Paramount Throws Down Gauntlet to Academia

By J. DeVoy

In the past few weeks, the MPAA and RIAA have been humbled by the defeat of SOPA and PIPA in Congress.  Eric Goldman has posted a letter that Paramount has apparently sent to various academics, seeking to open a dialogue about piracy and exchange ideas about how to address it.  The letter seeks to include students in the discussion as well.

The copyright abolitionist community’s plaintive cry is always that the big bad evil content creators need to change their business models.  Nobody denies that this is true, and the MPAA has a better track record on innovation than the RIAA (and I contend that the porn industry has the best record on that issue, but that’s neither here nor there).  I look forward to seeing whether any academics and students take Paramount up on its offer.  Some have had good ideas in the past, such as Voluntary Collective Licensing (though there would have to be some adjustments before taking it to market).

Arriving at solutions that are cost-effective, viable and efficacious is difficult.  Criticism, however, is easy.

4 Responses to Paramount Throws Down Gauntlet to Academia

    • MikeZ says:

      My first thought after reading that article was to goto this site and look for the snappy counter argument. Seems like the woman is putting herself in a bit of a catch 22. If she successfully proves the Porn was obscene she doesn’t have any copyright issue. Of course she would then be opening herself up for a criminal case for distribution of obscenity.

  1. jdgalt says:

    A good article discussing the technical facts can be seen at

    but it has major flaws.

    First, the word is infringement, not piracy. Whether or not you regard infringement as theft, it is simply not comparable to the life-threatening act of hijacking a ship or airplane.

    Second, both Hollywood and the music industry have so swindled and screwed their actual artists that they no longer hold the moral high ground on IP, if they ever did. Indeed, many artists now urge their audiences to infringe.

    And third, where the Forbes author said continued infringement is inevitable, that unfortunately isn’t quite true. There is one possible way it can be stopped, and that is for government to outlaw (or at least license) the general purpose computer (or at least, any computers without hidden back doors that enforce DRM-like restrictions against their owners at Hollywood’s behest). The dozen or so Big Media companies, including Time Warner, are already pushing for this to happen, and Microsoft is cooperating with them.

    Which means the bottom line is: either we lose traditional intellectual property law (and potentially all the output of Hollywood and Nashville, if the alarmists are correct), or we lose the freedom to control our own computers (and potentially all privacy, plus the ability to be content originators in competition with the Big Media).

    And with these two choices before us, I say the only rational choice is to keep the computer and lose Hollywood.


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