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Director Attacks MPAA Piracy Claims 417

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-think-about dept.
dipfan writes "Alex Cox, the writer/director of cult classic Repo Man and punk movie Sid And Nancy, writes today in The Guardian's media section that the movie industry's real pirates are the Hollywood studios and the MPAA - for squeezing out independents. He rejects the widespread claim that Spider-Man suffered from widespread net piracy, and asks: "Are [the MPAA's] claims of lost billions even credible?" (In a strange coincidence, Cox has another article in the same newspaper today, where he defends using 35mm film rather than digital cameras a la George Lucas, saying digital cinema gives too much power to the distributors and studios because the technology is less portable than 35mm.)"
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Director Attacks MPAA Piracy Claims

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  • by fruey (563914) on Monday May 27, 2002 @11:37AM (#3590862) Homepage Journal
    IIRC, and I may be wrong (so prove it) there was a cult screening on a weeknight on UK terrestrial TV (Channel 4 I think) which was presented by Alex Cox, who sounded more knowledgeable about the films he chose (a long running series) than any other presenter I care to remember. He let you know before the film started whether it would appeal to you, hence saving many hours where I could go do something else instead of watch a movie that's a cult classic for some reason thoroughly unappealing to me.

    I have seen Sid and Nancy also. Possibly the only kind of role where Courtney Love is well cast.

  • by MsGeek (162936) on Monday May 27, 2002 @11:47AM (#3590897) Homepage Journal
    Thank you, Alex Cox. We'll be forever in your debt for "Repo Man" but that's another story altogether. It's a shame this appeared in the Guardian rather than in the LA Times or some other place where it will do some good.

    I know I have made a big deal about "Dogtown And ZBoyz" and Sony Classics' being the distributor, but damn, man...could it have only seen the light of day if one of the distributors owned by MPAA signatories had released it? I mean, probably "Revolution OS" didn't have that kind of backing, but it didn't go into fairly wide release like "Dogtown" did.

    If the movie theatres are 0wned by the MPAA, then where do the truly independent filmmakers go to show their work? I am hoping that somehow or another technology will come to the rescue as it has several times in the past. The RIAA had DAT neutered and the DAT portastudio killed because it feared indie musicians with the ability to create really good sounding independent recordings. Guess what? Thanks to cheap, huge hard drives and computer technology getting cheaper and cheaper, you can go to Sam Ash and get a portastudio with a HD capable of storing hours of 16-track audio for $500 or so.

    OK, so digital filmmaking on a massive, Episode 2 kind of scale is out of reach of indie filmmakers. You can still get Digital Video cameras for a grand, a Mac "Quicksilver" minitower for 2 grand and Final Cut Pro for another large bill and have the ability to make a movie, then send it to DVD-R for distribution. I still am talking Large Bucks but it's certainly not as expensive as it used to be to make movies on film. And if you opt instead for a big-ass Athlon MP system with a firewire card and a Pioneer Superdrive, Windows 2K and Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3, you can bring the price of the computer down a fair amount and shave a few bills off the price of software. If it is not practical now to do this, it will become practical in a few years. Right now CD-RW drives and DVD-ROM drives are selling for only $10 or $20 more for the increasingly hard to find CD-ROM only units. I can see a day coming in four or five years where CD-RW and DVD-ROM will be universally replaced with DVD-R/RW (or DVD+R/RW depending on which standard wins) and you only save a pittance by going with DVD-ROM and/or CD-RW.

    Of course, if the Senator From Disney, Don Valenti's Made Man himself, Sen. Hollings can get one of his horrible bills passed, this all might be moot. If all computers have to have an RIAA/MPAA-approved DRM OS running and hardware copy neutering, you won't be able to do much with that newly cheap DVD recordable drive. I kinda hope that technology will figure a way to get around it, just like the Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it; and instead of DAT Tascam and Fostex used hard drives to create a digital multitrack recording device. But when computer technology itself is chained...I shudder to think of the consequences.

    And actually Alex has a point...watching a movie in a theatre is way different than watching a movie on a computer monitor, on your TV, or on cable. If the MPAA has that all locked up, we are that much poorer culturally. So even if we win technologically, we lose an unique experience to the multinationals and their slaves in public office.

