How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Stop Online Piracy Act

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will have heard about the legislation that they are trying to rush through in the States right now to curtail the rise of online piracy using methods which really are best described as draconian. I’ve been deeply concerned about this as it looks potentially to be the death of user generated content and innovation within the tech sector – something I’ve been part of for over twenty years.

Well I’ve had at attitude readjustment, I’m going to go with the flow and embrace what i just realised is the future of business models for the content world.

You see the the anti-SOPA lobby have assumed that the MPAA / RIAA (collectively known as the MAFIAA) weren’t willing to adapt and viewed folk like Anonymous as a threat. That sending letters to individuals a-la ACS-LAW wasn’t a viable strategy. Turns out we were wrong. They actually saw an opportunity. They watched, they learned and are proposing a new model even more impressive than the good old ‘Denial of Service’ attack the hackers use.



(Denial of Safe Harbour)

This new ‘model’ is fantastic especially as you need virtually NO technical, creative or legal skills to play. It’s truly open and democratic.

Here’s how it works and how I plan to make millions! (so don’t tell anyone!)


  1. Create some ‘music’. Highly recommend GarageBand autoplay instruments. Since a 4 year old can use it, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to make a tune.
  2. For a one time fee of $35 dollars register your opus with – you can do it online so no need to move off the couch/stool.
  3. Go to Tunecore and get it popped on iTunes for 99c . Make sure you come up with a cool sounding name for your band and label – I’m going with ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ for the band and ‘RogueDoSHRecords’ – am thinking my first track will be ‘Legalise Extortion’ again please don’t steal it as I haven’t registered it yet.
  4. Go to WordPress (if it still exists) and create your label site – to be honest you don’t have to do much more than say ‘welcome to… XX records home of YY’ and pop some copyright notices everywhere and a link to iTunes.
  5. Have a cocktail – you are now in that elite group – the Content Owner!
  6. Enlist some friends to help out and repeat 1-5 with them – I’m guessing 10 mates/labels would be enough for most situations – a mini Anonymous if you will.
  7. At this point you *could* try and get folk to buy your tune but frankly it isn’t worth the effort instead each of you upload the others tracks to YouTube and/or create some torrents.
  8. So far I reckon they should have taken about a day of ‘real’ time, some hangover recovery time plus however long it takes to get the copyright approved.

STAGE 2 – Exercise your Rights

  1. All you have to do is find a bunch of blogs ( any site on any subject will do these days that allow comments) and get your mates to pop some links to your track on YouTube or to the torrent.
  2. Send the site owner an email accusing them of being ‘Dedicated to infringement’ – and that you will NOT report them to their ISP, payment partner etc if they hand over I dunno – $1000 bucks sounds fair.
  3. Now at this point you would expect the site owner to take it down, if they do just pop it up again ( or even better pop one of your mates tracks up to confuse them. )
  4. After you’ve done this a few times you announce that you have got a some class-action from a bunch of legacy sounding labels including ‘Phonographic Memories’, ‘The Long Tail Players’, ‘8 Track Marks ‘, ‘Tape me up, Tape me down’, ‘Cassette My Ass’ and of course the hip-hop label ‘MP3some’.
  5. Give them one last chance to pay up (it’s going to cost them $5k now btw)
  6. If they DO pay up – wait a couple of days /weeks and repeat with some new labels until they just give up and shut down
  7. If they DON’T pay up shop them to their ISP and Payment partner who are so inundated with these claims that they’ll have no choice but to close the infringing scum down, just in case it’s legit. Don’t worry about needing legalese I’m sure you will be able to find a form letter online to help you out – no lawyers required!
  8. Repeat on as many sites as you feel like, the smaller the better of course. I’m thinking of going for gardening blogs myself – the poor dears won’t know what hit them.

I imagine a motivated team of ten could manage a few dozen each a day while sitting in the pub. Even with a 10% conversion rate you’ll make a load of cash, secure in the knowledge that those who didn’t play ball won’t be able to make any money for themselves! Win Win!

You can of course do this with anything that can be copyrighted so feel free to make some films of you and your mates celebrating in the pub (Dogma movies are due for a resurgence anyway) and copyright them – go for it! You’ve even got the soundtracks ready made so you can pop a compilation out. Even Better! You are now ‘Multimedia Copyright Owner’ – diversification is everything in this day and age.

