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You Will Never Kill Piracy 516

scottbomb writes "This is perhaps the best op-ed I've read about the whole SOPA/PIPA controversy. The author challenges Hollywood to re-think their entire business model. It will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears, for now. But sooner or later, they will have no choice but to adapt. From the article: 'Now that the SOPA and PIPA fights have died down, and Hollywood prepares their next salvo against internet freedom with ACTA and PCIP, it's worth pausing to consider how the war on piracy could actually be won. It can't, is the short answer, and one these companies do not want to hear as they put their fingers in their ears and start yelling.'"
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You Will Never Kill Piracy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:28AM (#38926563)

    Just like modding me down won't kill goatse, you'll never stop piracy. You may sink their ships but we will just equip better cannons on our new ones.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:35AM (#38926581) Journal

    The world has changed but they hasn't and they ain't gonna change because they are still raking in shitloads of $$$ doing what they had been doing for the past century

    I'd wager that it'd be like a repeat of what is happening to Kodak - by the time Hollywood decides to change, it'd be way too late

  • by yeshuawatso ( 1774190 ) * on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:41AM (#38926603) Journal

    And nothing happens. While I commend the writer for articulating what is wrong with the current movie industry model, the reality is that Hollywood is hell bent on preserving their business model. For good reason too, most of Hollywood are distributors. The distributors are the ones that pay for the movie, the marketing, and shoving it down the throats of consumers. They're middle men protecting their business. Change the distribution model and you'll hear the sucking sound of Hollywood companies drying up. Studios aren't strapped with tons of cash to pay for hit movies on their own, so you'll have fewer movies being made. No one in Hollywood has any incentive to change the current model, and unlike the music industry that got dragged into the 21st century, or the game industry that has adapted to every new platform to survive, the movie industry consumers lack any desire to force a business model change or adaption. Tthe closest thing to adaption is Netflix and recent price hikes are an indicator that the distributors will kill it before giving the consumers what they want.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:46AM (#38926637)

    >His solution seems to be "Give everything away for free, then it won't get stolen".

    Do you know how I know you didn't read the article all the way through?


  • Nothing new here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:47AM (#38926639)

    We have been saying this from within the industry for 5 years. Why are we paying truck drivers to haul blu-rays to store shelves when we could be using the internet to deliver the movies for 1/100th the cost? Not only is putting a blu-ray on a store shelf inherently risky (essentially a master copy of the movie) but it costs MONEY to produce, deliver, and manage, Make the movies cheap, remove DRM, use the technology to help figure out where the movies are going so that you can optimally sell merchandise... seems like a winner to me and to many others but apparently not to the people in charge.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:50AM (#38926663)

    The op ed is missing one quite critical point. The movie industries aren't sitting here fighting piracy because they don't know the way forward. They don't sit there because they are dinosaurs and luddites who have no idea how technology works.

    They sit in their 1990s era thinking because despite everything which is changed, and everything which is conspiring against them from the modern age piracy front they are making money. No actually I take that back. They are making a SHITLOAD of money. When you have a magic machine that spits out $100 bills why tinker with it at all? Until the bills stop coming out why mess with it? Someone opposes the machine, don't adapt your machine to them, attempt to crush them.

    It's all good an fine to sit here and claim they are dinosaurs for not getting with the times, but lets face it, the vast majority of us would do anything to maintain our status quo, if that status quo involved having a butter polish your shoes using the face of Benjamin Franklin.

  • by gottspeed ( 2060872 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:56AM (#38926709)
    That's because the majority of their sales come from people who would rather own a physical copy of the movie (or at least the permission to watch it) than view it over the internet or copy it. This, and most people who compulsively collect cheap worthless crap due to razzle dazzle marketing probably don't have big incomes or credit cards to use on the internet, and at least want the item on a shelf as some kind of lower middle class status symbol. All this is worth the overhead of distribution.
  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:57AM (#38926719) Journal

    I missed out on one other important factor ...

