Hollywood and NAFTA

t byfield tbyfield at panix.com
Fri Nov 12 10:05:24 PST 1999

> Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 07:37:51 -0800
> From: Marta Russell <ap888 at lafn.org>


> To the Motion Picture Association of America, we would like
> to remind them of their historic ties and moral obligation
> to the community of workers and artists who created them.
> We urge them to consider the long-range political and economic
> implications of trade policies that sow dissension in our
> community at the very time our industry is under attack by the
> forces of intolerance.

heh. the MPAA has been, um, previously engaged of late, twisting arms at the ICANN meeting in LA (to make sure they got their 'uni- form dispute resolution policy' passed, thereby rendering everyone without a wall of litigators a cybersquatter-in-waiting) and DC (to make congress do the same, as well as relegate TCP/IP networks beyond the pale of the the Satellite TV bill). film-industry workers will soon be following in the footsteps of their animator brethren, who've been given a choice between beavis-and-butthead-type work or finding a new business, because it's all being done in asia now.

the MPAA doesn't give a sh-t for *what* its constituency owns, only about enforcing its ownership. notions of 'quality' are, obviously, quite malleable, but licensing is rigorous indeed: so who cares if it's poorly made rubbish, as long as it can be licensed and resold? 'the future' of film isn't cultivating new filmmakers--it's in cul- tivating secondary markets (DVD and video sales and rentals, pay- per-view, captive-audience markets in airlines and hotels, foreign sales, merchandizing, and so on, *which is primarily a problem of enforcement of 'intellectual-property' law*. this is evident in the recent crack of DVD security: a mind-bogglingly brain-dead system for *technically* guaranteeing that DVDs can't be copied, which btw completely f-cked the *hardware* manufacturers; but, again, who cares? just make copying them a felony in national law and an IMF/WB- sanctionable offense in international law. workers are completely irrelevant to this program.

the MPAA's evil twin, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) learned this lesson first, because CDs require much less horsepower than audiovidual material, so consumer electronics for music hit first. and you pay the same price for a CD of 'oldies' that you pay for some top-of-the-pops tripe: except that the artist doesn't see one red cent of the ~$16 you pony up and there's *no* marketing cost. just a profit so pure as to be adamantine. brilliant system, that, and as computers become sophisticated enough to handle full-motion video, you can be sure the MPAA's constituency is waiting for its turn to rake it in thusly.

'we would like to remind [the MPAA] of their historic ties and moral obligation'! what a hoot!

cheers, t

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