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Netflix is not what you might think it is

Netflix envelope

There is no need to stomp all over symbolic representations of Netflix's management

The internet was all abuzz yesterday with news of Netflix’s creation of a super PAC, called FLIXPAC, allegedly set up to promote SOPA/PIPA-type legislation.

Except it isn’t true, at least according to Netflix. Netflix is not supporting SOPA et al, it says.

You see, internet, this is why we can’t have nice things.

Politico ran a piece on April 5 with the not-terribly-earth-shattering headline “Netflix forms PAC.” It takes about thirty seconds to see that the article makes no mention whatsoever of any specific policy positions taken by said PAC. It doesn’t even call it a “super” PAC.

Fast-forward to April 9, when RT publishes “Netflix creates pro-SOPA super-PAC?” Note the use of the question mark. The article is a masterpiece of hedging:

As US lawmakers consider anti-piracy legislation, they may have found an ally in Netflix. The streaming content giant has created its own super PAC, raising claims that it will support anti-piracy measures in Washington to promote SOPA-like laws.

(Emphasis added) See the problem? It continues:

Hollywood and record industry support didn’t help Congress get SOPA and PIPA to pass the House and Senate, but now they may have a new accomplice in their continuing fight to try and push for anti-piracy legislation.

(Emphasis added) Keep reading…

The newly established agency may be able to endorse politicians by way of stuffing their pockets, which could influence even more congressmen to condone increasingly controversial bills considered in the House and Senate. Congressional records would seem to support this possibility, as they show that the lobbying expenses of Netflix rose from $20,000 in 2009 to $500,000 in 2011.

The most notorious of those bills – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) – is thought to have found initial support with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who reportedly expressed solidarity with SOPA’s ultimate goals in a letter to the Chamber of Commerce. However, once internet resistance to SOPA grew, Netflix hastily backtracked, insisting that the company has been “neutral” on the issue right from the start.

(Emphasis added) I think you get the idea.

This is why it is important to read an online article carefully and check the linked sources. In the case of the RT article, there are no linked sources. They don’t even link to the Politico article. That says something.

The one verifiable claim made anywhere in the quoted text, other than the simple (and innocuous by itself) fact of Netflix’s increased lobbying budget, is the CEO’s purported support of “SOPA’s ultimate goals.” Yes, Hastings did apparently send a letter expressing support for the goal of stopping internet piracy. Not to get too far from the original point of this post, but of course he would support stopping internet piracy. He makes money in part by selling streaming video. And stopping online piracy is not an inherently unworthy goal (wait for it…)

The problem with SOPA is that it goes too far and is ripe for abuse by overzealous content owners and prosecutors. It isn’t SOPA’s goals that are problematic (well, that’s arguable, but I’m generalizing), so much as SOPA’s methods.

After much public outcry, Hastings reversed any sort of overt support he might have implied for SOPA. That was a good business move. The public clearly does not care for SOPA, and Netflix has been near-catastrophically tone-deaf to the public’s needs in the recent past.

RT issued a correction of sorts earlier today.

The point here is that SOPA is bad news, but suggesting ill intent around every corner does not help the overall cause of developing a system of online copyright protection that actually makes sense. Netflix and Reed Hastings may actually love the crap out of SOPA, and this really is a ploy to help push it through Congress–but this sentence is pulled directly out of my butt, as there is no evidence of this whatsoever. So far.

I’m halfway through season 1 of both “The Wire” and “Mad Men,” so I’m glad I don’t have to give up Netflix. Yet.

Side note to Netflix: You dodged a bullet in September with your idiotic Qwikster plan. Just know that American consumers are watching you, and do not trust you. Lucky for you that you offer a good service people love. But then, Blackberry once had fifty percent of the smartphone market, and look at them now. Tread carefully.

(h/t abaldwin360)

Photo credit: Photo by author.

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“Nutella covered person,” and other psychotic Google searches leading to my blog

Every so often, I like to check Google Analytics to see what search terms are leading people to my website. This is the sort of endeavor that always seems like a good idea until you actually do it, and then you feel a sort of dirtiness that all the soap, water, and acetone in the world cannot remove.

Most of the search terms were pretty obvious, consisting of the names of specific people mentioned in posts, and the occasional legal search term. A handful, though, range from amusing to bemusing to downright macabre. Screencaps and commentary to follow (click screencaps to embiggen).

I. A darkly-amusing variant on some previous posts:

Google search: how is john thomas ford doing in jail

Search term #45: “how is john thomas ford doing in jail”

I sure couldn’t tell you. As far as I know, he’ll be there a while. Ask somebody who cares.

II. I guess I could see how this led you to me, but…

Google search: "i don't heart caplocks"

Search term #46: ”i don’t heart caplocks”

Neither do I. People who type with caps lock on make me very, very ANGRY.

III. You came to the wrong place for this:

Google search: "boobs"

Search term #35: “boobs”

Nothing to see here. Move along….

Google search: "utah boobs"

Search term # 59: “utah boobs”

Um, I did once write a post with both “boobs” and “Utah” in the title, but that only explains my side of this equation.

Is there something about boobs in Utah that merits such a specific search? Have I been living under a delusion that boobs are pretty much the same all over the world? I tried Googling to see what I could learn, but I just ended up back on my own site.

Google search: "sexy pics online"

Search term #57: “sexy pics online”

The fact that someone actually clicked on a website called Wells Law Office looking for “sexy pics” makes me very, very concerned for the future of this country.

IV. Wait, what?

Google search: "nutella covered person"

Search term #54: “nutella covered person”

V. Now I am scared…

Google search: "rape sex in an elevator"

Search term #27: “rape sex in an elevator”

I assume this led to my post on “Elevatorgate” from last summer. I cannot fathom, nor do I wish to fathom, what one person searching three times expected to find.

Google search: "www.animalsdog.com xxx"

Search term #60: ”www.animalsdog.com xxx”

Ummm, uh…..I, uh……um…….

Thank you all for coming. I hope you’ve enjoyed your time here, but I think it is clear that the internet is over. Everyone please back away quietly…..

At least I know that the people doing these particular searches did not actually spend any time on my site.

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Networked cars, and legal stuff that comes from that or something

Lexus Gen V navigation systemFor my second (and last) CLE session at South by Southwest, I went to something called “The Automobile As Network Node.” I’m going to quote from the course materials, because I really didn’t understand any of it:

Automobiles are increasingly connected to computer networks and are used to collect, use and share vehicle-related information. They also provide a delivery mechanism for driving, entertainment and other content and information. This panel will discuss legal issues arising out of and related to the collection, use and disclosure of vehicle-related information and related emerging legal issues of data use in or related to vehicles.

Aside from an unintentional bad pun, I can’t say I got much out of this. That’s entirely my fault, for not having any foundation that would allow me to understand the material. I did learn the word telematics, whose definition is roughly paraphrased as the “intersection of when the vehicle knows where it is located and has the ability to engage in two-way communication.” The original idea was to allow a person who needed help to call for it, using embedded mobile technology. I am fuzzy on the technology and the legal issues.

I’m kind of disappointed in myself, because this means I checked out on a seminar on intelligent cars. Dangit.

It did yield the best audience question ever, though: “Are self-driving cars plausible from a legal standpoint?”

I wish I could remember the answer.

Photo credit: Enigma3542002 at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

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