Chris Dodd (previously) was once a Democratic senator who decried politicians who became lobbyists; then he became one of the highest-paid and least competent lobbyists in DC, taking the helm of the Motion Picture Association on America and leading the organization to failure, catastrophe and irrelevance. Read the rest
It turns out that asking a piece of software to decide which websites should be censored and which ones are legitimate has some problems, which I think comes as a surprise to all of us. Read the rest
"Hollywood" Howard Berman, former-Congressman-turned-MPAA-lobbyist is one of the 15-member panel selected by the Democratic Party establishment to draft the party's platform for this summer's convention. Read the rest
Once again the MPAA has released its box-office numbers for the year, and once again, this year has smashed all records (as has been the case throughout our young century) (really!). As always, the astronomical rise-and-rise of their fortunes is somehow used to launch a call for more publicly subsidized enforcement against "piracy." Read the rest
The Motion Picture Association of America today announced that it had effectively shut down the popular Popcorn Time “fork” and movie-sharing torrent destination YTS after court orders in Canada and New Zealand. Read the rest
The Hollywood studios always claim to be "pro-fair-use" but when the US Trade Representative made a move to put fair use into the Trans Pacific Partnership, the MPAA sent a scathing, furious letter to the Obama administration condemning "the inclusion of fair use' in free trade agreements" as "extremely controversial and divisive." Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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). Read the rest
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). Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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' Read the rest
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.
Read the rest
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.