How the Cookie Crumbles, Pardner

Posted: December 3, 2010 in This is a hold up! A link hold up.
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I found this terrific article, written by Craig Engler, the general manager and vice president of SyFy digital, about how the money moves with an episodic television show. Informative and interesting to us movie types.

If you are not interested in budgets and licensing, you should probably skip this one.

But this article, written back in March, you really should read.

Because there is a law firm now that specializes in suing bit torrent down loaders, and they have, on the money side, a very effective business plan: make the people you catch pay $500-1000, and you will basically make up for the lost revenue of fifty other down loaders.

They pick individual titles, and not titles anyone has heard of, like Call of the Wild 3D, file an injunction to get the names and addresses of down loaders, and bam!

And they are doing very, very well.

I’ve written before about my movie revenue concerns. Studios are losing money, and that has made them less adventurous, and led to 3-D. Attempts at monetizing the internet, like Hulu, have failed to create revenue streams that compensate for the internet created losses. I believe that it will take a few more years to figure it out, but the end result will be either all the studios collapse into bankruptcy or they figure out how to make people pay for content.

In the meantime, this seems pretty smarmy on all sides. A culture of theft (through bit torrent downloads) meets a culture of exploitation, lawyers. Downloaders, you will never win in court. Declaring copyright laws obsolete does not make copyright laws obsolete, or anything less than the a fundamental tenant upon which our society was built. There’s a lady who keep appealing her music downloading lawsuit. She was just a regular person who got a ton of free music, and who thought she could get out of paying when the music studios started making examples of people. She’s been to court three times now. Every time she appeals, the damages she is required to pay get bigger. The music industry offered each time to let her settle for a small amount and an admission of guilt instead of the court ordered $1.9 million or $1.5 million, and she keeps appealing. In lawyer fees alone, she has to have gone way over the settlement cost. She is a stupid, stupid woman.

On the other hand, the lawyers in this article are taking a third of the settlement money (probably). They have found what amounts to fish in a barrel, and they are going to clean that barrel out but good. They just have to get the addresses. They are threatening people who know what they did is illegal, but as far as I can tell, aren’t taking anyone to court because that would cost too much. This isn’t a moral issue for them. It is financial.

In a perfect world, no one would illegally download anything, and I believe the industry will find a workable internet business model in the future that will relegate bit torrents to genuine thieves and tech geeks. But in the meantime, wouldn’t it be better to find those down loaders’ addresses, which is surprisingly easy to do, and charge people $10 per movie download? Send a bill. For some people, it will be a mighty big bill, but not $1.5 million. And if people don’t pay up, hand them over to a collection agency. If you have to sue, use it as a last resort. It’s sort of a win win, or I guess, less of a lose lose.

Contrary to popular belief, movie people need to get paid, too. MGM is in bankruptcy, other studios are treading water. You liked James Bond? Piracy will make sure we never see another one.

Also, here is another rundown of terrific apps for the Ipad to make me want an Ipad even more (come on, 2nd generation, come out already!) The bast part? A Celtx app! The best screen writing and post production software can now be used on an Ipad (or Iphone, but who would?) and then sync with your bigger, bulkier computer. Sweet!

  1. Ashley says:

    “You liked James Bond? Piracy will make sure we never see another one.” I love that line. I couldn’t agree more. 😀

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