece I consider FACT Ltd and the MPAA to be dangerous vigilante organizations that have no place in prosecuting UK citizens never mind conducting up to fifteen illegal surveillance operations every month on those same citizens. FACT Ltd are a private limited company staffed almost entirely by former police and trading standards officers most of which FACT Ltd have identified as willing to go “that extra mile” in their fight against “copyright thieves.” In other words there is a reason that FACT Ltd employs the individuals they do (be that investigators, lawyers or executive officers) – because they are willing to cheat, lie and break the law for their employer. Essentially FACT Ltd is the MPAA´s private police force operating within the UK. But more of that later.

After my conviction many stories appeared in the press regarding the “facts” of my case which I found odd as not one journalist had bothered to attend the trial during those eight weeks. I later found out that these so called facts had been passed to various journalists in a 1600 word press release by FACT Ltd the contents of which were then dutifully parroted by lazy journalists who couldn’t even be bothered to check if what they were reporting was accurate. Publications such as the Daily Mail and my local paper the Evening Chronicle actually just copied and pasted the FACT Ltd press release en masse with only minor alterations. Such is the state of investigative/responsible journalism nowadays. It is because of these inaccurate articles and lies that I felt the need to give my side of the story so that publications that are not as lazy or sycophantic to FACT Ltd would have the true facts at their disposal should they want to report what has really happened here. I can but hope.

I will try to keep this story as short and to the point as possible but the reader will appreciate that this is a tale that spans the last five years of my life and a lot has happened during that time. I will be as brief as possible but you’re still going to need to give me 30 minutes of your time if you want to know the whole story. Sorry!

I started my site on October 1 2007. STC only ever contained links to third party video websites such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Veoh, 4OD and many others. It did not nor has it ever streamed content itself. It rapidly became popular and I was able to form partnerships with Warner Bros., Discovery Channel, A&E Television Networks and many other bona fide companies as they realised how important STC was becoming in the Video on Demand market. STC quickly became one of the leading video search engines in the world second only to Google Video.

A Very British Miscarriage Of Justice: The real story behind the conviction of SurfTheChannel´s owner Anton Vickerman

Former MPAA CTO who switched sides explains to the White House why SOPA is stupid

You may remember Paul Brigner, the geek who quit his job as CTO of the MPAA to work for its arch-rival net-freedom advocates at the Internet Society, who manage the .ORG top-level domain. He has just filed comments with the White House's IP Czar rubbishing the techniques proposed in SOPA, which contemplated censoring the Internet by tinkering with the domain-name service in the hopes of reducing copyright infringement. At the time that Brigner left the MPAA for ISOC, a lot of us were worried that he'd officially endorsed SOPA and argued in favor of it at Congress. Brigner and ISOC both assured us that he'd had a genuine change of heart, and these comments are the proof in the pudding. As Mike Masnick notes, Brigner was a pretty half-hearted, ineffective SOPA advocate, but he's a rip-snortin', ass-kicking critic of it.

We are also of the opinion that any enforcement attempts – at both national and international levels – should ensure and not jeopardize the stability, interoperability and efficiency of the Internet, its technologies and underlying platforms. The Internet – a network of networks – is based on an open and distributed architecture. This model should be preserved and should surpass any enforcement efforts. For the Internet Society preserving the original nature of the Internet is particularly significant, especially when enforcement is targeting domain names and the Domain Name System (DNS) in general. There are significant concerns from using the DNS as a channel for intellectual property enforcement and various contributions have been made on this issue by both the Internet Society and the technical community. It needs to be highlighted that from a security perspective, in particular, DNS filtering is incompatible with an important security technology called Domain Name Security Extensions or DNSSEC. In fact, there is great potential for DNSSEC to be weakened by proposals that seek to filter domain names. This means that DNS filtering proposals could ultimately reduce global Internet security, introduce new vulnerabilities, and put individual users at risk.

Our second recommendation relates to the legal tools that should be in place in any enforcement design. ISOC would like to stress the absolute need for any enforcement provisions to be prescribed according to the rule of law and due process. We believe that combating online infringement of intellectual property is a significant objective. However, it is equally important that this objective is achieved through lawful and legal paths and in accordance with the notion of constitutional proportionality. In this regard, enforcement provisions – both within and outside the context of intellectual property – should respect the fundamental human rights and civil liberties of individuals and, subsequently, those of Internet users. They should not seek to impose unbearable constitutional constraints and should not prohibit users from exercising their constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of association and freedom of expression.

