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Industry Piracy Uncategorized

There will never be a legal ‘celestial jukebox’ to compete with piracy

For more than twenty years and counting, media piracy apologists have repeated some variation of the argument which says, “People are willing to pay for content as long as it is made conveniently available at a fair price.” And while that may sound reasonable in a Tweet or a sound bite, what it actually implies is something quite unreasonable—namely, that the legal streaming paradigm should compete with pirate services by offering most if not all the world’s media fare on one platform at a “low” all-you-can-view price.

Even if that goal is not quite what people think they mean when they repeat the “willing to pay if…” trope, it is the only logical extension of the argument because that would be the only way in which a legal model could possibly mimic a pirate model. But it’s not going to happen. The “Celestial Jukebox” is untenable in a legal framework, especially for filmed entertainment on a global scale.

A single-stream distribution model that would function like one of the pirate subscription services is not economically viable; it would not be achievable without overturning antitrust laws globally; and it would not be desirable because such a monolithic regime would only stifle the diversity of material being produced.

Many viewers perhaps fail to appreciate that we are currently enjoying a golden age in motion picture entertainment. In fact, there has never been a period offering a more diverse range of material for our many screens.

The multi-platform producer/distributor phenomenon enabled by streaming technology obviated the demand to satisfy median viewer tastes where access was limited to a handful of linear, broadcast TV networks. Instead, models like Netflix and Prime have fostered new opportunities to take creative risks in both style and substance, and by contrast, the desire for a single source “jukebox” is culturally regressive because it would render all that experimentation economically untenable. Even if it were legal.

Antitrust laws would prohibit, for instance, the Hollywood studios from collaborating on a single-platform distribution system. And that’s a good thing because, in case anyone hasn’t noticed, network effects in online markets produce monopolies. And it is folly to wish for more consolidation across all media industries.

Shifting the competition paradigm from a network subscription model to one in which each title competes for a share of a combined subscription pool would lead to greater reliance on data by the largest entities to the detriment of smaller producers.

This is not to ignore or underestimate the existing power of the major producers (including Netflix and Prime) relative to independent creators, but a shift toward distribution consolidation and greater reliance on data processing would only amplify those disparities.

In 2018, indie music distributor John Svanberg wrote the following about data-driven perspectives in the Spotify model: “With tireless data mining, the streaming services and major labels become more risk averse. The major labels use streams and social media clout as hard currency in their scouting process in order to make as safe bets as possible, which arguably leads to more innovative music being overlooked due to its out-of-comfort-zone nature.”

Yet, paradoxically, some consumers and pundits suggest that content and network diversity itself is a reason to choose piracy as an alternative. As Michael Beausoleil wrote in a February 2021 blog describing consumer trends:

Too many options leads to frustration. Too much frustration leads to piracy. Yes, the number of streaming options is allowing piracy to gain in popularity. A recent study found that 70% of people believe there are too many streaming options and over 85% feel streaming is getting too expensive. Stealing content certainly isn’t too expensive, unless you get hit with a hefty fine.

Beausoleil does not advocate piracy per se, and his portrayal of consumer frustration, often referred to as “subscription fatigue,” does hit a nerve. I have several subscriptions myself and not nearly enough time to watch everything of potential interest. So, why not get one of those cheap TV boxes, download an app, and pay a lower monthly subscription fee to a pirate operation? I could access all the programming I currently get, plus quite a bit more, while paying less every year.

So, why not do it? For me, the answers to that question are myriad—even without the risk of fines—but it is clear that piracy is still perceived by millions of consumers around the world as a harmless option.

To date, studies indicate that many viewers are not deterred from piracy by the fact that they have a 30% chance of infecting their networks with malware. Neither are they put off by the consideration that media piracy supports an array of other criminal enterprises including identity theft, privacy invasions, and even acts of terrorism. And few consumers have ever been persuaded by evidence that piracy really does cause financial harm to many creators of works.

Further, it is notable that even though legal music streaming comes close to providing an all-in-one “jukebox” experience, these services have not yielded a consistent reduction in pirate habits among consumers.

