Monday, March 15, 2010

Ari Emanuel lobbying Obama for US 'Three Strikes' law?

So says Deadline Hollywood:
News Corp's James Murdoch and WME's Ari Emanuel both talked tough at the recent Abu Dhabi Media Summit about the illegal downloading of movies and TV shows.... Emanuel said he’s been speaking to President Obama about the U.S. adopting France’s 3-strikes-and-you’re-out stance. (Last year, France introduced a rule allowing legal action once Internet users had been caught illegally downloading 3 times.) The agent, whose brother Rahm is White House chief of staff, told delegates he expects there will be a “fight with ISPs” over the showbiz industry lobbying.
This doesn't surprise me; last October I attended a conference where Emanuel strongly endorsed the French model, calling piracy the biggest danger facing the entertainment industry, and fighting it "the most important thing for our business."

Interestingly, Emanuel, whose talent agency business is affected only indirectly by piracy, takes a more aggressive stance than the RIAA, whose members have been devastated by illegal downloading. In an official blog post last month, the record industry's trade association reiterated that "the RIAA has not called for a 'three strikes and you’re out' approach." Instead, it said, the RIAA supports "graduated response policies that call generally for escalating sanctions against offenders caught repeatedly engaging in illegal file sharing, an approach already contemplated by existing law (DMCA) and the ISP terms of services already agreed to by the user."

Update: Josh Gerstein at Politico tracked down what Emanuel actually said in Abu Dhabi. It turns out Emanuel didn't actually say he had lobbied Obama; rather, he spoke about Vice President Biden's anti-piracy efforts. Here are Emanuel's actual words:

In France, they are implementing a three-strike rule. We’re in the midst in the United States of moving forward with the Vice President and some attorney generals of trying to implement the three-strike rule...

It’s graduated response, so if people steal content there’s more penalties…eventually they stop them from doing it…..if we do not get a hold of this with the expansion of distribution, and I think there's a big fight coming with the ISPs and people that create content, all this is going to be for naught.


  1. So long as it works both ways. So if News International is caught 3 times using unlicensed photos from flickr or elsewhere then they get their internet connection terminated.

  2. Ben,

    How would the implementation of "graduated response policies that call generally for escalating sanctions against offenders caught repeatedly engaging in illegal file sharing" differ from a "3 strikes" policy?

    It seems to me that the former is just using a lot of words to say if you get caught too many times you are going to have your internet connection suspended.

    I also believe that "the RIAA, whose members have been devastated by illegal downloading" is a bit of hyperbole. Unless it's common knowledge and supported by facts that I would love to see.


  3. If the Obama administration is not careful here, it will torch its support among younger "digital native" voters, possibly leading to re-election failure in 2012. This age cohort was overwhelmingly pro-Obama in 2008 and if too many of them decide to sit on their hands it becomes a political problem.

  4. My issue with "three strikes" is that each "strike" is an accusation, not a conviction.

    I also take exception to the continual "piracy-piracy-piracy" bleating that we hear from these folks. They have made two fatal assumptions: that every download is the loss of a full-retail-price sale, and that wiping out fine-sharing will magically bring back the golden days of profitability. The saddest irony is that even if they get these laws passed, things will not improve - and they will probably get worse.

    So now they want everybody else to do their dirty-work form them (USTR, DoJ, TSA, ISPs etc) while they collect the money.

    If these folks could turn off the Internet with the push of a button, they would have done so long ago.

  5. @wizardprang:

    Both of your "fatal assumptions" are actually straw men you have invented. If you look at the studies of piracy losses cited by major copyright owners, you will see that they do NOT assume that every illegal download is a lost sale. To take just one example, in the major 2006 LEK film piracy study (, the Wall Street Journal reported:

    "[T]he survey specifically asked consumers how many of their pirated movies they would have purchased in stores or seen in theaters if they didn't have an unauthorized copy...."

    Moreover, I have yet to encounter anyone who actually believes that "wiping out fine-sharing will magically bring back the golden days of profitability." If you have an example of someone affiliated with a major copyright owner saying something like that, please provide it.

  6. @Randy:

    I don't speak for the RIAA, so you'll have to ask them directly what they meant. But, as their statement said, they support an escalating series of sanctions that might include warnings, slowed service, etc. before they get to the point of terminating service. The point is to convince people to stop their illegal behavior -- not to terminate their service (unless they repeatedly persist in the face of warnings and escalating sanctions). Also, I think the RIAA is drawing a distinction between a French-style government-run system and the kind of voluntary agreements they are negotiating with ISPs.

  7. This lost sale thing fallacy has to be put away for good. There are no lost sales as there aren't sales in the first place. It's lost revenue as material is not "sold" it's licensed.

    I you download a song, WHEN YOU LISTEN TO IT, it is indeed a "lost sale". The pirate semantic games continue with the use of "sale" instead of correctly addressing the meat of the matter, that is, a license.

    The other pirate BS is sharing is not technically "theft". And evolution isn't' true as it's technically a theory. Don't excuse illegal behavior through semantic games.

    The pirate "try before buy" is not part of the licensing therefore simply listening to the music, after pirating, is lost revenue and therefore what most people would define as a lost sale.

  8. Okay, let's say someone gets a letter saying that they downloaded copywritten materal from 2 months ago,chances are they have continued to download said material.So, even if they stop the illegal downloads as soon as they recieve the notice they are already past the 3 strikes. How will that be dealt with?


Comments here are moderated. I appreciate substantive comments, whether or not they agree with what I've written. Stay on topic, and be civil. Comments that contain name-calling, personal attacks, or the like will be rejected. If you want to rant about how evil the RIAA and MPAA are, and how entertainment companies' employees and attorneys are bad people, there are plenty of other places for you to go.