Archive for the ‘piracy’ Category

No Protection: A Filmmaker Against SOPA

Friday, December 16th, 2011

As a filmmaker, I’m a content creator. I’m an “artist.” I want to be able to make a living doing creative work and I do want to be paid for work I do. But I do not support copyright law as it is today. I do not support the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and I do not support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The reason is simple. I am a practical person. If something is essentially unenforceable then there is a problem with it as a solution. If to be enforceable, the law needs to shut down free speech, security and the general mechanics of unrelated businesses, I don’t think it spells pragmatic.

I would like innovators to come up with a way for creative people to make more money from their work. I do not care all that much if giant conglomerates suffer in the meantime. They should not be permitted to force even more corporate welfare down our throats in the form of legislation that benefits a very narrow group of powerful companies. They have fed someone the line that their protection benefits artists, when that is almost never the case. The vast majority of artists benefit far more from innovative sites like Etsy or Vimeo whose very existence is threatened by this type of legislation.

I have been worried about various threats to innovation on the internet, for example in the broadband monopoly in the US. But that nearly every internet company has come out against this type of legislation has not been able to stop the force of the MPAA and their lobbyists. Even a bipartisan effort in the Judiciary Committee seems to be yielding little return.

I saw a tweet yesterday that said “If SOPA passes, I’m moving to Canada.” It does sound tempting, but if SOPA passes, the internet will be affected everywhere. The U.S. is still leading the way in web innovation. But if you make obvious activity illegal, we’ll all be criminals.

Call your Congressperson today.

Will the MPAA destroy theatrical? Selective Output Control and the FCC

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

News from Washington- the MPAA filed with the FCC to encourage the approval of technology that would allow Hollywood studios to transmit theatrical films directly to consumers hi-def before their video or broadcast windows begins. Called Selective Output Control (SOC), this would compete with piracy but would supplement or undercut theatrical runs depending on your viewpoint. A take on this seems to be that this will destroy the theatrical system and put exhibitors out of business.

I’m not one to defend the MPAA, but this seems a little silly in a number of ways. For one thing, theatrical viewing of films has proved time and again to be an unmatched way of reaching an audience who will pay for the experience. You may reach far more actual eyeballs on TV screens, but the value proposition is different- and it’s not because one thing is generally 90-120 minutes long and the other is shorter (films play on TV too, I hear). Theatrical may need to become more robust and interactive, but people actually do want to go out and be with other people, even with amazing flat screen 3D HD TVs in their house and lots of bittorrents to choose from. The already-declining DVD business is more in danger here, it seems.

Also, it seems to me that trying to stop a new technology, via regulation or approbation, is doomed to failure. If something comes along that people want, it’s a lot more likely you’ll have success giving it to them than trying to figure out how to withhold it.

Breakin' the LAW

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Are you a “criminal”? Or are you influenced by over-the-top rhetoric? Either way, you might want to head over to OpenSourceCinema where you can voice your opinions photographically.

HT: Agnes Varnum.

Oh. Canada?

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Apple announced today that its iTunes store would finally be reaching the key market of Canada, to go along with its other recent conquests in the U.K.. Meanwhile, debate rages on in my homeland about Bell and Rogers’ attempts to throttle P2P sharing of copyrighted files, while the legality of such sharing remains ambiguous. And Hollywood, who can no longer tolerate Canada even for service work now that the loony is so strong, blames Canadians for up to 50% of feature film internet piracy (the worst offenders are in Montreal, naturally- those libertines!)

In the new economies of internet trade (where the products are nothing if not ephemeral), a tiny market like Canada’s can suddenly make an outsized difference- if what they are doing is not paying for what we know as ‘products’, sharing media, and then sending it all out to the rest of the world. There is a butterfly-wing result- Canadians may be few in number, but they are affluent enough to access the latest technologies as well as positioned to influence their neighbors to the south. Canadian media producers are used to not making money. The government itself may end up helping to drive this effort.


Thursday, May 29th, 2008

You might be lingering in the past, thinking that while the major blockbusters are scanned, ripped and up on every free download/streaming/torrent site you could imagine, just by virtue of demand (or lack thereof), smaller independent or foreign titles are still somewhat protected from the phenomena. I recently got schooled by a young pirate who explained that, to mix a few metaphors, the long tail has snaked deep into the booty troves of “stolen media” traders. Even fairly obscure films are to be found on the file sharing servers and P2P networks trolled by the technically savvy film consumer. For free.

There is no limit to quality, my young pirate assures me, HD files being in plentiful supply. And once one person has a file then it is only a matter of time before the file is trading hands and multiplying. This copyright meltdown might have had some upsides for musicians, who lost traction in their industry but could potentially parlay their marketing successes into revenue at live events or for merchandise (given that they were alive and able to perform). There seems to be little parallel to films that cost several million dollars to make at minimum, and (with the exception of blockbuster hits or children’s films) do not have external revenue sources beyond sales of the film at the cinema and home media.

Still, there may be a little time left for filmmakers and distributors to figure out what to do. In the independent market, filmgoers tend to be older than the average indie rock fan. The bandwidth and technology to support true high-quality downloadable film media is just emerging. But the many competitors- and especially the many struggling competitors and competitors who are trying to respect the copyright limitations within the works themselves- may make the high seas of pirated media look very attractive.

Much as with music, what seems likely to me at this moment to happen is that filmmakers themselves will find grassroots ways to make money. And some corporate interests will find a way to make money. But the “film industry”? Those are rough seas ahead.