Monthly Archives: June 2010

Google 1, Viacom 0

Viacom is one of those multibillion-dollar companies that no-one has ever heard of. They own Paramount, DreamWorks and a bunch of Cable channels. They considered YouTube such a threat that they sued them for more than a billion dollars in damages.

That was three years ago. Yesterday, a court in San Fransisco handed Viacom their hats and declared Google (Youtube’s owners) the victor in this dispute.

This is not, as many put it, a “Victory” for Google, but it is a victory for a commonsense interpretation of copyright – because like so many in the content industry, Viacom has a fundamental misunderstanding of that Copyright is, and what is isn’t.

  • Copyright is not property: For all the talk about “Intellectual Property”, Copyright is not property at all. It is enshrined as a “limited and exclusive right” to profit from their creations. The slogan “Loaned, not owned” comes to mind.
  • Copyright is not control: Having copyright to something does not give you control over where it is shown, who watches it or what they can do with little bits of it. Unfortunately, companies like Viacom like to yell “PIRACY!” whenever they see anything to can’t control and don’t like, and this is a prime example of that.

A good practical definition of Copyright Infringement is “unauthorized distribution that results in a loss of sales or revenue”

Viacom’s business model revolves around first-run Movies (in theaters), Sales (DVD), Rentals and Broadcasting. Posting movie clips to Youtube does not adversely affect those businesses (except, perhaps to make people aware that some of the over-hyped movies are crap, which is no bad thing). Unfortunately, some willfully post entire movies on Youtube, and those movies can and should be removed whenever found – but it is Viacom’s job to find them, not Google’s/YouTube’s. Google made this point in court, and the court agreed.

One would hope that Viacom would learn from this experience, but, like so many in Hollywood, they have an overinflated idea of themselves, their products and the value of those products. There is no “Billion-dollar loss”, because watching Youtube does not stop people from watching movies. One could make the point that the reverse is true – that Youtube clips may be driving some DVD sales – but Viacom, with their “we-gotta-control-our-property” mentality, are unlikely to believe that.

Yes, the world has changed; these days we have so many different entertainment options that people will watch fewer movies and to spend less on them than they used to when movies and TV were the only options. But that is not YouTube’s fault, and Viacom badly need a dose of common sense.

Sadly, that is unlikely to happen; they are already planning a sequel – an appeal to an higher court.

And I hope that they lose again. Because that kind of stupidity deserves to be severely punished.

Immigration Thoughts

Some weeks ago, the Governor of Arizona signed a bill into law that effectively cracked down on illegal immigrants, requiring them to show proof of residence if stopped by a police officer. This law has been denounced as racist and fascist.

Since I am an immigrant, this is a subject that is dear to my heart. I am here legally; I stood  in line for five ears to get permanent residence (a process that was supposed to take 18 months, but this is the INS we are talking about here). One would think that I would be the first to speak out against this law, but I support it.

Whether we like it or not, America is being overrun by Mexican illegals who have no business being here, and the border states –  Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – have a tougher time than everyone else.

These folks are often described as “Hard-working honest people”. That’s only half right – they may be hard-working, but I cannot see how someone who has, by their very presence invaded foreign soil can be described as “honest”. The Mexican Government provides them with ID cards, though, curiously, those ID cards are not accepted in Mexico. This means that the Mexican Government is aiding and abetting illegal aliens at best. At worst, it is an act of war.

Article 67 of Mexico’s Population Law says, “Authorities, whether federal, state or municipal… are required to demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country, before attending to any issues.” And yet they consider it unreasonable when their nearest neighbor does the same. So why are they complaining? The Mexican Government has no problem with arresting, mistreating and deporting Central American illegals found in Mexico, so for them to complain is a case of Pot, Kettle and Black. That’s a bit like demanding that your neighbor allows your dog to use their yard as a toilet, while threatening to shoot their cat if sets paw on your property. It’s simply not neighborly, and the Mexican Government should be called to account for this.

Opponents of the law say that Immigration is the constitutional responsibility of the Federal Government… and they are right. But for decades, Washington DC has ignored the issue and underfunded the INS to the point that they cannot do their job. Neither side of the Aisle is interested in fixing the problem: The Republicans see cheap labor (“people who work and don’t vote“), while the Democrats see future citizens (“people who vote and don’t work“). So… nothing gets done, and everyone “goes along to get along”. But Washington D.C is a long way from the Mexican border.

