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The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) claims that SOPA and PIPA are aimed at stopping online piracy. But as this infographic demonstrates, it’s really about fighting innovation.

Piracy sucks, but the Internet doesn’t. We need to throw PIPA out with SOPA and start over with legislation created with guidance from technology experts that aims to control piracy – not our freedom to create and innovate online.

Infographic by Anne Rhodes

Activism + Politics


About The Author

Michelle Schusterman

Michelle is a musician, writer, and teacher just trying to see the world while doing what she loves for a living. She's taught ESL in Salvador, Brazil and kindergarten in Suwon, Korea, and now she's a full-time freelance writer living in Seattle (just to keep the city alliteration going). She'll try pretty much any food once and believes coffee is its own food group.

  • John Bair

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Facts dont lie

  • Korios

    Well said and illustrated. MPAA has never had any imagination. The irony is that the studios that comprise MPAA have always dealt with the some of the most imaginative people in the world.

  • ettedde

    whats funny is that the people pushing SOPA and PIPA are the same people that pushed the tools to commit copyright infringement. They gave out the tools to use, like Limewire, Kazaa, and Bittorrent, and then turned around and sued the victims of their hands. Go to youtube and look up mike mozart sopa, and watch it. Crazy world we live in..

  • Zombietroy

    If they pass this crap, I’m moving out of the US. PERIOD.

    • LarryMoniz

      Bye, Sayonara, Au Revoir, etc.

    • DontMessWithAmerica

      If that’s a promise Zombie then there is all the more reason to pass it.  You might feel more at home in the world of Bakshish where theft and piracy is a way of life: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.  You’ll fit right in.

    • Taheca

      Where do you want to move? Please google on information regarding ACTA and try again.

  • Guest

    There’s an equivalent lack of vision and resistance to innovation in the music industry. From “Home taping is killing music” leading to penalty taxes on blank cassettes to offset a crime you are being alleged to commit simply by buying a blank, to DRM, to demanding a perentage of mp3 player sales as an offset to alleged illegal downloading, to furious resistance against iTunes’ pricing and single-track model, to online streaming.

    (BTW, your movie chart omits the furious resistance to talking pictures, also a perceived death-knell.)

    • LarryMoniz

      Then why are some artists refusing to create and record new music?   Prince is on record as refusing to record anything more, as are many other artists.  The music industry has imploded because of piracy to the point where a “gold” record is now 500,000 copies sold rather than 1-million. 

      • Copyrightisevil

        You are clueless or a troll. You can start reading Question Copyright (google it) or Techdirt and learn something or keep spitting vile propaganda from your masters at the RIAA and the MPAA. Your pick?

  • LarryMoniz

    My real motivation is that although EBooks are still a relatively new and growing phenomenon, some 25 percent of all e-books are pirated and illegally marketed or otherwise distributed, thereby stealing royalties from the authors who create the works.

    • Chris Miller

      This is why personally I’ll go to great lengths to pay for an ebook (I once had to go through a VPN to get a US IP address, sign up for a pretend US phone number and register a US shipping address with one of those forwarding services before the purchase would go through) but I honestly couldn’t give a shit when it comes to music – artists with a mainstream label only get like 1% of the profit. And anyone who puts out their own work and the profits would be going to them I’ll buy it legally, whatever form of media it is. However also regarding ebooks – there are countries where it’s legal to download them if there’s no way of purchasing it due to geo-blocking etc. I think the one I first read about was a Scandinavian country. IMO geo-blocking and similar are a pretty huge force behind pirating. Netflix recently announced they wouldn’t open an operation in my country, so if I want to see a movie legitimately I have to physically go to a video rental store, sign up for membership, hire it, and then physically return it afterwards. What is this, the 90s? 

    • William Armstrong

      If you listen to some authors, they will tell you that when their books are pirated, their sales go up. Neil Gaimon comes to mind. I will let him speak for himself.

      The point of this,by the way, is not to tell you to put your works up like Neil did, but to start this conversation. 

      I find new authors by reading. The largest source for new authors I like, the library. They lent me their copy, I read the full book, brought it back to them, and end of story, right? Not for those authors that I loved, no. I have bought everything Mercedes Lackey has written, unless I couldn’t get a hold of it. I have bought many of the Anne McCaffrey Pern novels, all of her Acorna series, including the children series. I have bought All of the Wheel of Time series, and will even buy the book coming out this year, and that author is dead. 

      These are some of the big names, but who else have I bought their books from a friend lending me that first copy? I have bought the entire Eli Moonpress saga to date, which reminds me, I should check for the next book’s release. I have bought anything new from Brandon Sanderson. Robin Hobb has a great series, and I can go on and on. But as I get older, I find myself reluctant to go outside my confort zone. 

      So how are you going to make sure I have read some of your stuff, to make sure you get your percentage? Maybe depend on luck? Post a first chapter, or short story you couldn’t get published? Or not worry about it at all. 

