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February 4, 2012 6:58 PM   Subscribe

You will never kill piracy and piracy will never kill you.
posted by Sebmojo (216 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Steam for movies. Yes. Although I'm not quite sure how the article could miss that Gabe Newell said this:

"We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem," he said. "If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable."

Maybe he didn't, of course; it's basically the entire Forbes article in a shorter form. That said, it's really nice to see sane articles in press like Forbes (read by non-internet people) though.
posted by jaduncan at 7:15 PM on February 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


You will never kill piracy and piracy will never kill you.

Lowest Album Sales in 17 Years.

U.S. Album Sales Dropped 12.8% Individual Songs Slight Gain.
Album sales continued to decline, hurt by downloading at unauthorized peer-to-peer networks and shrinking shelf space at fewer brick-and-mortar retail outlets.
Music's Lost Decade: Sales Cut in Half.
Total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to Forrester Research. In 1999, that revenue figure topped $14.6 billion.

Although the Recording Industry Association of America will report its official figures in the early spring, the trend has been very clear: RIAA has reported declining revenue in nine of the past 10 years, with album sales falling an average of 8% each year. Last decade was the first ever in which sales were lower going out than coming in.

. . . .Total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to Forrester Research. In 1999, that revenue figure topped $14.6 billion.

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Although the Recording Industry Association of America will report its official figures in the early spring, the trend has been very clear: RIAA has reported declining revenue in nine of the past 10 years, with album sales falling an average of 8% each year. Last decade was the first ever in which sales were lower going out than coming in.
You don't think they would have gone to all that trouble with ACTA and PIPA if they weren't losing money by the bucketload, would you? Let's be quite frank--the content industry is taking a beating due to illegal downloading. The idea that it "won't kill you" is a laugh. Jobs are being lost.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:24 PM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wow. I'm kind of surprised at how sensible this article is.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:25 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am also loathe to this new concept where brand names like Forbes now just host bloggers in an attempt to be relevant; I expect an article from Forbes, and instead it's.. this.
posted by cavalier at 7:25 PM on February 4, 2012


Sebmojo: "You will never kill piracy and piracy will never kill you."

Time to go sailing around the horn of Africa, then! Oh, wait...
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:26 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The idea that it "won't kill you" is a laugh. Jobs are being lost.

Because they refuse to adapt to new realities. Color me unsympathetic.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:27 PM on February 4, 2012 [77 favorites]


This was much smarter than I was expecting it to be, thank you for pointing it out.

The mainstream entertainment industry is horrifically broken. It's actually much worse than most people think it is -- anyone who's had even a passing professional association with film or television will have a story to tell you about how completely fucked up the entire system is. They've created a hierarchy where, in order to get the power to make fundamental creative decisions, you have to have spent decades fucking other people over and sacrificing your ideals and clawing your way to the top -- skills that mean you're very good at boardroom politics, but have nothing to do with your ability to read a stack of treatments and decide which one will make a good film that people will care about.

We're at the point where the only thing keeping small, truly* independent filmmakers from hitting the mainstream are the problems of distribution and visibility. The internet is obviously chipping away at both of those issues, particularly now that most of us have reliable, unlimited, high-speed access to it at home. There are plenty of services that allow us to securely send someone small amounts of money with a couple of mouse clicks. It's only a matter of time before some kid scrapes together $5-10,000 and a handful of talented friends and makes a movie that all of us want to watch enough to pay a couple dollars for the privilege.

I am really, REALLY excited to find out who that kid is going to be, and what kind of movies she'll decide to make.


*by which I mean, filmmakers that haven't been picked up by pseudo-indies like Fox Searchlight
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:29 PM on February 4, 2012 [24 favorites]


Lowest Album Sales in 17 Years.

I remember that year. That was the year that cassettes finally killed the music industry.
posted by Sparx at 7:30 PM on February 4, 2012 [59 favorites]


You know why I don't buy albums anymore? Because I listen to Pandora or TuneIn radio instead.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:33 PM on February 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


The idea that it "won't kill you" is a laugh. Jobs are being lost.

Jobs are being lost, because the film industry is eating itself alive. That doesn't mean that piracy is killing it and ACTA and PIPA are the only solution. It means that the industry needs to reevaluate and get its damn act together.

If they're going to tell me that the success of a smart, original blockbuster like "Inception" was a fluke, and then turn around and blow hundreds of millions of dollars on doomed-to-fail crap like The Last Airbender, then it's not the consumer's fault that they're dying.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:35 PM on February 4, 2012 [54 favorites]


Examiner: Using numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study charts how consumer spending on entertainment as a percentage of their household income rose 15 percent from 2000 to 2008.

Data from PricewaterhouseCoopers and iDATE show that from 1998-2010 the value of the worldwide entertainment industry grew from $449 billion to $745 billion.

Masnick wrote in his report, “By any measure, it appears that we are living in a true Renaissance era for content. More money is being spent overall. Households are spending more on entertainment. And a lot more works are being created.”

posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:36 PM on February 4, 2012 [16 favorites]


It's only a matter of time before some kid scrapes together $5-10,000 and a handful of talented friends and makes a movie that all of us want to watch enough to pay a couple dollars for the privilege.

This is almost right but not quite. The amounts are off by a factor of ten or so. I could make a feature for $50k-$100k and it wouldn't look GREAT but it would look OK. On $1m I could make something that looked like a movie movie. But the point is that with a different distribution model you don't have to reach *everyone* (the plague of Hollywood) -- you can just reach *someone*. I won't go into the math of it but I suspect the sweet spot is in the $1-$10m range.
posted by unSane at 7:38 PM on February 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


You don't think they would have gone to all that trouble with ACTA and PIPA if they weren't losing money by the bucketload, would you?

History shows some humans ENJOY controlling others.

And history


Let's be quite frank--the content industry is taking a beating due to illegal downloading.

Really? You have made a claim.

Can you PROVE this claim?

Because the content industry makes lots of claims. Many times untrue and later PROVEN to be untrue.
An Infographic Showing Just How Frequently Hollywood Has Cried Wolf About 'Piracy'

So I ask you again - you've made a claim. Now PROVE it. I mean you must have actual proof what with The idea that it "won't kill you" is a laugh. Jobs are being lost. Because loosing a job is DEATH!

And under justification:
http://i.imgur.com/GyorP.gif
As pointed out to God Man in the above link, copyright has changed - what would be legal has been made illegal. If you made the work under the old terms - why should you be upset if someone takes you up on the old terms you once agreed to?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:42 PM on February 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


Because they refuse to adapt to new realities.

Well, the new realities in music might be that jobs are going to be lost - that you can't run a business which traditionally makes money on publishing and licensing when the value of publishing and licensing is dropping so fast. Which doesn't mean that other jobs aren't going to be created - but if you've been earning six figures as a marketing executive, moving into selling JoCo T-shirts at the merch stall may be an adjustment you want to wait as long as possible to make. Pandora and TuneIn radio are interesting data points on that. From elsewhere on Forbes:
In terms of how [Spotify streaming] affects a small band, Uniform Motion provided the figures for their relationship with Spotify in September 2011:

With Spotify, we’ll get €0.003/play.
If you listen to the album all the way through, we’ll get €0.029.
If you listen to the album 10 times on Spotify, we’ll get €0.29
If you listen to it a hundred times, we’ll get €2.94
If you listen to the album 1,000 times (once a day for 3 years!) we’ll get €29.47!


For comparison, the cash after costs of a CD sale at €10 is €4.34, and on a pay-what-you-want digital download at €5 the cash after costs is €3.88. Depending on perspective, the relatively small profits from Spotify are either a supplement to other digital earnings, or a low-value substitution for digital downloads.
But music is different from movies - cheaper to stream, but also a lot easier to download.

It feels like the mooted solution - make all media available immediately, for a price that is competitive with pirated media (i.e. near free) - is pretty commonsensical, and quite familiar. It's how to get there that's the problem; there is a vast snarl of different regional licensing issues, competing content hosts, competing platforms with their own DRM requirements... there are technical challenges - server space and costs, most obviously, rights management, bandwidth - but there are huge legal and political problems. And then there's the value question: how much are people actually prepared to pay to avoid the inconveniences of piracy (a very small risk of legal persecution, a greater risk of getting a misnamed file, the odd virus)?
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:44 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


You don't think they would have gone to all that trouble with ACTA and PIPA if they weren't losing money by the bucketload, would you?

The recorded music industry is a sinking ship, absolutely. They seem intent on dragging everyone down with them. This chart tells you all you need to know: this is an industry almost completely dependent on the album, a format which is, for better or worse, definitely on its way out. They aren't adapting fast enough to the new reality, so their answer is legislation which forces people to buy a dead format. Sad.

Anyway, the movie industry is still raking in record profits making garbage like Terminators XVII, and video games are a bigger industry than ever; lumping everyone together into the "content industry" is stupid, because plenty of these content makers are so opposed to that kind of legislation they actively blacked out to protest it. The RIAA wants to pretend it has everyone's interests at heart, but all they really give a shit about is propping up album sales.
posted by mek at 7:44 PM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


You don't think they would have gone to all that trouble with ACTA and PIPA if they weren't losing money by the bucketload, would you?

The oil companies must be losing a ton of money since they went to all that trouble to try and get that Keystone pipeline thing approved.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:49 PM on February 4, 2012 [21 favorites]


I've been eating two months to rent the second to last Harry Potter movie online. This is a movie that was previously available. I watched the first 6 one a month in anticipation of watching both parts of 7, but the only one I can legally get access to is the second half.

I have tons of services, none have the content. So I wait, getting more pissed off.

I won't pirate it, but I don't if I'll start on a series of movies again unless I have all of them in hand.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:49 PM on February 4, 2012


Congratulations, Forbes, on your complete understanding of the iTunes Store business model only 9 years after it launched.
posted by drklahn at 7:49 PM on February 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


I still buy cds as well as music off of iTunes.

However, when my local theater only runs maybe half the movies that come out in any given month, and almost never the indie or quirky little odd films, I go look online.

And when Amazon tells me that the DVD I want is, according to reviews, sold by a dealer that either can't be trusted (sending the wrong version of a movie or show) or is overpricing the movie, I look on other sites or, rarely, YouTube or some equivalent.

And after I try to subscribe to HBO online but apparently need to have some sort of cable service already set up to do so, even though I'm holding onto my credit card and frustratingly trying to give them my money just so I can watch the latest episodes of True Blood, I either use nefarious means or bite my knuckles for 6 to 8 months while I wait for the show to come out on DVD.

But then I -do- do things a little backwards.
posted by DisreputableDog at 7:49 PM on February 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is almost right but not quite. The amounts are off by a factor of ten or so.

I'm genuinely curious where you're getting your numbers from!

From my perspective, cameras and sound equipment have been getting smaller and cheaper at a steady rate for years. Assuming that they're shooting a film at a location that doesn't require any expensive licenses or rent, have a small cast and crew that's working for free or very cheap, and have connections with at least one musician who can handle the score, I don't see any reason why a group of young people with the free time and the talent couldn't make a perfectly watchable film for under ten grand. If not now, then certainly within a few more hardware generations.

Obviously it would LOOK "indy" and a little rough around the edges, but I've seen friends of mine do some incredible stuff with consumer-quality electronics. If you're smart about lighting and have a great editor and sound guy, you can make a very cheap setup work for you.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:50 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


An Infographic Showing Just How Frequently Hollywood Has Cried Wolf About 'Piracy'

You cannot kill off content production. If one society doesn't pay for it content, then another society that does will gain an advantage in soft power.

Americans have already fallen into this situation because our content industry doesn't support "significant" works well. Instead, we import our artsy films from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, etc. And our important music mostly comes from abroad as well.

If you're very lucky, you might limit the rent seeking options for various parasites, like marketing executives, lawyers, etc. I've always been amused by the spectacular preponderance of legal professionals amongst the anti-piracy crowd online.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:51 PM on February 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


I worked in the radio business over 30 years ago and the first time I had explained to me the way the record companies gave away records to the radio stations to play (and often, illegally, paid for play)*, believing that radio play was nothing but advertising for them, I felt that, in the long run, that thinking would come back and bite the record industry's ass right off. Because most people listened to music on the radio INSTEAD of buying records (at least part of the time, that old vinyl was no good for portable listening), and it gave millions of people the belief that music was essentially a cost-free product. As fuiousxgeorge points out, lots of us still enjoy music on the Internet version of radio**. And did you notice how many radio stations - including a majority of the highest rated ones - picked their music from the 'top hits', usually defined as what was already selling? The music industry had their business model TOTALLY ASS-BACKWARD; fortunately, their product was good enough to overcome decades of business stupidity.

*meanwhile, the music publishers through ASCAP and BMI charged royalties for broadcast, but that still made music the cheapest kind of programming you could put on the radio. And that money ONLY went to the songwriters, not the performers.

**note to running order squabble fest, unless the performers are also writers, the money they get from Spotify is still more than they got from broadcast radio (which was NOTHING)
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:55 PM on February 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


There will be Anti-ACTA protests in Europe next Saturday 11 February, btw.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:56 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Forbes asked permission to use the Pirate Bay logo in the article?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:56 PM on February 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


You don't think they would have gone to all that trouble with ACTA and PIPA trying to get VCRs banned if they weren't losing money by the bucketload, would you?

FTFY.

The idea that it "won't kill you" is a laugh. Jobs are being lost.

There are A LOT of new distribution channels that don't monetize music in the same way as album sales. If you could listen to the radio and hear whatever music you wanted to, at any time, on any device, don't you think the music industry would have been prevented from creating and maintaining a stranglehold on the Album/tape/CD distribution channel?

Well, that's what just happened.

The industry had their time. That time is over. This isn't a bad thing, despite job losses. Why? Because there's more good music available to everyone than at any other time in history -- more great bands and musicians coming out every day that the music industry would never have allowed us to hear a decade (or 5 decades) ago.

The purpose of music (and copyright laws) isn't to provide jobs; it's to further cultural enrichment. That's what's happening.
posted by coolguymichael at 7:57 PM on February 4, 2012 [26 favorites]


Ironmouth: Let's be quite frank--the content industry is taking a beating due to illegal downloading. The idea that it "won't kill you" is a laugh. Jobs are being lost.

But the total money being spent on music goes up, every year. It's just more of it goes into the pockets of actual artists, instead of people who demand to be paid for copying bits.

Copying bits doesn't offer much value. Anyone can do that. Everyone has to, pretty much, to even use about 99% of currently available content. But the record companies want to be paid ridiculous amounts of money for doing what anyone with a computer can do, themselves, for free.

Their business model is broken. And no legislation can unbreak it. All it can do is inflict enormous misery on the Net, doing far more damage than just losing every record company in the world simultaneously. The bit copiers need to invent new ways to be ACTUALLY useful in the world economy, instead of just PRETENDING to be.

Hint: If you have to use the government to impose your business model by force, you need a new business model.
posted by Malor at 7:58 PM on February 4, 2012 [72 favorites]


And after I try to subscribe to HBO online but apparently need to have some sort of cable service already set up to do so, even though I'm holding onto my credit card and frustratingly trying to give them my money just so I can watch the latest episodes of True Blood, I either use nefarious means or bite my knuckles for 6 to 8 months while I wait for the show to come out on DVD.

