Rogue Sites Legislation Will Help Preserve Jobs in North Carolina and New Mexico

by Paul Hortenstine 11/10/2011 11:34 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The film and television industry supports 2.2 million middle-class people in all 50 states.  They work behind the scenes in production, and in small businesses like equipment rental, transportation, construction and food service. 

Currently, there is legislation in Congress that will preserve these jobs while targeting those who profit from selling stolen content.  The PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House have bipartisan support and are backed by businesses and labor groups.   The legislation will preserve American jobs and target foreign websites that steal and profit from counterfeit goods and stolen creative content like books, movies and music.

Two articles this week illustrate the jobs that rogue sites legislation will help preserve. 

In North Carolina, the blockbuster franchise “Iron Man” will shoot its third installment in Wilmington next May, “creating an estimated impact of more than $80 million while creating 550 crew jobs.”  The motion picture and television industry is responsible for 9,280 direct jobs and $200.5 million in wages in North Carolina, including both production and distribution-related jobs. Over 2,800 of the jobs are production-related.

The Wilmington based Star News stated that “North Carolina's film incentives program is essential to keep the industry flourishing and competitive, five experts said during a discussion Wednesday morning.”  And “government and industry officials have touted [tax incentives] as a key ingredient in landing ‘Iron Man 3.’”  In North Carolina, tax incentives include a 25% credit of up to $20 million on productions that spend more than $250,000 in the state. From 2009 to 2010, 15 films and television projects were based in North Carolina, including the television show “One Tree Hill.”

New Mexico has also recently benefited from film and television productions. The New Mexico Business Weekly reported on current movie and television productions in New Mexico that are employing hundreds of workers and their large economic impact.  From July 2010 to June 2011, 21 major productions shot in New Mexico.   They spent $232.1 million directly, which had a financial impact of $696.3 million.   About $73.8 in tax credits were awarded during that time period as part of New Mexico’s 25 percent credit on production expenditures.  The paper also reported that “Since 2003, there have been 162 major productions shot here with a direct spend of $1.4 billion, according to the state film office.”  Recent major production in New Mexico includes the television show Breaking Bad and the movies The Avengers and Cowboys & Aliens.

There is a Western television show in production:
“’Tin Star,’ a pilot episode of a Western drama series, has been filming in the state since late October, says a Nov. 7 release from the New Mexico Film Office.”  The production will run through early November and is shooting in Galisteo, La Cienega and the Valles Caldera. It is employing about 130 New Mexico crew members and more than 350 principal actors and extras.

And a film is shooting in New Mexico:
“And the Film Office announced the an independent feature film, ‘Stars,’ is shooting in Santa Fe, Española, Galisteo and Pecos through late November. It will employ about 45 New Mexico crew members and more than 125 principal actors and extras.”

Categories: Content Protection, Policy


First Amendment Expert: Stop Online Piracy Act Upholds Free Speech

by Paul Hortenstine 11/10/2011 10:32 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

This week, noted First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams wrote that rogue sites legislation in the House will protect free speech.  This follows a letter Abrams wrote in May that affirmed that rogue sites legislation in the Senate upholds the First Amendment.  

The Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate would, if passed, target foreign rogue sites that knowingly and deliberately engage in the illegal distribution of stolen content, including movies and television shows, for profit.  The legislation will preserve the 2.2 million jobs of American workers who depend on the film and television industry.

On Monday, Abrams sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers reaffirming that the Stop Online Piracy Act in no way imperils the First Amendment.  He wrote,

“Any legislative efforts to limit what appears on the Internet, or to punish those who post materials on it, requires the closest scrutiny to assure that First Amendment rights are not being compromised. That is true of all limits on speech, and it is no less true of the Internet. But the Internet neither creates nor exists in a law-free zone, and copyright violations on the Internet are no more protected than they are elsewhere.

“The notion that adopting legislation to combat the theft of intellectual property on the Internet threatens freedom of expression and would facilitate, as one member of the House of Representatives recently put it,  ‘the end of the Internet as we know it,’ is thus insupportable. Copyright violations have never been protected by the First Amendment and have been routinely punished wherever they occur, including the Internet. This proposed legislation is not inconsistent with the First Amendment; it would protect creators of speech, as Congress has done since this Nation was founded, by combating its theft.”

Abrams wrote the letter on behalf of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Motion Picture Association of America. 

Abrams also concluded that the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate upholds the principles of free speech.   In May, he wrote a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member Charles Grassley, and Senator Orrin Hatch that the PROTECT IP bill follows established free speech laws.

