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Speaker: ACTA: Don't sell us down the river

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  • Keir Leslie,

    It's no accident that pharmaceuticals are more expensive in the US than almost anywhere else.

    Is utterly mad, I mean ffs, US health care, what might explain high costs? Oh, that's right, the truly truly fucked up US health care funding system.

    There is now no cost to distributing information.

    Right. So we have a non-rival and non-excludable good. Can anyone say `public good problem'?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report

  • Matthew Poole,

    For everyone else, it's a side issue.

    The impression I get is that, for a lot of people, everything is "a side issue." They don't really care about anything, except maybe tax cuts. Unless they can see an immediate way in which it will affect them, personally, they just don't give a shit. The blackout actually penetrated the public's consciousness, having made it onto the collective radar of the MSM, and that got people to understand that this was something that could affect them, personally. Downloading copyrighted materials isn't just something that "other people" do, and that means that being disconnected wouldn't just be something happening to "other people."

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Experts? Evidence? What the hell kind of traitorous commie are you? :P

    Call me naive if you must, but it hardly takes a phone book sized briefing paper to see all kinds of very bad shit coming down if you oblige ISP's to cut off people's Internet connection if they are accused of copyright violation. Not convicted, mind you -- just accused.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • BenWilson,

    Is there a political equivalent of DP?

    Surely DP is the porn equivalent of politics.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Matthew Poole,

    Call me naive if you must, but it hardly takes a phone book sized briefing paper to see all kinds of very bad shit coming down if you oblige ISP's to cut off people's Internet connection if they are accused of copyright violation.

    No, but that phone-book-sized briefing paper could come in really handy for bludgeoning into silence the lobbyists for the media cartels. Oh, and for beating some sense into their pliant elected audience.

    When it comes to the copyright issue, it does become very hard to believe that there's no undue influence being exercised. Why do I say that? Because a majority of voting members of the public who submitted on the disconnection issue were agin the concept, but it still made it into law on the basis of the representations of a handful of mouthpiece bodies. That's not democracy, that's cash-ocracy. There's pretty much no circumstance under which the public would willingly accept disconnection of internet as a penalty, except when handed out by a properly-appointed judicial official, but I have very little confidence that the will of the public many will prevail over the will of the corporate few.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report

  • Don Christie,

    Unless I'm very much mistaken, legislation would have to be passed to implement ACTA

    The MED officials I met, with Tizard, thought that a change in legislation would not be required. That was when S29 was in place, but as far as I am aware S29 *is* still in place. Just in some form of limbo for now.

    So...watch it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Pharma John...

    I'm not counting on National doing anything beyond ensuring adequate application of lubricant prior to...

    triggered by Craig's responding rich imagery - is there room for a new product - a non-petroleum based emollient K(e)Y Jelly anyone?

    ...and of course the music would be The Theme From Shaft

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Islander,

    Go Ian! You're cooking with gas!
    (Here & elsewhere!)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report

  • Matthew Holloway,

    Unless I'm very much mistaken, legislation would have to be passed to implement ACTA.

    The way it works is that anything in ACTA that requires a law change would obviously need new legislation, however anything that could be read to be within the law but is currently not a focus of law enforcement wouldn't need new legislation.

    For example, people are able to have laptops searched when going through customs right now but they don't usually bother. Through some readings of the leaked text in ACTA this might change.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Mar 2009 • 7 posts Report

  • Rob Stowell,

    There is now no cost to distributing information. That's not rhetoric - it's an indisputable fact.

    I stopped reading when I got to this, and ran off to steal a laptop and cancel payments to my isp and meridian energy.
    Hey ho, there you go. It's been - weeks!

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2120 posts Report

  • Zippy Gonzales,

    Countries are anticipated to start signing on in 2011.

    Oops my bad. 2010 is when NZ is expected to sign up to ACTA.

    Between that and the budget, 2010 is going to be a very interesting year.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 186 posts Report

  • Russell Clarke,

    I don't know what you're all worrying about. I'm sure the respective governments involved in the negotiations have our best interests at heart.

    -36.76, 174.61 or thereab… • Since Nov 2006 • 164 posts Report

  • Matthew Poole,

    Oh Russell, you're so, so, so funny!

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report

  • Russell Clarke,

    Sorry, I was channeling an amoeba for a second there.

