back to article SOPA is dead. Are you happy now?

In response to internet technology companies leading a rousing protest against SOPA and PIPA, these bills appear to be doomed to ignominious defeat. Even the co-sponsors of these anti-piracy bills are deserting their legislation, leaving the tech world to cheer its success. But what kind of success did we achieve? As written …


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  1. Tom 15


    Personally, I think IP should only be enforceable if the company are actively making use of it and making it available at a reasonable cost... a lot of people who torrent do so because it's the most convenient way of acquiring content.

    What I'm really saying is the following:

    Games Developers - 1. don't use restrictive DRM that blocks valid users, 2. don't charge twice as much for an online purchase as it costs on physical media.

    Musicians - ensure your music is on services such as Spotify; if you don't want it being listened to for free, then make it premium only.

    TV/Films - You all need to get together and make sure people can actually license all of your content. I'd love to use LoveFilm or Netflix but I'm not going to pay for a 60% experience where I still need to torrent or not watch the other 40%.

    I know some will argue that companies own IP and therefore if they don't want it available online then that's their right but I personally don't think they can complain that people are using it online for free when they don't even offer it online.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Tom 15

      So what you are saying is that if a product isn't available legally via a particular sales channel this gives you the legal right to steal it? I just can't see how this argument is justified either legally or morally?

      As to the price if I produce something I set the price, if that is a price you don't want to pay it is your choice not to buy the product. Acquiring the product by either stealing (a physical item) or copying (IP related product) both to my mind both equate to theft.

      1. Richard Gadsden


        Copyright is a grant of monopoly by the government, not an intrinsic right. You only get copyright because you having copyright is useful - viz, by having copyright you get enough income from this film to give you the incentive to produce another one. If you start using copyright to stop people using something rather than to make money from people using something, then you having the copyright isn't useful - and you shouldn't have it any more.

        "[I]f I produce something I set the price" - not true for copyright goods in general. You don't set the price that a radio station pays to play your song, that's standardised to be the same for all songs.

        Streaming and downloading music and films is much more like a radio station or a TV station than it is like buying a physical copy

        1. Carl

          Not quite.

          "[I]f I produce something I set the price"

          Nope. The market sets the price.

          Unless the product is that of a monopoly. (and by "Monopoly" I also mean "Government mandate").

          And the market is segmented due to differentials in how much value the people in that segment attach to the product, what they can pay and how motivated they are to buy it. Your statement is correct in the sense that a clever marketer will figure out the best price to charge that will attract the largest number of people. But by and large the market sets the price.

          1. Andy Fletcher

            @Titus Technophobe

            Irrelevant? How much do you think David Prowse, Anthony Daniels & Kenny Baker made out of being in Star Wars. Not much. And they just got paid for their work - no ongoing gravy train for them. The whole system is a mess, and wages are disproportional. And therin lies the problem - usually supply and demand dictate pricing. Crap like SOPA is simply an industry trying to protect itself from natural market forces.

      2. Dana W

        Bad idea.

        Do you want to listen to music in a world where the RIAA is the only decider of what is and isn't saleable and available?

        Happy pop divas and rap acts to you too.

      3. KKaria

        Missed the point

        @Titus Technophobe

        I think you missed the point. Online selling is a channel, yes, but a very improtant one. The media industry has had many years to adapt to it. There was a point when not selling online was an option but not any more. Companies still have free choice, but if they don't chose to sell online / make the media available more easily, freetards will resort to piracy. I don't support it but it is simply the common outcome. So the media companies go after the freetards should just use blanket legistation like SOPA or PIPA. If your business is under threat find a way to handle it without causing problems for the rest of the world. Go after pirates, but don't attack the freedom of the Internet. Basically GROW UP and learn to compete in the current market which is now mostly online.

        1. david wilson


          >>"Companies still have free choice, but if they don't chose to sell online / make the media available more easily, freetards will resort to piracy."

          That fraction of people who currently download for nothing but who in reality *would* be prepared to pay a reasonable price for stuff online, I wouldn't call 'freetards'.

          OTOH, I think *true* freetards would resort to piracy anyway, even if some fraction of them might currently pretend that they're being 'forced' into getting stuff for nothing.

          As for Titus's point, I think all he was really saying was that people don't have any kind of 'right' to copy stuff for nothing just because it happens not to be available in the specific format they want.

          People don't have any kind of moral 'right' to pass around free ebooks of any book not yet available as a paid-for ebook just because they want one, people didn't have any kind of moral 'right' to pass around free VHS copies of films that had yet to be released on video, etc.

      4. Brendan Sullivan

        So you think that ignoring significant market factors in favor of restricting rights will reduce piracy? Adjusting price in response to market demands encourages people to buy your product. Is it hard to compete with free? Yes, but you don't have to make it harder by setting prices that are beyond the budget or value threshold of your consumers.

        Similarly making your product available in the location and format that is useful to the potential consumer reduces the incentive to 'pirate' your content. DVD's Region system and pricing drives low income consumers and consumers in regions where those DVD's are not allowed drives those customers to seek other ways of obtaining that content, whether by buying bootleg discs from street vendors or downloading a ripped copy from a website they get the content they want at a price they can pay and without jumping continents.

        Actively offering licensing (at terms that are agreeable to both sides) and participating and innovating in new distribution channels and technologies further reduces incentives for 'piracy'. Why would I go through the trouble of ripping my otherwise unused DVD collection into files I can watch on my tablet and laptop if I could simply go to a website and buy digital copies of the films for a /small/ amount and download a copy right to my device just as I am able to do with music offered by Amazon's mp3 shop. Don't offer me streaming rentals instead either; most of the time I would actually make use of such a service is exactly when I cannot because of connectivity issues (subterranean trains, airplanes and just in a mobile deadzone will prevent any sort of streaming while limited bandwidth degrades the quality to the point of useless yet these are exactly where I would want such a collection because I don't have connectivity or tasks occupying me).

        Far too much of the discussion of piracy leaves out economic factors and purchasing concerns and instead concentrates on the largely spurious method of handing control over to large media companies.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "As to the price if I produce something I set the price, if that is a price you don't want to pay it is your choice not to buy the product. Acquiring the product by either stealing (a physical item) or copying (IP related product) both to my mind both equate to theft."

        Classic beginner's mistake: You're assuming a 1:1 'download to lost sale' ratio. Legally it's not theft if the 'victim' isn't deprived of anything. There's evidence that easy downloading decreases sales and there's evidence that downloading increases sales a bit further down the line; but there's so much horseshit piled up on both sides of the fence that it's hard to discern the true story.

        What there is evidence for, however, is that the vast majority of people would prefer to be honest is the solution is:

        * Convenient

        * Perceived as a reasonable price for the product

        Something that also has to be taken into consideration is the public's perceptions of the parties involved; and the media associations have done themselves a great deal of damage here by bribing politicians to curtail the rights of everybody so that they can make a few quid. The true obscenity is the unreasonable extension of the term of copyright term (The 'Mickey Mouse laws'; or the 'Wowbagger laws', as they're going to have to rename them if it keeps up). At least part of the motivation for downloading is a mini, personal 'fuck you' to the media associations.

        15 years was fine, and did the job well. If that were still the case we'd still be legally allowed to download -say- Radiohead's 'OK Computer'*** and maybe buy some other Radiohead albums to see what they've been up to since; or maybe dick around with the sounds and make something else from the work. By the time it *actually* comes out of copyright, we'll all have something else to listen to in our flying cars; and it will probably be so antiquated that it would sound like crap anyway (***Just picked at random from the right year, okay?). That's just's a lot more important for society to stay current(ish) on published science and engineering, for example. 15-year-old remixes of science and engineering would benefit all of us...even the selfish media ass. scumpouches.

        If things are seen as fair, then the majority will be happy. Reset copyright back to 15 years; charge a reasonable price for the product (remember that you're not paying for physical media and transportation for digital products, and we fucking well *know* that); make the penalties for infringing within that 15-year period offputting, but sane...and the game can still be saved.

        Won't happen though. *sigh*

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @moiety - You said it very well, sir!

          That's exactly what happened with classical music. That's why I can listen to music written in the 1600s or even before that. The music was accessible and generation after generation could afford to listen to it and now we can enjoy it too.

          Just to let you know, one of the up-votes is mine.

          1. Goat Jam


            Invent a world changing cure for cancer? You get a 15 year monopoly to make some money from it.

            Invent a cartoon mouse? You get 75 years (and counting) monopoly so you can sell people their childhood memories at $30 bucks a disc.

      6. Marshalltown
        Thumb Down


        The problem is frequently that a "product" isn't available at all in some potential markets. More to the point, media execs lie - period. There's no evidence at all that "piracy" is actually taking sand out of any Hollywood or Nashville swimming pool, let alone a bit of caviar off anyone's table. There are media company assertions without quantitative backup and there are real-world investigations that flatly refute the idea that ANY protection is required against "piracy." I've no idea about Britain, but in the US, the chief "pirates" are the big media companies and in the music industry the people getting robbed are the artists. For contrary opinions regarding the utility of the idea of "IP" check out the thoughts of Maria Muldaur or the reasoning behind and the results of the Baen Free Library at Baen Books as set out by Eric Flint.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Moeity and some others

          You miss the point regardless of convenience and price if I produce something to my mind I have right to sell that product. This allows me to then buy the things that I require. The fact that my product either isn’t available in your locale, is overpriced (in your opinion), or indeed not for sale at your preferred marketplace doesn’t justify you taking that product without my permission.

          Maybe a physical product example would help. I grow beans in fields and sell them in a market. Living in an area of bean pirates I choose to sell them in a market that whilst geographical distant, but doesn’t have the local theft problems, not being hugely familiar with the laws of supply and demand I chose to sell boxes of beans for $1000.

          Does the fact that my beans aren’t available locally give you a moral right to steal from my fields? Or even more so steal them and then just hand them out locally?

          Whilst the price of $1000 a box is ridiculous, and I can’t sell then, does this give a moral right to steal the boxes and sell them cheaper? Left alone I may start to discount the prices until they do sell, whereas with a constant theft problem I have to maintain the original price to cover my costs.

          I see the arguments about IP in a similar way. I may either choose to give away attenuated copies of my product to enhance sales, distribute the product via the Internet or indeed in Europe, Russia or some other locale. That is my choice. The fact that I choose to do none of these things does not justify people doing that without my permission just because this is trivially simple on the Internet.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Titus Technophobe

            I was objecting to your use of the word 'theft' in regard to downloads. With your bean analogy it would be theft because I am depriving you of something. Every box of beans I steal would be a box of beans that you then wouldn't have.

            That's not the case with downloads. Take as a theoretical case somebody downloading an album or film with absolutely no intention whatsoever of buying the official product. Morally dubious, yes, (I think unlawful is the term - IANAL) but there is no loss to the rights holder as nothing is taken. The rights holder has just many copies as ever to sell. There is no lost sale as the downloader was never going to buy it anyway.

            You're also looking at the issue from the creator's POV, and 99% of this argument isn't with the's the media associations that are ripping both the creators and the public off. To run with your bean analogy, let's say that in order to sell your beans you have to join a farming collective. They are charging $1000 a box; but you're only seeing $50 of that; and they have a contract for your entire yield for the next 10 years. You were hungry and you needed to see your beans, so you signed. Sure you're able to heat your house with flatulence alone, but you still need cash for tools and things.

            Now getting back to downloading...the 'regionally available' stuff is an antiquated and artificial scarcity. Sure it used to work when vinyl and postage was the only way...don't release a product in some markets and people would be happy to import a product at extra cost. And to an extent, that was fair have to consider the logistics of producing extra copies, sending these physical items to foreign places. And if you got the numbers wrong it was expensive.

            With digital products, none of this applies: set up a site with a paywall in front of the download - problem solved. Anyone, anywhere in the world can buy your product and enjoy it more-or-less immediately. And there are no logistics, print or supply problems as you can calve off copies of your product until your server explodes or the heat-death of the universe (whichever comes first). Artificial scarcity in this environment is bullshit, and the potentially purchasing punters know it.

            In fact, it makes unloading physical products easier too; as you can centralise your order-taking and just post them from wherever you happen to be.

            Absolutely agreed that the creator of the work has the right to do whatever with the work. The game changes, however, when media ass.'s get involved. If an organisation is deliberately creating artificial scarcity, then the people in those areas who 'can't access' a given product are going to find their own ways round it. Right or wrong; that's human nature. If I produce an album and release it across the UK, except for Wales (random example!); what are the people in Wales going to do? I give you one guess. They're going to find another source to obtain said product; and quite possibly download my entire back catalogue while they're about it as an additional 'fuck you'.

            Telling people they can't have something increases the likelihood of them wanting (and obtaining) it; and many business models rely on this very fact. Telling people they can't have a digital product (or something that can become a digital product in very few mouse clicks) because they live in a certain region is bullshit. Everybody (except the media associations, apparently) knows this.

            If a creator doesn't want to get on the internet, that is their decision. However. The vast majority of people (I'm guessing here) buy and store their media in electronic form as it's easier and a hell of a lot more portable. So even if I abide by the creator's (somewhat eccentric) sales technique and buy a waxed cylinder of his work from his bike basket; I'm still going to convert it into something electronic for my own convenience. And sooner or later a copy will probably escape from somebody. You can wish for other outcomes but that's much the same as wishing for the tide not to come in. Telling people "you can't have it" is equally futile, unless you're saying it for some free publicity.

            You have to work with human nature. The various media ass.'s efforts have been a "You're doing it wrong" poster from start to finish. The whole approach of "we're going to arrange for some extra oppression so you give us more money" has only one answer: "Fuck off".

            Most of the problem can be easily solved. But it won't be.

          2. apjanes

            I think you're missing the point

            @Titus Technophobe: I don't think many people are arguing that it is morally 'okay' for people to pirate IP, but that neither is it morally right to give those who may (or may not) be victims of piracy to shutdown/impede/cause problems for others merely on the basis of suspicion. Laws like SOPA cause a huge amount of burden and risk on EVERYONE who runs a website, regardless of whether or not they themselves are engaging in privacy or not.

            In a crude attempt to use your bean analogy, even though it is not right for the bean pirates to take your beans because they can't (or won't) get them legitimately, does that make it right for you to send the 'bean police' in to destroy my fields because I gave directions as to how to get to your fields to some stranger who happened to be a pirate?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward


              My original response was that just because a piece of IP, i.e,film, book, whatever was not available on the Internet did not justify people making it available for free on the Internet. I made little comment on SOPA.

              The attitude of entitlement to copy IP because something either isn't available, or costs too much pretty much guarantees that producers of IP will continue to press for just this sort of legislation. Mind I don't really need to say this as Andrew Orlowski argues the case far better.

          3. niksad8

            well lets change that bean analogy a bit

            Lets upgrade your bean story to the internet age. Now you have decided not to cater to the local market. Lets say a local pirate comes along sees the warehouse full of beans. Npw he has a device that can scan a particular something and duplicate infinite times. Now the pirate ses some hungry people on the road and duplicates the boxes of beans and hands it to all the poor people so that they can have a full stomach. You have not lost any of your boxes, but your beans are in a market that you dont want to cater to in the first place. Now whos fault is it that you did not see the potential in the local market? Or the pirate who saw the demand and fullfilled it, without earning a penny and ofc he feed some poor people while doing it too.

