Kurt Sutter Attacks Google: Stop Profiting from Piracy (Guest Column)

Kurt Sutter Letter Google
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Open Letter to the Creative Community — Dear Family, Friends and Enemies:

Recently, I responded to a Google-sponsored article in Slate. In my retort, I bitch-slapped Google and its half-bright shill for misrepresenting the truth about piracy and copyright laws.

I won’t bore you by repeating myself, but in summary: Google is the establishment. They are a multibillion-dollar monopoly, and we creatives are just another revenue source. Our work drives their clicks. They don’t care if the click goes to a legitimate site or a pirate site with owners who dabble in human trafficking.

The truth is, they don’t give a shit about free speech, and are the antithesis of their own mantra, “Don’t be evil.”

Not to go all techno-biblical on you, but I’m just a lame, dial-up David, throwing paper pebbles at a 2-terabit army of Robo-Goliaths. So, that’s why I’m disrupting your morning read. Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to donate to a fucking Kickstarter campaign. All I want is to make you aware of what’s happening in the streaming backrooms of the virtual boys club.

Google is in the process of systematically destroying our artistic future, and more importantly, the future of our children and grandchildren. They’re spending tens of millions of dollars each year on eroding creative copyright laws. I believe that if the creative community doesn’t intervene now, and by now, I mean, fucking now — we will be bound to a multigenerational clusterfuck that will take 40 to 50 years to unravel.

The last time this happened was in the 1950s, when the tobacco industry spent millions to hide the truth, and convince everyone that smoking cigarettes wasn’t really dangerous to your health.

In other words, Google’s manipulation of public opinion (read: lies) and their proxy campaign for a free Internet and the dissolution of copyright protection (read: criminal tactics) will become so codified in law and will dominate the debate to such a degree that it will be mindlessly accepted on every level. Then, unfortunately, it will be the back half of this century by the time people realize what’s been done, how it was done and that they’ve been thoroughly fucked.

The creative community as we know it will not exist.

Gary Musgrave for Variety

It amazes and terrifies me that essentially all of Google’s fundamental arguments fall into the same template as those used by the Tobacco lobby. And it took five decades to finally reveal the dirty tactics of Big Smoky. We are now just starting to comprehend how those years of lies, extortion and greed created such suffering and death.

Yes, that’s a dramatic comparison (that’s kind of my job), but unfortunately, the relationship is fundamentally accurate. When you’re worth over $200 billion, a couple hundred mil to buy legislation and good PR is an easy check to write. That’s what is happening before our eyes. And the reason why this information may seem startling is that they’re doing it so well; it just looks like business as usual.

Look, I know this sounds alarmist, but if we don’t start ringing some bells, it’s going to be too late. The truth is, I’m not worried about myself. I’m a fat cat with enough things on my plate to feed me till I crash and burn.

I’m worried about our kids. I’ve got a 7-year-old daughter who’s destined to be a live performer (my money’s on bear-wrestling and fire-eating), an 18-year-old son who’s an amazing musician, and a 20-year-old daughter who shines as an actress. They will take on the burden of this. They will wonder how we didn’t see this coming. They will lament that we did nothing to protect their art.

And their kids? Well, they will be told unbelievable tales of the magical days when creatives flourished, and artists were handsomely compensated for their work.

If you’re still reading this and want specifics, try Googling (see, they’ve even managed to become part of our lexicon) a report from the Digital Citizens Alliance called Google & YouTube and Evil Doers: Too Close for Comfort.

And if I’ve pressed your “maybe I do give a shit button,” I urge you to join CreativeFuture. It’s an organization all about advocating for the kind of creative economy we’d like to pass along to our kids. I’m a proud member. There are no dues, no secret handshakes, no cookie-selling requirements. And at some point there may even be free hats.

I sincerely thank you for your valuable time.

(Kurt Sutter is executive producer and showrunner of the FX drama series “Sons of Anarchy.”)

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  1. Onerex says:

    Very vague. I still don’t know what Google is doing. A quick summary instead of creative analogies and complaints would’ve been nice.

  2. billy gates says:

    ‘i’m a fat cat’ worrying about my entitled children s children cause non of my children have real jobs just ‘entertainment’ jobs your childrens children should fix the cars and pick up the trash while i send my grandchildren to all the best schools to study art that only the elite can afford Go buy a new Harley bitch!

  3. Peter Bright says:

    In our America of today all legislation is manipulated by the larger war chests of money. The old adage, “follow the money”, has never been more accurate for discovery of who, or what is behind misguided moves in any particular direction.

    It is the undoing of our Republic. It needs to be stopped…I have little faith at this vantage point that the greed factor will cease.

    • Tom Segerson says:

      Greed will never cease to be a factor in life. Open communication will expose subversive manipulation. The people need not take to the streets, as they can post or phone in their opinions and beliefs. If that doesn’t work, then the people will have to act.

  4. Mike says:

    I find it ironic that you talk about how easy it is for a multi-billion dollar group to write checks for a couple hundred million to buy legislation. You were referring to google, but that is exactly what the MPAA and copyright groups do. Is it ok for one and not for the other?
    I’m not a piracy apologist, nor do I support streaming stolen works, but if you look at many laws that copyright organizations pushed through the politicians they “donate” heavily to, you will see parts that infringe on the public’s free speech and fair use. I’m just passing by on the Internet and will never be back here, so for anyone clamoring for examples just read some highlights on SOPA and the likes to see what they wanted. No, don’t read the highlights that this website gives, search for anti-SOPA arguments. You don’t have to agree with the authors opinions, but they will lead you to the dark underbelly of these types of legislation- just use it as a reference to find unfair parts in the legislation itself.
    There is much work to do when it comes to better protecting the work of artists and content creators, but broadly overreaching legislation is not the way to go. Unfortunately, that is where we have been going for a long time.

  5. Homer says:

    I have news for you Sutter: all those supposedly “creative” works you’re so desperate to monopolise, are actually derivatives themselves of older “creative” works, which were in turn derivatives of even older “creative” works, ad infinitum, and are thus, according to the copyright lobby’s own standards, “pirated”.

    This is the real irony and hypocrisy of copyright. It’s basically the idea that person B can copy person A, but person C cannot then copy person B, based on absolutely no rationale whatsoever, purely because person B has bigger lawyers.

    Copyright is an utter farce.

    • Malcolm Hume says:

      You don’t understand copyright. Copyright doesn’t stop anyone from being lame and unoriginal. It stops people from publishing things without the person who created it giving you permission. That’s it. That’s all. No one blames you for not understanding but you should stop and try to understand a debate before you try and contribute.

      • Homer says:

        You mean “lame and unoriginal” like 99% of all copyrighted works?

        I understand copyright just fine, but apparently neither you nor the copyright lobby understand the meaning of the word “create”.

  6. SlapFightAtTheOfayCorral says:

    It seldom ends well, online or in real life, for one to declare oneself the slapper of bitches.

    Here’s the acid test, Mr Sutter: Has the internet in general, even Google in particular, facilitated an increased amount of attention to, and in aggregate money going into the pockets of creators of art of all kinds? I don’t know. Perhaps if I googled it I could learn this, but I would bet that the answer is yes.

    Mr Sutter’s “bitch slap” of an argument is essentially, “either Disney wins the right to shut down any website that pisses of Mickey, or my daughter won’t get to be ‘a creative.’ ” Which I suppose would just be the worst thing in the world.

