MPAA: “Democratizing Culture Is Not In Our Interest”

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MPAA Vice President Greg Frazier has made some interesting comments on copyright and widespread Internet piracy during a lobbying visit to Brazil. Among other things, Frazier told a local newspaper that democratizing culture is not in the interests of the MPAA. As it turns out, the MPAA's definition of creativity and culture is a rather narrow one that is quite different from that of the general public.

mpaa goatseThe MPAA sent its Vice President Greg Frazier to Brazil this week to carry out some damage control.

Last year the former president of Brazil posed with Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde and vowed not to cave in to the interests of the copyright lobby. But with the change of leadership the MPAA sees new chances, and so Frazier went to Brazil to convince local politicians that tougher anti-piracy laws are needed.

In common with most Latin American countries, piracy is widespread in Brazil. According to a recent study more than half of all people living in urban areas regularly pirate movies, something the MPAA believes has to be stopped.

In an interview with local newspaper Folha, Frazier commented on the threat piracy poses to the major studios, responding with the classic textbook answers we’ve heard hundreds of times before.

“If you do not believe in the value of creativity, the importance of protecting it and the need to reward those who produce, then maybe you can justify piracy. But in that case you’ll be doing great harm to culture,” Frazier said. Please note the words ‘creativity’ and ‘culture’ in his answer, as we’ll come back to that later.

The reporter then went on to ask how important copyright really is when 44% of households in Brazil are not connected to the sewer system. Not really a fair question, but Frazier made it very clear that even when people are starving it would be immoral to ‘steal’ entertainment from U.S. corporations.

“Obviously, governments and societies have to work to make sure that the population has access to the basics in order to survive, but that does not mean you should ignore other things. Companies must live together because they respect each other and respect that people do not steal from one another. Even if you battle to put food on your plate, it is immoral to steal,” he said.

Things got more interesting when Frazier responded in a surprisingly open manner when asked about Creative Commons licenses, which allow for a more flexible approach to copyright. Creative Commons licenses are very popular in Brazil and the reporter wanted to know what the MPAA’s view on this approach is.

“They [Creative Commons supporters] don’t always agree with what we advocate,” Frazier responded. “And you are talking about democratizing culture, this is not in our interests. It really isn’t my interest.”

Although this answer may not really come as a surprise, combined with his previous answers it shows how subjective the MPAA’s view on creativity and culture is. According to the MPAA piracy is ruining culture, but at the same time they are not allowing others to use even tiny snippets of their works.

The MPAA is apparently only interested in creativity and culture when it applies to the works their studios produce. Needless to say, this isn’t necessarily what’s most beneficial to society. The MPAA is merely protecting their corporate interests.

For the general public, culture and creativity are probably better off with less restrictive copyright laws. This doesn’t mean that it should be okay to pirate every Hollywood blockbuster, but the laws that are put in place to please the movie studios are the same ones that cripple the creativity of tens of thousands of other artists and the public at large.

To the MPAA and many others in the entertainment industry, copyright has little to do with the word right, nor with creativity and culture. Instead, it’s a restrictive tool that allows works to be traded, leased and licensed in return for money.

Indeed, democratizing culture is not in the MPAA’s interest, but maximizing profits and control is.


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