      7. CappyC


        Is it morally correct that the likes of Tom Cruise gets $100 Million for a couple of months work for a movie? Then they charge £8 to watch a movie in the cinema and if you want to watch again on DVD you have to pay yet again.

        The likes of Cheryl Cole then spends a few hours recording a song and get paid every time it is played, instead of every time she sings (like in a live concert). Do painters get paid every time a painting is displayed or looked at? Is it also morally correct that the MPAA and distributors get 90% of all the revenue when distribution could be as easy as creating a torrent file and people do that for free

        The money these companies and so called Artists (real artist produce art for the sake of the art not the cash Mr Simon Cowell) make is way out dated just like your point of view. WE DO NOT NEED THEM ANY MORE SO WHY PAY FOR THEM.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          How much Tom Cruise, Cheryl Cole, and Mr Simon Cowell get paid is irrelevant. As you yourself have said if you don't need them don't pay for their work. But it still isn't morally correct to copy their work and then watch it anyway.

    2. LarsG


      THE political elite of the USA have realised that if they supported the bill, a bill against the fundamental right of free speech, they would stuggle to be seen as credible.

      They just want to keep their cozy jobs and will always bend with the wind whichever direction it blows.

    3. fzz

      I'll interpret your last paragraph thus: everything which can be digitized will be digitized and made available online, either legitimately by copyright holders or illegally by pirates. Probably true, and would imply that copyright holders should accept this reality and learn to adapt to it.

    4. LarsG


      Megaupload has been taken off the air?

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge


        Funny timing, no? That Megaupload is taken off the air the day after the big who-har When everyone has said that SOPA et. al are too much, not needed etc.

        Maybe the labels will say: "look this is why we need the new laws...", but at the same time the other side can say "Look there are already enough laws..."

        I am a bit disapppointed in El Reg I must say (I'm sorry). But my misses has just asked me about it because it's on the news in Spain, but here I am reading the Reg and I don't know about it!

    5. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      "Personally, I think IP should only be enforceable if the company are actively making use of it and making it available at a reasonable cost"

      Well companies don't own music IP, it's assigned to them. Ray Charles insisted on master rights, I know Feargal Sharkey and the band own theirs.

      What you're talking about is "use it or lose it" clause, aka Reversion.

      Reversion was actually a big part of the independent labels argument in the European sound recording term extension debate. I highlighted it, but to the cynical hearts, every label in the world is evil. It was ignored.

      In the end the EU made a token gesture, it reverts after you're as good as dead. Quite useless.

      To me the length of the copyright term doesn't matter so much as the use it's put to. That needs healthy markets. So the creator can look around for an investor to give the work some new life.

      Reissues labels do this every day, and many do a fantastic job - finding it, curating it, wrapping it up in lovely sleevenotes... that's the best argument that IP should never be snatched from the creator before the term is up.

      See Vampi Soul, Sundazed Records, Soul Jazz, Andy Votel's Finders Keepers label.

      All utterly amazing. They've revived the careers of neglected artists, such as Joe Battan. But IP is essential, as an incentive; with no IP, these beautiful things wouldn't be being reissued.

    6. David Hicks


      The movie industry need to follow the music industry.

      Music is now available at a reasonable price, with extreme convenience, from multiple outlets. As a result music piracy is on the wane.

      Movies, OTOH, are not. They are kept ludicrously expensive (especially for HD content) for no good reason, and there are few services that have poor selections and poor pricing models. As a result, movie piracy is still huge.

      The shutdown of mega-upload demonstrates that we don't need new laws. The tech industry is surely perfectly correct to 'shotgun' criticism at the lawmakers - WE DON'T NEED MORE LAWS!

    7. NogginTheNog


      "I know some will argue that companies own IP and therefore if they don't want it available online then that's their right but I personally don't think they can complain that people are using it online for free when they don't even offer it online"

      So you're basically removing any right the rights holder have over the use of their content?? byt that argument any photos you take, or anything else YOU create, then I, Facebook, or anyone else, has a perfect right to splat all over the 'web if you don't do it yourself?

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        You're right Noggin, the creator doesn't owe anybody anything.

        The creator can compose a symphony and hide it under their bed. Or put it into the public domain. Or negotiate publishing rights. The choices belong to the creator, not a bureaucrat, and not Angry Shed Bloke.

        I think it reflects a weird sense of entitlement.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the tech world that's reactionary now?

    Then Big Music[tm] and Hollywood[tm] are also part of "the tech world". Really now.

    What we're seeing is people doing their thing and then a bunch of other people step in, bullying, buying themselves some legislation, and the supposed representatives of the people let themselves easily be bought by big money, not even understanding in the least what they're doing.

    It is so deeply, awfully wrong that it's hard to see how we can have anything but the shouting. Don't forget that the whole "IP" business (that's copyright and patents both) are already horribly skewed and broken. ACTA is a testament to how wide the rot has spread, and it doesn't point to the pirates. Anybody notice that the US managed to take things out of the public domain again?

    It isn't industry of any kind that needs to speak up here. It's the people, and they need to call heel to their representatives, who need to learn to represent exactly the people again.

    1. 404

      I concur

      You cannot talk to a US politician without cash in hand - they cannot hear you over the counting machines.

      I'm with the Torches and Pitchforks crowd at this point - recently disillusioned by some things happening here in the US, things I thought were set in stone (like justice and honor) and at my age, a total shock.

      I'm still trying to adjust.

      Good post.


    2. Asiren

      It was said in the article

      The shouting isn't ideal, but when the initial negotiations are done in back-rooms and the legislators are blinded by money, how else are bad laws supposed to be shot down?

      The two ways to a Congressman's Brain (ha!) is:

      1. Pay to have some private time with him and put your own ideas in his head, feed him talking points he can fend off newcasters (which you have also primed) with and gives him publicity. (aka Lobbying)

      2. Rile up the public so that they scream and shout until the Congressman realises that if he goes the wrong way, his gravy train is going to run away wrong way on a one-way track towards a cliff, never going back. (aka Protesting)

      One is cloak-and-daggers, the other is mob mentality. What sort of common ground is there between those methods of "dialogue"?!?

  3. Shane8

    TPB said it better!


    The word SOPA means "trash" in Swedish. The word PIPA means "a pipe" in Swedish. This is of course not a coincidence.

    They want to make the internet inte a one way pipe, with them at the top, shoving trash through the pipe down to the

    rest of us obedient consumers.

    The public opinion on this matter is clear. Ask anyone on the street and you'll learn that noone wants to be fed with

    trash. Why the US government want the american people to be fed with trash is beyond our imagination but we hope that

    you will stop them, before we all drown.

    [end quote]

    (full text @

    Ill drink to that!

    1. Laie Techie

      [quote]The word SOPA means "trash" in Swedish. The word PIPA means "a pipe" in Swedish. This is of course not a coincidence.[/quote]

      The word SOPA means soup in Portuguese. Does that mean the govt wants to turn this country into a soup kitchen?

      A word's meaning in a foreign language only comes into play when the original context (in English) was inspired by that other language. I doubt more than a handful of our congressmen know Swedish.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


        The word PIPA may be understood in Russian as "dick". I'll leave the interpretation of the true intentions of the US media industry to your imagination...

    2. Toastan Buttar
      Paris Hilton


      The word "PIPA" in UK English means "shapely rear".

      1. Steve Renouf

        isn't it Pippa?

        why isn't there a mouse icon too?

      2. Turtle_Fan

        PIPA in a foreign language...

        Then you really don't want to know what pipa means in Greek....


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is also...

    ... the problem that the "structure of debate" in the US is currently either back rooms or shouting. Look at how Big Media[tm], clear proponents of this awfully abusable legislation, didn't say a thing to the people they're supposed to inform. Not much sense admonishing the shouty to go back to discussing when the other side won't talk back.

    1. K


      Definitely conflict of interest here, with the likes of Rupert Murdoch backing SOPA because of his interest in Fox.. Fox New simply becomes a propoganda tool.

      1. Efros

        Not "becomes" it already is, and has been since it started.

        1. Dr. Ellen
          Big Brother

          Fox News

          I don't exactly disagree about Fox News being propaganda. I just think it's *counter*propaganda to most of the other news services.

          1. Tinker Tailor Soldier
            Thumb Down

            Reality has a liberal bias

            But then Faux news watchers like you never liked reality much did you?

  5. K


    You hit the nail on the head.

    The film industry in using a piece meal approach, they'll release the old "tat" to Netflix and Lovefilm, but the rest of the content they hoard in an effort to squeeze more profit from it. Its doomed to failure, the music industry learnt this, they had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the likes of iTunes (et al) into the 21st century.

    It boils down to this - We have a culture of consume on-demand, with products available through multiple suppliers, the net result should be increased competition and decreased prices, this is the ethos of capitalism. Consumers now live by this, so they're looking for the content they want, at a time dictated by them and at a reasonable cost.

    Where the film and tv industry fail to deliver this, then consumers will find these other supplier (even if its not legitimate). The big players in the industry will lose distribution control, the spoils will go to those that embrace it... e.g. the iTunes and Spotifies of the Movies and TV world.

    1. Richard 81

      Gabe Newell said it

      "In general, we think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the U.S. release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty." - Gabe Newell of Valve fame.

      Basically boils down to "if piracy provides a better service than the producers, of course people will pirate."

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Dead? Not hardly

    SOPA/PIPA are only "dead" in the way that Jason, Freddy, the Alien, et. al. are "dead" at the end of the movie. They will be back in the sequel, as bad (if not worse) than before.

    Seriously, even if you drive a stake into SOPA's heart, stuff its mouth full of garlic and sew it shut, cut its head off with a gravedigger's shovel, bury it in holy ground at a crossroads, salt the site (with both NaCL and Cobalt-60 chloride), nuke the site from orbit, drop it inside a Schwarzschild metric black hole of 10 solar masses, and then eject that from our worldbrane, it WILL be back, because companies with more money than business model or common sense want it.

    We need to keep an eye on our "elected" officials, lest they think they can slip it through unnoticed.

    1. irish donkey


      what he said!

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Good prediction:

      "Seriously, even if you drive a stake into SOPA's heart, stuff its mouth full of garlic and sew it shut, cut its head off with a gravedigger's shovel, bury it in holy ground at a crossroads, salt the site (with both NaCL and Cobalt-60 chloride), nuke the site from orbit, drop it inside a Schwarzschild metric black hole of 10 solar masses, and then eject that from our worldbrane, it WILL be back..."

      SOPA will be back EVERY year until the problem is fixed.

      Fixing it through co-operation means you don't need new legislation.

      But you need to fix it with fair enforcement powers that benefit (for example): the amateur, the little guy (independent filmmaker), and the big studio. All three. Not two out of three - or the two you like most.

      Of course if you prefer fighting the war, to fixing the problem, you'll get SOPA every year.

  7. PassiveSmoking

    Had the US government not tried to push this bill through in secret, without consulting people who weren't involved with the "creative" industries and without a free and open debate on the merits and failings of the legislation in question, those who were in most danger of getting screwed by the law probably wouldn't have felt the need to resort to shouting and civil disobedience to being the issues to light.

    Of course the shaping of the legislation should have been done in a more mature way, but political representatives should also be expected to behave in a trustworthy way.

    1. Turtle

      The Tech Industry

      "Had the US government not tried to push this bill through in secret, without consulting people who weren't involved with the "creative" industries and without a free and open debate on the merits and failings of the legislation in question, those who were in most danger of getting screwed by the law probably wouldn't have felt the need to resort to shouting and civil disobedience to being the issues to light."

      You are so full of shit that it isn't even funny. The tech industry has never supported any measures to protect copyright owners, and they never will support any meaningful protection. (The number of DMCA takedown notices that Google receives every year can be counted by millions.) The tech industry will continue to resort to obstructionism for as long as they can, because the continuation of the current situation, which enables them to steal, distribute, and devalue content, is of immense financial benefit to them; the fact that is of immense financial harm to the people who actually create the content that the tech industry steals means nothing to them.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Someone Else Silver badge


      Had the US government not tried to push this bill through in secret, without consulting people who weren't involved with the "creative" industries and without a free and open debate on the merits and failings of the legislation in question, it wouldn't have been the US government in the New Millennium, now would it?

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Relax, it's just a Gutenberg moment

    I think the whole concept of "intellectual property" needs a rework - I think there's a good argument to be made that the very concept of "intellectual property" protection is becoming irrelevant. The idea that you can take a "work" and distribute it electronically without leaks (Wikileaks) or duplication (MPAA) has been proven to fail every single time that someone tries it. We all need to step back and, with a nod to Quentin Crisp, embrace this "failure" and make it our style - we need to learn that information is just that, a collection of electrons with no allegiance or honor.

    After all there's a lot of "intellectual property" that has little need of protection and yet thrives - Museums, Theaters, Art Galleries, Live Performances ... the formula for Coca Cola. IP is dead, long live IP.

    Come back Marshall McLuhan, all is forgiven.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      ... and before you jump all over me as a freetard, I should point out that I make my living from "Intellectual Property" selling both software and hardware that I design (with the help of others, I'm not some solitary genius in a can) - sure, the stuff I design and make could be copied but if I do my job properly then it's cheaper for someone to buy my products then reinvent or copy them.

      There is no "Divine Right" of ownership of ideas ... all we can ever own is "things" - and the joke's on us because we can't take them with us when we die.

    2. Colin Millar

      IP not dead

      Museums, Theaters, Art Galleries, Live Performances - you think these materials are not protected by IP rights?

      Try staging Les Miserables or Cats, try photographing in art galleries or museums with anything more than a compact ( or anything at all in an increasing number) - I think you will find that IP is quite well protected.

      The biggest problem in all this mess is that both sides are entirely reactionary and the politicians just go with where their interest is. In the US it is very difficult for a politician to adopt any stance which could be caricatured as anti-property rights so they usually end up on the side of the property owner and we end up with legislation which is basically a list of banned activities and sanctions - generally recognised as the worst sort of law-making.

      The freetard opposition meanwhile presents itself as standing up for us ordinary folks and our right to HAVE STUFF NOW. Nothing of the sort - they are at least as self serving as the politicians and IP owners. Modern day hippy movements with a whole load of stoners being lead by people whose self-promoting agenda is all too plain to see and keeping their mug followers in line with a promise of free sex/movies/rock 'n' roll.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        "Try staging Les Miserables or Cats, try photographing in art galleries or museums with anything more than a compact ( or anything at all in an increasing number) - I think you will find that IP is quite well protected."

        Good Point - but I would argue that these "protections" are a tip of the cap to "IP" and actually serve very little useful purpose - the actually "protect" a very marginal income stream and probably actually cost far more to enforce than the "income" that they are supposed to protect.