    It's the government


    * Copyright laws (change from bad to worse)
    * Tax rebates (for producers, distributors, et al)
    * Revolving door (former politicians becoming lobbyists)
    * Politicians lining their pockets (with PAC contribution from Hollywood)

    Why should Hollywood allow any other people to make money from alternative mean of movie production / distribution ?

  • Re:Not so sure. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:57AM (#38926721) Journal
    Easy peasey companero. Do like so:

    Load up every movie you've got on a drive. Tell a friend to buy one of them new fangled terabyte drives - that's what? $69 at Best Buy? Then connect your drive to his computer and drive. Click and drag contents from your drive to his and vice versa. Crack a bottle or two of wine, hang out, have a great afternoon and soon, you have more movies and shows than you could plausibly watch in years.

    It was called Sneakernet back in the day. There's rumblings about a new kind of "Alexandrian" (i.e. universal) Library - only this time it's totally decentralised and offline and untraceable. How that can pan out, god only knows, but it's the logical conclusion to the graspings of the **AA, the pathetically corrupt governments, and the increasingly policed and threatened internet.

    It used to be "never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of floppy disks." Now it's "never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with hard drives..."

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:58AM (#38926729)

    He also rationalizes that downloading is okay because it's not like you actually stole a physical object - so it's not really stealing, right?

    One of these things is not like the other:

    1. I steal your car. Now you do not have a car.
    2. I copy your music. Now we both have music.

    Which is why we charge people with theft, rather than copyright infringement. Calling it "theft" is meant to shut down an argument against the copyright system, by equating a copyright with a form of property ownership. Copyright has never been a type of property, it exists only to benefit the public, and at this point it is not clear that copyright is the best way to ensure the public's access to art and science.

    People are not going to stop using their computers to copy things; we need to accept that and move on. If we really want to save copyright as a system, then we need to punish violations the same way we punish parking violations: a small but annoying fine for each violation. Gone are the days when only people with specialized industrial equipment could possibly commit copyright infringement; the law was not designed to deal with mass numbers of people having copying equipment in their homes. If we are not talking about updating the law, then we are having the wrong conversation.

    Personally, I think the whole copyright system should be scrapped, and the industries that were built on copyrights should either adapt to the new world and its new technology or die like other out of date industries. We should be using the Internet to ensure that creative work is never lost, that it never goes out of print, that it is never buried as part of an effort to maintain a corporate image, etc. A lot of people have proposed alternative systems for compensating artists; why are we not giving any of them any consideration?

  • by aplusjimages ( 939458 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:00AM (#38926739) Journal
    Better yet who owns and controls those channels?
  • Re:War on Piracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gottspeed ( 2060872 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:00AM (#38926743)
    Its actually a war on natural human tendencies. An anti-human campaign by the men behind the curtain. And I'd be totally for it if I wasn't part of the target demographic.
  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:04AM (#38926779)

    Piracy needs to be controlled

    Unless you are talking about ships, I cannot really agree with you here. Copyright was designed when specialized industrial equipment was required to make large numbers of accurate copies of creative works. That is not the situation today; today, everyone has such equipment in their homes. We should be completely rethinking the law because it is absurd to tell people not to copy things using their own computers.

    A number of people have proposed alternative systems for compensating artists, but instead of giving serious consideration to those proposals, we simply ignore them and continue to pretend that copyright is a form of property.

  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:14AM (#38926863)

    If it's possible to make a movie and sell it cheaply online, with no DRM, and still make a profit as the article suggests why hasn't anyone done that successfully?

    It's the distribution channel, my friend

    Tell me, currently what are the distribution channel for movies, and how do they distribute them?

    The distribution channel for physical goods was sailing ships, and in the early days of sailing ships (1400-1850ish) piracy was in its glory years, now pirates are marginalized by the power and pervasiveness of modern warships, and air pirates are almost non-existent.

