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Ex-democrat threatens his former Senate colleague

"Don't take us for granted."

That was the message the former Democrat Senator from Connecticut Chris Dodd sent his old Senate colleague -- and now President -- Barack Obama on Thursday in an exclusive Fox News interview.  

I. MPAA Threatens SOPA opposers

But Mr. Dodd, now CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, didn't stop there.  He went on to threaten his former Congressional colleagues -- both Republican and Democrat -- who together formed the bipartisan resistance that sunk the House's "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) and Senate's "PROTECT IP Act" (PIPA) (S.968).

Obama flag
U.S. President Barack Obama [Image Source: SFGate]

He comments, "Candidly, those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake.  Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake."

Despite seeing record profits, driven by a 35 percent rise in Blu Ray movie sales Chris Dodd and the MPAA insist that the movie industry is in dire trouble due to piracy.  He points to Avatar being stolen 21 million times as one example of piracy's decimating blow to the movie industry.  Of course he purposefully fails to note that Avatar made almost $3B USD at the box office worldwide.

He does his best to argue for Orwellian laws like SOPA, by trying to recharacterize the issue as a matter of little guys getting exploited, "You can complain and say, well, actors make a lot of money and they don't have to worry about this.  You tell that to that camera guy, you tell that to that makeup artist, you tell that to that truck driver out there who made, makes a living because they work in this industry."

Chris Dodd
MPAA's corpulent CEO Chris Dodd
[Image Source: Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom]

Chris Dodd ran against President Obama in 2008, but lost.  Afterwards he turned to a new career in lobbying, quickly securing his high-paying job as MPAA chief.

II. Editorial Take: Bribery is the Staus Quo in D.C. Today

A CEO threatening the U.S. President and Congress is a pretty bold move, and it is indicative of the sordid web of bribery that Washington D.C. has found itself in.  These days it's hard to get anything done at the federal level without a heavy lubricating layer of lobbyists bribes.

The big Hollywood CEO picks an inopportune time to attack President Obama, given that  members of Hollywood's elite -- top actors and companies -- have already given him $4.1M USD -- more than the $3.7M USD they gave to his campaign in 2008.  And the decision by the administration to break its silence and side with tech firms like Google Inc. (GOOG) in opposing SOPA, is expected to draw more lobbyist bribes from these top tech firms.

The conflict between Google, et al. and the MPAA, et al. in lobbyist dollars is illustrative of the unseemingly current nature of federal politics.  Today corporations and special interest groups essentially "own" pieces of the federal government.  

Bribe under table
These days it's hard to get anything done in D.C. without a bribe. [Image Source: i-Sight]

When their interests are independent or in line with each other they see their desired goals -- like millions in tax breaks -- easily passed, hidden as line item additions to bloated pieces of legislation.  But when their interests run counter to each other, they're forced to wage a war of bribes.

At the same time the U.S. people and small business owners are largely left out of the process, while there relatively high tax burden is funneled towards companies that have "bribed the best" on the Hill.  A recent study by the University of Kansas School of Business reveals that for ever $1 USD spent in lobbyist contributions, a corporation receives $222 USD in tax breaks.  The bill for those tax breaks is inevitably passed to the usual suspect -- the American taxpayer.

Sources: Fox News, NPR [$1 lobbyist = $222 tax breaks]

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I don't think they realize...
By borismkv on 1/22/2012 2:40:33 PM , Rating: 5
That piracy doesn't actually cause them to lose much revenue. Generally speaking, the people who pirate aren't really likely to purchase what they pirate if there was no way to do so. So without piracy, those 21 million copies of avatar would have resulted in *maybe* 1 million copies sold. And that's probably a high estimate.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By bug77 on 1/22/2012 2:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
Let's say each of those copies are lost sales. Let's even imagine everyone that pirated the movie would have gone out and got the BluRay version at $20 a piece. That would be $420M "lost" sales, while the movie made $3B. Hardly a threat to the industry, I'd say.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By joex444 on 1/22/2012 4:11:21 PM , Rating: 2
Right, the real value is somewhere between $0 and $420M.

But you're talking $420M on a film that grossed $2.8B. And the bluray doesn't even cost $20 anymore, so that $420M would need to take into account when people downloaded it.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By bug77 on 1/22/2012 4:54:05 PM , Rating: 2
I was just trying to come up with a worst case scenario.