    -36.76, 174.61 or thereab… • Since Nov 2006 • 164 posts Report

  • Colin Jackson,

    Ian Dalziel - re vocal c(h)ords - guilty as charged. You have caught me, sir, like a treem in a disabled spaceship. CJ.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2 posts Report

  • Peter Cox,

    Hi all,

    I've just been in Greece for the last 2 weeks attending the World Conference of Screenwriters. Big Topic: Piracy. And we - as artists (as opposed to business people) - are deeply worried about it.

    Reading the OP, it's hard not to feel that rhetoric is moving the debate away from practicality, and causing more damage than good.

    Yes, the internet is a valuable resource that needs to be protected. But doesn't cinema deserve some kind of protection? Is there not some way of finding a reasonable situation where both sides can have their rights protected from both the big business corporate thieves as well as the bit-torrent thieves?

    Firstly, let's be clear: the internet has cut down distribution costs. So films should be cheaper, perhaps 40% or so, perhaps less depending on marketing costs. But that's a far cry from being free.

    The argument that it is the distributors that are only suffering is patently false. Independent cinema is suffering too. Severely. Artists are suffering.

    Films are not cheap to make, even relatively small independent ones.

    With piracy threatening the industry, it is much harder to attract money for riskier films. Hollywood Studios have closed down a lot of their independent arms and moved into the blockbusters. Independent cinema is dying rather than somehow being liberated.

    Look, by all means, when we're entering into these agreements, we ought to be on the lookout for trojan horse provisions from big business looking to sure up their monopolys. The issue of ISPs being able to open up certain parts of the internet allowing faster streaming to some sites, and slowing others, is a real problem for example, and this is why the Writer's Guilds are fighting hard against this, and other forms of 'soft censorship', while still maintaining the need for us to be serious about how much piracy is seriously damaging one of the world's most important art forms.

    So let's not pretend to ourselves we're just 'giving it to the man' here, or somehow helping independant artists by allowing piracy to go on.

    Weirdly, this whole thing feels a bit like the smacking debate to me: just because a few (well, actually, a very large amount) of people are causing the problem, why should innocent people become criminals? And the accompanying rhetoric sometimes feels equally driven more by emotion, whcih threatens a reasonable outcome.

    To me, the answer is the same: we need to have the ability to prosecute people who steal, combined with a sensible assurance that advantage won't be taken of the situation by those in a position of power.

    But again, let's not pretend to ourselves that we're going to enter a golden age of artistic endeavor from being freed from the distributors. We're in trouble, and we need help.

    So can we try to have less posts of 'black/white' 'good/evil', because it is no where near as simple as this. We need more practical sensible engagement with the problem, so we can actually move towards some sort of solution.

    Cheers, sorry for the long post.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report

  • Kyle Matthews,

    When it comes to the copyright issue, it does become very hard to believe that there's no undue influence being exercised. Why do I say that? Because a majority of voting members of the public who submitted on the disconnection issue were agin the concept, but it still made it into law on the basis of the representations of a handful of mouthpiece bodies. That's not democracy, that's cash-ocracy.

    Sounds like normal political process. Majority of submitters doesn't mean much, and nor should it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Smells like Treem Spirit...

    You have caught me, sir, like a treem in a disabled spaceship.

    Who 'dese Treem ?
    - Svelte Australians in Space?
    Do they come in peeece?

    My Mo'Pho-ton Torpedoes
    are on the mercy setting...

    I'll let the politicians
    take over the asylum seekers...
    (hmmm if they are Australian
    could be a band in there...)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • JasonP,

    Being a software architect (I design and develop large scale real-time telephony software), I live and die by intellectual property. Without intellectual property, the companies I work for would find it a lot harder to justify the investment that pays for my salary.

    That being said, I don't believe that my work should have any special protection just because it is "on the Internet". The Internet doesn't change what happens, it just makes it happen faster.

    Back when I was a kid, we used to go over to each other's house and copy the other guy's games. One person would buy the game, and pretty soon we were all playing it. We did the same thing with LPs, VHS tapes, Cassette tapes and later CDs and DVDs.

    Can anyone honestly say that they've never kept a TV show they've recorded after they've watched it once? Borrowed a CD from a friend and made a tape? Made a mix tape from your own CDs?

    Content that is represented as data has always been easily copied by motivated individuals (read: children).

    The only thing that the Internet has done is lower the barrier to entry.

    What has changed from our childhood days of swapping ROMs and VHS tapes? The change is that you don't have to be motivated anymore, you just need to install a simple tool. There is always someone willing to write some code which will do the job for you, and once it is automated, creators are competing with free.