    The fiber just got laid 10-15 years ago, we've barely managed to start rolling out IPv6 (I'd equate IPv4 to square rigging...), piracy will be around for quite awhile, but it will eventually be marginalized just Jean Lafitte and his like have been.

    In the meanwhile, expect brutal but ineffective attempts to stop it by the commercial interests who perceive it as a threat (see: Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean movies for a fictionalized depiction of the basic human responses at work...)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:20AM (#38926883)

    Bingo. The war on piracy is a means to an end, but that end has nothing to do with piracy. The media companies want to retain their stranglehold on content distribution. If people decide to move en masse to distribution channels they don't control, they stop making money. Only way to stop that from happening is to either buy up the new distribution channels, or have them taken down.

    Piracy is a convenient boogeyman.

  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:22AM (#38926899) Homepage Journal

    +1, exactly what I was thinking. "You'll never stop it, so why even try?". It's a ludicrous way of thinking.

    Let's stop protecting all our crops from pests and thieves and see how that turns out.

    Let's just accept that people are going to die in road accidents and ignore all traffic laws.

    Let's just accept that the Universe is going to implode one day, and nuke the planet right now.

  • by iamgnat ( 1015755 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:38AM (#38927023)

    I think it's less about the distribution channel than it is about perception. Most people hold the belief that "straight to video" is a crap product. While this is typically true (I think) for STV movies released by the big studios*, it's certainly not true of a lot of the Indie/Foreign films out there.

    Until/Unless the general population (which I think is also of the "I didn't go to the theater to 'read'" mentality) can get past needing a movie to be in a theater to validate that it's "good", using the Internet as your sole distribution channel won't work.

    * Now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder if that's not at least part of the reason they release crap straight to video. Get some suckers (parents that can't tell their kids no) and reenforce the quality/value stereotype.

  • by thej1nx ( 763573 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:39AM (#38927029)
    Nice read. Just one issue.

    You and Hollywood have been taking the word piracy a tad too literally. "Pirates" were guys who boarded your transport vehicle and made away with your goods.

    The word what is actually applicable here is "theft" or "smuggling". Now tell me again, how theft/smuggling has ever been marginalized in the world "after some time", at any point in history.

    If you try to regulate/restrict something that can be "stolen" easily, then no matter how many laws you pass, it will not stop that specific crime in any way. For most people, temptation is difficult to resist, and they will continuously find a way to commit the "crime" without being detected. And when inevitably such a way is found, they *will* commit the said "crime".
  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:53AM (#38927145)

    They ain't gonna change because none of the pirates posting on Slashdot have ever elaborated a credible alternative for them.

    Show movies on big screen for a price, or simply sell unrestricted movie files online.

    Kodak was killed by superior technology - digital was clearly a better way of taking photos and Kodak just failed to make the leap.

    Yes. There's a lesson there.

    But what, exactly, is the superior alternative for Hollywood? Give everything away for free? The financial physics of that don't work. Maybe they should pay for movies entirely out of popcorn sales.

    Pretty much anything would be superior to their current tactic of making everyone hate their guts while simultaneously trying their level best to become the number one threat to Western culture.

    Please. This kind of 24/7 "piracy is freedom fighting" crap tires me.

    Maybe you should stop reading it, then?

    He then ignores the fact that the easy and cheap rental services he asks for already exist (eg, iTunes, Netflix, Apple TV), and oddly enough, if both are as easy as he claims the free alternative will still always win.

    As long as the Pirate Bay is the only place people can get movie files they can watch on any program and platform they want, are guaranteed to stay on their possession for as long as they - as opposed to a licensing server elsewhere - want, and can be worked on by tools to create new works - such as music videos - the Pirate Bay will always win. Freedom matters. Not to an authoritarian suggesting throwing mentally deficient people into jail over copyright infringement to stop them from "clogging up the Internet", of course, but it does matter to normal people.

    The guy practically admits he breaks the law constantly and doesn't care, which isn't surprising because he has demonstrated the kind of reasoning skills I'd expect of a small child.