Here's a (really old) link about what this is really all about:

RE: I don't think they realize...
By StevoLincolnite on 1/23/2012 1:41:58 AM , Rating: 5
I have to admit. I pirated Avatar.
I had already seen it at the movies and I owned the Blu-ray.

But hell... The amount of CRAP telling us NOT to pirate before a movie starts is utter insanity.

I usually buy all my Blu-Rays then run off and find a 1080P rip, I don't have to put up with those crappy messages before it starts and I can have it all archived on my HTPC while keeping my Discs in a nice condition.

It's like DRM for PC games, make the customer that has paid and done the right thing and punish them for it while the Pirates are off hopping and skipping with far less issues and troubles, while not paying a cent.

GTAIV is a perfect example of this, buy it on Steam... It makes you download and install Games for Windows Live! Then when you think it's all over and done with they force you to install Rockstar Pass, after you have already spent hours downloading and installing it.

These "Media Companies" are to big and greedy for their own goods, they need to realize that people have the right not to buy their over-priced (Especially in Australia) DRM infested crap.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By Noya on 1/23/2012 7:15:51 AM , Rating: 2
I was actually dumb enough to shell out for Avatar at a non-Imax 3D showing for two people. I had a mild headache by the time it was finally over. Dance with Wolves in space in all CGI, and I hate CGI. I remember when T2 and Jurassic Park came out, cool then as I was a kid. Now?...yuck.

But hell... The amount of CRAP telling us NOT to pirate before a movie starts is utter insanity.

I have a friend that pirates DVD's and is a real movie buff. I usually watch a movie with him a few times a month. BAM! straight to the menu and click play. My girl brought a new retail DVD over a few days ago and I couldn't believe the amount of crap that auto-plays before the menu. Made me never want to buy retail again. I mean, I DVR HDTV show so I don't have to sit through commercials.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By kattanna on 1/23/2012 10:43:42 AM , Rating: 5
one thing that really bothers me with a lot of the junk on the DVD's or blue rays is how you cannot skip it.. you try and it tells you action not allowed!! WTF???

RE: I don't think they realize...
By Aikouka on 1/23/2012 2:32:32 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I find that you can almost always skip the advertisements, but not the FBI/Interpol warnings. It isn't always very intuitive though. Typically the "Root Menu" button does not work, but most of the time, another menu button will bring you to the main menu. I believe the one I use on my PS3 remote is, "Top Menu". If that's blocked, typically just hitting "Next" will work.

It's certainly a pain, but sometimes I'll just put the movie in, go do other stuff, and let the movie advertise to an empty couch.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By rrburton on 1/23/2012 12:16:45 PM , Rating: 2
Right on. They don't care if you buy the movie, it the advertising they're worried about. Haha we are paying to be forced to watch ads!

RE: I don't think they realize...
By Reclaimer77 on 1/23/2012 12:30:42 PM , Rating: 3
The only reason TO pirate Avatar is just to see how bad it truly is. That's why I did it. There's no way in HELL I would spend one red cent of my money watching that trash.

I remember when T2 and Jurassic Park came out, cool then as I was a kid. Now?...yuck.

It was also SUPER expensive back then, so it wasn't used in EVERY FREAKING SHOT like Avatar. My guess is that the advances in computing have translated to shorter rendering times, rather than better rendering. In other words, having a better computer won't make a single frame better, but it will make it faster. The special effects were, well..special! Also they used a lot of animatronics (robotic dinosaur props) and went back with CGI just to smooth it in the frame. Not to add things that weren't physically there in the first place.

It's ridiculous that the CGI in Jurassic Park, being that old, holds up so well today and even beats most newer movies. It's because they were really trying to tell a great story, and not JUST make a bunch of money. Also the CGI was just a tool to tell the story, it wasn't actually the story.

If you wanna see just how bad CGI dinosaurs can get, watch that stinkfest of a show Terra Nova. Especially the pilot episode. Jesus Christ...

RE: I don't think they realize...
By bug77 on 1/23/2012 4:18:59 PM , Rating: 2
I believe this is the best Avatar summary ever:

RE: I don't think they realize...
By Paj on 1/24/2012 7:14:32 AM , Rating: 2
Its true. But hey, Harry Potter is identical to Star Wars via the same metric. Theyre just retelling unviersally powerful stories at the end of the day.

