Hollywood Lawyers Illiterate?

May 22, 2005

Ah. Suddenly it all becomes clear — apparently entertainment industry lawyers just can’t read.

Reuters has picked up a Billboard article with a quote from a “founding member of the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers” which essentially paints Creative Commons as a “serious threat to the entertainment industry.” It then goes off on some extremely bizarre tangents which manage to completly miss the point of Creative Commons.

Fortunately, Lawrence Lessig has gently and calmly delivered them a detailed fisking in the way only he can.

The hyperbole from Mr. Sukin — a lawyer — was funny. But what struck me in the article was the assertion by Butler that “Creative Commons urges creators to give up their copyright protection” in exchange for $1. I couldn’t begin to understand what she was talking about. Obviously, our licenses enable artists to choose to waive certain rights — while retaining others. (Remember: “Some Rights Reserved”). But they are licenses of a copyright; they couldn’t function if you had “give[n] up” copyright protection. The vast majority of creators adopting Creative Commons licenses keep commercial rights, while giving away noncommercial rights (2/3ds). It’s hard to see how waiving noncommercial rights would do anything to “U.S. copyright income.”

As usual, Lessig’s entire post is a great read – be sure to check it out.

Shooting The Messenger – MPAA, BitTorrent and Star Wars

May 22, 2005

To no one’s great surprise, a copy of the new Star Wars episode managed to make it onto the P2P networks a few hours before the movie was officially released in theaters.

Also no surprise, the MPAA appears to have decided to blame this on BitTorrent technology (the copy first showed up as a BitTorrent tracker), rather than on individual wrong-doers for leaking or spreading the copy.

“There is no better example of how theft dims the magic of the movies for everyone than this report today regarding BitTorrent providing users with illegal copies of Revenge of the Sith. The unfortunate fact is this type of theft happens on a regular basis on peer to peer networks all over the world,” MPAA President and CEO Dan Glickman said in a press release.

Which makes you wonder if the MPAA thinks that BitTorrent is a nefarious evil genius working in an underground laboratory somewhere rather than just one of a bazillion protocals used to move stuff from point A to point B around the ‘net.

This is rather like blaming the US Postal Service for people mailing various illicit or dangerous white powders.

It appears that the distribution didn’t inordinately cut into the weekend box-office of the new film.