    As with most things and their intersection with the Internet, I have come to the conclusion that these things are proposed because it is possible, not because we should.

    Consider what NZ Post would look like under ACTA-like rules.

    1) All letters would be opened and scanned. All addresses would be recorded.
    2) If you sent a photocopy of a newspaper article to a friend, you receive a warning letter.
    3) You send a video of the kids with once of Prince's songs playing in the background to Grandma, you receive a second warning letter.
    4) If you then sent a mix tape, you would not be allowed to send (or receive) any more mail.

    Now imagine the exact same thing applied to the regular phone network.

    Why are they demanding that this be applied to the Internet? I use it more often than I do either of the other two data networks.

    Quit doing these things because a software vendor says it can be done.

    Wellington • Since Aug 2009 • 3 posts Report

  • JasonP,

    Here's a prediction on what will happen:

    People will shop around for a non-ACTA signatory country and setup a large peering site with substantial Internet backbone. They will then begin selling encrypted VPN tunnels world-wide, allowing them to cheaply (albeit more slowly) share data without fear of reprisal.

    We are already seeing this with people using VPN accounts to get around geographical limitations on the US TV web sites (Hulu, TV.com, YouTube), as well as the product being offered by the PirateBay (iPredator).

    Governments are playing whack-a-mole with this. They would be better served to change the rules of the game.

    Piracy is _expensive_ to the end customer. Bittorrent is twice as expensive as a legal stream of the same movie. Adding encryption on top just makes it even more expensive.
    How do you compete? Distributors already have a cost advantage. They should use their size to make it larger.

    1) Convince the NZ government to legislate local IP peering.
    2) Peer with all of the ISPs.
    3) Host the content in NZ.

    Immediately, they have a huge cost advantage over the torrent people who pay international traffic. The traffic cost advantage used to be 10:1 for national:international.

    Let's do some math:
    Data Cost: NZ$1.50/GB - Telstra Clear 40GB plan.
    Movie: Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen, 720P
    Size: 8.02GB

    Bittorrent, 1:1 seed ratio:
    Transferred: 16.04GB, international
    Cost: 16.04*1.50 = NZ$24.06

    Transferred: 8.02GB, international
    Cost: 8.02*1.50 = NZ$12.03

    Local Peering, Streamed:
    Cost: 8.02*.15 = NZ$1.20

    These guys are essentially telling us that they cannot compete and offer locally streamed movies at a price of NZ$24/movie. That there is no profit in that at all.

    Oh wait, Sky does it for NZ$7.

    Wellington • Since Aug 2009 • 3 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell,

    Peter - I mostly agree that movies need special protection - anyone can make and record music in their garage these days - they don't need a recording studio, pressing plants, warehouses, trucks, or stores any more.

    The same thing applies to DVDs - except for the recording studio - that's why we've ended up with YouTube - real movies genuinely cost millions of dollars to make and for that reason they need to be able to make that money back or we just wont have any movies.

    However consider this graph record labels are losing money, artists are earning more than they used to for performance - in fact more than they are losing from piracy so they are better off - and the total music industry income is actually going up - it's just that there's a bunch of guys in LA who can't afford their coke habits any more and they're pissed, and they can still afford lawyers and lobbyists - that wont last, eventually, just like the dinosaurs, they'll go away.

    The movie industry has an equivalent to "live performances" those are those initial big screen performances - to be viable I think you need to structure your business to survive on those - just like the movie industry 30 years ago used to - TV, PPV, DVD sales will bring in some extra gravy but as soon as your product hits that market the cat's out of the bag so don't depend on it.

    Near 0-cost distribution and duplication changes the world - you can't make it go away so you have to adapt

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • anth,

    I doubt s92A had anything at all to do with the demise of the last government

    Of course it didn't. National supported that too so there wouldn't be any point changing the government to them because of it.

    For Auckland Central it may have changed the outcome though. 750 votes going to Tizard instead of Kaye would have tipped things the other way. So would 1500 going to Tizard instead of Roche (Green Party). That would be almost a third of Roche's votes, but no one expected her to win yet we knew the race between Tizard and Kaye would be close so for many voters this must have been a deliberate choice to let Kaye in. Or a bit of both would have done it too, Tizard losing 500 votes each to Kaye and anyone else would have cost her the seat.