        I'm not saying that if you own something in a gallery that you can't tell visitors that they can't take a picture of it - I'm just saying don't try and tell me that you're doing it because of "IP" - that's rubbish.

      2. ratfox

        IP of Les Miserables??

        Victor Hugo has been dead for over a century, and you can stage Les Miserables whenever you want. You can also copy paintings of Van Gogh, down to the last detail, signature included and sell them... As long as you do not claim they are originals.

        1. david wilson


          >>"Victor Hugo has been dead for over a century, and you can stage Les Miserables whenever you want."

          You could read out the original *book* on stage*, or an old translation of it, or perform the 1863 play (in French), but you can't stage the *musical* without permission, or some other recent stage adaptations.

          1. Steve Renouf

            Or do your own adaptation of it

            Obviously if you use someone else's screenplay/script, you are infringing THEIR copyright - not the copyright of the original. If you create your own interpretation/adaptation of the original, you are then creating your own copyright of that new version.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Colin Millar

        Galleries that ban photography are not protecting their IP in the usual sense of preventing others using it without permission, because there is no IP in a 200-year-old painting.

        So if you go into a gallery you can photograph a painting without breaking any law. The gallery can ask you to leave, but you've still got the photo and you can do what you like with it.

        The gallery's IP actually resides in the photographs they have taken of the paintings, and they want to ensure they have no competition. Which is a bit rum for publically-funded institutions whose purpose is to disseminate information about their collections.

        1. david wilson


          >>"The gallery's IP actually resides in the photographs they have taken of the paintings, and they want to ensure they have no competition. Which is a bit rum for publically-funded institutions whose purpose is to disseminate information about their collections."

          Well, if they're non-profit, then getting money from postcards, catalogues, book reproduction rights, etc *is* income that either means they need less from elsewhere, or means they have more money to spend doing stuff.

          In practice, I think photography bans are also often significantly to do with not having countless people firing off flashes or trying to get the 'best' position for a shot while other people are trying to look properly at something, and also to simplify the situation where many places might be displaying things that /are/ still in copyright, or things that have been loaned by someone who would rather keep the reproduction rights to themselves.

          Having to try and manage photographers to avoid disturbing other visitors, and potentially enforce selective bans of certain items might well be much more work than having a blanket ban that most people comply with.

        2. Dr. Ellen

          Gallery photos

          I'm a retired museum curator, and have been involved with *this* one up to my ears. A good part of a museum/gallery's problem with photos rests upon ultraviolet damage from the flash. And it's hard to get a decent photo without controlling the lighting and surroundings. Besides, a lot of those objects and images cost real *money*.

          If people wanted to stage and take their own photos, they had to rent me to come along with the objects, to make sure nothing bad happened. (I had to practically *scream* once to keep the photographer from using dulling spray on a 150-year-old artifact. And what they sometimes want to do with gaffer's tape can be horrifying.)

          Alternatively, they could hire the museum's photographer to do the job.

          The IP aspect was significant, but definitely not on top of the list.

          1. Mark 65


            I've also read that one of the primary concerns with photography in museums etc is the effects of the flash degrading artefacts (colour fade I'd guess, and possibly materials degradation). However the complete banning of all photography seems to dovetail nicely with the book sales in the shop you always have to pass through in order to leave. For some places (Royal Palaces etc) I'll buy as some of the shots are outstanding and the books filled with historical information and prices are often reasonable.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Simple Solution

    Governments would be better informed if it were illegal for elected representatives to accept bribes in the form of campaign funds.

    1. Richard Gadsden

      Including from themselves?

      There has to be somewhere that elected representatives get money from for their campaigns. If the only place is their own pocket, then you have just given rich people an advantage that no-one else can possibly overcome.

      If you stop them putting money in themselves, and you stop them taking contributions from anyone else, then you have to have tax payer funding - or else there is nowhere they can raise money from, and so all campaigns have to be done for free, which means no on-line campaigning at all, as the campaign can't possibly use a computer that it doesn't own.

      1. IPatentedItSoIOwnIt
        Thumb Down


        Why not have it so you can only donate to the party, that way no influence over individuals.

        Keep the cap on the amount each person can contribute and also limit the amount that parties can spend on an election campaign. That way every other commercial for the next 9 months won't be about the election and neither party would be able to buy the Presidency.

        The sooner America can sever the connection between self serving corporations and cash guzzling politicians the better.

        1. Charles 9

          Congrats, you killed the independent.

          Independent candidates, by definition, have no party. So how would an independent candidate bankroll a campaign without a personal bankroll (the only one he's got). If someone else funds him, he's essentially part of a party and no longer independent.

          What's REALLY needed is to understand that perhaps the Founding Fathers didn't quite get it all the way right. 200+ years of experience is teaching us that free speech only goes so far. Like capitalism, sooner or later you get a bully. The only way to control the bully is to set the rules so that everyone has their say. In other words, FREE speech isn't as important as FAIR speech (and to see that in action, look into the courts, where speech is under certain rules of honesty and fairness--Ads could use the same treatment).

          But who moderates the campaign if you can't trust anyone (not even the government) to keep it fair?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Not really

            In real life, the bully dies. Corporations may die, but they live a hell of a lot longer than real people do. It's our court system, stating that corporations are people, that has exacerbated this problem. Corporations are not held to the same standards and laws as a LIVING person. Hence, when a company's product kills people, they can't be put in prison. Hell, we don't even stop them from selling their products for the same amount of time as someone would have recieved as jail time. Now, I'm not saying that a company should be punished because a handful of people die from defective product each year. What I am saying, is that companies that sell something like tobacco products, knowing full well the high causal link to death are not punished. If you went around and killed a quarter of the people you hung out with (maybe not right away, but eventually), then you'd be in prison and possibly facing state sanctioned death. Now many banks that falsified their loans are in jail? None. No probation either.

            And in the states, if you're an independent, the rules are vastly different for you than if you're one of the established parties. You don't se the Dems or Reps going around gathering signatures to get their candidate on the ballot every election cycle. Tax money goes into in-party elections that only members can vote in (this does vary because the Repubs in my state allow anyone) or you can only vote in one political parties selection process. Even the debates are controlled by the top two parties. Unless they consider you a 'viable' candidate, you're not going to be invited. Then there's the problem with the debate questions. They're all pre-approved.

            Government has been in bed with corporations long before this 'incivility' to discuss things came into its present state.

      2. Mark 65

        Funding is simple

        It has to be centrally (i.e. Government/tax-payer) supplied and regulated. That puts everyone on an even footing. Candidates must then account for all that is spent on their campaign. It's about time some semblance of honesty was brought (not bought) back into politics. Remove the lobbying and the contributions/funding which essentially amount to a legal bribe. There has to be a better way.

        1. Charles 9

          But how do you counter freedom of the press?

          Especially "mudspray" ads that happen to smother one or more candidates without specifically endorsing anyone. That's still a form of bullhorning, it's also covered by the first amendment., and you have no way to conclusively determine under whose budget it falls. As we've learned, many forms of speech can be both political and subtle at the same time. If politicos are anything, they're sneaky. Any form of reform would have to put very tight rules as to how the campaign would be structured so that there's little if any weasel room.

  10. Dr. Mouse
    Thumb Up

    Nice article, thanks

    Totally agree that there needs to be discussion, debate and compromise to solve this issue. The problem is neither side wish to do so/

    The way I see it, the media industries shot themselves in the foot a long time ago and have been struggling to stop the hemorrhage since. They failed to keep up with technology, so people stepped into the gap and provided the services people wanted: the only problem was, without the media industries backing, it was piracy, and the media industry made no money from it.

    There is now a generation where a large proportion have become used to getting any media they want almost instantly, and available to watch on any device they wish. The fact it is free is incidental. They are able to download a torrent of a file, for example, on the day of release (and sometimes earlier) and, a short while later, watch it. They can then play it on their phone, their PC, their TV... any device they want, for as long as they want, in as good quality as they would get if they had gone to the shop and bought the DVD/BluRay. There are no restrictions on operating systems or number of devices they can play it on. There are no trailers or adverts about "copyright theft". In short it is convenient and simple.

    Having "forced" a big chunk of this generation into such distribution methods, the industry needs to come up with something which is at least as good in order to convert them, as they will not pay for a service of a lower standard than they are used to receiving for free. They also need to price it sensibly, so they are encouraged to use it. And they need to make ALL content available, as with only a limitted amount, why should they switch?

    This is a better method than enforcement (at the moment). There will still be some die-hard "freetards" (hate the term, but it's the best term available) who will not switch, but with a reasonable, legal alternative most will. At this point, it will be easier (and less unpopular) to target enforcement action at those who have not switched (if there are enough of them to be worth it by then).

    To sum it all up, the media industry (IMHO) need to "win the hearts and minds" of the public (mainly the tech public) with a GOOD QUALITY, GOOD VALUE service before they wage war on the illegitimate sources of media. Instead, they choose to offer services of a lower standard than those availble elsewhere and shut down the places offering what their customers want.

    Then they are surprised when their customers fight back.

    Instead of fighting the tech, they should be engaging them to find out what they want, and providing it.

    Note: I am not saying the "pirates" are in the right, just that the media industry are, IMO, doing things in the wrong way. So are the tech industry.

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Sorry small correction:

      3rd paragraph:

      "They are able to download a torrent of a file, for example"

      should have been

      "They are able to download a torrent of a FILM, for example"

    2. Charles 9

      But what if they can't meet?

      What if there reaches a divide such that the film industry won't go lower because then they're not profitable while further down there's a point the viewers won't go higher because that's too much hoop-jumping? In terms of supply-demand economics, what if the supply curve and the demand curve don't intersect?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If they can't meet then there is no market

        If the film industry is unable to produce/market/sell a product at a price that anybody is willing to pay, then the market does not exist. At that point either the product changes, or the industry goes out of business. Lots of people seem to like watching movies, and the "magic" of a free market is that you get to vote with your wallet about how much you like it.

        Maybe costs are too high and the industry need to rethink how they make movies. Maybe reduce spend on "talent", marketing or lobbying. Maybe cut back on special effects (including 3D). Or maybe they need to offer differentiated products, with cheaper "mainstream" movies and more expensive "premium" movies. Maybe the reality is that 80% of people simply can't afford to watch a modern blockbuster film.

        To some extent they already differentiate with first release to theatres and second release on disk/rental. For most movies I'm happy to wait till it turns up at my local video shop. $1 for the whole family to see it (and able to pause for toilet/munchies breaks) is much better than $40+ for the family to see it in the theatre. But for some movies I'll fork out because *I* think it is worth it.

        In fairness though I have to admit that my above pro free market stance (you do not have a *right* to watch films) gets shot in the foot when I admit:

        For those occasional films that don't make it to my region, or that stop showing before I find out about them, then other channels become necessary.

      2. Dr. Mouse

        @Charles 9

        If they can't meet, either the industry dies or things carry one as they are.

        At the end of the day, they make enough money as things stand (forget this bull about them loosing so much, the films still make millions in profit) and the industry CAN continue with the status quo. This is likely why they are pushing for legislation like this: If it is true that many wouldn't go and buy their products even if they weren't available illegitimately, which I think they accept (if not publicly) then they loose nothing and protect their out dated business model.

    3. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward

      @Dr. Mouse.... nail has been hit on the proverbial head.

      I couldn't agree with you more. The market for music, video (and anything else that can be digitized) was severely disrupted by the interwebs years and years ago. Much of the copyright legislation and litigation that followed are just knee-jerk reactions to what is essentially a fait accompli. And this means that the only way out is to start dealing with the problem "as it is" rather than trying to stick it into a time machine and send it back to the days when physical media was the only media (barring the airwaves, of course).

      But I fear this type of debate will only begin when the majority of the electorate has forgotten (or never known) what a VCR, CD or LP was and if they remember, can't understand why anyone would ever use such primitive systems to store anything. That could take another generation or longer, on the outside.

      The trouble with the "reasonable, legal alternatives" is that although they will be legal and reasonable for most people, the dinosaurs that reign over media empires will always see these alternatives as evil systems designed to drain away lifeblood from their ever-so profiitable (and enforceable) monopolies based on physical media thinking. The current copyright system(s) and laws that exist today reflect this mentality and are of course part of the problem.

      Yes they should be embracing the tech, but they really can't because they are in a complete state of denial. These people need to be educated, probably the hard way. I am all for free and fair debate/discussion but until some home truths are accepted by "old media" (such as the internet is not for sale to the highest bidder) it will be very difficult to open any kind of reasoned discussion without it degenerating into a shouting match. That doesn't leave the technerati with too many alternatives. Lobbying congress is one, but that will take a lot of money and effort. A better idea would be to invite representatives and anyone else to join or sponsor more on-line discussions like this one. Cheaper too. Could consensus and good sense then become options? Maybe.

      Regardless, I will not let loony-toon studio executives try to block my free and fair access to the internet, no matter how badly done by they feel, today or ever. And I'd like to believe the majority of internet users feel the same and will continue to do so. So the ball is in your court, guys.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Murdoch and friends

    should get the antitrust treatment too.

  12. Adus

    I sort of agree

    I agree that we need to find a better way to engage in discussion, but until that happens the only option left to us is to shout, unless we want that legislation to pass.

    I fully support the need for IP protection but as I think everyone agrees, SOPA/PIPA were badly written and would never have worked, it would have been a disaster if they had passed.

  13. schubb
    Thumb Down

    Far from Dead

    SOPA and PIPA are very far from dead, PIPA is still being pushed for a 24-Jan vote. SOPA will be quietly rebuilt and relabeled and the House will hope they can sneak it by.

  14. Snowy Silver badge
    Black Helicopters


    Title should be

    SOPA is having a lie down. Are you happy for now?

  15. Spider


    "but rather when there is a meeting of the minds over the essential facts around a problem, and real solutions are broached and agreed upon."

    is a meeting of minds really possible with the MPAA et al? Time and again we see evidence that they put their profits ahead of liberty or even the law, would they really move far enough to a reasonable position?

    Part of the problem is that just because you have 2 opposing views the answer is not always in the middle. Sometimes people are just plain wrong.

  16. Zaphod42
    Thumb Down

    PIRACY IS NOT THEFT. Lets get that out of the way RIGHT NOW. Furthermore, it isn't half the problem that you think it is.

    Russia is known for being rife with pirates, and everybody knows you can't sell in Russia. Right? Wrong. Valve found out that by releasing proper localizations in Russian, and by releasing on the same release date, not only did the game sell well in Russia, but 3x what they expected!

    PC game sales are down, and piracy is up, and lots of developers say the PC insn't worth developing for, everybody will steal your product. But again, Valve put games on huge sale, and are finding time and again that ALL TRADITIONAL BUSINESS MODELS ARE FLAWED. As soon as a game is put on sale for a more reasonable price, as soon as the PRICE MATCHES WHAT THE PUBLIC PERCEIVES AS ITS VALUE, sales EXPLODED. Literally Valve cannot believe how crazy successful the sales have been. Thats why ever since the big summer sale, there have been SALES after SALES after SALES.