I'd go easy on HBO when possible. The launch of HBO-GO makes it pretty clear they desperately want to do online only subscriptions, but the cable companies are gonna play hardball since a lot of people might finally drop their subscription when that happens.

Anyway, if a person pays an internet bill, a premium cable TV bill, a Netflix bill...it isn't like they aren't willing to pay for entertainment. I think they just feel like they already have.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:59 PM on February 4, 2012 [13 favorites]


You don't think they would have gone to all that trouble with ACTA and PIPA if they weren't losing money by the bucketload, would you? Let's be quite frank--the content industry is taking a beating due to illegal downloading. The idea that it "won't kill you" is a laugh. Jobs are being lost.

This is pure FUD. Piracy didn't kill the music industry — major label greed and casual computing did.

There was a golden age when you could make millions off of records because the choices at that time were 1) going to the movies, 2) seeing what was on TV, or 3) buying an album or a movie. Now we have Netflix, Hulu, Farmville, World of Warcraft... all kinds of choices that are $10 per month of unlimited, sit-on-your-ass entertainment. And then you have the internet, which is filled with free as in free casual gaming.

Instead of dropping prices to compete with new forms of entertainment, the old guard is continuing to try and get $10 for an hour's worth of media, even when they don't have to lift a finger to deliver it, even if it's a forty year old album. The music industry is dying because they are trying to compete on 1990s entertainment pricing to pay for a 1960s distribution model.
posted by deanklear at 8:02 PM on February 4, 2012 [26 favorites]


I wonder if Forbes asked permission to use the Pirate Bay logo in the article?

I am going to be that humorless pedant who overlooks the fact that you're making a joke and points out that this would fall under fair use.

Sorry, it's a condition.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:04 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The launch of HBO-GO makes it pretty clear they desperately want to do online only subscriptions, but the cable companies are gonna play hardball since a lot of people might finally drop their subscription when that happens.

HBO is wholly owned by Time Warner.
posted by Poisonous People at 8:06 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lowest Album Sales in 17 Years.

Maybe because consumers got tired of paying $15 for an 11 song CD with 3 good songs on it and 8 tracks of filler.
posted by octothorpe at 8:06 PM on February 4, 2012 [15 favorites]


HBO is wholly owned by Time Warner.

I did not know that, but I do believe Time Warner Cable is a separate company now.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:09 PM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm genuinely curious where you're getting your numbers from!

For reference, Monsters cost about $500,000 in 2010. That's a pretty good-looking film, largely shot on a Sony EX3 and with effects added in with After Effects on high-powered home computers. The actual equipment cost $15,000 - the rest was travel, crew, location shooting, insurance and so on.

So, if you make something with very few locations, unpaid actors, no special effects, no travel and the like you could certainly cut that down a lot, but it feels like you might end up with a glut of movies about a group of young men gathering in one of their apartments to talk about movies.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:09 PM on February 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


I remember when VHS tapes killed film forever.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:15 PM on February 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm glad everyone realizes Ironmouth's top comment is a farce. Steam, iTunes and even GD redbox show that people want to pay for their content. You just need to adapt to the world.

How many times have I heard "PC games are dead." "Music industry is dead" "DVD rental is dead" until a company comes along and DOES IT RIGHT.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:19 PM on February 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Meh. Nothing in this article sounds new to me. The same points have been made since Napster first made news.

1. Piracy isn't stealing, it is copyright infringement. A theft has not occurred every time a company loses revenue. (IMO it is the triumph of the RIAA/MPAA that piracy is now equated with stealing in the public conscience.)

2. Legislation is great for persecuting criminals after the fact, and therefore deterring illegal behavior. Legislation cannot directly shut down *possible* illegal activity without trampling over basic rights, like due process.

3. The internet is the wild west. You shut down Napster today, Kazaa pops up tomorrow.

4. Therefore, we shouldn't try to prevent internet piracy with legislation.

I'm as anti-SOPA/PIPA as the next guy, but the problem with this thinking lies around #2. Tarifs are legislation that manages to protect markets without mucking with freedom of speech (unless you ask the Ron Paul camp, but then why would you).

It seems like it's at least *theoretically* possible to make hosting pirated movies so risky that no one will bother. That would probably best be served by actually, you know, prosecuting sites that host pirated content, instead of suing grandmothers and pissing off everyone in silicon valley.

Of course, that's not what the RIAA/MPAA is doing. They have more money than god and enough influence in government that they can afford to fire shots randomly for another, oh, ten, twenty years.
posted by deathpanels at 8:20 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lowest Album Sales in 17 Years.

U.S. Album Sales Dropped 12.8% Individual Songs Slight Gain.


I'm sure this has nothing at all to do with the fact that we're in the worst recession since the Great Depression. No correlation there. Also, I'll bet that because the music industry's output is crap that people don't want to listen to has not one iota of correlation. Nope, not a bit.

Clearly, the only reasonable reason for the drop must be piracy. It's impossible to back that claim up with hard numbers, but hey, that's the beauty of it; it can't be proven, but more importantly it can't be proven wrong. Just say it enough times and people will believe it!
posted by zardoz at 8:21 PM on February 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


In the eighties we would wait for sales on ten packs of TDK SA-90s and buy a bunch of them and record albums from our friends and the public library. Was that piracy? I think that I bought about 1 album for every twenty or so that I copied. Somehow the music industry survived.
posted by octothorpe at 8:22 PM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


and then turn around and blow hundreds of millions of dollars on doomed-to-fail crap like The Last Airbender, then it's not the consumer's fault that they're dying.

The Airbender movie was profitable, when worldwide grosses are taken into account.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:24 PM on February 4, 2012


In terms of how [Spotify streaming] affects a small band, Uniform Motion provided the figures for their relationship with Spotify in September 2011:

With Spotify, we’ll get €0.003/play



For comparison, the cash after costs of a CD sale at €10 is €4.34, and on a pay-what-you-want digital download at €5 the cash after costs is €3.88.
A better comparison might be between Spotify and radio. €0.003 ~= US$0.004.

"Per-listener, a spin on terrestrial radio ranges from $0.000186 to $0.000372"

On those figures, Spotify sounds like a good deal…
posted by Pinback at 8:25 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you want to have an example of how stupid the film industry is, you should look at their beating 3d technology into a shunned pulp rather than shitty movies.

Of course, they did make a lot of shitty movies into 3d post production for an attempt at extra money!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:25 PM on February 4, 2012


Hint: If you have to use the government to impose your business model by force, you need a new business model.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
― Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked

Ironmouth is a lawyer - why would old 'mouthy even think to see the world that thar way you be pitching?

But the total money being spent on music goes up, every year.

One should consider normalise that for inflation - both in more printed fiat currency and more people. And does one normalise for "new" forms of "music" like ring tones?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:33 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let's be quite frank--the content industry is taking a beating due to illegal downloading.

Not illegal downloading; downloading, full stop.

The MPAA and RIAA are not the "content industry"; they're the content distribution industry. Their vast distribution networks were once necessary for content creators to get their work to consumers. This is no longer the case. Tough shit.

The middlemen's are taking a beating because they're completely irrelevant.

It's time they just died off already.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:33 PM on February 4, 2012 [39 favorites]


Hollywood accounting
posted by XMLicious at 8:34 PM on February 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


The Airbender movie was profitable, when worldwide grosses are taken into account.

Slight tangent, but it's actually very hard to make a full-bore flop these days - like, a studio-killer. There's not a lot of point in a studio making a film like Green Lantern or The Last Airbender, because the time, staff and money could have been spent making a movie that more people would have paid to see, but it will make back its costs. As long as you don't do anything stupid (by which I mean Nicholas Cage).

There's an interesting section in Mark Kermode's The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex contrasting Heaven's Gate and Anthony and Cleopatra. Heaven's Gate, he argued, was a flop, because people didn't want to go and see it. People did want to go and see Anthony and Cleopatra - there just weren't enough people in the world watching movies at the time of its release to pay back its costs. VHS eventually pushed it into profitability in the 80s.

These days, blockbusters will always make money - people see them in cinemas, they are sold on DVD and Blu-Ray, there are digital downloads, there are TV rights, they turn up on streaming services. That long chain is far faster and the audience is vastly larger. So, Kermode argues, you might as well swing for the fences - and try to make and release something a good as Inception.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:36 PM on February 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Airbender may have not lost money, but I think it was a flop in that it was supposed to be a new blockbuster franchise. How much better do the numbers for that studio look if they make a competent film that could generate sequels?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:38 PM on February 4, 2012


Speaking only for myself: I used to pirate SHITLOADS of music. Absolute gobs of it. But now, I don't, and it's not because Napster and Limewire and Kazaa all shuttered, it's because anything I want to have for keepsies, I can get on iTunes or Amazon or through digital distribution straight from the artist. And anything I just want to listen to once or twice for free, I can find on YouTube or Spotify.

Piracy isn't free for the user. There's always the chance that whatever you just downloaded was of shitty quality, or was unexpectedly someone's weird remix, or it would quit halfway through, or actually be a virus, or whatever. Turns out I'm willing to pay for music to make sure that what I think I'm getting is what I'm actually getting.
posted by KathrynT at 8:53 PM on February 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


The MPAA and RIAA are not the "content industry"; they're the content distribution industry. Their vast distribution networks were once necessary for content creators to get their work to consumers. This is no longer the case. Tough shit.

The middlemen's are taking a beating because they're completely irrelevant.

It's time they just died off already.


This is so, so true.

I remember when during the writer's strike Joss Whedon made a little thing called Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog and put it up on a website. Bajillion dollars. Great success.

People want good things. And they want them now, they can have them now, and they will pay for them now.

So give them to the people.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:55 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to Forrester Research. In 1999, that revenue figure topped $14.6 billion.

Do these numbers include the costs of printing, packaging, shipping etc. passed on to the customer? Those would be down even if all downloads were legal.
posted by Anything at 8:58 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because the content industry makes lots of claims. Many times untrue and later PROVEN to be untrue.
An Infographic Showing Just How Frequently Hollywood Has Cried Wolf About 'Piracy'


So, the content industry has been fairly successful at getting legislation passed that protects its interests. That's what we are all up in arms about, right? That may have had something to do with those claims not coming true.
posted by AlsoMike at 9:00 PM on February 4, 2012


Piracy isn't free for the user. There's always the chance that whatever you just downloaded was of shitty quality, or was unexpectedly someone's weird remix, or it would quit halfway through, or actually be a virus, or whatever.

Exactly so. There's your advantage in competing with free. That said, we need free to stick around to keep the merchants honest.

The problem really is that the merchants view customers as potential shoplifters who need to be watched 24/7. Those successful with internet distribution (JoCo, Louis CK, Joss Whedon) view them as potential fans who need to be engaged.

So, the content industry has been fairly successful at getting legislation passed that protects its interests. That's what we are all up in arms about, right? That may have had something to do with those claims not coming true.

Well, I don't know anyone with a VCR or cassette deck anymore, so that's come to pass at least.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:04 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


That may have had something to do with those claims not coming true.

Yeah, no. Pull your head out of your butt.

"I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." -Jack Valenti before congress in 1982
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:12 PM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ironmouth is a lawyer - why would old 'mouthy even think to see the world that thar way you be pitching?

Although I generally disagree with his post, this is mean spirited nonsense. I've never heard that IM relies on the music or movie industry for his salary, "lawyer" is not an ideological position, and seeing both sides of an issue is the exact thing they are trained to do. Maybe lay off the personal attacks for a while.
posted by Winnemac at 9:27 PM on February 4, 2012 [16 favorites]


There is actually a way to stop piracy. The Reproducible Content Tax*. A small progressive tax which allows everyone legal access to downloads from any content providers who have opted in, at no added cost. Content providers get a chunk of the proceeds based on the popularity of their content. Nearly every content provider will opt in, in order to access the huge customer base, and avoid the limited appeal of providers who do not opt in.

This is currently a political impossibility, because people don't want to pay another tax. As piracy of all media becomes ubiquitous, and the generation that expects all content for free grows up, this will become a political inevitability.

* "The Kabaddi Champion Bill"
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:33 PM on February 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


It seems intuitively likely that piracy has cost the music industry some amount of money. But what we don't know -- at all -- is how much.

The sales numbers are down, sure. But why?

Some percentage of that is because unemployment is up
Some percentage of that is because people getting foreclosed on have less disposable income.
Some percentage of that is because the temporary bubble of converting LP and cassettes to CD's is over
Some percentage of that is because the temporary bubble of buying albums vs singles is over
Some percentage of that is because the boomer generation is older and buying less
Some percentage of that is because people can now buy DVDs with their money instead
Some percentage of that is because people can now spend their cash on computer gaming instead
Some percentage of that is because some people now listen to Pandora or Spotify instead
Some percentage of that is because of piracy

It's just politically advantageous for the industry to blame all of it on "the internet"
posted by tyllwin at 9:35 PM on February 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


+1 for the kabbadi champion tax - lots of countries already have something like that, from canada's tax on blank media to european arts subsidy programs. Personally, I think of spotify as being the first step to filling that role in the US. I've argued that the best part of something like spotify is getting people used to paying for music - and I completely agree that the solution is to make paying for music easier, safer, and more convenient than pirating it.

Also, how is it that people who write articles like this always ignore the itunes and amazon stores? This guys 'solution' has already been in place for quite a while, although I'm not sure it has all the features asked for in the steam comparison.
posted by ianhattwick at 9:45 PM on February 4, 2012


The Sky is Rising

  • Entertainment spending as a function of income went up by 15% from 2000 to 2008

  • Employment in the entertainment sector grew by 20% -- with indie artists seeing 43% growth.

  • The overall entertainment industry grew 66% from 1998 to 2010.

  • The amount of content being produced in music, movies, books and video games is growing at an incredible pace.


  • Jobs are being lost.

    Good.

    I intentionally don't buy major label music or studio movies because I want those companies to die. They're parasites. They're an infection. They need to be destroyed.

    After they're gone, we can build a new entertainment business from the ashes that isn't fighting a futile war against freedom and the future.
    posted by empath at 9:52 PM on February 4, 2012 [25 favorites]


    As supply-side funding models fall to the internet, the demand is still there. Consumers could spend their movie and music money on those they would like to see in production.
    posted by Brian B. at 9:55 PM on February 4, 2012


    Cable reveals US blackmail behind Sweden's crackdown on the Pirate Bay
    posted by empath at 9:58 PM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]



    Also, how is it that people who write articles like this always ignore the itunes and amazon stores? This guys 'solution' has already been in place for quite a while, although I'm not sure it has all the features asked for in the steam comparison.


    He's talking about a Steam equivalent for movies.

    And in any case for iTunes to = Steam, you'd need constant time-limited sales that made the price of (say) Prince's entire back catalogue to be so ridiculously cheap that you'd pick it up even if you hated him, on the off-chance you might enjoy a song or two.
    posted by Sebmojo at 10:02 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


    If Valve opened a music and movie store, i would probably just start direct depositing my paycheck with them.
    posted by empath at 10:05 PM on February 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


    We rented Drive tonight and i ate my entire dinner in the time it took the unskippable shit to play. That kind of shit is ridiculous. I just want to watch the damn movie. If torrents contained subtitles I'd be all over that. They're the only reason I bother with DVDs.
    posted by desjardins at 10:25 PM on February 4, 2012 [9 favorites]



    desjardins writes "If torrents contained subtitles I'd be all over that. They're the only reason I bother with DVDs."