Rolling Stone reported that during the COVID-19 shutdowns, there was a spike in “old school” download piracy of music, and Music Business Worldwide reported that in pre-COVID years between 2016 and 2019, the UK saw stream ripping of music increase by 1390%.

So, whatever rationales explain the ebb and flow of traffic to pirate alternatives, it seems clear that the existence of the “jukebox” itself is not sufficient to maintain constant ebb.

Understandably, when the consumer views streaming technology in isolation, the idea of a single platform seems attainable. The legal producer/distributors could, as a purely technical matter, approximate what the pirates are doing. But even if the financial model could sustain anything close to the spectrum of material we currently have available, a pirate model could never be replicated in a free market—let alone among competing markets worldwide—without extraordinary levels of regulatory overreach.

A subscription-based pirate streaming app accesses stolen material which is stored on servers operating illegally around the world, and it distributes that content without paying fees to any producers of the work.[1]

Thus, to imitate pirate-like access in a system that actually pays the people who make movies and TV shows would require sweeping government mandates and international agreements that overturn a constellation of legal regimes, including abrogating antitrust laws, for the sole purpose of bringing all motion picture distribution into a monolithic, worldwide streaming system.

Even if that were to happen (and it will not), there is no reason to assume that such a radical approach would provide viewers with a better experience offering the same scope and quality of programming that is available today. On the contrary, homogenized, state-regulated models tend to produce homogenized, state-regulated products. And still, piracy would persist because the pirate who pays zero for the content it distributes can still turn a profit, even if the new “jukebox” were to cut into some margin of its market share.

In terms of overall convenience, interfaces like Prime and AppleTV come pretty close to providing a single source experience because they enable search across all titles on all the networks available through those portals. In that vein, we may see new bundling options offered through ISPs et al in coming years, but it is unrealistic to expect that we will eventually pay one fee into a single, legal, worldwide streaming service.

So, if the consumers currently pirating are waiting for the Celestial Jukebox before they are willing to abandon piracy, then it is fair to say that those consumers are not going to abandon piracy. As such, efforts to mitigate piracy through law enforcement should come as no surprise to anyone.

This article was originally published on Content Café.

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The Unlikely Fortune 500 Companies Fueling Piracy

For piracy to flourish, it requires more than crafty criminals and willing users. And its impact goes well beyond the harm it does to creators. Content theft is a $2.34 billion criminal ecosystem that mirrors the legitimate world of Netflix, Hulu, and Apple+.

None of this is a shock to those that track piracy.

But here’s something that may surprise you: some of our most iconic companies – Amazon, Facebook, and Google – funneled what is likely tens of millions of dollars to pirate operators over the last year. How? Through advertising on illicit apps that offer pirated content. A year-long investigation by the Digital Citizens Alliance and White Bullet found that major brands paid piracy websites and apps an estimated $100 million over the last year.

This is how piracy flourishes. And it’s bad news for more than just creators. It affects consumers, with 1 in 3 users of piracy websites and apps reporting they have had an issue with malware. It thwarts law enforcement – on some piracy apps, the users allow operators to mirror their IP connection, which enables criminals to operate under the radar. And it can even have national security implications – a year ago, investigators found that a terrorist channel that was banned from broadcasting in the United States was available on half of the pirate platforms.

Which brings us back to major brands. Amazon, Facebook, and Google are perhaps the three most digitally sophisticated companies in the world. Yet, somehow their advertising was also the most likely to appear on illegal pirate apps during the investigation. There seems to be two possibilities: they don’t know, or they know, and they don’t care.

Each person must draw their own conclusions on what the answer is, but it’s worth noting that, in one instance, White Bullet found that Google used its own ad tech to place its own ad on a piracy app.

But there is good news: Amazon took steps to prevent its advertising from showing up on piracy apps after it was informed of it. Hopefully, the company will remain vigilant.

Advertising is a complex ecosystem that involves a myriad of brands, ad agencies, and ad tech to create, negotiate, and place ads on digital platforms. But that cannot be an excuse for why well-known companies fund criminals. Simply put, our major brands must do better.

This article was originally published on Creative Future.

