Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Is it really Hollywood vs Silicon Valley in the IP argument? Claire Tristram calls it a "feud between northern and southern California". I had thought this was a typical media attempt to make news more exciting by dramatizing the conflict and simplifyingthe players. However it really seems like two monoliths facing off.

Hollywood initially tried to work directly with computer and software companies to develop machines that prevent copying of copyright-protected material, or to prevent playing illegally copied material. When the direct approach didn't work well enough, Hollywood lobbied for legislation (Holling's SSSCA bill) to force computer companies to produce copyright-protecting computers.

Who is "Hollywood"? Is it as monolithic as it is made to appear? The most named players are:
  • Michael Eisner (Disney), suggesting that computer companies are making too much money from IP piracy to be serious about fighting it.
  • Jack Valenti, CEO of the Motion Picture Ass'n of America, who predicts catastrophe for Hollywood's products, using words like "cannibalized", saying nobody will invest venture capital in movies if they can be stolen.
  • Peter Chernin, COO of News Corporation (including Fox), testified that "American books, movies,television and music are among our most successful products overseas; but if they cannotbe protected from unlawful copying, their export value would shrink to nothing"... "broadcasters will be forced to come to Congress to ask that a DTV solution be imposed on the CE and IT industries"

On the other side of the debate:
  • Gateway CEO Ted Waitt was asked "Why don't Hollywood and Silicon Valley better understand each other? " He answered "They speak different languages. The entertainment industry always chooses to fight things out through the courts and legislation. Technology people always think there's a business solution."
  • Intel has had several top people come out against SSSCA. Andy Grove said "What's most frustrating is that we've worked with the entertainment industry for six years trying to forge a consensus on copyright technologies, and we've failed to change their ideas."
  • Bill Gates has criticised Disney for resisting new technology

Anybody know of notable exceptions? Hollywood high-ups that oppose Hollings? Computer company CEOs who support the bill? I'd be interested to know.

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