Categories: Content Protection, Copyright, Policy


Counterfeit Military Parts "Threaten the Safety and Mission Readiness of Our Armed Forces"

by Paul Hortenstine 11/09/2011 10:28 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on its investigation into counterfeit electronic parts in the Department of Defense supply chain.  The defense industry is very susceptible to counterfeit parts because many defense systems rely on electronic parts that are no longer produced by the original manufacturer.  This hearing illustrated the importance of passing rogue sites legislation to further protect our military and consumers from purchasing counterfeit goods. 

Rogue sites legislation, the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House, will preserve American jobs and target foreign websites that steal and profit from counterfeit goods and stolen creative content like books, movies and music.

In March, the committee began an investigation into the defense supply chain—including defense contractors and subcontractors—about the unknowing purchase of counterfeit components for such things as aircraft and missile systems, often through the Internet.  So far, it has found over 1 million suspect counterfeit electronic parts that were purchased.   More than 70% of the counterfeit parts originated in China.

At the hearing, Chairman Carl Levin said, “The systems we rely on for national security and the protection of our military men and women depend on the performance and reliability of small, highly sophisticated electronic components.” He added, “The failure of a single electronic part can leave a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine vulnerable at the worst possible time.  A flood of counterfeit electronic parts has made it a lot harder to have confidence that won’t happen.” 

And Ranking Member John McCain stated, “These counterfeit parts threaten the safety and mission readiness of our armed forces because they are unreliable. They may work for a short time, but we do not know for how long, how well, and what will happen when they fail.”

As this hearing showed, foreign rogue sites are a danger to our national defense and our brave military men and women in uniform. Rogue sites also hurt our economy and cost us jobs.  Senator McCain is a cosponsor of the PROTECT IP Act, part of a bipartisan coalition of 39 senators who have signed up as cosponsors to the bill that is sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy.  The legislation will help target foreign sites including those that sell counterfeit military parts. 

Back in July, The Daily Caller published an article by Bob Calvert that listed the important reasons to pass the PROTECT IP Act.  He wrote,

“In January 2010, a U.S. Department of Commerce study of the military component supply chain for Defense Department agencies found that the number of counterfeit electronics entering the system increased from 3,868 incidents to 9,356 between 2005 and 2008. The study was conducted because Defense Department officials were worried that more and more counterfeit and defective electronics were finding their way into the Pentagon’s vast supply chain in ways that could affect the reliability of weapons. Unfortunately, this is the grim reality that we must confront. This situation is confounded by the availability of counterfeit products through rogue websites. 

Rogue websites steal American intellectual property and are dedicated to trafficking counterfeit products and digital theft. They dupe consumers, steal our jobs and threaten the vibrant Internet marketplace. If given the opportunity, rogue websites will sell military components and electronics to make a quick buck.

Fortunately, Congress is taking steps to provide new tools against these illicit activities and help protect the jobs of hardworking Americans and the vitality of our creative and innovative sectors. The PROTECT IP Act would cut off rogue sites from the U.S. marketplace by disrupting the flow of Internet traffic and money to the site and its operators. Congress should act to protect American jobs, creativity and consumers by enacting this legislation without delay.”

Categories: Content Protection, Policy, Technology


Critics of Current Legislation Have Been Wrong in the Past about Content Protection Law

by Paul Hortenstine 11/03/2011 07:13 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Yesterday, Variety reported that Consumer Electronics Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro, who is criticizing current rogue websites legislation, has a history of criticizing content protection law that has created the internet as we know it.

The PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House have bipartisan support and will preserve American jobs and target foreign websites that steal and profit from counterfeit goods and stolen creative content like books and movies and music.

Recently, Shapiro has made many false claims about the legislation, including that it will “allow any copyright owner to shut down a legitimate retail website, such as Amazon…”   Unfortunately, this kind of sky is falling rhetoric is not surprising. 

In 2005, after the Supreme Court ruled on the Grokster vs. MGM case, Shapiro said it “makes it difficult for a new product or technology to garner the funding necessary to come to market.   ‘Before developing a product in the Post-Grokster environment, an innovator or entrepreneur will have to persuade everyone--from outside bankers to inside counsel - that it can be sold without risk of a lawsuit. Venture capital migrates away from risky, litigation-prone areas.’” 

As we know, numerous innovative products have been produced since 2005 and the internet has expanded the availability of movies and music.  Just last month, Apple reported that 16 billion iTunes songs have been downloaded and 300 million IPods have been sold.

Shapiro also opposed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 after it was passed, calling it “a huge mistake.”   The DMCA has been recognized as the “law that saved the web.”

And he’s not the only who has proclaimed that content protection law will end the internet.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has stated that the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) will “break the internet.”   In 2008, EFF called the PRO-IP act “harmful.”   But after the PRO-IP Act became law in October 2008, innovation has flourished, including film and TV content that is now available through all of the major mobile phone and mobile devices. Back in 2005, the group held that the Grokster ruling would “chill innovation and retard the entire sector.” 

Another group, Public Knowledge, has called the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261) “draconian.”  They also claimed that the 2005 Grokster ruling would be “very harmful to consumers and our economy.” 

Venture capitalists are also getting in on the sky is falling rhetoric, claiming that the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) will “stifle investment in Internet services, throttle innovation, and hurt American competitiveness.”

But the venture capital community also has a history of criticizing content protection law.  For example, in 2005, the National Venture Capital Association said that the Grokster ruling “would have a devastating impact on the development of legitimate and valuable new products and services for consumers.” 

So when you hear Gary Shapiro and others proclaiming that the current legislation will be the end of the internet just remember that they’ve been wrong before and they’re wrong again this time.  

Categories: Content Protection, Technology


Predictions of Internet’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

by Paul Hortenstine 11/02/2011 08:29 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Currently, many opponents of rogue websites legislation are predicting that it will censor free speech or stifle innovation.  They’re even predicting that it will  “break the internet.” But this is nothing new. Since the early 1990’s opponents of content protection legislation have, time and time again, foreseen a doomsday.  

In this post on the site Copyhype, Terry Hart provides the long history of hyperbole about copyright laws.  And the critics began almost two decades ago and have not relented since then. 

Take for example the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998.  Opponents of the legislation said that “free expression could be crippled.”  Now, many of those same critics agree that the DMCA is the “law that saved the web.”

Venture capital groups have also predicted dire economic consequences of content protection.  For example:

"The Supreme Court issued its decision in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios v. Grokster in 2005, holding that 'one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright' may be liable for the resulting infringing acts by its users. In its amicus brief to the Grokster court, the National Venture Capital Association warned that a rule holding Grokster liable would 'have a chilling effect on innovation.' "

However, since Grokster:

"[V]enture capital in the media and entertainment sectors grew faster than the rest of the VC market in four out of the six years. By comparison, in the five years before the Grokster decision, growth was lower in four of them. From 2000 to 2004, media and entertainment venture capital accounted for about 4.6 percent of total VC dollars invested. From 2006 through 2010, media and entertainment VC dollars grew to 7.1 percent of total VC dollars."

So, as opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate continue to predict the end of the internet, keep in mind their track record and the amazing innovation that has happened over the past 20 years thanks to content protection laws.

Growing Momentum for Rogue Sites Legislation

by Paul Hortenstine 11/01/2011 13:25 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The support for legislation that cracks down on foreign rogue websites continues to gather momentum. Just last week, the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261) was introduced in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.   Meanwhile on the Senate side,  the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) is growing its list of co-sponsors.  The latest: Senators Jeff Bingaman, Sherrod Brown, Tim Johnson, Mary Landrieu, and Robert Menendez.

So far, a broad coalition of thirty-five Senators has given their support to the PROTECT IP Act, which will protect the livelihoods of the 2.2 million American workers from all 50 states whose jobs depend on the film and television industry.

Why Don't They Want to Talk About Jobs?

by Paul Hortenstine 10/31/2011 14:07 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Today, the Net Coalition, Consumer Electronics Association, and Computer and Communications Industry Association sent a letter to the House of Representatives opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261).  These groups are so focused on defeating this bill that their letter avoids mentioning an important impact of this bill: preserving the livelihoods of millions of American workers.

There is broad agreement about the top issue facing our country: turning our economy around by keeping and creating good-paying jobs.  Members of both political parties will never agree on every measure that will help our economy but they do concur that there needs to be action now.  So it may come as a surprise that there is a bill that will preserve jobs and has bipartisan support.   The Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate are supported by both Democrats and Republicans.  They will help protect the livelihoods of the 2.2 million American workers from all 50 states, from accountants to truck drivers to florists to make-up artists whose jobs depend on the film and television industry.

So the next time these groups bring up their opposition to the bill, they might want to discuss jobs unless they want to avoid the most pressing issue of today altogether.

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