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March 18, 2014 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-03-18

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6 - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

SOPA's spirit is
alive and well

B for Believe'
CuarOn elevates 'e leve'

Visuals enthrall in the show will be able carry on no insight into whether it will
these elements over a full sea- be able to hold interest over a

NBC drama from
'Gravity' director
DailyArts Writer
We've seen this story time
and time again since "Lost"
premiered in 2004: a serial-
ized show
premieres c=
with a great
pilot but lacks Believe
the depth to
sustain the Sundays
storyline and at 9 p.m.
the direct- NBC
ing talent
to maintain
the visuals. After one episode,
it's impossible to tell whether
"Believe" will go the way of
shows like "FlashForward"
and "The Event," or if it will
actually be able to go the dis-
tance. The pilot creates rela-
tionships, a visual template
and a plot that is gripping, but
offers no hints as to whether

son of TV.
"Believe" follows a man
named Tate (Jake McLaugh-
lin, "Warrior") who is broken
out of death row by members
of a mysterious organization
led by Winter (Delroy Lindo,
"The Chicago Code"). They
do this to enlist his assistance
in protecting a girl named Bo
(newcomer Johnny Sequoyah)
from the evil people who are
trying to take advantage of her
mysterious powers. As they
travel, Bo helps people believe
in themselves; in the pilot she
helps a doctor who considers
quitting his job after a patient
With the setup of this prem-
ise, "Believe" starts telling a
story with a lot of information
to reveal. A lot of the plot in
the pilot is setting up a com-
plicated mythology, with many
secrets involving the true moti-
vations of the "good" and "evil"
organizations and how much
power Bo has. It's yet another
serialized series that offers

season (or multiple seasons). It
could easily get bogged down
in creating more questions,
and not building the story they
already have in place.
Thebest element of "Believe"
is going to be the hardest one to
repeat on a week-to-weekbasis.
Newly-minted Oscar winner
Alfonso Cuar6n ("Gravity")
directed the pilot, creating a
diverse, unique visual tem-
plate. While this show doesn't
come close to "Hannibal" in
terms of visual quality, its pat-
terns are different from any-
thing else on television. What's
worrisome, however, is the fact
that Cuar6n won't be directing
every episode. The show's mix
of some well-choreographed
action sequences and visually
interesting scenes involving
characters sitting around and
talking created a template that
is going to be very tough to
emulate, robbing the show of
one of it's best aspects.
Another very strong char-
acteristic of the pilot is how

RELEASE DATE- Tuesiay, Marcn18, 2014
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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it immediately starts develop-
ing the relationships between
the characters. Right as Jake
and Bo, who are the two cen-
tral characters, meet for the
first time, the show establish-
es a connection between the
two of them. As the episode
moves forward, they estab-
lish a rapport that's fascinat-
ing to watch. If the show gets
bogged down in the serialized
elements or the visuals lack
the exciting nature of the pilot,
this will be the easiest aspect
to maintain and may be the
component that saves the show
from falling into mediocrity.
"Believe" has a lot going
for it. Cuar6n is a ridiculously
talented filmmaker, and his
work as a writer and director
for the premiere was excel-
lent. However, he's not going
to be involved on a day-to-day
basis and once he steps back on
his involvemen, it's not cer-
tain whether the great story-
line and unique visuals will be
maintained. The pilot is well
done, but it's too soon to tell if
the series will be.
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Remember back in 2012,
that one day when Wikipe-
dia, Reddit and a few of yout
other favorite procrastinatio
sites went dark? For some, it
was just an
- but many
that some-
thing big
was going
down, and ELLIOT
that web- ALPERN
sites don't
go dark for some trifling rea
son. In a matter of days, the
bill known as SOPA - the
Stop Online Piracy Act - wa
dead on arrival from the pub
lic pressure. Cue the pride
of victory, that warm fuzzy
feeling that democracy couli
actually work when we the
people realized we needed t
bond together.
Because, really, the stakes
were high enough to warran
losing a full day's revenue fo
most websites. Under SOA,
copyright holders could shu
down any infringing site wit
a quick court order. And any
one who streamed anything
illegally - be it a song, an
album, a TV show - was lia-
ble for up to 5 years in priso
But we don't have to worr
about that any more, right?
After all, we slayed the two-
headed SOPA hydra and the
lesser-discussed PIPA. Sure
those media execs ran home
with their tails between the
legs, never to try the will of
the American people again.
Unfortunately, as many of
you could guess by the flavo
of this column, that's not ev
close to the case.
Those same lobbyists who
pushed hard for the renewet
prosecution of online pirate
have had a revelation. Why
slog through the very visible
swamp that was SOPA, when
dealing in the shadows work
just as well?
This brings us to two new
theaters of war for, more or
less, the same damn issue -
only now, there's less we cat
do about it.
At the very least, you
might have heard of this firs
battlefront: the Trans-Pacif
Partnership. The TPP mas-
querades as a behemoth free
trade deal between a dozen
or so countries, and has bee:
under constant negotiation
for almost a decade.
Why would anyone care
about trade policies? As you
may have guessed, much is
afoot underneath the true
purpose of this agreement,
which itself is murky - no
one will make the text of thi
draft available, and it took
the efforts of Wikileaks to
show us the dark underbelly
of what we're up against. Th
Verge, a popular tech websit
summed up best what we ha
to fear from the influence o1
copyright lobbyists.
"Many of the criticisms
focus on the treaty's 'enforc
ment' section, which includ'
language that critics say ml

