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back to article 'Mainstream media' mute in SOPA piracy debate

An analysis of US television coverage has found a deafening silence among members of the pejoratively tagged "mainstream media" when it comes to coverage of SOPA, the online intellectual property legislation now under consideration in Congress. An analysis of the Lexis-Nexis database since 1 October 2011, carried out by the …

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds like...

... a nice illustration of how wise it is to rely on such a bunch as your sole source of news.

Apparently plenty people still or largely do. Now for reaching out to them and then getting them to contact their representatives. Apropos: What about adverts on those networks? Any data?

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I don't think its fair to put all the blame on the media.

Because the cause of all this seems deeply rooted inside the whole US culture. We're talking about a culture where you could be sued for millions of dollars if you forgot to put up a sign to warn people about risks which everyone else would deem plain out obvious (example: when you order a hot cup of coffee its better to be careful not to knock it over and risk having the coffee pour over your legs).

But also a culture where the government has a tendency to tell people "what's good for them" even up to a point where things get totally ridiculous (at least from an European point of view). Time and time again. Think about extreme "communist hunts", the medieval witch hunts relived. Only this time people weren't burned at the stakes but simply totally and financially ruined. FIRST while most of them were totally innocent but second, more horrifying; only because the government suspected that they had (communistic) ideals which didn't go too well back then. People got ruined because of their ideas.

And this behavior is still going on. Take 9/11: "If you're not with us, you're with the terrorists". Even now, when people only ask questions about the whole incident and wonder about certain aspects which seem odd they end up to be ridiculed ("conspiracy theorists!"), ignored and sometimes even threatened. Only because they ask questions. If you want proof of that just look up a man called "Jesse Ventura" and simply listen to what he has to say and check up how some "boffins" react to that. The fun part is that he doesn't even have any conspiracy theories; all he has are questions about the whole event.

So back to this issue... Is it really that surprising, when looking at it from within the context I pictured above, that some media aren't really looking forward to cover certain government actions? Also because they're worried about the possible consequences ?

Not to mention that this has been going on for ages now, its not just about technical aspects. Think gitmo; didn't Obama say that he wanted it closed? Well, dunno about you but to me it looks as if its still actively used today. Now several /years/ later.

How much has the US media tried to bring that to anyone's attention? Not much, after all; we shouldn't forget that gitmo is there for the greater good; to protect the country from terrists.

Of course, why thousands of people have already been released and sent back home doesn't proof anything. They weren't "innocent", naah; that was all "different".

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Devil

Repeating media lies...

It's ironic to try and defend the news media while buying into their lies.

No. It's not obvious that a coffee spill will generate a 3rd degree burn. Are you even aware of what that is?

There's a bit more to the story than the common anti-lawyer theme often repeated in pop culture.

Modern journalism is lazy and sloppy. If it's done well enough, you have enough information that you can make up your own mind regardless of the bias of the journalist. However, that requires that the journalist does a complete enough job and that rarely happens. Usually we get soundbites and propaganda and pandering.

Fox News, CNN and Al Jazeera all share this in common.

You don't even need a propaganda minister. Corporations will gladly pander to the audience and strip news of most if not all of it's usefulness.

No one does real journalism anymore because it's all about ratings and being inoffensvie.

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Moral dilemma.

The trouble is that this "distilled" news is what people WANT. People are inherently lazy (I'm not speaking about this in a negative context rather as an evolutionary trait--perhaps the term "economy of effort" would make a more accurate description). With all the average person undergoes every day, the last thing they want to do is be forced to THINK their way through the evening news. They want to know what's going on around them without having to think so much, so "distilled" news tends to get watched and read.

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Childcatcher

That hot coffee thing

Mickey D's used to keep their coffee really hot and the lawsuit where somebody burned themselves was justified. It's often used in the 'consumers are stupid' debate - but in fact there was no need to serve the coffee at that temperature and they deserved what they got.

It would suit the large corps to stop the litigation culture, but that would probably be even worse if it's the only way that they will pay attention to the safety of the rest of us. That said, bankrupting small shops because someone happened to slip on some flower petals is also downright stupid. I don't have an answer to this one.