And there you have it – as far as I can tell under SOPA its totally legal – we as Copyright Owners and we are entitled to get paid without having to sell even ONE bit of content, attract ONE fan or play ONE gig. Superb. We truly have entered The Golden Age of Copyright.

If anybody says ‘Conspiracy to defraud’ just say ‘The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing’ or better yet ‘the tea-boy is going to lose his job UNLESS we do it’.

Go on – try this at home!


the business model for the post-modern creative!

And that’s why I’ve learned to stop worrying and love SOPA, it’s going to make things so much better.


‘Sneakers’ even more prophetic than ‘Network’

Cosmo: Posit: People think a bank might be financially shaky.

Martin Bishop: Consequence: People start to withdraw their money.

Cosmo: Result: Pretty soon it is financially shaky.

Martin Bishop: Conclusion: You can make banks fail.

Cosmo: Bzzt. I’ve already done that. Maybe you’ve heard about a few? Think bigger.

Martin Bishop: Stock market?

Cosmo: Yes.

Martin Bishop: Currency market?

Cosmo: Yes.

Martin Bishop: Commodities market?

Cosmo: Yes.

Martin Bishop: Small countries? —

IMDb Quotes: Sneakers (1992)

Unwatchable – final thoughts

As I head in to central london for the press launch of Umwatchable I can’t help but think about what is going to be said tomorrow.

I suspect lots of folk will be complaining that the site is broken – wouldn’t surprise me in the least – given how long we’ve had this current iteration has been more or less built in a few weeks and it probably shows. Having said that the content is right, the movies look great and it does what it says on the tin! (touch wood).

In case anyone was wondering PR cared we should have the embeddable sorted tomorrow ( wishful thinking perhaps)

I look back at the hundreds or pages of keynote presentations that I’ve done since project inception and it all amounts to a few pages of text, a few minutes of video and hopefully a signature and a share.

What you don’t see is all the effort to get every word and every frame and all the people it took who gave their time for free – not for any self serving purpose but because they believe in the cause and believe in the campaign

Before the proverbial hits the fan I just want to thank everyone who has committed time to this who aren’t necessarily credited but key – you know who you are!

Words fail – thanks


Unwatchable… 7 days to go

So we missed the summer, are now on our fourth design iteration and have a new partner in Vava Tampa from Save the Congo.

Of course nothing is finished yet but it’s good to have deadlines 😉

Hard to believe but it’s actually going to happen, who would have thought chucking out one film would be so difficult.

Not sure when on the 27th the site etc will be public but will obviously be shouting about it.

Make it Stop – It’s Unwatchable!

What’s fantastic about this project and to an extent, process is the ability to ask questions of y’all along the way – when you’ve got literally hundreds of thousands of copies of Marie Claire around the world talking about the campaign and given it’s social roots, it’s not like it’s a secret. So today I need yet another bit of advice.

We are getting closer and closer but in the last week a debate has manifest about the overall branding of the campaign i.e name.

‘Unwatchable’ which Marc Hawker came up with at the start has been the campaign name for almost a year the name which has been heavily utilised in Marie Claire near enough globally and basically the accounts, URL and all the social prep are branded such.

Unwatchable may accurately describe the film and what’s going on in the Congo but does it work as a campaign title? That is the question. Are we wedded to this now? Well to be honest if something better came along that worked on the web, google, facebook and twitter then I reckon we’d embrace it. That’s the thing about ideas, you’ve got to be able to chuck em away when they aren’t working.

There is currently an idea floating around the group that the name of the campaign needs to be more declarative and the proposal is simply ‘Make It Stop!’.

As an internal bit of communication I actually don’t mind it… you’ve watched or are watching something horrific – what do you want to do – well you obviously want to ‘Make it Stop!’ however am concerned about it’s salience and an overall external bit of comms.

The objective facts as I can see em.

In the Unwatchable corner:

1. The name has been around for more than six months
2. When you type the word ‘Unwatchable’ into google you find us on the first page
3. We ‘own’ @unwatchable and even today #unwatchable is often about us
4. If you type ‘unwatchable’ into facebook we are top of the list

In the Make It Stop corner
1. Domains are available (well they might not be after I post this)
2. It’s a generic term that isn’t owned – so with google you never know if you campaign around it it might get traction
3. @makeitstop is gone and #makeitstop is an existing twitterism so no joy there
4. There are at least a dozen groups simply called ‘make it stop’ on facebook already so therefore you would have to qualify the statement with words like ‘Rape’ & ‘Congo’ which means you might as well say ‘Make Rape in the Congo Stop’ which currently takes you to a whole bunch of NGO’s anyway.
5. the NSPCC have the line about child abuse Make it Stop, Full stop which surprisingly doesn’t actually rank that highly in google – largely because Childline is the ‘brand’

Neither mentions the actual subject matter and actually we all quite like the line ‘Is your phone rape free?’ . FYI – We can’t actually say ‘make your phone rape free’ because the whole point of the campaign is about the lack of transparency from the electronics manufacturers in their supply chain so they could sue us ironically.