As a general recommendation, we would like to emphasize our belief that all discussions pertaining to the Internet, including those relating to intellectual property - both at a national and international level - should follow open and transparent processes.

Former MPAA CTO Tells The White House Why SOPA Is The Wrong Approach For IP Enforcement

Buying DVDs just got worse thanks to obnoxious new anti-piracy warnings (pirating movies remains unchanged)


The MPAA and the DHS have teamed up to increase the punishment meted out to people who buy their DVDs instead of downloading the same movies for free from the Internet. Now when you buy a DVD, you'll get twice as many unskippable anti-piracy warnings, including one with a Homeland Security Investigations “special agent” badge next to the FBI badge, as well as a screen telling you that "digital theft harms the economy" and inviting you to visit a taxpayer-funded website that parrots a bunch of unsubstantiated lobbynomics numbers that the MPAA pulled out of its ass.

Only MPAA members are licensed to use these government logos, because other studios are apparently not entitled to a share of whatever imaginary protection the DHS is extending here.

Here's ThreatLevel's David Kravets:

That screen, like the others, presumably will be made unskippable during viewing. The warning says, “Piracy is not a victimless crime. For more information on how digital theft harms the economy, please visit www.iprcenter.gov.” The center’s logo is tough, too, with a hawk clenching a banner that reads “Protection Is Our Trademark”.

Oddly, such warnings are rarely included in versions uploaded and downloaded via P2P networks.

Pirates Beware: DVD Anti-Piracy Warning Now Twice as Fierce

Meta-analysis of studies on file-sharing

A post by Slashdot user Dangerous_Minds summarizes a series ZeroPaid's Drew Wilson, who has been examining 20 file-sharing studies from the decade-plus-long filesharing wars. Time and again, the studies show that the effect on markets is marginal, and that the big entertainment companies are opposed to file-sharing a means of suppressing competition and innovation:

While most writers would simply criticize the study and move on, Wilson took it a step further and looked in to what file-sharing studies have really been saying throughout the years. What he found was an impressive 19 of 20 studies not getting any coverage. He launched a large series detailing what these studies have to say on file-sharing. The first study suggests that file-sharing litigation was a failure. The second study said that p2p has no effect on music sales. The third study found that the RIAA suppresses innovation. The fourth study says that the MPAA has simply been trying to preserve its oligopoly. The fifth study says that even when one uses the methodology of one download means one lost sale, the losses amount to less than $2 per album. The studies, so far, are being posted on a daily basis and are certainly worth the read."

What Various Studies Really Reveal About File-Sharing

Chris Dodd's imaginary topsy-turvy history of Hollywood

Former senator Chis Dodd is now the CEO of the MPAA, and was the primary moving force behind SOPA.

He's a bit weird.

His latest act of performance art, or fabulism, or whatever, is to make up a completely bullshit story about the history of Hollywood, in which the Hollywood film industry sprang into being because of strong "IP protection." He's sorta right. The founders of studios like Universal and Fox and Famous Players came to Hollywood so that they could violate Thomas Edison's film patents in peace, far from New Jersey and Edison's patent enforcers.

But that's not what Dodd means. In his imaginary world, it was the (nonextistent) heavy law enforcement in the wild west that gave birth to the industry that gives him millions of dollars today.

Perhaps some quotes from A Fish Called Wanda are in order:

Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself." And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.

To which we can add, "Hollywood was not founded on the principle of vigorous IP enforcement. That is a mistake, Chris. I looked it up."

Chris Dodd Rewrites Hollywood's History To Pretend That It Came About Because Of IP Laws

Why a pro-SOPA MPAA technologist changed sides and went to work for ISOC


My latest Guardian column is "Why did an MPAA executive join the Internet Society?" which digs into the backstory on the appointment of former MPAA CTO Paul Brigner as North American director of the copyright-reforming, pro-net-neutrality Network Society group, which manages the .ORG domain name registry.

I asked Brigner whether his statements about DNS blocking and seizure and net neutrality had been sincere. "There are certainly a number of statements attributed to me that demonstrate my past thoughts on DNS and other issues," he answered. "I would not have stated them if I didn't believe them. But the true nature of my work was focused on trying to build bridges with the technology community and the content community and find solutions to our common problems. As I became more ingrained in the debate, I became more educated on the realities of these issues, and the reality is that a mandated technical solution just isn't a viable option for the future of the internet. When presented with the facts over time, it was clear I had to adjust my thinking.