One thing that the bleeding-heart mob have failed to notice is that, like casinos, illegal aliens impose a social cost on the society in which they live.

  • They pay no taxes… So the rest of us have to pay more.
  • They often drive without auto insurance… So the rest of us have to pay more. I know of two people who have been in auto accidents involving uninsured Mexicans who subsequently disappeared, leaving them holding the bag.
  • Hospitals in southern border states are straining under the weight of Mexicans who abuse the system by using the Emergency Room for non-emergent treatment and then not paying the bill.
  • Immigrant families tend to have lots of children, but unless they are paying property taxes, those kids will be getting a free education at somebody else’s expense.

Here are some of the commonest objections, along with my thoughts on the matter.

  • “It’s racist/racial profiling”. Not true. This does not give the cops “stop-and-search” powers, it just allows them check out people that are being questioned in some connection with some other matter. When you are dealing with a massive influx of Mexican immigrants, it is reasonable to target people who looked like Mexicans. If we had a problem with illegal Swedish immigrants, the cops would be picking on people with blue eyes and blond hair.
  • “It’s a show-your-papers society”. Close, but no cigar. In a perfect world, nobody should be required to carry their immigration paperwork around with them everywhere they go. I do not carry mine, and will not carry the originals (too easy to lose or have it stolen, and it is a whole lot of hassle to replace). Fortunately that emotionally-charged question is a bit of a red herring, and the problem is easy enough to solve. When you move to another state, you are required to re-register your vehicle. As an immigrant, I am also required to present my paperwork to my new employers. So it is reasonable to require folks to present their citizenship or immigration paperwork to either the Drivers Licensing folks when getting a license issued or renewed. Alternatively they could present their credentials at a local police station. Either way, the information is on file and any police officer can know in seconds that a person is legal. I am an immigrant and would have no problem with this.

In spite of the yammering to the contrary, a wall along the border will not work. The Berlin wall did not prevent East Germans from fleeing to West Germany, even though it was only 17 miles long and was fearfully protected with watchtowers, soldiers and Guard Dogs. For Mexican illegals, an unattended wall is simply a place for them to lean a ladder. What will work is to enforce the laws we already have at the employer level – and to do that, the INS needs resources and tools to do their job. It has been a long time since the cry of “INS!” would cause illegals to run for the doors; that time needs to return.

There are those reading this who are sympathetic to the plight of “the poor wretched huddled masses”; who feel that it is our duty to reach out and help those less fortunate than ourselves. To you, I say “Bravo”. But the greatest man who ever lived said “You will always have the poor”, and we cannot afford to look after all of them. At some point you will run out of money and have to turn someone away; it’s only a matter of when. If your heart is still bleeding, do what I did: sponsor a child overseas with your own money and quit spending everyone else’s.

This nation has a long and proud history of accepting immigrants, but for nearly a century we have been able to be selective about whom we accept and whom we turn away. We can and should use that selection process to bolster our nation with the best and brightest that the world has to offer. As bad as things are here, this is still the one place on Earth where most people want to go, and fewest want to leave. We can use that to make this nation a place for excellence, attracting the nest and brightest. If we choose to remake this nation with Mexican fruit pickers, gardeners, maids, etc., we will regret it.

To the daughter I never had

I have loved you from the moment that I first saw you.

For more than a decade I have watched you grow.

And now, as you stand at the cusp of young-womanhood, I am afraid.

I’m not talking about the mindless terror that paralyses, I am talking about the concern of a father for a precious daughter.

The job of a father is not an easy one, and it is getting harder all the time. My job description reads: to lead, to encourage, and to show your children what a real man looks like. With a daughter, part of the job is to help her to grow into a strong, independent woman who can make the right decisions. But there is an old Persian Proverb that says “A men with daughters will always be a shepherd”; another part of a Father’s job is to protect his daughter from bad guys. How do you spot a bad guy? Here’s how:

  • If he wants “the pleasure of your company” without any commitment, he is a bad guy.
  • If he wants to get you alone, away from your protective circle of family and friends, he is a bad guy.
  • If your three closest friends don’t like him, he is a bad guy.
  • If he will not face me, or tries to avoid facing me, he is a bad guy. Responsibility and courage are the signs of a real man – and this chap has neither.
  • If he does not think he needs my permission to date you, he is a bad guy. And I will probably have to kill him.
  • If he talks trash or shows off about other girls he has been with, he is a bad guy. Gentlemen never kiss-and-tell.