    Auckland Central contains one of the first two exchanges to get unbundled ADSL. Part of the reason it got chosen is technical, but part of it was based on how many customers Orcon had there or expected to gain so I think we can conclude that the internet was important to a significant chunk of this electorate.

    I've never used any peer to peer software, but the history of certain organisations going after alleged file sharers with apparently little regard as to the quality of their evidence makes me think that just obeying the law may not actually help that much if there is no judicial oversight. I use the internet a lot both personally and for work so this is not a risk I'm willing to take. I would suffer more from having the internet cut off than I would if I were to lose my driver licence, yet there has been no suggestion of that happening if I were to drive somewhere to get an illegally copied CD/DVD, let alone for merely being accused of doing that.

    So for me, living in Auckland Central, this one issue meant that for this first time under MMP I didn't vote for the Labour candidate, and that is despite knowing that unlike some previous elections my vote could make a difference. As to whether enough other voters in this electorate made a similar decision, well who knows but I'm sure that at the very least the contest would have been much closer.

    Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report

  • Peter Cox,

    Paul, good points. There certainly needs to be some adaptation, but I suspect we're going to get big problems if we have to rely too strongly on the cinema experience with new plasma TVs and the like coming in. DVD sales accounted for 2-3 times more than box office sales even back in 2006, so to abandon that will obviously be a major problem.

    Certainly, we need to adapt. The current distribution models are poor over the internet - itunes for example, charges far too much considering the savings they are making on distribution. The problem is though that piracy is denting the margins so strongly that we're not seeing any real competition between the providers. The independent distributors can't get a foot hold, and so we're not seeing the sort of prices we ought to. Because of piracy the business model is simply unviable.

    We also need to remember that the distributors actually end up paying for the productions costs, so when the distributors shut up shop, so do the film makers, particularly the independents. Pathe is a great example of this, I'd really miss Pathe if they shut up shop, so many wonderful films would never have seen the light of day without them. In the last couple of years they've halved in size, and lay that directly at the feet of the pirates. I had a brief chat with Cameron McCracken who produced or EPd a bunch of films such as the Queen, Brightstar, Slumdog Millionaire amongst many others and he's deeply concerned about the films they're not able to make because of the money they've lost through piracy.

    But yes, they need to adapt to the new distribution model, and they're well aware of this. But the pirates are destroying the margins for internet services, so there's little they can really do except shut down a lot of what they can do, and ultimately fund less films.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report

  • Peter Cox,

    I'll also just add that they're well aware they were bloody lucky to have Slumdog as well. Next year they will probably not have the same kind of hit, and things are only going to get tougher...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report

  • Matthew Poole,

    The record labels are dying through their own activities, that's a given. They've relied for too long on being able to clip the distribution ticket that must be presented by artists and purchasers alike, and now that there's a way for fans and artists to easily interact directly the record labels are losing their stranglehold. Musicians have, by and large, never made money off album sales because the labels have such evil accounting practices. Unless you're a Metallica or a Britney, you can only make money from live performances. The internet exposes minor artists to the world, which explains why their income has trended up in line with downloading of music - more downloads, more exposure; more exposure, more fans paying to see your concerts. That's amply demonstrated by the graph Paul linked to above, and not in the least bit surprising, except to record label fat-cats who are convinced that their demise is entirely the fault of those evil, evil consumers.

    Movies are somewhat different, to be sure, but there's a significant level of unwillingness on the part of the major studios to look at ways to monetise the internet. It's much easier to demonise it, and downloaders, than to try and find ways to make it work. We are talking about the same industry that blamed SMS and instant messaging for movies failing to make box office expectations, after all. It can't possibly be mediocre product, it must be the fault of the consumers. That attitude is heavily entrenched, as witnessed by the endless shit we see coming out of the MPAA that attempts to force upon consumers are particular, "acceptable" utilisation of technology. The latest attack on consumers is the MPAA asking the Federal Communications Commission for authority to disable analogue outputs on media players. They've tried this one before, and been knocked back. They're determined to control every last bit (har har) of use to which consumers put their products, still unable to get beyond the "consumers are our enemy" mindset.

    The short version is that any industry that tries to survive by fighting its consumers is doing something wrong. Adapt or die, it's that simple. If you can't adapt, die and let something else take your place. Who laments the demise of the village blacksmith or the local saddler as a consequence of the arrival of the automobile? Were we to transplant current attitudes to change the early 1900s, we'd be stuck with horses and carts courtesy of legislative fiat.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report

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