January 18, 2012

It's All in the Execution: Why to Oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act

As filmmakers, it's in our best interest to stop online piracy. Our livelihood depends on it. So you would think the Stop Online Piracy Act would be in our best interest. But there's a reason so many sites are using today as a "SOPA Strike" -- it's all in the execution. And the execution of SOPA and associated bills like the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, have internet experts worried about the future of the internet as an open platform. Here's Kirby Ferguson with an overview video of what's at stake:

Indeed, the Obama administration understands the stakes:

While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet. Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.

You've probably already noticed sites like Google and Wikipedia protesting SOPA as part of SOPA resistance day. If you agree that these bills pose a serious threat to the internet as we know it, please take a moment to sign the petition below.

Link: Stop American Censorship

[via Filmmaker Magazine]

Your Comment


Educating the public is the best way to get this done. I believe that if enough people take action we can stop this from passing.

January 18, 2012 at 9:59AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Preach it, bro!

January 18, 2012 at 10:10AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Rev. Benjamin

January 18, 2012 at 10:29AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

guto novo

I think the whole discussion around piracy is not correct. Why is that as filmmakers it’s in our best interest to stop online piracy?

Piracy will ever be there. IF someone is downloading something for personal use is one thing, if somebody is making profit off of it is another.

As filmmakers we should be interested in making good films that people are willing to pay a ticket to see in a theatre. As musicians we should make our best for people to go watch our show. Selling art in digital formats is not the art itself. That is trying to sqeeze the most out of it. We want everything, we want everybody to pay us for just watching or listening to what we do and it's not like that. That is a very modern assumption.

Let's not fool ourselves, the only ones making money by oposing piracy are the huge corporations. And what Steve Jobs did by creating iTunes is not something to praise, Apple is the only one making real money out of it and what it did was to show the way to monetize and control the internet: make people pay in a cool way.

January 18, 2012 at 2:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


About iTunes, I wholeheartedly disagree. Before iTunes, my band and I had no chance of getting signed. If by some sheer luck we did get seen by some A&R guy and ended up signing with a label, we would have never seen any realistic money out of that deal unless we became really, really famous. Labels treat their lesser acts like slaves. They get them to sign away everything and bear pretty much EVERY SINGLE PENNY of all the expenses related to recording, production and promotion of the act. Until all of the investment is returned, artists get NO MONEY whatsoever; only after it is recovered, artist begins getting some revenue share, and even then, label continues to take lions share.

On the other hand, iTunes allowed my band to release a CD with practically no up-front expenses, other than recording the album itself. From every song sold at $99, we get almost 80 cents (label would give us no more than 20 cents, and that is only after they recover all promotional and production cost). The exposure is global, and with some luck and social media skill, we were able to rake in over $20k in our first year since release.

Apple operates iTunes at a break-even level. The few cents they take from the 99-cent song covers operating expenses. The main purpose of iTunes store is to sell Apple's hardware by providing this tight eco-system. In fact, out of those 99 cents, Apple's share is actuall smaller than what CD Baby takes to publish our music on iTunes (bands cant do it directly; they must go through a label).

Apple is selling music that has no copy restrictions. Artists are selling more through iTunes than they ever sold in physical media. When content is cheap and easy to get, piracy as a problem takes care of itself.

January 19, 2012 at 1:12PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


my brother is using bandcamp for his music (i´ll not advertise in here ´cause would be unethical) and he´s having good return. You don´t need a label to publish via bandcamp. :)

January 19, 2012 at 3:47PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

guto novo

I like what the Pirates' Bay just did. They are allowing music artist to get free promotion as long as they share their music. Thats HUGE. Would you give your film away for free download if it got you 1.8 billion views a months exposure as an independent artist, musician or filmmaker? because thats how popular The Pirates Bay is. I would easily take 1.8 billion views over charging for the film or the song. It allows for a crazy back end sales on future items or positioning power alone.

Piracy is one of the best things to happen to independent individuals.