By royalcrown on 1/24/2012 12:30:41 PM , Rating: 3
REALLY bad CGI is the HULK movie directed by Ang Lee...worst cgi in any movie ever.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By masamasa on 1/23/2012 5:23:50 PM , Rating: 3
Completely agree. They serve no purpose except to inconvenience the paying customer. Movie and music industry and getting exactly what they deserve. Nothing.

I can't think of all of the crappy films I bought/rented. Films that clearly never should have been released. Same for games. Obvious console ports that were just total junk on the PC. Same with music, album with one good song and the rest is crap.

Now they are getting a taste of their own medicine. I say screw 'em since they've already done that to the consumer. What goes around comes around...

RE: I don't think they realize...
By BZDTemp on 1/22/2012 5:24:30 PM , Rating: 3
It's even less than the $420M if you look at what part of the money ends up in Hollywood. The $20 for the BD would mean money for the store where you bought it, for the company transporting the BD, for the company making the BD, for Sony since they hold the license for the BD medium...

I'd be surprised if more than $10 per copy goes to Hollywood.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By Nyu on 1/23/2012 8:11:39 AM , Rating: 2
Of course they realize, but they'll take every chance to steal more money out of consumers.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By ppardee on 1/23/2012 11:44:20 AM , Rating: 2
Well... yeah. That's their job. The MPAA and RIAA are advocate groups for the industry, not the consumer. They are going to do everything in their power to get as much for their employers as possible. That's not the problem. The problem is that they're using immoral/illegal tactics to do it, and the law makers and courts are complicit.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By JediJeb on 1/23/2012 2:16:09 PM , Rating: 3
I think the last CD I bought was Molly Hatchett's Greatest Hits, and the last DVD I bought was Hell Boy because I found it in the bargain bin several years ago. I pretty much gave up on the new "entertainment" put out these days several years ago. I do like a few of the shows on SciFi like Eureka, Sanctuary(though it has not been as good lately) and Warehouse 13, but other than those I rarely even watch movies or TV or listen to music. The whole industry seems to have moved from as others said good storytelling to simply wash, rinse, repeat, collect the money. They weren't even creative enough to be able to write another script for Star Trek that kept with the depth of the original stories, instead they had to make a new timeline and turn it into just another over the top action/thriller with emphasis on effects and action to make up for lack of story.

I am not angry that the industry is trying to hold on to the money due them, but rather angry that they think people are so numb that they should take anything they produce and believe it is the best thing ever made.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By lagomorpha on 1/22/2012 3:41:40 PM , Rating: 5
I don't think that's their goal. What they would like to do is to implement a system where piracy doesn't exist as an alternative and they can lock content to individual purchasers and devices so that used copies are not available either. Once that occurs they can then jack prices of movies back up to $50 each and require you to purchase a separate copy for each device you wish to watch it on so they can sell each person several copies of the same movie like back in the VHS/laserdisc/DVD transition days.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By joex444 on 1/22/2012 4:19:40 PM , Rating: 5
This is precisely what they want.

And in all honesty, who can think back 20 years ago. Even 15 should do. Before DVDs were around, what was the state of affairs?

How did people see movies pre-DVD?

1. You watch it in theaters. People still do this, it becomes difficult to see what you want choosing this option.
2. You rent it. Blockbuster was huge, and there were competitors. Not Netflix, that was years away, but other competing brick and mortar stores. Because people drove around to go get things. I remember that some would actually rent DVD players, right before they collapsed.

Then DVD comes along and people are suddenly buying movies. This wasn't a "thing" that people did before. The VHS copies were prohibitively expensive, $50 is about right. And it's a VHS. This is why rental stores existed. Though a rental copy would cost much more for the store to buy ($300-ish, maybe more?).

Now they're able to collect sales on tickets, and then people buy it later. And we also have some brick and mortar stores that rent copies which purchase a copy, as well as Netflix which purchases the DVD and blurays (presumably at a higher price due to the special license).

In the perfect MPAA world, this is what would happen:
1. Movie ticket prices would go up
2. Piracy would be impossible
3. If piracy were possible, you would go to federal prison for even trying or pay something like $150,000 per incident
4. There are no physical discs, because those can be lent to friends, enemies, etc.
5. You would pay each time you view a movie in your house
6. What you can view would have heavy DRM on it
7. (Super-ideal world and only half joking: A camera would count the number of viewers and charge you extra for each head)
8. Viewing would probably cost most of a movie ticket. View it twice and it costs more than the Bluray.