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Black Helicopters

@ Francis Fish

Mickey D's kept their coffee piping hot because customers *wanted* it. This was one of the reason a number of people I know went there for their coffee, which otherwise tasted to me like it had been filtered through old socks.

Now every vendor of hot beverages keeps them at about dishwater temperature in order to keep the idiots & their lawyers at bay.

While lawyers have accomplished a lot, safety-wise, the current trend is over the top. You cannot *eliminate* risk, and not all problems are someone else's fault -- especially the reprehensible trend towards blaming whoever has the most money, using a crop of ever more and more dodgy 'expert' witnesses. Businesses have an innate desire to minimize costs -- if it is cheaper to settle an outrageous lawsuit and pass the costs along, that's what will get done, and justice takes the back seat.

Just like with shoplifters, the losses are simply transferred to all paying customers. Contrary to what the juries in these cases think, it does *NOT* come from Santa Claus. The only real effective tort reform would be to make the bringers of frivolous lawsuits pay the costs when their lawsuit is found to be without merit -- as the coffee one was. Then businesses will find it more effective to fight -- as their lawyers are expensive, too.

Not an optimal solution, because sometimes the little guy suing has a point.

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Vic
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> when their lawsuit is found to be without merit -- as the coffee one was.

The court found that the coffee-spill suit had merit.

Like you, I disagree[1] with the court's findings. And the court doesn't care.

Vic.

[1] I am one of those who *wants* stuff hot - the second law of thermodynamics then gives me quite a lot of choice as to the temperature at which I can drink it. And I learned, long ago, that spilling hot stuff on skin hurts. IMO, McDs was serving coffee at a perfectly reasonable[2] temperature. The court found otherwise.

[2] And you have no idea how much it pains me to write that.

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WTF?

Temperature of Coffee

There is an upper limit to the temperature of a hot drink, which I would speculate is very similar to the boiling point of water. Granted, this is subject to change with atmospheric pressure.

This is the temperature at which most people make coffee or tea, as the usual mechanism for doing this involves boiling a kettle.

So how can coffee be "too hot"?

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From what I've read...

The temperature of the coffee in question being served was somewhere near 90 degrees (Celsius, in case any Americans are reading). That 10 shy of water's boiling point and well above your average coffee serving temperature (a much safer but still hot 60 degrees, which is also right about the scalding point).

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The problem with discussing the temprature of said coffee, is that it risks overlooking a key element (that was overlooked in the trial) which is the placement of said coffee cup: on the dash board. a slopped serface that when combined with inertia caused by accelerating a vehicle from a start.... Owie.

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Irrelevant.

Even on a sloped surface or on a lap, coffee that is only at 60 degrees (your average coffee temperature) would elicit cries of pain and a scramble to get the hot stuff off, but the odds are good you'll get nothing worse than a mild redness which should fade over a day or two. Coffee (or any other liquid) at *90* degrees is just asking for trouble: almost like holding your hand in front of a steam vent while the kettle's boiling. The point being made (and the nail for that McD's franchise) was they they didn't just make the coffee too hot--they made it HAZARDOUS. Hazardous as in carrying 90-degree coffee would be pretty much like carrying a similar amount of concentrated nitric or sulfuric acid.

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Not surprised.

Self-preservation motive is in effect here, so some sort of counter-force is needed to make people aware of things going on under their noses.

Looks like what it might take is a TV ad campaign by people opposed to the SOPA act to get people involved. Preferably get it plastered during the nightly news broadcasts. Trick would be getting around the networks' discretion: probably by challenging their discretion on freedom of speech/press, discrimination, or even political speech issues.

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Alert

Better get a move on then

Microsoft/NBC have already got pro SOPA ads running on their news channel encouraging Americans to contact their congressperson and express their support... the hook? Protecting American jobs.

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Mushroom

You need a stronger hook, then.

You're going to have to get down to base emotions: fear and the like. Perhaps invoking Nineteen Eighty-Four or the like where they'll say, "If Congress gets its way, your freedom of speech, your right to complain, can be silenced without recourse." or "Think it would never happen? Then why does no one talk about it?" or "Act now, or the limited government enshrined in the Constitution will cease to exist." Sure, the last one is a lie and may need an adjustment, but you need something of that intensity of fear to make people pay attention.

