The Film Industry’s SOPA Story

SOPA – federal legislation that would either protect or constrain content on the internet, depending on your corner – was recently killed thanks in no small part to the entrepreneurial online community.  But the best post we saw on the issue talked less about legislation and more about business models and the film industry.

In 2011, points out Steve Blank in a provocative post, the movie industry had $87 billion in total revenue, but only $30 billion of that from the box-office.  Where is the other $57 billion – fully two-thirds of the total?  From technologies that the movie studios have long argued would be their demise: pay-per-view, video rentals, DVD sales, online subscriptions, and digital downloads.

The movie industry, argues Blank, see threats where there are opportunities.  Failing to adapt to disruptive technology has lead to legislation like SOPA, which seeks to block what the film industry cannot comprehend.  It is, says Blank what happens “when a copyright lawyer has greater clout than your head of new technology.”  And Congress – which has far more lawyers than technologists walking its halls – is particularly vulnerable to this argument.  Blank’s essay is a wonderful summary of the impact of disruptive technological innovation, and the dangers of those who see in it only evil and not good.