    How about the police check his computer then throw him in jail for a bit? That won't stop piracy but it might stop stupid articles about it from clogging up the internet.

    So you think he's clinically retarded yet you suggest throwing him into jail for copyright infringement, not because you think that stops this horrendous criminal behaviour but because you don't like something he wrote?

  • by Grygus ( 1143095 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:57AM (#38927175)

    Neither, actually. The truth is that for all the noise, piracy hasn't hurt the movie industry in any demonstrable way (best three box office years in history? 2009, 2010, and 2011, despite record piracy and a bad economy.) However, they can use it as a pretense to maintain/raise prices in the face of falling costs, and as a scare tactic to push through advantageous legislation. There is no reason for them to actually want to win this war - they are making far more money "fighting" it than they would gain if it stopped.

    They are not stupid; they are businessmen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:57AM (#38927183)

    You argument is based on an assumption that there isn't a valid alternative to mindlessly attempting to stamp out piracy and wrecking a whole bunch of stuff in the process (eg. the internet). The article sets out perfectly clearly what the alternative is.

    "Let's stop protecting all our crops from pests and thieves and see how that turns out." - invalid comparison as it is possible to protect crops from pests and thieves. Not 100%, perhaps, but certainly enough to allow the production of crops to be a viable business model. And if it weren't possible the equivalent suggestion wouldn't be to stop protecting the crops but perhaps to start growing a pest-resistant strain instead (this suggestion being made to a farmer who keeps spraying DDT all over his farm, his whole town and everybody he meets). It's still not a good analogy, though. The original is probably beyond saving.

    "Let's just accept that people are going to die in road accidents and ignore all traffic laws." - invalid comparison because there is no reasonable alternative to traffic laws atm, though eventually perhaps the problem will be solved by automation. I can't think of any traffic-laws based analogy that would have any relevance.

    "Let's just accept that the Universe is going to implode one day, and nuke the planet right now." - erm, WTF? I could agree with this analogy if the article had said something like "You'll never kill piracy so you might as well murder your family". It didn't. Did you actually read it?

    Or you could stop with the inane analogies altogether and debate the points the article actually makes rather than strawmen.

  • by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:16PM (#38927311) Journal

    Even more so, nothing is lost. End result is that it is more sharing than stealing. If you could share a apple with someone hungry without loosing it, why would you refuse? Any sane person under those circumstances would stop trying to sell apples, unless they could provide some kind of scarce value add to the whole.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:22PM (#38927375) Homepage

    Why are we paying truck drivers to haul blu-rays to store shelves when we could be using the internet to deliver the movies for 1/100th the cost?

    Two reason, the first is that people still seem to prefer to either own or rent a physical copy. The second is because Joe's Corner Mom & Pop isn't going to invest the thousands of dollar it's going to take to set up a burner, printer, and shrink wrap system and then spend the money to stock up on blank media, decent printer stock, and empty cases/jewel boxes and *then* pay someone to burn, print, and wrap in order to make a buck (or less) a copy. Hollywood and the entertainment industry would love to push all those capital and operating expenses off their own bottom line - but they know they'll face a revolution.

    Not only is putting a blu-ray on a store shelf inherently risky (essentially a master copy of the movie) but it costs MONEY to produce, deliver, and manage.

    This is why those in charge aren't listening to you - you're talking nonsense. How is putting a physical master copy risky... but a virtual master isn't? Not to mention that virtual delivery isn't exactly free either - servers, bandwidth, and the bodies to maintain and manage them aren't cheap.

  • by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:34PM (#38927485)

    The word what is actually applicable here is "theft" or "smuggling". Now tell me again, how theft/smuggling has ever been marginalized in the world "after some time", at any point in history.

    Except it's not theft, it's copyright infringement. The only thing 'stolen' is an idea, i.e., 'intellectual property'. You know, an intangible. You can't see it, touch it, taste it, or piss on it. People have been selling intangibles for thousands of years. Just ask the Catholic Church. And they've made tons of money on them. Again, just ask the Catholic Church.