Something on the level of a mushroom cloud .

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Anonymous Coward

Works for me

The more pirates they prosecute, the better.

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WAIT TILL.......

they get it wrong and start prosecuting innocent people because there is a presumption of guilt rather than innocence in this legislation.

Also, you may find 1000's of extradition orders to the US from the UK, including one for your gran who didn't know her WiFi was not password protected.

Sadly poor legislation has poor effects and outcomes.

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@AC at 18:18

I agree. Pirates are scum and should be dealt with severely.

But tell me, what about people who breach copyright license? Which is (or was) a civil offence? How about the concept of "fair use" and where agreements over that can occur? What about the right to use a meme that passes into popular culture? To remix a work? To pass a copy of work on? Doctrine of first sale? etc.

This is an attempt at a land-grab of epic proportions to privatise our culture. It must not be permitted. Can you imagine a world where Mozart, Monet, Shakespeare, Confucius or any number of other creator's/thinker's works were still privately held? How weak, grey, dull and expensive would we be then?

This is the future people such as yourself wish to create.

You have not thought things through.

You are in error.

You must be opposed with all vigour.

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@BigYin - Typa

'How about the concept of "fair use" and where agreements over that can occur?'

Should, of course, read:

'How about the concept of "fair use" and where DISagreements over that can occur?'

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Happy

Sure, you changed a couple of words,

but it's still copyright violation. You: "weak, gray dull and expensive."

Shakespeare: "weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable"

However, this court finds that Mr Big Yin did not intentionally breech Mr Bard's copyright, except to prove his point. Case dismissed.

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@Larsg

I can tell you now that most people will ignore the whole thing because "it doesn't concern them" and "its for the greater good".

Even if this whole SOAP (<g>) thing is put into effect then I do see other countries putting some serious pressure on the US. But not for privacy concerns or the greater good. No; because of financial motives. If the US can shut down a website oversees they can influence another countries income. And that is a dangerous territory to thread on.

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Don't be too sure...

@ShelLuser, the UK has a habit of doffing its cap to the US, just look at the unbalanced extradition treaty we have with them.

The bottom line here is legislation written by a self interest group policed by a self interest group. That it is apparently being allowed, any laws that are silently brought in through the back door should be viewed with suspicion.

If you think that it applies only in the USA beware, there's no need to prove an offence, just a whiff of suspicion.

How will they stop a legit EU site hosting something like PB in Germany? They declare the host undesirable, block it along with all the legitimate business that uses the host.

The host either complies or goes broke with loss of business.

So now we are all being censored.

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@LarsG

"How will they stop a legit EU site hosting something like PB in Germany? They declare the host undesirable, block it along with all the legitimate business that uses the host."

You are quite correct and that is, pretty much, "The Plan". Only one problem. This is Internet, progeny of Arpanet, survivor of nuclear attacks. SOPA is just another blockage, it will be identified and by-passed.

Maybe not legally by-passed, but technically and almost certainly morally.

If the companies started playing with their customers rather than booting them in the balls constantly, they may get more support (case in point, the absolute bollocking those illicitly torrenting the "Humble Indie Bundle" got from the community). If they also stopped manufacturing total dross (there's a reason the top 5 films on Netflix are non-USA and that big-media cinema numbers are falling). If they further stopped lying and committing near-frauds (e.g. "Harry Potter" was a loss-maker? Really?) And, finally, if they made sure some cash actually went to the creatives and not up the noses of the execs and the handful of mega-stars.

Big Media made this problem for itself, but rather than change their practices they have gone running to the legislature with stuffed brown-envelopes. Every time in history that money has made law and ignored the people there has been revolt and revolution. We already have the rise of various "Pirate Parties" who seek to protect our culture from these land-grabs. What will be next?

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Big Brother

"You are quite correct and that is, pretty much, "The Plan". Only one problem. This is Internet, progeny of Arpanet, survivor of nuclear attacks. SOPA is just another blockage, it will be identified and by-passed."