    Btw, here’s something more to google: Digital Citzens Alliance Astroturf.

    • The argument is not about whether having a search engine is a good thing. **Obviously** we all benefit from them.

      An argument is with Google’s refusal to de-link sites that host pirate content as their primary raison d’être. That means that Google is making money from the fact that people are stealing other people’s work.

      Another argument is with YouTube (which Google owns) having a poor track record on cleaning out the pirated content.

      There are more. A lot of the big internet companies have a very arrogant attitude toward creatives, and it shows in the way that they act toward and talk about how creatives attempt to make a living from their work. That’s the basic source of the friction, IMNHO.

      • Tom Segerson: You still haven’t given me enough details for me to figure out what’s happening. There are quite a number of things that **could** be happening that would look like what you’ve described, but that would not be what you think that they are.

        Then there could be actual piracy going on.

        What’s the title of the book? What pen name did you use? I didn’t find any books under your name on Amazon when I looked.

        I’m not going to defend Trafford at all. I haven’t seen any proof that they’re dishonest, but they **are** a Pay to Publish outfit, and there’s a lot of bad stuff that can happen in that nasty corner of the book business.

        Why didn’t you self-publish instead?

      • Tom Segerson says:

        “There are more. A lot of the big internet companies have a very arrogant attitude toward creatives, and it shows in the way that they act toward and talk about how creatives attempt to make a living from their work. That’s the basic source of the friction, IMNHO.”

        Marion, they go so far as to tell you that you DIDN’T create the work! When both Amazon and Trafford told me that they ‘…didn’t know that I was the author.” of my book, I was outraged with their attitudes. I had a written contract with Trafford and by extension, Amazon.

        This is another ploy by their lawyers to use legalese to get around payments to creatives.

        Even though I took the book out of print, it’s still available. Trafford doesn’t list it, but someone is printing it for Amazon.

        As a screenwriter once told me at a Hollywood conference, “If your work isn’t worth stealing, it’ll never sell.”

        Sad, but true.

  7. Jeremy Orr says:

    Its amusing how quick people are to insult Sutter, and insist he’s deluded and wrong, yet don’t back it with anything but insults.

  8. This is the biggest pile of horseshit I’ve ever read, next to the “Google & YouTube and Evil Doers: Too Close for Comfort” article you sent us to. (By the way, it’s only called “Googling” if you search for something, not if I click a link on a web page. That’s called “clicking.”)

  9. Matt says:

    You’re a god dammed fool. How much did Hollywood pay you to write this crap or better yet bing? You’re comparing a search engine to tobacco companies, and trying to claim that they’re destroying artist integrity. Hollywood’s bank account makes Google’s look like a beggar on the street. The music industry is the same way fuck them. Real artists don’t do what they do to be rich in fact most small time musicians give their music away simply so someone can hear it and if you want to donate something is greatly appreciated. Lars Ulrich compare him to Trent Reznor one bitched about napster and some struggling programmer got arrested and fined while a guy who never has to do a dammed thing for the rest of his life gets his way. The other gave an album away “here ya go free listen to it and enjoy it I have enough money to last ten life times” your entire article is bullshit. Pirating is a way of protecting ourselves from the corrupt tycoons of Hollywood and the music industry. If I go to a movie or buy a cd and I don’t like it am I going to get a refund? No I’m not sure I can exchange the cd key word exchange not get my money back. If I’m going to spend what little money I have, then I’m going to make sure it’s money well spent. Get a clue before write about shit you don’t know anything about.

  10. Bob Bear says:

    I’m not so sure Google is killing creativity in the entertainment industry. I think the entertainment industry is killing creativity. They take anyone who’s semi good looking to down right cute or beautiful and mold him/her into something the public is convinced they’ve been craving. They prop their new creation up and supply the image to get another 100 million dollars for themselves before discarding their protege for another. Blame crap shows like American Idol & Britain’s Got Talent. I find it hard to listen to radio any more!

  11. Tom Segerson says:

    Marion,

    Thank you for your reply.

    What you seem to not understand is that I was told by both my publisher and Amazon that they weren’t going to pay me. They did this by claiming that I’m not the author of my book. As stated before, I had registered the book before I published it. So, who’s getting screwed here?

    Now, I don’t care how much education or consulting or whatever it is that you do, that you’ve got in your portfolio.

    I’m speaking from the greatest teacher of all, experience.

    As I stated earlier, I can document that Amazon or Trafford changed the publishing date on my book. Now, you’re the expert, explain how that happens without the author being notified of the change or was it a new registration in someone else’s name? This is NOT an orphaned book.

    For a few years, Amazon offered it as an e-book. Which I never authorized.

    Which is one of the reasons, as the author, copyright holder and person who signed a contract with Trafford to publish the book, took the book out of print.

    By this action, I was under the impression that the book wouldn’t be available.

    Yet you can get copies all over the world, in various languages.

    Which means that someone is reading it and someone out there is making money off my work.

    Theft is theft, no matter how much legalese you wrap it in.

    I have a friend of mine who’s never seen a dime from her book. I feel terrible about it, because I recommended that she use Trafford to publish it. For years her book was selling pretty well, but as I said, she never got paid for it. She won’t talk to me now, so I don’t know if she was ever compensated.

    If you want to get a better idea as to how Mr. Bezo got started, there’s an interview with him in a Playboy magazine back in the late nineties. He explains how he would order books that he knew were back-ordered, simply to get copies of books that he knew he could sell. He didn’t have the money to place an order for the minimum amount, so he used this tactic to get his order placed with the publisher. Then he simply canceled his back-ordered books when he got the other copies that he wanted.

    Amazon has used various tactics to slow payments to suppliers, over work their employees and try to control the book market.

    Do you think that they’re going to worry about one little author in Tennessee?

    Remember Marion, corporations are made of people. When the people at the corporation have had enough of being abused, they’ll change the way things work.

    Have a pleasant weekend.

    Tom

    • Bevan Manson says:

      It is certainly true that if you throw enough money at someone to make them into a desirable commodity, you will probably succeed in some way for a while. But that is a separate issue from piracy. We currently have a combination of Babylon and the Wild West in media, where there are too many voices clamoring in different languages for attention. This is compounded by the convenience of so much electronic manipulation being available for those who may not have much to say, but have formidable media tools for doing so. And piracy is an extension of that. Since content A thru content Z is electronically available,there are inevitably more and more tools from A to Z to pirate, sample, distort, mash, recreate, etc. some of it. But regardless of the quality of the content, it is wrong to steal. Artists with more of a presence in the physical world than media (yes, there are many still) are perhaps at a disadvantage in the rat race, but perhaps lucky in other ways.

      • Bevan Manson says:

        I guess my point is that since we as artists work very,very hard in the real physical world to create content, we should be paid fairly for it. If a big corporation ignores those electronic pathways by which artist content can be stolen, used without permission, denied authorship, etc.on its grounds, even if such a corporation gives you a modest royalty, it is still wrong.

  12. Robert says:

    Unfortunately it’s not just art and music at stake, I’m worried about my kids too. It’s in every industry you can think of from big ag, big oil, big pharma, etc. If copyrite issues were all Google was guilty of then we would be in great shape. Google was started as a CIA project and today serves the global elites with everything they need to corner every market and industry. When a search engine company ventures into militarized drones, it’s obvious there’s something not quite right going on.