    Piracy is NOT a problem you solve by TREATING THE CUSTOMERS WHO SUPPORT YOU LIKE CRIMINALS. It is a problem where you are already treating your customers poorly. Consider DRM, one of the attempts to fight piracy: IT ONLY HURTS LEGITIMATE CUSTOMERS. Pirates get a BETTER, SUPERIOR product that works offline and doesn't require 3 activations that turn off if you change your video card. When Piracy offers a SUPERIOR product, even people who WOULD HAVE PAID MONEY instead pirate it. You are literally offering to them "by paying money, we will hold you back." That is a business model NOBODY would agree to.

    Part of the problem is our abandonment of the concept of haggling in the west. Here, its YOU PAY OUR ONE PRICE OR YOU DONT GET IT. Well, that is naive. If somebody is offering you $50 for a $60 product, would you rather take $0? If you are selling a physical product that costs you to manufacture each one, then maybe the profit margin is too thin to accept that. But with IP, with digital media, the COST OF DISTRIBUTION IS NEXT TO 0. ALL the cost is R&D. So as long as somebody pays you $1, you're making profit. This is why Steam is selling games for $5, and why the Humble Indie Bundle let you PAY WHAT YOU WANT. Did they get pirated? Did people pay 0? Actually, given the choice, people paid MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

    People will happily pay for a product that they get value from.

    Not to mention, time and AGAIN, studies have shown that pirates buy more movies and games than non-pirates, and many are likely to purchase the very thing they just pirated. Video games don't always release demos, so some try the game first through piracy rather than spend $60 on a really bad game they won't play after a few hours. We've all been burned by a really crappy game that got marketed to make it appear better. These deceptive practices are what have made customers wary.

    THE ENTIRE problem of piracy results from CUSTOMERS BEING MISTREATED and businessmen acting like they rule the world. IT IS THE CONSUMER WHO DRIVES PROFITS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately the people who would do well to learn the lessons described in your message wouldn't get it even if the shouting had the effect you appear to desire. Instead, they'll keep on insisting on their Cliff Richard-style cumulative lifetime rewards, huge margins, price-fixing, and restrictive practices.

      It is indeed a sorry commentary on the state of progress in the media business when the hot new things are stuff like Spotify - radio reinvented for the Internet - as the industry, after over a decade of dithering, decides that the only way forward is to turn the clock back.

    2. david wilson


      >>"THE ENTIRE problem of piracy results from CUSTOMERS BEING MISTREATED and businessmen acting like they rule the world."

      So you're saying that if media companies had dived into online sales, that there would be *no-one* copying stuff for nothing?

      Surely, there'd still have been some people who wanted whatever it was 'right now' but couldn't buy it because they didn't have the money just now, or who wouldn't pay for it on principle because 'the companies were still making too much money', or...

      Especially with young people likely to be:

      a) more than averagely impulsive

      b) often of limited means

      c) lacking adult payment methods

      d) possibly feeling more 'entitled' than the average adult

      there'd be a natural constituency for freeloading whatever the paid business model was, even if the overall scale might be rather less than it currently is.

      I certainly couldn't stand up and say that I know if I'd been offered pretty much anything for nothing when I was a 14-year-old, I wouldn't have taken it and rationalised it away one way or another, whatever the actual price of legit copies was.

      >>"Not to mention, time and AGAIN, studies have shown that pirates buy more movies and games than non-pirates,... "

      Though obviously, people do have to be pretty careful about drawing cause-and-effect conclusions from data like that.

      It would seem pretty predictable that the people who are interested enough in the product to be the heaviest-paying consumers would also be likely to be particularly interested in trying stuff out for free, just as people with minimal interest in games/video wouldn't be expected to do much downloading.

      Simply having a correlation between downloading and being a heavy paying consumer doesn't prove the first *must* cause the second to any particular degree.

      Having a 'natural' positive correlation from basically honest people who do (or don't) buy much content can help mask a fair amount of pure freeloading, even assuming that the pure freeloaders are giving honest information to the studies.

      Before downloading was really feasible, there was a definite group of people who spent a serious chunk of their disposable income on games/videos/music.

      I worked with a /lot/ of people who would fit into that category, some being pretty much pathological examples of it.

      If you could transport someone like that from pre-download days to the modern day and give them the chance to sample stuff before buying, it'd be a very tricky call whether they'd be likely to spend more, the same, or less than they would have done without that chance, even though it'd be a fair bet that in the absence of any obvious sanctions, most of them would be downloading stuff to try it out, and still buying more stuff than the average consumer, and therefore contributing to a positive download:purchase correlation in statistics whether the influence of downloading on them as an individual was actually positive, negative, or neutral.

      >>"ALL the cost is R&D. So as long as somebody pays you $1, you're making profit."

      Well, assuming enough people pay you $1 to cover all your development costs and other overheads.

      As for a company selling things cheaper, that's certainly one way to go, and it'll be really interesting to see how well it works in the long term.

      I think it'd be great if it does work out, though it'd be understandable if other games companies were wary until it was more common and *still* seeming to be no less viable than the current system.

      It's at least *possible* that the first company to do something like that benefits from some interest due to a 'novelty factor' which could dissipate over time, or from resultant free advertising.

      1. Toastan Buttar
        Thumb Up

        A well argued post

        Even if I didn't agree with everything you said.

    3. Daggersedge

      People will happily pay for a product that they get value from.

      I agree entirely. Take my case. I am a British ex-pat living in France and I have acquired a taste for certain French web series such as Noob and Flander's Company. I can watch these for free, or at least for the price I pay for getting broadband. The makers of both series not only put them on their sites for free, but I can also watch them on television for the price I pay for getting broadband, as the television service comes included for no extra charge.

      Since I can watch them for free, you would think, therefore, that I would have no interest in paying for legitimate - put out by the producers of the series - DVDs. Far from it. Every time they put out a DVD, I buy it. Every year at the Japan Expo, I make certain to buy anything I might have missed. Why? Because I like them and I want to reward the makers. I also want the convenience of being able to play them if, say, my Internet connection went down.

      And more, not only do I buy the DVDs, I buy their T-shirts, music CDs, novels, graphic novels, mugs, etc. I definitely want the makers of these series to feel appreciated.

      The makers of these series are tiny, tiny groups of people making them on tattered shoestring budgets, so if they can afford this model, so can the big players. All they have to do is put out something that people want and the people will come and they bring their money.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SHAME ON THE REGISTER for speaking even remotely positively about censorship. THIS IS AMERICA. If we do not have the freedom of speech, we HAVE NOTHING. You can pry my constitutional rights from MY COLD DEAD HANDS.


    We are fighting for the LAST VESTIGE OF FREEDOM and you insult us?

    Patriotism is dead.

    1. hplasm
      Thumb Up


      So you are pretty much anti-SOPA then?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I'm using my First Amendment right today

      so I won't have to use my Second Amendment right tomorrow."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Patriotism is alive and well here in Blighty, which, given that El 'Reg is British, is exactly how it should be.

      Apologies* if we mock you 'Merkins from time to time.

      *Note, not an actual apology.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Please... take a chill pill, dude, honestly

      Or at least develop a sense of humor

    5. Dr. Ellen

      Um -- The Register is not American. Note the .uk in the URL. Such patriotism as they have is not for America, but the UK.

  18. phrog

    After SOPA

    Now we need to get copyright back to the style originally intended by the (US) founding fathers: for a limited time. It is supposed to be a temporary monopoly to encourage innovation, not a century long license to mine money from long ago work.

    Copyright needs to expire and the works need to pass to the publiuc domain in a time substantially less than one working lifetime.

    1. Pseu Donyme

      +1. Also,

      1) make copyright non-transferable (*) to decouple content creation from distribution to bring competition to the latter i.e. copyright holder willing to sell a work is obliged to publish a price schedule for licenses and sell them to anyone who pays the price.

      2) in order for copyright for a digital version to apply, a copy must be submitted to a public repository from which anyone can have a copy after the copyright has expired (which would be, say, 20 years from submission). The repository would charge a fee for submissions to cover its operating costs.

      (*) law = a contract with that effect is null and void. This should work directly for individuals (such as authors, composers and musicians), for movies and such found a special purpose limited liability company that takes the investments, handles the production and then distributes the profits until it is dissolved due to going bust or the copyright expiring.

  19. cjoki

    the point was... kill a bad bill. This was not a movement to say piracy was OK, or even to say we do not recognize it as an issue...we do.

    But the bill made it to easy to step on due-process and free speech.

    As to whether we continue the discussion in a calm rational tone or through fits of rage is beside the point. It is more important to keep the discussion, open and honest, and in the best interest of commerce and civil rights.

    Just my $0.02

  20. walterbyrd

    The "tech world" does not have much of a voice

    > "The tech world needs to find better ways to educate government than replicating the covert lobbying used against it or the megaphone protests we've seen with SOPA and PIPA."

    The tech world would love to a voice against the abusive MAFIAA. Unfortunately the power-that-be will allow no such thing.

    It is not a matter of "educating" congress. Congress only cares about who coughs up the campaign contributions. Congress does not care about what's right, or wrong.

  21. crowley

    Digital world?

    Marc Fleury says "Increasingly the western world relies on IP to make a living. Since we produce less "real world" goods and more "digital world" goods we open ourselves to piracy."

    This is a good point, except the whole SOPA thing is targeting media.

    Does not the western world largely sell its western media to its western self?

    50% of Hollywood's revenue is meant to be from overseas, but I doubt much of that comes from, say, China - but rather Canada, Australia, Europe, no?

    So I think most of this is unproductive churn in the West (much like tax for public sector activity), but our principle issue these days is the trade imbalance with the East.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fleury may think that the manufacturers of the world will gladly pay up for pixie dust if we put a price on it, but I don't think the idea will fly in the long term. He of all people should know that making the big bucks is all about timing unless you want to have profitability in the long term: something he probably can't comment on quite so much.

  22. MJI Silver badge

    The Freeloaders

    Who exactly are they?

    If they had to pay would they? Or would they do without.

    If it was easier to buy than obtain would they switch what they did?

    Availability seems to be the main issue, the out of print album, the film in the wrong format, the TV programme not in your region.

    It is less hassle to buy a CD than download one for free. DVDs still punish the purchaser for not downloading.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good point. Whenever I buy a DVD the first thing I do is rip a copy. The main reason that I do this is to disable all the PUOs (Prohibited User Operations), strip the trailers and YOU ARE A PIRATE warnings, and enable autoplay of the main title. As an added bonus, when (not if) the disc gets scratched I can reimage from the master rather than have to pay a second license fee.

      It used to be that I had to put it on a new disc because storing more than a handful of movies on a media server was impractical. Now I still put it on disc becuase my family (young kids) find handling physcial media "easier" than navigating the media server.

  23. AdamWill

    What 'discussion'?

    I'm not bothered by the way this post develops its arguments so much as its starting principle: what is this 'discussion' where SOPA and PIPA just got 'shouted down'? It seems like Reg hacks have access to some kind of private internet, because I haven't seen it. All the 'discussion' I saw - all the posts by people sane enough to have been given any kind of platform, all the protest notices on sites like Wikipedia - hardly fit the bill. They, in fact, said something very similar to what you and Andrew said: it may be both possible and desirable to update trademark / copyright legislation to better cover certain types of internet-based shady counterfeiting operations, but SOPA and PIPA were definitely not the improvement needed. I didn't see anything more radical than that, I didn't see anyone in any kind of prominent position denying the concept of copyright entirely. Yet The Reg always seems to see the ravening hordes with torches and pitchforks. From where I'm standing, I don't.

  24. ACx

    "It's a discussion we need to have out in the open, without all the name-calling and sloganeering."

    Does this mean The Reg will stop using insulting words like"freetard"?

  25. sisk

    The problem... that Congress doesn't respond to well-reasoned discussions. They respond to large campaign contributions and highly visible demonstrations. You can put 1000 people writing polite letters to their senator on one side of an issue and one big corporation with a $500,000 campaign donation on the other and the senator will go with the big corporation every time. On the other hand, you have those 1000 march up to the senator's office with megaphones and you get his attention.

    The unforunate reality of American politics is that the shouting is the only defense we have against a Congress all too willing to let itself be bought out by entities which, not being constituents of any particular congressional district, should have little or no influence in the legislature. (Yes, I'm well aware of the Supreme Court's ruling that corporations are people and I consider it to be one of the worst of a long line of idiotic decisions by the current Supreme Court.)

  26. Richard Steiner

    The old tech world was acutely aware of anti-trust.

    Matt Asay said:

    "Part of the problem, as Lilly captures in a follow-up post, is that the tech world is largely reactionary. It really wasn't until Microsoft came before the US Justice Department for antitrust abuses that the tech world woke up to the fact that it was subject to anything other than the free market."

    Nonsense. That's true only for those who haven't been paying attention.

    Remember that the anti-trust scrutiny of IBM was the main reason why Microosft got its toes in the IBM PC door in the first place. Were it not for IBM being so cautious based on past hw/sw tie-in accusations, you would probably have seen a lot more cp/m or some other OS and a lot less QDOS (sorry, "MS-DOS") from Redmond.

  27. t_lark

    I find an individual techie has huge amounts of logical conflict over these IP issues:-

    -Role of software patents

    -GPL infringement by commercial companies

    -Open source infringement of commercial patents

    -China stealing IP


    You can't have it all ways....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I find an individual techie has huge amounts of logical conflict"

      Not really, unless your logic isn't sophisticated enough. Step #1 is to stop thinking of "IP" as a monolithic entity.

      Patents are monopolies on doing stuff, regardless of whether anyone else has already done it, and so you can be infringing what you call "commercial patents" without ever being aware of them. Only a fool or a dictator (whose habits would include jailing people for the hell of it) would consider that "fair".

      Copyright is effectively a statement of authorship of a work, imposing limitations on how it is used. You can only infringe copyright if you obtain a work and then do something with it, so unless you're sloppy about where you get your stuff from, you can't infringe copyright and be completely unaware that you're doing so. (There may be confusion about what you can do with such a work, potentially around any licensing, but that's another matter, not helped by the squeals of "piracy!" from the media industry.)

      So if you're against patents on ethical grounds, you can still be in favour of copyright protection. At that point, you can "have it all ways" very easily: people shouldn't infringe copyright, but people should feel ethically justified in rejecting patent claims.

      As for DRM, that's a matter of how the owner of a work uses technical measures to control how people use it. You can easily respect an owner's copyright whilst rejecting their interference in other people's computer systems because such measures seek to go beyond the legal protection already in place in order to try and enforce additional, illegitimate restrictions on recipients of that work.

      Again, if the media industry didn't conflate licensing (which is what "buying" music or movies actually is) with purchasing, screaming "piracy!", they wouldn't need to educate people on what they should and should not do. But then again, if the concept is too convoluted, maybe they shouldn't be trying to impose it on everyone.

      I hope your logical conflict is resolved.

  28. veskebjorn

    What's wrong with shouting?

