It sounds like it's over ... all except for the semi-orderly withdrawal.
After a week in which their anti-piracy legislation got derailed by the full force of the Internet lobby, the mood in Hollywood was one of anger, frustration and a growing resignation that the entertainment industry will be forced to accept a much weaker law than originally envisioned.
A full-on counterattack by a tech industry opposed to the toughest elements in the congressional bills, including a well-publicized Wednesday shutdown by key Internet sites, halted the legislation.
With supporters defecting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday postponed a key procedural vote. The lead sponsor of the companion bill in the House said he would redraft the proposed law in search of consensus. ...
Nothing like a gazillion petitions, e-mails and letters to focus a congress person's attention ...
I got a call today from one of the people from "Creative America" one of the groups helping the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, and the IATSE shepherd the anti-piracy bills through congress. He made reference to the unfairness of the tech industry's attack. I replied with my usual mantra:
"There is no fair. There's only what one side or the other has the leverage to get."
And we got into a back-and-forth about the merits of the bills, the threats of piracy on movie workers' livelihoods, also the unwillingness of the tech and internet industries to bend a little. I replied that it didn't look like those folks had to bend, given their muscle with congress.
He had no response to that.
This is a tough time for content conglomerates and movie unions. The digital age and the internet have upended almost every status quo: television viewing; movie attendance; dvd purchases. Long-time business models are, to put it mildly, in flux.
Major parties in the entertainment industry should have seen this coming, what with those coal-mine canaries called record companies. Capitol/EMI, Warner Records and the rest battled collapsing revenues by suing their customer base (always a great idea) twelve years ago, when college kids started downloading songs off the internet. Apple and iTunes saved some of the industry's bacon when they invented a new business model to which the public flocked, but the cake had already been baked. The era of selling little silver disks out of brick and mortar stores was O-ver.
So now movie studios are in the pressure cooker, fighting the wars the old-line record companies lost a decade ago. They'll have to change to survive and prosper, and it won't be easy. But few things are when you're in the throes of radical transformation.
The Animation Guild, like other Hollywood unions, has long supported the battle against internet piracy. The health of industry pension plans depend on it. As unions and guilds said today:
"We fought for this legislation because illegal Internet businesses that locate offshore expressly to elude U.S. laws should not escape the very same rules of law that currently apply to illegal U.S. websites," ...
For the moment, it seems the fight will be waged under current laws and regulations because the fight to push through SOPA and PIPA is at a standstill. But the problem of big-time internet theft is still out there, and it would be useful to have some sharp-edged weapon to combat it.
A representative from the DGA-SAG-AFTRA-IATSE Internet Piracy Group ("Creative America") will be at the next TAG General Membership meeting on Tuesday, January 31st to talk about the battle and legislation against internet piracy. If you have questions or issues, we suggest you BE there to voice them.