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MPA/APSA Film Fund – celebrating eleven years of supporting feature films across the Asia Pacific

“The MPA APSA Academy film Fund is the single most important film development fund in Australia simply because it rewards new and audacious ideas and is not beholden to conventional market pathways or bureaucratically acceptable finance plans.” 

This statement from film producer and two-time Fund assessor, Glenys Rowe, is indicative of the enthusiasm that seems to grip industry participants when they engage with this progressive development agency.  

 Created in 2010 through the combined vision of the Motion Pictures Association (MPA) and the Asia Pacific Screen Academy (APSA), the Fund has annually given grants of $25,000 (USD) to support the development phase of four production projects from across the Asia Pacific including feature films, documentaries and animation.  Now in its 12th year, the amount donated totals $1.1 million (USD), supporting 44 projects. 

 The Fund is an integral part of APSA’s work to support and celebrate creative achievements in film, promoting inclusiveness and opportunity regardless of nationality, religion or race. The grants facilitate creativity and empower filmmakers in countries where they may often be dauntingly isolated and deliver long term benefits as films backed by the Fund find new audiences with every new generation. 

 The MPA also plays a significant role as an advocate for the protection of copyright. Creative ownership is essential for filmmakers to maintain fair and reasonable income flows and to help the sustainability of their work in all of the 70 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.  Even where infrastructure support for filmmakers is absent, governmental support for anti-piracy measures to protect copyright are essential.   

For Australian producer Robert Connolly, a grant recipient for an ambitious animated feature, Magic Beach, the grant was especially significant as it represented the first funding that the project had received from any source.  In Connolly’s words: “The impact of the grant was crucial:  the first commitment to a film is always a hugely valued element of film financing. … The support for Magic Beach at this very early stage enabled us to begin work with a team of creative filmmakers and has been a great impetus to the project.”  

 Many high-achieving films supported by the Fund have been produced in profoundly difficult political or logistical environments – Memories on Stone, a film from Iraqi Kurdistan supported by the Fund in 2011, won awards world-wide; and No Burqas Behind Bars (also supported in 2011), a feature documentary by a female Iranian director in Afghanistan, won an International Emmy.   

The experience of Adilkhan Yerzhanov, a writer-director from Kazakhstan, reflects the imapct that can flow from an MPA APSA grant.  Adilkhan received a grant in 2018, and reported back to the Fund: 

 

Paolo Bertolin (l) with Adilkhan Yerzhanov (r) at the 13th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), Brisbane November 21, 2019. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris for Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA))

 

“The support for my film, A Dark, Dark Man, allowed me to have more time for script development and to complete the production within a very short time.  And most importantly, this recognition helped me to obtain the trust of potential investors in my future projects. 

“APSA/MPA funding is also a great moral support. Our whole team was strongly motivated by the fact our project was picked by such a solid international organization. In the times when auteur cinema gets more and more vulnerable such funding seems to be essential for its survival. It gave us the opportunity to film comfortably and find additional sources of financing,”  

In the Pacific region, grants to one project helped the filmmakers make creative use of the COVID lockdowns.  New Zealand producer Catherine Fitzgerald wrote about the grant’s importance for Sweet Lips, her collaboration with Samoan writer-director, Tusi Tamasese, supported in 2019: 

“For Tusi the grant has proven a godsend during COVID… while we couldn’t go to Samoa because of closed borders to do what we wanted to get underway, one of Tusi’s brothers had been stuck there and kept some things moving.  Meanwhile the fact that this story which is set in a time of huge change precipitated by the 1918 ‘flu, has heightened Tusi and my interest in exploring what the story means for now and the near future. This catapulted Tusi back to writing and wrestling with the conundrum of ‘what is this story really about’, and the grant has meant that he has had the money to do that”.  

 

Jane Park (l) and Catherine Fitzergerald (r) at the 13th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), Brisbane November 21, 2019. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris for Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA))

The Fund has a distinctive application process which focusses on the concepts, ideas and aspirations behind projects, rather than the more common industry focus on commercial prospects.   

 A basic principle is that strong ideas will, if properly supported, create their own space in a crowded and competitive film market. For example, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Fahardi was awarded a grant in 2011 for A Separation, on the basis of a project outline that was a scant 2 pages in length. It was so strong however, that it convinced the panel of its merit and went on to win over 150 international awards including an Academy Award for best Foreign Language Film.   

