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back to article Proposed US piracy legislation labelled draconian by Schmidt

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has lambasted the US government's attempts to stop online piracy, saying the proposed new laws are "draconian". America's lawmakers are trying to stem the tide of web piracy and keep their entertainment behemoths happy with two new pieces of legislation. The Stop Online Piracy Act is currently being …

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WTF?

That list of companies who've signed the letter is interesting. Every single one of them (with the possible exception of Zynga) has a business model that is seriously boosted by the ability of people to share media and links to media.

Putting that aside, I think there's a serious problem. I wasn't the greatest fan of the DMCA when it came in because I thought it a bit broad, but history shows that it has been used like any other legislation: mostly sane, but sometimes over the top. Assuming the insane cases get thrown out at some point (which, more often than not, they do), I don't really have a problem with that.

This law, however, doesn't have any such sanity protection; it's looking to allow content producers (read: big corporations, usually with outdated models of business, not all content producers) the ability to kick out other sites.

This has knock on effects for all of social networking, naturally, search engines, any discussion forum created and plenty more sites. I fail to see how this is actually a good thing.

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Unhappy

Eric has a problem with politicians

They just won't stay bought.

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Anonymous Coward

TRANSLATION:

* We've got rich from using other people's work without paying them.

* We're not going to start paying them now.

* Keep the internet FREE and my wallet FULL!

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Big Brother

Thank you for that input Mr. MAFIAA employee.

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Liar

"Google didn't condone this kind of behaviour."

Find any one to complain to. Some one uploads a photo to street view, get that taken down. Some one takes photos of your kids and posts them to Orkut, get that taken down. Google facilitates copyright violation, profits from copyright violation, gives lips service to concerns about copyright violation:

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=http://www.flickr.com/services/feeds/geo/%3Fformat%3Dkml%26id%3D55228353%2540N00%26lang%3Den-us%26page%3D1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=websearch

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Anonymous Coward

"their business models are being threatened by^W^W^W theft"

There, fixed it for you. Theft implies deprivation of whatever is stolen, which is not the case. In this digital model, the "virtual object"* /might/ have been copied in the exact same manner, or perhaps a more artificially restricted manner, and raked in some (not-so-very-copyable) dosh in the process. The object has only been copied, can still be copied, and therefore can also still be sold. The simplistic view favoured by the loudest "theft" claimers blithely ignores secondary revenues that this "unauthorised copying" might and indeed does create. For one because secondary and tertiary and so on effects are hard to calculate, but that holds little ground when the calculations of "loss" are invariably based on grandiose and otherwise untenable claims.

Besides, somehow nobody in free-for-all America[tm] dares admit that if your business model requires world-wide legislation to keep going, it's a failed business model, and in that case you're obsolete and should make room for enterprises with better business models. Yet one more way the claims are dishonest. Yet they keep trying. Obvious conclusion is obvious.

* Usually a file of some sort, possibly a stream.

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Anonymous Coward

Please...

Lots of companies have business models which require worldwide legal enforcement to continue. Just off the top of my head there is the "We're not going to allow people to carry out armed robberies and will extradite them if they try to evade justice in our country" piece of (pretty much) world wide legislation.

If you are going to argue against intellectual property, at least use a good argument.

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Anonymous Coward

Booo Hisss

What you comment fails to mention that digital piracy kills babies AND starts Wars AND helps drug dealers AND the sex trade.

Shame on you for spreading falsehoods. You just started a War and support the sex trade!

All we want is a honest debate where we control the facts

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Happy

One would imagine WikiLeaks and The Pirate Bay would be quite chuffed to find a whole law written just with them in mind.

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Anonymous Coward

So instead of MSN

We can all have SOPA Network. Where all content is controlled to support a Business bottom line

All your networks belongs to us. On the plus side if these rules had of previously been in we wouldn't have Justin Beiber or a least he would have been locked up!

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For a slightly more balanced and informative piece, you could also look at

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/11/republicans-democrats-google-and-church-of-sweden-unite-to-halt-hollywood.ars

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Anonymous Coward

Draw the line.

It's time to get organized folks. Start getting together in person and in secret so everything you say can't be recorded. Talk in person to other people about the options to deal with this and the other situations going on within our governments.

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Time to get serious.

It's time to get organized folks. Start getting together in person and in secret so everything you say can't be recorded. Talk in person about the options to deal with this and the other situations going on within our governments.

