(In response to the NYTimes post1 )
I am an American content creator. I do not agree with the problems of SOPA and PIPA. You say that piracy of American movies, music, and games are a problem. To which I have to reply… Where and in what reality?
The music industry made an estimated $168 billion2 as reported by the blog Techdirt. In fact, all forms of entertainment have have had significant increases in revenues despite piracy. Piracy is not the problem here.
You say that policy makers recognized a “constitutional imperative” to protect “American property” from theft, that consumers must be protected from counterfeit products, ending your statement by saying that American ingenuity and jobs are being stolen. All are exaggerated claims. Songs, movies, and games have not needed to be protected as “American property”. Entrepreneurs and artists have found ways to make money online, not through protection, but by finding new avenues for their work. As I speak, over $1.8 million dollars have been funded to create a new adventure game from Double Fine3. Artists used sites like Megaupload4 for their own music. And you hurt their ability to make money by taking away the platforms they use. Spotify wants to come to the US? They have to make unnecessary compromises5. Better services coming to the US? Who will discuss the secret negotiations6 that the labels demand?
Let’s consider the ICE domain seizures. Recently a Yonjo Quiroa7 was arrested for linking to unauthorized streams. The same can be said of Kim Dotcom8 , Hana Beshara9 , Richard O Dwyer10 , Bryan McCarthy11 , and Mohammed Ali12 . Has it stopped piracy? Slowed it down? Has the enforcement people’s ability to download content?
Let’s focus on the policy makers13 . The majority knew nothing about the internet, given their high positions. Mel Watt infamously stated: “I don’t think we can resolve this with a bunch of experts coming in.” Who says that as the ranking member14 on the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, competition, and the internet? Why does Lamar Smith openly admit he doesn’t understand the issue of piracy15?
How can you ask Congress to understand the effects of filesharing16 yet ignore how the music industry has increased in profitability?
Yet you claim that PIPA had no bipartisan support. Sure it did… By legislators that had no idea of what they were passing! There were no hearings on PIPA. Instead, the people watched the SOPA hearings with mounting horror as the hearings became a one sided beating of Google17 .
You want people to believe that TV ads18 from Creative America, an astroturf group formed by the MPAA and NBC, is going to sway and assuage public opinion on being censored? Also, the reason the TV networks didn’t speak up was because the lawyers and lobbyists didn’t WANT it reported19 . Media Matters proved that Tim Tebow and the British Royal Family20 had more coverage than the growing resentment to these bills. And who can forget Rick Cotton’s insistence that this affects only rogue sites21 when Alex Ohanian was saying it would affect American sites as well?
And yet an educated lawyer like you, Mr. Sherman, continue to believe that infringement is theft. You can infringe without becoming a thief22 .)
By the way, how is that $3.2 million salary23 coming along? If piracy were so bad, why do you make so much more than the artist who take record label contracts24 ?
Why take away their ability to use Megabox25 ? Why commit raids on DJs26 or pass laws to invade companies in California without warrants27 ? If the idea here is to stop piracy, why do all of your actions seek to make it such a better alternative? Also, why has your industry done so well despite piracy?
So you ask people to support the OPEN Act28 as introduced by Ron Wyden ad Darrell Issa? Personally, I have reservations about this bill. It doesn’t punish companies for false infringement claims, which is a huge problem that Universal29 recently exposed. Laying claim to songs that aren’t theirs? How about black box money30 that the labels collect? Further, recorded record sales are half their numbers in 1999 was because the RIAA’s members stopped price fixing31 . In other words, the big five at the time (now the Big Three) had a monopoly, rent seeking profit machine on CDs. You believe people want to go back to an era which had an extreme lack of choices?
By the way… Is an iTunes download a sale or a license? Chuck D would like to know32.
But here’s the most amazing part about your next few sentences…
Misinformation may be a dirty trick, but it works"
What about Mitch Glazier33 writing in language in a bill eliminating an artist’s right to reclaim their copyrights?
How about all of the misleading information coming out of the RIAA in regards to these bills:
SOPA is narrowly targeted
Currently, we’ve had 650 domains seized without due process and they’ve been US based as well as foreign websites.
SOPA protects the artists
Since it’s the public, the artists34 , the film makers the human rights activists, the lawyers35 and engineers36 along with a ton of companies that represent the technology industry37 (besides Google) that spoke out about this bill, we can see that a lot of people spoke out against these bill. And let’s be clear. SOPA and PIPA are about censorship38 . Hollywood had to deal with censorship in the ’50s with McCarthyism. Now, the old content industries want to chill free speech in the new millenium.
So in closing, I do agree that there needs to be more reason and not rhetoric. There needs to be open discussion about any copyright bills coming out of Congress. There have been 16 major copyright bills in the last 35 years39 . Disney does not need to protect Mickey Mouse anymore. Everyone knows who created the mouse. Michael Jackson’s songs being downloaded shouldn’t put people in jail more than killing him40(RIP Michael…)
A song is not worth $150,000 in statutory damages.
The ICE is not supposed to be the private police force of the RIAA.
So let’s have an open discussion. The tools are right there in front of you. Youtube, Digg, Reddit, an open journal/blog… There’s a number of options. That’s what it means to Promote the sciences and useful arts41 . Find ways to increase communication, not limit it.
Thank you Mr. Sherman, for your time. I’m sure the internet will enjoy hearing a response.