The Nuclear Option

In a post titled The next SOPA, Marco Arment suggests that the MPAA’s clout in Washington is a campaign finance problem. He paints a bleak picture of how we will always lose a battle against them, unless…

The MPAA studios hate us. They hate us with region locks and unskippable screens and encryption and criminalization of fair use. They see us as stupid eyeballs with wallets, and they are entitled to a constant stream of our money. They despise us, and they certainly don’t respect us.

Yet when we watch their movies, we support them.

Even if we don’t watch their movies in a theater or buy their plastic discs of hostility, we’re still supporting them. If we watch their movies on Netflix or other flat-rate streaming or rental services, the service effectively pays them on our behalf next time they negotiate the rights or buy another disc. And if we pirate their movies, we’re contributing to the statistics that help them convince Congress that these destructive laws are necessary.

Marco suggests a boycott of Hollywood movies, at least those made and/or released by the six major studios that comprise the MPAA. No more buying tickets, discs, streaming subscriptions or downloads (legal or otherwise). This is the nuclear option, our Doomsday Machine. Pull the trigger and Hollywood is done.

I don’t advocate this tactic. This is in part because I don’t want to harm the filmmakers whose films move cinema forward from within the system, but I also have a vested interest in the movie business succeeding. There actually are a lot of jobs at stake in this industry, mine included.

Which wraps back around to why Chris Dodd and the MPAA should listen closely to what Marco is saying, because I’ll bet you he’s not the first person to think up an all out Hollywood boycott. The studios should be more afraid of losing their core audiences than they are of piracy.

As more online outlets pop up and enterprising filmmakers get savvier, the studio system may see more attention (and dollars) being spent elsewhere. Then they’d be in much worse of a pickle than piracy could ever provide.

Dodd and friends: it’s time for damage control. When the people start considering putting down your product and looking elsewhere, you’ve done something horribly wrong. Don’t pursue “the next SOPA.” Instead, make amends and find a way to be great again. This may be your last chance.