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You're a filmmaker, so why are you stealing movies?

I saw a youtube video recently that was produced by PBS (more or less the American BBC). It argues that piracy made "Game of Thrones" a success. You can watch it here:

What's really frightening is that it gives justification for people to steal. And if I were to go by the comments to the video, the vast majority agree that stealing actually helps artists. Having been the victim of piracy, I can tell you that it's not true. I went from making a living to, well, not making a living. Not even close.

The Game of Thrones argument is that piracy of the series helped book sales, t-shirt sales, coffee mug sales... and all of that may be true. All of this helps the author of the original books. But who it doesn't help are the actors, writers, and directors, and even HBO who get a small cut of DVD sales. Royalties that allow us to pay rent and eat when times are thin. Pity the poor filmmaker who only has one film, and not a cross-market smorgasbord of crap to buy. Downloaders do not make a distinction between my book, and the latest release from Paramount.

The arguments from the people that post bring up the success of Nine Inch Nails, when they let you pay what you thought the album was worth. Or fiction writers who gave a book away, that helped sell other titles. Kids didn't see the difference between artists giving away their work, and stealing it. The other common argument was it's a big corporation who could afford it. Or movie stars with multi-million dollar salaries. They don't see the character actor who got paid scale on that big movie, but does make a small royalty when the film is aired on TV or a DVD is purchased. A friend of mine was in the first Spiderman movie. At that time, films weren't pirated right away, much less before the theatrical release. Before Spiderman was pirated, his royalty check was around 1000 bucks. After, it dropped to 8 dollars or less. Or the song writers who don't make a dime off Justin Bieber's tour. They only make a royalty when a song is purchased. A woman I know had her Indie movie stolen two days after doing a DVD run. Hundreds of sites had her movie, and there was nothing she could do about it. Why would any investor invest in your film, knowing it would be available for free?

There were also many who claimed that if they liked what they saw, or read, they would purchase the thing from a legit outlet. If that were true, if only 1 percent of people purchased my book after downloading it, I'd be extremely wealthy. I know people like my book. The vast majority of ratings on Amazon are 5 stars, and my pirated downloads are in the millions.

Only hurting corporations? Yeah, right. So who does profit from piracy? Well, the pirates for one. If you go to a pirate site you will see two things: advertising and paying for a download or subscription fee. Some sites encourage you to steal. If you upload a stolen movie to the site, you can make as much as 35 dollars per 1000 downloads. This model is becoming extremely popular. But who else? Visa, Mastercard, paypal, google, your ISP, are making boatloads of cash by supporting stolen work. Google made 2.9 BILLION last year in profits. If just 1% of that profit is from advertising on pirate sites, Google made $29 million (could that be right?!) off stolen work. And believe me, Google doesn't give a shit about your stuff being stolen. I tried for a couple of years to get Google to not put links to pirate sites at the top of their search engine findings when people were looking for my book. I see Netflix ads on almost all pirate sites I visit. What? I don't care how cheap your subscription rates are, you can't beat free. Why support an illegal industry when you are trying to compete against them. And since the subscription model at pirate sites is quickly becoming the way to go, Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal probably make google's profits from piracy look like chump change. Kids may be stealing from huge corporations, but they are making other corporations rich in the process. And what happens to the creator of the work? They go on the dole.

Is there a solution to piracy? I don't think so. Certainly not what the studios or record labels have come up with. Japan doesn't have a big piracy problem because downloading an illegal copy of a movie will land you in prison. But that seems a bit harsh. There's a video on Youtube where a young man tells you not to worry about getting caught. He downloads 1000 movies and songs a month. Paramount tracked his ISP, and asked his service provider to cut him off. But ISPs make money from this guy, so Paramount will never get his home address from the ISP. Any threat is a harmless one.

So what say you? Do you have a solution? Ever been the victim of piracy? Ever download a movie, book or song? If so, why do you think it's OK? I REALLY want to know.


