An Entertainment Boycott Is Not The Right Way

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 3, 2012
Updated • Feb 3, 2012

I just read about Operation Black March on Reddit which suggests to boycott all media, and in particular film, music, books and magazine companies, in the whole month of March. The operation aims to be a counter-movement against the lobbying of media companies that try to censor the Internet and act openly against the freedom of speech. With SOPA, PIPA and ACTA only the beginning, it could get a lot worse before it gets better.

The flyer reads: DON'T buy any magazine, newspaper, DON'T download ANY song (legally or illegaly), DON'T watch any movie at the cinema, DON'T buy ANY DVD or videogame and DON'T buy any book.

operation black march

A boycott would likely send a message, if enough earth citizens would participate in it. It would also hurt people that have no say in the matter but earn their living from it, like the small bookstore owner, a record store and even the cinema in your town. It could also impact the creative people of the entertainment business, people who do not have any say when it comes to company policy.

When you look at the options that the average joy (you and I) have, it boils down to two. You can first vote with your money, which is what the operation proposes. Your second option is to make yourself heard in another way. Let politicians know what you oppose, send them letters, call their offices.

My counter-proposal would look like this:

  • Boycott select media companies and all their sub-companies. These companies should be the worst lobbyists that influence politicians with fancy meals and money. Create and maintain a list of those companies. Boycott means to stop buying anything they produce until they change their minds. This includes boycotting company websites, their offers on streaming media sites and television.
  • The second important part would be to inform said companies and politicians about it. Let your local representatives know that you are opposing those bills, that it is an important matter to you, and that you will vote for someone else if they support bills. Let them know that you will NEVER vote for them again if they should EVER support such a bill again. Affected Media companies should also be informed by you, that you have stopped buying their goods, and that you won't buy them anymore until they change their ways.
  • Maintain a list of alternatives, either free or companies that openly oppose censorship and other efforts to restrict access to the Internet and freedom of expression.

What's needed for this? A list of lobbying companies and politicians needs to be created and maintained. This list needs to be publicly accessible on the Internet. Postal addresses, phone numbers and if possible electronic mail addresses need to be collected so that it is easy as pie to contact your representatives and the companies.

Let me know where you stand in the matter.


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  1. Roman ShaRP said on February 7, 2012 at 1:53 am

    I’m a foreigner to US and EU, so, supposedly, I do action close to this for many years.

  2. Andy said on February 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I’m all for the boycott as it seems ‘democracy’ is just an impotent word when pitched against the deep pockets of industry lobbying. Even the EU ACTA Rapporteur was so disgusted with the undemocratic manner in which ACTA was drafted that he resigned in protest (Google it).

    This isn’t about piracy, it’s about power. Information flows to freely on the Interwebs, myths are dispelled, and ‘global opinion’ can be influenced by a single person sitting at a keyboard in his/her bedroom. This is the real danger – independent thought and opinion formed by communities rather than swayed by governments or corporations.

    I think this issue is much bigger than many of us can imagine. It’s a very slippery slope we’re heading down here, which is why I’m more than willing to participate in Black March 2012, and I’m more than willing to encourage as many people to examine the issue and what’s at stake if something doesn’t change.

    Also, I fully agree with Jamboravich above. This issue exposes flaws in the current democratic system – that being the way in which lobbying is conducted. As Jamboravich mentions, we need to create a ‘lobbying registrar’ that is easily accessible by all citizens, and make it an offense to lobbying for anything without registering all details.

  3. Jamboravich said on February 5, 2012 at 2:31 am

    “What’s needed for this? A list of lobbying companies and politicians needs to be created and maintained. This list needs to be publicly accessible on the Internet. Postal addresses, phone numbers and if possible electronic mail addresses need to be collected so that it is easy as pie to contact your representatives and the companies.”

    Where can we find this information? Specifically a list of the lobbying companies behind these pernicious proposals?

    Most people know how to contact their representatives. However I agree with JohnMWhite, no amount of letter writing or phone calls will stop the politicians in Washington from doing whatever they and the lobbyists that grease their palms want.

    Follow the money and put the screws to those people.

  4. Jacob Blaustein said on February 4, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Will your ideas have a great deal of merit and are obviously safer, it must be said that if nothing changes, then I fear that Black March may still happen.

  5. Votre said on February 4, 2012 at 12:08 am

    The only thing foolish about this proposed boycott is that they’re launching it too quickly. It would be far more effective if they gave it moreof time to gain publicity,become better organized, and drum up wider public support before they moved on it.

    Boycotting all media is what some may characterize as a ‘nuclear option.’

    But so are the provisions in ACTA.

    Since we’re apparently at Defcon, it’s a little late to suggest one side should unilaterally lay down its arms when the other side refuses to even consider conducting genuine discussions about the issue.

    As long as the industry keeps escalating the stakes, the responses will continue to do the same.

