Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.”     H. L. Mencken

February 7, 2007

Congress: Bought And Paid For By Hollywood

by Doug Mataconis

With the Democrats back in power, their friends in Hollywood are among the first in line to influence the policy debate in Washington:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 — Hollywood has often been a whipping boy here, but with a new Congress in session, the heads of the major movie studios converged on the capital Tuesday to pitch their industry in the unaccustomed role of good guy: boon to the trade balance, engine of economic growth, polisher of the nation’s image and employer of a big, uncelebrated, middle-class work force.

Yes, that’s right. Right along side Youngstown, Ohio, the film-making capital of the world now considered itself a middle class community.

The conversation often turned to piracy, the existential issue that dominates the association’s agenda. [Taylor] Hackford [director of last year's acclaimed Ray], who spent more than a decade developing “Ray,” told of finding a bootleg DVD of the movie on the day of its theatrical release, and said 42 million illicit copies were sold within five months.

That meant millions of dollars in lost revenue — “and DVDs is how people get their money back,” he said of movie financiers. “If they don’t, will I be able to sell a hard-to-sell picture like ‘Ray’? No.”

Hackford calls himself middle class, but, of course, Ray earned more than $ 75 million dollars.

More importantly, though, his comments are an example of the typical tactics of the movie and music industries. They point to extreme examples, such as the obviously illegal bootlegging of a major motion picture within a week of it’s release, to justify laws like the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and extension of Copyright protection well beyond it’s original 75 year period, to justif their demand for nearly unlimited control over their so-called intellectual property.

As Nick Gillespie points out at Hit & Run, in the end, it’s the little guy who will end up getting screwed.

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