"My views have evolved over the last year as I engaged with leading technologists on DNSSEC. Through those discussions, I came to believe that legislating technological approaches to fight copyright violations threatens the architecture of the internet. However, I do think that voluntary measures could be developed and implemented to help address the issue.

"I will most definitely advocate on Internet Society's behalf in favor of all issues listed, and I share the organization's views on all of those topics. I would not have joined the organisation otherwise, and I look forward to advocating on its behalf."

Update: Joly sez, "After his appointment we (ISOC-NY) did pull Paul up on the carpet to explain himself - you can find the salient MPAA passage here

Why did an MPAA executive join the Internet Society?

(Image: Stop SOPA!, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 51295441@N07's photostream)

Studios: embedding YouTubes makes you guilty of infringement

Timothy B. Lee at Ars: "the MPAA ... urged the Seventh Circuit not to draw a legal distinction between hosting content and embedding it. In the MPAA's view, both actions should carry the risk of liability for direct copyright infringement."

Bully gets cut, rated

The Weinstein Company has caved to the MPAA and edited down the documentary Bully in order to get a PG-13 rating. Unrated, uncut versions of the movie will still be shown in some theaters -- a concession from the MPAA. See more about the story here, and here. (Thanks, Xeni!)

MPAA boss: we're cooking up a new SOPA behind the scenes

Former Senator Chris Dodd, head of the MPAA, has hinted to the Hollywood Reporter that he's already greasing the wheels for a new version of SOPA, though he's shy about revealing details because of the public outcry that might ensue. Dodd is the guy who went on the record to tell Obama that he would instruct his members to stop donating to the Democratic party because Obama didn't usher in the laws they wanted.

DemandProgress has whomped up a petition asking Obama to end the practice of writing American copyright laws in smoke-filled back rooms.

THR: Are there conversations going on now?

Dodd: I'm confident that's the case, but I'm not going to go into more detail because obviously if I do, it becomes counterproductive.

THR: Did you feel personally blindsided by Obama over SOPA?

Dodd: I'm not going to revisit the events of last winter. I'll only say to you that I'm confident he's using his good relationships in both communities to do exactly what you and I have been talking about.

This exchange comes days after the White House issued a report that urges a redoubling of efforts to crack down on piracy.

Hollywood and Obama should've learned: No form of censorship will be acceptable to Internet users, and we're fed up with corrupt, back-room deals that are driven by the rich and well-connected. Any major Internet policy changes should be negotiated in the light of day, so the millions of people who'd be affected can have their say too.

Please tell President Obama to reject Hollywood's backroom deals -- just add your name at right.

Chris Dodd Suggests Backroom Negotiations On New SOPA Are Well Underway

Tipster: MPAA astroturf group is buying signatures to beef up its numbers

CreativeAmerica is an astroturf group financed by the MPAA that pretends to represent everyday folks who want to see further-reaching, stricter copyrights, and it just happens to be run by a bunch of ex-MPAA staffers. An anonymous tipster claims that the organization has now resorted to paying people to get signups for its membership rolls:

the organization I am doing work for is Creative America, which is a grassroots organization that is working to stop foreign rogue websites from illegally distributing American content such as books, music, films, etc.... These specific websites costs the U.S. and the 2.2 million middle class industry workers $5.5 billion in wages and hundreds of thousands of jobs. Your job would be just collecting signatures from whoever is interested in signing up for updates. A newsletter may come once a month and anyone can unsubscribe if they don’t want it. We don’t care if they do; all I care about is getting initial signups.

The hours are flexible and we will pay you $1/signature, so if you collect 100 signatures a week, we would pay you $100/week. We will also pay for you to go to local film festivals in the area (SXSW, Austin Film Festival, etc.). We are also taking as many people as possible, so if you have some friends who are interested in doing it we can take them as well. Let me know your thoughts....

CreativeAmerica Literally Resorts To Buying Signatures

Studios winning the battle to stop Oscar screeners from leaking; losing the war


For ten years, Kickstarter founder former CTO Andy Baio has been compiling his "Pirating the Oscars" reports, which document which Oscar-nominated movies are available as downloads on P2P and other file-sharing services, measuring how effective the studios are at controlling leaks of "screeners" -- DVDs set to members of the Academy for review consideration. This year marks a turning point for the industry, as it ends a three-year-long trend of increased screener leaks.