    Subtitles are pretty well available for most mainstream movies; or so I've heard.
    posted by Mitheral at 11:25 PM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


    They're available, yes, but I haven't found a method of playback that doesn't involve constant tweaking of the timing. It's annoying to read a line before its spoken or vice versa. If you don't keep up with the adjustments you'll be 30 seconds off and then it's hardly worth having them.
    posted by desjardins at 11:37 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


    We are in a transition between profit models. It will not be painless. Deal with it. The model of The One Great Piece is losing to the modern model of the consistent stream of content. This is a massive shift. The cultural edifice built around the idea of the 'one great piece' has taken quite awhile to construct, and will take a lo-o-o-n-ng time to disassemble. To make my position in this comment clearer: Those who are saying piracy is not costing profit are wrong; those who are for piracy are also right. The future kings of media will not be those who produce great content. The future kings of media will be those who produce consistent content. Ok content. Not great, but consistent. Just ok consistent content. So, everyone keep your goggles on the ready, and prepare. Prepare for the era of homogeneity and formulaic fast food entertainment. But do not worry much; you've already suffered the first decade of it. The 00's were just the beginning. Reality television and those underproduced web shows, those shows we all mocked for being so cheap and formula driven. That is the beginning. It is a test run. The next decade will find its groove, the future holds new and beautiful formulas. J. J. Abrams is definitely a front runner here. But, just watch. New formulas of repetitive content are being discovered, and soon the future of the same will be born. Still, there is a lot of money that will be fought over in the meanwhile. Those old folks who haven't produced one of their cherished 'great works' in over twenty years, they are out of the loop, they are thinking in old ways, and they have a lot of money to spare in protecting their 'one great piece.' Curious what I am talking about? Look at George Lucas. This old idea of producing one great work and resting on those laurels, that is dead. Naturally, there will be pain, suffering, and profits lost. The mourning has only just begun.
    posted by TwelveTwo at 11:39 PM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Prepare for the era of homogeneity and formulaic fast food entertainment.

    Sorry, what was the last 50 years of American culture then?
    posted by mek at 11:40 PM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


    And yes, I am claiming here a future in which entertainment is more formulaic than what we've been fed in the last thirty, forty, fifty years. Yes, 80's and 90's cartoons included.. Yes. Really. But it is cool, don't worry. We'll have at least a hundred times more formulas to choose from. We'll each have some content stream that we individually won't tire of.
    posted by TwelveTwo at 11:42 PM on February 4, 2012



    Sorry, what was the last 50 years of American culture then?


    A preview.
    posted by TwelveTwo at 11:42 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Sorry but there's nothing more formulaic than Star Wars, see: The Power of Myth. If anything the prequels proved that while some will continue to eat that drivel, a lot of people won't. Mass media will always make crap, but there is an increasing amount of esoteric and awesome content for those who care to ignore network tv and Hollywood. You've got it exactly backwards.
    posted by mek at 11:44 PM on February 4, 2012


    Hell, just try watching the I.D. Channel. That shit is amazing. It is an entire channel with the same formula again and again. For hundreds of hours. Even just a few seasons of Horders, or American Pickers. George Lucas could only do less than a dozen, and his last few movies bombed. The Campbellian formula is no good.
    posted by TwelveTwo at 11:47 PM on February 4, 2012


    The Campbellian formula is no good.

    Your favorite formula sucks.
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:51 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


    So basically you're telling me that the era of great masterpieces is over because they were terrible and not nearly as interesting as reality tv? Okay, thanks for your brilliant insights.
    posted by mek at 11:52 PM on February 4, 2012


    The thing I am trying to say is, we got The Wire, and Scorsese films. That isn't happening again, not for televisions, or movies. That is going to be a weird thing, and the budgets aren't going to be nearly as good. The entire profit model around the idea of some great object your customers want to obtain, that is dead. As piracy becomes easier, and intellectual property values harder to protect, the profits grow slim for these things. The executives are only going to become more cynical, more suspect about anything new and novel. Instead, the ideal will be something like a hose you turn on for your audience and they put their mouth on it and just go warbblblbl like a good backyard dog having some summer fun. Then they pay for the next month, week, or episode. That isn't a model that rewards quality particulars, or long arcs (which were rewarded primarily by DVD sales), but a universal and solid consistency. If you want a vision of the future, just look around you. I am only positioning this in the future to make it less outrageous. The Green Channel is about Car Crashes. This is not a symptom of the out of touchness of Big Media; this is the very thing replacing it. These shows place little value in past episodes, in fact, if anything, they devalue their previous episodes. It is only about the newest episode, and only those that matter. You'll pay to see what happens next, now. Continuity is next to go, rendered irrelevant retroactively each episode. Maybe this already happened, if Lost was any canary in the coal mine. But of course, we'll get all this back. In a thousand choices, all the same, again and again. Which is why this isn't a loss. It just isn't progress either. But it won't be painless. That is all I am saying.
    posted by TwelveTwo at 12:05 AM on February 5, 2012


    Kids aren't spending money on music, but they are spending money on gaming, which is an industry is now larger than music and movies combined.
    posted by PenDevil at 12:10 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    plunged to $6.3 billion

    ......

    plunged to $6.3 billion

    And not a single ounce of sympathy was given that day.
    posted by Malice at 12:11 AM on February 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


    For me it comes down to a simple matter of integrity. Let's go with the hypothetical watching of Hangover 2 raised by the author. Suppose I have on my screen 2 buttons:
    - Watch Hangover 2 for $3.99
    - Watch Hangover 2 for free (illegally)

    Which button do you push? It's pretty much down to that. I can watch it for $3.99 from Amazon, or I could torrent it for free. Both choices are equally simple, and you could argue it is even easier to go the Amazon route since you don't have to verify the integrity of the source.

    A group of people invested time and money to make a film. I'm planning on spending the next 2 hours of my time watching this film. Is it worth $3.99 to me to be entertained for a couple hours? If you don't expect the quality of Hangover 2 to be worth that much, then don't watch it and spend your time doing something else.

    Note that I was against SOPA/PIPA and let my congress women know about it. The RIAA is overreaching, but for me that doesn't change the fact that the makers of creative works should be compensated. Many people seem to be arguing that once a movie has been made, they should be able to watch it whenever they want and pay as little as they want for it. That model can only exist if you have enough chumps (like me) who are still willing to provide the incentive to actually make the movie in the first place.
    posted by mach at 12:20 AM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


    but for me that doesn't change the fact that the makers of creative works should be compensated.

    Okay, but that doesn't mean the makers of creative works have special powers to fuck up my computer or Internet to get it.

    If they want to get paid, fine, all of us do -- but if they want to get paid for making copies, they're competing with hundreds of millions of factories that can make the exact same product for free. Trying to use the government to cripple all those factories is not the answer.
    posted by Malor at 12:24 AM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Ironmouth, while the link from the UK refers to 2011, these:

    U.S. Album Sales Dropped 12.8% Individual Songs Slight Gain.

    Music's Lost Decade: Sales Cut in Half.


    Are talking about 2010.

    2011 was the first year since 2004 to see growth in US album sales (whereupon the RIAA erected a small shrine to Adele).
    posted by Diablevert at 12:32 AM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


    mach: "A group of people invested time and money to make a film. I'm planning on spending the next 2 hours of my time watching this film. Is it worth $3.99 to me to be entertained for a couple hours? If you don't expect the quality of Hangover 2 to be worth that much, then don't watch it and spend your time doing something else."

    Here in Texas, you can walk out of a movie in the first fifteen (twenty?) minutes if it blows, and get your money back; I've never had a theater give back money but rather a pass to another movie which is, to me, just fine. I do love this about Texas, and it's not much known.

    So you are talking about dropping four bucks on a movie you don't know? How's about you grab it, watch it, and if you valued it, *then* you throw them the bread, but not before. Works for me.

    I don't want to hose anyone either, but I don't want to get hosed myself; I'd think this way would work.

    I found TONS of music through Napster that I'd never have found any other way, just following links, get interested in a band name or a record name and check it out and then go buy the damn thing; that's how I found out about PJ Harvey, that great record title "Stories From The City / Stories From The Sea." Of course you can't judge a book by it's cover but maybe you'll pick the book up because of it's cover, and now so happens that I really love PJ Harveys music, quite a musician.
    posted by dancestoblue at 12:35 AM on February 5, 2012


    but if they want to get paid for making copies, they're competing with hundreds of millions of factories that can make the exact same product for free.

    I agree that no industry should have special powers of enforcement. The DMCA already goes too far. However I think that content providers should be able to charge more than just the distribution costs of the media. if you don't agree with that then you'd have to say that the creative content itself has no value.
    posted by mach at 12:40 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Let's be quite frank--the content industry is taking a beating due to illegal downloading.

    I almost entirely stopped buying music when they were doing that big anti-piracy push back in about 2000, when they were charging clueless grannies and little kids with big fines for maybe downloading a song. It was mean-spirited and just plain poor business, and I decided at that moment to minimize my interactions with the big record labels.

    So now I buy weird foreign stuff that otherwise I'll never be able to track down, and I pay for Pandora (which yes funds the labels, but at least is a one-stop source for anything fairly mainstream). Beyond that, I'm pretty much lost as a music consumer, sadly enough.
    posted by Forktine at 12:41 AM on February 5, 2012


    I do not think that a conventional market is the optimal way to distribute resources which are reproducible at next to zero cost in anyones home. An ideal system would compensate the artists while still distributing the reproductible resources to as many people as possible. I think some kind of public solution is optimal.
    posted by okokok at 12:57 AM on February 5, 2012


    That said, it's really nice to see sane articles in press like Forbes (read by non-internet people) though.

    FYI, this isn't from the magazine (although the website hardly makes it easy to tell, this is a blogger on the Forbes.com website).

    I am also loathe to this new concept where brand names like Forbes now just host bloggers in an attempt to be relevant; I expect an article from Forbes, and instead it's.. this.

    Wait, so when old media do actually adapt, we're supposed to dismiss them even more categorically on the basis of past misdeeds (primarily, apparently, existence)?
    posted by dhartung at 12:57 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    How much better do the numbers for that studio look if they make a competent film that could generate sequels?

    I don't know if it's still true, but the formula I recall is that sequels generally make 50% of the one preceding it. I would assume this isn't as true as it used to be because of all the planned sequels these days, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings as 2 examples.

    Also, if you really should see Monsters if you haven't. Fantastic sci-fi flick done on a small budget.
    posted by P.o.B. at 1:12 AM on February 5, 2012


    One of the tragedies of modern capitalism is that consumers are told that their voice and vote ends at a binary decision of buy/don't buy. The trouble is, executives feed the collective outcome (falling/increasing sales) through a filter of their own preconceived biases. This results in sometimes paranoid and delusional decision-making that is sometimes completely disconnected from what their potential customers want them to see.

    The funny thing is, companies are well-aware that that binary decision is only a very weak filter. This is why they spend so much money on direct surveys, detailed retail statistics, analytics and such. But when they have that data, they often don't know what to do with it. What usually happens is the marketing department ends up being the only part of the organization that uses the info in any meaningful way. Instead of knowledge-driven decision making that can guide the company from the top down, the outcome of all that information is usually more targeted ads. It's a fucking waste.

    Meanwhile, the still ignorant executives continue to give full rein to their unshaken idiocies. Instead of saying, "hey, why don't we ask people why they aren't buying our shit?", they will react with paranoia and heavy-handed legal and political tactics. This leads to situations such as the one we have in India, where movie and music companies that don't even bother to sell their products use WIPO and the WTO to push through anti-piracy laws against people who can't buy their shit in the first place.
    posted by vanar sena at 1:26 AM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


    but for me that doesn't change the fact that the makers of creative works should be compensated.

    Got a way to get money in the hands of the makers and not the middlemen who take the proceeds to buy the law making bodies off?

    Because if one pays the RIAA just means they are taking my money to get laws like the DCMA passed.

    Okay, but that doesn't mean the makers of creative works have special powers to fuck up my computer or Internet to get it.

    To be fair the makers of the creative work have nothing to do with Sony's rootkits. Sony is acting as a broker - a 'factory that makes digital copies'.

    Trying to use the government to cripple all those factories is not the answer.

    Historically to make a better profit one limits the market producers and create laws making your method legal and others illegal Using the power of Government is a far cheaper buy, once one reaches a certain size and marketshare than producing a good product worth buying.
    posted by rough ashlar at 1:46 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Music's Lost Decade: Sales Cut in Half.

    And yet there's been some amazing music made in the last ten years. Maybe they mistook Tower Records for Music because they played top 100 over the store PA.
    posted by clarknova at 1:50 AM on February 5, 2012


    mach writes "Many people seem to be arguing that once a movie has been made, they should be able to watch it whenever they want and pay as little as they want for it. That model can only exist if you have enough chumps (like me) who are still willing to provide the incentive to actually make the movie in the first place."

    It's important to differentiate between advocating for not paying for content and enumerating the reality that people aren't paying for content delivery. And sadly the reality is that for many consumers old school media companies are providing a vastly poorer service than pirates when it comes to content delivery. Setting aside all the bullshit restrictions and unskippable wankery that comes along with a modern DVD/BluRay purchase; if I decided in a fit of nostalgia to watch, oh I don't know, um, 2001: A Space Odyssey because that song was featured in one of the super bowl commercials I can pirate it in about 20 minutes or I can . . . Well pirating it it is. Neither of the remaining two Video rental stores have it in their catalogue and the quickest legal choice is an online purchase and then wait a few days for shipping to get it here.

    And if the studios had there way and I wanted to watch say "King of the Hill (1993)" I'd have to hop a flight to the UK 'cause it's region 2 only. Even setting aside the anti consumer evil that is region locking; region exclusive content is idiotic. If you are only going to release a disk in a single frackin' region then don't region lock the disk.

    Finally if I want to watch say Barfly; the rights owner has decided they don't want to sell it to me at any price.

    It's no wonder at all that people are taking the path of least resistance and making piracy their first choice. The MPAA should be either lining up to kiss Netflick's ass to get their back catalogue available for streaming or they should start their own single source competing product (or heck develop an standard API that would allow dozens of resellers to access the back catalogues of each distributor for a fee neatly side stepping monopoly concerns). They have to transition from caring how much money flows per movie to caring how much money flows for movies. When it costs you $010. to provide a movie start grabbing $0.50 30 times a month every month instead of $3 twice a month is the model you should be embracing. In an age of super cheap storage and bandwidth there is no reason for any movie that has been packaged for home viewing to ever go out of print. Every time someone can instantly satisfy a craving for one of your movies you've lost a sale.

    If I was dictator for life right after enacting 100% subsidized public transit I'd make digital work lose its copyright as soon as it was effectively out of print.
    posted by Mitheral at 1:58 AM on February 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Let's be quite frank--the content industry is taking a beating due to illegal downloading.

    Not true for South Korea though.

    Just as it is with the USA, the minute any piece of Korean cultural product is released, it's immediately available all over the world for free to anybody with an internet connection.

    And yet South Korea has more than doubled the export sales of its cultural products since 1999.