  13. Emma Lea says:

    Dear Marion Gropen….are you on Sutter’s payroll because I don’t think anyone but his proctologist has been THIS far up his backside!

  14. Robin says:

    There have been a lot of comments here saying, “They’re not giving us access to what we want to see…” as justification for the Rip. And then others saying ‘It’s only the Corporations that are going to be hurt.’

    I’m not a Corporation (yet), but yes a Corporation has apparently been taking my work. And yes, if I came after you in a dark alley to take your wallet, you’d object. You also don’t go to that cubicle five days a week, and at payday say to your ‘wonderful’ (sic and sick) Employer and say, “That’s ok, boss. You don’t need to pay me, cause I just love working here.”

    But that’s what you’re asking me and every other Creative (not Corporation) to do. With a lot more time, effort and energy to create than your ‘cubicle life’ drudge takes. But you feel justified in taking whatever I’ve created, for free, because it’s put out by a Corporation.

    That said, let me say that I hate a lot of these huge Mega-Corps. They infringe on mine and other Creatives works, doing ‘creative accounting’ or hiding behind Room Full of Lawyers just waiting to bury you, the lowly Creative and whatever Lawyer we can afford in court date after court date and reams of ‘discovery.’ Not to mention the Multi-National nature of most of them (meaning you have to file in multiple countries). We, especially those of us who aren’t making millions from our work, are shoved down this crack. The Mega-Corps are doing it, but so are the Entitled Minions pirating. And to my understanding, “Creative Future” is a shell (shill?) for the Mega-Corps, protecting their interests.

    We live in a wonderful age where cameras and equipment are finally available to those of us with a vision but not necessarily money: the Good Side of the Digital Age. The Bad (Dark) Side? It’s so easy to Rip. It’s so easy to Rip It All away… Don’t blow my interests away, just because you think that you are justified by Your Interests. F**k Your Entitlements. There are many of us out there doing what you perhaps can’t do. We need to make money to survive, just like you do. We can’t do that if you’re ripping all of Our Work.

  15. Russell K says:

    You’re wrong. Technology and it’s pioneers at google has helped facilate a golden age. Gone are the days of record company scum. You’re not going to find a fairer deal with them. Google’s standard payouts have been 70% of ad revenue leaving them 30%. Not to mention the infrastructure and bills they have to pay, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. And it’s your money outright. You’re not indebted to the record company for the fronted money they loaned you. It’s a golden age for musicians, film makers, DIYers of all sorts. You can do recordings, distributions, commerce with merch, hell, even come up with your own licensing strategy if you wanted. People can design products and even manufacture now too. It’s time for the artists to receive the rewards for their work. It’s truly a golden age. It’s time to leave the old systems behind and embrace the now.

    • Chris T says:

      I agree keep fighting for artist rights! But I remind you that google has revolutionized new media with technology by enabling pro distribution platforms like youtube and G+ / on air with distribution capabilities that would have cost artists thousands even several years ago.

    • Google and other search engines do allow that for some types of creatives, but again: if your work is put up by a pirate, and **they’re** getting the fees, that’s not a good thing. And Google isn’t going to do anything about it.

      And again: Google’s Orphan Works laws have definitions of orphan that will have enormous unintended consequences. Just look at their sample lists of “orphans” — and how blindingly easy it is to find the rights-holders for a hefty number of those orphans. For crying out loud, one of the authors was still on the bestseller list, and so, could be reached through his agent **and** his current publisher, even if you couldn’t find his address on the Copyright Office database.

      Don’t get hung up on the fact that Google, or Amazon, or any of the rest do offer some good things to all of us. Some good effects is not the same as no bad effects.

      They’re still giant corporations, acting solely in their own self-interest, and with great gaping gaps in their view of the world. Google, in particular, seems to be so arrogant that they won’t listen to anyone from “old media” or outside of their own inner circle.

      • Google does make money off of pirates, the same way that they make money off of any other type of search: by showing paid links.

      • Russell: There are lots of ways that the rights holder of a particular work can be “lost.” And that can be a pain in the posterior for someone trying to clear permissions on that work.

        But most of the works that people want to use have creators who can be found. That was, indeed, my point — although clearly I failed to make it well.

        Google, among many others, is trying to convince the US Congress that it should enact a law allowing anyone to use any work without receiving permission, if they make a good faith effort to find the rights holder and fail. (That’s their definition of orphan.)

        Rights holders have a problem with that, not least because the sample lists that Google and its allies have assembled have had a number of works where the rights holder was actually quite easy to find.

        If they’re that careless in a list that they’re using as a public example, in order to support their lobbying, we can only suspect that they’ll be far worse in the ordinary course of events.

      • “And again” you mention the orphan work and it’s unintended consequences. What consequences? As far as I can tell, these are from authors or creators that have unclaimed works and cannot be found and contacted. I don’t see how this could ever happen. Even the most reclusive artists can be found and contacted. Everyone just seems to be reaching and are scared of this new world because they don’t understand it. And it’s very obvious.

      • Sorry for the typos there, I wish you could edit comments! Hopefully the typos do not hinder the ideas I am trying to convey.

      • And this reminds of when I have gone to the very few places and they say “Cash Only.” Have you ever had to deal with that? And what did you think? Although, Cash only, doesn’t mean if you only have a credit card that you just take the items. No, you just go to another store.

        But I think what the other people are trying to express when they say ‘I can’t just go simply buy it online easily anywhere,’ is that there is no other store to go to get it at all. So that is truly another reason for pirating. So it’s not a stretch when these people are saying that as part of the problem. Accessibilty is a component. There are a lot of reasons but regardless, those same bootleggers and payper view thieves that were in previous eras, will exist in the present and future.

        What the community is saying, make all content it accessible and affordable and your supply should adjust according to the now broader and larger-than-ever demand.

        Apply basic economics.

        We’ll keep examples small for sake of simplicity:

        If 10 years ago you had the potential for 1,000 sales and you had more overhead costs with materials, distribution, and you had to make X in order to pay more people for more labor in between, so you would charge the minimum price accordingly.

        But now suddenly the potential sales could be 1,000,000 and your overhead costs dropped drastically. Would it not make sense to start thinking of a new business model?

        Or would you like to be like one of those store I mentioned, still trying to compete with ‘Cash only?’

      • What does Google have to do with Pirating? Google doesn’t make money off of it. Some people find links from a search, but those get removed as well. Most people go to the pirating site to pirate. Google isn’t the police. They can’t go shut pirates down.

        As far as youtube, or any other service, they will honor the removal of copyrighted materials. Or if the artists wants to make a channel and become a partner, they can earn 70% of the ad-revenue. So all of the tools are there to do it right.

        The case has always been, that people don’t make the bulk revenue off of the physical sale of the item or content but more on merchandise, touring, and residuals from ad-revenues. If you’re that type of artist. And if you’re not trying to sell ads with your entertainment, then you’re work is usually perceived differently, the work is usually has more depth and people do pay for some that is done well.

        There are so many ways for an artist to monetize their work, and really not much has changed. Except now with distribution there is much larger market, more supply and more demand. And if your works sucks, you’re just not going to make any money. There have always been bootleggers, and cable theives, and people ripping off direct tv and paper view, and people loaning or copying tapes. Google has done nothing wrong and does not profit from pirates.

