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Competing Contests To Create Pro- and Anti-Piracy PSAs 220

Posted by timothy
from the say-piracy-without-irony-and-you-lose dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New York City recently announced a PSA contest, in which it asked schoolkids to create a video about how evil piracy is. Techdirt found the whole marketing campaign questionable, and via some Freedom of Information Act requests, discovered the whole thing was really a propaganda front for NBC Universal. They also looked at the fine print on this 'pro-copyright' contest, and discovered that in entering, you agreed to give up your copyright. And, you were only allowed to repeat NBC Universal's talking points. Don't try suggesting that perhaps the industry should have adapted. In response, Techdirt has launched a competing video contest, where they ask people to create videos on the impact of technology on creativity. The Techdirt contest doesn't give you specific talking points, lets you present your own opinion, lets you retain the copyright on your work ... and is paying twice as much as the NYC/NBC contest."
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Competing Contests To Create Pro- and Anti-Piracy PSAs

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  • Well done Techdirt (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @05:09PM (#37632100)

    When I see things like this, I immediately think "Well done!" to the owners/managers of the website. The normal website would have gone and written up an article on it and left it at that. There are very few sites that would have made the leap from "Waaaaa, look at those cronies!" to "Heh, I know how to fix this, give me some prize money - we're having a contest!".

    I might even have to start having a read of the site every now and again.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      Except that all this contest is likely to produce is snark and whining. If they really want to 'fix the problem', why don't they have a contest on HOW the 'industry can adapt'. Some real and workable, that does not involved stuff like 'beg' and 'work for free'. They don't have that contest because it is a hard problem, whereas making snark is simple.

      • Except that it is not a hard problem to fix. Netflix has been around for a while, and putting money into it would undoubtedly increase revenue. Unfortunately, the dinosaurs^W studio execs. charge an arm and a leg to Netflix, so they add a measly 100 or so titles (and almost no worthwhile TV) a year. I'd gladly pay triple or quadruple what I'm paying to Netflix if I could get some of the big network shows. Perhaps the industry should have a look at Icefilms [icefilms.info] to see what Netflix should be.

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          You have hit part of the problem already.

          The industry specifically is not interested in adapting at all, because it would mean less revenue. It has to be less revenue, because you no longer have to buy the whole music album for one, you cannot get nearly as much money for advertisements, and the corporate greed-need for constant growth seems to completely disregard the fact that the consumer only has so much money they are willing to spend. They seem to think we can ultimately get to the point where we wi

      • It's not our job to fix your company dude. Maybe if we thought you'd pay for the ideas instead of stealing them we would share them with you. No one works for free.
      • lead by example my good man, start doing what you suggest others should? If not, aren't you doing exactly the same thing you're criticizing in them?

    • by mgblst (80109)

      If you don't already read techdirt, you do not know what is going on with our IP loving overlords. Incredibly information site, with great comments.

  • My Script (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @05:17PM (#37632204)

    "You wouldn't want to play a movie on any unauthorized devices."

    "You wouldn't want to skip the movie previews we've carefully chosen for you.."

    "You wouldn't want to have a backup handy if your media was damaged."

    Be a good citizen, report piracy today!.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe we need to replace "Stop Snitchin'" with a "Snitch Up" campaign.

      1. Never snitch on someone at or below your socioeconomic or authority level.
      2. Always snitch on someone above your socioeconomic or authority level.

      When the rich and powerful become the preferred targets of law enforcement, the laws will change.

    • by Imagix (695350)
      Um, fix the first one to "You wouldn't want to play a move on any device.". And add "You wouldn't want to skip the ads that you must watch every time you stick in the DVD."
    • by MachDelta (704883)

      Oblig:

      You wouldn't download a car...

      Fuck you! I would if I could!

    • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @05:45PM (#37632546)
      Everyone needs to see this PSA.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALZZx1xmAzg [youtube.com]
    • You wouldn't steal a handbag.
      You wouldn't steal a car.
      You wouldn't steal a baby.
      You wouldn't shoot a policeman. And then steal his helmet.
      You wouldn't go to the toilet in his helmet. And then send it to the policeman's grieving widow. And then steal it again!
      Downloading films is stealing. If you do it, you will face the consequences.

    • Re:My Script (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Quirkz (1206400) <ross@quirkz . c om> on Thursday October 06, 2011 @06:57PM (#37633270) Homepage

      "You wouldn't want to skip the movie previews we've carefully chosen for you.."

