The Day the Internet Fought Back

Last week’s Wikipedia-led blackout in protest of U.S. copyright legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is being hailed by some as the Internet Spring, the day that millions fought back against restrictive legislative proposals that posed a serious threat to an open Internet. The protests were derided by critics as a gimmick, but my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes it is hard to see how the SOPA protest can be fairly characterized as anything other than a stunning success. Wikipedia reports that 162 million people viewed its blackout page during the 24-hour protest period. By comparison, the most-watched television program of 2011, the Super Bowl, attracted 111 million viewers.

More impressive were the number of people who took action. Eight million Wikipedia visitors looked up contact information for their elected representatives, seven million people signed a Google petition, and Engine Advocacy reported that it was completing 2,000 phone calls per second to local members of Congress.

The protest launched a political earthquake as previously supportive politicians raced for the exits. According to ProPublica, the day before the protest, 80 members of Congress supported the legislation and 31 opposed. Two days later, there were only 63 supporters and 122 opposed.

The SOPA protest ranks as the largest online action to date, but it was foreshadowed by similar developments around the world.

In 2007, tens of thousands of Canadians used Facebook to register their concern with impending copyright legislation (I launched one of the main groups involved). In response, the government delayed introducing the legislation by six months, during which it added several provisions aimed at pacifying the public criticism.

In 2009, thousands of people in New Zealand launched their own blackout campaign against proposed “three strikes and you’re out” copyright legislation that would have led to Internet users losing access based on three allegations of infringement. Users blacked out websites and profiles on Facebook and Twitter. The New Zealand government responded by withdrawing the legislation.

The similarities between the SOPA protest and digital activism in other countries does not end there. In virtually all cases, opponents dismiss protesters as pirates or pawns (or in the case of Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, “radical extremists“) who lack a genuine understanding of the issues.

Yet the Motion Picture Association of America is happy to trot out well-known movie stars with little copyright law familiarity since they are guaranteed to garner attention. Moreover, during earlier SOPA hearings, several politicians seemed to take pride in their lack of technical knowledge and experience.  

The MPAA called the protests “an abuse of power” by platforms that serve as gateways to information, a particularly rich claim coming from a group that once threatened to delay screening movies in Canada unless it passed new copyright rules and still requires its customers to sit through unskippable anti-piracy messages at the beginning of movies on DVDs or at the theatre.

Most troubling were lobbyists who lamented the politicians’ shifting policy positions due to the popular protest, as if their own preferred approach of spending millions on campaign contributions is somehow a more democratic method of lawmaking.

It may be tempting for SOPA protesters to declare victory, but history teaches that political wins are rarely absolute.  The current Canadian legislation, Bill C-11, is much more balanced than the 2007 proposal, but the digital lock provisions that sparked the initial protest remain largely unchanged. In New Zealand, the government later introduced a more balanced bill with greater safeguards, but the prospect of terminating Internet access was not completely eliminated.

SOPA appears to be headed for the dustbin, but successor U.S. legislation is sure to follow. A political consensus on anti-piracy legislation will eventually emerge, but the day the Internet fought back will remain the elephant in the room for years to come.

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  1. The times are a changin’. Better to move with them than be left behind.

  2. Scared
    “The MPAA called the protests ‘an abuse of power’ by platforms that serve as gateways to information,”

    combine that with two other bits of information. (1) the so-called MainStream Media (MSM) kept the public in the dark about SOPA, see MediaMatters:
    (2) the same MPAA wanted to meet behind closed doors with ‘Silicon Valley’ to discuss these matters:

    What does this tell us? That the MPAA is scared to death about de-facto MainStream Media that are not part of (read: controlled by) the Media/Entertainment (“Copyright”) Industry. People are being educated about SOPA, learn unfiltered facts that they haven’t heard before, and told what they can do if they want to stop it.

    What if Wikipedia/Google/all the other popular sites start talking about 21st Century copyright reform? The Public Domain?

    Who controls the media, controls the masses. We now have new “media” and the RIAA/MPAA have no control over them. And they’re scared to death.

  3. Next law:
    The next us law will be named the: WSTOTCA (or Will someone think of the children act) that will make illegal any websites that allows non-official posts on their website.

    Canada will also have a similar act called: C.H.I.N.A. (Canadian humanitarian internet neutralisation act) in which Harper and co will call out any opponent to this bill as Pirates and Terrorists…

  4. strunk&white says:

    I congratulate on grammatically correct construction in the second sentence above.

    Your weekly technology law column is indeed derided by critics as a gimmick.

  5. White House must respond to allegations of corruption and bribery on the part of the MPAA and Chris Dodd
    A White House petition which charges Chris Dodd, the MPAA and some unnamed “government officials and lawmakers” of both corruption and bribery now has over 26000 signatures, which means, by law, the White House must open an investigation and publicly respond to the petition. It should be interesting to see the response.

  6. strunk: reread the sentence… it says “The protests were derided by critics as a gimmick, but [Michael Geist’s] weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes it is hard to see how the SOPA protest can be fairly characterized as anything other than a stunning success.” The term “gimmick” clearly only refers to what the protests were called… and grammatically speaking, there is no possible way to infer that it somehow also refers to Mr. Geist’s tech column without ignoring the meaning of the conjunction that joins the two halves of that sentence, “but”. The subject matter is quite clear, and the “gimmick” descriptor clearly does not apply to any of the text that follows the comma.

  7. @S&W
    “I congratulate on grammatically correct construction in the second sentence above.”

    Perhaps you should check your own grammar first? This statement is poorly constructed at best. Your statement lacks a “who”. Who are you congratulating? “I congratulate on…” makes no sense. Perhaps you meant “I congratulate you on…” or perhaps “I congratulate Geist on…”.

    If you’re going to do a baseless ridicule, at least get it right. LOL

  8. Minor correction
    Reddit actually initiated the blackout and was joined by wikipedia and others later.

    I love your work though. Please keep on fighting. Cheers,

  9. Michael Geist says:

    Grammar edit
    I made a minor correction to the text. Typos and errors will happen on a blog that published the equivalent of 500 pages last year.


  10. strunk&white says:

    Thanks for correcting your error. You can make your excuses to a higher authority.

    IamMe, I’m glad you’re learning to read carefully.

    What is “a baseless ridicule”?

  11. Ray Saintonge says:

    This wasn’t the first experience for Wikipedia in this kind tactic. Last fall the Italian language Wikipedia went dark to protest a related legislative proposal in Italy.

    An interesting article about the early days of the movie industry at Hollywood piracy has deep roots and experience; they understandably object to losing that monopoly

  12. @S&W RE: baseless ridicule
    On such an important issue, if the worst complaint you can come up with is a grammatical error…why waste your time? Given the importance of the issues, a criticism about grammar IS a baseless ridicule. If this were a board about writing novels then, perhaps, such a criticism might apply. In this case it’s just a means to try and discredit the author.

    I’m also surprised you would use the word “gimmick”, obviously in reference to Dodd’s statement referring to the action taken by Wikipedia, Reddit, Google, etc. Of course it turned in to much more than a “gimmick” and was later acknowledged as such by Dodd, who called it a “watershed event”. This is the same Chris Dodd who will be under White House investigation for bribery and corruption.

  13. …correction…
    It seems the White House is not obligated to respond, but the Obama administration has pledged to respond to any petition that reaches 25000 signatures. It is currently at about 27000, gaining about 1000 signatures an hour.

  14. Ray Saintonge says:

    Sorry, but I can’t seem to correct the link on my previous comment. The period at the end of the sentence is not a part of the website address. Thus

  15. strunk&white says:


    I didn’t use the word “gimmick.” Professor Geist did. I was quoting him.

    Clear communication is important everywhere, not just in novel writing.

    “Ridicule” is not used as a passive, singular noun in common practice. One doesn’t generally speak of “a” ridicule, as though it were a thing to be handed back and forth. One speaks of “ridicule,” a behaviour, an action.