The entire Visual Effects industry would likely struggle without piracy. The entire landscape would be different. And most visual effects companies know it. Someone who was a construction worker 6 months ago and now has a killer Maya animation reel with no formal training....he didn't go out and spend $5,000 to try it out. Piracy creates exposure, and has changed lives.

The other thing is piracy is based on a fundamental human emotion...SHARING, thats why it can't be stopped. Its users sharing things with each other. Copyright isn't natural, but sharing is. It feels good to share things. I remember I uploaded some underground hiphop albums I had to music download forum because I felt guilty leeching, I wanted to give back for all the music albums people were sharing. After I uploaded the albums, 5 hours later I get a passionate private message from some guy in Russian who was looking for one of the albums I uploaded because he was visiting the US liked the group, and was looking for that album for a year and a half but he couldn't get in Russia or anywhere else online. He just happened to log on that day and BAM!. it just so happens I feel like sharing what I have and make his day. Imagine how I felt...that encourages the behavior.

So imagine how many people happen to log on or visit a torrent site one day, see Adobe Photoshop or the suite. Give it a try, download some tutorials and end up changing their entire life. Either staring a business or getting a job in the field all because some random person was being kind.

And for pro software, people eventually have the desire to become legit so the goal is to be able to buy the software eventually anyway. And most wouldn't even know about it, they were introduced to the name via a sharing site.

Thats my experience. When I was working in the music industry I use to leak albums on purpose and it did huge favors for Miyavi. This guy is doing world tours because half his fanbase is overseas now. 16 year old kids weren't buying $30 imported CD's...I wonder how they found this guy....

January 18, 2012 at 3:56PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I agree on everything you said. I'm glad you are more elocuent than I am.

January 18, 2012 at 7:03PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


100% agree. Close comments cause this guy summed it up. Throw an award at him. I'm riding the bus and after reading I was compelled to respond... Even if it means typing on a shitty, iPhone keyboard.

January 19, 2012 at 12:11PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I wholeheartedly agree that there is no stopping piracy and this is a very bad bill for the same reason all other attempts at packet sniffing and throttling the internet are but let's be very realistic here, this isn't just a case of the scrappy little guy getting a win over the big corporation, most of the top suits will just be a suit at a different company if piracy destroys the ability for a film to turn a profit (which I am not saying is likely anytime soon) but for supposedly audience, most online comments frame the issue of piracy solely in David v Goliath terms when it's just not so. A good amount of global counterfeiting is just black market business and is not motivated by any high ideals. It is naive to believe that the foreign sites hosting pirated material would be as eager if their local economies were taking a hit. The second and other belabored point I will make is that if you want to share your movie or work for free, that's why there's Creative Commons and extremely mainstream artists in music like Drake and Cory Doctorow in literature have been very successful in making content that was always meant to be free, If you are fine with that, then great, put your stuff out for free and (hopefully) enrich the world with your art. But if you do set a price for a product you have every right to receive some form of compensation, because in almost all cases you paid people to work for you with real money so if you don't have it for the next one, it helps to be able to make enough to keep doing this. And to everyone saying piracy is only a problem for corporations and people making marginal films, ask Michael Bay how much money he made off the Transformers movies then let's see some real numbers for what genuine indie movies are making? Artists need to be more confident that their work has value, you don't see Google releasing their search engine algorithm to be open source even if it would facilitate learning and world knowledge to a great degree because they are a business and they didn't become richer than god by crippling their business model. Or giving away ad space for free. Just sayin

January 19, 2012 at 5:54PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Wot's the problem with the fucking US Govt...why don't they get their own fiscal mismanagement in order instead of trying to control the rest of the world.

Next they'll be hiring "internet consultants" from North Korea and China to help "improve" the internet experience for us all...

January 19, 2012 at 3:27PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Fedup with Feds

I think the Industry should change... If we think, people can download illegal mp3 for more than TEN years, most of the teenagers doesn't know how is the world without that and for me I'm sure this will never end.

