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Steal This Post

January 18, 2012

"Dark" by Jack Lugar

Go ahead.  Take it.  Use it however you want.  I give you permission to put on your eye patch, peg leg, and parrot and pirate away.

I’m not afraid of my work being stolen.  Why?  Not because it won’t happen, but because it will and there’s not much anyone can do about it.  Sure we can sue, but who’s really going to benefit from that?  You’re right… the lawyers.  And what group most often benefits from new legislation?  You’re right again. The lawyers.  And that’s what SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) would open the door to –  lawyers benefiting from more nebulous, poorly written legislation.

I worked in the entertainment industry for over 15 years and spent 12 of those in Los Angeles.  On several occasions, I knew or was pretty sure my work had been stolen.  However, I didn’t really have good proof, so I just moved on to my next project.

Even today, despite the fact that I no longer live in L.A., I still learn about new instances of my intellectual property being stolen.  Recently, I was talking to a friend about a pitch I’d made for Curb Your Enthusiasm, which dealt with Cheryl being diagnosed with kidney disease and Larry being a perfect match.  If you know the show, Larry would not be a person willing to give his kidney to anyone… even his wife.  I was relating the story recently because we were talking about the show I felt it was a great idea.  After I told my friend, she responded, “Oh, they did something like that with Richard Lewis’s character needing a kidney.”

I was floored.  I did a little research and discovered that the series of shows aired about a year after I pitched the idea.  I have other examples like this, but this one was the most blatant.  Maybe it was an innocent mistake.  They read the idea, passed and then later thought they came up with it on their own.  It happens.  However, I do know they read it because they requested the pitch through my agent at Gersh and then rejected it.

The irony is that big studios “take” creative work all the time, yet cry all the time about others taking their work.  Obviously we want to stop or at least minimize piracy, but when legislation like SOPA and PIPA appear, we need to put on the brakes and rethink the purpose.  Those in support, claim that piracy can cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.  On the other hand, giving courts the ability to shut down legitimate online businesses without as much as a trial would be even more devastating.  That’s the denial of liberty.

So go ahead and steal this post.  Use it however you want.  I’m good with it.  I’d rather take that risk than the risk of more our freedom being taken by our government.

The only thing more appropriate for the online protest by many of the major internet companies would have been for the internet to go dark in protest over SOPA and PIPA on Speak like a Pirate Day.  Then we all could have said a few “Arrghs” and “Avast ye mateys” as we let Congress know our thoughts about their potential, over-reaching legislation.

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