  • You touched upon it briefly, but I think the Novel <--> Film/TV model may well be the future.
    The music industry has been forced to reevaluate their reliance on profits from singles and album sales and focus more on ticket sales for their artists on tour. Perhaps the film business should do the same (or rather IS doing the same as far as I can see what with "preexisting properties", etc)

    This begs the question - how can an indie filmmaker work this sort of business model? Is that even possible at the indie level? Would novelizing your indie feature actually be the most profitable move you ever made? What with the EXPLOSION in book sales from devices such as Kindle, I might be inclined to say yes.

    (Disclaimer: I'm a professional writer who writes a lot of trashy novels, so my views on this are heavily colored in that direction!)

    7 years ago
    • Hi Ray, I think that model only really works if one or the other is a hit. Books are not immune to piracy either. Whatever way you go, it seems, SOMEBODY is getting the shaft. Even if the stolen indie film helps the indie book, how long can that model hold up? Movies take money to make, after all. How many investors do you know that throw money in the street? (And if you know any like that, can you please give me their names?!) When I was somewhat successful, raising money was difficult, but not impossible. Now it seems completely impossible. Why invest in something that has a 100 percent chance of being stolen? It's a tough nut to crack.

      7 years ago
  • UK Anti Piracy law (and how to have one that has global teeth by default)

    1) It shall be an offence to run a pirate site or service.

    2) Payment processors must cease enabling any transactions with UK people (those with a UK address attached to their account) once advised by a competant authority. Failure to comply will raise Money Laundering compliance issues.

    3) It shall be an offence to advertise on a pirate site once they (the advertiser) have been advised that they are doing so, and brands/companies shall have strict liability for where their ads appear.

    Damages maybe sought by copyright owners, and advertisers liable in proportion to the timeframe over which their ads were on the site.

    4) Pirate Site / Service

    A site or service that has ANY revenue model at all (sales, adverts, t-shirts), and has, as a key element of it's service, providing copyright material without the owners permission.

    Genuine non commercial person to person 1-2-1 sharing will be NOT be deemed pirate. (Guys, you will never get anything on the books that criminalises the modern eqv of the mixtape or home taping of your mates records).

    5) Competant Authority

    An existing, or new, Copyright Defence Agency will be established with the powers needed. Copyright owners with issues should report infringing sites for investigation. Copyright owners evidence packs shall be accepted as valid.

    The CDA will be empowered to get court orders declaring such sites to be a "pirate site or service" and thus Criminal, and thus go to ICANN and take control of their domain name, plus flag the site under Money Laundering.

    7) UK only is a good start.

    The key points are that this process will allow a UK authority to identify pirate sites, stop their money, and grab their domains.

    It might look as though it's only Uk revenue that is affected, but this is where the international attention to Money Laundering is on our side.

    The CDA will provide a PUBLIC list of all "declared pirate" domains. That defines them as criminal, which defines their transactions as criminal, under ML rules, globally.

    I.e. Block Visa, Mastercard, Paypal etc from transacting their UK business, and they'll stop globally as thats the easiest thing for them to do.

    The main ad engines will also take note of it as well.

    Choke off the money and you put piracy back in it's box as no one can afford to run major piracy sites for free :-)

    7 years ago
  • Note - the UK law can be applied to any site anywhere in the world, not just UK ones.

    7 years ago
  • It's time to look into the future, trying to deny that, only makes a ridicule of oneself...
    The culture I have about documentary film is thanks to piracy, I can not afford to go to every festival and most good docs are not even available to buy.



    The real question is “why not?”

    People trying to hold on to their “property” and say “this is mine”, are outdated. This state of mind belongs to a different time that has gone by. Thanks to the internet, the moment we create something, it belongs to the world. Trying to deny that, only makes a ridicule of oneself. Although the big music and cinema companies know they cannot control anything, they are desperately trying to impose rules that are only to their interest and against Free Culture (ask any musician or filmmaker what profit he gets from his company)(but someone other than the-kid-that’s-in-fashion-now-and-sings-about-love-from-above).

    We are making art to communicate, we are making art to share our feelings with everyone, we are making art to puzzle ourselves with the greatness and the hideousness of humans. We don’t do it to keep it to ourselves or a few select ones. It doesn’t belong to us the moment it comes out to the world.


