Slate's Anti Copyright rant sounds like a letter from your psycho ex.

Slate has a new blog post out under their Future Tense section entitled "Hollywood's Copyright Lobbyists Are Like Exes Who Won't Give Up."

In it, the Hollywood Copyright Lobbyists (whoever they are) are taken to task for acting like exes who won't get the hint. What hint? The blog post says these unnamed lobbyists remain undeterred by the defeat of SOPA and are once again trying influence law makers. In other words, lobbyists are continuing to lobby. How dare they. It's not like google ever does the same thing, right?

SOPA by the way, stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act. Along with PIPA, the Protect Intellectual Piracy Act. According to the Slate post, these were introduced as a response to what was seen as the faulty Digital Millennium Copyright Act from 1998.

Under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Tumblr, YouTube, Reddit, WordPress, and Facebook aren’t responsible for the copyright infringement of each of their millions of users, so long as they take down specific posts, videos, or images when notified by copyright holders. But copyright holders thought that wasn’t good enough. They wanted to take down whole websites, not just particular posts, and without ever going to court. In 2011, they proposed a bill that would let them do just that.

Never mind the fact the DMCA was passed five years before the existence of The Pirate Bay, and seven years before Youtube even existed. Never mind that according to a study from George Mason University, the number of DMCA copyright takedown notices from mainstream copyright owners is 6.5 million per month on over thirty thousand different websites. Never mind anyone who tries to enact a take down notice falls down a complicated rabbit hole that seems more designed to discourage the copyright holder than anything else. It's those pesky copyright holders, dagnabbit.

The rationale by Silicon Valley that we already have the DMCA and it's working just fine-- seems positively Right Wing in its rabid belief system of law. Conservatives say much the same thing about guns. "We don't need new laws, we need to enforce the existing ones." It amusing to me that this backward sentiment is the same. Really though, it's neither left nor right wing. It's just pure cynicism by people who think we're stupid.

To blame Hollywood copyright lobbyists for trying to influence law when google does the exact same thing is either ignorant or hypocritical. And to ignore the fact it isn't just "Hollywood Copyright Lobbyists" but entire countries that are reacting to what they see is Big Tech run rampant, suggests once again the narrative is being controlled in Big Tech's favor.

No surprise, really. The blog post was written by Marvin Ammori. He is a lawyer and Future Tense Fellow at New America. New America Foundation is a nonprofit and (ha-ha) nonpartisan public policy institute. Wanna guess who chairs the board of directors? Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of google.

Update: Soon after this article was published, Slate felt the need to update Mr. Ammori's post with this disclosure. They didn't mention google's connection to the so-called Future Tense think tank but this is what they said.

Update, March 11, 2014: Disclosure: The author represented Google and other companies fighting SOPA/PIPA in 2011 and 2012. He currently represents Google and other companies on several issues, including copyright reform. These views are his own.

Question: If you represent an interested party, and then write a blog post skewering the other side, how exactly are your views your own? Asking for a friend.

Second update: In response to the google lawyer/lobbyist's rant, Kurt Sutter, creator and writer of Sons of Anarchy (as well as writer for the Shield and Outlaw Empires) delivered a pointed response to that blog post.

Here's just one small snippet of it.

Everyone is aware that Google has done amazing things to revolutionize our Internet experience. And I’m sure Mr. and Mrs. Google are very nice people. But the big G doesn’t contribute anything to the work of creatives. Not a minute of effort or a dime of financing. Yet Google wants to take our content, devalue it, and make it available for criminals to pirate for profit. Convicted felons like Kim Dotcom generate millions of dollars in illegal revenue off our stolen creative work. People access Kim through Google. And then, when Hollywood tries to impede that thievery, it’s presented to the masses as a desperate attempt to hold on to antiquated copyright laws that will kill your digital buzz. It’s so absurd that Google is still presenting itself as the lovable geek who’s the friend of the young everyman. Don’t kid yourself, kids: Google is the establishment.

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Jen's picture

Thank you for this. It's was a ridiculous, almost pathological screed of blog post. Hard to believe Slate would deign to publish such garbage.

kidsleepy's picture

You're welcome. We can't stand this kind of propaganda. Especially as someone pointed out on twitter it would be easier for the author to list the income sources that don't come from google in one way or another. Barring Slate, there probably is none.

FarePlay's picture

Will Buckley What tech refuses to look at, is that someday, in the not to distant future, the motherlode of high quality creative content that was created before the Internet will be so picked over that they will be desperate. Desperate for the very energy that fuels people's interest in the internet, great creative content.

Great creative content that is not being made because no one is willing to pay for it. The Sound of Silence will be deafening.

Jeffrey Barkin's picture

Unfortunately, we must appreciate that Slate's bias is not surprising, as it is a FORMAL PARTNER of Future Tense, as listed in type at the base of the original blog post.

Perhaps Slate should directly "Come Out" and better clarify its formal position on SOPA and copyright reforms? Do they really stand against better protection from piracy? Doesn't Slate, as a media forum and publication, see the need for preserving creativity and innovation, especially in the Arts?

Ironically, considering their Association's name (Future Tense), Music, literature and Films need a REAL protected FUTURE. If we fail to take proper measures today, we will all witness and further condone the continued decimation of creative Arts. How many aspiring and established musicians, artists, and writers need to DROP OUT before a wake up call is acknowledged?

kidsleepy's picture

As long as other artists come along, it doesn't matter. It's the same in the advertising industry. We mostly work 60 hours or more a week, nights and weekends, for the first half of our career we are underpaid, and all the while we create content, I.P, for someone else to get rich off of. We gripe, we complain, some of us quit the business, but as long as the line of eager young pups wanting to break in the business is still long, no one cares.

The real question we should be asking is when will the content creators (music, film, movies, books, advertising, journalism, photography) band together to say no mas? We have a bunch of tribes right now wanting to do so, but for their own agenda and purpose, and that doesn't help the situation, it only creates a disunity.

As for's the thing, and I speak about this from the POV of having had a journalist for a father: Journalists do not care about the industry being profitable. They don't care about diminished quality of content. If they have a pay check and they write to the media outlet's specific editorial POV then all is well. Sad but true. Journalism is rare these days. Consider Bob Woodward, the man who was hailed as hero during Watergate, now considered "old and senile" because he dared write a critical book about Dear Leader.

But that's how things change. Once upon a time musicians would have rather eaten dirt than license their music to a TV commercial. Now, it's how many make their living. Some are excited to have Doritos as a sponsor at SXSW . They are all on brand.

But Slate doesn't care about that. As you said, they are partnered with Future Tense, and this is the future as they see it. Content creators are subsistence wage earners at best, and near slaves at worst, while tech companies relying heavily on tax breaks and constant investments to stay afloat look like the heroes.

Whenever musicians mention this, they're told to shut up and dance. Whenever Adland mentions it, we're told we are paid shills. Good times, right?

Dabitch's picture

FORMAL PARTNER of Future Tense...

I didn't quite grok how cozy in bed they were but yes.... Future Tense America Org spells it out loud and clear: "Future Tense is a partnership between the New America Foundation, Arizona State University and Slate magazine to explore emerging technologies and their transformative effects on society and public policy." Oh, Ok. They have their own twitter, and ASU EDU run the articles on the school web. The New American Foundation conflict of interest policy reckons everything is OK as long as it doesn't impair peoples loyalty to the Foundation ... which.. uh... So basically Slate & ASU are shills to the the Foundation?

Just want to be clear on that, s'all.