      I REALLY hate the DVDs where the previews are basically forced on you and it doesn't let you skip them. (Also, DVDs where they've set the "menu" to be at the beginning of the previews instead of the real menu.)

      That particular issue is at least 50% because of the hardware. It seems like it would be easy enough to make a DVD player which simply ignored the "skipping isn't allowed" option. I would throw away my perfectly functional player and buy a replacement today, based on that feature alone. Do they exist? Anybody want to start a company that makes them?

      • Re:My Script (Score:4, Informative)

        by Lord_Jeremy (1612839) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @07:50PM (#37633694)
        It's not legal in many countries to make them. To "legally" make a DVD player (that doesn't violate the US DMCA or another country's similar laws) you have to get a license from the DVD Forum that include the CSS decryption key. They will not give you a license if your player does not respect parts of the standard, e.g. the "skipping isn't allowed" sections. Since CSS has been cracked it's perfectly feasible to create a non-licensed player (such as VLC) but technically those players are illegal in the US since they include software for circumventing copy-protection measures (CSS). Also they can't have the DVD logo or anything like that on them due to trademark violation. Same thing in regards to region-locked players.
  • Heh. A DJ friend has a set of turntable mats with the slogan on them:

    "Copyright infringement is your best entertainment value"

    Says it all right there,

  • script (Score:5, Funny)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @05:28PM (#37632354) Journal

    "I'm eight years old, and I used to watch The Little Mermaid every day. One day my disc wouldn't play. My dad says it's got a scratch on it so it won't play anymore. I cried and cried, so my dad downloaded the movie from some website and burned me another copy. I turned my dad in to the nice people at the MPAA and he's serving hard time now. My mom and I aren't very happy at the shelter, but we feel better now that the movie studios are getting their fair share."

    Don't pirate movies. Because the movie studios aren't rich enough."

    • Re:script (Score:5, Informative)

      by Solandri (704621) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @07:21PM (#37633438)
      Disney is actually one of the few studios who will replace damaged discs [disneystudioshelp.com] for a nominal shipping and handling fee. Probably because so many kids destroy the discs and tapes. In that respect, they are upholding the "you only bought a license" model of buying DVDs. The other studios are cheating by telling you you only bought a license, but if you try to get them to fulfill their obligations as a licensor and request a replacement for damaged media, they'll tell you to buy another one.
      • Thanks for the info on replacement disks from Disney. That's a great policy for the company. That almost makes up for the fact that they are 'responsible' for extending copyright another 20 years in the US.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        I didn't know that, and I will try it. (Seriously.)

        One possible problem is that the "nominal shipping and handling fee" is often substantially less than the list price of the product (else what's the point?) but is less of a deal when compared to the street price. Over time, as the dropping street price approaches the fee, the offer becomes moot.

        So, why not just buy another copy off the discount rack? Well, I could do that, but the main reason is because I've already bought the damned title once. You se

      • by EdIII (1114411)

        Although that may be true, Disney is locked at the knees with more force than a super massive black hole with their content.

        I have nieces and nephews and for the longest time obtaining it in the first place on DVD was near impossible.

        There is a LOT of Disney content that they still refuse to release.

      • by EdIII (1114411)

        Sorry for the double reply... but I can't believe I forgot to mention this....

        If Disney is so pro-consumer and pro-sane-copyright, why have they not put Snow White in the public domain? Cinderella?

        At some point it is just ridiculous that they are not, and we have long since reached it.

    • by mgblst (80109)

      I would love to see an ad where a bunch of people are crowded around a bomb ticking down. Someone raced in with a DVD of how to deactivate the bomb, they place it in, and due to all the piracy warnings and unskippable content, they run out of time and the bomb explodes.

  • by tenzig_112 (213387) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @05:31PM (#37632374) Homepage

    The Pro-Piracy PSA should be an exact copy of the Anti-Piracy PSA but the voice over should be read with a barely perceptible hint of sarcasm.

  • Mathematically... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by migla (1099771)

    Mathematically, we should pirate the shit out of things.

    See, a good movie or song has value - it enriches a persons life. The cost of copying these things is negligible. So, essentially for free, we can create enormous value in form of good feeling, learning, culture and stuff for billions of humans.

    Now, of course the poor starving movie execs will loose, but they're free to get a job at McD.