    Only one small group of people in the United States can get its way without shouting--the group that can spend multiple millions to "lobby" decision-makers in quiet rooms and propogandize the public through the corporate media. (In the present case, of course, the corporate media and the advocates of Internet censorship are one and the same.) All others must either press their case publicly, persistently, and at the top of their lungs or resign themselves to irrelevancy. As is often been said in the U.S., "money talks and bullsh*t walks."

    The application of Occam's Razor to the entirety of Mr. Asay's remarks here and in previous pieces leads to the likely conclusion that he seems to be in favor of "open" software for some unusually-defined value of "open," but he is implacably opposed to an open Internet. He wants, it is clear, to impose his beliefs regarding "intellectual property" on everyone else in the world. And, if some part of the rest of the world refuses to subscribe to his values, then he would help erect a "great firewall" in the U.S. to keep these foreign values from interfering with the happiness of U.S. corporations.

  29. alviator

    It's all about the money

    The unfortunate reality is this SOPA discussion will not happen.

    MPAA and RIAA let this thing cool off and will continue to sue freetards for downloading Bieber off some torrents. The same Congress idiots keeps getting re-elected cuz their constituents thinks Congress fought off SOPA. Tech world continues to run business as usual and ignore this whole thing.

    And then the cycle starts anew when MPAA decides to bang the Piracy Drums again and try to push the same bill with a different name.

  30. Phil Bennett

    Content vs Techies

    The issue isn't that technology companies are being obstructive, it is that the content industries are asking for ridiculously disproportionate things, and indeed have already had successes (see the DMCA and copyright term extension). If the postal service was just setting up, the content industries would be campaigning to have every parcel sent in clear bags and require the postal service to inspect each one to ensure no contraband got through, and ban anyone caught sending a CD in the post from sending mail in the future.

    To prevent the "you only ever say we can't do things" response, how about this as a suggestion:

    A Spotify-like service that allowed all content companies to offer their wares and had the same rates for paying all companies (big or small, otherwise the independents won't join), that had all content available, at different qualities for different devices, and customers can download anything you like for use on offline devices. The stick is that the downloads are traceable to your account (through some kind of watermarking). If the customer's stuff ends up on the wider web (probably repeatedly, or with added promotion, or something to avoid catching the innocently careless), you've got their details and can sue them directly. Of course, the devil is in the details - can you watermark files without it being easy to strip watermarks out, how much would people pay, exactly how you'd split the money, etc) but it'd be a start...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A number of things...

    spring into my mind regarding this topic.

    Innocent until proven guilty

    Due process

    Justice by a judiciary, not some jumped up kangaroo court belonging to BigMedia, or speculative charges by liars(sorry lawyers).

    As an aside, did I give you permission to bombard me with adverts about your other films prior to watching what I paid for, no I did not. I am not in a cinema, I am in my home, so you have no right to do this, in fact I think I have every right to copy the media, removing all your crap, onto another disc and watch that.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Innocent UNLESS proven guilty.

  32. TheRealRoland

    I thought this was funny...

    >Former Mozilla CEO John Lilly captured this best, arguing, "What’s extremely discouraging to me right now is that I don’t really see how we [the tech world and the US Congress] can have a nuanced, technically-informed, respectful discussion/debate/conversation/working relationship."]

    Maybe because the Republican techies are not being recognized by the Democrat techies. Or their handlers. And because everyone else thinks that the techies will have the best interest in mind for their respective company. And because of the lobbyists. And I can probably go on for a while with even more reasons.

    It almost sounds like John Lilly is complaining about the fact that the Movie Lobbyists are more effective than the Tech lobbyists. I guess they need to spend more money, then.

    Ah, a world without lobbyists... frozen telephone sanitisers... hairdressers...

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Given how much the Republican Party (tm) publicly eschews science, math, logic, and deductive reasoning for myth, legend, dogma, and lies, it would seem that a "Republican techie" would be a breed even rarer than a "moderate Republican"

  33. Uncle Siggy



  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To Mr. Matt Asay :

    With all due respect, DVD zoning is preventing me as an expat to watch here in North-America a DVD I legally buy in my native country in Europe. Please note, there is no piracy involved here, I legally buy the DVD and the player but for non-technical reasons I am not allowed to watch it. All this has been imposed by the big media cartels (the one you are defending here) onto the tech companies (the one you disparage here).

    So I have to chose which side is dishonest here, my decision is already made.

    1. beliha

      DVD zoning SUCKS!

      I feel you brother!

      DVD Zoning (some BluRays as well are zoned) is the most irritating thing I've ever come across!

      Especially after moving to Egypt from Canada!

      I own here a North American PS3 that I use to play my BluRay discs, I have a Middle Eastern DVD player especially to play Middle Eastern DVDs (because the PS3 refuses to play any content from any Zone other than North America), and I have a PC connected to the TV to stream movies and shows because my PS3 store refuses to let me purchase any Movies or TV or stream anything legally!

      This is not just annoying, but they are making it damn near impossible to do things legally!

      My Question is: Why?? Why are they making it so difficult?

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


        "My Question is: Why?? Why are they making it so difficult?"

        They don't care about your convenience - they have a monopoly. Regions are part of them enforcing and exploiting their monopoly position.

        Regions allow them to

        - set DVD prices arbitrarily for each different zones, knowing that there will be no leaks from one region to another and therefore no competition.

        - hold distribution of DVDs until they deem that they've squeezed out what they wanted from you through the cinema releases.

        In any "normal" market the regulators would have had a field day fining and prosecuting anyone caught involved in such manipulations.

        In "IP"-related industry the manipulator prosecutes you.

    2. david wilson


      >>"With all due respect, DVD zoning is preventing me as an expat to watch here in North-America a DVD I legally buy in my native country in Europe."

      Well, it's not preventing it very effectively.

      Just buy a multiregion or unlockable player if yours can't be unlocked.

  35. Keep Refrigerated

    "nuanced, technically-informed, respectful" discussion...

    What, like this Matt?

    Or this?

    Or maybe this?

    Perhaps this?!/petition/veto-sopa-bill-and-any-other-future-bills-threaten-diminish-free-flow-information/g3W1BscR

    A lot of reasonable discussion and petitioning was taking place long before yesterdays blackout - except congress couldn't hear past the great wads of cash being quietly thrown at them by lobbying media companies -

    And when congressman are not dismissing technology experts as "nerds", what happens when neutral (or 180 turn) politicians try to set up a meeting of both sides?

    Tech companies had to shout, they had to do something (not even close to) drastic to get congress to actually stop in their tracks. The immature one's here, are the one's who throw their rattle when they find all that money they spent is about to be burned (the same one's who refused to hear reasoned arguments from the "nerds"):

    Apologies for all the links, just didn't want to come across as some shouty, raving, conspiratorial loon who didn't have any strong evidence to back them up.

    This article is a complete disappointment from you Matt - I expect better as in the past I've felt you've written some fairly balanced and informed ones. Tut-tutting about the fact that there is some noise, snark and joviality from the sidelines is a bit rich for someone who writes articles on The Register of all places.

    1. TheRealRoland

      I guess times are a-changing

      I see it happen more and more -- articles with just a very thin layer of truthiness, because the writer did not dig deeper than just the headlines of today and a couple of days ago.

      What you did in your comment is something I personally feel the writer of an article should do. Research.

      Or maybe not. Maybe this type of article is emblematic of the writing style of a lot of people on the internet. Just throw out your opinion, sometimes skewed because of public demand / pleasing the audience / getting as many comments as possible, so that you get lots of hits on the ads you're displaying on your pages.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't help feeling this misses the point.

    This was simply a prime case of shoot first, ask questions later.

    Sure, kill SOPA, then start discussing, if at all possible.

    But *don't* kill SOPA, and there would be no chance of any such discussion ever taking place.

    Therefore the worst thing that could possibly have happened would have been SOPA quietly passing while everyone was busy discussing.

  37. irish donkey

    is that the tech world is largely reactionary

    Being reactionary is following the market and giving consumers what they want.

    Of course you could restrict your market and say you can only have this in the way that makes me the most amount of money.

    People do need to be paid... but do they have to be paid again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again.

    This was turned into a moral crusade Pirates costs American/British jobs. Well BigCorp costs a lot more jobs by their tax avoidance.

    So its a little rich to be accusing eveybody else of doing the thing your highly paid lawyers and tax accountants are doing for you.

    Pay tax like I'm sure many Pirates have to.

    We can't afford big lawyers because we do pay our taxes

  38. Silverburn

    Ding, dong...

    ...the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the wicked witch...etc etc

    The irony being that if it had passed, would i have just committed an act worthy of getting El Reg's site shut down by quoting from The Wizard of Oz?

  39. Someone Else Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "SOPA is dead. Are you happy now?"

    Short answer: Yes.

    Next question?

  40. KHL

    Incentives are Free

    Healthy human beings are inherently creative. We do not need government enforced monopolies to create. Matt Asay probably wrote his essay for free, and would not have a forum to publish it without a free and unencumbered internet.

    My United States was founded on piracy. Some of our English founders were literal pirates, robbing Spanish and French merchant ships. The printers of Benjamin Franklin's Philadelphia stole galleys of books in London, and printed them in the colonies first. Franklin used his printing wealth to fund scientific discovery - his "open source" lightning rod impressed the French court enough to fund the American Revolution. We built U.S. industry by awarding temporary patents to craftsmen immigrants who divulged European guild secrets. And we used that industry, and a flood of European immigrants to the North, to smash Southern slavery, "stealing" the human chattel property of faux aristocrats and making slaves into free citizens. The job is by no means complete, but on the whole we've made progress, and will make more with the generous participation of minds around the world.

    We invent, and write, and dance, and sing, because that is what free people do. Those who would constrain, channel, thwart, and punish the creativity of a whole planet to benefit a few cocaine-snorting fat cats in Hollywood deserve to have their pet legislation (and legislators) squashed into wet smears. If they persist, we'll do to their studios what Sherman did to Atlanta.

    The revolution WILL be televised - on YouTube.

    Full disclosure - my name is on 12 patents worldwide. Patents do not work as claimed.

  41. Mr Templedene

    Trouble is

    With congress showing their ignorance saying "we are not nerds, we don't understand this", in fact taking perverse pleasure in displaying their ignorance when confronted by evidence from technical experts saying "this will break the internet"

    Shouting was all the tech community had left, what else could be done when the lawmakers take pride in "not getting it"

  42. beliha

    Not true

    Piracy IS a problem, but not to the degree that you think it is.

    The Gaming industry is bigger and more profitable than ever before, and so is the Movie industry. PC gaming died because PCs aren't really built for gaming, its as simple as that. I can't recall how many times I've bought a PC game to find out its not compatible with my hardware, or runs choppy, or that my soundcard wasn't compatible!

    I remember the day I bought the first Playstation in the 90's, I went home, and I deleted all the games from my PC and haven't installed a single game since, not only is my PC much more stable now that its dedicated to work and browsing the net, but I can't imagine going back to hunching over my desk and mashing the keyboards and staring into a 19" screen, instead of sitting back on my couch with a wireless controller playing games on an HD TV, buying games that work out of the box without the need for any hardware upgrades!

    As for the Music industry, the situation is VERY different:

    The Recording industry isn't as old and established as the movie industry. As a matter of fact they appeared in full force in the 80's with the rise of MTV, started locking artists into contracts that took away their copyright to their own music, and the Artists had no other choice but to sign into these abusive contracts because the industry largely controlled the Marketing and distribution channels, and the performance venues that signed exclusive contracts with them (see Ticketmaster).

    As a result, the Recording industry suddenly inflated into an unnatural size, and started making record profits that made other industries jealous, and then started marginalizing real music and real artists, and promoting their own brand of over-produced "Music" that is laden with Marketing Buzz words, teenage sex, and fake artists who don't write lyrics, don't write music, can't play any instruments, and don't even dress themselves in the morning. These "Artists" were created by the Record Industry themselves in an attempt to marginalize real creative musicians who can write, play and produce their own music because they were simply too much of a flight risk!

    Read about Pearl Jam, Prince, The Beatles, and Radiohead's struggles with the control the Recording Industry has on the intellectual property of the real artists if you want to know what I'm talking about. And read about how smaller artists end up with almost nothing after the recording industry take their gargantuan "fees", while profiting from the licensing of their music!

    I remember the 90's when I would drive around town going from one music store to the next in an attempt to find any "Real" music, and never finding anything but boybands and Pop artists! Music Stores where constantly reducing shelf space for Rock, Blues, Jazz, Metal, Progressive, Rap, Hip Hop, Classical, Fusion, and world Music in favor of boybands, girlbands, and overly produced bland music manufactured for the masses.

    What happened to the Recording industry isn't because of piracy.

    What happened is they realized that the distribution medium they controlled was slipping away from their hands, and the internet was giving rise to independent Artists, and giving them total control over their own distribution medium on the web, rendering the hold that they had on them obsolete! So they tried to fight it, refused to submit to Amazon, Apple and others who started introducing digital music for reasonable prices, and continued to promote classical inconvenient Physical Mediums like CDs that got scratched and damaged at the touch of a finger!

    How many times did you buy the same CD twice or three times, because the first CD was scratched beyond repair? Its not fair, and its a waste of my money!

    What we are seeing here, is the Recording Industry's wild frantic response to losing their hold on the artists and the public due to their abusive practices, especially since the internet brought the Artist and the Customer closer together than the Recording industry ever could.

    Not to mention, this new legislation will give government the power to shut down any site without trial or a court order.

    That is why there is so much "Shouting"!

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      The Movie Industry Profitable? Are you joking?

      The accounting rules allowed in Tinsel Town ensure that NO film made by or distributed by Hollywood will ever make a profit.

      Even the last Harry Potter made a loss. It grossed $1.6B and the Hollywood accounting rules ensures that the studios reported a nett loss on it.

      SOPA is not going to go away. It will be tacked onto some bill that can't be phillibustered and get into law that way.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Near miss

      "PC gaming died"? Was that before or after Bethesda spent $truckloads launching Skyrim on, among other platforms, the PC?

      You're right about the control freakery of the recording industry, but you're missing the bigger picture about the law here. 30 years ago, "copyright" was a way of regulating the relationship between artists and their true natural enemies: publishers. Now, it seems the law has basically handed the reins over to publishers, to the detriment of both artists and public. We need to refocus our attention on the undisputable fact that it's *publishers* who commit the most egregious IP violations, and it's they who are driving changes to the law. They're the ones we have to rein in - not artists, and not pirates except in so far as they set themselves up as publishers in their own right.

    3. Davidoff
      Thumb Down

      PC gaming died because PCs aren't really built for gaming

      As much as I agree with other parts of your post, but:

      "PC gaming died because PCs aren't really built for gaming, its as simple as that. "

      That's nonsense, sorry. PCs are modular systems and if using the right components make for the best gaming machines out there.

      "I can't recall how many times I've bought a PC game to find out its not compatible with my hardware, or runs choppy, or that my soundcard wasn't compatible!"

      That's just a case of you not reading (or understanding the minimum requirements that are available for every game out there. It's like buying the XBox variant of a game if you only have a PS3.

      "...and I deleted all the games from my PC and haven't installed a single game since, not only is my PC much more stable now that its dedicated to work and browsing the net."

      Well, if not running games and using your PC for simple tasks like web browsing then all it shows is that there is something wrong with your PC or it's config.

      This also shows what the major difference is between gaming on PCs and gaming on consoles: with gaming on PCs' you need to know what you're doing and have at least some basic understanding of the technology that's behind. Consoles are truly 'plug&play' but this comes at the price of severe technical limitations which are not present in PCs.

    4. david wilson


      >>" PC gaming died because PCs aren't really built for gaming, its as simple as that.

      >>"I remember the day I bought the first Playstation in the 90's, I went home, and I deleted all the games from my PC and haven't installed a single game since, not only is my PC much more stable now that its dedicated to work and browsing the net,..."

      So, you're basing your sweeping judgement of PC gaming on experience from *~15 years ago*?

      Still running Win95 on an 8MB 486, are you?

      >>"How many times did you buy the same CD twice or three times, because the first CD was scratched beyond repair? Its not fair, and its a waste of my money!"

      The only complete failures I've had were a few CD-rot victims made by PDO, which I caught in enough time to make backup copies, and a couple of cases of one-off mechanical damage which were again recoverable by ripping on a quality high-speed reader and rewriting a new copy.

      But then I do tend to look after my media.


      >>"I remember the 90's when I would drive around town going from one music store to the next in an attempt to find any "Real" music, and never finding anything but boybands and Pop artists! "

      Then I guess you lived in the wrong town. I didn't find major problems getting relatively obscure stuff in the towns where I lived in the 90s.

      >>"Music Stores where constantly reducing shelf space for Rock, Blues, Jazz, Metal, Progressive, Rap, Hip Hop, Classical, Fusion, and world Music in favor of boybands, girlbands, and overly produced bland music manufactured for the masses."

      So blame the fucking masses, and/or the shop-owners, before the publishing industry.

      You think that if shops had ordered obscure stuff, they'd have said "Sorry, you can only have the Spice Girls"?

      There always were independent labels.

      That many people might have wanted to be signed by a big label instead of a small one isn't necessarily all the big label's 'fault'.

      >>"...and continued to promote classical inconvenient Physical Mediums like CDs that got scratched and damaged at the touch of a finger!"

      You must have a pretty heavy touch, then.

  43. Graham Wilson

    We shouldn't be cocky about this win (if this is the case).

    We shouldn't be cocky about this win (if this is the case).

    The software industry is a past master at staying on top and round-2 may be a different game altogether. It seems to me that now's the time for an international approach to countermand this industry which has several centuries of lobbying wins behind it.

    Carpetbaggers they may be, but they're true professionals when it comes to getting laws to their bidding.

    Remember the Berne Convention and WIPO are their brainchild too.

  44. Mikel


    They want a copyright term of forever minus a day, preemptive control over freedom of speech and due process of law, and a prison term of five years for a little girl singing "happy birthday" on youtube.

    How about a counter offer of: abolish copyright entirely, and let them come hat in hand begging for fourteen years and lax enforcement.

    1. Charles 9

      Won't work.

      They can counter your counter with, "No copyright, no incentive, so no new works. Oh, by the way, if you even hope to get another term, you better play along with us." Nothing like the threat of a massive mudslinging ad campaign (endorsing no one so it goes under no candidate's name) to make Congresspeople sit up and take notice. How would you counter such a massive influence (in other words, how do you beat the bullhorn)?

      1. Mikel

        Will work

        > They can counter your counter with, "No copyright, no incentive, so no new works.

        And you know what? I think we're ok with that answer. It's not true anyway. There's no copyright on Grimm's fairy tales and the sell just fine.

        >Oh, by the way, if you even hope to get another term, you better play along with us.

        Ah. This is the part we have a problem with. We shall see.

      2. Goat Jam

        No New Works?

        Sounds like a good deal to me.

  45. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Thanks Matt

    The two "sides" need each other and have a lot to learn from each other. Fear and cynicism have corroded trust on each side.

    Drop me an email. Or follow @andreworlowski for DMs

    >> Go after pirates, but don't attack the freedom of the Internet. <<

    Is there anyone who disagrees with this?

    1. Oninoshiko
      Thumb Down

      Who disagrees:

      The MPAA / RIAA.

      It seems to actually be what all the shouty people were shouting.

    2. irish donkey

      >> Go after pirates, but don't attack the freedom of the Internet. <<

      Isn't this just another statement that will further polarise the factions? When did there even become factions?

      Many people that buy content (me included) are labelled Pirates because we are choosing to stand against this policy on a matter of principal. This policy and other policies put forward by big media and their many carpet bagging ambulance chasing lawyers are wrong.

      The vitriol and scorn which is poured onto anybody that doesn't agree with the 'string all pirates up philosophy' is getting beyond belief. I really am starting to struggle to see the difference in some of the statements used against pirates and the declarations used by the Westboro Baptist Church.

      So Andrew what would you see as a just ending to this story. Content providers charging what ever they like for the content they have licensed. Kids locked up and fined $millions for stealing music and films. Mega Pop stars moving from country to country avoiding taxes everywhere they go?

      How much money is going to be enough to satisfy the greed? The World Economy is on its knees because of rampant capitaism but still the Big Corps profits must go up and corporation tax down.

      And all the while people lose their jobs and their homes.

    3. david wilson

      >>">> Go after pirates, but don't attack the freedom of the Internet. <<"

      >>"Is there anyone who disagrees with this?"

      That sounds a bit like asking 'Is anyone in favour of Evil?'

      One person's 'freedom of the internet' may not be another's, and for anyone wanting to avoid pointless slap-fights based on (more or less self-serving) 'principles', I guess it comes setting aside any thought-avoiding principles, and really exploring what 'Internet freedom' should and shouldn't actually cover, the same way as with any other 'freedom'.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        I asked for a reason...

        My reason for objecting to web-blocking is that simply viewing a page which doesn't corrupt or deprave should not be a crime.

        The English legal tradition differs from the Continental tradition, in that the citizen doesn't need to ask permission to do things. The state takes them away, so it must have a good reason for doing that. Sometimes there is, harm has been caused. American Law derives from to the English not the Continental tradition - surprising perhaps, since you should all be speaking German now ;-)

        But here's where sensible solutions can being to emerge.

        For some people, any copyright enforcement online is impossible, and an infringement of civil liberties. Because self-regulation hasn't emerged, you're going to get crap laws. To avoid crap laws, get self-regulation that is effective for:

        - the individual film-maker with no large budget for lawyers

        - the amateur: a dad whose pictures of his daughters have been posted on 4chan

        - Sony Pictures when 10,000 downloads of their blockbuster are going on every hour.

        You must satisfy ALL Three.

        It can be done, it can be done without web-blocking. And most people who love music and movies aren't pirates, and want to pay for them, and would rather pay for (say) a legal sharing service than give it to a brewing corporation.

        1. irish donkey

          interesting figures

          10,000 x 24hrs = 240000

          120000 x 7 days = 1680000

          840000 x 52 = 87360000 downloads per year

          That some big numbers there no wonder Sony are upset or did you just make those figures up?

          Hardly surprising the internet runs like a dog when the US of A comes on line.

          Also I like the subtle linkage of Pirates and Pedo's. Never heard that one before but I guess it was inevitable that they would be dragged into this discussion some how. So as well as supporting drugs, people trafficking and terrorism anybody that voices any dissent will also be labelled a pedo.

          As the story about Megaups today proves there are laws in place to pursue pirates, lock up pirates and seize their assets. Why do we need more?

          Laws controlling BigCorp Tax Evasion are needed because I bet more money that the big figure at the top has been avoided by BigCorp. That is what causes people to lose their jobs

          1. Charles 9

            Because the bust was in New Zealand.

            But what if the miscreants are based in a country with no extradition agreements or cool, maybe even hostile relations with the US, countries such as China? How do you bust a piracy kingpin when he's in a piracy haven?

          2. david wilson

            @irish donkey

            >>"That some big numbers there no wonder Sony are upset or did you just make those figures up?"

            Oh, for heaven's sake, the examples were just showing that there are a range of interests that a decent set of rules need to work for.

            It wasn't a claim that a specific number of downloads are made, just an illustration of the basic fact that there is a spectrum of interests, rather than it all being about Huge Evil Corporations.

            >>"Also I like the subtle linkage of Pirates and Pedo's. "

            As far as I can see the 'pictures of daughters' example has a pretty decent basic privacy angle, irrespective of anything else people might read into it.

            Replace 'daughters' with '21-year-old daughter's wedding' and there would still be a case to be made for his (and her) rights to be protected.

      2. Charles 9

        "Is anyone in favour of Evil?"

        To which some will answer, "Given that the alternatives are Eviler and Evilest, I'll take Evil, thank you." For some, committing evil is justified in that they deny a greater evil in so doing (such as committing treason so as to put down wide-scale tyranny).

  46. CharlieM

    Copyright Wasn't Designed for the Digital Age

    I know that sounds weak but there is one big difference, people seem to miss when this subject comes up.

    In the Digital World distribution & consumption requires copying. With the law as it is every time you copy something the copyright holder gets the option to stick there hand out and ask for more money or tell you to stop.

    If you want to sell an old CD you no longer use that's fine. But try selling an MP3 you bought from Amazon (even if you delete the original).

    Personally I think some massive reworking of the copyright laws are require. Perhaps moving away from the concept of making individual copies evokes copyright and more towards copying between users. So copy it all you like but you can't sell it, without loosing access to the original. That's how most people think copy right works, they have bought the legal right to us something.

    Also the copyright length needs shortening. It needs to be 15 years or so. There's no reason Cliff Richards and the like should expect to get paid for work he did 50 years ago. Virtually no other profession expects this outside of the "Creative Industries". Could you imagine an Architect wanting a yearly payment for every year the building he designed is still standing and I am sure they consider them selves "Creatives".

    1. Charles 9

      Here's something Americans can ask.

      "Why can't we freely listen to Elvis? The King's been dead and buried for 35 YEARS!"

    2. david wilson


      >>"Also the copyright length needs shortening. It needs to be 15 years or so. There's no reason Cliff Richards and the like should expect to get paid for work he did 50 years ago. Virtually no other profession expects this outside of the "Creative Industries". Could you imagine an Architect wanting a yearly payment for every year the building he designed is still standing and I am sure they consider them selves "Creatives"."

      Potentially, a creator might *only* get royalties, whereas the architect would likely have been paid for all their time and effort on completion of the contract.

      The architect gets a safe fee, the musician is gambling on future sales.

      God knows *why*, but that gamble seems to have worked out for Cliff, though not for any number of his contemporaries.

      They kind-of *have* to gamble, since without anyone (other than maybe some MegaMusicCorp) to give them a one-off lump sum in anticipation of sales, they can only rely on gradual income from future sales.

      Someone like the architect can get paid up front because there' s a thing (the product) which has to be paid for by someone at the time of building, and their fees are just a necessary part of that cost.

      With the building, there also isn't any natural thing being sold multiple times, though I guess if an architect thought they could make more money by asking for a percentage of the rent for a leased building, or something like that, they could always ask.

      Maybe an industrial product designer could negotiate a per-item royalty rather than a fixed fee, or a salary while designing something?

      If so, it's not obvious that there's some simple 'fair' time limit after which such royalties should automatically cease to be paid.

      The longer something sells for, the 'better' it suggests the original design might have been, at least in the eyes of the people who keep buying it, and what business is it of *anyone else's* who actually gets a cut of the sale price?

      If there was a 15-year copyright length, that doesn't necessarily simply take power from the big businesses and give it to the masses.

      Would derivative rights last longer, or would the author of a slow-starting book that gradually built popularity find that well before the 15 years, the value of the film rights was declining because soon they would vanish, with MegaFilmCorp free to make money by ruining the book at will without me being able to stop them, *or* get a dime out of them?

      Though I guess he might well choose not to exercise such a right even if it existed, should Quentin Tarantino be able to make a film that's half music, set in 1996, and not pay the people who wrote or performed the music anything?

      Especially given that even if the film made them popular to a new generation, they'd get nothing from that either.

  47. thomascameron

    This is a very naive analysis, Matt.

    First off, it wasn't all "140 characters or less" and it wasn't all "shouting." Countless people worked hard to organize folks to actually call and write their representatives and senators. Real people made real phone calls with real explanations of why this is bad.

    A huge part of the issue goes way beyond SOPA and PIPA. The issue is that what is supposed to be *our* government has become driven by bribes ^H^H^H^H^H campaign contributions. "We the people" just don't have any real say in how our government runs. Laws are bought and paid for by megacorporations with deep pockets.

    This is a fantastic example of what happens when the megacorporations go too far. There was massive grassroots activity via public web sites, social media and word of mouth. It finally boiled up so furiously that the mainstream media (which is actually owned and run by many of the companies in favor of SOPA and PIPA) was forced to take notice and cover it. I've lost so much faith in our government that I have been pleasantly surprised by the reaction of the politicos. It's certainly not enough - it should be obvious to anyone who listens objectively that SOPA and PIPA are flawed, so they should've been dropped like a hot potato.

    The logical next step is for the politicos to look to e.g. the National Science Foundation or other hard science & technology organizations for a realistic analysis and plan of action. Unfotunately, I don't see it happening. NSF doesn't pay off politicos to run with the people's agenda.

  48. Toastan Buttar

    A & R

    "Artists" and "Repertoire". It used to be the case that there were people employed by record companies who had an ear for a hit. They would choose the songs that they thought had a chance of selling well, and picked the group or singer who was the best fit for that song. This was necessary because record companies had to create a carefully calculated run of pressings, ship them out to retail outlets, and promote them (through means legal and illegal) in order to make a profit. This worked well for the record companies, the artists and the fans.

    Home taping did not kill music.

    Steve Jobs was a visionary (not a particularly pleasant one, but that's irrelevant) in that he saw that people wanted to be honest and wanted to actually "own" a song, album, or collection. IMHO, the price per track on ITMS is ludicrously high, for the simple reason that there is no longer any risk associated with getting music to the record-buying public; there is no longer a role for the A&R guy. Make each track on ITMS 5 cents and the world will become honest again. Keep charging the grossly inflated "old school" prices where genuine skill, instinct and risk was involved and you're taking the piss. It costs next to nothing for Apple to transfer a file to your computer when you've decided you want it, and even 1 cent to the artist/composer per download would make the world of difference.

  49. Pete 25

    The major problem with trying to arrange a reasoned debate is that the opposition [MPAA/Congress] don't do this.. its all sound bytes and hysteria.

    If you want a decent discussion on the subject, first you need to change American politics and considering that corporate America [including the MPAA] owns the politicians except at election time, that's really not going to happen.

  50. stolennomenclature

    the real solution..

