You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

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.”)

Popular on Variety

More Voices

  • Renee Zellweger'Judy' film premiere, Arrivals, Samuel

    'Judy's' L.A. Premiere: Renée Zellweger Takes Another Ruby Step Toward the Oscars

    Renée Zellweger continues to follow the yellow brick road to the Oscars. The Los Angeles premiere of Judy on Thursday night in Beverly Hills kept the Academy Award winner on track for a possible second win come February. “We’re just so happy we’re able to share it with you tonight,” Zellweger said to the crowd [...]

  • Barry Bill Hader

    Emmys 2019: Clear Favorites and Top Challengers for This Year's Winners (Column)

    If this felt like the longest, most expensive Emmy campaign in history, you might be right. For one thing, the 2019 Primetime Emmys will be held Sept. 22, which is the latest the ceremony has taken place since 2013. That also happened to be the last year of TV’s quaint, pre-streaming era, before outlets like [...]

  • Fleabag Succession Emmys

    Could 'Fleabag' and 'Succession' Be Spoilers on Emmy Night? (Column)

    At the onset, this year’s Emmy Awards felt a bit anticlimactic, as the final seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” appeared to have this year’s drama and comedy categories locked up before campaigning even began. But that’s how upsets happen: Just when we’re pretty confident about how things might go, a couple of wild [...]

  • Climate Mobilization

    Marshall Herskovitz: Why the Climate Crisis Needs Movie Marketing-Style Muscle

     I’ve lived inside the climate-communications conundrum for 20 years, working with scientists, academics and activists to find ways to convince Americans that something they couldn’t see or feel was nevertheless a looming catastrophe worth upending their lives to fight. Now the climate crisis is undeniable, and we are finally seeing the beginnings of concerted action. [...]

  • Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver Gain Oscar

    Telluride: Oscar Buzz Builds For Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver and 'The Two Popes'

    This year’s Telluride Film Festival began on Thursday with the Guest/Patron Brunch on a private estate about a 30-minute drive from the center of town. Eggs, bacon and fruit salad were being served as the sun was shining on Martin Scorsese, Adam Driver, Noah Baumbach, Laura Dern, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content