    All the artists and craftspersons that are actually required should of course get by. If copying was legal, art would

    • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @06:00PM (#37632718) Homepage

      Now, of course the poor starving movie execs will loose, but they're free to get a job at McD.

      All the artists and craftspersons that are actually required should of course get by.

      Hmmm, so the current bloodthirsty interpretation of copyright doesn't work, but there is a flaw in eliminating copyright altogether. If only there were some way to secure a limited right for a shorter period of time. Like, suppose copyright lasted for 7 years automatically, then could be re-upped for another 7, and suppose it did not cover copying for educational purposes or satire. That would give enough financial incentive to keep those people who are genuinely passionate about the craft in the game, without creating such an enormous cashflow as to attract all the lawyers and sociopaths (who ultimately wind up drowning out the people who are doing it because they have a genuine gift, or something important to say).

      It almost seems like some really sharp people could have figured that out right at the beginning.

      Oh yeah, they did.

    • by Americano (920576)

      Right - we should kill the goose and take all the golden eggs out at once! Enough with this waiting for a single egg every few days!

      Any system which requires a creator to produce in order to have his creation shoveled into the outstretched hands of other people to "enrich their lives" with no consideration or value given in return for the effort and skill required to perform the act of creation is monstrously unjust.

      You make a lot of hand-waving assertions, and then tell us that you're "not gonna worry you

      • by Xugumad (39311)

        > Except the time and effort required to produce a song, movie, book, picture, or any other creative work is not zero.

        For bonus points, much of the "freely" produced content is paid for indirectly by copyright material. A lot of creative people paid by a day job in copyright-based industries then create this material in their free time.

        This also ignores the huge time investment to become good at many of these areas (I've been coding for nearly two decades now, and still learn new skills on a regular basi

      • by Endo13 (1000782)

        Right - we should kill the goose and take all the golden eggs out at once! Enough with this waiting for a single egg every few days!

        That's exactly what the mega corps are doing, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make with that.

        Any system which requires a creator to produce in order to have his creation shoveled into the outstretched hands of other people to "enrich their lives" with no consideration or value given in return for the effort and skill required to perform the act of creation is monstrously unjust.

        No one's requiring those creators to produce anything.

        You make a lot of hand-waving assertions, and then tell us that you're "not gonna worry your pretty little head trying to calculate numbers, but I'm sure the math is solid." Which tells us you have devoted exactly zero time to actually thinking about what you've proposed.

        Who cares? You're doing exactly the same in this next quote:

        Yes, if we could give something to everyone for free, it would totally be right. Except the time and effort required to produce a song, movie, book, picture, or any other creative work is not zero. Therefore it is not free to create, and in fact might require many hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars to produce, as well as many weeks, months, or even years to create it. So what mechanism do you propose that will compensate creators for their time, talent, effort and materials?

        GP's point is that we would be better off with no copyright than the copyright we currently have. And he is absolutely correct. Now, if you take copyright and adjust it for today's world, it would be better than no copyright, but that's not what we have. The biggest change that needs to happe

        • by Americano (920576)

          That's exactly what the mega corps are doing, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make with that.

          ... really? Because I'm pretty certain that the mega corps are all about protecting that goose with walls, fences, razorwire, and armed guards so nobody can get to it but them.

          No one's requiring those creators to produce anything.

          If your system of compensation says "do away with copyright so anybody can have anything they want for free," then the system you have constructed requires creators to create

          • by Endo13 (1000782)

            ... really? Because I'm pretty certain that the mega corps are all about protecting that goose with walls, fences, razorwire, and armed guards so nobody can get to it but them.

            Clearly you don't realize what the goose is here. You're talking about their protected works. Thing is, by themselves, those works aren't worth jack shit. We're the goose, and our money is the golden eggs. Those protected works are merely the tool used to extrect the eggs from the goose. And they are indeed working very hard at bilking us for every red cent we're worth as quickly as possible, and nevermind about tomorrow, let alone next year.

            If your system of compensation says blah blah blah, ad infinitum

            Clearly you still don't get it. So I'll repeat it for you one mor

            • by Americano (920576)

              Clearly you don't realize what the goose is here. You're talking about their protected works. Thing is, by themselves, those works aren't worth jack shit. We're the goose, and our money is the golden eggs. Those protected works are merely the tool used to extrect the eggs from the goose. And they are indeed working very hard at bilking us for every red cent we're worth as quickly as possible, and nevermind about tomorrow, let alone next year.

