Every year the MPAA claims to be doing everything in its power to stop pirates from destroying the film industry. Of course, what they really mean is that they are wasting millions of dollars and work-hours.
Not only does there seem to be little proof that pirated downloads are actually hurting the film industry’s bottomline but the efforts of the MPAA are doing nothing to stop it:
Waxy.org’s Andy Baio has once again published an extensive collection of data about this year’s Oscar nominations and their availability on P2P networks. He’s been doing this for the last seven years, during which the overall picture has remained pretty much the same; almost all Oscar nominated movies are available on file-sharing networks before the annual awards ceremony. In fact of the 26 movies that were nominated this year, 23 are already available in DVD quality on P2P networks. (via NewTeeVee)
While this same article points out that it is taking longer for pirates to get copies to the internet, by a matter of days from year-to-year, it makes it very clear that the major studios are going to have to figure out a new approach to fighting the pirates other than chasing them around the net with “cease and desist” orders and dragging fans into court.
Maybe they should, um, take a few lessons from the pirates and begin releasing usable digital copies themselves without endless forms of DRM that cripple the end-users ability to do what they want with the movie.
Just a thought.
Two stories caught my attention, both of which add evidence to the idea that giving your content away for free can actually increase your overall potential for montization – or as I like to say, Cashification.
First, Mashable has some follow-up to Monty Python’s innovative approach to combatting pirated clips on YouTube – they made their own YouTube channel where they posted everything they’d ever done for free. They also provided links to the actual DVDs and CDs for sales at Amazon and iTunes. Can you guess what happened next?
Monty Python’s DVDs climbed to No. 2 on Amazon’s Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent.
Still not convinced. How about this from TechDirt in their story about idpendent musician Coery Smith, who both offers his music for download free on his own site and for money via iTunes:
However, as an experiment, they took down the free tracks from Corey’s website for a period of time last summer… and sales on iTunes went down. Once again, this proves how ridiculous the claim is that free songs somehow cannibalize sales.
The fact that there are so many stories like these makes it ever more difficult to accept the current business practices of the major music labels and studios. While they spend more time and money on hunting down and prosecuting their one-time customers their current customers are running our of patience and will jump ship, too.
Kevin Kelly has a great post on the notion of moving from an ownership-based world to an access-based world. Here’s a taste:
Very likely, in the near future, I won’t “own” any music, or books, or movies. Instead I will have immediate access to all music, all books, all movies using an always-on service, via a subscription fee or tax. I won’t buy – as in make a decision to own — any individual music or books because I can simply request to see or hear them on demand from the stream of ALL. I may pay for them in bulk but I won’t own them. The request to enjoy a work is thus separated from the more complicated choice of whether I want to “own” it. I can consume a movie, music or book without having to decide or follow up on ownership.
In many ways, a lot of us are already there. The truth is I haven’t bought an media in a physical format in ages. Not a CD or DVD to speak of and even my dead-tree book purchases have plummeted.
Just what has replaced all of these hard-good purchases? My NetFlix subscription, Pandora, Boxee, Stanza, ITunes and all the rest. When it gets right down to it about the only things I really buy-to-own these days are food and alcohol and I don’t really “own” those for long.
Of course, the idea of a subscription-based life works for goods that have little-to-no scarcity factor it seems less likely that rental will replace all aspects of ownership.
Check out KK’s whole post.
While it certainly helps that the very successful webseries “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog” featured a name cast and was created by the much loved (especially by the net-saavy) Joss Whedon, there is a lot for all of us to learn about how to monetize web video.
The secret for Dr. Horrible lies in the use of release windows much like the movie studios have employed for decades.
First, the episodes were available for free streaming online, but only for a limited time.
Next, you were able to pay to download the episodes at iTunes for a small fee. The fee was fair because now you had a version that could travel with you.
Now, Joss and company are releasing a jam-packed DVD with all sorts of value-added extras for even more money.
I’m sure there is a TV license window yet to be exploited as well.
Oh, there’s a soundtrack available, too.
Not only was Whedon able to get enormous amounts of free press and fan favor from the free release but he has understood how to build on that base to actually come out with some cash in his pocket.
While every webseries is not going to be able to do exactly what Whedon has done, it is very important to understand all of the distribution channels that exist and examine how each can best be exploited for your project.
Good article in TubeFilter, too.
In their latest attempt to hold onto their self-proclaimed crumbling empire, the major movie studios are forcing(?) NetFlix and iTunes to remove films from “watch-now” libraries when those same films reach their network TV release window.
This is absurd on so many levels, not the least of which is best put by CNet:
“Normally, release windows don’t affect retailers or video-rental services after they’ve begun selling or renting films. Warner Bros. doesn’t go into Best Buy and pull DVDs off the shelf when Comcast airs Casablanca. The corner Mom and Pop video store doesn’t surrender copies of Gladiator to Universal Studios when the film appears on ABC. But Internet stores are being treated differently. What this means for iTunes and Netflix customers is that movies will pop in and out of the services.” (via)
Not only does this not make sense, but there is no way that having the films available online is going to stop someone dumb enough to watch the edited, commericialed movie on netw0rk TV when they can just rent it – or easily find it on a BitTorrent site.
At the end of the day, this is the major studios once again doing everything in their power to make it a pain in the ass the watch the movies they make.
And they wonder why the pirates do so well. Here’s a hint: they meet the needs of their customers.
TorrentFreak has word on a big plan to rid London of a horrible scourge:
“Touted as the biggest ever anti-piracy collaboration, the MPA and several major anti-piracy groups have announced that by the time the 2012 Olympics begin, they will have made London “a fake-free zone”. This impossible mission to stamp out DVD piracy was launched by Intellectual Property Minister, David Lammy.”
Is it just me, or does this sound like an enormous waste of time and resources? Isn’t there real crime in London? How about making the city murder-free by 2012? Or how about a “felony-free zone?”
It upsets me to see how much of our tax money (both here in the US and around the world) is wasted on “stamping out DVD piracy” – not only is it completely ineffective but any small benefit achieved is only enjoyed by the major movie studios who will continue to use it all as an excuse to raise ticket prices.