  16. Mike T says:

    While I heartily agree with Mr. Sutter’s view, I do find it odd that he references the article “Google & YouTube and Evil Doers: Too Close for Comfort” while at the end he encourages you to check out CreativeFuture (which does look great btw) but that site links to http://www.wheretowatch.org/ which lists youtube as a legit site.

  17. Carm says:

    The companies you work for created all this mess. instead of updating there techcology and offering better service to clients they still sell DVDs and CDs at ridiculous prices and therefore people use torrents and other means. If you’re creative work was fairly priced no one would have a problem paying for it. so where ever the money goes its used for coruption of government, whether it be google or hollywood and thats why people choose to pirate and not pay.

    • If you don’t like the price of cars, do you get to steal one?

      The proper action if you don’t like the pricing, or the format, in which content is being sold is to buy some other sort of content, or to walk away entirely.

      Theft is wrong.

      The money is not going for corruption or government. The profit margins on this stuff are a **lot** lower than you think that they are, even without funny accounting. Almost all of the money goes to pay the low-level grips, and assistants, and staffers that do the grunt work to make the content. There are a lot of them.

      If all of the work that they produce is stolen under this sort of lame self-justification, then either their already low wages will drop like stones, or far less will be made, or probably, both.

      So, if you want to do a better job, do it.

      If you don’t like the way the product is being sold, buy something else, or nothing at all.

      Don’t steal. And don’t lie to yourself about what you’re doing. It hurts real people.

  18. It’s always a problem when a company gets to big. I’ve heard fine artists say they’ve seen parts of their paintings and photographs used in ads without the artist’s permission and even worse no credit given to the visual artist whose work and images were slipped into the ad…so not only is your work just raifed from a website but your image is being printed not only without your permission and worse you don’t even get credit for it. I can’t just walk over to someone’s yard and set up a lemonade stand by jerking lemons down from the tree in some stranger’s yard just because lemons were growing…or can I? Just be all like, “well your lemons were growing so I took them to make lemonade and sell…on your property…and you don’t get any lemonade…in fact I’m not telling anyone they’re YOUR lemons…sooo yeah drink that.” But as long as I have the right smile and proper inflections in my voice I can?
    Now all this has been a lot to keep up on but I’ve joined Reel Jobs and Creative Future years ago when a bunch of work started flying away from LA…I’ve worked on films before too, for years and years. Now since nothing is hardly filmed here I jumped into the world of selling my fine art because I guess I figured I’d need a greater challenge in life like trying to sell my own paintings and develop a way to stand out from the pack like watching my teeth fall out from bruxism is gonna help me get noticed? One thing I’d hate is to see my work being used without permission and being used without any of the gravy spilling over on to me.

    • wwittman says:

      But google isn’t “big”, right?

      THAT’S not a “problem”?

      this letter is absolutely right in every regard

  19. Praepositus says:

    What amazes me is the level of hypocrazy this… individual! is spreading. And how many people are falling into it. While Google might spend tens of millions of $ trying to change copyright, lobbyfirms like RIAA, MPAA etc are spending 100’s of millions of $ to undermine democracy itself and the legal system and remove the right to private communication (not that there’s much left of that with NSA running rampant though).

    Ultimately this isn’t about money, or lost revenue, it’s about power and control over present and future creative minds.

    • Copyright is about getting money for your work.

      For most authors, many musicians, and fine artists, and indeed, for many actors and other creatives, the only way to get paid is to be able to sell (access to) copies of their work.

      You may **think** that you’re only hurting rich fat cats, or large corporations, but you’re wrong. Very wrong.

      Some work is owned and only gives profits to a few wealthy individuals or to wealthy corporations. But it’s a tiny, tiny fraction of the total.

      Copyright exists to let the people who make the stuff you want, also make a living while doing it. If you want it so much, don’t you think that they’re entitled to make a living from it?

      And if you think you should be able to get it for free, how do you think they’re going to be able to keep making it?

      More than that, here’s a thought: why **shouldn’t** the people who make something control how and where and when it’s sold? Yes, they may make choices that you think lose them viewers or money, but since when do you get to decide whether or not **their** choices are so bad that they deserve to have their work stolen?

      Don’t be a spoiled brat.

      If they don’t want to sell it to you when you want to get it, then don’t buy it later. But if you **really** want it now, is usually a way to get it now, by paying more.

      It’s called “price windowing” and it is an old and highly successful strategy for making sure that the people who want it most, get it first. It also tends to give the creator the most pay for the best work.

  20. James says:

    Well if there’s one good thing about internet piracy, it has made his bank books a little tighter and helped him give up drugs, so for that I am thankful.

    Perhaps if SoA was available in Australia within a year of it coming out in the USA (I would say a week, but let’s give the man some leeway), perhaps if it was priced reasonably (not 50% more than the USA).

    But then again, it’s much easier to throw mud than it is to fix a problem. Come on everyone, come give this man’s cause some money so he can keep earning ridiculous pay rates, because without ridiculous pay rates, why would anyone do anything?

  21. Dean says:

    I get what you are saying Kurt but I must disagree in one aspect especially. That is that creative and all other forms of individual expression will always be there. Even if it’s the story around the campfire. The ability to broadcast them forward is without a doubt being incorporated and diminished but the muse survives, and always will. The great writings of history for the most part were written well before access was instantly available on multiple mediums. I don’t think that will be lost. But this is a cause worth trumpeting, and you have the forum and following to allow that. I hope people will take a minute and think. Wait I forgot, there has to be a sheepherder first to get them in line.

  22. Debbie Nelson says:

    Our future does count on it. Think about the kids , is totally right. Thank you !

  23. Peter Bright says:

    This is a wake up call and way overdue.

    The amount of money flowing in and out of the pockets of attorneys inside The Beltway to rewrite illegalities to “legal” across many subjects is appalling.

    CreativeFuture shall be supported by this humble reporter with my collective professional abilities accumulated over forty years in television & radio production…you need only call, email, or send up smoke signals.
    Peter Bright

  24. Binaski says:

    Cheers Kurt – for actually giving a shit. Count me in on the kickstarter campaign.

  25. DRL says:

    Google is how people find your works. Google is how I found this article. Google invests millions every year in blocking infringing sites. They are not the enemy of creatives. Tech companies are just as creative as Hollywood. Give it up. You haven’t a clue how the world works.

    • DRL:

      It doesn’t help much if Google sells ebooks without buying the rights to the works, and then says: you have to figure out what we’re doing, and opt out before we start, or we can do whatever we want with your work. (Which is what they said to start the lawsuit over their book scanning operation.)

      It doesn’t help us much if Google’s results list pirate sites instead of legit ones, or ahead of legit ones.

      Google is no saint. It’s a very large, very powerful, very well-funded corporation. It’s not doing anyone any favors, and it’s jaw-droopingly arrogant about how the tech folks know better than the creatives how to monetize any IP.

      Tech is **not** the same as book publishing, and I’ll bet it’s not the same as the music business or any form of video, etc.

      Those of us who’ve been in the business for decades have a pretty good idea of how to make use of the discoverability that we can gain through Google. We don’t need some johnny-come-lately who doesn’t know our markets, our cost structures, or why things have worked best in the ways that they have worked best in the past to go making ignorant proclamations about how we should adapt to the changes confronting us.

      Don’t get me wrong: we are dealing with both evolutionary and revolutionary changes, and we all need to adapt. But it’s **our right** to make the decisions for ourselves, even if we are mistaken.