  16. My apologies on the gimmick reference. 🙂

    As a software developer, I truly could never claim to have perfect grammar…far from it. I did notice the error after the fact but, unfortunately, one cannot go back and edit comments. This is not the first and certainly won’t be the last time I make such mistakes, however my point is usually clear enough, which is really the main thing, I suppose.

  17. @notME
    Currently at 24000 signatures in just over 3 days, I don’t think that petition will have problems reaching the 25000 signature threshold. I’ll forward regardless. Unfortunately, I see the TPP as a larger threat to Canada than ACTA since ACTA has had most of it’s claws removed. TPP seems to be a response from the US since they didn’t get many, if any, of the draconian things they wanted in ACTA.

  18. eh
    ACTA , PIPA , SOPA , Fucka, Ducka…. Will it ever end can we just keep fighting these bills or will they just keep putting these bills in until one passes to make them happy and kill our only little freedom we have on the Internet? This is almost becoming like a joke or something. EH so angry!

  19. …”or will they just keep putting these bills in until one passes to make them happy”

    None of the bills that have already passed, or are being proposed, will make them happy. “They” have a fundamental misunderstanding of the technology and sociology of the internet connected world, that causes them to approach the issues incorrectly. Attempting to control something you don’t understand is never a good idea. It will rarely behave the way you expect. Fortunately, each of the foiled attempts will teach you something – if you are willing to learn from mistakes. Unfortunately, I have yet to seen any evidence that “they” are learning anything.

  20. Worth reposting…
    Struck & White (aka John Degen) still obviously has nothing relevant to say to the thread topic. Worse, he lambastes anyone who uses a pseudonym or strays off topic on his own site. By his own definition I present once again …

    “An ode to our favourite troll”

    A troll is one who purports
    To make some sense of sorts
    But has nothing to say
    And stays anyway
    With arguments they cannot support

    Hypocrisy can be such a shame
    It sullies what was once a good name
    Coupled with denial
    We all crack a smile
    When all they produce is a flame

    Of course there is always a way
    To find something to say
    Watch your p’s and your q’s
    For apparently its news
    When grammar on blogs doth stray

    Which is sadder? Tis’ a hard proclamation
    To bar some from their site in frustration
    Then to do here the same
    Under assumed name
    Is it denial or self actualization?

  21. Image problem
    At the very least, both the RIAA and MPAA are now dealing with an image problem. It wasn’t long ago when people cheered when their favourite band’s album was “RIAA certified double platinum”. Now if you say RIAA, quite a few audiences start boo-ing. Instead or representing artists, they now clearly represent the publishers (labels/movie studios). That’s a bit of a win, too.

  22. Timber!
    There seems to be a lot of comments from SOPA/PIPA proponents (the few remaining) that talk of such laws shutting down Google or Wikipedia is alarmist drama.

    I agree.

    (Although the accusation of drama was ironically warming considering the source).

    Funny enough, trotting out these counter arguments to sully the first is equally disingenuous. With the status and clout these digital juggernauts, such an outcome is unrealistic. Fortunately we can the apply nuance to the discussion.

    The real point actually being made is this, ‘Sites such as Google or Wikipedia would have been difficult to launch or maintain if such laws existed at that time’.

    So the danger is not the felling of these giant cedars, but the trampling of the seedlings below.

    Yes, there needs to be a balance between creator rights, compensation, cultural benefits and user rights. This is not a new conversation but the seat warmers at the discussion table have not been willing to make room for the new chairs. Until the new players of the digital age are given the voice they deserve the systems in place will remain broken, and we will be subjected to more theatre.

  23. STOP
    Polish hackers are fighting against the ACTA.
    ACTA is an attack on freedom of speech and democratic principles.
    Polish government’s websites were attacked and disabled.
    Last big protest Polish Internet – half a million people joined the protest.
    Your media do not inform you of protest in Poland. Try inform what happend in Poland.

  24. strunk&white says:


    I am a grammar and style reference book, not an individual. I am legion.

    Also, the name is strunk&white, not Struck & White. Strunk, not Struck. Do you see the difference?

    My corrective suggestions have inspired immediate action from Professor Geist (or whichever grad student edits this blog) to make the changes necessary for clear communication, so a compelling argument could be made that my presence here is more valuable than that of all the yes-man fanboys combined.

  25. Re: strunk&white aka John Degen aka troll

    “The book’s toxic mix of purism, atavism, and personal eccentricity is not underpinned by a proper grounding in English grammar. It is often so misguided that the authors appear not to notice their own egregious flouting of its own rules . . . It’s sad. Several generations of college students learned their grammar from the uninformed bossiness of Strunk and White, and the result is a nation of educated people who know they feel vaguely anxious and insecure whenever they write however or than me or was or which, but can’t tell you why.”

    “The Boston Globe’s review described The Elements of Style Illustrated (2005), by Maira Kalman, as an “aging zombie of a book . . . a hodgepodge, its now-antiquated pet peeves jostling for space with 1970s taboos and 1990s computer advice”.”

  26. strunk&white says:

    Oh my. Some folks just don’t like rules.

    Strunk & White is actually used in several nations, including India

  27. Un-Trusted Computing says:

    strunk & confused
    I’m sorta curious if it’s the old strunk&white (aka Denis McGrath from a couple of years back) or some incarnation of John Degen

  28. 😀
    @Degen [S&W] “Also, the name is strunk&white, not Struck & White. Strunk, not Struck. Do you see the difference?”

    John, you really should not be so easy to bait. I’ll try and be less obvious next time, although I hope you caught the subtext.

    @Eric ” … the uninformed bossiness of Strunk and White”

    Oh my, that made my day. Thanks Eric!

  29. Lie down Sir …
    John if I were a therapist, which I’m not, I might say that rules and form are paramount to you. Laws are absolute, rules are not made to be broken and black has no hint of light.

    All of this is fine of course, even right. Yet, in the continuing debate of the role of copyright, freedom of speech and the overuse of power, it is the sea of grey the rest of us are attempting to transverse.

    Could this is why you are so at odds with the world? Perhaps some flexibility of thought might help your discourse improve past grammatical dogmatism.

  30. strunk&white says:

    Could this is why this imaginary John character is so at odds with the world?

    Is could, Crockett. Is could.

    Who can really say (with any clarity). Certainly not you, though I encourage you to pursue your dreams of performing uninvited, barely literate psychoanalysis on complete strangers you think you might be talking to online.

  31. still too obvious?
    So happy to have provided another opportunity for your self actualization John 😀

    Is problem no, anytime.

  32. Denis McGrath says:

    Still waiting to hear your proposals for how creative artists get properly compensated, Michael.

    SOPA was a horrible overreach, but the smugness in the comments here prove the problem does need addressing.

    It’s not enough to just say, “oh, it’ll all work out.”

  33. @Denis
    …”proposals for how creative artists get properly compensated”

    As a starting point, you shouldn’t be asking, or demanding, solutions from Michael. You should be asking your customers and audience and modern society. They have been sending the “message” for many years, in actions and in words. All you had to do is simply listen, and I mean *REALLY* listen.

    Over the years, there have been many positive proposals and suggestions from many sources. Ones that don’t involve excessive lobbying, unbalanced laws, or draconian legal actions.
    Unfortunately, every single one of them has been met with “we don’t believe it will work, suggest something else” from the copyright industry heavyweights.

    One of the things about the advancing internet technologies, is it has a tendency to prune the “fat” out of industries and organisations – and societies. It has become very clear to nearly everyone that the “industry” isn’t interested in making sure artists are compensated, only that they remain remain in the catbird seat.
    As the industry fights for it’s continued existence in the form it has become accustomed to, artists and creators are too often left in the limbo between yesterday and tomorrow. It’s easy to cling to yesterday, it takes courage to embrace tomorrow. We see examples of both today.

    Further suggestions and proposals will need to come from the heavyweights. It should be abundantly clear that “more of the same” isn’t working. Potential and existing customers are tired of being ignored or treated as criminals.