Unless they go straight to the heart of the matter and start attacking the Internet ITSELF. The text of SOPA includes a provision like the DMCA: in that any attempt to circumvent screenings is ITSELF a violation of the act. IOW, they can outlaw anything that could be used as a screen...such as ENCRYPTION. Why do you think DNSSEC is considered under threat? Because a vital tool of authenticity is ALSO a vital tool of ANONYMITY. Goodbye, Freenet and Tor; hello Big Brother.

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Anonymous Coward

Thieving is wrong

Simples.

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@AC at 09:37

"Thieving is wrong"

Cool, we can agree 100% on that. Shame theft has nothing to do with the story.

Would you perhaps care to discuss copyright infringement instead? The curtailing of fair use, parody, remix and the diminishing of our future culture?

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Anonymous Coward

Many works have been preserved by people breaking copyright. Look at all the lost recordings that have been found in Bob Monkhouse's tape archive. Then there was the recent recording of David Bowie on TOTP that was lost, only to be found on a tape made for one of the cameramen.

It's only a small step from censoring the Internet to stop copyright to censoring things the politicians don't agree with.

The Internet is the great liberator from excessive government control, letting large media corporations and the government shape it is a huge mistake.

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Anonymous Coward

It's not theft, it is duplication that is unauthorised.

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@Charles 9

It is worrying, no doubt about that. In many countries encryption is already heavily curtailed and there is the presumption of guilt (e.g. UK, keys *must* be handed over on demand).

If SOPA does get passed with those draconian measures, it will just be the USA passing draconian and totalitarian laws.

Again.

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"Thieving is wrong"... it is indeed, and yet to date I've never seen anyone convicted of theft in regards to copyright infringement. I've seen other trumped up charges which have failed to secure a conviction, but as far as I recall theft has never been among them..... and rightly so.

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Big Brother

@"any attempt to circumvent screenings is ITSELF a violation of the act."

WTF, that's basically saying they want to spy on everything. Add that to SOPA's ability to censor the Internet and you have a totalitarian level of control coming into power in America. If people don't see that as a warning sign, then its game over for freedom in America.

I feel sorry for the Americans. They have been brought up to believe they live in the "land of the free" yet even without SOPA, America has become without any doubt, the worst most corrupt Corporatocracy in the world. The corporations effectively run the country and that control has been growing for many decades.

Sadly the way their country is going, it looks increasingly like Americans badly need their own revolution uprising against the corrupt self-interested corporations that increasingly rule their lives. But sadly, so many Americans have been so brainwashed by the American media into believing its all for the American good, when really its just for the good of the rich and powerful who run everything at the expense of everyone else. So as much as they need true freedom, I can't see it happening whilst their corporations have such influence over the majority of their people.

But something has to change. This endless decent into totalitarianism can't be allowed to continue. Plus this level of social control isn't worth giving up freedom for just so the obsolete media distributors can cling to the power to distribute media when paid for downloads and global real time broadcasts are the way forward for media distribution such as music concerts and new film releases. In that kind of future, companies would give away old media to try to attract more viewers to their new broadcasts on the day of release. The companies need to be adapting to the future, not seeking to inflict totalitarian control on society which will without any doubt be exploited by the politicians, because their kind are and have always been lying two faced people who manipulate and control at every opportunity and have done so throughout history. This SOPA ability to spy and censor will be exploited by them. Just look at how every law brought in gets expanded over time.

Plus whatever America does, our own politicians are sure to want to follow, as our spineless MP's bend over at every opportunity to maintain their special relationship with American politicians regardless of what we want.

This level of social control is partly because the politicians are in the pay of the corporations and partly because the politicians know the more they can control everyone, the more they can continue to lie and manipulate everyone into doing what they want and they don't give a damn about stopping the hardships everyone else faces. Its win win for the politicians and their rich friends. We are all just expendable and exploitable in every country, all for the gain of the rich and powerful who run each country and that narcissistic pattern of rich and powerful masters and expendable and exploitable servants has existed throughout history in every country.

