Friday, 10 February 2012

Acta 2: the sobering truth(s)

ACTA has everybody's attention these days. The Blogsphere has analyzed it and condemned it, Europe's been protesting it. And I don't argue that the secretive process behind trying to get this agreement passed is as much to blame as the ACTA language itself, and maybe more-so (even if I disagree with many other points the author makes in his WSJ commentary). Of course the MSM is still maintaining relative silence about it, and the fake news leaves it to the last paragraph of a h4xor story without delving into the bill itself, but that is anticipated.

SOPA and PIPA might attempt to make the rounds again under a different name, but given the situation are any of these bills even needed? did have valid uses that did not infringe on copyright law, even if it wasn't a perfect sandbox where nothing shady happened. But despite no new laws having passed, and being able to demonstrate a perfectly legal way to operate, that hasn't stopped it from being brought offline... And the raid and shutdown happened across international borders in New Zealand where the site's owner Kim Dotcom awaits an extradition hearing to determine if he will be sent to Guantanamo (or the U.S.A., whatever the kidz are calling it these days) for his public execution.

Where are SOPA and PIPA during all of this? They are shelved at the moment, relegated to the land of misfit bills to weep over how they might have grown up to become a law some day. ACTA hasn't been signed by New Zealand thus could not be given credit for this international surrender to the U.S. entertainment mafia. Yet, it all appears to already be active somehow... Isn't 'shutting down international web sites' and 'strong arming foreign nations to keep the U.S. prison system's operations budget growing' what these new laws were all about in the first place?

Well, if these laws and international treaties are really needed to 'shutdown international websites' and 'prosecute foreigners for breach of U.S. copyright law within the U.S. court system' then can somebody tell me what the hell just happened? Did I blink and miss it? The last time I verified, the U.S. entertainment mafia was not happy because we caught on to their plans before they could complete them, but was there some 2nd set of treaties and bills that were rubber-stamped while we were distracted with the 'cutesy named' SOPA/PIPA/ACTA? Was all this posturing and whining just a script to keep us from watching what the other hand was doing?

If there was no slight of hand magical end-run around international law, then is this not proof positive that SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/OPEN/whatever else they shall pick as a 'cutesie name' IS NOT NEEDED?!! Stop wasting time money and effort clogging up the legislature of the international community with unnecessary laws when you are demonstrating that present laws already appear effective. If the entertainment industry could, for a second, refocus it's efforts on building a new business model that fits in the modern world it would find that it could not only make money, but save tons in lawyers fees at the same time.
Music was killed in the 80's when we had cassettes, remember?
"Back in my day, there was a thing called music. It was like, um, well, 
I am not sure I could describe it in a way you'd understand. 
I guess you just had to be there."

It's the same rhetoric over and over: entertainment claims that we (potential customers) are stealing and will completely kill the industry if we don't stop stealing... Imagine if Walmart* attempted to employ enough 'undercover' fake shoppers to imply that everyone shopping in Walmart* is a potential thief (or child molester, whatever the kidz are calling it these days)... Walmart*s prices would rise faster than the price of gas before a long weekend... (Actually, given my contempt for Walmart*, I would not have a problem if they choose to steal this business model from me; I promise I won't sue). So the economics that I see from the Media-complex is that I pay more than I probably should for CDs, DVDs, movie tickets, video rentals, etc, so that you can afford to slander me and keep lawyers on retainer in case I decide to misbehave. And it's all for a lack of imagination from an industry that presumes itself to be some kind of 'creative genius' for lording over and monopolizing 'art and creativity'...

Does it not sound retarded if you say it out loud? Say it, I dare you. Say: "I pay more for your product so you can hire a goon to bitch-slap me whenever you feel like it, while also making me jump through hoops just to own a COPY of your product.". Yes, a COPY... Why? because I did not buy the idea, I did not buy the 'copyright', I did not buy the original film or reel, I bought a COPY that you made of the original film or reel. The only true difference between your copy, that the one I could have downloaded for free was permission, and maybe some printed artwork.

The digital age of entertainment is killing the record store and blockbuster video, so it's true that there will be casualties within the industry. Of course, the music retailers are already adapting to that reality since they now contain more 'merchandising' and 'accessories' than ever before. Blockbuster, not so much. (it was my understanding that they had grown too powerful anyway and were censoring and editing films before they made it to theaters so that 8-year-olds could never accidentally see a bare naked tit... Gratuitous violence, however, is acceptable. Maybe these long-standing rumours are false, but Jello Biafra seemed fairly convinced of it in the 80's & 90's. Sayonara, Blockbuster. Now we've only got the family values of Walmart* to contend with...).

Your fancy CD & DVD inventions, where we may 'skip to the good part/song/scene' and not have to 'rewind' has helped us into our 'we want it now' state of being and you have the nerve to tell us that we have to drive somewhere to get it? That is not NOW, that is 15 minutes from NOW. How was NOW so hard to understand? Because really that is what this is about in the end, although price fixing or gouging does not really help your cause, nor garner much sympathy. Oh, and lets not forget: trying to stealth international laws outside of normal 'due process' does not paint you in any better light.

iTunes has given us the means to legally buy one (1) song at a time, and do you know what? I would say that music has to be more than it used to be because of it (or it will eventually). Now that I can choose not to buy the six shitty songs for the two good songs on an album, the artist will take a hit in the wallet for trying to 'factory' out a pile of shit with a sugary topping. So the artist drops in sales for taking shortcuts, then gives the next album much more careful consideration and a concentrated effort to not be garbage: "tada" an album with two shitty songs out of ten is released. It works from a financial perspective, at least, now we just need to cut past the hype behind factory cloned pop artists that are jammed into our ears by commercial radio until we believe it sounds any different than the last bubblegum sensation... <face-plant>

I have already determined that if I do decide to get back into writing music, that it will be produced at home in my spare time and released under some type of 'copyright' wherein I do not charge for the music, but accept donations to encourage me to spend more time producing and less time being a desk-jockey for some 'you are just a number to us' corporation. If it was free, it can't be pirated. I would still retain the rights on performance and re-recording so that some established artist can't just rip me off (because I am almost certain it would happen), without crediting me. Granted, I am sorely aware of how much 'studio recording' costs, so I am not suggesting that the industry use this as a business model. But I am sure there are artists out there that could, and in the process, skip the middle-man. I say feel free, I have not patented this idea, and I don't plan to... I might never even get around to using this idea myself. I just ask that if you use this idea, please send some traffic my way as a thank you.
He who refuses to learn deserves extinction.
-- Rabbi Hillel


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