      It’s not anyone else’s right, including our customers, to unilaterally “fix” our alleged errors.

  26. nerdrage says:

    Of all the people who should be lambasted for not releasing their show more widely, Kurt Sutter is not one of them. Sons of Anarchy streams on Netflix for $8/month (which also gets ya all the rest of Netflix’s admittedly spotty library). How about fellow FX shows The Americans and Justified? Why can’t I stream them legally as well? How about HBO? I’m not paying for cable on top of Netflix. There are tons of shows that you would be more justified in pirating due to the creators making them hard to legally get, but leave SoA alone (sob sob).

    • SJ says:

      It’s my understanding that season six of Kurt’s show isn’t even on Netflix yet and won’t be until after the DVD is released…so he is part of the problem here. Global subscribed online release would solve a large percentage of the issues here.

      • Michael says:

        ^ This!

        The format has to change, services like Netflix are the future. Shows have to be on Netflix right away.
        Having something on Netflix late, or only in parts, like half seasons or 3 out of 6 season is the issue.
        People get hooked by seeing half the content legally on Netflix, and have to wait years to get the rest. That’s the problem.

        At this point someone will come along with some random “oh and now you going to steal a car”. But this is not the point.
        The consumer is already willing to pay for the content “Netflix”, but Mr. old school at some Movie company wants to make much more money, because earning enough money for a comfortable living is not enough, he has to get rich! By squeezing more money out of other pockets.

        And at that point the consumer thinks; well I do pay for content, Netflix or Spotify/Google Music, and I am not going to pay twice for it.
        The problem is old people not willing to change their format, or/and greed, why not ask a high price? Well sure if everyone is willing to pay that price, why not, right?
        Guess what, lots of people are not willing to pay that price anymore, that’s why change is coming.

        The music industry learned it, and it wasn’t an easy way. Now it’s time for the movie industry.
        Same for Books, the format is going to change, and maybe at some point, actor, writer etc. will not be paid in tens of millions anymore.

  27. ChaoticCalm says:

    My advice? Quit worrying about writing open letters and worry about writing your show. Last season was awful and terribly written (not just my opinion, you should take a look around online and see for yourself) and it’s clear you’re distracted with other projects now.

    The fact of the matter is, writers, directors, actors and actresses who gain success get paid insane amounts of money for what they do. Writing is hard, I know, I do it, but you can’t compare that or showing up to get make up and costumes put on and film a few scenes and hang out in a plush trailer and eat great food from craft services for the rest of the day to be worthy of the kind of money Hollywood types make. Not when soldiers, fire fighters, nurses and social workers etc get paid pittance and have to work high stress, dangerous jobs, and end up taking their work home with them (in more ways than one) and can barely manage to put a few bucks aside each month to build a nest egg.

    I have zero sympathy for Hollywood bitching that they’re going to make less money because frankly if you cut the wages of (non-struggling) actors/writers they’d still be making triple the money that people who work ten times as hard bring in. So really, boo hoo, cry me a river. You’re doing a job you love, and getting paid exceptionally well for doing it, you hugely privileged and have very little right to be complaining if you ask me!

    • Bevan Manson says:

      Grips, gaffers, cameramen, make-up artists, musicians, extras, truck drivers, food caterers and servers, security, film editors, music editors,casting directors, assistants of all kinds, etc, etc, etc, all have to be paid too. The production can’t exist without them. And in fact most of the above make decent money, but not huge amounts. When you speak of having no sympathy for a director or major actor who makes a lot of money, that’s one thing, but remember that piracy affects many other people of modest means.

    • If you don’t like the amount that performers and creators get, don’t buy their work. But don’t then steal it.

      Most performers, artists and authors starve. It’s much harder to make a living as a creative person than as an auto mechanic or a plumber or . . . Basic competence and a decent work ethic usually don’t lead to a living wage.

      Everyone in the US has the option of declining a job that doesn’t pay enough, or declining to pay for work that’s too expensive. If enough people share your opinion in this society, the wages of even the top earners will fall.

  28. Truth says:

    This is a war between the 1% – rich content creators and their corporations vs. rich web/tech industry.

    Even if you are a regular, middle-income worker in one of these industries, you will not benefit from the spoils of either’s victory.

    Reality is that the “content creators” want to keep their exclusive club for themselves and their children. Even Sutter is honest enough to admit this by stating he wants his kids to inherit his position in the entertainment industry. If you’re an outsider trying to become a content creator – forget it, you’re not a part of that club. This letter is proof enough.

    As a result, even if you one day aspire to be a content creator (or you admire their work), it is not worth supporting a cause that will lead to limited internet access just for the hopes of making a buck maybe, if and when.

    At the end of the day, the victory will usually go toward the newer more innovative (and profitable) industry – that’s the web/tech industry. Hollywood is slowly dying out and the lobbying power of the tech world now vastly outweighs that of the content creators.

  29. Miss_Anne_Thropic says:

    Sorry Kurt but considering how many spoilers you plaster all over the internet for everyone all over the globe to see, and then don’t release the new season of SOA in Canada/Europe etc, what do you expect people to do? If they can’t see the show (or movie) at the same time as the rest of the world, people will resort to piracy. The world we live in now means we’re all up in everyone else’s business and someone in France knows what’s happened on the show within hours of it airing in the US but has to wait months/years to see it legally in their own country. That’s down to fat cats either not doing their jobs properly or wanting more money for their wares.

    Rather than writing these letters, make a stand for a way to implement global online releases through Amazon or something as that is more likely to help prevent people using dodgy means to get what they want to see. Shows like Extant are currently being released over the world in sync and it’s a great idea, and Orange Is The New Black has been a massive hit for Netflix. Streaming is the future. The way to stop it ruining the creative industry is to make it a viable option for everyone!

  30. nowayhosay says:

    well straight to the point then the net is the future games that get pirated have worked ways around that (f2p/p2p) as such media has aswell as far as i know (payed tv even here in nz “freeview” isnt completely free) so aside from the millions they get anyway shouldnt they be able to establish some sorted of royaltys from seid stations? and about the future artists this guy is so worried about well hell they dont get jack anyway only the best of the best get anything above the bare minimum and usually by millions more than anyone else can manage to rake in so in retort this guy needs to relise the net is the future for everyone (including artists of all kinds) not only to get their ideas out there but to make some money aswell, limiting the net in anyway is not only nigh on impossible but going to end up with a large backlash thats screw his popularity completely and try start a fight with the net mate youll loose badly unless you can turn every computer in the world off the net will win lol thats me.

  31. zurkzias says:

    These large corporations like Google need to set an example by not supporting these sharing sites. Everything they can do to protect the rights of others must be done.

  32. Just Another Fan says:

    As a huge fan of SOA, I want you to make money and continue your amazing career, but I don’t subscribe to the only two ways I can get your content 1) Cable TV (paying over the top for 100s of channels I don’t want) 2) Waiting months for the DVD release. I want it on the day of release, for a reasonable cost, and for a reasonable cost I will pay, but today I am forced to torrent it, that’s the only way I can get it on the day of release.

    Now secondly, why should actors/writes be paid more than doctors/nurses/firemen/police etc.

    Yes, you are talented, you are creative, but we all have skills and gifts, some pay better than others…..

    So in counter arguement, just like napster days, and emule/edonkey days, just as the music industry has taken a hit, and adapt, so TV must change, pay per view, globally is the way to go.

