Killing Hollywood

Paul Graham’s Y Combinator has put out a call to Kill Hollywood:

That’s one reason we want to fund startups that will compete with movies and TV, but not the main reason. The main reason we want to fund such startups is not to protect the world from more SOPAs, but because SOPA brought it to our attention that Hollywood is dying. They must be dying if they’re resorting to such tactics. If movies and TV were growing rapidly, that growth would take up all their attention. When a striker is fouled in the penalty area, he doesn’t stop as long as he still has control of the ball; it’s only when he’s beaten that he turns to appeal to the ref. SOPA shows Hollywood is beaten. And yet the audiences to be captured from movies and TV are still huge. There is a lot of potential energy to be liberated there.

How do you kill the movie and TV industries? Or more precisely (since at this level, technological progress is probably predetermined) what is going to kill them? Mostly not what they like to believe is killing them, filesharing. What’s going to kill movies and TV is what’s already killing them: better ways to entertain people. So the best way to approach this problem is to ask yourself: what are people going to do for fun in 20 years instead of what they do now?

SOPA/PIPA is bad legislation [infographic] with excessive penalties disproportionate to the piracy problem.  SOPA/PIPA are the peak of the slippery slope, holding the potential to chill free speech, threaten the sharing of ideas, and taking the internet as we know it rife with remixing and creating and replacing it with passive consumption [TED video of Clay Shirky via BoingBoing].

It has long been asserted that the dollar amounts asserted as losses due to piracy have been at best based on flawed assumptions and at worse made up entirely.  The need for excessive copyright protection including penalties more severe than those for capital crimes has been demonstrated as unnecessary the day after the internet blackouts with the seizure and closure of Megaupload.

The call for legislative protectionism via SOPA/PIPA at the behest of the MPAA has had the unexepected consequence of signaling weakness.  If there is one thing internet entrepreneurs realize is that industries ripe with middlemen who add costs and little value are potential targets for disruption.  More importantly for our democracy, the people and the internet have realized that Congress is beholden to monied interest, and the only thing that gets their attention is millions of engaged citizens hitting them with a blizzard of DDOS – democratic denials of service, evident by overflowing inboxes, constantly ringing telephones, and blacked-out websites (and the accompanying traditional media coverage).    The biggest loser in this exchange is ethically-challenged former-Senator Chris Dodd, who now serves as CEO of the MPAA.   His veiled threat to have Hollywood withdraw their political and monetary support in a crucial election year, presumably directed at Democrats generally and President Obama specifically would likely be an asset than a liability, as the internet community (and Republicans) are  now taking notice.  The consumer has also been actively been seeking out alternative, as Big Content does not innovate:, and has long been profiting from new technologies for a 100-years while trying to smother them in their infancy:

The MPAA studios hate us. They hate us with region locks and unskippable screens andencryption and criminalization of fair use.  They see us as stupid eyeballs with wallets, and they are entitled to a constant stream of our money.  They despise us, and they certainly don’t respect us.

Their huge size, numerous inter-dependencies and middlemen, and near-natural monopoly are tempting vectors.  They’ve long been taking the consumer for credit, recycling the same high-calorie low-nutrition gruel for decades.   The decline of mass media and audiences due to audience fragmentation and changes of consumer taste have mortally wounded their business model, and their attempts to shore up the music and publishing industry have been futile at best.  Even cooperation with the digital insurgents only delays the inevitable.  Their political allies can no longer overtly assist them.  The Republican Presidential candidates have publiclly stated their opposition to SOPA/PIPA, which will be difficult to walk balk, and even more difficult for the legislature.

The end result of this call will be to leverage the strength of the internet at the precise weaknesses of Big Content:

How do you kill the movie and TV industries? Or more precisely (since at this level, technological progress is probably predetermined) what is going to kill them? Mostly not what they like to believe is killing them, filesharing. What’s going to kill movies and TV is what’s already killing them: better ways to entertain people. So the best way to approach this problem is to ask yourself: what are people going to do for fun in 20 years instead of what they do now?

Their very cry for help betrays their despair to the predator.

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