    The public, including your customers, aren’t stupid. Drop the rhetoric and imaginative numbers games. Stop treating them as enemies. Be honest with them – and yourselves. Engage in an open and honest discussion. Be willing to change to suit the times. The issues facing the copyright based industries in the internet age are real, but they will not be solved unless you engage with that very same society in creating solutions. If laws need updating or even expunged to solve these issues, it will be obvious and generally popular – to society. If such laws impinge on other areas and technology, it will become obvious.
    The modern world is a complicated place, nobody can understand it all, or make wide ranging decisions that affect areas they know nothing about. Even within the narrow field of internet technology, this is true – ask any “nerd”. We have no choice but to formulate these kinds of decisions openly and publicly with input from a wide variety of sources – not just politicians and lawyers and vested interests.

    And if I may; The attitudes I see promulgated by many artists and creators seem to indicate they are something special, or that they are in some unique crisis caused by the internet. Sorry, they are neither the first, or the hardest hit, nor will they be the last. Many people, and whole industries, have have faced the “internet challenge” long before this. Nobody handed them answers on a plate. Nobody passed laws in their favour. Pay attention, reinvent yourself daily, and join tomorrow.

  34. @Dennis “SOPA was a horrible overreach, but the smugness in the comments here prove the problem does need addressing. It’s not enough to just say, “oh, it’ll all work out.”

    Dennis, of course it all needs to be worked out, and that can only happen with all the players at the table. The problem with SOPA/PIPA/ACTA is it being run by a few incumbent special interest groups terrified of facing up to new realities.

    As for the smugness, yes I will admit to some of that. A hard won victory after years of being stomped on will sometimes produce that, and honey coated elitism from certain trolls does add to the mix.

    Of course, creators have had their fair share of being stomped on themselves from the likes of megaupload and Google both. So, all in all, a lot of bluster, noise and bruises to go around.

    When there is a real discussion with ‘old & new’ media, consumers, creators, human rights advocates, industry and technologists, then we could hopefully move forward in a more productive manor*.

    * John, I hope this level of obviousness will be … um well obvious, but still give you some level of satisfaction.

  35. Yikes, someone just directed me to this stream. Crockett, you are seeing me behind every corner these days.

    Nice to see the spirit of reasoned debate is still alive and well over here with you guys. Anyone who treats your ignorant dismissal of professional creation with an equal amount of disdain is immediately labelled a troll. And you wonder why your invitation to comment on my blog was revoked?

    Anyone interested in my actual opinion can read my blog. Despite the fact that my writing is under copyright and not in the public domain, it is still perfectly and freely accessible. Enjoy.

  36. LOL, well it looks like poor Mr. Hide has left us, but lucky us, now we will enjoy the infamous Dr. Jekyll in his sted.

    Well, hello John. Have you my any chance looked into increasing your lythium does? Might be a prudent step don’t you think?

  37. Denis McGrath says:

    Oldguy & the Mold, Guy
    “Hi pot, this is kettle. You’re black.”

    Old Guy commits every sin in the book demoing why this subject devolves into idiocy within ten seconds whenever it comes up.

    From setting up straw man arguments, to blaming the victim, to special pleading, to conflating corporation to artist, to a breathtaking degree of ignorance around the history and actuality of copyright and how creative artists make money, what is displayed here is just how difficult it is to actually have a reasoned discussion about this issues with about 95% of the lads chirping on about copyright.

    (And it is always the lads, isn’t it?)

    The excessive and ridiculously draconian actions of the RIAA or Studios is a wonderful target. It does not change the actual need – to actually support the creation of original artistic work. Nor does it give you a pass to lump everyone together.

    Where you really give up the game, and perhaps psychologically reveal a bit too much is here:

    “The attitudes I see promulgated by many artists and creators seem to indicate they are something special,” patronizing lecture like I haven’t been covering the internet or exploring these issues for 20 years.

    What is special here, is the circumstance of intellectual property. It is different, which is how copyright originally came to be. By calling it “different” I am not elevating it higher than the changes posed on every industry by new technologies, I am simply stating the obvious.

    What strikes me most about my fellow creatives engaged on this issue is how much better informed they tend to be in understanding the shape of the problem. They are not monolith mini-Viacoms. They are not foot-stamping “copyfighters.” They understand the consumer side (being consumers) and they understand the societal arguments (being artists, one tends to try to relate what one does to the societal whole every day anyway.)

    It’s a much bigger discussion. It’s a complicated discussion. And it’s a discussion that never happens on this blog because Mr. Geist is only too happy to stop short making the same “us and them” arguments he makes in each column.He’s freely admitted to me in communications both public and private that he doesn’t really have a very worked out position on how the artist fares in this. When he has dipped toe in that pond, the results have been embarrassingly broad.

    But by not engaging on that side of the issue, and taking the responsibility to not just fight bad law, but to point the way forward into the light, Geist is not being responsible in the use of his bully pulpit.

    Because it emboldens and allows people to engage in silly, lecturing arguments like yours.

    I’m incredibly relieved that SOPA went down. I’m tremendously displeased with Canada’s copyright bill. And I’m extremely depressed that articles like this allow for more self-congratulatory backslapping and kick the can of what should really be done to work out a compensation system for artistic work further down that ever lengthening road.

    Geist has a voice bigger than most. I wish he’d use it to say something different than the same old, same old – that’s all I’m saying. So long as that’s not the case, Oldguy will be Deadguy and I’ll be in the ground too long before the solution ever gets a full and fair discussion.

  38. @Denis McGrath
    Between music, movies, games, books and comic books, I spend a substantial amount of money on media, now from a pure consumer perspective and, a large potion of the problem is perception. Through actions like law suits and aggressive lobbying for overreaching laws like C-32, C-11, PIPA, SOPA, ACTA and TPP, it’s clear the media industry, and I’m only referring to the industry, not the artists themselves, will not settle for anything less than complete control. They’ve made it very clear that they don’t care who they hurt or how many rights and freedoms they have to squash. They’ve become so brazen as to publicly threaten politicians who don’t support their cause and attempting to sue foreign governments for not passing laws they wanted. This is an obscene overreach and points to a failing business model which should be obvious.

    Never in history has an industry enjoyed so much legal protection in the face of business model obsolescence, what makes them so special and how can I get on that gravy train?

    Denis, tell me why I should I give a shit about an industry that has no respect for my rights as a consumer, an industry that wants to change the basic architecture of the Internet and censor the content, an industry that wants ISPs and webs hosts to spy on their users just in case there is a possible infringement, an industry that won’t let me make back-ups of my DVDs or content I download, an industry that won’t let me copy music to an MP3 player, an industry that won’t let me buy a foreign movie because it’s “out-of region” nor the hardware to play it…an industry that is so arrogant they refuse to acknowledge even partial responsibility for the problem.

    I do buy most of my content, not because I respect the industry, in fact, I have utter disdain for the industry and wish more artists/writers would go independent so I could pay them directly. I buy my content because I respect the authors and artists and want them to get paid, the same artists that must work under the dictatorship of the industry.

    Arguments like yours fail to truly understand or acknowledge the current state of consumer affairs. Is it wrong to download stuff? Of course. When such a large portion of the world population does it, that should indicate it’s time to cater to that growing population…not sue their ass off. Back in the day, had the RIAA partnered with Napster rather than suing them, we’d be in a much better place right now. I consider that pivotal moment to be the single largest catalyst in starting the modern age of piracy.

  39. Well said, Denis. I disagree with you on SOPA. I think given reasoned discussion that law could have been shaped and worked into something no-one would fear as though it were about to explode our basic freedoms. That such reasoned discussion almost NEVER happens these days on things like SOPA is, IMO, a direct result of the irresponsible alarmism on display here through Google and Wikipedia, and over at Boing Boing.

    To say Geist or any of his complusive nodders haven’t worked out how the artist figures in the equation is very kind indeed. I see that differently as well. With their very organized, vicious and factually incorrect attack on the very concept of collective licensing in Canada, free culture is not displaying mere ignorance. It’s not that they haven’t gotten around to doing the research to figure out the reality of professional artistic creation; in my opinion, they don’t care about professional artistic creation.