rors similar provisions from
America's controversial SOP
and ACTA bills. This includi
provisions that ... critics
say would further establish
ISPs as a de facto copyright
While all of this sounds
like something we should
start rallying against as soo
as possible, the problem
exists in the fact that the TIP
doesn't necessarily have tog

through Congress. Presidents
have had the power to "fast-
r track" trade policies before -
in and if that power is renewed,
this could get shoved into
reality before we even have a
say in it.
Another proposed practice
also seems to be strengthen-
ing of copyright law - some-
thing known as "Notice and
Staydown." While the pro-
posal is still in infancy, its
nature is somewhat ominous.
At a basic level, Notice and
Staydown means that, if a
website is sent a "takedown"
- notice regarding copyright
infringement of some piece of
media, it must then immedi-
s ately destroy all copies of that
- media and actively prevent
the media from being upload-
ed again. While this may
d seem like a fair point, anyone
who knows how copyright law
o actually works will recognize
that this isn't a solution, but
rather that it is a vast blanket
t that will affect both legal and
ir illegal distribution of art-
t Notice and Staydown isn't
:h nearly the threat that the TPP
- will be, but both show that
n. Piracy actually
helps business.
ly copyright lobbyists won't stop
until copyright law is revised
ir for their interests and active-
ly enforced. Which, really, is
stupid when you look at the
r Yes, piracy is illegal. Down-
en loading something you should
pay for is illegal. But if music
execs want to make as much
d money as they can, they'll
s stop pursuing piracy and
focus on making th'i~rfoduct
as affordable and available as
possible, because, believe it
s or not, piracy actually helps
Last year, the Institute for
Prospective Technological
Studies (part of the Euro-
n pean Commission's Joint
Research Centre) analyzed
digital music piracy over five
it countries from 16,000 partici-
ic pants. The execs work under
the assumption that every
album downloaded is $10 or
more instantly evaporated in
n a puff of torrenting. But the
IPTS concluded that "digital
music piracy does not dis-
place legal music purchases,"
and even more, that "illegal
music consumption could
also, in theory, stimulate legal
music consumption." The
study found that, for every
e 10 percent increase in the
number of illegal downloads,
there was a two percent rise
7 in legal sales. Obviously, cor-
te relation is easier to establish
:e, than causation, but it seems
ve that music piracy, at the very
f least, doesn't do as much
harm as advertised.
So where do we go? It's
e- tough to figure out - but
es for the ever-optimistic side
r- of me, I'd like to think that

* democracy can still achieve
'A something for the people. So
es keep an eye out for the TPP
and Notice and Staydown,
and when any of it comes into
the public light, do what you
can to be a part of democratic
n Alpern is torrenting music.
To get him to stop, e-mail
PP ealpern@umich.edu.

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