Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Piracy Primer

The DGA is beginning its negotiations with the AMPTP and once more the Internet becomes the sticking point, Steve Jobs announces internet deals with studios, the music industry reject a DRM free iTunes, and seals its doom, Alf has a blog. there's no denying it, the internets has reached Hollywood.

To add to the mayhem,awards season has plunked smack-dab into the middle of a strike-ridden tinsel town, and regardless of whether the shows go on or not, the screeners are out. Every year the studios send out hundreds of screeners to SAG , WGA, AAMPAS, and several other union and academy voting members to insure that the voting members have a chance to view their wares.

Sweeney Todd, No Country for Old men, Thee Will be Blood, Eastern Promises, Juno, and many more have been made available to the Hollywood community on an honor basis, with the tacit understanding that we all make our money this way, so its best not to pirate the screeners. Naturally, people would rather have the immediate personal gratification of a pirated disk than consider the effects on their industry at large. So every year, it is the unspoken reality that everyone plays "Trade the Screeners" with industry peers at all levels. But truly, what ARE the effects of a few dozen pirated screeners running rampant and (Gasp!) on the Internets?

For a few years now, my friends have heard me touting the superiority of the Disney business model over that of most major studios for having long ago included piracy as a component of the what drives the profit margins up or down. On the opposite side we are watching the obliteration of the music industry through their inability to deal with the dissemination of their product by the public. In a world where a kid in Hong Kong can produce a CG Optimus Prime, while the Transformers movie is a year away from beginning production, and DJ Danger Mouse creates a hit by remixing Beatles tracks on the grey album, how is the industry to survive the spread of ideas and intellectual property?

Admittedly, I am biased. I am a leftist and a blogger, with more "Stolen" images on my site than i care to admit to. Even then, i feel very strongly that the entertainment industry should heed the warnings of the music industry, and with as much respect to the late Jack Valenti as possible, adapt their business models to include the inevitable proliferation of material around the world, and to view the use of their material by third parties as a potential source of new materials rather than theft.

Heady stuff, huh?

To better understand the issue, I am posting the following three vids.

The first is a very basic explanation by Matt Mason (The Pirate's Dillema) on how youth culture has basically reinvented capitalism. He opens the doors to an exciting creative world that uses cool judgement to differentiate between "Good" and "Bad" piracy and utilizes the "good" as tracking tools for strong memes or the even more exciting notion of new ideas.

The second two are a history of the dissemination of ideas and how they can be compared to the case of the PIRATE BAY in Sweden, and to a certain extent a warning that there is no way to really prosecute, or stall piracy. Both very informational in regards to the trends which we are facing.

After watching these and pondering the huge implications, as an industry professional ask yourself "Do we fight pirates, or learn from them?" There is only one answer that can secure the future of this industry, and its best to understand it now before it passes you by.

**** I feel strongly enough about this that I would like to encourage my friends in the industry to pass this on. If you make your living off of entertainment and have not seen these movies and are familiarizing yourself with the subject matter, you are doing so at your own risk.

1 comment:

j said...

hey alf, i really appreciate this post. a big wave of change is coming and we can choose to try fruitlessly to stop it, be terrified of it, or embrace it.

it seems that artists are most tolerant of piracy, because it means people are interested in their message. however, business demands that a sense of entitlement be attached to that message: 'if you want it, you must pay for it,' (which is why artists need agents, or they'd all starve).

so what does the future hold? will everything bend around backwards and make stage performances the only truly profitable medium once again?

john august has some interesting things to say about it as well, regarding his film 'the nines' showing up on bittorrent. check it out:


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