Chamber Of Commerce Threatens Americans “Stealing Presidential Debate Streams”

US Chamber Of Commerce Complains About People ‘Pirating’ The Presidential Debate

from the really-now? dept

The US Chamber of Commerce is somewhat infamous for its dishonest and misleading claims about copyright, which are often so ridiculous as to be laughable. But, even then, I wasn’t expected the following:

If you can’t read that, it’s a tweet from the US Chamber of Commerce’s “Global IP Center,” stating the following:
Millions watched the presidential #debates on illegal streams. The harmful #piracy trend must end

And it links to this Forbes article (adblock blocker warning) presenting some data on how many people watched unauthorized streams.

The tweet is ridiculous (as is the article, but we’ll get to that…). First of all, the presidential debates are an important part of our democracy and understanding who will be leading our country in another few months. The idea that you need copyright to put that on is ridiculous. Second, partly because of what I wrote in the first sentence, the debates are available in a variety of places for free — including TV and streaming on the internet via both YouTube and Twitter. For free. Third, there are no commercials and no fees associated with the debate — again because of the importance of civic engagement. Who is actually “harmed” by people watching the debate through unauthorized streams? Why is this “harmful”? Why must this “end”?

Or, as Parker Higgins points out, “warning that piracy could lead to participation in democracy” is particularly ridiculous — but I guess that’s how the US Chamber operates.

Now, back to the original article at Forbes. It’s just as ridiculous. Written by Nelson Granados, apparently an actual professor at Pepperdine, it seems to pull off a press release from a company called “VFT Solutions” which is a company that (no joke) claims to use its “patented technology” to “protect your intellectual property.” So, yeah, you have an idea of where this is coming from:

VFT is trying to popularize a term it appears to have made up entirely, called “nano-piracy,” and Granados falls for it, hook, line and sinker.

VFT Solutions tracked 420 live streams of Sunday’s debate and recorded 22 million views. This includes accessing legal streams from media sources like the New York Times and Fox News, which streamed the debate on live-streaming platforms. But it also includes massive views of illegal streams. According to VFT’s CEO, Wayne Lonstein, “Perhaps what is most interesting is that 41% of these views were from illegal live-streams, also known as nano-piracy.” That’s about 9 million nano-pirate views, and this is just a sample.

WTF is “nano-piracy”? What does that even mean? Hollywood has been complaining about streaming piracy for ages, so there’s nothing new here. Granados then admits that the debates were available for free basically everywhere, but doesn’t immediately realize how ludicrous it is to then call this “piracy” (nano or otherwise). Instead, he just jumps to fretting about what this will mean for copyright holders. Really.Why are viewers watching these debates on illegal live streams despite having plenty of free legal options? What does this signal for copyright owners who expect to get paid for their content?It signals nothing. It signals that people use the internet and they look for the most convenient way to watch the debates for their personal situation. And that’s a good thing. It’s good that the debates aren’t sponsored or filled with commercials and that they’re widely available. That’s a good thing for democracy. Piracy and copyright have nothing to do with this.

Does the US Chamber of Commerce and real-life professor Nelson Granados honestly think that without copyright no one would have the incentive to put on or stream Presidential debates?

Of course, the pivot is to claim that, well, okay, maybe this is okay for the debate, but gosh darnit, if they can do that for the debate… why,

they could do that for other content too!:Live-streaming the presidential debates in platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live is great for politics, but it should also raise a big red flag about the emerging threat that nano-piracy on these same platforms poses for artists and entertainers.
Yeah, but that’s been going on for ages, since well before the debate. The use of it for the debate is actually a good sign, showing how interested people are in civic engagement and understanding what the candidates for President are talking about. Why would anyone complain about it other than to (1) sell some stupid “service” or (2) push a ridiculous argument about “harm” from this kind of streaming.
Within the current system, where copyright holders have to request the take-down of every single piracy source, it has been an uphill battle to keep up with download piracy infringers. Nano-pirates are making things worse, with the aggravated fact that live streams leave less trace than downloads. Ironically, illegal live-streaming of the presidential debates is rampant, so hopefully the winner will be motivated to take matters into his or her own hands.

Did you get that? Because so many people watched the presidential debate, this professor thinks that whoever wins the election should crack down on people getting to watch the debate.

This feels like a parody, but unfortunately, it appears to be real.


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Christopher Kemmett

Founder of The Real Strategy and Lowest Priced Advertisements.