Why Hollywood Should Stop Pushing For More Government Internet Control


This post, written by global policy analyst Maira Sutton and activist Parker Higgins, originally appeared on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website on Oct. 18.

The content lobby’s narrative about the Internet’s impact on the creative industry has grown all too familiar. According to this tiresome story, Hollywood is doing everything it can to prevent unauthorized downloading, but people—enabled by peer-to-peer technologies, “rogue” websites, search engines, or whatever the bogeyman of the moment is—keep doing it anyway. As a result, say groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), creators are deprived of their hard-earned and well-deserved profits and have little incentive to keep creating.

There’s a lot that’s wrong with this story (like the assumption that most copyright royalties actual end up in the pockets of the artists). But one of the most pernicious aspects is the idea that Hollywood is actually making a sincere effort to meet user demand.

That’s why we’re happy to see a new website called PiracyData.org, is helping to tell another crucial part of the story. As the site shows, the studios aren’t keeping up with the markets that new technologies enable—which is why, in many cases, the most popular films are not even available through preferred legal channels.

The site lists the top 10 most pirated films on BitTorrent and checks whether those films are available to stream, rent, or purchase digitally. In a simple chart, it shows how few options users have for accessing these in-demand movies. Since the site began recording three weeks ago, only 20% have been available for digital rental and none have been available for streaming. This site goes to highlight the underlying problem of unauthorized file sharing: the high demand for legal access to films is not being met when we clearly already have the technology to enable this experience.

Of course, this data confirms the long-held suspicions of many who object to Hollywood’s demand for ever more draconian copyright enforcement efforts. Instead of focusing on piracy and spending millions on lobbying for those policy changes, the content industry should be investing its resources into creating better and more accessible platforms for users. Unfortunately, Hollywood refuses to acknowledge that reality. We’ve seen the industry demonstrate that with its continuing efforts to push legislation that runs counter to the public interest, and its stubborn refusal to offer content in the formats people have been shown to prefer.

If the studios were to invest their considerable resources in meeting the market demand, it could lead to a very profitable digital marketplace. We said this before, and we’ll keep saying it until it sinks in: the hard-working men and women in the entertainment industry should stand up and tell their leaders to either embrace the age of the Internet or get out of the way so that new, forward-thinking industry leaders can take their place.

Personal Liberty

Electronic Frontier Foundation

From the Internet to the iPod, technologies are transforming our society and empowering us as speakers, citizens, creators, and consumers. When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense. EFF broke new ground when it was founded in 1990—well before the Internet was on most people's radar—and continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today. From the beginning, EFF has championed the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights. https://www.eff.org/

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.


    hollywood has crap for movies lately anyways,their just pissed because their movies aren’t making money!get rid of the old blood in that town and let in new writers and directors and give that a try!boo hoo to hollywood,when crap actors and movies win the oscars,you know something foul is afoot!

  • Alan

    “Hollyweird” is, by-and-large, a worthless entity anymore. 95% of what they put out these days is nothing but garbage. Usually it’s loaded with mendacious, politically-correct, liberal undertones that act to subliminally control the masses, especially to influence the minds of the impressionably young. It’s demise is a welcome sight.

  • TheSilverRanger

    MEMO to Hollywood: The rest of America still loves America.

  • Vis Fac

    Hollywierd the land of fruits and nuts hasn’t produced anything but junk for decades. Certainly nothing after the 70’s no story just gratuitous sex violence gore and half A$$ED special effects., The “artists” no brains no charisma no responsibility no morals but plenty of omnipotence and hypocrisy

    Give me a movie with Bogart Stewart Cooper Hepburn Newman etc.any day over the new crap. At least they had storyline and the “artists” were more conservative enlisted in the armed forces and didn’t provide “lip service” as those today

    Libertas inaestimabilis res est

  • scott miller

    I think a few studies of late have even shown that the music industry at lest actually makes more money because of piracy, people experiment with more types of music and tend to buy more because of that.

    And are not movies these days still breaking box office records despite piracy?

    How about they try harder to produce better movies that are not endless remakes trying to cash in on nastalgia, making movies by committee, 10 writers for a script, garbage that hollywood craps out.

  • Robert Messmer

    It is extremely hard to feel upset when they claim that actors who get paid millions of dollars don’t get all of their royalties. Especially when a new movie (which most of the times these days is not a NEW movie, simply a sequel, a re-make of an older movie, or a CGI) grosses hundreds of millions of dollars the weekend it is released. I don’t know any other job that pays you years after you have already been paid for your work. The ones who should be getting the royalties are the writers, but knock of the conversion of comic books to movies and calling it great writing. It is not great writing, it’s hack work. Pay them like the hacks they are and move on.