    They care about the product of that creation, but not the reality of how it’s made. You’re absolutely right to pick out oldguy’s pompous lecturing as a classic example of that blinkered, voluntary ignorance and lack of care.

    I am a consumer of cultural product, and a professional user of cultural product. I work in culture and talk to thousands of users, consumers and artists about these issues every year, and have been doing so for over a decade. I know the same is true for you. So what’s the problem? Well, you and I just need to be “asking [our] customers and audience and modern society.”

    So, here, you and I have had this chat. It will create a small rumble over here while the regular commenters try to ignore the fact that once again they’ve been called out. The good doctor will post another outraged call to arms, and the nodding will begin all over again.

    Darryl, crack the spine of a book for once in your life. Jekyll and Hide? Lythium does? Sheesh.

  40. The “Reality”
    Degen said: “They care about the product of that creation, but not the reality of how it’s made.”

    I’m glad you brought this up John. Isn’t this the definition of a consumer…one “makes” another “consumes”? Neither truly understands the other. What is this “reality” you speak of john? For many years the music industry told us the cost of CDs remained high due to the overhead of distribution and manufacturing, both of which require substantial resources and facilities. Is this the “reality” or is it history? For music, for most consumers, today’s “reality” is iTunes, Puretracks, Pandora, Sirius, and like services…delivering digital content without the overhead of distribution and manufacturing. Most music publishers don’t print as many CDs as they used to and most traditional outlets, other than dedicated stores like HMV stock little or no music CDs. In 10 years, the only CDs you’ll see are the ones you make yourself…and you know what…the RIAA will still be there….AND they’ll be posting record profits.

    In one breath, the movie industry tells us that file sharing is going to be the death of the industry while in “reality”, they’ve been posting record profits for years. When this whole MPAA-SOPA thing blew up over the last couple weeks I read an interesting article about movie industry profits. You know, 60% of their profits comes as a result of various technologies that at some point they claimed would be the end of the industry. I thought this very interesting.

    John the “reality” is changing and changing more rapidly than at any other point in history. Traditional business models around copyright are failing to cope and must be adapted to this new reality in some dynamic way. BUT, it MUST be done without jeopardizing basic rights and freedoms such as privacy, free speech, due process, among others. How many failed laws do we need, how many useless law suits do we need, before the lawmakers realize you can’t legislate away common behaviour, you can’t legislate public opinion and you can’t force people to buy a product they do not want? The music industry is STARTING to get it, more out of necessity than willingness, but all sectors in the industry need to give up on the law suits and and get with “reality”. They need to start actually listening to what their customers want, not telling them what they need.

  41. Denis McGrath says:

    Flee! Run away! Run away for comfy ground!
    Zooming right past what Degen & I were saying.

    1) Don’t tell us about the consumer side. We understand the consumer side. We are consumers too. The difference is that we understand the other side too. You could spend a bit of time, get out of your comfortable walla of well-worn arguments and walk a mile in the shoes of the creatives who don’t trade on the NASDAQ or the Dow trying to come to terms with this…or you could choose door number

    2) Wherein you hide behind the skirts of the big bad corporations and “the music industry” this and “the movie industry” and how bad they’ve acted because that’s an area where you feel you can hold the moral high ground.

    That is the “reality” of what you’ve done here. Nothing more. And there’s not a lick of new thought nor anything the slightest bit noble about it.

    Hiding behind the skirts of hating on the overreach of corporations has allowed too many to ignore the cognitive dissonance at the heart of the theft-based model.

    People want to consume the content the way they want, where they want, when they want. Artists want to eat, pay their bills, and create. There is probably a solution down the road to make both of these things possible. We have not begun to discuss it yet.

    That’s “reality.”

  42. @Denis
    Exactly!!! I knew we could come to common conclusion. Both sides have to talk…reasonably!!! Consumers can’t say we’re taking it if you don’t give it to us, BUT the industry also has to make concessions, and in this day an age, that will likely take the form of some loss of control. Essentially, I’m not willing to be spied on (Lawful Access, SOPA), I’ll not tolerate on-line censorship (SOPA, Chinese-style Internet), and I’ll not tolerate 3rd party liability where ISPs and web host can be held responsible for the actions of their users. I’ll not tolerate any of this just so the media industry and artists can get paid. That’s sacrificing the rights of the many to benefit a few. That doesn’t make sense, which is why SOPA, PIPA, ACTA and other such legislation is started to cause such public outcry. People are becoming educated.

    1) Why, in God’s name, would I want to want in the shoes of creatives? God forbid!!! I like financial stability, and I like my movies and games and toys, which is why I chose an industry that offers that and not one riddled with horrible hours, uncertainty and corruption.

    2) I’m not hiding behind anything, my opinions are my own. I don’t pretend to have high morals and I’ve been called many things in my day…noble is not one of them.

    As I said, I have the utmost respect for the artists/authors, but it’s my personal opinion that the industry as a whole is completely corrupt and out of control and needs to be reigned in just as much as piracy. Personally, with the petition only a week in and over 30000 signatures, I’m hoping the White House investigates Chris Dodd and the MPAA and finds them guilty of bribery. We need some sort of event to trigger some reasonable talks…on both sides.

    The “cognitive dissonance” eh? I had to look that up. LOL I think it goes a little deeper than a mere disagreement on methodologies. Perhaps cognitive dishonesty might more aptly apply. The short of it is that the entertainment industry, through their own actions in the poor handling of piracy early on, has lost the respect of their their customers. That lack of respect is the heart of the problem.

    A more recent example is the Megaupload shutdown. At the time of the shutdown they had an estimated 180,000,000 registered users, that’s a lot of potential customers to alienate, some of which, incidentally, have filed a law suit against the FBI. Was their no better way to handle it than to alienate 180,000,000 users, and then there was the bad press that came along with it that will alienate even more AND then there’s the forthcoming bad press that will surely ensue when the law suit against the FBI goes to court. That’s a lot of lost potential and a lot of bad press.

    Megaupload was absolutely an evil site and needed to be reigned in, but I question the chosen line of action as I’m sure the millions of legitimate users would agree. Even at 1%, that’s still almost 2 million users.

  43. @Denis
    Reading the words I wrote, and thinking back over my frame of mind when I wrote them, I’ll confess that you are correct in my conflating the institutions and the individual. Perhaps I shouldn’t have assumed that you were referring to specific individuals when you used the phrase “how creative artists get properly compensated”.

    It may be psychologically revealing when I castigate many authors and creators (but not all, or even most). But that attitude comes from hard won experience, both personally and while assisting many others whose careers and livelihood were completely disrupted by the age of the internet. I cannot help someone that is unwilling to face the realities of their situation. We are all unique individuals, but no one is more “special” than others.
    I have already lived through through the kind of pain each individual author/creator is going through, both personally and vicariously. If that colours my perceptions to the point where you feel it disqualifies me from valid observations, that is your prerogative.

    I have been around longer than the internet itself. Longer than it’s prototype, arpanet. I have been observing it, both the technology and it’s effects on society, from the beginning. I don’t say this to denigrate your experience and observations, but to put mine into perspective.

    The internet has a tendency to undermine the assumptions of institutions, organisations, industries, individuals, and ultimately – societies. There is a lot of historical inertia in institutional systems. When the assumptions that these systems are based upon is undermined, it has a more chaotic effect overall.
    When I map this observation into the issues surrounding copyright, it becomes apparent that the institutions need to be overhauled and modernised. From the individual point of view, there is no qualitative difference between someone whose career has been demolished because an industry or business has been disrupted by the internet, or because an institutional system has been disrupted.

    If I understand the gist of your comment correctly, you are attempting to find a replacement for the institutional systems surrounding copyright, within which authors and creators can function. While I find that laudable, I personally don’t think the landscape has yet firmed, in which such new systems can be built. We, as a society, are still struggling with the changes that the internet has caused to the very assumptions underlying copyright. Our laws no longer reflect our changed reality. The institutions built within those laws, are similarly affected.