      My most important point is, edify yourself, and make up your own mind. Or, not. It is your choice, your life, your career. But the world is not the same. Make yourself relevent. Good luck in these scary times.

  • Pedro Menezes Pereira

    Nice!!!! :))

  • Sam

    Anne, I agree that piracy sucks, but let us get that legislation moving already…

  • Tpgpc

    This infographic looks cool and all and I’m interested in what it has to say, but the resolution is too low for me to read.

    Wickid pissah.

  • William Armstrong

    It is funny that the info graphic mentions the designer goods industry. The designer clothing industry has no intellectual property rights other than trademark, which for all practical purposes means the logo of the company. Any company can create a so non-off, or “pirated” version and it is legal. In other words, it isn’t piracy, as it doesn’t break the law. 

    They must be hurting, right?

    The US Retail Clothing Industry Includes about 40,000 Companies That Operate 80,000 Stores with Combined Annual Revenue of $130 Billion

    Wait, how are they doing better than the Movie industry? So, a couple of thing. Ask your self a few very simple question. If you go to a store, do you want to feel like a million dollars? Or do you want to spend a million dollars? Most everyday people want to feel like a million dollars. How do the big brands deal with this? Two ways come immediately to mind. Their philosophy is “Somebody that would buy a knock-off was never one of our customers, anyway.” The second way is equally as simple. Who do you think makes those knock-offs that look exactly the same, except for the brand? Hmm? Several Brands have admitted this. 

    So, is it all rosy for them? Well, their fear is not that someone will buy the knock-offs, their fear is that someone will pay the full price, thnking that they  are the real thing. Why? Because they were paid the price for the knock-off, but they could have been paid the price for the “real” thing.

    For a really interesting TED Talk on this subject, go

  • Alex G. Alicea

    I love the infographic :)

  • Guest
  • Christian W.

    Absolutely great infographic!

  • Tara

    This is excellent Michelle, it makes the issues clear. Thanks for your time & effort in creating and posting.

  • Tboy

    Your analogy at the end is wrong. If the store is specifically designed to, or if it serve little purpose other than to enable or facilitate shoplifting of other people’s IP, then the store could be shut down. If the store is, to continue the metaphor, Flickr or Youtube, etc., which are sites that weren’t specifically designed to, and do serve many purposes other than to enable or facilitate theft of other people’s IP, then they aren’t “‘Internet site(s) is dedicated to theft of U.S. property’”, and consequently they can’t be summarily shut down.

    • Jwwalker60

      Stores have thousands of goods supplied by thousands of distributes. Anyone who believes that an item sold in the store is pirated can go to court and have the store stop selling that item. That sounds fair, but the problem is there is no due process. I don’t have to prove to the court that the item is pirated only that I believe it is. So the store owner has to prove that they are not helping the pirates or the store can be closed. So, there is no innocent until proven guilty or due process. The store own will spend time and money trying to protect themselves from potential pirates instead of making a better shopping experience and developing new products.
      There are already law to stop pirates, it just takes time and effort to live in an open society.

    • Ross Thompson

      Megaupload was no more an “Internet site(s) is dedicated to theft of U.S. property” than You Tube is.  It was a site where people could put their own IP for other people to share. But the fact that some people posted intellectual property they didn’t have the rights to was enough for the US Government to shut them down.

      Why should Flickr or You Tube require a different standard of evidence?

    • Andrew Case

      Actually according to the proposed law all an IP owner has to do is accuse a site of intentionally hosting the IP without permission and the site isn’t just shut down, it is blacklisted US wide. If it is an overseas server, the US can’t “shut it down” but they permanently blacklist it and it is never allowed in the US again.

      The problem that the MPAA doesn’t understand is one the majority of internet users do. And that is how the internet works. All the overseas site has to do is change one number, one letter, one word and it is back online and available in the US. When IPv6 is fully implemented this will be even easier. Even if the US blocks all content from the country the site is hosted in there are several tools that’ll allow a user to bypass those blocks, including SSL traffic (same thing you use when you check your bank accounts online), The Onion Routing (TOR) network proxy services (the user hits a TOR server and suddenly they are getting to the over-seas server from another overseas server), and any number of other means; none of which are illegal.

      The SOPA/PIPA bill does only one thing. It censors the internet, and stops people who are doing NOTHING illegal from using a service, while not doing a thing about the people commiting the illegal acts.

      And if you want to know how I know this, one of my jobs it to attempt and bypass internet security systems and firewalls. A job I am very good at.

      While I agree the analogy was no exactly correct part of it is: They would shut down legitimate service to millions in favor of stopping ten people.

    • ARRG

      …wtf? maybe this will help

  • Sironfoot

    The image is too low resolution making some of the smaller text hard to read. Do you have a higher res version by any chance?

    • Dooshe Nozzle

      There’s nothing wrong with the image’s resolution.

      Right click, Open.

  • dab

    AFAIK, the comment about Google in China is wrong:
    When the chinese told Googls that they had to block sites or they couldn’t do business, Google chose to stop doing business.