    The cool thing about an intangible is, you don't need to produce anything to have it. The 'labor' and 'goods' come from the derivatives, like holy books, lunch boxes, posters, etc.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:37PM (#38927497) Journal

    I don't think the analogy with 17th and 18th century piracy really fits. We're not talking about a few groups cracking DRM and selling the music. In fact, it's not like that at all. Most of the piracy, so it is called, isn't even for profit any more.

  • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) < ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:46PM (#38927583) Homepage

    How about worldwide release for a fair price...
    In cinemas that aren't overpriced and filthy...
    On optical discs that aren't encumbered with DRM schemes and can be played anywhere...
    For download in an open format which is also not encumbered by DRM...

    Sure, some people will still pirate but many more won't... The pirates will no longer be offering a superior service, they will be considerably less convenient and only marginally cheaper.

    Currently the movie industry treats its customers with utter contempt, subjecting them to drm schemes, region restrictions... Many people are strongly against supporting organisations who treat them this way.

    You could also start paying actors a more realistic wage relative to the amount of work they do, quite often behind the scenes staff work for far longer and far harder to produce a movie and yet they get paid a pittance compared to the big name actors.

  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:48PM (#38927599)

    The fiber just got laid 10-15 years ago, we've barely managed to start rolling out IPv6 (I'd equate IPv4 to square rigging...), piracy will be around for quite awhile, but it will eventually be marginalized just Jean Lafitte and his like have been."

    That was the single most foolish statement ever made on Slashdot.

    Fixed that for you, you're easily topping it with:

    The reason Sea "pirates" dont have a chance is because they dont have Trillions of dollars to have massive balttleships built and they typically are low IQ types. If they had any brains they would get their hands on some old WW-II submarines and utterly own the US navy. a WW-II torpedo will take out a US ship easily. We are just lucky that the pirates out there are simply opportunists that are nothing more than petty thieves and muggers of the sea.

    On the internet, a 13 year old kid has as much technology and power as the entire US government has. This scares the shit out of the governments of the world and big business. Even after IPv8 has been in place for 20 years and quantum processors have been in the iPad 12 and iPhone 47 a 13 year old that has been studying technology and the internet will STILL have as much power as any government on this planet when on the internet.

    The internet is nothing like the physical world where it takes a lot of money and resources to build something.

    If WW-II submarines ever became a problem for the US Navy, how many hours do you think it would be before the Pentagon had a report on the location and capability of every WW-II submarine operating in the world? Do you think that one could surface and operate its diesel engines long enough to recharge the batteries before being spotted by satellite? How about refueling? And where do you get the torpedoes? Sure, anybody _could_ make a WW-II torpedo in an average warehouse space, but could you build a number of them and deliver them to the subs without being noticed? I find SPECTRE [] more believable than your proposed fantasy.

    200 years ago, Privateers were not exactly on-par with national navies, but they were a force to be reckoned with in individual encounters. Today, the kids on the internet are in a similar position with government intelligence agencies [], but that's not a situation that's going to last for centuries - it might continue for 50 or 100 years, but eventually ideas like Echelon [] will be workable, and deployed, and (more) effectively policing internet traffic, and, yes, they will take enormous resources to create and operate, resources unavailable to your average 13 year old suburbanite punk.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:49PM (#38927607)
    Right, and there are artists doing exactly what is suggested there and making a lot of money doing it. The problem is they no longer need a record company to do it. The problem isn't that free access to music hurts musicians (it's actually very good for them) it's that the DISTRIBUTION of the music is now free... which used to be handled by the corporate music business. What's getting hurt are the corporate interests that used to control the distribution. For a while these businesses had them on their side, but the musicians are slowly starting to realize that for under $20k they can turn a room in their house and basically become their own label.