  6. JohnMWhite said on February 3, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    I believe a targeted boycott on the particular media outlets responsible for trying to force through SOPA, PIPA and ACTA, is probably a better strategy than a blanket boycott of all media. However, I do get the point that focusing on the entire industry rather than select companies may exert greater pressure. Collateral damage will be inevitable and unfortunate, though honestly I don’t believe it will be that significant when one considers how little the little guy gets out of residuals and so on. It is like the lie that when you download a movie you are stealing money from a carpenter working on the set. They aren’t getting a cent of those ticket sales and every penny they do earn is grudged by the studio and was fought for through decades of union wrangling. A broader boycott may make the entire industry take notice, though, and may get some of them talking to each other and saying “cut it out”, whereas I have a feeling that specific media companies being targeted will just cry persecution and try to turn the situation into another way to extort money from somebody.

    One strategy that simply will not work is contacting your members of Congress. I did it, my wife did it, my in-laws did it, and everybody who wrote back to us on SOPA and PIPA parroted that same bull that had been fed to them by the media companies. It’s the same on every issue we ever talk to them about. They don’t care what their constituents say. If they are a Democrat they don’t care if you say you will never vote for them again because they know you’ll never vote for a Republican and vice versa. SOPA and PIPA died not because people wrote to Congress (they had been doing that for months already) but because the Internet forced the entire planet to notice how stupid the legislation was. It took bold, dramatic action to even get the issue recognised on TV, nevermind by Congress. And then the immediate response from the federal government was to sign ACTA and arrest people in other countries without actually having the backing of the bills that were so unpopular in the first place.

    I still recommend writing to them, incessantly if necessary, because at least there would be a paper trail showing the people tried to turn the ship around. But those on the bridge are determined to ignore the passengers for as long as they possibly can get away with.

  7. Crodol said on February 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I agree with Martin.

    [x] a SMALL SUBSET of media
    [x] ONE WEEK (to start with)

    See how it goes and if it is noticeable than people will be motivated to do it again as they see it “helps”.

  8. Robert Palmar said on February 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Operation Black March sounds hysterical and over-the top and certain to fail.
    Contrary to its own distorted sense of relevance reddit will be ignored in this.

  9. Geoff said on February 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    “Seriously, people on the Internet just seem to get dumber every day.
    This won’t get any results whatsoever, just like Occupy Wall Street.”

    We should not be complacent and It is better to do something than just moaning about the
    way various Organisations and country’s etc want to deny us our freedoms to suit the Greedy.
    Remember that Sir Tim Berners Lee Gave Freely for all to share the internet!!!!!

    1. Lorissa said on February 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      This is one of the dumbest remarks made here. Not everything in life should be free, so stop putting your hand out. Unless you are willing to work for free, STFU.

      1. Geofrs said on February 4, 2012 at 9:20 pm

        Your comments are ill informed!
        I was not saying that everything should be free!
        What I was stating that Sir Tim gave freely not to be suborned by Big Business for greater profit at the expense of Internet Freedom!!
        I pay my way do you?
        ?STFU? if the last two letters mean what I think the same to you!!

  10. kalmly said on February 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Doomed to failure. Luckily.

  11. ReX said on February 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Seriously, people on the Internet just seem to get dumber every day.
    This won’t get any results whatsoever, just like Occupy Wall Street.

    I’m not saying we should be complacent, but this isn’t the answer, not even close.

    1. Andy said on February 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      The Occupy protests had no impact whatsoever? They didn’t raise awareness or make everyday citizens think about the problems we are currently facing?

  12. Mike said on February 3, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    This proposed “initiative” does seem to be somewhat ill-judged. To suggest a complete elimination of any media-based interaction would seem to be very close to losing sight of the issues at hand. It’s akin to starting a hunger strike because you disagree with the way that your country’s government regulate the sale of food. It is misguided because it ultimately does not address the problem of internet censorship and the need to prevent dictatorial control of a free and open platform.

    Books, magazines, newspapers? Why not television and radio too? Why not any online outlet that is affiliated in some way with the media industry? Because it’s not viable – media in various shapes and forms is a part of all our lives and any attempt to “opt out” at one’s convenience is surely misguided and unsustainable.

    As Martin suggests, target the companies and the authorities that manipulate the industry to accommodate their own greed. Social media is a marvellous way of discussing ideas and garnering opinion; one has to be careful however to distinguish in one’s own mind the difference between constructive ideas and bandwagon hysteria.

  13. Yoav said on February 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Yes, this looks like an attempt to eliminate culture altogether and doesn’t really make much sense.

    Much more reasonable to boycott the specific companies that are to trying to end web freedom and control the internet for their own purposes, such as the RIAA and MPAA and their subsidiaries in every country.

    1. Andy said on February 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      “Eliminate culture altogether”? Really? A one month boycott of movies and films (and arguably books) would somehow ‘eliminate culture’? Interesting.

  14. Nebulus said on February 3, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I’m a bit at a loss here… Why would books need to be the subject of this boycott ?

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