    Korean music, cinema and television have been totally trouncing the rest of Asia for years and years now. The Hong Kong film industry has been utterly demolished. Japan looks less and less relevant all the time. China are continuously threatening them with trade barriers against their music and tv shows. And countries as far flung as Hungary, Romania, Bhutan and Saudi Arabia all regularly screen kdrama on their tv shows.

    South Korea are achieving all this in countries that the West regards as huge hives of piracy -- where content is paid for far less than it is in Europe or the USA.

    Difference is, South Korea has a product that's fresh, well priced and that consumers want. Hollywood -- not so much any more.
    posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:26 AM on February 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


    mach: The DMCA already goes too far. However I think that content providers should be able to charge more than just the distribution costs of the media. if you don't agree with that then you'd have to say that the creative content itself has no value.

    They can charge whatever they want. But if the business model is around bankrolling the creation of something, and then selling zillions of copies, they're asking to get paid for making copies. They can do that -- after all, Heinz has made many fortunes by making ketchup, which is easy to make yourself -- but if they actually want to SUCCEED at doing that, they need to price reasonably.

    Like it or not, LIKE IT OR NOT, if you come up with a creative product, as soon as you sell your first copy of those bits, you are now in competition with people who have access to the exact same bits, and didn't have your creation overhead. You can try to put DRM on your bits, but every technical measure so far has only stymied piracy briefly, if at all.

    The largest reason anyone would give you money in that kind of environment is goodwill, and perhaps trying to encourage the creation of more content. So that's, I think, what artists and entertainers and creators of all types need to be encouraging. People enjoy Louis C.K.'s work, for instance, and he's made at least a million bucks selling a DRM-free video for $5. That's a good price, and he doesn't put any bizarre restrictions on it. So hundreds of thousands of people said "Sure, I'll buy that", even though they could have torrented it for free.

    I'm not sure the mega-blockbusters will be easily possible anymore, but those aren't an essential feature. It's certainly not worth crippling the Internet to try to preserve those old money flows. I agree with the comments upthread that it'll be hard to make $100 million films, but they'll be able to make absolutely amazing movies for $1 million instead. And they'll be able to instantly reach their audiences.

    Instead of a stable of a couple of hundred actors commanding ridiculous salaries, we'll have tens of thousands making more reasonable wages. More of the actual end-user revenue should end up in the pockets of the artists, whether they're musicians or actors or directors, once we cut out the middleman. There will be more money for artists, so we should end up with MORE artists, not less.

    The middlemen do not like this scenario, and they're trying to get their position as middlemen enshrined in law forever.
    posted by Malor at 2:51 AM on February 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Here in Texas, you can walk out of a movie in the first fifteen (twenty?) minutes if it blows, and get your money back; I've never had a theater give back money but rather a pass to another movie which is, to me, just fine. I do love this about Texas, and it's not much known.

    Huh, Every theater I've been to in the last 15 years, after the first fifteen minutes of of a movie, you'll be lucky if the trailers have started yet. Fuckers.
    posted by BurnChao at 3:00 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Also, here's something that I'll never understand:

    For the last twenty years, Europe and the USA have seen enormous industries completely demolished as things like manufacturing, engineering, shipbuilding, steel, etc. were exported to countries where labour costs were cheaper.

    Vast tracts of our countries have been devastated as their economic base was systematically undermined and then eradicated.

    Yet as soon as there's some tiny threat to the revenue stream of Hollywood, people are all like, 'won't somebody think of the job losses?'

    Fuck you. We missed that ship twenty years ago. Today, my clothes are made in China and my electronic goods and the movies I watch are made in Korea.

    Hollywood can learn to deal like the rest of us have.
    posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:03 AM on February 5, 2012 [29 favorites]


    The MPAA should be either lining up to kiss Netflick's ass to get their back catalogue available

    Yep, this is the crux of the matter. VOD exists, and for the most part it's pretty convenient (the versions I've used, anyway). The Steam thing outlined in the article exists on my TV right now. I just don't have the quality or the choice yet.

    VOD could kill piracy stone dead if you could get shows and films from across the world pretty soon after release, in high quality and at a reasonable price ($3.99 for a shitty Hollywood filler film is still, IMO, too much. $25 for a series box set is still too much).

    I'm still amazed the above has not yet happened
    posted by Summer at 4:07 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    It is brilliant to see The Pirate Bay discussed in Forbes as an answer to a service problem -- many have been saying this for a considerable amount of time. From what I hear, The Pirate Bay often wins because 1) it's fast, 2) it's easy, 3) it works for everyone with a programme called VLC, which apparently is a multi-format video player programmed in France.

    If we subscribe to the calcified right-wing American view of France, it is obvious that this is just the latest iteration of their attempt to spread socialism around the world. Perhaps it may be said that they have created a virus in this video player that seeks to pacify and then kill that most American of all institutions, that dream factory in Hollywood.

    In fact, it is probably spoken in dark corners, that poor Hollywood is under attack from these foreign technologists, whether Swedish (TPB), German (Mega Upload), French (VLC), or even homegrown (DeCSS, if anyone remembers that battle).

    And why not? Poor Hollywood. Hollywood gets so few concessions -- other than the extension of copyright beyond a reasonable human life span. The dynamics of their business are so difficult, that they simply require protection from the massive risks they take. Which, apparently are quite well-managed in the exploitive agreements that they continue to make with artists. They're doing the honour of loaning these artists the money! That is honourable! That shows these are not businessmen in ivory towers -- with a stranglehold on capital investment and distribution -- but rather true philanthropists who abide by that time-honour principle "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine."

    The reality is that their an anachronism that, at this point, are interfering with creativity more than enabling it. Witness Sony. Sony Records constantly hobbled Sony Electronics products with DRM -- from the point of market domination to irrelevancy. Witness Pixar, which is Hollywood's worst nightmare, showing that award-winning content can be produced without actor's faces -- which insurance companies have become so good at appraising.

    Point being, this isn't about piracy anymore. It's about bad business decision-making and blood-sucking zombie vampires. Only the bloodsucking zombie vampires aren't on the screen, they're in the studios. And it goes all the way down, from studio head to the dude in the union getting paid union wage to stand around all day, except for the 15 minutes every now and then when he moves a cable.

    The problem isn't "piracy". It's actually a very prescient time to talk about pirate imagery, whether a French chap in Paris with laptop or a Somali with an AK-47. Obviously, both are comparable villains.

    In fact, each is the result of a failed vision by entrenched interests. I'll leave the Somali piracy rant for another time, but as far as Hollywood good? Perhaps good riddance. They're no longer good at what they do.

    Ticket prices are too expensive, the content laws are a mess, the content created is increasingly derivative. Do these studios actually create? Or are they slowly morphing in the odd chimera of a studio and a law firm.

    They missed the boat in such a massive way -- AND have been given SO MANY chances -- that at this point, they really must be dislodged from their place in the business ecosystem before they inhibit further creativity. There was a time when content was scarce and attention was plentiful. It was 1927 and movies were absolutely amazing. They wow'ed the world.

    In 2012, you can watch content for free via an iPhone whilst sitting on the toilet. Dear Hollywood, let us be the first to tell you, content is no longer as special as you think it is. How about you give up, and come do an honest day's work with the rest of us?
    posted by nickrussell at 5:26 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    We never claimed that Ironmouth worked in intellectual property, Winnemac.  I stated that legal professionals make up a "spectacular preponderance" of the anti-piracy crowd online.

    We aren't claiming that Ironmouth argue for self interest or in bad faith either, well this innocence includes Skeptic as well, who does work in intellectual property.

    We are claiming that by virtue of working in the legal profession such people envision legal solutions even when legal solutions are undesirable or inefficient.. or even evil by virtue of the inherent inequality in the legal system.

    I witness the same mistakes from friends who work as management consultants, they assuming that activities already crippled by over structured should be fixed with more structure, when the solution is transparently to just let go.

    There is a role for the legal system in protecting content producers, but that role covers only the most highly organized distribution channels, like iTunes, Amazon, etc.

    If Apple ignored copyright, they could ensure that no musician ever got paid anything, by monopolizing the distribution channel. And they could buy laws protecting themselves. IP lawyers are therefore necessary to protect artists, and consumers, from Apple.

    You realize the RIAA's baby SoundExchange has already monopolized one revenue stream for musicians, ensuring the musicians must pay to play their own music online, and rarely get compensated when others play their music, right? We certainly need lawyers to sue SoundExchange into oblivion.

    We cannot pay content creators better though imposing more layers of additional overhead on their product. And we cannot even maintain our freedom if we permit those layers advocates to impose them.
    posted by jeffburdges at 6:31 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    From my perspective, cameras and sound equipment have been getting smaller and cheaper at a steady rate for years. Assuming that they're shooting a film at a location that doesn't require any expensive licenses or rent, have a small cast and crew that's working for free or very cheap, and have connections with at least one musician who can handle the score, I don't see any reason why a group of young people with the free time and the talent couldn't make a perfectly watchable film for under ten grand. If not now, then certainly within a few more hardware generations.

    Obviously it would LOOK "indy" and a little rough around the edges, but I've seen friends of mine do some incredible stuff with consumer-quality electronics. If you're smart about lighting and have a great editor and sound guy, you can make a very cheap setup work for you.


    Absolutely! So long as you want a movie with completely bullshit production values, shit sound, shoddy camera work, poor quality picture, crap actors, amateurish makeup and special effects, no continuity of color or sound palette, etc. that looks exactly like it was made by a bunch of dudes in someone's backyard using consumer-quality equipment and not very much experience and expertise.

    Because the fact of the matter is that even when you can get people to do a lot of these things for very low cost considering the cost of using the right equipment and paying people with the requisite experience and skill-sets enough to cobble together a living, this is extremely expensive to do even on the low end. And we're not talking about paying actors zillions of dollars, blowing up cars or doing expensive CG effects. We're talking about things like getting the right kind of cameras and lighting equipment and hiring the people who know how to use them properly and have bills to pay.
    posted by slkinsey at 7:07 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    ... if I decided in a fit of nostalgia to watch, oh I don't know, um, 2001: A Space Odyssey because that song was featured in one of the super bowl commercials I can pirate it in about 20 minutes or I can . . . Well pirating it it is. Neither of the remaining two Video rental stores have it in their catalogue and the quickest legal choice is an online purchase and then wait a few days for shipping to get it here.

    It's available in HD as a $3.99 rental in the iTunes store.
    posted by mr_roboto at 7:11 AM on February 5, 2012


    I'm genuinely curious where you're getting your numbers from!

    From budgeting and making movies? I recently paid for a movie to be budgeted at rock-bottom indie levels, shooting on prosumer hardware and paying scale to crew and actors. It came out at $3.5m.

    [...] I don't see any reason why a group of young people with the free time and the talent couldn't make a perfectly watchable film for under ten grand. If not now, then certainly within a few more hardware generations.

    Well, that's like saying 'if it was free it wouldn't cost much'.

    Let's say it's a 2 hour movie and the actors are going to provide their own costumes and you are not going to pay any location fees or transport (we are already in lala land) and you are going to provide your own equipment (which magically dropped out of the sky) and you are not going to insure anything and... well you get it. You are going to shoot 5 minutes of footage a day with a barebones crew of four actors, DP, sound, director and producer. That's 24x8 person days. You will be working 12 hour days. At minimum wage (say $8) that's 24*8*8*12 = $18432. Now you've also got to feed thos people, so let's say $10 a day each (rrright). Another $1920. Now you're gonna edit this yourself, which will take 8 weeks, so it's just you and the producer's down to one day a week). So that's 8*5*12*8 + 8*12*8 = $4608.

    I don't care if you pay this money out of your pocket or not -- the point is that SOMEONE is paying it, either directly or simply by losing wages they could otherwise be earning.

    So your wage and food costs ALONE, on minimum wage and a skeleton crew, are in the $25k range. Now in the real world you have to add in consumables, insurance, rentals, transport, accommodation, costume, production design, location fees, music licensing or composition, legal fees, and so on and so on and so on. That's gonna take you up easily to my $50k figure.

    If your business model is that 'everyone works for free', that's not a business model.
    posted by unSane at 7:23 AM on February 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


    PS let's say you decide to get the budget down by shooting 10 minutes a day and paying half of what I said, or cutting the crew in half. Congratulations! You are now officially making a shitty movie which in all likelihood will never be completed, and if it is, will be an embarrassment to all concerned. And you're $10k out of pocket.
    posted by unSane at 7:30 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Clearly, paying for content isn't about reimbursing artists anymore. We're paying to stop the RIAA and record labels to stop their incessant bitching. Once we hit a mutually beneficial price-point, however, it won't end. This is because the RIAA and record labels will truly learn that all they have to do to make money is whine, and they have an endless supply of whiny pathetic executives, so the bitching will never end. They have no reason to stop their bitching. It's a losing battle for the consumer.

    How does the market correct itself to reduce the value of bitching?
    posted by jabberjaw at 7:34 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    unSane, the business model isn't "work for free", it's "work for sane amounts of money and then sell cheap copies directly to everyone you possibly can". Or, alternately, to do something like Kickstarter, where you get a lot of people who help fund the creation of the movie.

    You can't charge much for copying bits, so you either need to charge for something else, or shift enough bits that you make it up through volume. Louis C.K. came up with 200,000+ customers within a couple weeks, just setting up his own web site and saying, "Hey, I've got this routine I'll sell you for $5."

    There's no reason why that can't work for more people. It certainly works for games... I see lots of them at $5, and the good ones do very well. And those take a lot of labor to build, too.
    posted by Malor at 7:35 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Fred Wilson is working on it. (He also links to an amusing analogy.)

    Paul Graham is too.
    posted by A dead Quaker at 7:39 AM on February 5, 2012


    And unSane, regardless of anything else, the fact that you want to make movies of a certain quality does not give you the right or the power to break into everyone else's computers and websites. Either figure out how to make movies profitably in a world where copying bits is as easy as breathing, or go find something else to do.
    posted by Malor at 7:53 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Malor, I said nothing about how much the movie should *sell* for or anything about copyright. I'm all for selling movies cheap via direct download. My figures above are based on *minimum wage*. The economics of the industry are such that talented people migrate to higher wages, which is why making low-budget films is such a difficult proposition. Motivating people to work 12 hour days on minimum wage is pretty darn difficult.
    posted by unSane at 7:59 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    If you're really comparing the amount of effort required to make a $5 iphone games to the amount of effort required to produce a movie I really don't know what to tell you.
    posted by unSane at 8:00 AM on February 5, 2012


    unSane
    From budgeting and making movies? I recently paid for a movie to be budgeted at rock-bottom indie levels, shooting on prosumer hardware and paying scale to crew and actors. It came out at $3.5m.

    Just because your movie cost 3.5m doesn't mean all movies have to cost 3.5m. back before the days of cheap prosumer level equipment, El Mariachi cost $7000, so it's certainly possible to make a decent move for less than 1m. It's even an action film. Existence proof.

    (Similarly, Clerks cost under 28k, and although it does look like a cheap indie movie, a modern day Clerks at the same price would not have to be shot in black and white. It's not the best example, but it's one that immediately comes to mind with little effort.)

    These two good movies shot on a budget close to what Narrative Priorities was talking about, both from before equipment costs became dramatically cheaper. There are plenty of more examples.

