At the Association of American Publishers annual meeting this morning, leaders from the MPAA, RIAA, AAP, Business Software Alliance and other groups got together to talk about what went wrong in their fight for SOPA and PIPA, and what the industry can do to get their points across in the future. PaidContent has a great rundown of some of the comments that were made during a panel discussion featuring AAP president and CEO Tom Allen, Business Software Alliance’s Robert Holleyman, and Recording Industry Association of America’s Cary Sherman.
"Our industries do something that no one else can do," the Motion Picture Association of America’s Fritz Attaway said during the 'Content Industries in Digital Transformation' panel. "We create content that people want to have."
"Among my friends in Congress, there is some alarm about what happened [surrounding SOPA and PIPA]," said Allen, a former Maine congressman (D). "The woman who replaced me in the first district of Maine got 800 e-mails in two days, every one of them opposed to the bills. How in this environment can our respective industries do more to defend the principles of copyright when we’re confronting this wave of the public that goes every day to the Internet and downloads and reads all sorts of stuff for free?"
While there was a lot of talk about collaborating or working with technology leaders, there was also plenty of hand wringing and chest pounding about the fight they lost to the Internet.
"Right doesn’t always prevail," Attaway said concerning the SOPA and PIPA fight online. "This time, it didn’t, because our opponents were able to energize a grassroots response. In my view, and I think all of us would agree, [the protest against SOPA and PIPA was spread] primarily through disinformation and spinning their interest in a way that captured the attention of a number of consumers."
The entertainment industry continues to insist that the protests were mobilized by technology leaders like Google and Facebook, despite the fact that thousands of organizations including the ECA and the EFF were on the front lines of the fight informing internet users about the legislation that was being pushed by lawmakers in the U.S.
"we’ve been rather successful in negotiating with ISPs and other best practices that help protect our content on [user-generated content] sites….I’m very optimistic about our future," added Attaway.
The head of the Business Software Alliance, who did not support SOPA or PIPA, had a different take:
"There was a tremendous amount of opposition and we can discuss how it was or wasn’t generated," Holleyman said. "Shared responsibility and working with other industries is going to be the best, and maybe the only, solution we have, at least for the next several years. I hope we can build a climate where the rhetoric can be lower."
The RIAA’s Cary Sherman, who has been vocal and often venomous about the SOPA and PIPA fights, hopes further copyright discussions will be more rational than those debates were.
"The digital tsunami we encountered with SOPA and PIPA—we’re not going to get the same kind of engagement when we talk about statutory damages or open works," he said. "We’ll have the opportunity for a more rational discussion. At the same time, I think we actually need to engage. We have criticized the other side for just saying no. We have an enormous piracy problem, and any solution we propose, they just say no. We [also] need to engage and not just say no."
Sherman also talked about the music industry’s new "Copyright Alert program," which will launch in the second quarter of this year. According to Sherman, the software searches through P2P sites for pirated content, then notifies ISPs, who in turn send notices to subscribers alerting them that they’ve been identified as "copyright infringers."
"Education is key," Attaway claims. "It is absolutely ridiculous that a movie that cost $100 million to create, a copy of which you paid $20 for, to say that you own that movie and should make any number of copies you want to. The intellectual base of the Copyleft is pretty flimsy, and we need to do a better job of pointing that out to the public. We need to do it from a grassroots base of the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on copyright protection. [Paying $20 for a movie] doesn’t mean you have the right to make all the copies you want and share them with all of your friends."