    The best that individuals can do at this stage, is to experiment with their unique skills and talents. Reinvent themselves. Figure out what works and doesn’t work, for themselves and perhaps for others as well. Same with everyone else confronted with the same dilemma.

    From the sounds of things, you don’t have any more workable answers to the big picture, than I do. I agree that Michael sounds like he is in the same boat. From my perspective, “we” don’t yet understand the full ramifications of these changed assumptions. Certainly not well enough to draft a set of new laws that properly represent those changes.

    You are quite right that I won’t live to see the results of these changes, and perhaps you won’t either. But my children might, and my grandchildren will. I not only listen, I observe their actions, I try to live within their world view. The world I grew up in, is not the same world they are growing up in. And they seem to have adjusted nicely to the fact that their assumptions will be challenged regularly, throughout their lives. Changes, big and small, is the only constant they can depend upon.

  44. @Denix
    “People want to consume the content the way they want, where they want, when they want. Artists want to eat, pay their bills, and create. There is probably a solution down the road to make both of these things possible. We have not begun to discuss it yet. ”

    Oh Denis. truer words have not been spoke. That is because no one has yet looked outside the boundaries of copyright for the solution.

    To find the real solution will require us to come to terms with the practical limitations of copyright in our times, scale it back and simplify it so that we do not expect more of it than we reasonably can, then proceed to look for solutions elsewhere.

    As long as your group continue to believe that the solution to what ails them can be found in copyright, no one in this debate will ever come to terms with one another.

  45. Denis,

    You have a group? How come I’ve never been invited to your group? Is there whiskey at your meetings?

  46. A breath of fresh air!
    Hello Dennis,

    Thank you so much for bringing a fresh voice to this discussion, it can get rather tit for tat around here. As monotone as Geist and us ‘nodders’ can sometimes be, the the other bookend is just that.

    The problem, as you have stated, is the debate has become very polarized. The big bad corporations are well, just that. While file sharers are essential as you say thieves. So here we are justifying our own behaviours by the actions of the other in an escalating cycle. To the grave indeed.

    I’m glad you recognize the unworkable mess that was SOPA, as much as some would like to think, it would have been so despised to do more harm than good. But where does that leave us? I think now could be a watershed moment, this issue has finally risen above the static of people’s daily life to be a topic of thought and discussion.

    The OPEN proposal actually seemed to be listening to more than just one side of the equation, someone was listening. Megaupload, while having some legitimate users, was what it was and thus rightly taken down. The few who are complaining they lost their personal files really should have known better. I mean that guy running the thing seemed to have popped right out of a comic book world!

    So yes, in some ways we have not started the discussion yet, instead we have been playing the blame game. Nonsense numbers and inequitable proposals (a music levy on camera memory cards?) should not give justification for a backstreet download of your favourite HBO show, but that’s what is going on. In the meantime creators and consumers both get the shaft, while the puppet masters gather their coins that aren’t snatched up by the street urchins.

    It is obvious to me that without creators there would be no creations. So, how is it not possible to care about the creators? Pretty much everyone understands this to some degree, but there will always be the lost cases.

    When I talk to people I always encourage them to support the things they value, yet stand up for their rights. As much as possible I directly support artists I enjoy and choose them according to their ability to be as directly compensated as possible. I will not support RIAA/MPAA/***A products as I do not believe they have the best intentions of the creators at heart. There is enough alternative, and almost always superior, entertainment out there.

    It will be difficult to change the status quo, the ‘day the internet woke up’ may be just a blip but at least now there is more of a public awareness. There also seems to be an increasing acknowledgement that legislation pushed by one side or the other is bound to fail passage, or if passed fail to bound. I really do hope people will put down their sabres and behind the wall manipulations so more balanced negotiations can take place … before we spread the ashes.

  47. @Denis
    …”People want to consume the content the way they want, where they want, when they want. Artists want to eat, pay their bills, and create. There is probably a solution down the road to make both of these things possible. We have not begun to discuss it yet.”


    But you say that like it sums up the whole of the changes that the internet has created. It isn’t. But it can serve as a starting point for discussion, if you recognise that these changes go much deeper.

    Roll in the differences in the expectations of privacy (not piracy!) between the under 25 crowd and the over 45 crowd. The assumptions behind those expectations.
    Roll in the instant communication between individuals separated by a dozen time zones. And the assumptions challenged.
    Roll in the up to the minute updates of an individual’s “life status”, and the assumptions behind it.
    And much more….

    Pull all that together with your statement above. What kind of an image does that draw in your mind? How are you going to create a new institutional form that has validity, and appeal – in their world?

    “They” can’t even clearly articulate the changes in attitudes and assumptions they live day to day. “They” don’t have the experiences to even relate to what many of us, the “old generation” over 35, are even talking about. That doesn’t make them stupid or immoral.
    It falls on “us” to attempt to understand. Put it in the proper context, their context. If we try and interpret it within our context, it too often simplifies to your above statement.

  48. @Degen ” Anyone who treats your ignorant dismissal of professional creation with an equal amount of disdain is immediately labelled a troll”

    A troll, be honest, we have all participated in such behaviour at one time or another. What’s so distasteful is your blatant hypocrisy on the matter. As such, as a service, I will bring this to your attention as your conscience does not seem to be up to the task.

  49. Denis McGrath says:

    Yes, yes, yes, sure
    ..forgive me, I know that it may “seem” like either “a breath of fresh air” or “another bad voice”. But the truth is I came back to Geist and this post (after leaving because of the echo chamber and being worn out by it the last time the Canadian bill went around) because somebody earlier in this thread did a drive-by of my name.

    I’ve had this discussion a lot. Both in professional forums like the copyright consultation last year, industry consultations, my blog, official things for the Writers Guild of Canada. Unofficial things… and ultimately, one disengages because there is a slack and lazy groupthink that gives lip service to “oh well, artists should X” while not having ANY FUCKING IDEA about the frame of that part of the discussion, and anything but contempt for other suggestions (including collective licensing schemes that have been adopted in other countries.)

    Mostly, what gets to me is the utter hypocrisy.

    Which you see, um…like this…

    While you’re all backpatting each other, maybe it’s time to examine the consistency of what the people who say the same things as you believe…

    It’s not enough to say, “oh well my small slice of the universe doesn’t believe X.” Uh uh, boy. You’re up against people who are looking at the end of their livelihood. Your burden of argument should be a little higher. You should not let this stuff stand. Or what the heck are you actually celebrating with the death of SOPA.

  50. Denis McGrath says:

    You come onto a stage because you see a drive by of your name. And it’s the same old self-congratulatory crap. I’ve been talking about this stuff for so long I’m tired. And I’m still waiting for Geist to take responsibility for moving beyond his tiny slice of law to actually embrace the creative issue.

    And for most of the congratulatory, you get stuff like this.

    Context. Hypocrisy. The real world. All apply. Don’t feel too celebratory there, Chester.

  51. More educational advertising
    in germny the most dont know what acta is. it is a shame. we have to inform more people 🙂

  52. Denis,

    And by “I really do hope people will put down their sabres and behind the wall manipulations so more balanced negotiations can take place,” I think Crockett is probably not talking about Michael Geist’s celebration of fires in the streets of Poland. You can bet that every single one of the kids who marched through Warsaw and Gdansk with Guy Falkes masks covering their identities has read the ACTA treaty and is interested in “balanced negotiations.”

  53. @Denis””

    Denis, I agree with you. Human nature being what it is. Hypocrisy. Goose and gander, kettle black. Seems nerds, as you say, are people too after all. Still, that doesn’t excuse one person or another from it.