    Millione di grazie, Don Valenti. Pardon me if I don't kiss your fsckn ring.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 27, 2002 @12:10PM (#3590970)
    altered release plan - released globally all at once instead of regionally over time.
  • by nagora (177841) on Monday May 27, 2002 @12:20PM (#3590997)
    It is a commonly held myth amongst "audiophiles" that vinyl was better sounding than CDs. Various spurious "reasons" are normally given such as harmonics which can only be achieved by pulling a diamond plough through a plastic furrow (all the damage that implies is of course ignored). Generally this argument only works when the person in question knows beforehand which of CD or vinyl they are listening to, otherwise they find it very hard indeed to tell one from the other. Even though the scratches and pops on a slightly used vinyl give it away; for some reason such tests always seem to use brand new LPs, they also tend to use £1000+ turntables.

    I used to know such a person and among the ideas he had picked up from Hi-Fi mags were that it mattered which way up the mains lead went into his amp and that placing small pieces of paper (just a cornder torn off a single sheet of normal paper) under each corner of his amp would inprove the quality of the sound.

    Naturally enough, it worked for him and no one else; hearing is easily swayed by what the listener expects to hear.

    My brother has a large collection of vinyl LP's and singles and it takes about 10 minutes to realise that the format is inferior in almost every aspect to CDs; that's the ten minutes of listening to the care they need to be treated in just to minimise the damage caused to them by actually using them!

    TWW

  • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Monday May 27, 2002 @12:21PM (#3591001) Journal
    If copyrights cannot be transferred, they remain with the artist or author, and have to be licensed from them by the publishers. Currently it is the other way around: artists often have to sign over the rights to their own work lock stock and barrel, to the publishers. Already, record companies have succesfully prevented artists from distributing their own work through alternative channels such as the Internet.

    If publishers have to license rights from the authors and artists, the creative rights remain where they belong, with the creative people.
  • by Nachtfalke (160) on Monday May 27, 2002 @12:22PM (#3591010) Homepage
    Well, he probably looked the same, because that was the same man, according do this [mpaa.org]
  • Re:Vinyl trumps CDs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DickBreath (207180) on Monday May 27, 2002 @12:46PM (#3591091) Homepage
    Speak for yourself :) Actually most high grade speakers will respond in the 22khz+ range

    22 KHz is the same as 20 KHz. A teeny tiny difference. You have to double the frequency just to gain one additional octave. The difference from 20 KHz to 22 KHz doesn't even get you one single note higher in pitch. How could it possibly make any difference?

    [What I'm saying is sort of like this: strike the highest note on a piano keyboard. Now if there was one note higher available on the keyboard, the difference from 20 KHz to 22 KHz would be less than this single note difference.]

    Even 30 KHz just gets you about half an octave higher. (About 6 half steps.) So if I could add six additional possible notes on the high end of the spectrum does this really have any objective or subjective effect?

    If your body cuold "hear" anything that your ears cannot, I would expect it to be in the low frequencies. Your ears are specially designed/evolved for detecting what we refer to as sound.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 27, 2002 @01:00PM (#3591137)
    Right now, it is more expensive to start using digital. Though you will probably recoup the costs later on, analoge is far cheaper when starting out.

    Keep in mind this is talking about cinema-grade film here. Shure you could get a Sony Digital Handycam for a couple grand, but there is a big difference between that and 35mm. To get digital equipment that can atain near 35mm quality is VERY expensive to buy outright. Right now, only big studios like George Lucas (ILM, Skywalker Sound, etc) can afford the purly digital medium.

    I think another main point of his argument is that the MPAA has a monopoly on the viewing equipment, distribution methods, and intelectual property copyrights. Anyone who somehow managed to get the digital gear to make a movie, they would have a very hard time producing it, copying it, showing it, and distributing it. And if they managed to do all that, they could end up getting sued under trade law, the DMCA, or some other equilty innane law.
  • by MKalus (72765) <mkalus&gmail,com> on Monday May 27, 2002 @01:41PM (#3591284) Homepage
    They're still around:

    http://www.maxivisioncinema.com/
  • Re:Not always true (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hoggerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday May 27, 2002 @03:52PM (#3591896) Journal
    Subtitling takes time.
    (Not everyone in the world speaks English...)
    Dubbing takes even more.

    Yet, by law, in Canada, films must come out dubbed in french AT THE SAME TIME as they come out in english.

    And, despite that "delaying" factor, movies come out at the same time as they do in the US.

    So the argument that it is the subtitling/dubbing that retards the release elsewhere in the world (especially that the delayed releases are often in english) is simply not true.

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas

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