    So SOA season 7 should cost my about $15-$20 for the entire season, delivered digitally, mine forever, no drm, and immediately as aired in the usa.

    • jedi77 says:

      I couldn’t agree more! What the consumer wants, when he wants it. Price I will leave up to the producers though, after all it still has to make a profit.
      I don’t believe that $15-$20 for the entire season will be economically viable for the studios. Perhaps, but I am not sure.
      If, however, we got rid of the obselete and illogical royalty system – well, then that price might just be right.

      They know what we want – now they can either accept that and move on, or they go the way of the music industry.

      • Mike: if the producer insists on a price that you think is too high, then don’t buy from them. Taking what they’ve made without paying at all, simply because you don’t like the price they’re demanding is NOT an ethical response.

        As for kicking those producers to the curb — all indicators in the book business are that people are willing to pay what large publishers feel that they must charge.

        After all, it’s about the intersection of supply and demand, not just give the customer what they want every time.

      • mike says:

        Marion, economics dictates price. if the producer can’t put out a product at a price the “entitled” consumer wants….they aren’t necessary and should be kicked to the side

      • nerdrage says:

        $15-$20 sounds high. I can stream SoA on Netflix for my standard $8/month subscription. I can get through a season of SoA in far less than a month, and that $8 also gets me a lot of other stuff to watch in that same month. I have no idea how quickly the seasons drop, except that it’s one season per year, same as everyone else. If I’m a year behind everyone else, it’s no big deal to me. It doesn’t go bad after a year like apples in the fridge.

      • Since when have consumers been **entitled** to get what they want when and how they want it, much less at the price they want to pay?

        Do you get to have strawberries at the price you want regardless of the season? Do you get filet mignon at the price of hamburger, because you want it?

        Producers of goods, including creatives, get to decide what they will sell, when they will sell it and for what price. That’s ownership.

        If you don’t like what and when and how, you get to **not buy it**. In no other arena, would you consider stealing it to be moral and ethical.

        It’s not moral or ethical here, either.

  33. Norton says:

    Say where we’re you when the major record cos made 3/4 billion dollars in download settlements and paid the creators of their wealth ‘bupkers’? Where were you when Sony and Phillips invented digital CD technology and failed to secure the artists ownership and rights? Where were you when artists received diminishing income in the digital age whilst record companies made billions in lower production and distribution costs, when Sony said downloading is bad but if you’re going to please use our disc burner? Where the ‘Eph’ were you? Google, yes the outsiders in your Hollywood Boys Club. They’re to blame. Check yourself!

    • nerdrage says:

      Good analogy. If I want strawberries in the winter, they cost more than strawberries in the summer. If I want SoA sooner, I pay more than if I’m willing to wait. I get SoA at the cheaper price I want, others pay more if that’s what they want, Kurt Sutter earns his paycheck.

      This is time-based pricing and it’s used in many fields (travel being a big one – hotel rooms and plane tickets off-season etc).

    • How does piracy address any of those problems?

      If you want to buy things from independent artists, who are producing and selling their own work outside of the framework of traditional creative markets, that might help support an increase in their options, and their rewards.

      Stealing only harms everyone involved with it, including the underpaid creatives you claim to support.

  34. Irv says:

    It’s the capitalist credo; go after the weak, and drain every cent you can from them, because they can’t fight back.
    Mike Bloomberg took apart the Teacher’s Union in NYC, Amazon wipes out the bookstores and writers, and Big Tech destroys the music and movie industry.
    Get in line; they’re coming for you next…

  35. DorothyParkerlite says:

    I feel for Sutter, I really do. As a “creative,” I can understand the feeling of seeing a project you sweat blood and tears over torn apart, bastardized, and used for purposes and venues that you never intended. It sucks. But studios rip off artists all the time, and you never hear about the poor schmucks who believed, with stars in their eyes, that they would be respected and protected for their work. But blaming Google or any other search engine for that matter, is about equal to blaming the car in a fatal DUI accident. Google is a tool that can be used for good or ill. As one not lucky enough to be part of the 1% who get multimillion dollar studio deals, I can say that a free and unregulated Internet is crucial to competing with the conglomerates because I don’t have to go through them to put my content out. Not to mention preventing others from speaking their minds and not relying on controlled news sources (sorry, Rupert) to say, find out who is buying up all the natural springs and pushing for privatizing water, a natural resource (and you thought Tank Girl was just about a gal with a hard on for kangaroos).

    Point is, right now, they can’t control us. Isn’t that what freedom of speech is all about? As soon as anyone deems to “regulate” the Internet, democracy is over and fascism begins. Do we really want to live in that world?

  36. jjbiener says:

    Are you really using Torrentfreak as a “credible” source?

  37. skyeknightdent says:

    As a university media law professor, I can tell you truthfully, that there is no such thing as a copyright monopoly. (smile) Don’t believe the hype. I own copyright to my novel. I own copyright to my screenplays. I am not a corporation or an individual. I did all of the work creating those projects on my own. Mr. or Mrs, Whatever wants me to lose the right to a novel that I worked on alone for six months. Or a screenplay that I worked on alone for over a year. Why? So he can take my creative work and make money off of it for free without having done the work or had a creative bone in his body. He or she is misleading you. Copyright protects the individual artists. Recently, I noticed that a teacher at SFSU Extended Learning had been teaching from and distributing copies of Marvin Kupter’s 1988 Matlock for over a decade. The script is used as a textbook with outtakes from footage that was shot on set. The teacher is getting paid to teach the class. Should not Marvin get some kind of payment. Ten years. At least ten students in each class getting his material. Each student paying ten grand for the course, taught each semester. The teacher is getting paid almost 60 grand a year. Really, Mr. or Mrs. Whatever, you think Marvin should get nothing. He is an individual. Not a corporation. As the prisoner would say, he is not a number. He is a human being.

    • TheGunde says:

      If the script was paid for – all ten copies – then no Mr. Kupfer shouldn’t get some kind of payment again. Why do content creators in the creative community think they need to be continually paid for creating something once? Suzuki doesn’t get paid again if I lend out my car. McDonalds doesn’t get paid again if I invite people to join the meal I bought. DKNY doesn’t get paid again if I give my T-shirt to my brother.

      • Most of those who get royalties, get **only** royalties for their work, although some may be paid up front, and subtracted from later earnings.

        If you’re paid a lump sum or wage for the work, you generally don’t get a royalty.

      • The Gunde: if no copies are made, then you’re right about the printed edition. Not sure about the out-takes displayed in a semi-public area.

        But I can tell you that those scripts will be pretty tattered after a year or two, and I’d be stunned if they didn’t make new copies every year.

        Shades of the Kinkos decision. This is why the publishing industry established the Copyright Clearance Center: so that copies could be made legally, and for a reasonable price (pennies a page, max), benefitting everyone.

        I suspect that most creative industries have something similar set up to reduce the cost of being legal.

      • skyeknightdent says:

        Math is off.

      • jedi77 says:

        @TheGunde. Wxactly right.
        Why is it that the the creative community feel that it’s their God given right to receive royalties?
        The supermaket clerk doesn’t get royalties when I eat the food she sold me? So why should the writer receive royalties when I watch the show he was paid to write?
        I have never understood this system of royalties.
        Yau are people, just like everyone else, and you get paid to do a job, handsomely even, in some cases. That’s the end of it.