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Anonymous Coward

Extra-Ordinary-Rendition

(Also known as we send the armed troops round to kick your door in and drag you off to a misc' USAF Airbase for immediate deportation to.......)

THIS IS Now covered by the DMCA!!!

so the USA's over the top Draconian Legal system now applied worldwide for all online misdemeanors.

oh and you don't get any cover under the US bill of rights

(cos your not an American and your an almost convicted criminal anyway, cos we just renditioned you into a legal limbo)

The next step of the RIAA/MPA is to crank up the penalties to include your execution in the street outside your house without appeal, for online piracy!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Stop Online Piracy Act - SOPA

Protect IP Act - PIPA

Combined, they could be known as the SOPAPIPA acts, which I understand are excellent with a little honey.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sopaipilla

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Anonymous Coward

SOPAPIPA

..are excellent with a little honey, on Salma Hayek's tummy.

It's how I remember not to put Mayonnaise in them.

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Coffee/keyboard

Shmidt?

The weirdo against weirdos, a-ha. C'mon, El Reg, don't try to clean the dirt off his ugly image

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Anonymous Coward

Great firewalls, great firewalls everywhere?

IIRC it used to be that if more oppressive regimes weren't allowed to firewall and filter their country DNS, that they would create their own internets and fracture the one big internet we all play on, which is why IANA gave in.

Well it seems to me that if the US (and UK to some degree) continues more and more protectionist inbreeding, at some point it may be that the rest of the world has to put up their own Great Firewall to block US/UK* ports. Or simply create their own internets excluding US/UK altogether.

* pronounced: "U-SUK"

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Lots of love for Google here....

... but I suppose they keep all those download sites in hosting fees.

If you really believe that creative works should be free, then stop watching or consuming works that are "encumbered" by copyright. Stick to public-domain or open-sourced works.

Stick it to the Man by NOT BUYING their product. "Not buying" means not acquiring it at all. Stealing it instead doesn't make you a crusader, it makes you a thief. And it is theft: the physical object is just the carrier of the work - what you're asked to pay for is the time and effort and risk incurred by the people who produced the work on that carrier.

But, if you really feel that creative works should be free, how about you come over to my office and re-plan my entire network infrastructure and produce a new CRM system for me, and in return, rather than pay you, I'll tell everyone how good your work was. I'm pretty sure Tesco give you free groceries if you're popular enough.

There's a myth that recording artists and filmmakers are all rolling in money, but it's just that: a myth. Like the casinos, you only hear about the enormous successes. There are people reading this site who earn more than a moderately successful filmmaker, and that's without having to re-mortgage their house beforehand. And all to have their work ripped and lifted and hosted on YouTube, where it earns Google money, or on the numerous download sites... where it earns Google money. Filmmakers in particular do not have another source of income - they're not a band that can go and play live (let's leave out the many, many composers whose work cannot be toured). Their art only exists in a recorded form.

There needs to be a reform, because the current situation is wrong. It's bad for the consumer, and it's bad for the artists and, surprisingly, also bad for the Evil Distributors. Google's vision, that removes any chance that an artist has to earn from their creative work, is not the answer, though.

But, I'm being silly. Google is only opposing these laws to protect the freedoms of the people, of course. Just like those paramilitary organisations that used to crack down on drug-dealers.

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It's not as simple as that, though, and that's the problem.

Sure, yes, Google makes money out of content. The problem is that this law is lining up Google in its sights - and virtually every other site that has even the whiff of external content in it.

Now, whether that means Facebook gets taken to the cleaners as well for facilitating the sharing of content, that may or may not be a good thing, depending on your perspective.

But there's also a lot of innocent parties that will be hit too. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I record a *parody* of an established song and share it on a site that I exclusively control (so that we keep Google et al out of it). Whether it makes me money or not, but of course especially if it does make me money, I'm now a target for this legislation. Never mind that what I did in that context was completely covered in copyright law (parody is defined as fair use), but that under this new legislation the powers that be would be able to disconnect my site from the internet, just because it is - in their view - infringing on their material.

And therein lies the problem: why should an arbitrary company be able to make such decisions? If it's something guaranteed in law (ability to produce derivative works for the purpose of parody), no arbitrary company has the right to deny that unilaterally which is what this law is about. (Note there is a difference between refusing to provide a service and denying access to that service for others, and it is the latter case that is the problem here.)