    We plan to make a living by not obstructing the energy flow!

    Our source of income is you who is watching the performance or the stand-alone film in your house.

    We believe what we produce is worth supporting, but the ultimate choice is yours.

    If you feel moved by what you see, consider supporting us with any amount you feel like, or you can help by spreading the word and building momentum and awareness.

    We are not businessmen, but artists. This can be a problem for us sometimes, but it’s not something we can fix."

    read Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig

    7 years ago
    • I bet you have another job apart from your documentary film making... am I right? I think I am because otherwise your own answer to "Why not give it away for free?" would be "because I have to pay my bills!". Why is it that any other industry professional can make a living out of what they do but film makers, writers, musicians and actors are expected to work for free simply because they're producing 'art'? I don't hear you call for lawyers to provide their services for free because surely they're doing their job because they want justice. I do not have a solution to piracy (don't think there is any) but trying to pretend that it is anything other than stealing is bonkers.

      7 years ago
    • @Christopher Dane Wow. Thanks for that Chris. It's nice to see there are so many on SP that think it's bonkers. Does my heart good.

      7 years ago
    • @Christopher Dane
      yes chris, i have another job, but it is actually filmmaking for international news broadcasters (commissions), so different, but the same. i make money where money can be found and reinvest it where there is little. take the money where i can and put my art not only in the making of movies but also in the ways i produce them. i have spent nothing apart from time on my film because i crowdfunded it, i involved my audiences into the making and got loads of people crowdsourcing elements of production. i work with a production collective made out of people that believe we should tell stories the way we want and not the way the market decides through funds and institutions. we have a double life, working corporate where we can and using that money for something we believe in. we're trying to see reality in the eyes and work with what we have instead of complaining that years ago it was much better. sorry everyone but i think being an artist means much more than what you believe it is. we also need to be artist in the ways we manage to live off our art in our present society.
      i have many friends that don't make money anymore on traditional jobs, it's not just artist that are getting fucked over. and sorry, i don't agree, many have explained it much better than me below, don't think piracy is stealing, not in the way you think of it.
      and here just a final point, is it just me or does it seem we have a clear generational cut? those that were used to make money this way now complain about piracy, the ones that have never seen a dime with this 'older' model are trying to think in a different way and believe piracy is not the real problem. (ok things are a bit more complex but don't you think i have a point? just coming from the posts i read here)

      7 years ago
  • Dan, I get you.

    Why not say that shoplifting helps Tesco, or that joyriding helps automakers? Maybe if I see a joyrider in a porsche, I'll want one too (or at least one of the hotweels version.)

    We could also say that hackers help website designers. Look at all the free publicity Facebook gets when its users passwords are shared (or when one of its users has any other bad experience.)

    I think kids see the difference between free samples and shoplifting.

    But here's the rub. When my kids to school work, they are taught at school just to look for images on Google and paste them in. They aren't even taught to credit the creator or anything. If it comes up on Google search, the teacher thinks its public domain.

    They are told to use computers for their homework (with copy-paste) at far too young an age. When I was a kid, we did have collages in art class, but that was about it. We learnt to credit sources before we learnt to copy paste on a word processor. (And we were always told to put stuff in our own words, or try to draw original stuff.)

    Piracy is partly because the educational system has abandoned the thought process, abandoned rote learning, and become too reliant on technology. The technology existed when I was a kid, but you weren't allowed to touch a computer until you got to complicated stuff like Trig that required a computer.

    7 years ago
    • I meant calculator for the last word. Please feel free to point out any other errors in a nice way. Basically, I learned to type and program, to write an essay and to draw from still life, before I learned to copy paste.

      I also find that people who don't know how to use a computer often make better workers (more alert, better thinkers).

      7 years ago
  • Ritchie - the fact that YOU wish to give away your work is fine, and choice for you to make. There are even formal licences that allow to do so - Creative Commons.

    But those of us who wish to charge should have that choice respected. You can buy or not buy, that becomes your choice.

    What you totally do not have is the right to run a money making business using MY work. Not without paying me. Modern piracy is not a few people sharing files with their close personal friends, it's a business.