 Currently 148 Australians are among the 1,300 directors, writers, producers, actors, cinematographers and other creative partners across the region who are eligible to apply for grants. For Australian members, the Fund offers special significance: for producer and former Fund assessor, Melanie Coombs, “the Fund is invaluable, connecting Australian filmmakers with peers in the Asia Pacific.”   

 Both APSA and the MPA can be very proud of what they are achieving with just $100,000 a year in this innovative and unique development fund.  

 To become an Academy member, an applicant needs to be nominated in any category of the annual APSA Awards, or to have participated in APSA’s deliberations processes, or be recognised by APSA for services to the film industry in the Asia Pacific region.  EMAIL: info@asiapacificscreenacademy.com to check your eligibility and to receive the entry form. 

 The 2021 MPA APSA Academy Film Fund is now Open for Submissions. The Rules and Regulations for the fund are found here

Applications close on 22 October 2021. 

This article was originally published in Content Cafe.

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FICCI Frames 2020 Uncategorized

FICCI Frames Day 3 : Balance of Power

“An online platform takes the film where the audience is and  serves the passion to get our production before our people and not get pushed back in the pipeline.”

-Mr. Vikram Malhotra, Founder – Abundantia Entertainment Pvt Ltd

The release of Shoojit Sircar’s film Gulabo Sitabo on a streaming platform was a watershed moment for the film industry. Multiplex chains PVR and INOX heavily criticised the decision to theatrical run of the film, which starred top drawer actors  like Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushman Khurrana.

To discuss this development, stakeholders from media and entertainment sector sat together at E-Frames 2020 to discuss whether OTT platforms and movie theatres can co-exist. Participants included Shoojit Sircar, the director of Gulaabo Sitaabo, Vikram Malhotra, Founder Abundantia Entertainment Pvt Ltd, Mr. Saugata Mukherjee, Head of Original Content – SonyLIV, Mr. Carter Pilcher and Chief Executive Officer – Shorts TV, UK. Film directors Madhur Bhandarkar and Ram Madhvani were also part of the panel, moderated by journalist Taran Adarsh.

Impact of COVID19 on theatrical release

The panellists welcomed the positive response to the release of Gulabo Sitabo and hailed it as a successful experiment. Mr. Malhotra said that online platforms help take the film where the audience is.

For example, Gulabo Sitabo got access to 200 markets at once.

The move also make economic sense as films can be released on time and everyone in the value chain can be compensated without delay.

Mr. Sircar agreed with Mr. Malhotra and said that deferring the release of Gulaabo Sitabo until August would have led to uncertainties and losses. He gave the example of Angrezi Medium, which ran only for three to four days before a complete lockdown was imposed. He added that this concern got pronounced for those who make one film at a time and channel the profits from one production to the next. In contrast, directors who make multiple films simultaneously have the flexibility to delay a particular release.

Advantages of release on OTT platforms

Mr. Mukherjee added that globally big films are now launched on OTT platforms.  These have opened up a new form of distribution and for certain films, OTT will be the first window.

Mr Madhvani added that OTT was benefitting both filmmakers and audiences. The former can time their releases and the latter can watch movies they like, at their own convenience.

Unlike theatrical releases, where a single Friday can determine the fate of a film, online platforms offer a way for continuing the life of a movie. Filmmakers get more creative freedom and there are no compulsions to marketing songs to promote a movie.

Popular genres and relevance of star cast 

Mr. Mukherjee pointed out that recently thrillers have done well on OTT platforms. He warned against “over indexing” a particular genre because other genres haven’t been tried much and, therefore, the statistics might be misleading. Mr Carter explained that in the US, it is family animation that is most successful. Moreover, the popularity of films is director-led. On the contrary, Mr. Malhotra explained that in India, familiarity with a star offers reassurance to the audience and attracts fans. Mr. Carter pointed to the success of Whiplash and Mr. Mukherjee agreed with him that OTT services provide the chance to experiment with, and create, new talent.