Its time we all made a stand. People everywhere in every country have to make a stand sooner or later, because this increasingly Orwellian totalitarian control is progressively getting ever worse.

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FAIL

the whole problem

the whole problem of SOPA (or *one* of the problems, at least) is that a court is not involved anywhere near early enough in the process. Your entire domain can be effectively erased from the internet based on nothing but an _allegation_ from a copyright holder that you have infringed their copyright. And we already know how good large copyright holders are at understanding the concepts of fair use, parody, and even _what they actually hold the copyright on_ (viz that genius of a company which decided it'd use its legally-mandated backdoor into a torrent site to remove every torrent with the word 'box' in it, on the grounds that they'd released a movie called 'The Box').

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Anonymous Coward

Pretty obvious...

The networks would be exceptionally unpopular if the general public caught a whiff of just what a terrible idea SOPA is - they know for a fact that a very large percentage of the public watches pirated media.

They know that for every person who shares (or seeds) a pirated TV show or movie online , there's thousands who download it.

For each of those thousands who download, that download is probably transferred via CD, USB stick, portable HD to mates houses, to the office - wherever - and finds it's way to thousands of people who didn't download it.

I've yet to work in an office where media isn't shared - and it's just as likely that legal media is shared, people borrowing DVD's off each other.

It's been going on since vinyl records could be transfered to casette tapes - my parents used to lend and borrow records and record them way back in the early seventies.

Anyway, I digress.

The last thing the networks want is for SOPA to be publicised too much right now, for obvious reasons - and hopefully, deep down, they realise that ultimately, it's a bad idea.

What needs to happen is new business models - cheaper media with a guarantee.

Why pirate something when you can get the real thing for a realistic price?

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Headmaster

It's simple math..

150,000,000 downloads at $ 0.25 + 10,000 illegal downloads @ $0 = $37,500,000

7,500,000 downloads at $ 5.00 + 142,500,000 illegal downloads @ $0 = $37,500,000

The end result is the same, the only difference is the amount of "criminals" that were created.

The problem is they see that simple math and say, "yeah, but if we sell those 150 million d/l at $5 we would make a lot more money." the reality is they won't and can't so all they are doing is forcing people into illegal distribution methods to appease their media wants. The whole "stealing is wrong" attitude is childish at best, we are not talking about finite objects being moved around, we are talking about ideas, and ideas will always spread and get copied. The most they can hope for is to find a price that people will pay for something that they could get for free if they just used a Tivo. For the "people should be paid" crowd, a TV show's production costs are paid for by the network and the commercials sold on that network when it airs. The value of that media after it airs is icing on the cake, they can set any value they wish, but people will only ever pay what they think is fair.

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Anonymous Coward

The Media Will Report on This If...

Twitter, Facebook and Google go ahead with their planned black-out.

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Trollface

Wikipedia's down? How do we fact-check?

Well, with Twitter gone, where would the mainstream media regurgitate most of its stories from?

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Trollface

The MSM is far too busy...

...drumming up support for the war on Iran at the behest of the Israeli extremely-far right and assorted X-tian end-timers in the US.

There is also the important story about how the economy is going to recover ANY MOMENT NOW. We have to know what Michelle Obama is doing. Oh yeah, the presidential election freakshow is there too. Then we have the total defeat, sorry I mean VICTORY, in Iraq and the continuing SUCCESS in Afghanistan.

Have pity on them.

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Prosecute..

implies courts and judicial over-site etc etc, not just shutting down a website on an accusation alone.

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Media Matters

You can't assume that the "monitoring group" Media Matters is unbiased or doesn't have its own agenda for reporting this topic in this manner.

Although, I agree that the MSM is not properly covering this issue. Media Matters should be more properly described as a "left leaning political media monitoring group".

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Sure, MMfA has an agenda...

..but this is clearly a case of reporting the facts -- the progressive media have been as silent on SOPA as have the right wing news and talk shows. I thought that the MMfA report was remarkably restrained in avoiding any partisan commentary.

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Anonymous Coward

@redhunter

Pravda didn't properly cover many issues either. That too was an objective fact not a matter of political opinion. At least that was in another country with a different system. This is supposed to be a democracy with a free press. (Although that's been on its way out since the end of the Cold War!)