    Here is were I’m coming from:

    – If something isn’t yours, don’t take it.
    – Support your favourite artists, musicians, writers by buying their stuff.
    – Try and buy as directly as possible from the actual creator so they can benefit the most.
    – Do not support products backed by organizations that are abusive to consumers (litigation, lobbying) and creators (thin contracts and withheld royalties – remember the $50,000,000 ‘settlement’ and creative Hollywood accounting)


    – Be realistic, some people are going to take your stuff no matter what.
    – This has been happening for a long time, before the internet, electricity or even indoor plumbing.
    – Don’t take it so personally, even if wanting to cut off their hands might feel good
    – And most importantly, don’t overreact and make the situation worse.
    – SOPA was an over reaction, suing individuals for millions was an over reaction, music levy on camera cards was … etc.

    The idea that increasingly restrictive laws and harsh punishment is going to somehow increase the livelihood of creators is naive, it has the opposite effect. Honey and vinegar.

    Should that excuse their behaviour? No. Is the justice worth it regardless? Possibly. Would redirecting efforts to change that behaviour through matching outputs to new market realities? Perhaps.

    No easy answers, as I’m sure you well know. Yet, I try to do my part by supporting talent I appreciate and opposing what I see as the harmful antics (to creators and consumer both) of big media who seems to be in it for their own survival more than anyone else’s.

    To me a hypocrite is saying one thing is right then doing the opposite. I stand by my convictions, some others here cannot say the same.

  54. @John @Denis
    Like Oldguy, I’ve been around since long before the Internet and remember the so-called hay-day of copyright quite clearly. I remember 8-track tapes and when cassettes came out and the stink the recording industry made over that, I remember when the VHS movie recorder came out and the movie industry claiming it would be their demise. Guys, it doesn’t matter what any of us think. I can wish for ease of access to everything, you can wish for digital locks, restrictions and for the hay-day to return. The fact of the matter is that we’re dealing with a generation that has never known a world without instant messaging, a world without instant access, a world where nearly anything can be found with a quick Internet search. This generation is more and more going to be your primary customer. Ease of use and ease of access is no longer going to be a luxury, but mandatory. We see it already with iTunes and Steam. Why are they, by far, the largest vendors of their respective products? Because they make it EASY and their services are aimed specifically at wooing that, say under 30, generation.

    It’s been proven over and over again, consumers will ALWAYS eventually get their way, technology and easy of use are going to win…period. Wasn’t it the owner of Bloomsbury’s that said, “The customer is always right.”? The longer the media industry fights it, rather than works with it, the more damaged the industry will become and the more complacent consumers will become. Strict DRM didn’t and will never work, suing people hasn’t worked and will never work, legislation has failed countless times and will always fail. What’s left? New business models through innovation.

    “You can bet that every single one of the kids who marched through Warsaw and Gdansk with Guy Falkes masks covering their identities has read the ACTA treaty and is interested in “balanced negotiations.””

    Again…and I stress this, does it REALLY matter? Philosophically, perhaps? Unfortunately, this is politics…this is your voting public. For every one that took the time to march, there’s probably a 1000, or more, watching from the sidelines who share the same opinion. It doesn’t matter if they read ACTA, TPP, SOPA, PIPA, or any other bill. All that matters is what they believe. Whining about it and swearing your head off isn’t going to change that. As far as this young generation is concerned, bills like this are an attack on their freedom and on their privacy and anything that threatens the open nature of the Internet is a threat to their way of life. Old-timers like us could easily, though we might not like it, go back to a pre-Internet time, what about someone who is 20? 15? It would be severe culture shock.

    Know your audience…know your targets. You’re not dealing with a random smattering of back-room life-time hacker, copyright infringers that the industry portrays. Not everyone who downloads a song or movie is a member of “Anonymous”. You’re dealing with a rapidly growing, and generally well educated, generation. To assume otherwise would be a grave mistake. You’re dealing with a way of life. No amount of legislation is going to change this. Make it cheap, make it easy and they will come. Make it onerous, make strict and they will find ways to circumvent it, changing it in to what they want. This is the way of things. Like an irresistible force, progress always marches on, providing new opportunities for those who recognize it, devastating to those who ignore or fight it.

  55. Denis,

    Did you get that? It’s time for you to be realistic.

    Because really, does it matter if people are really aware of the issues? Especially if they’re encouraged to take to the streets in disguises? Who cares? They just wantz their internetz.

    I don’t have to run faster than the bear. I just have to run faster than you.

  56. @Degen
    But John, that’s the point. It really doesn’t matter if they’re aware of the issues, they only need to think they’re aware. The media industry is losing the PR war. Politicians want to stay in office and are really only worried about numbers, specifically, numbers of voters. Passing a wildly unpopular piece of legislation is political suicide (Unless you’re in Canada, of course). Whining and being facetious about it isn’t going to change that fact.

    The same will happen with C-11 when it passes and when Lawful Access passes. By nature, most Canadians are far too complacent to publicly protest like we’re seeing in Europe. So these laws will most likely get passed unchanged and barely hit the news. Then we’ll spend years in court and countless taxpayer dollars on constitutional challenges…and, like the DMCA or HADOPI, and all all other legislation with this intent, C-11 and Lawful Access will have little or no affect on actual copyright infringement, while seriously damaging the technology sector as a whole.

    “I don’t have to run faster than the bear. I just have to run faster than you.”

    I’ve always loved this quote because it epitomizes human nature, and it makes me laugh. I have great images of old Disney and Loony Toons cartoons in similar situations. Seriously though, with the exception of my wife and kids, I would gladly sacrifice anyone, including my mother, to save myself. When it comes down to it, whether they admit it or not, most people would do the same (Though the base group of “protected” might be slightly larger or smaller).

  57. Denis McGrath says:

    And yet…
    This has been an interesting social experiment. I’ve managed to state two or three times how I completely disagree with the “sue everyone” approach of the RIAA (I’ve been saying that since the first lawsuits were filed in the Napster days.) I’ve stated how SOPA was bad law.

    And I’ve stated that the problem I have with Geist and his Geist droids here is simply that everyone retreats to where they feel righteous — fighting “the man”. Part of this is conflating artists/creatives WITH “the man.” I’ve talked this through with many creatives and trust me, their nuanced views are simultaneously much more nuanced and despairing of the heavy handed tactics BUT with a strong desire to talk actual possible solutions.

    That being said, that being what I’ve said, and what I was saying the last time I engaged on this board a year and change ago, and what I’m met with is what?

    More retreat and ranting about the evils of corporate overreach (we’re smug and we like arguing that, so we’re going to keep on doing it!)

    Rationalizations and special pleading (yes, there’s a bit of hypocrisy when it comes to talking about code but we’re only human) and there are people who pirate and don’t care but I support people I like, so nya nya.

    And some version of lecturing “it’s time for you to be realistic,” and bullshit bravado. “I don’t have to run faster than the bear,” etc etc.

    With the caveat that I know that there are a few here who this does not apply to — the olverwhelming sense of the echo chamber you get when these issues come up on these sites is that most of the people railing against the studios and the RIAA are people who are very engaged on this issue – but who don’t really seem to be plugged into, how to put this? A larger world with economic systems, social systems and economies that go beyond this narrow-slice issues.

    So it’s hardly surprising that when actual discussion of alternative compensation formulae such as collective licensing, or other models, come up, there is a blanket “pffft!” and a return to bitching about the big bad RIAA wolf.

    Once again, the fact that Geist keeps essentially writing the same article from the same perspective shares culpability for this.

    I am by no means an economist, or an expert on alternative compensation models. It’s also true that in the post-physical world, the solutions are probably different for things like movies and TV over recorded music. But that conversation can’t take place, because people feel like the big swinging dick solution is to tell people that it’s time for me to “be realistic.”


    Be realistic. Wow. You know what that makes me want?

    It makes me want to see the FBI bust down your door, drag you through the court, bankrupt you and send you to jail for 1000 years.

    Which is antithetical to what I believe. RIAA and Chris Dodd and the MPAA didn’t do that. You did. You guys make creatives who would never ever support heavy handed digital lock and takedown tactics go, “well, if that’s their attitude, eff them.”

    Not that you should care. But just so you know…if you lose the lottery and find the man with his boot on your throat, that’s going to feel very f###ing realistic.

