beltsbear sends a story about the struggles of visual effects artists against the Motion Picture Association of America. The VFX industry in the U.S. has been slowly dying because movie studios increasingly outsource the work to save money. The visual effects industry protested and fought where they could, but had little success — until the MPAA filed a seemingly innocuous legal document to the International Trade Commission two weeks ago. In it, the MPAA argues that international trade of intellectual property is just like international trade of manufactured goods, and should be afforded the same protections. This would naturally apply to visual effects work, as well. Thus: "[E]mboldened by the MPAA’s filing, the visual effects workers are now in a position to use the big studios’ own arguments to compel the government to slap trade tariffs on those studios’ own productions in high-subsidy countries. Those arguments will be especially powerful because the MPAA made them to the very same governmental agencies that will process the visual-effects workers’ case. Additionally, the workers can now take matters into their own hands. ... If visual effects workers can show the Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission that an import is benefiting from foreign subsidies and therefore illegally undercutting a domestic industry, the federal government is obligated to automatically slap a punitive tax on that import. Such a tax would in practice erase the extra profit margins the studios are gleaning from the foreign subsidies, thereby leveling the competitive playing field for American workers and eliminating the purely economic incentive for the studios to engage in mass offshoring."
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