    • Chlopiec Do Bicia

       Nope. They stopped, indeed… years after. Don’t do evil my ass.

  • cr0ft

    Love the graphic, but the conclusion is wrong. We don’t need any legislation to control copyright violations, we just need to make whoever is selling anything do so in ways that make it more attractive to just buy and enjoy whatever it is than violating copyright – for some percentage of the consumers, enough to make it somewhat profitable.  The way to make that happen is to make buying legitimately the easiest, quickest and all around best way to get whatever you want. 

    You can never, ever, under any circumstances prevent something as inherently sane as copying digital data from happening, you can only – maybe – make the paid version worth getting because there are fewer hassles and because you may get a more complete experience or digital product than you get via copying. The MPAA and all their co-thug organizations who have purchased their passel of politicians are basically trying to legislate it so that they don’t have to innovate and don’t have to remain the most attractive alternative to anyone who has enough money to spend on entertainment – they want to get back to the halcyon days of being the ONLY alternative and being able to set pricing any way they like and get all the overblown profits they want. Not – going – to – happen.The only thing that might require some laws is working to prevent copying and manufacturing of knockoff physical goods – and those laws already exist and are perfectly sufficient (if not overly draconian already.)

    And all the above is only valid while trying to remain within out utterly loony social system that’s built on money and trade. That is really what we need to address and change into something much saner and more workable, along the lines suggested by the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist Movement – but that’s another discussion. 

    • Chris Jeske

      purchased their passel of politicians ”…  well played sir.

    • Won Word

      We don’t need any legislation to control copyright violations, we just need to make whoever is selling anything do so in ways that make it more attractive to just buy and enjoy whatever it is than violating copyright

      I agree 100%. I’m sure there are people who “get it” in the studios, they just don’t office in the top floors. 

      The people at the top are old and risk-avoidant (especially since studios have to answer to shareholders) and will never adapt to the extent necessary for the studio to survive.The studios *may* have a chance if the crust at the top retire/die fast enough *and* enough hot-shot mavericks come up through the ranks in time.The same exact thing is going on in the newspaper industry. The people at the top have no clue (to the point of self-induced psychosis) and continue to act as if the dead-tree product had a future. For a minute, they hoped paywalls and the  iPad was going to let them go back to their old model of scarcity, but those things aren’t–the game has completely changed. Once enough baby boomers die (the last generation to solidly take dead-tree news), they are done. 10 years is a good line in the sand (the BBs will be ~80) to draw.

  • acebojangles

    Does piracy even suck as much as people suggest?  It seems intuitive that it hurts revenues, but I’d like to see some hard evidence that it does.  My understanding is that the Swiss government conducted a study to address this question and found that piracy doesn’t actually hurt revenues.

  • juicy

    It’s amazing that the studios can’t seem to hire anyone who can explain their own customers to them. Astonishing how poorly they grasp their own business. What other business besides music can totally ignore their own customers and stay in business so long?

  • nsputnik

    Is this graphic available in black and white?  I would love to print out several dozen and post them around Hollywood.

  • Nonewmessages

    This infographic left out my favorite piece of this puzzle: 

    In 1907, Thomas Edison wins patents
    over equipment in filming and the camera = Virtually every single camera in use was in violation of Thomas Edison’s
    As reported in the NY Times: ”Los Angeles’s distance from New York was also comforting to independent
    [pirate] film producers, making it easier for them to avoid being harassed or
    sued by the Motion Picture Patents Company, a k a the Trust, which Thomas Edison
    helped create in 1909.”
    This industry was born of theft.  That does not make stealing what is rightfully theirs ok, but I would like to also revise what they consider their domain (if I can make my laptop play DVDs for my own enjoyment, they should have no say – just as Craft cannot stop me from making my own mac n cheese).

  • Alien Dave

    The rest of the world should take a leaf out of Switzerland’s book:

  • Brian Ward

    Piracy is not the problem.  Never-ending copyright is the problem.  Support a five-year non-extendable copyright law.  SOPA is only the beginning, it’s the OPEN Act that’s going to be the main event.

  • Lisa Shorten

    I disagree with the bit about DVRs. Even though viewership has increased, those viewers aren’t watching the commercial breaks, so advertising time is a harder sell for TV stations. If stations’ advertising revenue goes down, they spend less on shows.

  • Hudsonman51

    The analogy about the store is specious. It is more like: if someone steals something and then sells it in your consignment store, the government can shut your store down. Whatever you think about that, it’s a better analogy.

  • jimmmmmy

    piracy like capitalism has powerful negatve connotations. when you throw them around in a discussion about revamping  copyrite and patent regulations. you expose your self as greedy and ignorant. 

  • Crazy Ideas…

    Why not just distribute software, music, movie online for free….These corporations would spend a lot less money trying to stop piracy. Google makes billions just on ads alone… 

  • Lesweiler

    they haven’t forgotten the blacklist, they just don’t have new plot ideas.
    this is just another remake.

  • Bscorporalclegg
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