What should be done it's another way of getting profits, I don't know the answer, but I'm sure its not gonna stop. People find other ways...

I've been producing videos for Youtube and knowing that if I reach a good audience I will get well paid. So for me, this is the future. People want to see stuff and there is ways of being paid out of this old system. Stuff need to chance and be re-thinked.

(I hope I made myself clear, as english it's not my mother tongue)

January 19, 2012 at 3:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Sharing is good, and when people aren't being leeched dry by insatiable corporations it has been shown repeatedly (through donation-based albums or purchase sites) that people will happily pay for content that they appreciate, can buy easily, and can afford.

Piracy is 99% a corporate problem, and SOPA & PIPA are ONLY about corporations clinging to the past where they had unchallenged control of the BOTTLENECKS of distribution. Those days are GONE! Nobody wants them back but the corporations!

THE ONLY REASON SOPA & PIPA EXIST IS BECAUSE WE HAVE ALLOWED CORPORATIONS TO BUY THEIR WAY INTO POLITICS THROUGH THE SHAM LEGISLATION "CITIZENS UNITED"! This issue is important, but how many of you have contacted your congressmen about Citizens United? These types of issues aren't going to go away until THAT goes away!

January 19, 2012 at 3:53PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


This is amazing. Americans are finally understanding that piracy is good. The days of buying coutnerfit dvds off the street are long gone. Now it's free. Now, it's sharing. We cannot oppose evolution any longer. We simply have to adapt. It will be tricky, it will be ahrd as hell, but those who don't adapt will fade away. As a filmmaker myself, it's hard to make money off my work, and believe me, I work hard. But knowing that I can reach such a broad audience so easily and cost free, is truly remarkable. There will be solutions. There already are some attempts, like Flattr. The funy thing is, Koo seems to be the only one here thinking that it's in our best interest that piracy should be stopped. Why is that, Koo? :)

January 19, 2012 at 5:11PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Cosmin Gurau

Piracy will never be "stopped." The problem is right now it's easier to pirate than it is to go legit. Lot more to it though...

January 19, 2012 at 5:55PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Ryan Koo

The "legit" part is what's wrong, there's no such thing as "legit". That is the way the corporations built the system.

January 19, 2012 at 6:35PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


How many people really watch all the movies they have downloaded? Or even gone through all the movies in their netflix queue? I'm not saying pirating is the same as theft, but I'm tired of people getting on their high horse and saying downloading a movie makes you a revolutionary. And most people on the internet aren't as world savvy as they believe themselves to be. I live in a lower income part of my city and people still buy bootleg dvds and cds, not as much but the tech savvy population isn't the populace at large, SOPA once again is a bad bill but piracy of content is NOT going to stick it to the man, just all the people working in the industry you have never heard of when the man moves to making money in another industry.

January 19, 2012 at 6:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Soon the fileservers will all be based in Eastern Europe (and don't give a fuck about the FBI)... and all USA based IP's will be blocked (Uploadedto has just done this).

Enjoy while you can...

Land of the Free...my arse!

January 23, 2012 at 12:12PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

You voted '+1'.
Fedup with Feds

Without piracy I would never had learned all the things I know now, all the things that have formed my background as a filmmaker, graphic design and musician. I would never had known the legends of the music and the masters of cinema.
Piracy is bad just for economic interests of the majors, not low budget filmmakers. Nevertheless the majors are rich and still spend a great deal of money for epical projects (and most of them are crap).
So what....