    Make a good product, at an affordable price, that's easy to get hold of and does not have lots of inconvenient copy protection (in other words easy to use), and most people will willingly pay for it. There will always be thieves, people who for one reason or another would rather steal something than pay for it, but this does not matter with digital content, since they don't deprive anyone of anything - they simply make a copy. For example manufacturers of VCR's and other consumer products have always lost sales to thieves who steal VCR's from homes rather than go into a shop and buy one. Its simply a fact of life. What the movie and music industries need to do is to stop persuading ordinary people to become thieves by making there products so hard to get hold of, so expensive, and of such poor quality. I think this approach will fare much better than producing crap products at outrageously high prices, and then introduce measures to try and force people to buy them.

  51. stolennomenclature

    the real solution is...

    Make a good product, at an affordable price, that's easy to get hold of and does not have lots of inconvenient copy protection (in other words easy to use), and most people will willingly pay for it. There will always be thieves, people who for one reason or another would rather steal something than pay for it, but this does not matter with digital content, since they don't deprive anyone of anything - they simply make a copy. For example manufacturers of VCR's and other consumer products have always lost sales to thieves who steal VCR's from homes rather than go into a shop and buy one. Its simply a fact of life. What the movie and music industries need to do is to stop persuading ordinary people to become thieves by making there products so hard to get hold of, so expensive, and of such poor quality. I think this approach will fare much better than producing crap products at outrageously high prices, and then introduce measures to try and force people to buy them.

  52. PT

    Welcome, new commentard

    Am I the only one who finds it ironic to see Andrew Orlowski participating in a comment thread? Naturally it's not attached to one of his own articles. That would be difficult.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There will be new legislation

    While they will never stop piracy, they will increase the punishment for piracy so that the pirates really squeal.

  54. Geoffrey Swenson

    The content producers thought they could shove a draconian bill thru Congress so quickly that it would be a done deal before anyone could react. They were completely deaf to any objections from major players in the IT industry.

    This is only way I can see out of this. What we need is a system of micropayments that is easy and has low overhead, and services built around them so that people can find the content that they want.

    A significant amount of the stuff pirated isn't available by legal means over the Internet. The content providers need to fix this. Rather than fighting BitTorrent, they should work with them to provide content that users pay small fees to access either per play or per download. I would be willing to pay a few dollars for a movie download that I know is virus free, not compressed to death, and is legal. I'm doing that now with my satellite dish, and I like it.

    They content providers make up in huge volume the money the larger fees they used to make for each transaction. This works because the delivery cost of the content is approaching zero. They also get paid for good catalogs and services to FIND the content.

    There can be social groups around this content, where you can go and get the latest song from your favorite groups. Or associate with your favorite DJ that picks out new songs for you.

    The model of having smattering of a few groups get big success and other equally talented groups getting ignored may not be possible under this scenario. It is no longer necessary either, because the cost per copy is the same for a hugely popular group is the same as someone that sells a few thousand songs.

    It may be more democratic and less-controlled from the top than what they are used to. But they can make money if they will open their minds to new possibilities.

    Copying is going to be so cheap and easy that it won't work to force users to not do this. They are going to want to share content with their friends, and have backup copies. I don't see how any technology can prevent users from doing this copying, there is always some way to work around it. The way to make this work is to make doing it the legal way easy, rewarding, and fun as part of a social activity, and relatively inexpensive. Since the overheads are low, plenty of profit can be made.

    1. david wilson

      >>"The content producers thought they could shove a draconian bill thru Congress so quickly that it would be a done deal before anyone could react. "

      Maybe they were trying to slam something half-arsed and unneccessarily restrictive into the 'debate' so they can later pretend to have 'listened', and 'changed' things they weren't too bothered about in the first place.

      It wouldn't be the first time for something like that, nor the last.

  55. cordwainer 1

    Why is everyone here convinced IP only means electronic and entertainment?

    Part of the problem with this discussion is IP means "Intellectual Property" - defined somewhat colloquially as novel inventions deriving from an inventor's (or inventors') intellect.

    Is everyone forgetting all the different kinds of "Intellectual Property"? That the entertainment industry isn't the only one challenged by the changes in commerce brought about by the Internet?

    EVERY industry has Intellectual Property to protect: Trademarks, Designs, Chemical compositions, Methods, Patents, Copyrights, etc. Other industries are finding ways to deal with changes in distribution networks. Other industries grow and evolve with the times.

    Giving everything away for free is not the answer. Taking it without permission is no better. The inventors and creators of IP still have to eat, pay the bills, live day to day like anyone else.

    Companies can't afford to bring a product to market without the expectation of exclusivity for a certain amount of time. Otherwise, for example, all the wonderful pharmaceuticals and treatments developed during the Biotech Boom wouldn't exist. A lot of people who survive now, as a result, would be dead.

    Without IP protection, there would be no such thing as affordable "generics" - i.e., drugs on which the patent has expired, putting them in the public domain, so any company can make their own version. Because no company can afford to spend 15 years developing a drug they can't sell enough of to recoup the R&D costs.

    Those who argue piracy is not theft are deluded - of course it is. It always has been. Taking anything that doesn't belong to you is theft - trying to make it sound "romantic" or Robin-Hood-ish doesn't change facts.

    That the company selling it may be engaged in "creative" and dishonest bookkeeping (quite true: see Art Buchwald et al. among other cases against the movie industry) still doesn't entitle you to steal from them. Burglarize the home of another thief, and you're still going to jail, even if your victim does too.

    But trying to hang on to an inflated profit margin also doesn't entitle companies to overstate outrageously the amount they claim is lost to piracy each year - as they provably do.

    We'll never have any relevant discussion of Intellectual Property unless it involves ALL Intellectual Property...AND why exclusivity is absolutely necessary for innovation in the first place...AND why extending exclusive ownership of IP longer and longer makes a mockery of both the inventor and the law.

    We'll never have a relevant discussion, unless we stop acting as if what's best for the U.S. movie industry, music industry, drug, electronics, health, sports, food, beverage, clothing, agriculture, manufacturing industries, etc., is also best for the whole world, or the best way for the US to be a participant in an increasingly closer-knit global economy.

    And we'll never have a useful discussion if the customers AND the companies claim they should be allowed to steal from each other, from the inventors, or from anyone else.

    If IP weren't protected, in this and almost every other country, most inventions we enjoy would never have made it to market. The point of IP protection is the inventor deserves to benefit, has a RIGHT to benefit, from his or her own property. Without the inventor, it would not have existed. Therefore, it belongs to the creator exclusively.

    The law also states, very plainly, usurping the inventor's rights (or those of the entity to whom the inventor assigned them) to reproduce, copy, distribute, etc. - i.e., acting as if the inventor's property is your own - is theft.

    However, the law also recognizes the public, and humanity in general, have certain rights as well. Intellectual property is defined partly as that which benefits society, and therefore the government sets a limit on exclusive rights, to prevent generally useful inventions from being locked up forever, used only for the benefit of a few, affordable only to the wealthy, etc.

    Patents and copyrights must expire after a set time for the benefit of humankind, health, education, the economy, and so on. "You can't take it with you," is as true for inventors and creators as anyone else. As a result, neither you, nor your family, nor the company holding the copyright or patent is allowed to hang onto it indefinitely, or indefinitely entitled to the profits of someone else's work and imagination.

    Consequently, those who argue piracy is somehow "right" and not stealing, simply because they want it for free "now!"


    Those who argue the free exchange of information in general should be curtailed or censored to protect a limited subset of it, and thus their profits...

    Are Both Wrong.

    BOTH sides need to stop limiting the scope of IP, AND stop attempting to justify dishonesty, theft, and greed.

    Then the discussion might finally become an intelligent one. Continued lies will get us nowhere, nor will the still-illogical concept somehow two wrongs make a right.

    1. TheOtherHobbbes

      The 'theft' framing is wrong

      because clearly copying is not the same as taking non-copyable items.

      The problem is the unitised model of content distribution, and the fact the corporates think only in terms of units sold or licensed, units compete with each others' financial performance, and creators of units are rewarded (or not) depending on their units' revenue and profit.

      Traditional copyright grants the right to produce unit copies. But content generation of all kinds is a much more complex which includes elements of initial investment, creative and/or technical project management, distribution management, and monetisation.

      What's needed are new models of content development that aren't based on the idea that artists are primarily paid to sell unitised and itemised products.

      This will make most people's heads explodes, but it would be possible to invest in an artist's career in an open-ended way for a fixed period - from a few months to a few decades, with an option to extend if good work appears.

      The creative output itself would be public and free.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Denial hasn't change reality yet

    And I don't expect it ever will.

  57. Haku

    The Fifth Element

    In the film The Fifth Element, Chris Tucker wears some very flamboyant outfits, in order to get him to wear those outfits, Jean-Paul Gaultier first showed him some that were even more flamboyant to which his response was along the line of "hell no", then when the less flamboyant outfits (the ones used in the film) were shown he agreed to wear them.

    My worry is that with the SOPA crushed, the lobbyists will come up with something that's not as bad as the SOPA (on the surface) but will still have a far reaching negative impact to the online world, and because it isn't as bad as the SOPA it will pass.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are there only two sides to this discussion?

    Although I work in the tech industry I certainly don't self-identify with any of the big tech players. I absolutely do not want Google, Wikipedia, Microsoft, IBM or HP "representing" *me* in this debate. Their aims and goals (and hence lobbying efforts) do not align with my own.

    Google is perhaps the most obvious example of "big tech" being opposed to "little tech". Google directly benifits from piracy, both through YouTube and "search". So it is no surprise that Google chose to spend their lobbying money, not on stopping SOPA, but on getting themselves excluded ("foreign websites only") whilst still hving it apply to their (overseas) compeitiors.

    How can "techies" have a discussion with others when they are not even a homogeneous group?

  59. heyrick Silver badge

    My €0,02's worth

    Firstly, I think it'll be a hard sell promoting the freetard angle. But, then, who are the freetards exactly? The gist of this article is that without IP protection, there will be no incentive to create, however it fails to address the problem that WITH IP protection there is no incentive to create - just dig into deep pockets, lobby, and push for extensions to existing copyright so you can live off past glories. What is copyright now? Longer than my lifespan? Is this really justifiable?

    Secondly more and more IP holders have been pushing for less and less realistic things. Downloaded stuff (as opposed to purchased objects) are treated very differently. They are licenced. You can't sell them when you no longer need them. In some places (and I mean in developed nations) you can be found "guilty" of infringement based upon something as ephemeral as an IP address, and lobbying is ongoing to get the right of meting out a disconnection without judicial involvement and in some legislation, with little recourse to justice save dragging the matter in front of the ECHR, but Joe Average can't afford that. Now crowdsource links are to need to be vetted?

    One could say both sides are speaking from a position of greed and myopia. As long as that persists, shouting is all we're going to see...

  60. SleepyJohn

    See Canute and Clausewitz

    Neither the original concept of copyright nor its current bastard offspring is even remotely suitable for protecting or encouraging artistic works now that they can be digitally copied perfectly then distributed at effectively no cost, and no amount of corporate bullying and extortion will change that. The fact that the Media Industry is so mentally addled from its years of riding a gravy train with rampant greed and dishonesty that it is too stupid and lazy to see this should not be our concern. Unfortunately, because of their appalling behaviour towards we ordinary mortals they have made it so.

    No-one should be surprised then that, until a new model is developed that actually works, most of the human race will simply treat the school bully with contempt when he comes demanding their dinner money, and will proceed through life as if he didn't exist. And there it is really, as I see it. Other than to note that the most commercially successful businesses on the internet seem to be quite capable of making money without charging we peasants for anything. In stark contrast the Media Bosses, exhibiting the mentality of petty street corner drug peddlars, are so consumed with hatred for anyone who doesn't pay them that they are quite incapable of coherent thought.

    We should pity them really. They must be feeling like turkeys when the farmer rips November off the calendar. They certainly display the same intellectual prowess, apparent incapable of grasping that only extinction awaits those incapable of evolving to suit a changing environment. But frankly, I think most of us are sick of their nasty, bully-boy antics and look forward to them meeting Christmas.

  61. Davidoff

    World needs IP incentive to keep producing

    Does it really? I'm sure if you look back at the last two millenia of human history you'll find that humanity was very creative in many areas without IP.

    1. Charles 9

      There were conditions.

      One of them was a lack of reliable dissemination. Not just information but ANYTHING was difficult to get from one place to another until within the last 200 years or so. Intellectual property wasn't needed back then because everything was still "Just Property. There were natural restrictions in place that gave art intrinsic value. IOW, taking a book around the country involved time and manpower, so there was real work involved. Even troubadours singing the latest news and knights delivering the latest proclamations meant you were hoofing it.

      And most works of what we call art were actually COMMISSIONS: they were hired for the jobs. Either they were aristocrats looking for some "bling" to improve their social standing, or it was commissioned by the Church or State to try and attract people (the Sistine Chapel ceiling, that was a commission, and the Church paid the STEEP bill to try and get more people to come in--a lot of Baroque art had the same reasoning).

      And copying? Assuming you could do it at all (many of these works were private or part of building projects). Copying a book on the cheap would take a scribe days or weeks. An elaborate religious book with gold leaf and colored illustrations? Probably a year.

      So what changed? Let's say you could do a magic trick with a book. Cover it with a cloth, say "Hocus Pocus!", pull the cloth, and now there are three books (just an example--could be a lot more than that) where before there was just one. THAT's the kind of dilution of value art faces today, and the kind of thing that can make a starving artist worry. Because art is his life, the only thing he knows. If it can't put bread on the table...

  62. Rocketman

    Put the sob's in jail

    I don't believe in stealing, it can't work to have all this stuff being stolen. Not like we are talking about essential things btw. I would like to see individuals and groups hunted down and put in jail for stealing digital products they don't own. Don't think there is anything wrong with that if done well.

    All these complex remarks. That's fine, everyone has a point to make that bears consideration. We need an international task force, that's my point. Good minds, good technology, it can be done.

    1. hplasm

      The SOBs being-

      THe MPIAA? Other organised crimelords^H^H^H^H content providers/lawyers? Or 'freetards' who don't own a computer but get sued for millions?

      International task force- don't make me laugh. It's already an international farce.

  63. TheOtherHobbbes


    if you want a civilised debate about anything political, you start by keeping everyone with a net worth higher than $x million out of office.

    You also make it illegal to profit from lobbying, to sell your time for cash, or to treat law-making as anything other than a valuable but rather dull job with limited opportunities for personal profit.

    None of this is going to happen because our fucked political systems are inherently plutocratic with a thin plastic veneer of pretendy democracy. All kinds of horrors fall out from this.

    But still. It's nice to dream.

    As for IP - the issue isn't simple. Talent needs social sponsorship when it's starting out, and it needs continued social sponsorship when it continues to innovate and be creative. In the arts, getting a good mix between edgy innovation and genius and ho-hum but immensely popular entertainment is always a challenge.

    The system as it stands currently fails at every level except the ho-hum. Good musicians today give away their stuff on SoundCloud etc, where it rapidly disappears into the noise, where twenty years ago they would have been signed and had a career of sorts.

    Now they do music part time. Which is everyone's loss.

    The issue isn't really copyright, it's about nurturing and rewarding real talent. Copyright is one - old-fashioned - way to do that.

