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New MPAA Survey Skews Copyright Issues

New MPAA Survey Skews Copyright Issues

As part of the MPAA’s My Movie Muse initiative, which purports to cater to consumers by gathering information about their movie-going preferences and desires, a new questionaire conspicuously targets issues of copyright law, with a big business bias.

No surprise, really, since the My Movie Muse project is more about market research and consumer manipulation than it is about helping audiences. After a list of throwaway questions such as “what is your favorite movie” and “what is your favorite line of dialogue,” the online survey gets down to the heart of the matter with the following questions:

“Do you agree with the concept that creative ideas like a story or a song or a photograph are a person’s property the same way that a backpack or a car or furniture are a person’s property?”

“Do you think the concept of ownership is relevant to anything that you have personally created such as a book or a picture or a song?”

“How would you feel if you painted a picture and found out someone was selling copies of it on EBay and making money off it?”

“Do you think someone who has invested time and money into a creative work – like writing a play or research – deserves to be compensated for that work?”

The leading questions are clearly part of a larger MPAA struggle to bolster copyright initiatives and crack down on fair use, file sharing and anything that theatens the bottom line of the international conglomerates. Dan Glickman may be the kinder, gentler face of the MPAA in the wake of Jack Valenti’s exit, but if his demeanor is softer, his goals are still just as nefarious.

To petition the MPAA about its ratings procedures or anything else, click on the link.

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Sujewa Ekanayake

Oh yeah, I am all for filmmakers being able to use clips from other movies to make new work, with permission in some very commercial cases, but either way w/ out having to pay a lot of money.

I though you were arguing (as I have heard several other otherwise very intelligent & sane people/friends argue)that not paying for Hollywood movies is not a big deal because H-wood has a lot of money.

Thanks for the clarification.

– Sujewa

Annie Frisbie

Great post, Anthony- the MPAA is totally out of line in this.

It seems that the MPAA sees its responsibilities as including giving object lessons on the definition of stealing. But theft, as it applies to intellectual property, is not defined by “community standards.” It’s defined by the law.

I’ve got a little more here:

(BTW- I tried to track back but got an error message. If it did come through, feel free to delete this comment or the trackback if you don’t want the redundancy.)

anthony kaufman


You miss the point entirely. I’m not stupid; of course, stealing movies is not cool. But there are several grey areas when it comes to copyright issues. As a friend of mine and copyright scholar tells me, “Should mashups be considered piracy? How much taking is too much? What if I could take a chip from his chocolate chip cookie and create a new cookie out of it without damaging his original cookie at all?”

Surely, the studios want all of their cookie, and the ability to eat it whole, too. Whereas independent and D.I.Y. filmmakers and documentary makers are being priced out of the ability to use archival footage and film clips that should be better left in the public domain. Everything is owned, and increasingly so nowadays, making it harder for independent filmmakers to make their works on budgets they can afford. Make sense?

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