Remember that Bad Guys are masters of disguise; they will say, be and do anything to disguise their true intentions.

Now that you are a young woman, my job has changed. Over the next few years, a major part of my job as a father will be to protect you from those who would use you for their pleasure and then discard you. I have to protect you because you are going through a stage of life where your body is developing, your hormones are raging and your brains don’t work.

The most thankless part of that job is protecting you from yourself and your own bad choices. There are times when this will make you mad. You will think that I am out to spoil your fun. You will think that the world is coming to an end because you can’t do what you want to. This is because your hormones are raging and your brains don’t work – and mistakes here can change your life – and not for the better.

So here is the best advice I have to give.

  • Sex is a meaningful, powerful and addictive force. I believe that it binds to people together at a psychic level – and when that link is severed it takes a little of your soul with it. Like a fire, it warms the whole house if kept in the fireplace. Outside the fireplace it will burn down the house. So please… don’t play with fire.
  • Oral sex is sex, no matter what Bill Clinton says.
  • The TV did not raise you, and does not know you or love you. The TV would not willingly lay down its life to protect you – so if the TV tells you something and I tell you the opposite, the TV is wrong.
  • Boyfriends are people, not fashion accessories. If you are not ready for marriage, you don’t need one.
  • Losing your virginity is a one-way trip. Once you embark, there’s no going back – so make it count.
  • You don’t “need” a man. If you do, you are asking for trouble.
  • It is not how many boyfriends you have, it is how few.
  • Stay away from “Mysterious” boys. They’re not really that mysterious, they’re just dangling out a shiny lure, playing to female curiosity.
  • A teenager needs a boyfriend like a fish needs a bicycle.
  • Say no to “dating” and yes to “courting”. The word “dating” originated in Victorian London, where it was slang for spending time with a prostitute. If you aren’t interested in marrying him, don’t date him.
  • If he is not interested in marriage, don’t waste your time on him. Guys have been known to string stupid girls along for years before finally deciding that they never really wanted to marry in the first place.
  • The longer you live together before marriage, the less likely you are of having a quality life-long marriage. That’s not opinion, it’s statistics.
  • Much hilarity is made of women and their hormones, but it is true to say that while women are dominated by their hormones, men are dominated by theirs. Men will say or promise anything to satisfy their lusts; do not believe them – that’s just the testosterone talking.
  • Over the next few years you will be tempted to trifle with a man’s affections, as young women often do; Do not play tease-the-doggie; sometimes, doggies bite… and when they do, all the tears in the world won’t wash the pain away.

When you were a girl, you played being a princess. But what is cute at six is not such a good idea at sixteen, and is a really bad idea at twenty-six. I don’t want you to grow up to be a princess, I want you to grow up to be a pioneer woman. So what is a pioneer woman? I hear you ask:

  • A princess asks “Why me?” A pioneer woman asks “How can I fix this?”
  • A princess expects to be served. A pioneer woman serves herself and others.
  • A princess complains. A pioneer woman solves.
  • A princess whines. A pioneer woman works.
  • A princess looks for someone else to blame. A pioneer woman doesn’t waste the time.
  • A princess is spoiled. A pioneer woman is special.
  • A princess consumes. A pioneer woman produces.
  • A princess wants cake. A pioneer woman bakes bread.
  • A princess seeks a rich man. A pioneer woman seeks a real man.

Yes, I am old fashioned. I look to the day you stand at the altar, radiant, beautiful and strong, and give yourself, heart and body and soul, into the keeping of a real man. A man of honor, courage and integrity who will love and protect you, and allow you to become the woman that God meant you to be. And I will do everything to prepare you for that day.

Until then, I will do everything in my power to protect you, even if it means being a pain in the… neck.

Because I love you.