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Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
The Times posted an interesting article that reviews at a high level the tension currently felt between the entertainment industry and manufacturers of personal computing equipment, including Apple. Since not everyone has a NYT account (which is free and painless to set up considering the quality of coverage), I've posted a snippet below that gives the gist of the article.

[quote]"Leaders of two of the nation's most prominent industries, entertainment and technology, have begun publicly sniping at each other over how to stop consumers from illegally copying digital movies, music and television programs.

The feud grows out of Hollywood's frustration with the illicit flow of copyrighted works over the Internet. Despite courtroom victories against Napster and others deemed to contribute to Internet piracy, millions of people continue to download free digital copies of everything from Jennifer Lopez's latest hit single to the Disney movie "Monsters, Inc."<hr></blockquote>

How do you guys feel about this, either from the perspective of a Mac / Digital Hub user - or from the perspective of an entertainment consumer?

My feeling is that while I am the last person to stand up for the ultra-greedy media whores in Hollywood, I do believe that what most of us do from time to time (download a copywrited song, copy a pirated movie, etc.) is fundamentally wrong - whether it can be argued as "illegal" or not. Even if you're just using it for yourself and have no intention of distributing it or selling it, you've still taken someone's product -- indeed someone's idea of art. No different really than if someone ripped off a music store and left 50 copies of a popular CD on a table at Subway, and everyone helped themselves to a copy. Sure you'll never get caught, but you still took what you should've paid for.

Basically this problem would go away if more people would be honest about it and/or moderated their behavior a bit. I myself have been guilty, taking a song or two from a number of artists to see if I liked them enough to buy a CD (which I did, eventually). But the point is, it's not that people are stealing per se; people have stollen property since the dawn of man. What is causing this problem is the SCALE of the theft that is occuring, and also the inability for the medium to be policed (without ruining the usefulness of said medium in the first place).

That said, I have a deeper concern here, and that is if it's true that a security system cannot be built that is both:

A. Crack-proof

and

B. Does not adversely affect the responsiveness of your average pc in terms of how quickly it can playback movies or music for example, or burn legitimate copies of one's own content...


...Hollywood execs WILL take action. And the "best" recourse (from their perspective) is an obvious one - make up for stolen revenue with more ad revenue. In other words, television commercials will become both more pervasive (as if we thought this was possible!) and more expensive. That expense is likely to take a big toll on smaller and medium sized companies. THe AT&T's of the world can afford (and in their case deserve IMO) to get gouged, but the small to medium sized companies cannot. They simply will lose most or all of their advertising space on the television medium.

In addition to putting a crimp on the improving economy, this will undoubtedly clutter up other areas of content (radio, newspapers, magazines) with even MORE ads than already exist. This is not a good thing. We already have to put up with an incredible amount of static in this country. Almost without exception, the message will get smothered by the pitch; we don't want that.

In short I think if a constructive solution isn't reached, we could really be creating a problem for ourselves. I for one think a BIG part of making this go away is for people to step up at the grass-roots level and let their buddies or neighbors or whoever know, that they shouldn't abuse the ability to get copyrighted material. If you want to download a song here or there to check out a new band, fine...I don't think anyone would argue this is a detriment to the recording industry, etc. THe point is, there are millions of people (presumably) who copy hundreds or even thousands of songs, not to mention movies, syndicated television shows, etc.

We have to find a way to police ourselves a bit more and be more conscious of the crap we're going to have to deal with if we don't....
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post #2 of 9
I don't know if I agree that it's "fundamentally wrong".

I think Copyright has gone way way to far and people's perceptions of what can be "owned" are far out of whack. 1000 years ago if heard a song in a tavern that people liked I could go to the next town and reproduce it at another tavern. Today that's illegal unless I pay someone. Why? We've created an industry out of nothing.

Copyright was a method the King used to control the press. Considering it's origin and use I think copyright is suspect at best.
post #3 of 9
I read the <a href="http://nytimes.com/2002/03/14/technology/14PROT.html" target="_blank">article</a> this morning, as well, and was going to bring it up in these forums. Glad you did.

Personally, I agree with the 'Andy Groves' mindset which puts the responsibility for satisfying the (ever powerful) consumer's desire to have single songs and digital movies into the responsibility of the media companies. Not the government. As he mentioned, there is a demand and it is up to them to figure out how to make a business out of it. It isn't the rest of the world's responsibility to make their business strategies for them.

