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Crucial animated infographic.
The burrito business is not for the weak
Imagine that you spend 15 years, half of your life, developing the ultimate recipe for a breakfast burrito. You sell everything you own to fund the process; you work around the clock, 7 days a week, fine-tuning this recipe and building a small storefront where you can sell these burritos. You call it “Lu’s Burritos,” after your son. You very slowly amass a small but dedicated clientele who love your burritos and often introduce new friends to your restaurant. Over many years you grow your menu, painstakingly, adding not just breakfast burritos, but lunch burritos, dinner burritos, and a late-night burrito with a sauce that is so magical, people offer to pay you for the recipe. But you just keep your head down and work on that menu, and you’re finally able to hire an employee or two so you can keep your patrons happy and eat something other than your own burritos once in a while.
One morning you come to work and are shocked to find that someone has erected a new storefront with a big sign that says “Mega Mexican” (with horrible graphic design) next door to your burrito spot. You go next door to introduce yourself and welcome them to the neighborhood. You are a bit alarmed to see that they are also in the burrito business. You cannot find an owner to shake hands with, but lucky for you they’ve posted their menu in the window. On the menu you find the following: Lu’s Breakfast Burritos, Lu’s Lunch Burritos, Lu’s Dinner Burritos, and Lu’s Late Night Burritos with a Magical Sauce. You easily determine that it is in fact an exact duplicate of your menu! What’s more, there are a wealth of corporate logos—-like McDonald’s, Subway, and Taco Bell—-framing the entire menu. There is a big fat “FREE” sticker where the burrito prices should be. You are incensed. You pound and pound on the door, but nobody answers. When you stop to catch your breath, a little mail slot opens and a burrito is pushed into your hands.
Before long, Mega Mexican has a line around the block 24 hours a day, handing out free burritos that look and taste exactly like yours (you know because you tried one). Your core constituents still come to Lu’s and buy your burritos as a gesture of support, but admit to occasionally frequenting the joint next door when you are closed. “I must have my burritos at any hour, as often as I want,” they explain.
You call the authorities; something must be done. The authorities arrive and pound on the door of Mega Mexican, threatening to break the door down. After some tense words through the mail slot, your menu is removed from the window, and another—-a hotdog menu—-is put in its place. The authorities leave you that day feeling effective. But the next day your menu is up again, this time in the other window, opposite the hotdog menu. You call the authorities again. Over the next few months, due to several conversations through the mail slot, your menu moves to every possible window and back again.
Occasionally, those picking up their free burritos will take notice of the similarities in your menu and that of Mega Mexican. They’ll stop in to Lu’s and congratulate you on a great recipe. You don’t really know what to say to this. Sometimes you gush about your financial woes as they grow increasingly uncomfortable, until they excuse themselves to pick up someone from the airport. Other times you simply thank them for praising your recipe. They may offer to buy a Lu’s Burritos T-shirt to support you, but you say, “I don’t make T-shirts, I make burritos.” ”You should really make T-shirts,” they respond, “I would totally buy a single T-shirt if you had one for sale for less than $15.”
In no time at all Mega Mexican has amassed enough revenue from its corporate sponsors to build a fleet of delivery trucks. You begin to receive letters from around the world - not a veritable flood, really, but one or two letters a week telling you how much your burritos are being enjoyed in Paraguay. They ask you if you will soon travel to their city to sell them Lu’s Burritos T-shirts. “I don’t make T-shirts,” you write back.
You begin to unravel. Some days you lash out at people in the line next door, calling them “thieves” or begging them to put some money in your tip jar. Sometimes they give you a little money, but most times they laugh and roll their eyes. One day an acne-bearded young woman in line sees you accosting “customers” and says, “Why don’t you quit whining and thank Mega Mexican for spreading the word about your burritos? Don’t you realize that because of them, many many many more people are enjoying your burritos around the world?”
"I’m glad people are enjoying my burrito recipe," you respond, "but because of Mega Mexican I can no longer afford the time or kitchen to make the burritos or work on my menu, which are my two favorite things to do in life.”
"Don’t be a fool," she says. "Your money is not in burritos - burritos are free. Your real money is in delivering Lu’s Burritos T-shirts to places like Paraguay that love your burrito recipe.”
"But I run a restaurant, not a T-shirt delivery service."
"Wrong. You ran a restaurant. You should really do a T-shirt truck instead.”
"But I would have to find the time and skill necessary to develop marketable T-shirt designs, the money needed to pay for them up front, and relationships with T-shirt printers in each country. I’d have to buy a big vehicle to deliver them all in, and spend copious amounts of time promoting my arrival in advance. I’d have to leave my family and friends to travel to the other side of the world on faith that there are enough people there to buy all those Lu’s Burritos T-shirts. And I wouldn’t have a place to sleep, or a bite to eat."
"You could eat free burritos…"
"I don’t know if I can handle eating another burrito. Ever."
"Well, the burrito business is not for the weak, old man."
Re: SOPA - Put my money where your mouth is
One of the most common arguments lobbied against SOPA and PIPA is that there is a wealth of data to suggest piracy actually increases revenue to content creators/publishers. Anti-SOPA enthusiasts love to reference the recording industry’s public war on radio (and later cassette and compact disc manufacturers) as examples of its initially alarmist and, eventually, glacial adoption of a technology that ends up compounding its revenue. But they don’t seem to want to tell the most pivotal part of the story —- the boycott:
In 1941, ASCAP, having already raised its royalty rates by over 448% from 1931-1939, blew minds by doubling its fees to radio stations. Radio stations responded by boycotting all ASCAP artists for ten months, instead spinning freebie arrangements of public domain music and as well as lesser-known artists from the growing catalogue of recently formed competitor Broadcast Music Inc (BMI), which mainly represented independent country and blues artists from the rest of the nation. Eventually ASCAP was forced to renegotiate much lower fees in order to get the spins again. In 1942, major label minds were further blown when a brand new label, Capitol Records entered the market by audaciously giving radio stations free copies of their records to spin. By 1946 Capitol had positioned itself as one of the six majors, selling over 42 million record (Incidentally, Capitol records was also the first major music label to embrace Internet-delivered music - in 1997).
Why don’t these “pirated” content aggregators and gateways prove their point by giving the RIAA and MPAA what they think they want: removal of their copyrighted content? If history is any indicator, those same labels will be paying them for placement in a few short years —- Payola 2.0, as it were. So why not clear out the Hollywood content, and give that real-estate to independent artists that recognize the value of P2P exposure?
Here’s why: because for companies like Megaupload, Piratebay, Google, etc., SOPA is not really about 1st amendment rights, over-reaching government, or ruining the spirit of our precious porn-ridden internet… it’s about ad revenue. And they have no intention of sharing that money with the creators of the content they’re exploiting, famous or not.
And that is exactly what SOPA, however flawed, was intended to address.
Now I’m not saying I think SOPA should’ve passed, and I’m not saying that we don’t need to be conscious of legislation that may effect our rights and our freedoms, I’m saying most of you don’t seem to realize that you’re parroting press releases from conglomerates, not revolutionaries. You don’t seem to be reading the actual bill before posting, ”they hate our internet freedom.”
Find the balance in the argument and advocate that. Otherwise, y’all just sound like Bush Jr., and that dude was dumb as a porch.