    Businesses like MLB have been phenomenally successful in meeting the challenge of piracy by building entirely different value chains into their product that people do want to pay for. BBC is becoming savvy about day-and-dating programs like Doctor Who to reflect the international reality. Even FOX has explored a new international paradigm with shows like TOUCH.

    I would love to discuss all these other things, and collective licensing, and a well balanced law but it’s clear that the place NOT to do that is here, where I’m told to run faster than the bear and to “just be realistic.”

    Enjoy your masturbation guys. I’m out.

  58. @Degen @Denis
    “You can bet that every single one of the kids who marched through Warsaw and Gdansk with Guy Falkes masks covering their identities has read the ACTA treaty and is interested in “balanced negotiations.””

    Did you guys even watch the video? You make it sound like everyone is wearing a mask. Very few people actually have masks on…what…perhaps 5%, maybe 10% on the outside, are you implying 90-95% have actually ready the treaty? I’d bet not, but the recent SOPA blackouts and many Wikileaks cables before that have, certainly raised public awareness, and not just in the US. You like to think every protester and everyone in general who is against these bills are pirates and uneducated buffoons spouting the rhetoric of a few masters. Makes me giggle.

    Personally, I don’t think ACTA is nearly as bad as SOPA or even C-11, but it’s still an over reach for the sake of a relatively small, special interest group. Now whether SOPA and PIPA actually tried to stomp on constitutionally granted rights and freedoms is a matter of opinion, but the language was certainly broad enough that it could have very easily been abused, much like the DMCA, again in the name of a relatively small, special interest group. In my experience, big business will exploit every possible loophole to kill completion and maximize profit. SOPA would have worked well, but really wouldn’t have affected piracy.

    My favorite thing about SOPA was that it would have essentially made TOR illegal. This is a privacy application originally developed by the US Navy and endorsed by the US State Dept as a means to allow relatively safe communication in oppressive regimes.

  59. @Denis
    To be clear…I didn’t bring up the bear euphemism, but did find it amusing.

    Yes, collective agreements, alternate business models, these are things that are going to propel the media industry in to the 21st century. The caveat is that these things must not impinge on or trump existing basic rights such as privacy, free speech and most commonly targeted by these laws, “due process”, or consumers will not accept them. The desire to remove due process from the mix seems a very high priority. What happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty. Most of these laws begin with an accusation being an assumption of guilt followed by actions, such as content take-downs, law suits and disconnection, all based on IP address data which is extremely flawed at best.

    “It makes me want to see the FBI bust down your door, drag you through the court, bankrupt you and send you to jail for 1000 years.”

    That’s harsh. You assume everyone here is pro-piracy, which is just not the case. You spout the standard lines about us not having a clue or that we’re blindly calling the media giants big bads, while you ignore arguments about basic freedoms, technical limitations and expectations of younger generations.

    For the record, I do consider the media industry to be a corrupt industry, but have thought so since long before any of this. It’s no secret and has been shown many times over the years, that the movie industry uses “creative accounting” to hide enormous profits. I hate the recording industry (Not the artists) for a different reason. Simply put, they tend to treat the artists working under them very poorly and no amount of legislation is going to help artists get better contracts or get paid more. You know, the B-52s released 5 albums before they saw a dime of profit from their album sales, which is ridiculous.

    Wanting the freedom to chose how I use purchased media in my own home, does not mean I want the right to steel it. I’d argue that throwing me in jail you would deprive the industry of the thousands of dollars I spend on media every year, might not be in their best interest. I spent almost $300 on movies last Saturday alone. It might shed some light on the climate here on this board if you realize that, educationally, many here tend to be on the more technical side of the spectrum and can see the limitations of such legislation. Legislation which is easily circumvented using many different tools. If you care to notice, most of my arguments revolve around the technology in some form.

    Oh, BTW, the FBI has no jurisdiction here…they would need cooperation from local law enforcement such as the RCMP.

    Consumers didn’t provoke creatives in to law suits…creative chose that path as a knee-jerk reaction, rather than actually assessing what was happening. Consumers did what comes naturally for consumers, they set their expectations, which the industry ignored and have been fighting ever since. Then followed the downward spiral of ineffective legislation and law suits. Suing Napster rather than expanding their business model is commonly considered to be one of the largest business blunders of all time and truly ignored anything the consumers of the time were saying, which rang loud and clear to anyone who had any idea about technology.

  60. Always go to a trusted source.
    @Degen “Because really, does it matter if people are really aware of the issues?”

    I agree John, people should get the real facts, perhaps from such accurate sources as the RIAA accounting office 😀

    Seriously, there does seem to be misinformation campaign going on over ACTA. As such, one of the most respected ‘Nerd’ sites on the internet covering these issues has put up an article to counter just that.

  61. It sounds an awful lot like Denis thinks that all those who are against the overreaching SOPA AFTA and other assorted legislative efforts should be trying to come up with other solutions for the creative community.

    Well first of all no one has adequately demonstrated that there is a problem yet. Movies are making record profits. Recording companies aren’t fairing as well, but there are a lot of good reasons for that, little of which can honestly be attributed to piracy. Dunno so much about the book business, but I don’t think people are going to give up reading anytime soon.

    Secondly, if you are having difficulty monetizing your creative efforts, why is that everybody elses problem? There are lots of creative people out there, most of whom do not earn a living from their creativity. If you find a way great. If not, so sad.

    There are still a lot of opportunity’s using copyright monopolies without needing to sacrifice individual private property and privacy rights to do so. True you might not make as much from your creative efforts as previously, and fewer people may be able to make a complete living from it, but there are a lot of people displaced from the manufacturing sector as well and none of them are coming crying to you to give them back their employment. Suck it up.

    Finally, what we lose in fewer “professional” creators we make up for 10 or a 100 times in “amateur” creators who now have an easy and cheep method to get their works into the public sphere. This is a great trade as far as I’m concerned, and will do more for the evolution of our culture than any legislation protecting established creators, (be they corporations or individuals) will ever do.

  62. Hang em’ high
    @Denis “It makes me want to see the FBI bust down your door, drag you through the court, bankrupt you and send you to jail for 1000 years … Enjoy your masturbation guys. I’m out.”

    Well Denis, you came in here relatively sane then progressed to fairly base vulgarity and calling in the FBI. Wow, indeed.

    I understand this can be an emotional issue, but wanting to throw someone in jail for 1000 years for a possible minor economic crime is a bit much. John once told me that the feeling of people copying digital works was akin to being raped!

    This level of grievance is hard for the rest of us to understand, and therein I think is part of the problem. To the average under 30, copying a digital file is less offensive than J-walking. Which personally, is not opinion.

    When I said above to be realistic, I meant just that. Realistic in the sense of looking at the world as it is. The laws that have been put forward and other restrictions will not make a hoot of difference to most anybody. It will only drive people further away.

    If this reasoning make you want to send in the hit squad then so be it, you can take out the too fairy while you’re at it.

    Solutions will come when all players, not just the types behind SOPA, make reasonable accommodations to the new market realities. Fortunately, there seems to be a greater recognition of this past SOPA and that can only be good.

  63. Really?! I once said “the feeling of people copying digital works was akin to being raped”?

    I request that you show your source material.

  64. Hell ,that’s easy John.

    “”… the increasing restrictions on media is what is leading to the theft”

    Replace “restrictions on media” with “suggestiveness of clothing,” then replace “theft,” with “sexual assault.”

    Now do you see how offensive that thinking is to a working artist?”

    I remember that conversation. As usual it was like talking to a wall.

  65. Does it surprise me that Crockett and Darryl would intentionally misunderstand what I said, take it completely out of the context of the actual point I was making, and try to use it against me to score cheap points? It does not.

    The “conversation” (seriously, when has anyone ever had an actual conversation with you two monologists?) you reference was about theft and victim-blaming; not rape. I made the point that victim blaming is offensive in cases of sexual assault (again, not rape), and just as offensive in cases of theft.

    This must be some of that good faith argumentation Crockett is always hoping for.