        No, I really don’t think Marvin should be getting a damn nickel. He performed a task, and recieved payment. End of story.

  38. Millard Ochs says:

    I am not part of the creative community. I am part of the exhibition community (cinemas). Without a vibrant creative community my business is out of business. In reading Kurt’s comments and others responses I ask the question of the group. Fox has withdrawn their offer to purchase Time Warner which I am sure has brought a sigh of relief from the creative community. Now rumors are abound regarding Google and Amazon acquiring Time Warner. If that were to happen and with the enormous government favors handed to Google for their fund raising efforts do you feel Google /Amazon is /becomes Big Brother and censors the creative community through an acquisition of Time Warner?
    I leave that thought for contemplation.

    • jedi77 says:

      There are plenty of outlets for creative material, which have nothing to do with Time Warner. And besides, frankly, America is already censoring quite a lot as it is, so I don’t really see further censoring as a problem. It’s your mess, deal with it.
      And yes, I am looking at the DVD version of E.T. where all the guns have been digitally replaced with flashlights, and cigarettes have become freaking lollypops.

  39. skyeknightdent says:

    I’m surprised that he doesn’t think we know this about Google. We all certainly know that when LinkedIn, AOL, etc say they are fighting for net neutrality that they are doing so out of self-interest and self-preservation. I’m interested in knowing how many creative people this affects. The industry has changed so much that Kurt, God love him, is a minority who can shake their money-makers and still have the soul passed down by James. Many of us would love to join his fight, but we’re too busy trying to pay the rent by substitute teaching, stocking Amazon shelves, walking petitions for seven bucks an hour, etc. USC just came out with its yearly report on how Hollywood hires fewer and few minorities and women. These images also affect the future of the daughter he talked about. But, I’ve always loved me some Sons of Anarchy and always will whether he ever hires me as a writer or not, or whether I have to pay more for it or not.

    • smeegle says:

      Not really good examples though. AOL and Linkedin don’t produce anything other than code. Same as Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. None of them do.. including Google. They sure produce a lot of piracy though.

      • skyeknightdent says:

        They are all moving in the direction of producing narrative stories. You just have to keep up to date with what is taking place in Silicon Valley. Eat at the right playgrounds.

  40. Rick Donnell says:

    He’s probably right, but all I know is Google helped bring my love back to me…(she was lost at sea, you see). So thanks google maps (and if you are infringing on creators, pls. stop that – it’s shitty).

  41. Say What News says:

    Reblogged this on forthe1789usconstitution and commented:
    A great op-ed piece from the creator, writer and front man for the hit FX series, “Sons of Anarchy” Mr. Kurt Sutter. Who goes all in on Google, Copyright Laws and Infringement. WARNING: Graphic Language… #SayWhatNewsApproved

  42. Tom Segerson says:

    Nice RANT. Too bad it’s only 10 years too late.

    Why did you not mention the other big problem, Amazon? They’ve been selling books and downloads for years and not paying the authors. I’ve been trying to get my book, which I took out of print, OFF Amazon for about 5 years, but to no avail.

    ONCE you do something on the internet, it’s going to stay there. Live with it. I’ve found illegal copies being produced on every continent, never seen a dime from it all. All I can do is keep writing, knowing that there are people all over the world who’ve seen my early, crappy work. Someone must like it if they keep translating it and selling it.

    Keep ranting. I’m listening.

    I know, I been screwed too. Thanks, Tom.

    • Amazon keeps the listings so that used copies can be sold, and so that retailers who buy from you can re-sell through their site. It’s not necessarily selling copies it made of your books.

      Are you sure that they’re ripping you off?

      I have quite a lot of problems with the dominance that Amazon has, but I haven’t seen evidence that they’re cheating people deliberately.

      • Tom, I understood you.

        You **may** be right about being ripped off, but some of the things you said were complete misunderstandings of the facts, or of what someone else said.

        And, btw, you also completely misunderstood most of what **I** said.

        I’m not going to defend your incorrect reading of what I said — I will defend what I actually said.

        I’d rather help you figure out how to make more money from the work you’re already doing than squabble pointlessly, though.

      • Tom Segerson says:

        Marion Gropen,

        Which part of my reply didn’t you understand?

        When they print a copy of your book and DON’T pay you, they (who ever it may be, individual or corporation) are stealing your work.

        Thanks for the lecture on ISBNs, etc.

        When a corporation’s lawyers go out and ‘claim’ that you’re an ‘orphan’ author, while you’re still alive and kicking, who’s stealing from who?

        Don’t give me that ‘can’t find you because you moved, etc.’ line. That’s a crock in this day and age.

        I’ve been fighting this situation for the past 10 years. The rest of you are now catching on to what has been developing over the past 15 years during the growth of the Internet.

        Stand up and fight back or sit down and shut up.

      • Tom Segerson: It’s extremely common for “used copies” to be advertised for sale on Amazon for far more than the copies bought from the publisher. They’re completely legal sales, purchased from you.

        Here’s how: When your book is assigned an ISBN, it’s registered with a number of databases, automatically. Those databases are used by automated systems owned by a number of booksellers.

        They will post that they have a copy of your book, as soon as it is entered, whether they do have one or not. They put an astronomical price on it.

        If, and it’s a big if, anyone ever orders it, they figure that they can usually buy it from Ingram for normal trade terms — or at worst for a short discount, leaving them plenty of room for a profit margin. If it’s not there, they figure it will be in one of the used book dealers’ databases, and they’ll still make a little money at any reasonable price.

        If they can’t find it, they just cancel the order, and refund any money paid.

        No matter how they get the book, it’s a legal copy. Either it was sold to Ingram (and you got paid the normal rate) or it was sold to someone else (and you got paid) or you gave it away to a reviewer, and they sold it into the used book dealers (which is not only legal, but normal practice).

        I’m not saying that Trafford isn’t having trouble paying you the right amounts, or isn’t properly administering your account. I’m saying that this particular indicator does not imply a problem by itself.

        Oh, and anyone who has ever tried to pay royalties to lots of authors, especially those who don’t sell many copies, will tell you that authors change addresses and/or bank account info, and forget to update their info all the time. It’s a major pain.

        Eventually, of course, any US payor has to send the money to the appropriate state’s Escheat Board, where it sits until properly claimed. (As in never, more often than not.)

        Again, it’s not as simple and obvious as you might think, when you try to do these things in the real world.

      • Tom Segerson says:

        Here’s what you do. Check out “Going Dutch, Trials of a Wage Slave” on Amazon. Ask yourself how it is that used COPIES sell for more than a brand new book. That and they’ve changed the publishing date from 2003 to 2006. I’ve been tracking their activity for years, building evidence.

        PLEASE DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK!. IT’S TERRIBLE AND I’LL RELEASE IT ON THE INTERNET.

        Long story short. My POD publisher contacted me about buying back printed copies of my book. They said Amazon was clearing out warehouse space and wanted to return them. Since a Print On Demand book is supposed to be PAID for before printed, I asked about my royalties. Amazon ordered the copies, took them, then returned them. When I contacted Amazon, they told me that I had to PROVE that I wrote the book. To do this I had to have my publisher contact Amazon and VERIFY that I was the author and wrote the book. Guess what Trafford Publishing told me….”How do we know you’re the author?”

        I pointed out that I had registered the book with the Library of Congress BEFORE having it published. Still didn’t make any difference. Amazon provided e-books and still sells new copies. Haven’t seen a dime in royalties after I spent thousands working on and having it published.