    But given the ease with which it's easy to copy digital media, a complete rethink is needed. Breaking up the media monopolies into hundreds of much smaller niche companies would be a good start.

    Meanwhile freetards need to consider the possibility that piracy really does kill innovation. As a software developer, I know there's no point working on certain projects because they *will* be pirated because of their use-value, and I will *not* get a fair return.

    So I don't bother.

    If there's a win for anyone here, I'm not sure where it is.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "world needs IP incentive to keep producing"

    Utter, utter bollocks.

    If you only produce something because you're expecting an easy pay check then it's not worth producing.

    If we made IP laws more sensible, we'd see more art and less pop-culture tat.

    The medical industry might have a problem, but it needs a good kick up the arse anyway.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      The Hollywood sets box office records every year. Invariably, the most "pirated" movies are the ones that beat those records. Clearly, "piracy" is not a problem for them.

      They don't need an "IP incentive", they already have a lucrative monopoly, now all they want is to guarantee that nobody will ever be able to invent or do anything that may threaten that monopoly in the future. SOPA and PIPA would give them that guarantee.

  65. Juillen 1

    Dangerous slide.

    All this talk of 'theft' of intellectual property.. Read:

    This details a case (now resolved, and not in a good way), whereby rights are taken back from the Public Domain and placed back in copyright once they had already, by contract (the original law) been given to the public.

    US supreme court has essentially said it can take anything back from the public domain anytime it chooses. There is now no truly effective public domain that can be relied on. And if you say it can't happen, this story tells you the effects of it already having happened. With Disney et. al. chasing more extensions, it'll be easy enough for this to happen again.

    Now, depriving someone of something is pretty much the definition of theft. In this case though, it's media corporations that are leaning on the government (using bribery/lobbying) representatives to create laws to get the media corporations what they want. They're using the law as a tool to steal from everyone.

    Couple this in with the current state that the US keeps threatening to embargo people that don't harmonise their copyright/patent laws with the US standards, and it sets the scene for a globalisation of this practice.

  66. Chris007

    Given how hollywood came into existence

    by stealing copyright from Edison et al they're the last people to be lecturing on copyright.

  67. mattblack

    The argument that strong IP is necessary is much weaker than it sounds...

    Arguments about IP should be based on pragmatic not ideological grounds. For example, if holders overcharge for IP there will be more piracy; if holders don't release content in convenient forms there will be more piracy (try finding the DVD of the move Zero Effect in the UK, never mind the online version or compare the size of Lovefilm's DVD library to their streaming library).

    The fastest way for content providers to limit piracy is to compete with it in convenience and not to rip consumers off on the price.

    Besides, there is a distinction between profits and excessive profits from exploiting a monopoly and most capitalist governments normally restrict the second. Except, it seems, for IP and copyright where content providers have grown fat and lazy on excessive monopoly margins. In reality IP protection is a bargain with government to allow a monopoly in exchange for something else (for patents, its public disclosure of innovations). But the argument that content would dry up without strong protection sounds good but is less obvious in the light of history than you would expect. For a proper discussion see the debate here:

  68. JC 2


    We do not need IP to keep producing. IP just gives people an illusion that their work is worth more than they were paid for it at the time and so they try to spend energy working less on production and more on attacking others.

    Only retarded people think their thoughts are SO special that they, unlike generations before them, should be entitled to pittance from those who come after. What will happen to industries if IP were abolished? They'd actually have to continue innovating to make a profit, and do so in collaboration instead of back-stabbing, what a terrible thing that is!

    1. david wilson


      >>"We do not need IP to keep producing. IP just gives people an illusion that their work is worth more than they were paid for it at the time"

      So, if I record music I've written, and sell my first CD of it for £5, that £5 is the total of what I should get paid for it, and to think otherwise is 'an illusion'?

      If I design and make an electronic product, once I've sold one, there should be /no/ way to stop some big company making blatant copies and undercutting me, however much it cost me to get the first one made?

      Or should I be forced to work only for hire, for companies big enough to undercut everyone else?

      Or does your 'at the time' cover some undefined period of time which would depend on whether and when you might want to copy something?

  69. Sirius Lee

    Hopelessly naive

    My working assumption is that politicians (of any stripe) are not dumb. However they have to get their heads around lots of issues at any one time, some in their legislature, some in their constituency. So their bandwidth is limited. Not surprisingly, then, that they respond most readily to simple, easily comprehended messages they can regurgitate at will.

    If that message comes from organs that are used to packaging a message succinctly, ones the politicians have grown up believing are societies whistle-blowers, who they have cultivated as channels to the voting public then its not surprising the owners of those organs are listened to (just see what's been going on in the UK over the last couple of years). Especially if their message includes "save jobs" or "evil foreigners".

    By contrast the tech world is only indirectly connected to the political classes. So what choice does the tech world have when the legislation is for the media groups that are so close to the politicians?

    By rights the media world should recuse itself and take no part in a debate in which it has such a direct interest (we'd expect that of any public official that is conflicted). Bu that's never going to happen. In my view, this is the root cause of the tension in this debate.

    The tech world does not have the cozy relationship with politicians that media organ do. However many of the tech world's stars have very close relations with voters. While politicians are only listening to one beguiling voice any conciliation is meaningless and the only mechanism is to shout loudly enough that voter hear a different story.

    The world over, media services and their business models are under threat. Again, look at the problems manifest in the UK media industry and lengths to which papers have gone to publish anything as circulation volumes and revenues decline. Its not a surprise media outfits are responding to protect their own but that doesn't mean they should be allowed to protect their own and everyone else's expense.

    In democratic society it is the voter which has the last say. For the last few hundred years the media groups have been the ones purveying the message to voters and which have acted as an informed critic. But in this case they cannot act critically. They cannot be objective. Nor is the tech world objective on the issue and it is not designed to be critical.

    In such a circumstance there is no scope for rationality and, ultimately, the voter decides who they tell their elected representatives to believe - probably by listening to the loudest voice.

  70. Carl


    First, the idea that you can "Stop Online Piracy" is in the first place flawed. If some kid in SriLanka wants to make copies of a DVD his mate bought while on holiday in Italy he's going to do it. The act of "piracy" has already happened.

    So the problem becomes "Stopping the Dissemination of Pirated Material". But again, if some kid in Prague wants to serve stuff via his DYNDNS'd bedroom system then he's going to do that too.

    So the problem now becomes "Stopping the Consumption of Pirated Material". But, AGAIN, if some kid in Vietnam decides he wants to watch a movie then he's going to do that too.

    Note. None of these kids and their mates and their parents and their mates live in the USA, so as far they are concerned Uncle Sam can frankly swivel.

    So the problem now becomes "Stopping the Consumption of Pirated Material in territories controlled by the USA". ie. the USA. Well OK, the USA and those who are in thrall to it. ie the usual suspects: AU, NZ, UK, CA.

    But why do people in the areas download? Its because they are not motivated to watch movie X at price Y, whether because they dont have the $ or if they dont care enough for the movie producer/actor/genre to part with $.

    And this is normal in any market. You can sell on price, quality or features. But not everyone in the market looks at these factors the same way.

    Would I pay 20$ to go see "Pirate of the Caribbean 4"? No, because I dont like Capt.Sparrow.

    Would I pay 5$ to rent it 6 months later? I guess, if there was no footy on the telly.

    Would I sit and watch it for a buck this time next year? Sure. If it was raining out.

    DId I pay 20$ to go see the District9? Yes, because I like Peter Jackson and Sci Fi.

    I even bought the DVD too (once it was on sale, 7$)

    The studios still havent figured out that all they need to do is offer movies for download in limited numbers at a price point that changes over time. Whats so hard about that? Until they wrap their heads around people's motivations for consuming content they will have people ("pirates") plugging the gap.

    One thing I know for sure - co-opting the state to defend their cartels on the taxpayers' dime is not the way to go. Not when they are making record profits. It stinks.

    1. L.B

      I agree with everything you wrote, but would also add.

      Many of the official online sources for media content provide a service that is vastly inferior to the quality of downloaded content.

      Take the BBC; if I miss a program (not likely as there are only about 4 shows a year I like) when it was broadcast there are a number of options to catch up:

      1. iPlayer a great offering - for some.

      2. Wait 6 months and buy a very expensive box set.

      3. Wait 2,3,4,... months and try to remember to carry on watching the series when its repeated.


      42. Find a download site and wait a while.

      There are some real problems with some of the above offerings:

      1. If you live outside a major city your ADSL connection may to slow to provide a decent viewing experience. This is made worse by contention if you happen to want to watch any time from 18:00 to 22:00, the only time most people who work for a living can access it.

      There is also the fact that the reason you missed a program was due to being away for a few weeks or just not having the time right now, which means that the show has been taken off iPlayer or timed out before you can see it.

      2, or 3 or whatever: If you are 3 episodes into a season waiting months to have another go or just try to figure out what you missed, when there are other options is not ideal. Let alone the idea of paying a significant amount of money (typically £30-50) for something you may only ever watch once of twice.

      Option 42: The download - and the quality option.

      - With ADSL is does not matter how long it takes to download something, and once its done you have all the time you want to catch up when it suit you, where ever you are, and on the device you choose.

      - Also the quality will typically be much better that any streamed service, as the stream must have the bit rate limited to your typical download rate. Whereas the download can take hours to download without affective you eventual view experience.

      - There is also the option for those with busy lives to collect a whole set ready for when they have the time, be that next month or a few hours on Sunday afternoon.

      In the UK we are forced to pay the TV TAX (£145p/a) to have a TV, and many think they are getting very poor value as it is. Lots more still pay £20+pm extra for Sky/Cable on top of the TV license to actually have some TV they actually want to watch.

      Considering how much some of us are already paying, is really too much to ask for a legal way to download high quality content without all the time and quality restrictions, even if you have a poor quality internet connection.

      The majority would probably not save vast amounts of shows locally simply because they would run out of disk space on the laptop/PC/media-box. Plus while they are subscribing they could just download it again to watch next year if they wanted it.

      Such a system would also be a good marketing tool, as the likes of Sky would know 100% what people want to watch and what they don't care much about as they would just have to count the downloads. They could even look at paying the studios directly according to downloads of the programs.

      The downside would be a loss of some advertising revenue, but people like me never watch the ads anyway as I nearly always record TV so I can skip them anyway.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    by any means go after pirates however....

    have due process and protect open source, happy this ill planned bit of legislation was cancelled.

    yes go after illegal practises but do not confuse the bad guys with the open source software developer which are very kind in sharing their efforts and studies at no cost to the consumer.

    And at no time this SOPA/PIPA bill had any recognition of community open source and did nothing to protect it, and no mention or provisions for this kind of technologies was made.

    Further more no one recognizes this open source industry for training people in tech development, at most time for no cost to employers as it is a community based technology, and it is a way bigger society then the UK prime minister thought of...

  72. 2cent

    Original Art Resold

    Release of the original product. Distribution = 1.

    Legal websites owned by Media Distribution to redistribute resale of copy 1 = 0.

    Number of copies that could be resold, making millions of transactions at penny's to entire world = 0.

    Media companies legitimizes itself = 0.

    Media companies invested in ReDigi technology = 0 assumed.

  73. JHNW

    IP defence internationally

    with SOPA thrown-out where does that leave US business - if you don't protect at home how can US business expect to protect their IP overseas from unauthorised exploitation and theft: come On USA get real, set an example and find a better solution.

  74. SleepyJohn

    Like an old, tired dog that's gone rabid

    It is ironic, is it not, that every day the pea-brained execs of the Media Industry sit down at their computers to continue astonishing us with their extraordinary ignorance of the digital world, and disgust us with their rabidly vindictive treatment of customers, they see a shining example of how it should be done.

    Google may have its faults but perhaps those charmless Media execs should ask themselves how it manages to provide anyone in the world, instantly and for free, information that could potentiallly be more valuable than the sum total of the whole entertainment industry's annual turnover. And has never, as far as I know, sued old ladies, cats, single mothers or babies for copying it.

    It really is not rocket science. Rather than frantically and futilely trying to stop the world from disseminating its products, it effectively encourages them to do so and then rents out the incredible, world-wide network that all those 'pirates' have freely and enthusiastically built for it. Was that really so difficult to grasp? Sadly, yes apparently, for people with the mentality of street-corner drug-peddling thugs.

    And yes, I know about privacy and being the product etc, but really, whose model would you rather pass to your children? How would they feel about typing a TV show, song or movie name into Google and just have it play? And only have to see adverts that genuinely might interest them; small, unobtrusive ones tucked away at the side? Do you see them whingeing about Google knowing which sites they recently visited? Or what country their computer is in?

    Or would they prefer to risk being extradited to a hideous American prison for 16 years whenever they overhear a car radio at the traffic lights? Frankly, the Media Industry needs to be put down, like an old, tired dog that has gone rabid and keeps attacking the children. And leave the internet to those with the brains to use it properly.

  75. Bench


    In the UK this is largely seen as US money trying to further sap the world. We totally oppose the assumption that the US can automatically extradite anyone they choose, especially when no law has been broken in that person's country.

    Remember kids, home-taping is killing music.

  76. Zero-Hour

    And Piracy is caused by . . .

    Simple answer . . . Greed.

    On BOTH sides.

    The greedy corporations trying to squeeze every penny out of everyone as many times over as they can, and the consumers wanting things as cheaply as possible.

    Some people will always pirate. Even if you could buy movies online for 10p they would still pirate. This won't change, no matter how hard they try to prevent it. On the other hand these people will probably not purchase anyhing anyway, so no revenue is lost.

    While the greedy corporations insist on phasing releases globally, attempt to enforce with region coding etc there will be pirates.

    The easy way to reduce pirates to the lowest possible level, is to release globally to all markets on the same day, and AT THE SAME PRICE, and make it reasonable.

    Screwing one country on price and release date just breeds piracy. Here in the UK, we regulary have to wait long after the US release date, and pay a much higher price for the same product. What do they expect ?

    I buy my movies, always have since the days of betamax. In fact I have paid for some movies many times over, VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray etc. But I resent having to pay 50-100% more than I would if I lived in the U.S.

    I occasionally download music on a try before I buy basis, but always purchase the CD if I like it, in fact last CD I downloaded, I went on to purchase every CD the band had put out, plus I made a point in buying direct from the Band's webside to maximise thier benefit.

    If the Media corporations played fair, made their product available to everyone AT THE SAME TIME, and AT THE SAME price, online and convienient, scrap region coding, piracy would be a shadow of itsself and they would not have to go to such great lengths to attempt to prevent it.

    They are creating a self-perpetuating disaster for themselves caused by greed. They are the only one who will ever fix it. No amount of legislation will stop it.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe people are angry at being shafted by corrupt politicians and a callous media industry.

    Anyone who supports SOPA & PIPA is eitheran ignorant fool, corrupt or so self interested that they couldn't give a stuff about basic freedoms as long as they benefit. When it comes to politicians I suspect most are all three.

    And you wonder why people are shouting?

    TBH it's only ever been the way to get these people to listen.

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