              Right... because creators aren't forced to create anything, as you

              • by Endo13 (1000782)

                I see that your reading comprehension has once again failed you. Let's check the replay, shall we? Here's what I wrote: "Except the time and effort required to produce a song, movie, book, picture, or any other creative work is not zero.

                I know what you wrote. It's the same fucking sob story we've heard literally billions of times by now. And yes, you're accompanying it with hand-wave assertions. Frankly, I couldn't care less any more.

                Artists are doing just fine these days, despite all the "damage" piracy is doing. In fact, there's a far greater percentage of the world's population making a far greater inflation-adjusted income today than ever before in any history we have access to. So spare me the "starving artist" bullshit.

                If piracy real

                • by Americano (920576)

                  Artists are doing just fine these days, despite all the "damage" piracy is doing. In fact, there's a far greater percentage of the world's population making a far greater inflation-adjusted income today than ever before in any history we have access to. So spare me the "starving artist" bullshit.

                  So then there's no problem with the current system. Huge numbers of artists are thriving, by your own admission, sounds like copyright & the current system of payments works exactly as intended.

                  What exactly is

    • by Xugumad (39311)

      > If copying was legal, art would probably increasingly be crowd-funded before creation, but a meager living wage for everyone would really let artist just about not starve and enable passionate people to keep doing their art.

      So... you're happy with the trickle of creative output that people insanely dedicated enough to create content under your "meagre living wage" would be able to produce?

      Who do you fund? How do you decide what's worth funding and what isn't? What guarantees do you have of a quality re

    • by westlake (615356)

      All the artists and craftspersons that are actually required should of course get by. If copying was legal, art would probably increasingly be crowd-funded before creation, but a meager living wage for everyone would really let artist just about not starve and enable passionate people to keep doing their art.

      Art is traditionally funded by the state, the church or the mechant prince --- each with its own agenda.

      What they bring to the table is organization, money, talent and material resources of every sort. Institutonal memory. Long-term commitments.

      There is passion, yes, but more importantly there is focus, clear vision. They know where they want to be, they now how to get there --- and they know that the best doesn't come cheap.

      Case in point: Jobs and Pixar.

      Not a word, not a whisper, posted to Slashdot ab

  • Maybe instead of TechDirt running some snarky contest which will achieve nothing they could actually ask people for real, workable, ideas on how the 'industry can adapt'. You know, something that doesn't involve stupid ideas like 'work for free' or 'rely on donations'.

    • You know, I don't really have a solution myself, but I don't think that's relevant. What you're saying is, "I can't figure out how the scribe industry can survive now that we have the printing press, so we should outlaw the use of a printing press to create copies of books and require that every copy of a book be made by hand in order to artificially inflate the value of books and keep those scribes employed. We'll keep the printing press only for things that MUST be made quickly, like newspapers."

      If the

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        You are talking about two entirely different things. We don't need scribes because we have the printing press. However, we still need (want) authors, editors, etc. The analog in music would be we don't need CD pressing factories. I don't see anyone arguing against that. However, we still need (want) musicians, engineers, etc.

        Now, if your argument is that we DON'T need the music, film, whatever industries, that is fine. If you are satisfied with content that is produced outside of the industry you can

        • There will always be musicians. It's the bloated middle-men that are dying. I don't think that's a bad thing.
      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        If the industry can't survive in a world with the technology where copies are made essentially for free, then that industry should die.

        Then what would you have to make copies of?

        There is a significant difference between the music industry and the scribe/printing press analogy you use. The scribes were not responsible for creating content, only copying it. The printing press did nothing to replace the content creators.

        The "music industry" includes those that create the content that you want to copy for free. You can't replace the entire industry with a CD burner and a net connection, since the CD burner and net connection cannot create

        • What happen when music writing is totally automated ?

          Music only seems magical on the surface, but it has a number of parameters that can describe it in a probabilistic way. (I refer you to the series of paper from Nick Didkovsky for a limited (but grandiose in 2001) implementation strategy) Programs that can imitate the composition style of someone already exist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_music#Statistical_style_modeling), we only need a good style mutator (I gargantuan task , but a priori, ther

      • by Americano (920576)

        I've said this elsewhere in this thread, but I really want to repeat it because I think it's important, and always gets overlooked in these arguments by people who think that "I can make a million copies of an MP3 for free, why should I pay anything for it?"