The only advantage to a discless system is the environmental benefit of not printing discs, making cases and shipping this crap around the globe.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By MrTeal on 1/22/12, Rating: -1
RE: I don't think they realize...
By Varun on 1/22/2012 6:47:00 PM , Rating: 2
That's not true, or at least not exactly. Most movies would not be available for sale the day they came out on VHS. Rental stores would get first crack at them, and they would be charged hundreds per copy (I am sure the big stores got a volume break).

Eventually, the movie would come out for sale at the $20 range.

There were some movies available for sale the same day but that was the exception, not the norm.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By YashBudini on 1/22/2012 8:19:00 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know where you bought VHS movies, but you were getting ripped off if you were paying $50 15-20 years ago

I recall retail sales that high, it was probably more than 20 years ago.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By Solandri on 1/22/2012 11:09:00 PM , Rating: 5
When I was a kid, my parents bought one of the first VCRs (a Sony Betamax) around 1976. My aunt bought them a copy of Gone with the Wind as a gift. It was $99, which according to an inflation calculator is $378 in 2010 dollars.

The MPAA has a very poor track record at predicting what's best for them. They were convinced videotapes were going to be the death knell for them. "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." They went so far as to sue Sony (who was on the side of taping back then) and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court before losing (the famous Betamax case). In the 1990s, revenue from tape and DVD sales exceeded theater receipts for the first time. (DVD revenue has since dropped below theater revenue in 2010, shifting to video on demand and streaming services.)

Basically, every time new technology comes out, they throw a hissy fit lamenting how the technology is going to kill their industry. And in the end the technology ends up expanding and strengthening their industry. The industry is run by unimaginative people who know only how to keep the ship pointed straight, and are convinced if there's land ahead the solution is to somehow cut a path through the land instead of turn the ship. My advice would be to just ignore what they say they want, for their own good.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By ekv on 1/23/2012 1:15:01 AM , Rating: 2
The industry is run by unimaginative people
Chris Dodd visited a certain real estate companies corporate office several times. After these visits his campaign coffers were, shall we say, bolstered. Mr. Dodd can be extraordinarily imaginative ... when it comes to bribes. Of course, he's from Connecticut. Those from Chicago are rather the gun-in-your-face unimaginative types.

By YashBudini on 1/24/2012 1:15:42 PM , Rating: 2
Mr. Dodd can be extraordinarily imaginative ... when it comes to bribes.

This is what the "land of opportunity" phrase has digressed to.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By polishvendetta on 1/23/2012 9:30:23 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not entirely sure why you were voted down. 15-20 years ago DVD's were not 50$ otherwise my parents would have never had the rack of Disney films for my little sister along with the VHS coppies of Starwars, Jurassic park, and Back to the Future for me. We were recording TV on VHS as well.

15-20 years ago people treated VHS just like DVD, buying monsterous racks for all of their movies. My parents owned one and I knew lots of other families who also had lots of vhs tapes.

maybe 30 years ago that was the case, but that would have been for a brand new technology. and as is always the case the new technology is expensive. I remember when blu ray discs were 30-50$ and players were 400-1000$ i imagine it was the same way when DVD came out. and probably the same for VHS and Laserdisc

RE: I don't think they realize...
By Cheesew1z69 on 1/23/2012 10:30:24 AM , Rating: 1
15-20 years ago DVD wasn't even around...

RE: I don't think they realize...
By rcc on 1/23/2012 1:22:20 PM , Rating: 2
15 years, yes.
20 years, no.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By jRaskell on 1/23/2012 1:23:39 PM , Rating: 2
The DVD was invented in 1995, which was ~17 years ago. I'm by no means a mathematical genius, but I do believe 17 falls between 15 and 20.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By jimbojimbo on 1/23/2012 11:26:28 AM , Rating: 2
The other thing was 15 years ago a movie hit the theaters then sat there for a few months and then had showings at the $1 theaters for another month or so. It wouldn't come out on VHS for at least a year often longer. Because of this if you wanted to watch a movie you saw it in the theater. Also the viewing experience was better because nobody had cell phones.