    All of this is Good for music. Now we just need to find a way to kill Ticketmaster.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:51PM (#38927625)

    It should also be noted that the Boston Tea Party occurred partly because people refused to pay the unfair taxes imposed on goods.
    How do you think the copyright industry & their 'intellectual property tax' is seen around the world? One day the people will rise up and end the greed.

  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:54PM (#38927665)

    I don't think the analogy with 17th and 18th century piracy really fits. We're not talking about a few groups cracking DRM and selling the music. In fact, it's not like that at all. Most of the piracy, so it is called, isn't even for profit any more.

    Bootlegging, then? A more populist revolt, to be sure, but, while I agree that RIAA, DMCA and all the related alphabet soup makes about as much sense as hanging pickpockets, and the "damage" done by IP theft is virtually impossible to quantify (and, that, in-fact some IP theft actually creates value for the "victim"), I believe that there is still some value to society in the concept of "Intellectual Property," and that some form of protection of that property is both warranted and just.

    Today, I feel like the enforcement is akin to swinging a sledgehammer in a room thick with flies, ineffective at best, and horribly unjust to many of the punished. Kind of like being hung for associating with pirates of the high seas.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Saturday February 04, 2012 @01:11PM (#38927827) Homepage Journal

    Instead of buying it you could pay to rent it at a much lower cost

    In a growing number of cases, the making-of documentary, back-story information, deleted scenes, anamorphic transfer, and the like are available only in the purchased DVD, not the cut-down DVD marked "RENTAL" that Netflix and Redbox get.

    Unless your going to watch everything five or more times this makes much more sense.

    And guess how often single-digit-year-old children will watch a given animated movie published by Disney.

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @01:20PM (#38927929)

    Yes and no.

    Piracy is an economic problem. If people are stealing your shit then you are missing out on markets where they could be paying you for it(up until a point at any rate).

    In Somlia Piracy started working because you could get a hostage of ship and crew and be paid millions of dollars for 6 months of work. As long as insurance companies keep paying the pirate problem there won't go away.

    For media companies(music, video, news, books). the answer is simple people want to consume such stuff at a time, place and manner that they choose. The icon image of a woman jogging with a SONY Walkman, is hilarious when you stop and think something like 90% of joggers where listening to custom mix tapes that they dubbed off of other tapes, cd's, or from the Radio. People are very used to sharing music and video with their friends and neighbors. DRM is an attempt to stop that sharing. Piracy in many cases is doing just that.

    The RIAA completely misunderstood Napster. they saw money being lost not a chance at making more money. It took 6 years and one billion itunes downloads before they realized just how badly they fucked up.

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @01:31PM (#38928025)

    The article actually said something intelligent. The products are way overpriced. Think about it. Who rips movies with a video capture card from Netflix using the analog hole on the Wii? Not worth the effort.

    Who scans the entire daily local newspaper and posts it on a torrent site so their buddies don't have to buy their own copy?

    Why is there piracy? The product is overpriced making the effort worth the trouble. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

    I have Netflix, A VCR/DVD combo recorder, a Wii providing the analog hole, but I don't bother to burn content from Netflix simply because there is plenty of search-able readily accessible content on Netflix. If each movie was instead a $4.95 pay per view rental, I would be much more inclined to choose a much smaller pool of choices and record them so I don't have to rent it again to catch the part I missed with a phone call or other interruption.

    Overpriced content makes the effort worth it. Low prices and large selection negate the desire to collect and archive the product. Lets face it, Have you kept a physical copy of every newspaper you ever bought? Why. Did you exercise your right of first sale and sell collections by season? Why or why not?

  • by jc79 ( 1683494 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @01:58PM (#38928269)

    Maybe there needs to be a market readjustment in the cost of movie making. Does spending a couple of weeks in front of a camera pretending to be someone else really justify a fee of several tens of millions of dollars? Does every assistant need an assistant? Do you really give everyone on your workforce their meals for free during a shoot?