    (Oh yeah, Primer cost $7000, to.)
    posted by yeolcoatl at 8:02 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    None of these movies paid wages to their principals.
    posted by unSane at 8:06 AM on February 5, 2012


    If you're really comparing the amount of effort required to make a $5 iphone games to the amount of effort required to produce a movie I really don't know what to tell you.

    Batman: Arkham Asylum has been on sale multiple times now for $5, and that's as AAA as they get.

    It's not just iPhone games. They move a LOT of copies when they knock 'big' games down that cheap.
    posted by Malor at 8:07 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    You can pick up DVDs for $5 at Walmart. So what?
    posted by unSane at 8:08 AM on February 5, 2012


    None of these movies paid wages to their principals.

    Who says they have to pay wages? They could pay shares of revenue instead. Big risk/big reward scenarios.
    posted by Malor at 8:08 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    unSaneNone of these movies paid wages to their principals.

    Yes. That's exactly the sort of situation Narrative Priorities initially described.

    It's only a matter of time before some kid scrapes together $5-10,000 and a handful of talented friends and makes a movie that all of us want to watch enough to pay a couple dollars for the privilege.

    (Emphasis mine).
    posted by yeolcoatl at 8:09 AM on February 5, 2012


    Who says they have to pay wages? They could pay shares of revenue instead. Big risk/big reward scenarios.

    Yeah, that's what they always do of course. But you're very unlikely to find anyone who can work for money working for points, and certainly no-one who's unionized. So you have to rely on inexperienced, non-union talent. This can sometimes work for graduating film students, or eccentrics working out of their garages, but in the real world of movie-making as an industry, this isn't a sustainable model, except in the porn industry. Roger Corman is the king of low-budget movies, and he isn't making them for $10k.
    posted by unSane at 8:14 AM on February 5, 2012


    More to the point, unSane, “wages” are exactly what young, hungry, risk-seeking new filmmakers are least interested in. Professionals and tradesmen need a steady paycheck; energetic creative people need to get their voices heard. We should have a copyright and distribution regime that addresses both of these populations and think TwelveTwo’s “consistent content” model is it—a steady drip of new episodes of whatever-the-fuck on the wage model, and occasional bursts of holy-fuck on the risk/reward model.

    In other words, what the technology industry has always been about.
    posted by migurski at 8:20 AM on February 5, 2012


    I'll give you another example. I'm cutting a 10-minute teaser for a movie I want to direct at the moment. Just me, no producer yet. I have a very well known casting director working for an EP credit and no money until we're financed. I wrote the script, so no acquisition costs. I commissioned artwork (using MeFi jobs) and I have a young friend of mine composing music. So basically 60 well-rendered storyboard frames, and about 10 fully produced music cues. The composer would probably work for free but I would be screwing him and he's a friend.

    My costs: $2500 out of my own pocket, and these guys are honestly working for absolute peanuts.
    posted by unSane at 8:21 AM on February 5, 2012


    I don't know how much this is the RIAA's fault, but:

    There's an unsigned musician on YouTube who does some cover songs and some of his own stuff. Some of his original stuff is on iTunes. I loooooooooooove his cover of Adele's "Someone Like You." That's not on iTunes. Is that because of a legal issue? I don't know. In a perfect world, couldn't he just pay a percentage of his sales to the copyright owner? I would gladly pay probably $5 for a high quality mp3, but as it is, it looks like my cat will have to rip it from YouTube for me. (If any torrenting happens in my house, my cat did it.)
    posted by desjardins at 8:48 AM on February 5, 2012


    There is a statutory right in the US to cover anybody's song which has been published (ie made publicly available) for the payment of a standard licensing fee.
    posted by unSane at 9:00 AM on February 5, 2012


    (but to make a 'derivative work', which includes changing words or melody, you need to get permission from the rights holder)
    posted by unSane at 9:01 AM on February 5, 2012


    The point I think unSane is making (and demonstrating quite well) is that all these suppositions about how the industry can just go over to people working for "sane amounts of money" (a.k.a. "free") and "talented newcomers" making movies for circa $10K and making a reasonable profit cutting out the middleman and distributing digitally over the internet are complete pie-in-the-sky bullcrap that will never sustain an industry of dedicated people with talent and expertise. Even at "below sane" amounts of money (i.e., minimum wage) or "completely implausible" compensation (i.e., shares of revenue) it's unsustainable.

    The fact that one or two well-connected people managed to borrow equipment, cobble up circa $10K, convince actors and crew to work for free, and make rough-and-ready movies that turned out to have some popularity doesn't exactly demonstrate the viability of this idea. Because guess what? There isn't enough of an audience out there to sustain an industry that's turning out nothing but varieties of Clerks and El Mariachi.

    It's really incredible to me that people form these ideas that musicians and actors and film-makers, etc. should all live in penury and scratch to get by so that they can have their music and film, etc. effectively for free and feel good about it. After all, why should some singer or actor or director earn as much as, say, a biglaw legal secretary or the guy who fixes the printers at your office, or a barista, or, yanno, you?
    posted by slkinsey at 9:12 AM on February 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Dunno. Honestly not a fan of the platformizing, really. I don't like the old guard, but the new guard seems to be an improvement for the customers, and I guess (not being a creator), a dangerous thing for creators for some legitimate reasons. I don't quite understand how stuff gets put on iTunes and Steam, or what money changes hands which way to get content put up. I guess I'm worried the only thing this new system will optimize is delivery, and the stuff that is delivered is still (and always is, under the "old guard" too) at a big risk of sucking.

    So it turns all content creation into vanity publishing, (there's an argument that that is all it ever was), an exercise that can only be carried out / backed by the wealthy as a luxury pursuit, if you want to pursue The Arts as a career, you're screwed. Go back to the cubicle and fill out spreadsheets, it is the only way you are getting any health insurance. So the message I tend to get from experiencing these arts seems to me to originate from somewhere horribly skewed and insincere. And it is the same 1%, (maybe just a different generation) that is getting the revenue from the platforms that took in the ticket revenue from the theatres. Yeah, change is inevitable, I just don't see much that is positive. I'm happy to be politely corrected, so please show me the positive things.
    posted by SomeOneElse at 9:21 AM on February 5, 2012


    Based on my own exposure to the creative industries, it was always a luxury pursuit for the kinds of people who could afford to focus on their bands in college or become unpaid production assistants out of film school. Very few of them ever made it, and their success was largely determined by the hierarchy NP described. With the distribution problem essentially shattered, they can now take matters into their own hands in a way impossible before. There is no guaranteed-anything in publishing or moviemaking but there are ways that we can socialize the risks these people take (through universal health care and subsidized education loans among other things) to help them make that eventual transition to a real industry.
    posted by migurski at 9:31 AM on February 5, 2012


    (Also for every Mariarchi or Clerks there are ten thousand abandoned or never-distributed post-student projects made by a bunch of 'talented newcomers' on their own equipment. I hope for your own sake you never have to watch any of them).
    posted by unSane at 9:32 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    The point I think unSane is making (and demonstrating quite well) is that all these suppositions about how the industry can just go over to people working for "sane amounts of money" (a.k.a. "free") and "talented newcomers" making movies for circa $10K and making a reasonable profit cutting out the middleman and distributing digitally over the internet are complete pie-in-the-sky bullcrap that will never sustain an industry of dedicated people with talent and expertise. Even at "below sane" amounts of money (i.e., minimum wage) or "completely implausible" compensation (i.e., shares of revenue) it's unsustainable.

    Yes, and? That's a harsh way of putting it, I know. But, here we are. Who says industries have to be sustained? What natural law requires that one be able to make a living doing X? I'm not talking about ought to, or would like to, or our society would be a better place if we. I'm talking about have to. About dollars and cents. If the industry can't be sustained, the industry will die. And most people won't care, because most people will derive adequate entertainment from its replacement.

    Maybe movies will be baseball --- something millions of people do in youth in an experimental way and about 10,000 adults get paid to do for a job (though some 500 or so of that 10,000 get paid millions). Why not? What's to prevent it? I don't think "because the people who currently do do this for a living will be very unhappy" is going to have sufficient force. Only scarcity has price, and digital good are infinite.

    I mean, I don't want to entirely despair. Hybrid models are emerging --- the NY Times is making its paywall profitable, for example. Of course, a one-time use good like is a movie is considerably different from a subscription service like a newspaper. And even if the NY Times manages to make a go of things, that doesn't mean that every newspaper in every city --- some of them quite big ones --- will. But bascially, the idea that "but if people embrace this technology, we'll all lose our jobs" hasn't actually stopped any technology from being embraced from the sabotuers on down.
    posted by Diablevert at 9:39 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    And to be clear, I'm all for the direct-to-download model and for lower-budget movies made in an entrepreneurial spirit by teams of motivated creatives. I'm just saying that the reality is that to produce films with production values (not just cinematography, but sound, script and performances) that are good enough to market to a contemporary audience, you are looking at six figures and up.
    posted by unSane at 9:42 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    This is because the RIAA and record labels will truly learn that all they have to do to make money is whine, and they have an endless supply of whiny pathetic executives, so the bitching will never end.

    I'll just assume the word "whine" means "lobby legislators", which means "bribe".
    posted by ovvl at 9:45 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Yes, and?

    The movies still make lots of money, and will do for (probably) decades to come, although the industry will no doubt reconfigure to deal with the new environment. The point we're making is that the alternative ($10k) model that's being proposed is probably not going to be a workable one except in porn. That is not to say that there isn't a workable alternative for mainstream entertainment at another budget level -- in fact, European financiers like Egoli Tossell are specializing in exactly this kind of thing, as do BBC Films.

    As long as I've been in the music/movie industry, people have been proposing the same thing. And, with the exception of a few high profile exceptions -- Blair Witch, Dave Matthews, Clap Your Hands, Clerks, etc -- it's never happened.
    posted by unSane at 9:47 AM on February 5, 2012


    It's really incredible to me that people form these ideas that musicians and actors and film-makers, etc. should all live in penury and scratch to get by so that they can have their music and film, etc. effectively for free and feel good about it. After all, why should some singer or actor or director earn as much as, say, a biglaw legal secretary or the guy who fixes the printers at your office, or a barista, or, yanno, you?

    Well, that's actually not a bad question, although if you are a musician or an actor I can see why it would be an upsetting one. The era of the massively wealthy performer or producer is a relatively recent one, and quite possibly one coming to an end. So, how much should a singer or actor actually make, if their ability to make money for their traditional employers - music labels - is reduced by piracy or the end of high-margin CD sales? Generally, remuneration is based on value.

    Of course, a lot depends on what you mean by wealthy, and what you mean by musician. JoCo earns $500,000 a year, which might be the top earning potential of somebody like him. Concert violinists - people who are literally in the top percentile of the world's violinists - earn significantly less. Actors in the Royal Shakespeare Company earn less than daytime soap opera actors. Stephen Lang may have earned more from a supporting role in Avatar than he did from a respectable chunk of his career as a respected stage actor. Dr Dre made about as much money selling a share of Beats to HTC as he had made up to that point in 25-year musical career. 50 Cent roughly doubled his wealth when the bottled water company he had been paid in shares for endorsing floated. There is money to be made from industries outside music based on performance in music.

    But, quite simply, we might be reaching the point where, although it's perfectly possible to find the funding for a $300 million Batman film directed by Christopher Nolan, because it will still make a chunk of money, it may not be possible to justify paying what has until now been market rate for Nicholas Cage. And where a number of industries - CD production, jewel case manufacture, international shipping of CDs, high street music stores - are reaching a process that ends with them in the same state that the VHS industry is in at the moment - a small number of specialist operators.
    posted by running order squabble fest at 9:50 AM on February 5, 2012


    The other night I was interested in seeing a movie. It had bad reviews, but looking at them, I thought it still sounded interesting enough to take a chance on. I found myself with two possible choices: (a) Torrent a 720p version which is in an unrestricted format that I can easily push over to my reasonably large TV, for free in 20 minutes. (b) "Rent" a copy from Amazon for $10 for 48 hours, installing their software on my PC and then watching it on my smaller PC monitor. So, the legit method not only means "pay half of what I see DVD's for at Target or 5 times what renting a physical disk would cost" it also means a worse experience after installing software I don't especially trust.

    Now, sure, you can say "if you don't like that deal, do without." Fine. I probably wouldn't take that deal even for a movie I had much higher hopes for. But bear in mind that what you're advocating is a lose/lose outcome. I get nothing and the filmmaker gets nothing. Maybe that's more morally satisfactory to you than a situation where I get something and the filmmaker gets nothing. But what we really need is a way to get to a place where we can both win. And the current middlemen are what's in the way of that. Because if the people involved were just me (entirely willing to pay, as evidenced by my piles of purchased DVD's and my disc+streaming Netflix account) and the filmmaker on the other, I think we'd agree pretty quickly.
    posted by tyllwin at 9:58 AM on February 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


    I'm just saying that the reality is that to produce films with production values (not just cinematography, but sound, script and performances) that are good enough to market to a contemporary audience, you are looking at six figures and up.

    And if no one can afford to make a movie that expensive, they will make less expensive movies, and the value of 'good enough' changes.
    posted by empath at 10:05 AM on February 5, 2012


    "Rent" a copy from Amazon for $10 for 48 hours, installing their software on my PC and then watching it on my smaller PC monitor

    Fair point on the software and the monitor viewing experience, but are you positive on the rental price there? Everything I can find on Amazon video has a $1.99 to $3.99 rental price. 10 dollars is usually a purchase price.
    posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:07 AM on February 5, 2012


    mr_roboto writes "It's available in HD as a $3.99 rental in the iTunes store."

    Sadly they don't have a Wii client. I realize that is a fairly niche market but it reinforces my point. To rent a movie from iTunes I need to install their software, download the rental, and then figure out someway to rip it to a format my preferred platform will display. Piracy is the simpler solution. Piracy provides a superior customer experience.

    I don't have iTunes, do movie rentals work in Canada? If you buy it instead do you get an unencumbered video file or do you only "own" for as long as Apple continues to make a compatible player?

    unSane writes "None of these movies paid wages to their principals."

    Which is probably going to be true for most movies in the next couple decades or so. It's quite probable that all the jobs involved in movies are going to go the way of professional wedding photography. Which sucks if you were a mid market wedding photography or want to hire a mid market wedding photographer but in 50 years no one is going to lament the lack of the market anymore than people lament the lack of professional scrimshanders.
    posted by Mitheral at 10:11 AM on February 5, 2012


    European financiers like Egoli Tossell are specializing in exactly this kind of thing, as do BBC Films.
    Actually, outside the US it's pretty common to make profitable movies with budgets that would seem ridiculous by American standards (Examples in 2011: exhibit 1, exhibit 2, exhibit 3 (the latter shot with a Canon 5D)). In the US, higher salaries for talent have apparently resulted in a fourfold increase in movie costs since 1985 (original MPAA figures here) but it's not like movie quality has increased fourfold since then...
    posted by elgilito at 10:19 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Piracy isn't stealing, it is copyright infringement.

    A good or service is appropriated without compensation or permission. How is that not theft?
    posted by IndigoJones at 10:46 AM on February 5, 2012


    How is that not theft?

    Basically because you aren't using the standard definition of theft.

    Merriam Webster says - "Theft: The felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it."

    "Taking" is arguable covered, but "removing" and "intent to deprive the rightful owner of it" are pretty clearly not happening when media piracy occurs.
    posted by Winnemac at 10:56 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I'm just saying that the reality is that to produce films with production values (not just cinematography, but sound, script and performances) that are good enough to market to a contemporary audience, you are looking at six figures and up.

