Rather than fretting over the pirating of say, How Do You Know? the execs at Columbia should worry about actual pirates who paid to see the film sailing into L.A. Harbor and seeking vengeance.
One of the more gratifying developments of recent days has been the turn-tail retreat of members of congress from the legislative stink bombs SOPA and PIPA, in short, laws designed to coerce web sites into policing entertainment companies’ intellectual property rights for them at great cost and potential risk to web sites along the way. You didn’t have to be a genius, or even Ben Quayle to recognize the potential chilling effects on online dissemination of information weighed against studios getting the last marginal available nickel for Knocked Up wasn’t a tough call.
The fact that studios fight like fiery serpents against SAG and the WGA over every last scrap of residual or back end remuneration tells you their concern about intellectual property rights has less to do with the intellects that produce the property than the compensation their bloated executives get. Chinese hustlers and Russian mobsters are only slightly less charitable with back-end payouts than the studios are.
By and large foreign consumers for bootlegged and pirated content are not merely thrifty shoppers looking to get a deal, but instead non-existent customers for such products otherwise. Arguments to the contrary by the entertainment conglomerates are about as credible as Omar Sharif playing Genghis Kahn (yes, it happened). While cheerfully accepting the basic premise that creative and intellectual ownership rights deserve to be protected, this ungainly dumpster dive by the entertainment companies was hardly an acceptable remedy,a recipe for abuse, malfeasance and creepiness by our corporatocracy (Hello Rupert Murdoch).
According to Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood, all sorts of anonymously chickenshit bigwigs are whispering of financial mutiny against Obama and the Democrats for demonstrating the temerity to oppose them on anything, The studio execs say all the worry about de-facto censorship and the icing of an open internet are folderol, and I mean, what kind of person doesn’t take a Hollywood executive at his word?
So guys, you’re going to deny Obama financing with the result of sending the right-wing Mormon to the Oval Office? He’s sure to smile upon your lifestyle choices and your wholesome products. Obama’s liaisons to the moneybags in the entertainment industry should be along the lines, “Be my guest, motherfuckers.”
Looking at the broader picture, one can only be heartened by two refreshing developments in the last few days, both demonstrating the capacity of organized idealism and outrage to make a material difference: the successful pushback against PIPA and SOPA and the recall drive’s magnificent success up in Wisconsin. Sometimes the progressive and reality-based community doesn’t know its own strength. Not as inspiring as Scooby-Doo, but close.