However, Baio says, the studios have "won the battle and lost the war," as this year also marks the first year that 92 percent of the nominated films were "available as high-quality DVD or Blu-ray rips." As Baio notes, "If the goal of blocking leaks is to keep the films off the internet, then the MPAA still has a long way to go."

But the MPAA may have little to do with the decline. Oscar-nominated films could be coming out earlier in the year, making screeners less important.

Or maybe the interests between the mainstream downloader and industry favorites is diverging? If the Oscars are mostly arthouse fare and critical darlings, but with low gross receipts, they'll be less desirable to leak online. It would be very interesting to track the historical box office performance of nominees to see how it affects downloading. (Maybe next year!)

The continuously shrinking window between theatrical and retail releases may be to blame. After all, once the retail Blu-ray or DVD is released, there's no reason for pirate groups to release a lower-quality watermarked screener.

Pirating the Oscars 2012: Ten Years of Data

White House won't say if it will investigate MPAA boss for fraud

The White House says it can't comment on a petition to investigate former senator-turned MPAA boss Chris Dodd for fraud over the remarks he made in which he implied that his industry's campaign contributions were bribes in exchange for specific legislation. The White House says it "declines to comment on this petition because it requests a specific law enforcement action."

Hollywood: a corrupt empire, founded by pirates

Writing in the Toronto Sun tabloid, Alan Parker rails against the corruption of the entertainment industry, and the hypocrisy of the way that they've painted Kim Dotcom and MegaUpload: "The film corporations that were spawned by the very pirates and outlaws who created a hole-in-the-wall getaway hideout in Hollywood are now leading the charge to eradicate uncontrolled Internet access to works and technology they say they hold copyright and patent title to." (Thanks, Brian!)

MPAA's number two admits industry "not comfortable" with the Internet

A great Mike Masnick Techdirt editorial deals with MPAA second-in-command Michael O'Leary's statement that, "[the Internet is] a platform we're not at this point comfortable with."

The MPAA's O'Leary concedes that the industry was out-manned and outgunned in cyberspace. He says the MPAA "is [undergoing] a process of education, a process of getting a much, much greater presence in the online environment. This was a fight on a platform we're not at this point comfortable with, and we were going up against an opponent that controls that platform."

Yes, even when he tries to say that they're trying to learn about that confounded internet thingy, he sounds ridiculous and dismissive. But the real point is his inadvertent admission within that statement: the MPAA (and the rest of "old" Hollywood) simply "is not comfortable with" the internet. And that's really what SOPA and PIPA were about. Rather than trying to understand this new platform, and learn from the many entertainers who do get the internet, they did what the MPAA does and simply tried to regulate that which they don't understand and fear.

Furthermore, even more ridiculous is the end of that sentence: "an opponent that controls that platform." As the article makes clear, he means Google. Which shows that he still doesn't get it. First, Google didn't lead the protests. It came late to the game, after the grassroots had already taken off with this stuff and run with it. But, more to the point, contrary to what O'Leary and the MPAA seem to believe: Google does not control the internet. No one does.

MPAA Exec Admits: 'We're Not Comfortable With The Internet'

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom appears in New Zealand court

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, a German national formerly known as Kim Schmitz, is seen at court in Auckland, New Zealand in this still image taken from video shot on January 23, 2012. The file-sharing website founder was ordered to be held in custody by a New Zealand court on Monday, as he denied charges of internet piracy and money laundering and said authorities were trying to portray the most negative picture of him. (REUTERS/TV3 via Reuters Tv)

Read the rest

Chris Dodd to Obama: Hollywood will stop supporting you because you were soft on SOPA and PIPA


Former Senator Chris Dodd, now head of the MPAA, is pissed at Obama. He's threatened to withhold entertainment lobbyist money from Obama's upcoming re-election war chest over the administration's lack of support for SOPA and PIPA. As an ex-Senator, Dodd is prohibited from directly lobbying Congress for a couple more years, and some insiders tell me he feels that this hamstrung his efforts because he couldn't sit down over lunch with lawmakers who directly owed him personal favors and demand that they stay firm on SOPA and PIPA.

"Candidly, those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake," Dodd told Fox News. "Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake."