The record companies don't make any money off of the buying/selling of used CDs either. Jeep doesn't get any money if I sell my 97 Wrangler to someone.

The government simply should not tell people how to use music they pay for.

However, I also agree that people will find ways to 'steal' music. The government won't be able to stop that though. They can't stop any other 'crimes' with laws. They can deter, but not eliminate. It seems there are better ways to deter people into paying for their music than buying threatening them. How about making it easier to buy a single song (if it's actually worth buying)?

eh, I dislike the music industry so much I just have a hard time feeling for them. There just isn't any good explanation of why a CD of music costs just as much as a DVD of a movie. They've been greedy too long and they're just going to have to figure it out on their own, IMO.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
You make a good point Scott. I think there is clearly a need to address our concept of what should be copyrightable and what shouldn't. Obviously musicians, writers, photographers and others have to be afforded *some* protection, otherwise there is no impetus for them to create their works of art - indeed, there would be no practical way for them to make a living. I don't think anyone here wants that. The more original artists and art concepts (bullwhips up people's asses not withstanding) the better. This is how music evolves from one genre to another, as well as photography and filmmaking.

That said, there has to be more willingness on the part of the industry to reduce their pricing a bit as Seb noted. The argument has been made many times also that in the case of CD's, they'd sell a lot more of them if they'd simply allow people to buy two or three songs they like at a fixed, per song fee. This would obviously require something like the internet to work - even if it was hooked up at the music store. Just punch in the songs you want, and blam - the machine cuts you a CD in 3 or 4 minutes time, you pay for each song plus the cost of the media, and you got exactly what you want.

So clearly Grove is right in that the music industry (at a minimum) has to change their business model to fit the times moreso than what they have done. Hollywood is a bit different because they nature of their product cannot be sub-divided for sale...hence my concerns above.
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post #5 of 9
Hollywood and the rest of the entertainment industry have to realise that they have tremendous ill-will to fight as well. The music industry especially have been boning the public with the price of CD-s for years. Now that CD-R's have become popular and cheap, people realise that being charged $20 for a cd is a rip off. While I feel that Napster is a grey area (since you are not controlling the number of people you are allowing access to your files), if I want to loan a copy of a cd I own to a friend to copy, how is that so different than loaning a copy of a bestseller for him to read? Or a movie to watch? I am not copying it for profit- it s my CD. I have the right to make tapes of it. I have the right to make compilation CD's from my collection.

The same thing will happen with DVD's when the price of the drives drops enough to make them common and able to burn a full-length movies. When the technology is in place and inexpensive, why should I not burn a copy of, say, "Matrix: Reloaded" from HBO when it's shown? I will have paid Adelphia cable $70 for my month of digital cable. I certainly will be able to tape it. If I have the technology, I should have the right to burn it to disc.

Hollywood and the music industry are trying to put the brakes on this because they don't want the average consumer to do digitally what they have been doing with tapes for years, and hiding behind "artists rights" and piracy issues. The real battle for them is not the guy in China who is selling pirated copies of "Cinderella 2", or even the people who are at this moment getting crap copies of whatever off the internet. It's the fact that in the very near future, we will be able to burn "Matrix: Reloaded" when it's shown on HBO 46, in a resolution acceptible enough that we won't want to spend the $25 for the disc, even with the extras. That's what the industry wants to stop.
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post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Interesting. I guess the real crux of the thing is the medium of distribution. People have been illegally copying movies off HBO and other places for years on VHS, but it's such a clunky medium that re-distribution is pretty much limited to Hong Kong bootleg shops and places like that overseas. Now though, all you need is a computer with a high-bandwidth connection, a disc burner and you're set.

But whether the industry has been boning us for years or not, we still voted with our wallets until now. There's not much leverage to say "you've been scamming us all along" IMO. If they were really that unreasonably priced, we wouldn't have bought them...no? I mean technically, the markup on a glass of coke at your favorite restuarant is 100x worse than the markup on a CD or DVD.

There's bad markups on all kinds of products. Everything from the t-shirt on your back to the paper calendar in your personal organizer to breakfast cereal. Bad markups are a fact of life so I'm not sure how far that argument really goes logically speaking, unless we're going to rally against all the other ripoff artists in legitimate business people's clothing as well, ya know?