OTT and theatres can coexist

That said, the panellists agreed that this is not a new normal but a pandemic-induced situation. The decision to use online platforms is a tactical one until movie halls reopen. Mr. Mukherjee said that the industry will continue to make films suited for both, as some films are better suited for theatrical experiences.

Mr. Carter, suggested a revenue sharing model between theatres and OTTs as a solution to keep the theatres alive.

Key takeaways

  1. OTT services and theatres can coexist. The recent decision to release the film over an online platform was driven by the lack of choice due to the pandemic.
  2. Some films are better suited for theatrical releases and others for digital platforms.
  3. There are several advantages to online releases. These include more control over the  release of film to the filmmaker, more distribution choices, access to audience in different markets, less editorial cuts and the ability to experiment with stories and new talent.
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Uncategorized

Sound Games

Netflix’s Sacred Games has won hearts in the world of cinema. Stepping beyond the storytelling and lending a ear to the score and sound design, Creative First caught up with Anish John, sound designer for the series.

Can you tell us a bit about how you started your career in sound design?

Like several others, I was drawn to the world of sound through music. Initially, I wanted to dabble in music production and recording, and I figured I needed some training to pursue this ambition. Ultimately, this led me to FTII where I was drawn into the world of films. Over time, my attention shifted from music to cinema and sound design.

 

Your first film credit is from 2008. Eleven years later, what are some of the biggest changes in the way sound design is done?

When I was starting out, analog sound was winding down and everything was becoming digital. We went from making film prints to DCPs. Today, we have more flexibility and technology available to us. We have formats such as Dolby ATMOS that provides us with unlimited scope to create the most effective soundscape. The biggest change however, has to be the advent of OTT platforms. Netflix and Amazon changed the game. We have access to such amazing world class content at the switch of a button. Not only are we watching these excellent shows, but we are also making some ourselves. Going to the cinema is no longer the only option.

 

How do you keep evolving as a sound designer?

The constantly changing cinematic environment ensures that sound design evolves too. Nowadays, sound designers need to be very flexible. We need to understand the requirement of not just the story or script that we are working on, but also need to take into consideration the format of any given project. While working on a commercial theatrical release, two important things I have to focus on are impact and scale. While on a show like Sacred Games, I found myself working on more intricate, finer details of sound design because the viewing experience is that much more intimate.

 

In addition to Indian cinema, you’ve worked on international films such as Million Dollar Arm and Something Like Summer – were there any noteworthy differences in the way the two prioritize sound?

There might have been a difference in the past, but now, filmmakers in India are very aware and invested in the art form of sound design. We realized how an effective use of sound design can enhance storytelling and the film watching experience. Now Indian filmmakers acknowledge and appreciate sound design as a tool of storytelling.

 

Can you tell us a little about the process of developing a “sound style” – how much is the director involved?

Typically, the soundscape of the film, or the style of sound a film is designed in, is discussed between the sound designer and the director right from the scripting stage. There is a constant exchange of ideas throughout the filmmaking process. Filmmaking is a very collaborative process. If one does not collaborate, then you fail to utilize the talent of your crew.

 

Can you tell us about the technical set up used for Sacred Games?

Netflix is a very large organization that operates in about 190 countries. When a show like Sacred Games premieres in 190 countries, you can imagine the amount of work that goes behind that. Language versions and subtitling needed to be done in order to reach this diverse audience base. We had to facilitate this along with delivering the show to the Indian audience. In terms of the technical set up, sound device recorders, Aaton Cantar recorders, Lectrosonics, Schoeps and Sennheiser microphones were used to capture sound on location. Post production was done entirely on the ProTools platform.

 

Dialogue delivery is half of acting, yet many times the directors leave dubbing entirely to assistant directors or sound design teams. Has this been your experience – and do you think it’s the right way to go about it?

I think it eventually boils down to the trust the director has in his sound design team. In my experience, most directors are very involved in the process. If dubbing or ADR is happening primarily to replace or match what was captured on location, then that’s more of a technical job that the sound designer is better equipped and trained to handle, than say the director. If the director has approved the performance while filming on location, and we are trying to match and recreate that in the dubbing booth, a voiceover recording is probably more creative and most directors will be more involved in that process.