Now. A movie hits the theaters and you know that it'll be out on Bluray within 3-4 months easily. Why bother going to a theater and have to listen to some a-hole's cell phone ringing non stop over and over? Why not wait and watch it on BluRay in surround sound at the comfort of home with no annoyances? This is why nobody goes to theaters any more except on dates or as a last resort if there's nothing else to do.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By JediJeb on 1/23/2012 2:46:09 PM , Rating: 2
In 1978 I saw Star Wars for the first time and I clearly remember that on the marquis it said "Now in its 44th week" and we still had to sit on the front row because it was packed full.

I also remember that my friend received a copy of The Empire Strikes Back for his graduation present and at the time it cost $100 new. That is just over the 20 years mentioned above, but the price of hit movies back then stayed high for a long time. I also remember when you had to pay $100 or more deposit to a video rental store before you could become a member and rent videos.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By Hardin on 1/23/2012 12:54:42 PM , Rating: 2
No I know vhs tapes were not that expensive 15-20 years ago and I don't know why people who are saying so are getting downvoted. We have so many vhs tapes from those days. We still might have more vhs movies then dvd movies. Usually we only ever went to Blockbuster to rent video games.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By rcc on 1/23/2012 1:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
Because in these discussions you are only allowed to agree with the rants. Any dissenting comments are down rated.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By nafhan on 1/22/2012 5:26:58 PM , Rating: 2
They absolutely realize it. These people in the MPAA and Congress may be corrupt and greedy, but they generally aren't stupid. The 21 million number is simply lying via statistics.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By Jeremy87 on 1/22/2012 9:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
It's even possible that without piracy it would've sold less. Or maybe not with Avatar, but many relatively unknown movies get more known because someone pirates it and talks about it, recommends it to their friends, who then buy it.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By aharris02 on 1/23/2012 1:59:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'd also like to see if that statistic is from US pirating activity, or if that's a global stat they're using to support US regulation.

"We lost $100T USD to pirating activity on this movie, which is evidence that we require more US regulation!" doesn't mean you need more US regulation when China, Russia, and Europe comprise 99% of the cited losses.

By vicarious1 on 1/24/2012 1:59:19 PM , Rating: 2
In the fragile economy the world functions in today, frankly speaking I don't give a rat's bum when I see a movie. I am happy to see an Oscar winner 1 year later if I only pay a minimum fee for it and void the rush. The MUST HAVE, MUST SEE, MUST HEAR everything instantly linked with DO NOT, YOU'R NOT ALLOWED are what kills everything from DVD to going to the movies and sit through low res, crap script advertising.
Why not charge movies NON STOP X 1 add % less and willing to take say 4 adds = the lowest fee and let the adds pay the movie companies the difference.
Movies used to be for the masses, the public at large and affordable (like in India it still seems to be).
Now it has become for the well to do suffering from "Celeb status sindrome". If you haven't seen it, you are a looser, someone who has nothing of being "actuall" or "totally now"
I am sure if movies were still affordable many more would go more often "to the movies". Now one spends easily 50-60$ for a couple going to see a film with all the annoyances included, like in Canada where I have experienced in top movie halls that one can't book a seat in advance.
Are they real? WTF are these the dark ages?
In South Africa I get a discount of 1$ if book my numbered seat online, arrive in style walk my partner down the isle and sit down in my PRE booked seat go and get pop and corn and still come back to the same seat without having to leave my jacket or shoulder bag like in BC. And if I pay a bit extra I get a Buffet and butler service at my seat.
If as in Canada for a famous movie I have to survive a sports arena rush to find a seat not thanks, and crappy 70s style seats that is.
Sony crying for its losses. They should crumble. Wanting us to go the movies but still are in the run for providing "quality" home entertainment. I owned 3 Sony appliances in my life, a stereo, Walkman and TV. They all ended up braking down. My Sharp TV lived 30 years and is still working. So much for the great Sony Brand.

RE: I don't think they realize...
By Nik00117 on 1/25/2012 1:07:48 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, I've pirated quite a bit of material in my lifetime. Music, Movies, etc and you know what...If I couldn't get 90% of that stuff for free I wouldn't of even cared. I'd of lived without it.

Now the movie industry is saying they are losing 3.4 billion dollars? You know I bet my case is true in a lot of the cases I would imagine that number is more like 300 million, and maybe not even that much.

Make good quality product, sell it at a reasonable price ($20 for a DVD is not reasonable) and it will sell...Movies cost too much to make? Well make em cheaper.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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