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Ah, I see

>But, if you really feel that creative works should be free, how about you come over to my office and >re-plan my entire network infrastructure and produce a new CRM system for me, and in return, >rather than pay you, I'll tell everyone how good your work was.

So, presumably if I did that for an agreed fee and you then sold my work to other people who need a new network infrastructure or CRM system, you would pay me a royalty on every sale?

No? Didn't think so, because that's not how it works in the real world.

What you see happening in the real world is people (like programmers) who create stuff all day every day, but don't get paid every time their work is sold on, they get paid while they're actively creating stuff.

Oh, and it's copyright infringement, not theft no matter what the media companies tell you; there are many legal cases where this has been tested and not a single instance of infringement ever being equated to theft. That's why copyright protection laws have a specific term for misappropriation of copyright... "an infringer of the copyright.'".

Anyway, back to the original point. A session musician might get paid a royalty for every sale of a recording that they played on, but I don't know of any commercial programmer who gets paid for every copy of a piece of software they worked on. (OK, maybe if you were a one man shop.) So why are the two professions different?

Also, check the guarantee on media, I think you'll find that it only covers the media, not the content. If it's faulty then they only have to replace it with blank media. Technically you've paid for blank media. How does that make you feel?

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"blank media"??

"Also, check the guarantee on media, I think you'll find that it only covers the media, not the content. If it's faulty then they only have to replace it with blank media. Technically you've paid for blank media. How does that make you feel?"

I have no idea where you get that idea from. Defective prerecorded media is replaced with another, non-defective, copy of the same content. As an example that I know personally: In the 1990s, Philips DuPont Optical (UK) produced tens of thousands of defective CDs that would degrade badly over time. Customers with such discs (I had about seven) were able to exchange them for re-pressed, correctly functioning ones. And, as you asked, I felt fine about it.

"What you see happening in the real world is people (like programmers) who create stuff all day every day, but don't get paid every time their work is sold on, they get paid while they're actively creating stuff."

And... where does the money come from to pay them? For a software system, there may be cost savings (i.e., increased profits on the same level of sales) to pay for it later. For a creative arts work, though, where does the money come from? The commissioner needs to be able to sell the work to cover the costs. But if the commissioners don't achieve a return from using, exhibiting or reselling the work, then the fees for artists drop. The royalty model, incidentally, is also to protect the publisher from the up-front cost of funding a work that might not have any success, and it's not unknown in IT either (I know people who've set up e-commerce systems in exchange for a percentage of takings, and it's how the global credit card clearing applications and most Software-as-a-Service operations are funded too), and not all creative work is done on royalty: there's a lot of flat-fee work in writing and graphic design, for instance. Conversely, I have several friends who sell software on royalty: anyone who sells their own work in the various App Stores is selling on royalty; I've done it myself, and I know of people who have done revenue share (a form of royalty) in lieu of upfront payment.

You mention session musicians, but by definition they're not creators, and are normally paid hourly, and on a flat-fee basis. Copyright is not an issue for session musicians, because they're playing someone else's work: It's the people who invented the music they play that are relying on copyright to protect their livelihood (there is overap between these groups, but not always). When it comes down to it, there's not much difference between a software developer and composer, filmmaker or author: all start with the knowledge in their head and create something from it that didn't exist before. It's not the "idea" you're asked to pay for; anyone can have an idea. It's the effort to bring that idea into some form of working reality, be it a symphony, application, novel, design or film.

"So, presumably if I did that for an agreed fee and you then sold my work to other people who need a new network infrastructure or CRM system, you would pay me a royalty on every sale?"

Not unless you'd agreed this. You would have got to negotiate re-distribution as part of the contract you signed before working. In most cases, a software development contract is effectively a flat-fee creative commission.

Normally I, as the commissioner, would be able to re-sell the work you've given me, unless otherwise negotiated, but that's because you assign copyright to me as part of the contract. I don't recall Google/YouTube or any of the filesharers being given any rights over works by the authors of those works. They just "find" them lying around and make money from them without paying the dues.

I don't support the removal of fair use provisions (which include satire, incidentally), but the idea that Google are really only fighting to uphold these rights is laughable. We wouldn't be in the situation of losing these if Google hadn't been playing fast and loose with copyright on an industrial scale with YouTube, and also turning a blind eye to the wholesale piracy that it makes financially viable (count the number of Google Ads you see next time you go to a download site).

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