 

What was the most difficult sound you ever had to capture?

During the filming of Newton, we were recording the sound of a chopper. We had dust flying everywhere. Our eyes, mouths, clothes – everything was covered in dust. Staying focused on the job was quite challenging but at the same time a lot of fun.

 

When you take a holiday, do you hear more than you see?  

I haven’t been on a holiday in a really long time! But, I do observe life very closely when I can. I love observing people, spaces, and sounds. What really catches my attention is the way a specific sound reacts in a particular space or environment. This really helps me when I am trying to recreate something similar on a project that I may be working on.

 

 

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“Like A Toddler With A Book Of Matches”: 13 More Reasons We Need #PlatformAccountability

Throughout their relatively brief yet terrible reigns, both Facebook and Google have compiled enough scandals to fell most companies many times over. And yet, following both companies’ most recent earnings reports, their stocks only continue to rise.

This is disheartening, frustrating, enraging, and terrifying. What does it say about us as a society that we keep rewarding internet giants that have proven time and again to have virtually no regard for our collective well-being? It can feel pretty hopeless, but there are glimmers of hope cracking through their seemingly impenetrable armor.

The U.S. government is finally ramping up the pressure, opening antitrust investigations into the biggest technology companies, and dishing out fines left and right. The FTC penalized Facebook an unprecedented $5 BILLION over privacy breaches – but, in a clear sign of just how much people fear Facebook’s power to harm, many experts have complained it’s not enough. One group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), has even filed a motion to block the settlement on the grounds that it “fails to ensure consumer privacy”.

A new era of platform scrutiny is upon us, and though we’re still a long way from true #PlatformAccountability, we get a little bit closer every day. Here are 13 more reasons why it can’t come soon enough, culled from across the spectrum of political, cultural, and sociological discourse.

 

 

1. Because deception and corruption have come to rule the day on our biggest internet platforms.
“The internet was supposed to not only democratize information but also rationalize it—to create markets where impartial metrics would automatically surface the truest ideas and best products, at a vast and incorruptible scale. But deception and corruption, as we’ve all seen by now, scale pretty fantastically too.”   – Wired

2. Because human dignity and universal rights are what should be ruling the day.

“Instead of aspiring, unrealistically, to make [platforms] value-neutral meeting places—worldwide coffee shops, streaming town squares—we could see them as forums analogous to the United Nations: arenas for discussion and negotiation that have also committed to agreed-upon principles of human dignity and universal rights.”

– The New Yorker

3. Because how can we expect dignity when these platforms are letting this happen?
“For the six months after he was hired, Speagle would moderate 100 to 200 posts a day. He watched people throw puppies into a raging river, and put lit fireworks in dogs’ mouths. He watched people mutilate the genitals of a live mouse, and chop off a cat’s face with a hatchet. He watched videos of people playing with human fetuses, and says he learned that they are allowed on Facebook ‘as long as the skin is translucent.’ He found that he could no longer sleep for more than two or three hours a night. He would frequently wake up in a cold sweat, crying.”

– The Verge

4. Because this guy literally penned YouTube’s community guidelines – and he’s not impressed.
“Bulls**t is infinitely more difficult to combat than it is to spread. YouTube should have course-corrected a long time ago.”

– Micah Schaffer, technology adviser who wrote YouTube’s first community guidelines

5. Because the old internet rules don’t apply anymore.
“The rules governing the internet made sense in the dot-com era. They don’t anymore.”

– Margaret O’Mara, author of The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America

6. Because the time for platform self-regulation has passed.
“Zuckerberg’s announcement that he plans to alter Facebook to focus on groups – and also launch a cryptocurrency – are downright alarming. There’s no reason to believe these changes will make user data any more secure. After all, Facebook hasn’t changed its fundamental business model. But the changes will make it harder for authorities and civil society groups to track and counter illegal activity on the platform. Groups are already the epicenter of black-market activity on Facebook. The firm’s continued negligence in the moderation of criminal content makes clear that the time for self-regulation has passed.”

