Tag Archives: Film

New York Times Helps Movie Studios Spread Lies and Fear

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New York Times writers By BRIAN STELTER and BRAD STONE (full disclosure: Brad interviewed and quoted me for his article on $200 netbooks and I think he seems like a real nice guy) seem to have been drinking a bit too much of the movie industry’s KoolAid.

In an article in today’s paper they write the following:

But if media companies are winning the battle against illegal video clips, they are losing the battle over illicit copies of full-length TV episodes and films. The Motion Picture Association of America says that illegal downloads and streams are now responsible for about 40 percent of the revenue the industry loses annually as a result of piracy.

The problem here is that this 40% figure is completely mythical and the reporters neither back up this outrageous claim or offer any subtantive basis for it being made.

The truth is that Hollywood revenue was up year-to-year and there is little true corellation between rates of piracy and Hollywood profits.  The concept that every “pirated” viewing is lost revenue is simply absurd.  It is wrong to assume that people who watch something for free would be willing to pay instead if the free version were gone.

I might watch “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” on a pirate stream for a few minutes but I will not pay $12.50 to go see it on a big screen.  If the pirated version isn’t available I just won’t see the movie at all.  However, if it is a great movie I want to see on a big screen I will cough up the coin.

The overall tone of this article makes it seem like this piracy is a massive crimewave instead of a rational response to an industry that refuses to evolve with the times.  There is a reason that the studios are losing this war: they aren’t changing to meet their customer’s needs and so their customers are going elsewhere:

But many industry experts say the practice is becoming much more prevalent. “Streaming has gotten efficient and cheap enough and it gives users more control than downloads do. This is where piracy is headed,” said James L. McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Consumers are under the impression that everything they want to watch should be easily streamable.”

Of course they are under that impression – it’s true.  Where studios and TV networks are losing money is by not finding ways to offer a similar service at a reasonable price.

When they do make the effort, like with Hulu.com, they see great results.  Viewership goes up immediately.

Why they don’t simply release copies to torrent sites with ads embedded is completely beyond my comprehension.  With what they waste each year trying to “fight” piracy, they could develop and distribute a new business model that would make pirating basically obsolete.

Instead, they risk going the way of the music industry and suing their way right out of business.

Meanwhile, I am baffled as to why the New York Times seems to be siding so heavily with “Big Hollywood.”

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Pirates Beat Oscars Again – Suck It MPAA

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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.

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DMCA Shuts Down Fansite Run By Preschool Teacher

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On of the many super-cool niches out there on the web is the world of “fanedits.”

As defined by TorrentFreak:

“Taking famous movies as a base, faneditors spend huge amounts of time editing with sophisticated software in order to create improved or just plain different versions of existing movies. Most of the time, faneditors try to improve what is wrong or bad with a movie, using advanced techniques to create a new piece of art based on the original. Of course, faneditors love to share their work with others in the community, something the movie industry wants to bring to an end.”

Now comes word that one of the most popular sites for fans to share their edits is being shut down due to DMCA takedown requests.

Not only is it yet another absurd example of the major motion picture studios attacking the core fans they rely on for ticket sales, but, in this case, it exposed one of the horrible pirates they are trying to stop.

“I am boon23, faneditor and administrator of the biggest fanedits website in the world. I’m a preschool teacher from Europe and as faneditor I post under the name CBB (created by boon) and have so far created 29 fanedits, which is quite a lot. It is my hobby, my art, the thing I really love to do and will continue to do.”

Yup.  A preschool teacher.  Nice work, guys.  Go get ’em!

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Video Killed The Indie Film Star?

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It wasn’t all that long ago that the way every young director hoping to make his or her mark would make a short film and send it out on the festival circuit.

Of course, that was before YouTube made online video mainstream.  First, we saw a fair number of short films online but now, it seems, more folks are going the web-series route, to various levels of success.

The excellent Tilzy.tv have posts on two such indie webseries, CATACLYSMO and THE BICYCLIST.

“The two spent $20,000 making the web show [BICYCLIST], $30,000 making the movie, and they expect total costs to rise to $100,000 all told when the movie is marketed and distributed. That’s not much for say, a venture-backed web studio, but for folks who make a web show on weekends, it’s quite a bit of cash.”

Yup, and they’ve received fewer than 500,00 views for the series.  BUT that is one hell of a lot more bang for your buck than you’ll get at a minor film festival with your short film!

These days, you’d have to be crazy to think a film fest will be your route to the big times.

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Your Original Video is Worth $1.00

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Yup.  According to the exciting email I received from Demand Studios I could soon be a millionaire.  With their amazing incentive program I would only need to submit 100,000,000 videos!  Wow!

Hello Filmmakers!

We are busier than ever at Demand Studios, creating more titles and assignments every day. As we mentioned in our newsletter, during the month of October we are rolling out a filmmaker incentive program. For every 100 videos you submit you’ll receive a $100 gift certificate to B&H Photo & Video!”

If that doesn’t get you off the couch…

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