    Assuming that's true, it's interesting to note that Iron Sky secured €300,000 in crowd funding and is 2/3rds of the way towards another €900,000 (in addition to 6.3 million in traditional funding.)

    A good or service is appropriated without compensation or permission. How is that not theft?

    I have two copies of your comment sitting in front of me right now. Is yours missing?
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:56 AM on February 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


    By that definition, things like product placement in movies or other methods of inserting advertising into entertainment content that the consumer is paying for is also theft if the advertiser doesn't compensate the consumer for it or doesn't get their permission.
    posted by XMLicious at 10:59 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    For me it comes down to a simple matter of integrity. Let's go with the hypothetical watching of Hangover 2 raised by the author. Suppose I have on my screen 2 buttons:
    - Watch Hangover 2 for $3.99
    - Watch Hangover 2 for free (illegally)

    Which button do you push? It's pretty much down to that. I can watch it for $3.99 from Amazon, or I could torrent it for free.


    So I just went over to Amazon and pushed the button, and what happened is exactly what I knew would happen: they refused to rent it to me because I live outside the US. In fact my choices are more like: take the bus to the nearest video store, hoping it's been released here already and they have it and it has the subtitles I want, take the bus back, and then watch 20 minutes of ads, including the ad trying to make me feel guilty about piracy; or watch it for free without any added shit within about 10 minutes.

    I suppose I don't have to watch it, and I don't want to either, but some entertainment products really become a part of the culture people share -- the Simpsons for example have massively influenced the English language, as did Seinfeld -- and I think at that point it's really in a space between private and public property and people have a right to access to it under reasonable conditions. In any case, people will certainly act like they have that right, because they hate being locked out of the culture everyone else is taking part in. Let's say that everyone I know online is talking about some new show, like Treme, and I want to watch it as it's coming out. I can either pirate it, or I can wait for the DVDs to come out here (which may be never), or I can wait for it to come out on German TV, dubbed, with an absolutely reprehensible translation (which might happen in five years or never). What I want is just to watch it under the same conditions people in America watch it in. Stream it with ads, I'll watch the ads. That's fine with me. But I'm not gonna pretend like the bits I want are somehow unavailable to me simply because I live in a different country; I'm not gonna pay any shipping costs for bits or wait years for them to arrive here because I know that they're just bits and that I can pirate them whenever I want.
    posted by creasy boy at 11:14 AM on February 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


    For me it comes down to a simple matter of integrity. Let's go with the hypothetical watching of Hangover 2 raised by the author. Suppose I have on my screen 2 buttons:

    - Watch Hangover 2 for $3.99
    - Watch Hangover 2 for free (illegally)


    And the studio has the option of charging absurd and extortionate prices for pushing bits around or of letting people push them around themselves for free. One of them greatly increases the intellectual and artistic wealth of the world at almost no cost to them, the other lines their pockets while tremendously damaging free speech and political freedom around the world.

    They make their choice. I make mine. I'm pretty happy with mine, on balance.
    posted by empath at 11:35 AM on February 5, 2012


    Basically because you aren't using the standard definition of theft.

    Yes, well, is Merriam Webster the best source for a legal definition? wikipedia, however, seems to have a decent discussion. That said, I'm not sure that I agree with the court in Dowling, and note that it dates from 1985, and perhaps could do with a revisit given changes in the past 27 years. Just a thought.

    I have two copies of your comment sitting in front of me right now. Is yours missing?

    You're kidding, I really have to explain this? Okay - my comment is put out there freely with no expectation of payment. My choice to give. The same cannot be said of the clearly commercial products found on Pirate Bay or Mega-upload (speaking, by the way, of over-compensated but unproductive parasites).
    posted by IndigoJones at 11:36 AM on February 5, 2012


    Assuming that's true, it's interesting to note that Iron Sky secured €300,000 in crowd funding and is 2/3rds of the way towards another €900,000 (in addition to 6.3 million in traditional funding.)

    Absolutely. You cannot believe how much the film-making community want to be making $1-20m movies.
    posted by unSane at 11:37 AM on February 5, 2012


    Fair point on the software and the monitor viewing experience, but are you positive on the rental price there?

    Yep. $9.99 It's fair to say that I was surprised.

    A good or service is appropriated without compensation or permission.

    Well, that broadens "appropriated" to mean "copied" which is hardly the standard usage. Few people would equate taking a high-res picture of the Mona Lisa with stealing it.
    posted by tyllwin at 11:42 AM on February 5, 2012


    Mega-upload (speaking, by the way, of over-compensated but unproductive parasites).

    There would be ZERO need of sites like Mega-upload and pirate bay if they hadn't cracked down on peer to peer file sharing.
    posted by empath at 11:44 AM on February 5, 2012


    Interesting article on Steam's experience with pricing, for anyone who might have missed it.
    posted by not_that_epiphanius at 11:47 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    We never claimed that Ironmouth worked in intellectual property, Winnemac. I stated that legal professionals make up a "spectacular preponderance" of the anti-piracy crowd online.

    The also make up a special preponderance of people working to defeat certain IP laws. Look at the advisory board to the EFF. It's all "professor of law" and "partner at ___". What you've identified is that people with legal educations have opinions about legal issues. Of course there are tons of them that work in other areas and don't care either way.

    I didn't say that or didn't address you at all, so I do not comprehend why you are addressing me as if I am a MPAA defender when I explicitly stated I did not agree.

    I do see that broad generalizations are rarely true and usually based on uninformed predjudice. Again, "lawyer" is not an ideological position, not even in regards to the necessity of law. It's better to actually evaluate opinions on merits rather than deem groups "parasites" and assume they are incapable of certain thoughts. Legalization is a also a "legal solution" after all.
    posted by Winnemac at 11:49 AM on February 5, 2012


    What bothers me about this thread is the conflation of the music and film industries. They couldn't be more different on the creation side.

    In 2012, popular music can be made in one room by one person for zero dollars (after a modest initial investment in a computer/sound hardware). Time is a cost, but for one passionate person, the investment of time is no big deal. You could work a day job and make an album in the off hours quite easily. The most expensive recording you could ever make is probably an orchestral recording with 80 musicians, but even there we're not talking about millions of dollars.

    Contrast that with a low budget film. Most narrative films don't start shooting before there's a script, which usually takes one person a year or so to write. At this point, the time invested in the movie may already be on par with the recording of an album, and all you have is a script.

    Next, you need producers to get a cast and crew together. That's a huge job, and not particularly fun. Many actors are willing to give their time for free to practice their craft, but it's a different story with crew. You need people to do things like carry heavy objects, set up electrical gear, stand at the end of a street to make sure cars don't drive through, and rearrange furniture. It's like the moving and construction industries combined, but with the standard day being 14 hours. Not exactly glamorous. You also need sound recording equipment and someone willing to do nothing but hold a boom over peoples' heads all day. You need a decent camera, lenses, lights, stands and other grip equipment, and someone who knows how to bring all that stuff together to make the film look beautiful... a rare skill. You need props and decorative elements and wardrobe. You need people to make and serve food. And you need all these people to do all these things every day for 20+ days. I haven't mentioned guns or car crashes or explosions or stunts, because those things cost a lot of money. You probably won't be doing much of those.

    But your movie isn't done yet. You need to edit it, which takes months of long days with an editor. You need to design and mix the sound, which takes weeks with a small team of sound editors and mixers, plus a theatre. You need color correction, which can't be done properly outside of an expensive suite. And let's just assume you won't need any visual effects, because those cost an incredible amount of time and money.

    Okay, now you have a movie. It may or may not be good, but to get to the point where you can even assess its quality, you've had to harness the time and energy of anywhere from 30 to 300 people for thousands and thousands of man hours. And I'm talking about a small, intimate film here, not an action movie or blockbuster.

    And that's just what it takes to put something up on the screen that will meet an audience's minimum expectations of the filmgoing experience. Audiences aren't very interested in small, intimate films. They seem to prefer alien invasions, comic book adaptations, and glossy romantic comedies. For those, you're looking at labor and equipment costs starting in the tens of millions of dollars.

    The fact is, there's a huge amount of uncreative, unglamorous, frankly tedious work involved in making a film - ANY film. To say that Hollywood is exploiting artists may be true, but a film is the product of a makeshift community, not a solitary artist.

    All of which is to say that the schadenfreude at the anticipated demise of the film industry is misplaced. Film will not and cannot go the way of music, and plucky kids with consumer gear will not be filling up your list of favorite films in the near future.
    posted by gonna get a dog at 12:04 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    All of which is to say that the schadenfreude at the anticipated demise of the film industry is misplaced. Film will not and cannot go the way of music, and plucky kids with consumer gear will not be filling up your list of favorite films in the near future.

    I'm not sure that's a problem. I like movies. But I can live without them. I think I've watched maybe 2 movies in the last 12 months-- I've spent way more time watching HBO series, which work on a different model-- the subscription model -- something that existed before modern distribution methods and that will continue to exist in a world of rampant piracy.

    The studios either need to adapt to the world as it is or stop making movies. I'll take either outcome.
    posted by empath at 12:10 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    my comment is put out there freely with no expectation of payment.

    Regardless, you're not deprived of anything. If you developed an expectation of payment, it wouldn't change that.

    Absolutely. You cannot believe how much the film-making community want to be making $1-20m movies.

    I'm sure bricklayers want to install $200,000,000 sidewalks (and then charge everyone who uses them until their grandkids are dead.) It's good to want things. But they can do it for less, and do it well.

    No, the tech isn't there for a big Hollywood Action Movie on a community theater budget, yet. And that's fine, there's their niche. They can and do still put asses in seats, in spite of this massive piracy 'problem.'
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:14 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    You misunderstood my comment completely.

    Most working filmmakers within the studio system want to be making $1-$20m movies as opposed to $100m-$200m movies, mostly because the path to production for those huge movies is tortuous and almost impossible to navigate, and involves the studio exec layer cake trying to ruin it at every step.

    They/we would rather see the same amount of production finance allocated to a larger number of smaller projects.

    There is no shortage of money to finance movies. The question is how it should be allocated. At the moment the stranglehold of the studios on the distribution system means that they can make the most money by spending $100m-$200m on a few massive turds. New paradigms for distribution offer the promise that smaller ($1m-$20m) films can make back their production costs as they did a couple of decades ago.
    posted by unSane at 12:23 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    We rented Drive tonight and i ate my entire dinner in the time it took the unskippable shit to play. That kind of shit is ridiculous.

    I don't care about that in a rental. Its a rental. Sure, throw some previews at me, I can fast forward if I want. But it pisses me off to no end that when I buy the goddamn movie - when I voluntarily choose to pay for the 15 disc special extended edition box set - they STILL include unskippable previews from the latest pile of steaming turd special effects extravaganza summer blockbuster hopeful.

    And they wonder why people don't want to buy anything from them.
    posted by caution live frogs at 12:32 PM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I'm not sure that's a problem. I like movies. But I can live without them. I think I've watched maybe 2 movies in the last 12 months-- I've spent way more time watching HBO series, which work on a different model-- the subscription model -- something that existed before modern distribution methods and that will continue to exist in a world of rampant piracy.

    An HBO series is a 13 hour movie big budget movie. And the subscription model is extremely vulnerable to piracy.
    posted by gonna get a dog at 12:33 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    unSane writes "None of these movies paid wages to their principals."

    Welcome to the world of the novelist. And yet there's a creative endeavour that doesn't seem in danger of dying any time soon.
    posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:38 PM on February 5, 2012


    Louis C.K. came up with 200,000+ customers within a couple weeks, just setting up his own web site and saying, "Hey, I've got this routine I'll sell you for $5."

    As C.K. stated on his site, that "routine" cost $170,000 to make, plus the costs of "just setting up his own website." Altogether, production costs were about $250k. An additional $250k were paid out in bonuses to C.K.'s staff.

    In other words, none of it would have happened it if 1) C.K. wasn't already a millionaire with $250k of his own money to spend on something he could sell for $5 a pop, and, even more importantly, 2) C.K. didn't already have a massive following, thanks to years of doing stand-up and television, with millions of dollars already invested by various networks and studios into his work (as he pointed out on his own site, he would have gotten paid way more money if he had opted to do a stand-up special for a network instead of making Live at the Beacon Theater). Even C.K.'s Louie (which, by the way, is the best show on TV), despite being written, directed, and edited by C.K. himself and made more or less on the cheap, costs $300k per episode to make.

    While I don't agree with all of the points / examples unSane is making, he is essentially right. I've worked around the film world (not the so much the "industry") for a long time, largely in the ultra-low-budget spectrum. Yes, it's possible to make a $10k movie that's good, even great, but it requires several hundred thousand dollars' worth of connections.
    posted by alexoscar at 12:38 PM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Welcome to the world of the novelist. And yet there's a creative endeavour that doesn't seem in danger of dying any time soon.

    But making a movie is fundamentally not-like writing a novel. I've done both.

    Making a movie is much much more like building a house. Again, I've done both. It takes about the same length of time and it involves lots of debt financing and co-ordinating huge numbers of people and getting every little thing right from the planning stage onwards and dealing with disasters and firing people and a stupendous amount of hard physical work and... you get the picture.

    Very few people, on their own, build a house with their own hands and then sell it for profit. The economics just do not support that kind of endeavor.
    posted by unSane at 12:43 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    You misunderstood my comment completely.

    Yes, I certainly did.

    Well, Iron Sky has shown it's possible to get into at least the lower end of that range on pure fan support, which can then be leveraged into the upper end. And that's from a crew that worked their way up from dicking around on Amigas a couple decades ago.

    And the subscription model is extremely vulnerable to piracy.

    As currently implemented, it's a major inducement for piracy. Ask anyone who's cable system doesn't allow HBO Go, or those who don't have cable to begin with.
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:43 PM on February 5, 2012


    Also, this would be a good time to ask how many people advocating movies made for $10k here have ever seen a movie made for $10k, even within the last year (if your friends made it, it doesn't count).

    (For the record, I saw about 20-25 American indie features made at around that budget or less in 2011. One of them was a masterpiece, and a few were really, really good.)
    posted by alexoscar at 12:43 PM on February 5, 2012


    The most expensive recording you could ever make is probably an orchestral recording with 80 musicians, but even there we're not talking about millions of dollars.

    HA HA HA HA!
    posted by slkinsey at 12:46 PM on February 5, 2012


    As currently implemented, it's a major inducement for piracy. Ask anyone who's cable system doesn't allow HBO Go, or those who don't have cable to begin with.

    The point is, it doesn't matter if it gets pirated to hell and back. A subscription-based financing stream means you get the money up front. You have a known income and you can budget around that. Who cares what happens after its released?
    posted by empath at 12:48 PM on February 5, 2012


    I bring this up -- whole "how many $10k movies have you seen" thing -- because we're ultimately discussing monetizability, not quality. As I said in my preceding comment, you can make a masterpiece for $10k, but it's very difficult to make even $5k (we're not even talking profit) from a $10k movie.
    posted by alexoscar at 12:51 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    alexoscar: And presumably a lot of those films are being made in the hope that they will lead to bigger-budget, non-self-funded movies in the future? So, the existence of that chain

    I'd be very happy, like UnSane to see more films like Moon and Winter's Bone in theatres. But then blockbusters reliably make studios money, so it's hard to argue with their business logic.