    And why spend at least $20 million on marketing? Every half-sucessful indie band knows how to sell themselves using the internet, for nothing more than the cost of their time. Much modern film marketing is redundant - for example, I don't want to see trailers that end up showing almost the whole plot of the movie - why would I bother going to see a film when you've just spent 5 minutes telling me exactly what's going to happen? Stop trying to force me to watch films in forced-stereoscopy "3D" - I won't pay extra just to be given a headache. Another lost sale. Why bother with promotional deals with fast-food outlets? Does getting a piece of plastic along with your burger really make you want to go and see the latest Transformers crap-fest? More wasted money.

    Almost every other industry in the world is suffering from the financial climate. They are cutting costs in order to maintain profits. Why can't Hollywood do the same? The world has changed, and the studios' 20th century business model is obsolete.

  • by jc79 ( 1683494 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @02:58PM (#38928679)

    Are all of those people strictly necessary to produce a movie? What exactly does a "second second assistant director" do, that a "second assistant director" cannot?

    Here's the full crew of a feature-length movie that made over 60 times its production costs at the box office:

    Produced by
    Shane Carruth producer

    Original Music by
    Shane Carruth

    Film Editing by
    Shane Carruth

    Casting by
    Shane Carruth

    Production Design by
    Shane Carruth

    Sound Department
    Shane Carruth sound designer
    Reggie Evans location sound
    David Ho sound re-recording mixer (uncredited)

    Camera and Electrical Department
    Daniel Bueche camera operator
    James Russell assistant camera
    Anand Upadhyaya camera operator

    Editorial Department
    Omar Godinez telecine colorist

    Other crew
    Chip Carruth caterer
    Kathy Carruth caterer
    David Sullivan production assistant

    This is a film which I have paid to see, bought on DVD and recommended to my friends (several of whom bought copies themselves). It was highly profitable, yet required only 12 people (plus cast) to make.

    I agree that many people work on films that do not earn huge amounts of money. Cutting the fee of a leading actor by a few million dollars might actually mean that everyone else could get a pay rise - or is it right that the people who spend most time making a movie are paid only maybe 1/500th that of the person whose face is on the poster?

    If Hollywood needs special laws made just to benefit its obsolete and inefficient business model, then it needs to change the way it does business, not change civil society to fit its needs.

    Incidentally, you could have replied to my post with a single post of your own, and been less obnoxious about it. I'm polite - why aren't you?

  • by Ceiynt ( 993620 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @04:36PM (#38929389)

    Mathematically speaking, for every $100 decline in physical music sales over the past ten years there has been an $18 increase in digital music sales.

    Never mind the fact that people stopped buying the $15-$20 CD for just the one song that they can now get for $1-$2.

  • by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @04:40PM (#38929403)
    As I've said before: I'm going to fund my next romantic comedy movie by selling action figures.

    Point being: some things simply aren't setup well for merchandising. Merchandising - while it might bring in some money - it probably isn't going to bring in enough profit to pay for the upfront costs of making the digital media in the first place. Yeah, you can talk about merchandising, but how about if you name the top 100 movies and 100 software packages and then explain how they'll earn back their investment with merchandising. Sure, a movie Transformers *might* have a possibility of earning some money back from increased sales of Transformers toys (though I doubt that even they could earn enough to pay for the film), what about the "English Patient"? Even if you talk about massive markups (from $0.25 to make a lunch box to a cost of $30, which I'm sure both numbers are wrong) you still have to sell a huge number of them to make a decent profit. Avatar cost $400 million for production and marketing. How many Avatar lunchboxes do you have to sell again, to earn back that $400 million investment? Even if I accepted your "$29.75 of profit on ever lunchbox" claim (which I don't believe), you'd have to sell 13.5 million lunchboxes to earn $400 million. Given 310 million Americans, that's roughly 4.5 million Americans at each age. So, if you can sell an Avatar lunchbox to *every single 9, 10 , and 11 year-old* in the United States, then you can fund the movie budget.

