You are hereTech Dirt: CoC's 'Victims Of Internet Piracy' Look More Like 'Victims Of Propagandist Exploitation'

Tech Dirt: CoC's 'Victims Of Internet Piracy' Look More Like 'Victims Of Propagandist Exploitation'

-by Mike Masnick, August 10, 2011-

from the your-violins-are-out-of-tune dept

It appears that the US Chamber of Commerce is ramping up its laughably inept propaganda attempts in support of PROTECT IP. First it had that awful video that conflated harmful counterfeit drugs with copyright infringement (and discussed an event in Canada, not the US), and now it's put together another silly video supposedly showing content creators "harmed" by infringement:

It's so chock full of blatantly wrong, clueless or misleading statements that the only people this would be convincing for are the purely ignorant -- but I guess that's the Chamber's main target audience. Let's take a look at some of the statements and people in the video, who it appears the Chamber of Commerce didn't review too carefully:

"The idea that I have to accept as a filmmaker that a certain percentage of the people who see my stuff are never going to pay me for it... in film school, I never thought I'd have to live with that. What other business would it be okay to lose 50% of your product and not receive income for it?"

The thing is, most folks who go to film school end up with almost no one ever paying to see a film that they make. If you're actually getting people who want to see your films, then you're doing something right -- and then the challenge is for you to put in place a business model that works. And it does work. We've seen plenty of filmmakers who have embraced having most people see their works for free and they still make good money by connecting with fans and giving real reasons to buy beyond that. And, no, you haven't "lost" 50% of your product. Your product is still there. What you failed to do is to build a good business model.

And even if we really were talking about 50% of your "product" not selling, plenty of businesses end up in that position... and their job, as business people, is to figure out ways to make money. Just because you invest in something and make a product, it doesn't mean people have to buy. No one turns 100% of their "effort" into revenue. Complaining about people not buying is not a legal issue, it's a business model one.

It seems kind of ironic that the Chamber of Commerce of all operations seems to not want to help this filmmaker create a business model, but instead wants to exploit his situation to pass a bad law that won't help him at all.

Oh, and we should mention that the filmmaker in question appears to be Dano Johnson, and he's most well known for the movie Flatland. Flatland, you say? Isn't that the old book? Why, yes, yes it is. And in this little interview clip with Dano Johnson and his producer partner Seth Caplan, they brag about the fact that the book is in the public domain so they didn't have to pay for it.

Yes, this is perfectly legal, but it highlights the cognitive dissonance and internal inconsistencies in Johnson's argument. He talks up the moral arguments for why creators "should" get revenue any time their work is used, but clearly recognizes the benefits of content that can be used without licensing, and which can be built upon without payment. Yet, if there's a "moral" argument for paying creators, then shouldn't he have also paid for this work?

Dano then goes away for a bit and we get an author:

"Used to be where they would give you a two, three, four book contract. That's not the case any more. Now we have to do well with the first book or there won't be a second book."

First of all, while there are some multi-book contracts, they were never quite as popular as some people think, and getting away from them has happened mainly because they were bad deals for everyone (including the author in many cases), which has nothing whatsoever to do with "piracy." This woman, "Tracy Deebs" seems to just assume that "piracy" is why such contracts have gone away. She offers no evidence.

"Internet piracy affects this greatly because the numbers get skewed. People are downloading stuff for free."

Or they could go to the library and get the book for free. Ban libraries, because Tracy Deebs says they're killing her ability to make money!

Perhaps Ms. Deebs should check in on the writings of JA Konrath who found no evidence that file sharing hurts sales. He's also found that he's much better off without one of those "two, three or four book contracts," because he makes a lot more money self-publishing ebooks at much cheaper prices. And this is especially true in the "young adult" space, which is what Deebs writes for these days, where Amanda Hockling figured out how to self-publish and sell over 100,000 books a month.

Oops. Just like with Dano Johnson, it looks like the problem here is the failure to put in place a good business model, rather than anything having to do with file sharing. Perhaps she should be looking to the Chamber of Commerce for help with that, rather than letting them get her to support a law with massive unintended consequences that won't help her one bit.



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