EXCLUSIVE: Chris Dodd warns of Hollywood backlash against Obama over anti-piracy bill (Thanks, mindofbryan!)

(Image: Blackmail - South Congress Avenue, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from swanksalot's photostream)

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)

MPAA claims Ars Technica helps thieves

On its official blog, the MPAA describes Condé Nast-owned news site Ars Technica as a "blog with a long history of challenging efforts to curb content theft." Consider it a window to the MPAA's soul.

Head MPAA shill reduced to outright lies in bid to make the case for SOPA

MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd is making the rounds in DC, trying to gin up support for the Stop Online Piracy Act, which establishes a national censorship regime in which whole websites can be blocked in the US if the MPAA objects to them. The former senator turned shill has run out of plausible arguments in favor of the bill, so he's resorted to really, really stupid lies.

Case in point: Dodd recently told the Center for American Progress that "The entire film industry of Spain, Egypt and Sweden are gone."

Of course, this is a flat-out, easily checked, ridiculous lie.

Sweden actually produces a number of high quality films. Released in 2008, the vampire flim Let The Right One In received critical acclaim here in the U.S. Additionally, all three best-selling books of the Millennium Trilogy are Swedish films and 2009’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was quite successful. The film made a modest $10 million in the U.S. and a respectable $104 million worldwide.

Considering the budget for the U.S. remake of the film is $100 million - as much as the original film has earned to date - perhaps Dodd meant that the film does not count until Hollywood gets a chance to remake it. Ironically, the U.S. remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was shot in Sweden.

Chris Dodd was correct to say that film is an international industry, but he was wrong to say that the Swedish film industry has disappeared and misleading to imply that all Hollywood jobs are American jobs. At least for this Hollywood production, Sweden has a lot to gain.

Mike Masnick at TechDirt has more details on the (healthy) film industries in Egypt, Spain and Sweden.

Chris Dodd Resorting To Outright Lying In A Desperate Attempt To Get SOPA Passed (Thanks, James!)

Secret documents reveal the flimsy case for Ofcom to give into BBC's public TV DRM demands

The Guardian just published an investigative piece I've been working on since the summer: "How the BBC's HD DRM plot was kept secret … and why." It contains the previously secret text of a memo that the BBC sent to the UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, explaining why they wanted to put DRM on publicly funded broadcasts.

The British public overwhelmingly rejected this approach, as did archivists, tech companies, activists, scholars, disabled rights groups and others. But Ofcom granted permission anyway, saying that the BBC's secret memo made a compelling case for DRM being in the public interest. Both Ofcom and the BBC refused to disclose what the BBC's arguments had been, declining both press queries and Freedom of Information requests.

Essentially, the BBC and Ofcom were saying that DRM was in the public interest, but it wasn't in the public interest for the public to know why. I acquired a copy of the secret text and, as I think you'll see, it does not contain any sort of compelling evidence in support of DRM. Rather, it makes flimsy and sometimes laughable arguments (for example, the BBC says HBO demands DRM on its programming, but HBO has an exclusive deal with BBC rival Sky, so it won't be licensing new programming to the BBC, with our without DRM). What's more, the BBC's claim that this material was "commercially sensitive" doesn't bear up to scrutiny -- is it really "commercially sensitive" for the BBC to publish the fact that people like to watch movies on TV?

At the end of the day, I'm left with the impression I got the first time I met with Ofcom about this: that Ofcom wanted this and the BBC wanted it, and regardless of the public interest, the evidence, or the law, they'd get it. In my opinion, the secrecy that Ofcom and the BBC deployed here was only there to allow them to say, "Well, it seems difficult to understand why we're doing this, but that's only because we can't tell you about the important, secret stuff."

Here the BBC discusses its plan to accommodate educators, critics and archivists. It plans on establishing a confidential marketplace for more powerful "professional" TV receivers and recorders that can defeat its scrambling system. This bizarre system – creating an entity that would have to manufacture and distribute these devices, after approving the credentials of archivists, critics and scholars – is meant to be kept secret because it makes it clear that it would be easy to defeat the scheme.

So here you have the BBC claiming in one breath that its partners want effective protection from copying, and in the next breath saying that this won't be very effective protection.

Funnily enough, "this will be easy to defeat" is a point that many of the individuals and institutions who formed the majority opposed to this plan made in their statements.

How the BBC's HD DRM plot was kept secret … and why