    Heck, even movies like Cloverfield or Avatar aren't going to be making much from merch. If they could be making money from merchandise, they'd already be doing it because every movie producer is going to jump at an opportunity that could bring in a few million dollars (which, by the way, is a small fraction of movie budgets).
  • by airfoobar ( 1853132 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:04PM (#38929565)
    The "Music industry"? The "Music industry" is doing great -- better than ever. You seem to be confusing it with the comparatively tiny "Recording industry".
  • by NoOneInParticular ( 221808 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:08PM (#38929599)

    Kodak died because it was an American firm. They weren't changing direction because they were driving their business quarter by quarter. Fuji was in exactly the same boat, but they're Japanese, so they could change. And they did.

    God bless America. It needs it.

  • by Anthony Mouse ( 1927662 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:09PM (#38929605)

    No, if we seriously take that attitude, then if everyone pirated everything, creators would not be in a position to create entertainment for you.

    Except that, as evidenced by the fact that movies available as DVD rips on The Pirate Bay subsequently make a non-zero number of DVD sales, that isn't what actually happens.

    It's possible for people who have no money to get media for free and yet still have people who can afford to do so pay money to support the creation of new works. It is, in fact, what is happening today: A great many people pay, even though they have the option not to, because they support providing that incentive for artists to create future works.

    As long as those people are providing a sufficient incentive, there is no problem. If it ever comes to pass that so few people are paying that artists decide to stop making new works, the pirates won't have enough material to pirate and the market will sort itself out: Either enough of the pirates who could afford to pay realize what is going on and decide to pay more so that more works are produced and the problem goes away, or artists will start demanding to be paid in advance and use crowd-sourced funding methods to raise money.

    In theory you could have a market failure where not enough people pay to create new works (through any means) and new works then stop being created, but until that is what is actually happening there is no reason to implement extremely expensive countermeasures to fight a purely theoretical problem.

  • by Zenin ( 266666 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:20PM (#38929683) Homepage []

    I'd much more blame the "indestructible" CD then piracy. A LOT of the industry's revenue, especially the boom that came with CDs, was people re-buying music they already owned on yet-another-format.

    Vinyl wasn't useful in cars (boom of 8 track), 8 track wasn't that useful walking around and self-destructed over time (boom of cassette tape and Sony's Walkman), all of them wore out over time and/or broke easily from being dropped.

    Enter the CD... Never wares out, much more durable, as portable as most anyone would ever need, and for 99% of people sounds better then anything that came before. BOOM, there's a HUGE spike in CD sales as everyone is re-buying everything they ever wanted to keep on CD (along with new music sales, of course).

    Enter digital...

    It's everything the CD was and then some. But there's a problem... Unlike every other format change in the history of recorded music, no one is going to re-buy music they already have on CD as digital. They're just going to rip their own CDs. As a result the industry is left with only new music sales...

    It isn't about piracy - It's about the Music Industry losing the ability to re-sell you the same music over, and over, and over. It's about the Music Industry's ever expanding back catalog no longer translating to automatic ever-expanding re-sales. The Music Industry spent a hell of a lot of money to make copyright effectively never-ending, explicitly to protect that re-selling revenue stream...and now the carpet has been yanked out from under them.


    That huge drop in sales? That's called market saturation. Most everyone that wanted a Beatles or Stones recording already owns it...on a format they will effectively never replace again.

    It's about the Music Industry thinking, wrongly, that they were in the business of selling toothpaste. Then waking up one day to realize they really are selling cast iron frying pans. You'll always need to buy more toothpaste...but you'll never need to buy another cast iron frying pan.

  • by sincewhen ( 640526 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @06:07PM (#38929957)

    Don't ignore the fact that they are working in an almost saturated market. Look at how much of the industry income is from back-catalog and compilations. Since most everyone now has all they music they want in digital format (except new consumers - the Bieber fans), people aren't buying much any more. And when they are buying downloaded music, they may buy singles, not whole albums.

    example article []

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