[ 03-14-2002: Message edited by: Moogs ]</p>
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post #7 of 9
True- there are high markups on everything you can think of. But rarely has the technology for competition to an industry become so easy and affordable for the general public become available. And that is what the entertainment industry wants to stop, at the expense of the computer industry.

They guy making copies off HBO is not doing anything illegal unless he is selling those copies. Copyright protection does not cover home use, and this is a bald attempt by the entertainment industry to stop home users under the guise of stopping piracy.

I do agree that stealing is wrong, and I don't think that you should download copies of "Monsters, Inc." off the internet. Stealing is wrong. But the industry is using this as a smokescreen to broaden copyright laws to the detriment of the home user, as they tried to do unsuccessfully in the 70's with VCR's. Believe me, they are far more worried that Apple may come up with a box that will let me burn DVD's of next season's "Buffy" on HDTV or a pay-per-view of a movie than they are about piracy.
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post #8 of 9
The simple equation is

Consumers without CD/DVD etc will still live and go on

Media whores without consumer money= Death

This is VERY much about Distribution. The Majors(music) offer Distribution and Marketing. For this many artists(most actually) give up the copyrights to their music(only major Singer/Songwriters keep their copyright).

I do agree that piracy has gotten out of control but the Collusion that the music industry has undoubtedly entered into has angered we consumers. CD's should not cost more than DVD's. Sure movie houses get plenty of money from the initial run but CD's also offer the enticement of Tour Dates etc. So the capability of capitalizing on both mediums with handsome profits is there.

The Distributors realize that the Internet will soon become key form of Distribution...the marketing is easy as well..this puts their business in a precarious position. So with this in mind they have set out to convince the world that MP3=Piracy.

Live by the sword ....die by the sword. They have ripped the IP from Millions of Artists...packaged it and sold it like any commone commodity..and now that they have people doing it to them...suddenly music is "Art" again. These Dist only care about how a Music Title sells..they have no interest in producing art. 40 years ago ...musicians said you couldn't get a record deal unless you sounded unique...today Studios look for the next "Creed" or the next Tori Amos. It's all too derivative. They force their "will" on artists...this is damaging to "Art" and totally hypocritical.

As for Hollywood...I don't believe the anger and resentment is as focused from consumers. Relatively many DVD Addicts are happy with the medium. The transfer of movies is not as widespread as MP3's because of the size of even heavily compressed movies. However this may change with Mpeg4 and other compression Codecs. HDTV has already decided on it's protection method and it will forever change the way you view your Video Libray. The promise of Digital Delivery has failed

Finally the US and many other countries feeble attempts and mediating this issues have been very poor. The DMCA is just flat out horrible. SSSCA is even worse. Hollywood is trying to convince the Gov to let them into the very fabric of your computer...like buying a house with a Gov Security agent living upstairs ...watching whatever you do. This does not benefit the computer manufactures...so why should they play along. They require new products and applicatins to furthur their sales. Each industry expects the other industry to submit to their own ruin. Clearly this issue will not be resolved quickly..nor can we expect some Senate Yahoo to concoct a viable solution while lining his/her pockets with $$$$ from the next Enron/Global Crossing(had to put that stab in there).

I agree with Moogs. A grassroots effort must be started that allows musicians to be compensated while allowing us to affordably build our CD/DVD collections. I think you will find that Piracy shrinks as the Yearly pay of said consumer increases. How many of us know someone who cut their teeth on a bootleg photoshop only to go legit once they started billing people. Music is the same way...the young people will not be adverse to paying for the music and movies once they have reached a point in their lives where they are fetching a decent salary. For those who can easily afford CD/DVD's and still choose to rob artists of their livelyhood..I have nothing but contempt.
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post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hmm. I wonder if part of the solution might be for some concerned users in the open source community -- people who have no connections whatever to either Hollywood or a particular computer manufacturer -- come up with a decent encryption scheme. While nothing will be full-proof (there's always that prowler who can break into any house, any car...any encryption scheme) it could prevent a lot of the abuse that goes on. Presumably, they would attempt to do this in such a way as to not bog down digital media systems as well - thus it's a relative win-win scenario.

Obviously the final product would not be open source, but I'm thinking the people who design it could come from that arena....

[ 03-15-2002: Message edited by: Moogs ]</p>
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