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Unhappy

Monocultures of *all* kinds are susceptible.

Plants, crop fungus.

Operating systems, viruses.

Large centrally owned media conglomerates, group think.

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Self-censorship or edicts from corporate masters?

No, it's edicts from corporate masters and self-censorship ...

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Left leaning

I doubt their "left leaning" bias allows them to alter the Lexis Nexis database. Besides, I thought the mainstream media was already supposed to have a "liberal bias" anyway.

Strange as it may sound, not everything people do is motivated by some left/right political battle.

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Silver badge

How much longer will this bunch of cunts be allowed to keep fucking things up for (almost) everyone?

Copyright - as per the original 15 years; that gives the originators a chance to make money out of it; but also allows the rest of society to benefit, 15 years later. That's not *that* far behind the curve; and it allows creative people to explore unexplored ramifications of the original idea.

What are we up to now? 70 years past the creator's death? Fuck you Disney (and other co-signatories). Fuck you with something pneumatic and with a chilli-soaked cactus on the end.

For a short term profit; you're fucking up everything for everyone.

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I'd like to chip in wrt Disney. Now, the whole thing doesn't interest me enough to look the whole thing up but I was intrigued with your Disney comment. Especially since I dislike the crap that company does as well. I've grown a big dislike to what they pull off with copyrights considering how most of their work was build upon publically available material. They didn't innovate shit. All the stories were already available, all they did was put it into a cartoon. In most cases state of the art animation, I'll grant them that.

But isn't it a bit hypocrite if you made big bucks with using other peoples material, only to end up making the live of everyone who tries to use /your/ material as miserable as possible ?

Believe me; if you actually /read/ Junglebook (the original by Kipling) you'll even realize what a lousy job Disney did when it comes to the storyline.

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Stop

Actually, Disney has innovated quite a lot, when the old man was in charge he SET the state of the art for animation, funding the construction of a 7-layer multiplane camera in 1937 (which by far exceeded the capabilities of the first (3-layer) one, created 4 years prior), and being the first in the animation industry to attempt a full length animated feature, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937). Before this was fillmed, no one thought a full-length animated feature would be commercially viable.

Disney would continue using this process through "The Little Mermaid" (1989), at which point CAPS finally replaced it.

Disney was VARY innovative, just not with his stories.

Oh, and the modern incarnation of the company that he started, utter bastards (although they do good work bringing studio Ghibli stuff to english-speaking audiences).

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Stop

He wasn't too keen on Jews, though, IIRC.

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Big Brother

@ Oninoshiko

Which is why he/she said "In most cases state of the art animation, I'll grant them that", which you completely agreed with when you stated "Disney was VARY innovative, just not with his stories."

You made a long-winded argument that had nothing to do with what he/she said, and finally agreed with him/her!.

If Disney was at all innovative with story styles and structure and was actually culturally relevant I'd be enjoying the expose "Bugs Bunny is plainly a Communist because he has no religion" and the exciting follow-up "Mickey Mouse testifies to the House Committee on Un-American Activities and names names". Yeah, that greedy Winnie the Pooh better get himself a good lawyer, 'coz patriotic Mickey is gonna inform on his Jew ass!

http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst203/documents/disney.html

Big Brother icon, because you just know I'd spill my guts to tell hysterical witch-hunts the people I thought might just possibly be, maybe were, perhaps witches. I'm sure the hysterical witch-hunters would act responsibly with my suspicions which were based on a feeling in my gut from completely reliable circumstantial evidence.

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Pint

Aaaaaaah, good old freedom of speech

Terrific concept in theory - don't get me wrong - but about as useful as tits on a nun when the all the important avenues of communication are privately owned.

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Paris Hilton

There is nothing wrong with news outlets being privately owned in theory or in practice, the problem is where the ownership of news is CONCENTRATED in the hands of a few wealthy corporations or individuals.

Cross-media rules really only prevent a private body owning media outlets of multiple types in a single market, but usually don't stop such a body owning all the newspapers, all radio stations or all the TV stations in a market.

Paris: selling her media body since 2000.

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