        COST TO DUPLICATE != COST TO PRODUCE

        The two costs are absolutely not the same. Cost to duplicate shrinks over time, and is absolutely subject to reduction by improvements in technology. Cost to produce will *never* reach (or even, really, approach) zer

        • by godrik (1287354)

          I agree with you: "the cost to duplicate is different than the cost to produce".

          However, you are missing two different points:
          -Without any legal consideration, you can get the object for free. Why should you pay? When you buy biscuit from two different stores, sometimes, one store is significantly cheaper than the other one for the same product (same brand, same package). So I pick the cheapest one. The point of GP is, "I can get the same thing for cheaper (and eventually better once you consider the lack o

    • Maybe instead of TechDirt running some snarky contest which will achieve nothing they could actually ask people for real, workable, ideas on how the 'industry can adapt'. You know, something that doesn't involve stupid ideas like 'work for free' or 'rely on donations'.

      Maybe instead of insisting that somebody is doing something the wrong way, you should fix it your self. Or, maybe you could just lean to see the value in an anti-propaganda campaign.

  • What exactly is a PSA? My google search has suggested prostate-specific antigen, professional sports authenticator, professional skaters association and the Phillipine Sports Association of Texas. None of which seem to make much sense in the context...

  • They also looked at the fine print on this 'pro-copyright' contest, and discovered that in entering, you agreed to give up your copyright.

    My god, what a surprise.

    This has been the rule in print and broadcast media for generations --- ask your great-grandad about the bike he won in a cub scout photo contest sponsored by "Boy's Life."

    The sponsors demand this because they don't want to negotiate rights with amateurs. The kid gets his prize. The promotion stays on track and on budget. The End.

    • IANAL, but doesn't a minor require parental consent to enter into a contract with an adult?

      It really disturbs me to see the exploitation of naive children being used to propagate misinformation. This contest is a form of brainwashing, and the Fox News types are just going to say, "Awww. That's so cute. Let's do what the kids say."

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        Yes, and the rules plainly state that if a minor wins their parent or legal guardian must send a notarized letter.

        • In that case, one can only hope that the parents are less naive than the children... However, that is certainly not the case currently.
        • by mysidia (191772) *

          Notarization with a parent signature doesn't mean the kid isn't allowed by law to back out of the contract later.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      They have poor reading ability, because the rules do not say that. You do not give up your copyright by entering. You agree that if you win, and they pay you, you will either consider your entry a work for hire or you will agree to transfer the copyright to them.

  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @06:17PM (#37632924)

    For a stellat example, look at the systematic destruction of works by the BBC from the 60s and 70s.

    There were over 200 episodes of Dr Who alone (there were many other series besides that one in the burn bin) that were destroyed without backup copies, because the bbc did not have room to store them, and because the copyright licensing of those episodes required outside stations and studios to return *all* copies sent to them.

    Currently, only 20 or so episodes remain totally MIA from the first doctor series, due almost exclusively to painstaking reconstruction from poor quality pirate recordings collected by the viewing public when the series ran.

    The only reason approx 180 of the 200 were recovered, was BECAUSE of "piracy".

    Something to consider, given the cultural impact of that series in the UK, as well as in other countries.

    If nothing else, rampant piracy protects popular and influential works from willful destruction, by massively replicating the number of copies. This alone is reason to support personal use piracy.

    • This is an excellent point that is rarely considered. Archival of creative works is a public good. We'd know nothing about our ancestors if they'd encrypted everything they wrote down.
    • For a stellar example, look at the systematic destruction of works by the BBC from the 60s and 70s.

      An additional reason: when the ability to record and play back a previous episode because feasible, the unions responsible for the support staff (lighting, sound, etc.) for the live shows became rightfully worried about losing work. There were specific contractual requirements that recordings be destroyed after a certain length of time.

      The challenge is that at the time I'm certain it wasn't obvious what was

  • David Lynch makes one hell of a PSA! [youtube.com] I'd love to see his take on both sides of the issue!
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up863eQKGUI [youtube.com]
    See? Still perfectly relevant to today's youth
  • After the Tienanmen massacre in 1989, the government solicited propaganda from the public in support of the crackdown. One of these was a poem anonymously submitted to the state newspaper, praising the government for its actions ending the protests. It was published, and only then was it discovered that if you read the Chinese characters diagonally, it said Deng Xaioping must pay for his crimes against the people.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.

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