    Normally, I would just write off your latest pseudo-intellectual dishonesty as par for the course, but this really crosses the line. It’s hard to believe this blog could sink any lower than it sits today.

  66. hmmm
    Either way, equating “sexual assault” (Not rape) to digital theft is a reach. Sexual assault could easily be compared to armed robbery, where the thief has a gun or knife in someone’s face. That could be very traumatic for the victim. But digital theft is faceless and non-invasive. At best, I would compare digital theft to shoplifting or pick-picketing. Both anonymous and hard to catch, leaving the victim at a financial loss, sometimes at great loss, but not actually inflicting any trauma.

    While I think the big players are over-stating their losses, especially the movie industry, I’ll grant you that it’s certainly damaging, especially to small players and independents where sales numbers are traditionally small and profit margins tend to be much smaller. Like the independent movie and music industry, the comic industry has been particularly hard hit by piracy. It’s been a shrinking sector for years for many reasons such as rising prices (Often $6 or more for a book that takes 15 minutes to read, it’s a hard sell) and international competition such European comics and Japanese Manga have been becoming extremely popular. Manga is especially popular among younger readers in the early to mid teens, which is the tradition big seller age for American comics. Stale ideas, too many publishers taking a piece of the piece and a long time lack of consistent talent are also contributing factors to the comic industry decline, but piracy has been certainly taken it’s toll, especially on smaller publishers.

    At least the comic industry has enough common sense to embrace alternative models with offering digital copies, AND usually at greatly reduced prices. They’re not suing people, they’re not bitching that the government needs to enact stupid legislation to protect them, not that any amount of legislation is going to help. Only innovation has been really and truly been shown to help and I applaud their efforts. Unfortunately we’ll likely see the end of printed comic books (Other than niche markets), the end of the middle men and the demise of the local comic shop. This is unfortunate and will put a lot of people out of work, but will offer new opportunities for many new up-and-upcomers in the industry, comic shops with enough foresight have the opportunity to move sales on-line. While I do buy physical comics because I like to have them, I read digital comics exclusively and suspect it will be only a matter of time before I’m forced to switch to buying digital exclusively.

  67. @Degen “I made the point that victim blaming is offensive in cases of sexual assault (again, not rape), and just as offensive in cases of theft.”

    Fine John, we’ll downgrade your level of offence from rape to ‘mere’ sexual assault. Nice of you to make that fine distinction. Personally, when you originally made that statement was when I realized how low you actually could sink. I have dealt with friends and even family members who have been victims of sexual assault. If you cannot see how many levels of degrees more offensive that is than copying a computer file, then I grieve for you. If somehow you did not mean what you said, it was a very unfortunate choice of words.

    To have you equate similar feelings of outrage at copyright infringement just showed me how out of touch to reality you really are. As for a cheap shot, if you go back to my post, you will see the point I was trying to make was Denis was upset at being asked to face reality leading to his (and your) emotional overreaction to the situations at hand. I added it is hard for someone who is not an ‘artist’ to understand the level of outrage you seem to feel. His response was to ‘enjoy masturbating’. How succinct.

    My final point was that we need to step outside the emotionalism (from all quarters) and include all the stakeholders, not just the SOPA style power players in finding a way forward in today’s new digital market.

    John, I understand the seriousness of sexual assault and the devastation it causes. In that context if, as you say, your quote was an unfortunate choice of words rather than a direct comparison of offence, then we can agree to that clarification on both our parts.

    @Degen “I made the point that victim blaming is offensive in cases of sexual assault (again, not rape), and just as offensive in cases of theft.”

    Fine John, we’ll downgrade your level of offence from rape to ‘mere’ sexual assault. Nice of you to make that fine distinction. Personally, when you originally made that statement was when I realized how low you actually could sink. I have dealt with friends and even family members who have been victims of sexual assault. If you cannot see how many levels of degrees more offensive that is than copying a computer file, then I grieve for you. If somehow you did not mean what you said, it was a very unfortunate choice of words.

    To have you equate similar feelings of outrage at copyright infringement just showed me how out of touch to reality you really are. As for a cheap shot, if you go back to my post, you will see the point I was trying to make was Denis was upset at being asked to face reality leading to his (and your) emotional overreaction to the situations at hand. I added it is hard for someone who is not an ‘artist’ to understand the level of outrage you seem to feel. His response was to ‘enjoy masturbating’. How succinct.

    My final point was that we need to step outside the emotionalism (from all quarters) and include all the stakeholders, not just the SOPA style power players in finding a way forward in today’s new digital market.

    John, I understand the seriousness of sexual assault and the devastation it causes. In that context if, as you say, your quote was an unfortunate choice of words rather than a direct comparison of offence, then we can agree to that clarification on both our parts.

  68. John, going back to read your original comment I see how it could be read both ways. Regardless there was no ‘intentional’ misrepresentation on my part, but it is possible you were mis-characterised, and so I withdraw my comment with apology on that point.

    This does not excuse Denis’ rant and over emotional response to a simple observation. Returning to your victim blaming, stating that strong restrictions on media may be a contributing factor to people infringing it is not necessarily blaming the copyright holder, it is just an observation of fact. It may not be morally right on the infringer’s part, but it is a fact nonetheless. Can you see the difference?

    Would it not be better to adjust your approach as to minimize infringement and increase profits? If recognizing strong restrictions as a contributor to infringing behaviour and adjusting your market approach results in net gain, is this victim blaming or market analysis?

    See how taking the knee jerk offence out of the picture could lead to better results?

  69. Chris Dodd petition closes early without WH comment
    What a lot of crap!! They just don’t want to piss off their big investors and show just how corrupt things really have become.

    “Thank you for signing this petition. We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on However, consistent with the We the People Terms of Participation and our responses to similar petitions in the past, the White House declines to comment on this petition because it requests a specific law enforcement action.”!/petition/investigate-chris-dodd-and-mpaa-bribery-after-he-publicly-admited-bribing-politicans-pass/DffX0YQv

  70. Some good advice on realistic approaches …

    My favorite …

    Friends don’t steal from friends. Friends have your back. Whenever possible, you want your customers to be your friends. It doesn’t pay to get locked into an adversarial relationship with the people responsible for giving you money. Developers would do well to get to know and understand the concerns of their market. Insomuch as it’s possible, uncover the reasons why your market base feels compelled to pirate your products and do your best to address them. Listen to your customer’s frustrations and concerns, and whenever possible, provide them with the help they need and deserve. As the old adage suggests: Respect earns respect. While you might not be able to obliterate the piracy of your products entirely, a modicum of concern for your customers could help to reduce it.

  71. I found a wonderful new source of big media wisdom …
    In reference to my points above … “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.” – Jack Valenti

    Inappropriate Hyperbole anyone? And in a wonderfully honest and poignant comment …

    “And in a strange and bizarre way, when movie actors come to Washington, they’re absolutely fascinated by the politicians. And when the politicians go to Hollywood, they’re absolutely fascinated by the movie stars. It’s a kind of reciprocity of affection by people who both recognize in a sense they’re in the same racket.” – Jack Valenti

    I love this guy 😀

  72. Joh Degen has called it quits in the ‘Trenches’

    I must admit to some sense of loss that John will no longer be joining us nor can we be part of the discussion at his site. A shame as any discussion needs diverging views. Of course he is able to cherry pick the most obnoxious sound bite to display as ‘evidence of free culture hooliganism’, as justification for his departure. The amazing thing is John fails to see he is of the same failings he rails against, and is often the instigator to boot. No one stirs up as much ill will as John without cause.

    He also seems to have missed obvious sarcasm as an invitation to an actual fisticuffs. Read Eric L.’s comment above to see if you come to the same terrifying conclusion. I suspect, and most here would agree, the real reason for John’s discomfort was countering valid argument points with insults was not taking him any further forward and pointing out the double standards on display was taking its toll.

    Regardless, it seems to now be too hot here in the ‘trenches’, a bully has been tested and withdrawn. Take care John, we’ll miss you!