– Alliance to Counter Crime Online

7. Because the agency that is supposed to be regulating platforms is terrifyingly overmatched.
“The [FTC] has a budget of $300 million a year and around 1,100 full-time staffers, 40 of whom are dedicated to privacy enforcement. That’s dwarfed by Facebook’s resources: The company is worth a half-trillion dollars and has nearly 30 employees for every one of the FTC’s.”

– Politico

8. Because even a $5 billion privacy settlement with the FTC can’t fix Facebook’s problems:
“It doesn’t fix the incentives causing these repeat privacy abuses. It doesn’t stop [Facebook] from engaging in surveillance or integrating platforms. There are no restrictions on data harvesting tactics — just paperwork… Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and other executives get blanket immunity for their role in the violations. This is wrong and sets a terrible precedent. The law doesn’t give them a special exemption.”

– Rohit Chopra, FTC Commissioner

9. Because if you’re so big that $5 billion is just a tap on the wrist, then something needs to change.
“The terrible message sent by this tap on the wrist is that enforcement of privacy protections is a hollow paper tiger in our nation… It has to be structural and behavioral and not just monetary, and this amount of money is way too low.”

– Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut)

10. Because we live in a surveillance state, owned and operated by Google.
“Seen from the inside, [Google’s] Chrome browser looks a lot like surveillance software. My tests of Chrome vs. Firefox unearthed a personal data caper of absurd proportions. In a week of Web surfing on my desktop, I discovered 11,189 requests for tracker “cookies” that Chrome would have ushered right onto my computer but were automatically blocked by Firefox. These little files are the hooks that data firms, including Google itself, use to follow what websites you visit so they can build profiles of your interests, income and personality. Chrome welcomed trackers even at websites you would think would be private.”

– Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post technology columnist

11. Because Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, Libra, is anti-democratic. 
“A permissionless currency system based on a consensus of large private actors across open protocols sounds nice, but it’s not democracy. Today, American bank regulators and central bankers are hired and fired by publicly elected leaders. Libra payments regulators would be hired and fired by a self-selected council of corporations. There are ways to characterize such a system, but democratic is not one of them.”

– Matt Stoller, fellow at Open Markets

12. Because they’re still finding novel new ways to put our children in danger.
“Hi [PARENT],

We found a technical error that allowed [CHILD]’s friend [FRIEND] to create a group chat with [CHILD] and one or more of [FRIEND]’s parent-approved friends. We want you to know that we’ve turned off this group chat and are making sure that group chats like this won’t be allowed in the future. If you have questions about Messenger Kids and online safety, please visit our Help Center and Messenger Kids parental controls. We’d also appreciate your feedback.”

– Facebook user alert about Messenger Kids, where a design flaw let thousands of children join chats with unauthorized users

13. Because it’s time to take the matches out of the toddler’s hands.
“Now Facebook may not intend to be dangerous, but surely they don’t respect the power of the technologies they’re playing with… Like a toddler who has gotten his hands on a book of matches, Facebook has burned down the house over and over and called every arson a learning experience.”

– Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), at a House Judiciary Committee antitrust hearing

It is this last quote from Senator Brown that stings most of all – not because he compares Facebook’s childish recklessness to a toddler (that association was already readily apparent), but because he reminds us that one of the world’s most powerful internet companies operates from a place of disrespect.

Brown’s claim that “they don’t respect the power of the technologies they’re playing with” doesn’t only apply to Facebook, but to Google, as well. Both companies disrespect the power their technologies wield, and they disrespect the people who use them.

They disrespect creatives – and the creative works that get relentlessly pirated across their platforms. They disrespect children – and the families that must cope with the online harms that befall them. They disrespect regulators – by fighting to preserve their dominance at every turn. And, they disrespect the moderators they hire to endure unfathomable horrors for poverty-level wages.

But, what else should we have expected from their business model that treats every human being as little more than a data point to be monetized? Why should we be surprised when Facebook’s early, unofficial motto was “Move fast and break things”? How was it not obvious to EVERYONE, after Google literally removed its “Don’t Be Evil” slogan from its code of conduct, that in both attitude and action, these companies have never shown anything but a carefully glossed-over disdain for their users?

They have never respected us – any of us – and until #PlatformAccountability truly becomes a reality, they never will.

This article was first published in Creative Future.