In the first ‘all-in’ battle between Hollywood and New Technology, New Technology won hands down. In past days, Hollywood got a rude awakening. This is what happens when the new bigwigs in town get upset. Internet giants all rallied against SOPA, and with a clear message to the public "they are breaking the internet", they buried the anti-piracy bill within 24 Wikipedia-free hours. ”In excess of 160 Million people saw the banner on Wikipedia.” Thus spoke Wikipedia.
There is no doubt that SOPA was a clumsy bill. Allowing an IP owner to provide a “good faith belief” letter and force an internet platform to shut down a possibly infringing site without any court sign off is clearly not going to work. This is not how the Hive-Minded Internet is built. It is comically unenforceable.
However, world-wide copy right infringements need to be harnessed and eventually stopped. Piracy is affecting everyone.
Ticket sales of big budget Hollywood films may be up, but big budget films are not the whole industry. The expansion of piracy and illegal downloads which is causing a decline in general revenues, is hurting the middle class of Hollywood, much like the middle class of America. We are talking about writers, cinematographers, producers, actors, grips, sound, editors, transportation, catering, and wardrobe. We are also talking about everyone those people will or will not hire for lack of cash. Doctors, shops, and small businesses etc.
But most importantly, think of the baby the Internet Giants are throwing out with the bathwater.
When people around the world watch American movies and TV shows, they may not always get quality content, but they do see something which may not be available to them yet. They see democracy. They see freedom of speech, human rights, women’s and LGBT rights and yes, they are still enthralled by the American Dream. I would argue that a good story is a much more powerful weapon than a soldier on the ground.
By hurting Hollywood’s ability to properly monetize, the Internet Giants are affecting the power of America’s message and our ability to continue to create a reality for the world around us. Perception is reality, words create reality and the story of America as a certain democratic narrative for the world is still being told by Hollywood.
Not that our message in Hollywood is always pitch perfect, but we can work on that.
We know Google understands the importance of IP. They are so protective of their source code that they won’t give it to their Chinese office. If Google believes in ‘free information’, I want their source code too.
More so, I think the Internet Giants can stop crying wolf regarding Hollywood money. True, a lot of people here make a very good living, but the recent Forbes Billionaire List has more Internet people way high up on it than Hollywood people.
On that list in we can find Bill Gates at number 2, Larry Allison of Oracle at 5, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google at 24, Jeff Bezos of Amazon at 30, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook 52, and Paul Allen of Microsoft at 57, just to name a few. From the entertainment community we first find Rupert Murdoch at 122. He is followed by David Geffen at 200, Arnon Milchan at 268, Sumner Redstone at 288, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg 347 and 376 and Oprah Winfrey at 420. Not a miserable bunch, but way behind the New Technology money.
So…internet fat cats, please stop saying that ‘Hollywood fat cats are breaking the Internet’. Come to the table and negotiate a deal which works for everyone. You guys are now leading the world’s next transformation. You stand at the doorway. You won. And as winners you now have a responsibility.
“One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards. ”
— Oscar Wilde
You should come to the table not just for Hollywood’s middle class and the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on it, but for the stories the US is telling the world. Draining the industry of funds will shrink it so much that it will eventually allow other countries to jump in and possibly start telling the world a much less diverse, democratic and inspiring story. Just imagine that.