    This is about financing, though, rather than studios. Fan funding is one way to do it, although not a very replicable one - but there are also banks, government grants (happens a lot in Europe), venture capitalists, TV channels... I don't know if something like Columbia Pictures has to exist to make cinema possible. It's a useful way to collect a lot of subject experts (lawyers, marketing people, researchers, rights experts - people who can transfer their skills quickly from one film to another), but it might end up not being the most efficient way.
    posted by running order squabble fest at 12:54 PM on February 5, 2012


    Also, this would be a good time to ask how many people advocating movies made for $10k here have ever seen a movie made for $10k, even within the last year

    Oh, I've seen loads made for far less. Some of them are quite good.
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:08 PM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Fair point on the software and the monitor viewing experience, but are you positive on the rental price there?

    Yep. $9.99 It's fair to say that I was surprised.


    Wow, that's nuts.
    posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:26 PM on February 5, 2012


    Oh wait, it's VOD from Magnolia Pictures for a film that hasn't had a DVD release yet. They're doing the same thing with the Tim and Eric movie. So in part you're paying for the exclusivity. That's still pretty damn high for something you'll be watching on a computer unless you have a Roku box hooked up to your TV.
    posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:36 PM on February 5, 2012


    This is an excellent summary of a most obvious point and I'm glad to see it on Forbes. South Park does this already - all of their episodes from all of the seasons are online, with the new ones released midnight after they air. The only time I've ever downloaded an episode was to get a sound clip out of it. We watch it all the time on their site and they get whatever revenue from it.

    This can be contrasted nicely with most of Comdey Central's other shows, which are sometimes not even released on DVD, not available online, and which I have pirated almost without exception. I've had to get VHS TV rips of The Upright Citizens Brigade because they took years to release it in any form.
    posted by nTeleKy at 2:13 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Wow, that's nuts.

    What's nuttier is this: We have detected that you are not located within the US. Due to licensing restrictions Amazon Instant Video customers must be located in the United States when viewing videos online.

    This is not for the movie. This is for the trailer. They just don't want my money, they don't even want me (and hundreds of millions of potential customers dirty foreigners) to be tempted to give them money.
    posted by elgilito at 2:21 PM on February 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


    I would gladly pay probably $5 for a high quality mp3, but as it is, it looks like my cat will have to rip it from YouTube for me.

    At one time, the CDs called MUSIC CDs had a tax on them to cover the cost of copying copy written material. The legal theory I've seen is if you 'pirate' onto such a medium - you'd have paid the fee "by law". Such was built into the old Sony minidisk cost also.

    No one was buying the more expensive 'music' CDs and I've not seen one for years.

    (I'm still waiting to see someone make a open source jukebox app that takes the songs played in a bar/restaurant and makes a royalty list to the ASCAP payment ppl. The reason? Follow up with the actual authors who otherwise are part of the system but their stuff doesn't get played to see if they are getting their cut of the royalty checks. Enough places play those old/obscure songs and not pay the money to the artists and one could generate one hell of a class action. One that might break ASCAP, God willing)
    posted by rough ashlar at 5:56 PM on February 5, 2012


    (Also for every Mariarchi or Clerks there are ten thousand abandoned or never-distributed post-student projects made by a bunch of 'talented newcomers' on their own equipment. I hope for your own sake you never have to watch any of them).

    That is what the YouTube is for. And the 'wisdom of the crowd' will have the cream (or is it the turds?) rise to the top.
    posted by rough ashlar at 6:03 PM on February 5, 2012


    That is what the YouTube is for. And the 'wisdom of the crowd' will have the cream (or is it the turds?) rise to the top.

    Certainly, but it is by no means clear that the so-called wisdom of the crowd will choose the $10k indie breakout over the $100m studio turd.
    posted by unSane at 6:08 PM on February 5, 2012


    At one time, the CDs called MUSIC CDs had a tax on them to cover the cost of copying copy written material.

    This is still in effect in Canada for all CD-Rs... 29 cents per disc, so $15 on a spindle of 50. Hilariously they never implemented the levy on DVD-Rs (so they are effectively cheaper), but it is still in effect for MiniDisc!

    Of course, your neighbourhood computer store usually won't charge these stupid levies, but major chains still do.
    posted by mek at 7:06 PM on February 5, 2012


    gonna get a dog writes "Next, you need producers to get a cast and crew together. That's a huge job, and not particularly fun. Many actors are willing to give their time for free to practice their craft, but it's a different story with crew. You need people to do things like carry heavy objects, set up electrical gear, stand at the end of a street to make sure cars don't drive through, and rearrange furniture. It's like the moving and construction industries combined, but with the standard day being 14 hours. Not exactly glamorous. You also need sound recording equipment and someone willing to do nothing but hold a boom over peoples' heads all day. You need a decent camera, lenses, lights, stands and other grip equipment, and someone who knows how to bring all that stuff together to make the film look beautiful... a rare skill. You need props and decorative elements and wardrobe. You need people to make and serve food. And you need all these people to do all these things every day for 20+ days. I haven't mentioned guns or car crashes or explosions or stunts, because those things cost a lot of money. You probably won't be doing much of those."

    I winder if in the future movies will be entirely; or almost entirely green screen. Movies would be filmed entirely in assorted sized green screen rooms (bathroom; bedroom; living room (with and without stair); small office; medium sized office; large office; warehouse (also used for the big blue room)). All the sound and lighting equipment is pre-installed with assorted standard placement options controlled by computer the way mirror and seat setting are in upscale automobiles. And because the rooms are all standardized skinning them for whatever background is called for is cheap(er).

    Doesn't fix your costuming and prop problems though. Also you could group dozens of these standard green screen boxes together like a mall and just like a mall you have a food court where people who don't want to brown bag it can buy their own food. And maybe that would be the answer to props. Renting the room allows you to borrow props out of a crib in the same way industrial sites allocate tools to workers.

    It wouldn't be as slick as a $200 million dollar movie. There would be a lot of visual wilhem screams that appear over and over but the stories would still be told.
    posted by Mitheral at 9:01 PM on February 5, 2012


    If piracy really is destroying all these industries, what's the worst possible outcome?

    * No more major movies get made? That's fine; if I watched 2 great, pre-2012 movies a week for the rest of my life, I'd be very old before I ran out of great movies.

    * No more books get written? That's fine; if I read a great, pre-2012 book every day for the rest of my life, I wouldn't get through half of the great books out there.

    * No more songs get written? That's fine; I have over 20,000 songs in my Google music (thanks to running a music store for 5 years, and being showered with free CDs by the same companies who now want to sue me for getting free music) most of which I haven't even heard.

    But none of this would happen, because people who want to make films, write books, and make music will find a way, just like they always have. Some of them will make a lot of money. Some of them will make a little money. And some will make nothing.

    Even as someone who makes a little money from some of my intellectual property, I can't help but ask: So what?
    posted by coolguymichael at 9:46 PM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


    that... that... isn't a great argument. . . .

    that is the argument of a guy in a fallout shelter talking about the future of cuisine and what with all the cans and all-- it all seems like a fair deal what are you complaining about have some ham
    posted by TwelveTwo at 9:53 PM on February 5, 2012


    Certainly, but it is by no means clear that the so-called wisdom of the crowd will choose the $10k indie breakout over the $100m studio turd.

    So what? What's the alternative?
    posted by Malor at 11:03 PM on February 5, 2012


    that... that... isn't a great argument. . . .

    that is the argument of a guy in a fallout shelter talking about the future of cuisine and what with all the cans and all-- it all seems like a fair deal what are you complaining about have some ham
    posted by TwelveTwo at 9:53 PM on February 5 [+] [!]


    He's saying the absolutely ludicrous, unthinkable worst case scenario really isn't that bad.

    And the thing about that scenario is that it's absolutely ludicrous. Can you really say with a straight face that it might ever happen?
    posted by Sebmojo at 11:23 PM on February 5, 2012


    I winder if in the future movies will be entirely; or almost entirely green screen. Movies would be filmed entirely in assorted sized green screen rooms

    How well did that work out for the Star Wars Prequels?
    posted by Chekhovian at 12:41 AM on February 6, 2012


    What's nuttier is this: We have detected that you are not located within the US. Due to licensing restrictions Amazon Instant Video customers must be located in the United States when viewing videos online.

    This is not for the movie. This is for the trailer. They just don't want my money, they don't even want me to be tempted to give them money.


    Well, they would rather you bought the DVD. If you don't want to pay say $30 for the DVD, then they would rather sell you nothing. So the rights holders don't give Amazon a licence to sell ANYTHING outside the US electronically. Not even to show a trailer. The lawyers are in charge.
    posted by dave99 at 1:46 AM on February 6, 2012


    The problem for the studios is not piracy, it's just good old fashioned corporate short-termism.

    Going to direct download means tearing up their exhibitor/distributor agreements.

    For their latest $200m steaming pile of CGI, they need to maximise the revenue stream (or the line of credit folks who bankroll their movie habit will get really antsy and want more vig).

    Because the Direct Download/Day & Date model is essentially unproven at this point (not least because the studios have sabotaged every attempt to prototype it) it never makes sense to switch over for this particular movie, even though the studios are fully, completely aware that they will have to eventually.

    It's all about this quarter, baby.

    The rolls of the dice are now so huge on a per-movie basis that a couple of flops could sink a studio. No wonder they are risk averse. To them, it makes perfect sense to attempt to put a moat around their physical distribution business, because the alternative is THEY HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA WHAT.

    Innovation is not going to come from the studios. It's just not. It's going to come from the Far East or India, or the porn industry.

    Everyone knows what the solution looks like. It's where every movie ever made is online, and you buy one for $REASONABLE_AMOUNT, and EQUITABLE_PERCENTAGE% or so of that goes direct to the rights holder (the producer or distributor).

    Nobody knows how to get there.
    posted by unSane at 2:08 AM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


    btjunkie.com voluntarily shuts down.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:19 AM on February 6, 2012


    (.org)
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:23 AM on February 6, 2012


    Paul Graham is too.

    Awesome. It'll be as great as an online shopping site-creator made by Hollywood!
    posted by fightorflight at 5:49 AM on February 6, 2012


    The rolls of the dice are now so huge on a per-movie basis that a couple of flops could sink a studio. No wonder they are risk averse.

    I have no doubt that they believe this is risk averse behavior, sadly.

    Another stray thought: a big part of these gigantic budgets is advertising. National TV campaigns, Happy Meal toys, etc. OTOH, a big complaint of the traditional media is that online ad rates are so low. This seems like a perfect storm for small outfits to do very targeted advertising for their projects. Heck, if you distribute via torrents, the Pirate Bay will put you on their front page for free.
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:09 AM on February 6, 2012


    Right, the old way of distributing before platform (ie national) releases, was to start on one coast and work your way across the country. This way you could cut down the number of prints, and if it looked like you had a hit you could work your mojo city by city. But it turned out that a big national spend and making a ton of prints and hitting 3000 theates simultaneously could make you more money SO LONG AS the movie sold itself (high concept, big names). So the old kind of breakout hit pretty much disappeared, except for a few Oscar contenders that always crop up at the end of the year, and which get a more old fashioned treatment. But since the repertory cinemas have all but disappeared there 's really no infrastructure for that kind of thing any mre.
    posted by unSane at 6:59 AM on February 6, 2012


    Except that even after national releases were the norm, theaters would run even moderately successful movies for many months. Star Wars was in theaters for about a year during its first run. So, even then there was time for word of mouth to build up a movie.

    I'm not clear on what exactly changed, but needless to say it doesn't happen anymore.
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:12 AM on February 6, 2012


    It's really incredible to me that people form these ideas that musicians and actors and film-makers, etc. should all live in penury and scratch to get by so that they can have their music and film, etc. effectively for free and feel good about it.

    It's especially interesting to see MeFites making this argument. I mean, people on this website tend to disparage working conditions in China, and they're singing the praises of the South Korean entertainment industries? Do you guys not understand how that industry works--how they treat their stars?

    I'm not saying stopping piracy is possible or desirable, but it's a problem for the American economy. Jobs are being lost, and they will continue to be lost. This is yet another area where wages will be pushed down and the sector will shrink. And most people here don't seem to care; though I'm sure they'd lament job losses elsewhere, here they cheer them on. I can't help but think it's because MeFites like to consume entertainment media but are much less interested in consuming physical products.

    The death (or, yes, evolution) of the entertainment industry is going to be yet another nail in the coffin of the land of opportunity. Because of increasing resource scarcity and technological advance, productivity increases are going to outpace output increases, and that means job losses. If capitalism is going to survive, people are going to need jobs, and it's not clear where those jobs are going to come from.
    posted by smorange at 9:18 AM on February 6, 2012


    I'm not saying stopping piracy is possible or desirable, but it's a problem for the American economy.

    Yes, stopping piracy is a problem for the American economy. It inhibits innovation and discourages investment in the tech sector. It's an incredible waste of resources in the government sector. It destroys privacy and free speech across the board. And all for protecting an entertainment sector that is, in total, thriving.
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:39 AM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Jobs are being lost, and they will continue to be lost...If capitalism is going to survive, people are going to need jobs, and it's not clear where those jobs are going to come from.

    We should just build lots more buggy whip factories.
    posted by coolguymichael at 9:40 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


    We should just build lots more buggy whip factories.

    No, what I actually said is: we shouldn't say that buggy whip factory workers deserve to lose their jobs. We shouldn't say, in a weak labour market, that they should just get jobs elsewhere, like it's the easiest thing in the world. We shouldn't blame them for what's happening to them. And we should really start to think about where new jobs are going to come from in a world where tangible property is scarce and intellectual property can be copied with the click of a mouse.
    posted by smorange at 10:14 AM on February 6, 2012


    Here's the thing Hollywood understands that it's a "service problem". The problem is they don't want to provide that service. They think they can make more money by using artificial exclusivity to make people buy when they want them to buy, or at least force them to watch ads.

    They also want to control distribution channels so that they go back to controlling artists. If there were no youtube or megaupload how would new artists every distribute their work to the world without going through them? Obviously, they wouldn't.

    Here's the other thing: What's wrong with just accepting that the movie industry might be scaled way back? We can live without all this entertainment product being produced. In a way, artificial scarcity is actually necessary for the survival of the film industry, because if you can go back and watch every movie ever made, you can be entertained for the rest of your life without ever paying another dime. So in order to make money, the entertainment industry needs to bury their old products.

    But in a world where you can see any movie you want whenever you want, the way you can pretty much legally do with a music subscription service today is a world where less needs to be spent on producing new movies. Sure, marketing will play a roll in promoting new movies and TV shows, and people's tastes change. So there will still be a demand for some new movies just like there is a demand for some new music today.

    But rather then having one or two major albums a year, you have a highly fragmented music industry with a few stars selling hundreds of thousands of records (lady gaga, etc) and making money touring and licensing their music for advertising or doing product placement in their videos. And you have lots of people listening to their niche favorites.

    So the future of the movie industry is like the future of the music industry. Lower budget movies making less money overall, more of the money going to the artists rather then the 'studios'.

    And thanks to cheaper computers, they'll still have plenty of good special effects and look nice.

