Hollywood in Brooklyn Heights

In February, after strong public opposition to the proposed Stop Online Piracy and PROTECT IP Acts, Paramount Pictures sent letters to schools throughout the country seeking an exchange of ideas with students about content theft and possible ways to address it. Brooklyn Law School took them up on the offer hosting Movies, the Internet, and Copyright on Tuesday, April 10. The featured speaker was Paramount Pictures Vice President Alfred Perry presenting the movie industry’s perspective on the problems of online copyright infringement, the recent debates over the proposed laws, and the future of regulation of IP on the internet. BLS Prof. Derek Bambauer in a post entitled Hollywood Comes to Brooklyn on INFO/LAW wrote an excellent summary of the event where Mr. Perry faced a skeptical audience as he focused on enforcement and the risk which the industry sees in infringement.

Perry argued that Hollywood faces “content theft” and that something must be done. BLS Professor Jason Mazzone, author of Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law (Call # KF2994 .M399 2011), responded to Perry’s position, saying that he was being disingenuous using the word “theft” which unfairly biases the discussion and ignores both the realities of copyright which is not absolute. Students were skeptical of the claims of Mr. Perry who seemed unable to grasp their perspective. Prof. Bambauer observed:

The discussion was impressively thoughtful and civil. The students evinced skepticism about the movie industry’s good faith and bona fides, particularly given the drafting of SOPA / PROTECT IP, and also given the recording industry’s history of suing its users. Perry pointed out that Paramount is trying hard to make content available widely, cheaply, and easily, and that the only other way of altering the reward calculus to users is to engage in enforcement against end consumers, which no one likes. He was repeatedly puzzled by the attitude of law students that infringement isn’t a big deal (since it’s unlawful), particularly when this attitude is justified by reference to movie industry profits. He kindly stuck around afterwards to talk with students individually.