January 20, 2012 at 2:19AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


"Piracy is bad just for economic interests of the majors, not low budget filmmakers. Nevertheless the majors are rich and still spend a great deal of money for epical projects (and most of them are crap).
So what…."

good point... also we are @ koo website, where he SHARES stuff and where the users SHARED energy as money so he can make an indie great movie! ;)

not wanting disrespect those that like the majors epical "event" and "immersive" movies, but the kind of cinema i love and that made me love cinema and that transforms cinema in high art (not just fast entertainment) is the cinema from people like David Lynch, Truffaut, Godard, Robert Bresson, the low-budget movies from orson welles, Luis bunnuel, andrei tarkoviski, ingmar bergman, visconti, antonioni (blowup is a masterpiece of nonuse of sound!) etc...

such "author" cinema is witty, intelligent, have personal view, REAL personal view about the world, make us think and feel, and without the gigantic budget from majors big epical stuff. this kind of movie doesn´t depend of U$50mi or U$100mi to be made.

films like this:
or this:
(abbas kiarostami is genial!)

or even movies like Black Swan or Drive cost less than U$20mi to be made and are pure art.

in the end, this text from EOSHD is spot on:

Capitalism is important for filmmaking, but it can be diametrically opposed to creativity as well as making it possible.

A capitalist rarely invests in the unknown or takes risk without any potential for return
A capitalist rarely takes a long term view and instead goes for short term gain
A capitalist mindset works on figures, logic, construction of systems and endless refinement – quite a different set of traits to which artists possess
A capitalist is unemotional and seeks to hide his feelings. An artist does the opposite
A capitalist seeks constant growth in terms of market share, capital and property whilst an artist seeks constant growth inwardly in personal ways
A capitalist venture is not a charity (in the UK the state franchised National Lottery is a charity which funds grass roots filmmaking to the tune of millions)

when the north american majors were run by people that loved cinema, they would take risks and use the popular success to finance the risk movies... now that corpse-o-rations owns the business it´s just plain harsh capitalism all the way, as i see things. :)

January 20, 2012 at 4:03AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

guto novo

As a discordian pope, I’ve learned piracy is nor good or bad. neti-neti. neither-neither. fuzzy logic all the way! :D It´s just is. I understand as a false accusation this take that piracy fucks the selling of goods.

Those without enough money and wanting some digital tool or good, they will go forward with piracy.

Those with money, they will prefer the easiness of buying instead of “stealing” the goods.

One example is Houdini, the ultimate 3D app. Houdini cost lots of money so if you want it and have no money you go buccaneer over it, right?
Now SideFX, the makers of Houdini, is selling a U$100 version of Houdini for no commercial use that renders only in 1080p, no higher resolution than that, for people doing personal projects or students, etc… the result is it´s hard to find lots of versions of Houdini in torrents sites as was before sideFx started selling the U$100 version.

I myself have personal projects in non-commutative math, when I had no extra money, I download lots of math books from avaxhome. Now that I have some extra money, I buy the books in printed form, ´cause I love printed books.

So this PIPA and SOPA thing is USofA is a political act. It´s happening is other countries too. Last year here in Brazil they tried to pass a law to control the internet and to give government acess to personal accounts… the “intellectual property” was not the excuse, but the fight against things as pedophiles and such… in Netherlands they are talking about size the internet too.

It´s a political move using different excuses in diferent parts of the world.

The best version of the world for corporations and governments is a world where EVERYTHING is centralized and under surveillance. In USofA the excuse is intellectual property, in Brazil it was the last time pedophiles and such and to some extent also copyright stuff too…

So for me it´s not about being against or in favor of piracy, it´s about being in favor of freedom and a decentralized internet. :)

And, again, :), pardon my bad English!

January 20, 2012 at 3:45AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

guto novo

So...the political cretins have back-peddled on their bribe sponsored SOPA...but their stooges have shut down Megaupload. Now Filesonic panics and shuts down filesharing.

The Foreign servers are now taking up the extra business...and starting to shut out US web users (Uploadedto)

Well done USA! ..."Mein Fuehrer...I can vulk!..."

January 23, 2012 at 12:05PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Fedup with Feds


February 4, 2012 at 5:13PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Time for some Action
check www.facebook.com/OperationBlackMarch for Protest

February 13, 2012 at 7:09AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


What's up, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this post. It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

January 22, 2013 at 3:12AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM