The Madeleine Brand Show for January 18, 2012

How Hollywood lost the battle for hearts and minds in SOPA debate

SOPA/PIPA protest, Wikipedia

Wikipedia blacked out its whole website to join the SOPA/PIPA protest

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Google

Google made changes to its homepage to support the SOPA/PIPA protest.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Wired had a creative take on censoring, only blacking out certain words and photos.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, BoingBoing

L.A.-based website Boing Boing is down for the day.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Mozilla

Mozilla puts a note on its homepage.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Reddit

Popular site also shut down in protest.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Minecraft

Minecraft's website sports a colorful protest page.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, PostSecret also joins the protest with an interactive webpage. The faint light illuminating the center of the screen follows your cursor, leaving other sections dark.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Destructoid

SOPA/PIPA Protest, failblog

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Imgur also shuts down.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Craigslist

Craigslist updated its homepage to this message protesting SOPA/PIPA.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Flickr

Flickr is letting users participate by darkening their uploaded photos.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, MoveOn.Org

Political website participates.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Wordpress

Wikipedia, Reddit and BoingBoing are just some of the sites that went dark Wednesday to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). It appears the online forces opposed to the legislation have the upper hand, even though supporters like big Hollywood studios spent millions of dollars lobbying for its passage.

According to the Los Angeles Times, three co-sponsors have publicly withdrawn their support of the antipiracy bills in reaction to the massive internet backlash. Florida Senator Marco Rubio is one of several lawmakers who’ve dropped their sponsorship. Did Hollywood blow it? How could people who make their living creating engaging narratives fail to sell the public on a plan they say is so important to their survival?

Hollywood studios remain firm, arguing piracy is causing workers in the industry to lose jobs. Marty Kaplan, professor of entertainment, media and society at USC, said their moral argument is ineffective. According to Kaplan, a recent study found that neither the notion of job loss nor increased police enforcement decreased the amount of illegal downloads. "The idea that this somehow would be a magic bullet seems enormously optimistic," he said.

Kaplan said that many opposed to SOPA and PIPA want to get content that's legal, and are willing to pay for it. They object, Kaplan said, to the restrictions Hollywood places on when, where and how they can use that content. He went on to say that Hollywood's failure to capture sympathy of the majority comes from its stubbornness to change.

"The example of iTunes demonstrates that if there is a way to get content that seems to be fairly priced to consumers and it allows consumers autonomy, in terms of when, where and how they consume content, that people are willing to do it," Kaplan said. What they resent, he thinks, is the notion that Hollywood is holding all the cards.

Kaplan's solution? Hollywood should change the way they make films. He said that producing
fewer major blockbusters won't hurt the industry that badly.

"I think it's conceivable that Hollywood can reset the price point of what they're doing and still put out quality entertainment and have people watch it," he said. "It just might not be based on the business model that they're clinging to so desperately."


Marty Kaplan,, former political speechwriter and a former movie executive

With contributions by Andrea Wang

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