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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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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
quote:
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
quote:
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
quote:
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.


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