        A couple of years ago an Amazon lawyer was on NPR, talking about the problems they were having with paying royalties at the time. He stated, “It would be hard to track down these people to pay them.” How hard can it be if they track everything that you do? If you have registered the book with the Library of Congress, you have to provide your address. Amazon can’t find these authors? I have notes on the show, but can’t give you the date at this time.

        I spoke with a fellow writer about this situation. He had a very simple answer.

        “Get a lawyer to write a letter and they’ll pay you.”

        I’m tired of paying lawyers. Right now, I have a company that owes me money from a court judgment and they still refuse to pay it. What do they say, “Get your lawyer to sue us.” After three court dates and I won every one of them.

        I’ve done the going to court thing and it’s a great waste of time.

        Remember, in the end, the reason the big boys can do this is because of the Golden Rule.

        Those with the Gold, make the rules.

        Until those of us who have been hosed get pissed off and change the rules.

    • skyeknightdent says:

      You are so right about Amazon. They are now refusing to publish books that use Draft2Digital for formatting. It’s not as if Amazon can do it as well or as if the cut we gave to Draft2Digital cut into Amazon’s profit. Amazon is like an abusive husband who does mean stuff to his wife to make her dependent on him.

  43. FartBlaster says:

    This guy looks like a rat and writes like a seventh grader. Nice job ripping off Shakespeare with bikes, homie.

  44. Wallard says:

    This dude just wants to keep his own gravy train going. I’m sure helping out other creatives may have been a thought… for a second.

    Media corporations pushed copyright laws to almost 100 years. That wasn’t the intent of copyright.

    If this group was so concerned about our livelihood, they would be more interested in runaway production and the large tax credits being used to drive work elsewhere.

    Want to stop piracy? Make it easier and cheaper to watch what the public wants to watch when they want to watch it. Stop tying up content under old media pay walls and try to extract premium dollar for every thing.

    This isn’t a new battle.

    • You all talk as if the US can change copyright terms any time it wants. Nothing can be further from the truth.

      We are signatories to the Berne Convention, finally. If we want everyone else to respect our patents, especially on machines and software, we’re going to have to deal with long copyrights. Or we’re going to have to convince all the other countries that shortening copyrights is a good idea.

      And if you can do that, the Mideast Peace Process should be a piece of cake . . .

      In any case, almost no one suggests that copyright should go shorter than a dozen years or so. Most copyrights (95% more or less) are completely without value within a year or two.

      Want to use those rights? The rights are yours for the cost of a postage stamp, or a tiny, tiny royalty on every sale you make.

      So, really, what you’re saying is: yes, you’re still making money from the work you did. But I want some of your money, without having done the work to earn it.

      Not sure that this is a strong ethical stance.

    • jedi77 says:

      @Wallard: “Make it easier and cheaper to watch what the public wants to watch when they want to watch it.” – that is exactly the point.

      A high percentage of piracy has to do with lack of access to content, whether it be geoblocking, legality issues, poor quality, lack of a dvd release (The Equalizer), DVD release windows. If I want to watch a show, when it is actually popular, give me the opportunity to do so. Otherwise, don’t blame me when someone resorts to googling for other options.

  45. I’m not particularly bothered by four letter words, but I am bothered by search engines, social media, etc, that encourage and enable infringement.

    I’ve been less and less enamoured with Google over about the last 10 yrs, but the last straw was their large view that is so easily infringed right there. The small linked thumbnail they used to have on image searches was fine, and was what the courts said was fair use. Now they are just another Pinterest-y source for infringers to treat as if it’s a giant clip art catalog.

    This model has perpetuated myths about copyrights, fair use, and public domain. On nearly a daily basis, without even looking for it, I can find examples of people saying that what they ‘find on google is free to use.’ They are wrong, but their misconception creates a huge time and energy suck for artists, who then have to clean up the infringements. I’ve actually reversed a lot of my former SEO efforts, so I won’t be found as easily by Google. I make most of my sales thru my own efforts anyway, always have. I think all of this has exposed how little Google really was helping artists all along. Being found is not the same as being found by every infringer, scammer, and spammer.

    • nerdrage says:

      And a lot of piracy is about people wanting something for nothing. Netflix’s original series are being pirated. Why can’t people just pay a measly $8/month and get them legally?

    • Ed says:

      Don’t forget they will not process removals for Youtube or Blogspot in their search results. Thus, Youtube and Blogspot are NEVER penalized for infringements. Funny thing is that these two sites are two of the worst sites for infringement on the planet. Guess who owns those domains?

  46. kingstu says:

    My great great grandfather used to push a cart down the streets of the old country and sharpen knives (yes, people actually were paid to do this at one time). My other great great grandfather worked as a blacksmith (yes, people actually were paid to do this at one time too). Everyone in my family used to sit around the cave, then the campfire, then the porch and tell stories but nobody got paid for it. Then Edison (et al) invented a way to capture recordings and voila! people got paid to tell stories.

    Some professions survive (and thrive) in the face of technological change while others go away forever. If people like the author of this article keep fighting change with legislation (BTW, I really love SAMCRO) they are going to end up like my knife sharpener and blacksmith grandfathers. Mr. Sutter, either take the train or get run over because there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.

  47. Beth Herman says:

    I wanted to thank Kurt for alerting us “non-creative” types to the criminal behavior of Google. I hope with the action of this group some changes will occur. I support the cause unconditionally.

  48. Writes Sutter: “… the magical days when … artists were handsomely compensated for their work.”

    When, exactly, were those days?
    In the entire recorded history of civilization, there has always been a relatively teeny tiny group of “handsomely compensated” artists in any given genre, and the rest of the hard-working creatives are either struggling to make ends meet or struggling to eat. Crikey, many creatives go to their graves dirt poor and in utter obscurity, though a few of those folks are fortunate enough to hit it big after death, perhaps leaving a legacy for their loved ones after all.

    I’ve no love of Google, mind. and I’m a longtime supporter of EFF.
    But after Sutter’s flailing rant above, I’m left wondering if his motivations aren’t a tad self-involved. He seems not so much about a truly equitable and safe internet experience as he is about trying to make sure his kids can make bank amidst the challenges of a digital age. I don’t fault him for the effort–we all want to help our kids–but this open letter of Sutter’s is a whole lotta heat with precious little light.

  49. Gordon says:

    Thanks for having the balls to tell the truth about this.

  50. Where are my residuals? says:

    There’s not a writer/director/actor who can’t use Google to find a thousand illegal downloads of their work in five seconds. I say this as a writer/director myself whose work is pirated all over the web. Half of them are residing on youtube (owned by Google) and even if you’re the actual filmmaker (as I have been), youtube won’t take action until contacted by the legal department of the film’s distributor. They claim to have software which blocks copyrighted works once they’ve been ‘identified,’ but that’s a load of crap for the most part. If a person in another country is infringing on a U.S. citizen’s work, then the distributor of that work in the foreign country has to be the one to take action with Google. You’d think a quick Google search would be able to identify whether a work is being offered from a legit source or not. Or the writer or director of the work pointing out that it’s an illegal site hosting the work would be enough. Google is complicit in piracy of epic proportions. It took me over a month to get an HD quality copy of the full movie I directed off youtube. Another version popped up within days. Yes, Kurt Sutter speaks the truth.

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