    And honestly, is that so bad? Who cares? What I don't get about the whole discussion is this idea that we must protect the content industry. It's like this baseline moral imperative. I say, who cares? Let it "die" (i.e. be diminished, a shell of it's former glory like the music industry). Or if it dies for real, I still don't see why I should care. My life is not going to be significantly worse if Hangover part 7 or Terminator 9 never get made. Just like I'm not morning the loss of the next KISS or Nickleback.

    ---

    Also, the steam thing isn't really a good model for the music/movie industry. You have to install software on your computer to play video games, kind of by definition. Steam is DRM, but video games, being computer programs, are intrinsically amenable to DRM, and the video game industry has had it since the beginning (with copy protection on floppy disks, lockout chips on consoles after the NES)

    It should be more like Amazon's MP3 store. You pay 99¢ or whatever and a physical MP3 file gets sent directly to you. But even that has drawbacks. I feel like if I pay for something, I should be able to re-download it if I lose my copy. Amazon lets you download to a 'cloud player' but then you can only stream it, and cant put it in play lists with other tracks (as far as I know)

    But the music industry has already given up. Eventually the movie industry as well, in which case the "Amazon mp4" store can start up.
    posted by delmoi at 10:50 AM on February 6, 2012


    No, what I actually said is: we shouldn't say that buggy whip factory workers deserve to lose their jobs.

    Sure they do. It's unfortunate, and hopefully they'll adapt, but it's necessary.

    What's dangerous is setting up a system to preserve their buggy whip making jobs, because they used their clout with Congress to require all automobiles to have buggy whips (one per horsepower,) and to allow the police, or buggy whip manufacturers themselves, to seize any automobile that they claim is not sufficiently stocked with buggy whips.

    Because that's what the BIAA claims is necessary to "preserve jobs."
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:58 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


    unSane: I suspect the sweet spot is in the $1-$10m range.

    FWIW, I just watched American Zombie, a mockumentary about the rising subculture of ("real") zombies, and their attempts at improving zombie-human relations and the general quality-of-unlife.

    Estimated budget: $1M. And, again FWIW, it was easily the most realistic and moving mockumentary I've ever seen. Funny, but not Spinal Tap-ludicrous (budget: $2.5M). Message-y, but not C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America-obvious (budget unknown).

    Only CSA looked "cheaply done", however. FWIW.
    posted by IAmBroom at 10:58 AM on February 6, 2012


    No, what I actually said is: we shouldn't say that buggy whip factory workers deserve to lose their jobs.

    I think it might be a deserve/deserve thing. They didn't deserve it in the sense that it was their fault or they weren't good enough at making buggy whips, but it was their desert that they would not be able to be employed as buggy whip makers any more, because the industry could no longer sustain mass employment, but instead could only support a small number of people serving fetishists (like corsets, leather chaps and IDE hard drives) as the buggy industry flatlined.
    posted by running order squabble fest at 11:16 AM on February 6, 2012


    I agree. But they're still people working in these industries. The political left should be sympathetic to people who have to work for a living, not cheering at their misfortune. The entertainment industry, for the most part, isn't a bunch of rich people. It's the middle class, trying (and failing) not to crumble.
    posted by smorange at 11:25 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I agree. But they're still people working in these industries. The political left should be sympathetic to people who have to work for a living, not cheering at their misfortune. The entertainment industry, for the most part, isn't a bunch of rich people. It's the middle class, trying (and failing) not to crumble.

    Maybe they wouldn't crumble if people could buy the fruit of their labours in a timely and accessible manner.

    Just saying.
    posted by Talez at 12:27 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I agree. But they're still people working in these industries. The political left should be sympathetic to people who have to work for a living, not cheering at their misfortune. The entertainment industry, for the most part, isn't a bunch of rich people. It's the middle class, trying (and failing) not to crumble.

    Exactly. It's interesting how media and the internet bring such a different set of politics out of people. There's a whole lot of "let the invisible hand of the market punch them in the face" in this thread from the same people who are pro-worker anti-free market capitalism in other threads. The film industry may appear to be a monumental entity from the outside, but it's really a composite of the diverse livelihoods of millions of people across the world. Obviously the system will change and improve over time, but the legal and financial complexities ensure that it won't be overnight.

    I am of course interested in the next phase of the industry, where more movies are financed for fewer dollars each, with a focus on online revenue. I imagine that will be an artistic and economic improvement (other than the demise of the movie theater)
    posted by gonna get a dog at 12:40 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I’ll just say again what I said above, that it should be government’s role to provide assistance and prevention at the healthcare/education level so that industries can be allowed to die without a bunch of people going homeless. The political left is sympathetic in the sense that we think no one should starve when their outdated buggy whip concern goes under.
    posted by migurski at 12:49 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


    There's a whole lot of "let the invisible hand of the market punch them in the face" in this thread from the same people who are pro-worker anti-free market capitalism in other threads.

    Most of what is being advocated is a way to save these jobs by having their industries adapt to new realities.

    Now, tough love is needed, because as a whole (rank and file who blithely sign on to industry proposals included) they're acting crazy. They would sacrifice our liberties in a misguided attempt to hang on to outdated business models. It'd be easier to consign them to their fate if they weren't so dangerous.
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:56 PM on February 6, 2012


    a physical MP3 file gets sent directly to you

    You mean I'm going to have to type in a 3 meg file into my computer like a program from the back of Enter magazine before I can listen to it? Fuck that.
    posted by entropicamericana at 1:57 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


    There's a whole lot of "let the invisible hand of the market punch them in the face" in this thread from the same people who are pro-worker anti-free market capitalism in other threads.

    We aren't advocating the invisible hand of capital, i.e. the market, gonna get a dog, but the invisible hand of individual freedom.

    I'm personally careful with my wording when defending sites like megaupload.com, usually comparing them with SkyDrive and DropBox, because nobody should dominate the distribution channels.
    posted by jeffburdges at 3:16 PM on February 6, 2012


    I imagine that will be an artistic and economic improvement (other than the demise of the movie theater)

    Yeah, it may well be. It does make me sad, though, to think that yet another quasi-public space is disappearing. Movie theatres, bookstores, and a lot of retail in general, are all slowly dying because of technology. Some say we don't need libraries either.

    That's the way of things, I get that, but I think it's sad to see the real life social world disappearing. In this respect, as in others, we're in a race to the bottom. I'm not comfortable with the idea of living in a world where we rarely need, or want, to leave our own private spaces, where the only time we "meet" each other is when we turn on our computers. I'm not sure that that sort of world will make us happy, no matter how much entertainment media we're allowed to consume. People make us happy, not consumption.
    posted by smorange at 5:15 PM on February 6, 2012


    The political left is sympathetic in the sense that we think no one should starve when their outdated buggy whip concern goes under.

    I agree. But "not starving" isn't going to be sufficient if there aren't enough jobs to go around, which is what will happen if productivity growth outpaces output growth, as it eventually will. In such a world, government providing enough to "not starve" will lead to huge inequality, not to mention (mental) depression among the unemployed. Radical change will be (is) necessary, if that's where we're headed.
    posted by smorange at 5:20 PM on February 6, 2012


    3 day work week!
    posted by Iax at 5:55 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


    It's interesting how media and the internet bring such a different set of politics out of people. There's a whole lot of "let the invisible hand of the market punch them in the face" in this thread from the same people who are pro-worker anti-free market capitalism in other threads. The film industry may appear to be a monumental entity from the outside, but it's really a composite of the diverse livelihoods of millions of people across the world. Obviously the system will change and improve over time, but the legal and financial complexities ensure that it won't be overnight.

    I really resent the implication that calling for the destruction of a collusive corporate monopoly like the MPAA is the same as calling for the destruction of the industry it controls.
    posted by Sys Rq at 6:49 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Chekhovian writes "How well did that work out for the Star Wars Prequels?"

    I'm afraid I didn't really follow the agasty railing against CGI in Star wars besides being aware of the hate on people had for Jar Jar. Were people pissed off that some scenery was CGI? I know some people prefer the look of miniatures rather than CGI. However I think that some of the hate is because CGI so often looks fake because it is used, either intentionally or because the tech isn't there yet, for things that are physically impossible at the theoretical level and not just because we don't have the tech yet. And that is at least partial because CGI artists and directors are still in love with what it can do like the way 50's 3D movies constantly had stuff flying at the audience. Once CGI ceases to impress just because it is CGI that should calm down.

    However I was thinking more of the kind of thing that Stargate Studios is doing (http://www.metafilter.com/87955/Everything-is-fake) where actors appear to be on location but in reality are just interacting with green screen objects and blank walls. Few complain about that because it intentially looks as much like real life as possible.
    posted by Mitheral at 8:21 PM on February 6, 2012


    Movie theatres, bookstores, and a lot of retail in general, are all slowly dying because of technology.

    What ails movie theaters isn't technology. Every MeFi thread about movies has a digression about how awesome the Austin Cinema and Drafthouse (and similar places) is. Theaters in general suck because the studios and chains have conspired to make it as unpleasant and expensive an experience as possible.
    posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:51 AM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I'm afraid I didn't really follow the agasty railing against CGI in Star wars besides being aware of the hate on people had for Jar Jar. Were people pissed off that some scenery was CGI? I know some people prefer the look of miniatures rather than CGI.

    Opinions differ on this, of course, but I think the major issue was not so much the miniature work in, say, the space battles, where everything was CG. The problem with those was more that, since the work on creating the objects and the environment is front-loaded, there's a temptation to make the scenes far too long. However, the use of totally green-screened environments limited the ability of the characters to interact with the world when it had human actors and digital environments.

    So, you got scenes which were two characters walking from back left to front right along a thin strip of floor, talking, with whatever vista they were walking through put in later. Which meant the world felt like a glass painting effect, albeit a very good one.

    That doesn't have to happen - for all its considerable flaws, Sucker Punch did some interesting things with partially built environments over which the CG was laid. The prequels just had a lot of virtual sets that need to be fit over the same environment.
    posted by running order squabble fest at 6:06 AM on February 7, 2012


    The Stargate Studio's backlot reel shows that the green-screened future is now (well, more like 2 years ago).

    Star Wars also isn't the movie I'd pick as an example. Episode 1 came out in '99; CGI has gotten better in the mean time, but more than that, it made $900 million, worldwide, on a $115 million budget, and is the 18th highest grossing film.
    posted by fragmede at 10:25 AM on February 7, 2012


    A better example, in the Brave New World sense, might be the SyFy show Sanctuary. It was tested out with a low-budget web series, and then, when the webisodes were well-received, it was picked up. The sets are largely CGI, and it is funded not by a studio but by an investment fund - it's a property for them.
    posted by running order squabble fest at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


    My friend Reg Braithwaite just posted this, which I agree with. He's probably here on Metafilter somewhere, but I've no idea where.
    More jobs and businesses have been created by VCRs than destroyed by them. More jobs and businesses have been created by the breakup of AT&T than destroyed by it. More jobs and businesses have been created by the decline of IBM than lost in Armonk. More jobs and businesses have been created by the stagnation of Microsoft than lost in Redmond. And it will be the same with the RIAA, the MPAA, Intellectual Ventures, and everyone else scheming to enthral the people with digital “rights” management and criminal prosecution of “file sharing.” In the destruction of the monopolization of ideas, lies the seeds of another revolution, one that will bring wealth, freedom, and jobs.
    posted by unSane at 6:19 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


    "More jobs and businesses have been created by the decline of IBM than lost in Armonk. More jobs and businesses have been created by the stagnation of Microsoft than lost in Redmond. And it will be the same with the RIAA, the MPAA, Intellectual Ventures, and everyone else"

    See, this is exactly why I have a problem with the airy-fairy thinking that is rampant amongst large parts of the pseudo-intellectual libertarian left.

    Replace IBM with GM, or Microsoft with American manufacturing in general, and the oh-so-trite nice little prediction falls apart.
    posted by Pinback at 12:51 AM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


    That would certainly a problem if he was making that point about GM or American manufacturing in general.

    That's like saying, sure, 2+2=4, but replace the second 2 with a 3 and you trite little equation falls apart!
    posted by unSane at 4:34 AM on February 9, 2012


    He's got some inside knowledge that it "will be the same with the RIAA, the MPAA, Intellectual Ventures, and everyone else"?

    If not, its just wishful thinking.
    posted by Pinback at 12:02 PM on February 9, 2012


    How about the evidence already in this thread which demonstrates that despite the supposedly existential threat of piracy, the media industry is larger than ever?
    posted by mek at 12:49 PM on February 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


    As an aside, this is the first week that two theatrically released films managed to make more than $20m in a Superbowl week at the box office. Although theater prices are of course a factor there.
    posted by running order squabble fest at 3:00 PM on February 9, 2012


    Download a Copy of The Pirate Bay, It’s Only 90 MB.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:49 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


    It's late, but this quote from Indie RPG master Jeff Vogel is deeply on-point.

    I Don't Sell Games; I Sell Self-Satisfaction

    I don't really make a living selling games. I sell an ethical life.

    How could I make a living selling games? Anyone who wants to pay me for my games doesn't have to. It's not like buying a chair, where they'll chase you down and taser you if you grab it and run out of the store. Nobody who wants my game on Windows or Mac has to pay for it to get it. Frankly, most of them don't.

    So why do people pay for it? Because they understand a fundamental fact: For these games to exist, someone has to pay. If everyone just takes it, I'll have to get a real job and the supply will shut off. I don't want to get into one of the eternal tedious arguments about "software piracy". I will instead focus on one single, incontrovertible fact: I have a family to feed. If nobody pays for my games, I can't make them.

    So what does someone get when they pay for my game? They get the knowledge that they are Part of the Solution and not Part of the Problem. They know that, in this case, they are one of the Good Guys. It is well-earned self-satisfaction, and it is valuable. To know they are doing the right thing, some people will happily pay 20 bucks. This is how I stay in business.

    This means that I am very, very careful to maintain a good public image. I try very hard to be likable and engaging and generally not a jerk. I don't always succeed, but I try. The goal for an indie developer is to get people to like you. If they don't want to help you stay around, they will help someone else.

    This is one reason, of many, why the move toward super-strict DRM in PC games is fundamentally wrong-headed. If you get people to like you, they will pay money to support you. If you get people to hate you, however, they will make it a point of pride to rip you off, even if they don't want or have to. If you are a jerk, you will make it feel better to rip you off than to pay you. When The Pirate Bay exists, this is a very bad strategy.

    So be nice. Be friendly. Offer attentive, individual support. Write quality products, and maintain them properly. There is only one way in which you can't afford to be a nice, lovable guy. If you sell niche games, you have to charge an actual price.


    Frankly, if I hadn't pirated the crap out of Rich Burlew's published works, I'd likely not have spent $250 on backing his Kickstarter. Thanks to piracy, he gets my money, I get to go to bed justified.

    Simple as that.
    posted by Sebmojo at 2:04 PM on February 12, 2012


    Antipirates attacked for pirating NFL game.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:42 AM on February 13, 2012


    Casual piracy it just so easy it is practically unavoidable really.
    posted by Mitheral at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2012


    I'm amused thepiratbay.se is 94 megs, furiousxgeorge, that's 60 8bit characters worth of entropy per file, roughly 200 bits for the magnet link plus 280 bits for the info, per torrent.
    posted by jeffburdges at 10:34 AM on February 13, 2012


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