18 January 2012

You Can Make SOPA and PIPA Irrelevant (But You're Probably Too Lazy)

SOPA and PIPA are bad laws. And Clay Shirky's TED talk about why they're bad laws is great. But he gets the most important point wrong. Right at the end, he says there are two things you can do.

He says you can call your Congresspeeps, and you can "get ready", because more is coming.

But there aren't two things you can do. There are three. And the third thing is much more powerful than the two things Clay suggests.

You can make SOPA, PIPA, Copyright, and the Media moguls of the Hollywood studios, the music labels, the MPAA, and the RIAA irrelevant. You can cut off their air supply.

You can make your own media, and you can make it free.

And why wouldn't you? It's not like the media that's being made for you - for which the RIAA and the MPAA are willing to break the Internet and put you in jail - is any good.

Today's media is SHIT.

Are you dying to see "April of the Penguins" and "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3D"?

Can you NOT FUCKING WAIT for the latest Justin Bieber disc?

(If you said "yes", you are not the target audience, and you are not the future. Please leave.)

I've said it before, but it bears repeating. This stuff is NOT WORTH STEALING. The RIAA and the MPAA want to break the Internet to protect Britney Spears and "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked". SRSLY.

You can make your own media, and you can OBVIOUSLY make better media.

My sisters and I made this in 48 hours with one iPhone, one iMac, and software that cost us zero dollars. You can do MUCH MUCH BETTER. (We can too, and we will).

A modern $300 point-and-shoot camera will take hi-def video whose quality would have made Orson Welles cry. A new Mac comes with iMovie and Garage Band FREE. These apps will let you do things a Hollywood studio would have spent millions of dollars on only a decade ago. Robert Rodriguez' 10-minute film schools are on YouTube and will teach you everything you need to know - IF you have a story to tell and a bit of talent.

So why do you pay $12 for a movie ticket to see some hack's cynical sequel to a sequel when you could make movies yourself and share them for free on YouTube or Vimeo?

Because you're lazy and afraid.

If enough of you shake off the fear and lethargy, you can make the Internet a BETTER place to watch movies than the theater: not just a cheaper place, but a BETTER place. Better because the stories are better and better because the viewing experience is better (no DRM, no lawyers, no restrictions on where a movie can be viewed, no need to wait for a movie to be "released" in our towns).

And you know what's even better than that? If you DO make the Internet a better place to watch movies than the theater, you'll also make it a place where the people who MAKE movies get paid. Which would be great, because the current system doesn't pay people who make movies: it pays people who finance movies, distribute movies, and lobby Congress to make sure watching movies stays expensive.

Here's all it would take. You'd get your ass off the couch and write down that story you think really needs to be told. You'd take in a few online tutorials - maybe Dan Allen's short-film and FCPX tutorials (look for iMovie tutorials if you're cheap), and a few GarageBand lessons. You'd read David Mamet's wonderful short book On Directing Film. And then you'd dust off your DSLR or your digital point-and-shoot camera and go out and make a movie.

You'd upload that movie to YouTube or Vimeo, and you'd give it a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license so anybody could embed it, show it, or download it and remix it to create their own works for free.

You might make a really great film. If you do, you might get paid for it - or not, but you'd still have made a really great film. But - and this is the important point - NO MOVIE STUDIO WOULD GET PAID FOR IT. AND NO MOVIE STUDIO LAWYER WOULD BE ABLE TO THREATEN TO TAKE A WEBSITE OFF THE INTERNET FOR HOSTING IT. AND NO MOVIE STUDIO LOBBYIST WOULD BE ABLE TO BREAK THE INTERNET TO PREVENT OTHERS FROM RIFFING ON IT.

If enough of you do this, the movie studios will have less money. Less money to make shit movies, but also less money to pay lobbyists to pay Congressmen to break the Internet.

And if that happens, Clay's fears won't be realized. There won't be another SOPA waiting for us down the road.

But of course, you'd have to get your ass off the couch.