Disclosure: Obviously I think a campaign name change at this point is foolish simply because of the global press we’ve had already but need some support from the cognoscente out there to support the case to not change it.

So here is the question. Yes to Unwatchable? Yes to Make it Stop? Yes to something completely different as its all up for grabs it would seem. I have a meeting on thursday to discuss so could *really* use some help / comments between now and then and please be blunt.

Assuming we get through this this week you may well end up seeing a campaign this side of 2012.

Also feel free to fire over any additional questions about the campaign if I haven’t already covered them here or elsewhere on the blog!


(If you have no idea what I’m on about read through the other Unwatchable posts to get the gist of it btw.)

Utterly Unwatchable?

Not so much!

Yep – it’s almost there – not just the film, but the accompanying campaign.

Definitely the most intense bit of work I’ve ever been involved with – ‘highlights’ include

How do you deal with Advanced NGOitis? (don’t ask)

Is it ok to put an amazing woman from the Congo who was the inspiration for the film front and centre and risk her being raped or worse again?

What do you ask the public to do knowing that ultimately there is no ‘silver bullet’ which sorts the situation?

How do you reduce the experience down to the essential without making it – well – fluffy?

We are sooo close to getting it right, and unlike many of the commercial projects I’ve worked on prior – this is *entirely* about getting it right. Even if it has meant taking a bit longer to get there.

I am under no illusion that our campaign is going to sort out all of the problems in the Congo – it’s a big place with problems going back hundreds of years.

However I am feeling much more confident that it will motivate many to help iteratively sort bits of it, at least the bits that we are complicit in anyway.

Only last week I got to see the film, now graded with a proper mix of David Arnold’s soundtrack. Made me cry – again.

@Foolscap and I spent two days last reducing the interactions and clutter to the absolute minimum whilst still maintaining the necessity for a soft shoulder and from initial feedback we seem to have done a good job. More on that in the next week or so.

As for a release date – our most recent aim was end of march – given a few things going on – for the good – I’m guessing mid april.

Anyway – that’s the update more soon.

Sydney H. Stanton 1921-2011

My grandmother died today.

She’d been pretty unwell both in body and mind for a few years so I’m not in pieces (yet) – it was inevitable and I think in many ways a release.

I am glad she got to meet Jake about 18 months ago, which even if she didn’t know exactly who I was anymore or who this little person was who was running around her place switching things on and off there were a few smiles and the I like to think the odd moment of clarity.

She would have been 90 this year and I was looking forward to introducing her to Juliette, not for her benefit, or Juliette’, neither would remember or even be conscious of the event.

But I would have.

She meant more to me then she could know.

She was journalist for over 50 years, one of the first accomplished women in the field actually. She made amazing spaghetti and meatballs. She watched too much sports IMHO. She complained about the general state of the world. She had some of the most awful bath robes to ever to grace this planet. She had friends, family and colleagues who loved her more than life itself.

She also had an amazing capacity to be ‘difficult’ – apparently.

The only argument I can remember was about whether or not Grand Theft Auto 3 was appropriate viewing for my then 13 year old cousin Kyle. I said ‘well he’ll play it anyway and all this scare mongering is right wing bullshit’ and she said ‘but I don’t have to pay for it’.

She won.

We just got on, I think it was because neither of us asked any more of each other than to just be ourselves – we just agreed or disagreed and that was that. No point scoring, no need to be right, just enjoying the discussion.

If my father and grandfather became the commercial influences on my life then my mother and grandmother provided the moral and ethical backbone.

I miss her, and have for a very long time but I am glad she went quietly in her sleep and doesn’t have to suffer anymore the confusion and fear that accompanies advanced dementia.

Wherever the remnants of her existence are now – I hope they are sitting at a kitchen table, listening to the New York Mets on an ancient analog radio, reading a newspaper eating a bagel and locks and grumbling a lot.