    Without access to a cash flow, projects that can't be self funded on a hobby basis will simply not get made.

    For low cost hobbyist documentary makers spending either own money, or that of an organisation with an axe to grind, or youtube animators, or community media (me), this might not be an issue, but if bigger budgets can't be recouped through sales, those projects will simply not get made.

    Architects probably mourn the loss of the Empire and the funds it provided to build Country Houses. If piracy kills / reduces the cash for for movies, money won't be spent making them.

    I also use Open Source software - which is free, but there is a revenue model that rewards those who write it - high profile contributors are the people you call when you can see it's the tool you need, but you don't know how to do it yourself. And the only cost for contributors is their time. So, again, not like a movie.

    That said, I personally think that copyright law is an ass. I'd have a simple 20 year term, which, if it's owned by an individual, terminates on death.

    7 years ago
    • creative commons is not about giving away for free, it's just about not criminalizing the sharing of culture, which is something that allowed for centuries the enhancement of society.
      my film is distributed with a cc license and is currently making money through broadcast distribution, dvd sales will not make me money anyway (or at least not as much as it used to). I understand all the above grudges and i might agree with most of them. but we need to start looking reality in the eyes. copyright disney style is a crime against the larger society, piracy is a crime against small content creators. so what next? unleashing law-makers ruled by lobbies?
      if we look at how things were without taking into account the changing landscape of technology and culture sharing, then we are just blind. it's about finding new ways, not re-adapting old ones.
      i have no definite answer to the problem, but i'm trying to understand how things work, and i think that if more people would do the same, then in time we will reach a new production/distribution paradigm.

      7 years ago
    • Jordie, we may or may not be business people, but the investors we need, are. What we do costs money. Lots of other people's money.

      If you want to give your creative work away, more power to you. I wish I could do that, but I have to pay rent and eat. I'm just not in your position. If I want to hire a well known actor for a film, I have to come up with that fee. Why? Because actors no longer take a back end deal. Why? Because piracy killed the ability for that actor to make any money on the back end. Want to defer pay for your crew? They too know they'll never see a dime. Hopefully they'll still do your thing, but why give up a paying job for you?

      I'm glad that in your world that you can live and eat and pay rent and still depend on the kindness of strangers to fork over some cash.

      But just a point that really upsets me to no end: The idea that artists shouldn't be paid. It makes what we do have less value than a lawyer, plumber, a carpenter... Artists DO have value. It puts art in the "hobby" column, and that seeps down into the culture as a whole. Here, the first programs to go in schools are the art and music classes. It tells kids that art is not as important in the world as science. So kids come to the conclusion; if art is worthless, why is stealing it a bad thing?

      7 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich
      Hey Dan, what about teaching kids that art is amazing, that you can create through the collaboration with others, and that they should share it like you share intelligent thoughts, that they should encourage friends to take what they have done to tweak it and create something new out of it. that we should all be artist and that art is for peoples' enlightenment and not about money.
      i understand your problem is paying rent, and i see that it all comes down to that at the end, but be sure that i have many carpenter or plumber friends that have exactly the same problem, their rights are being eroded, employers pay not even the minimum wage and 6 months later than they should, pensions are almost not existing anymore (they will surely not exist when my generation's time has come). i can't speak for you but maybe you could find a solution in having a double working life? one of an artist making little money but giving loads to society (help changing it) and another one where you work in a different field with different skills you have, or the same ones but re-adapting them. again can't really give you a solution but mine has gone this way, i work as cameraman and editor for broadcast news commissions and then take that money (quite good money i have to say) and reinvest it in my art.
      I know, wouldn't it be better if it was how it were? well maybe yes, but it isn't anymore.
      piracy (hate to call it that way) isn't going away.

      another message: thanks a lot Dan for having started this discussion and all others that have contributed, i think that if anyone wants to find a solution, we (filmmakers/writers/artist in general) are the first ones that should confront the issue and it's contrasting voices!

      7 years ago
    • @Jordie Montevecchi. Regarding kids; I volunteer for a non-profit here called "The Mobile Film Classroom" that teaches kids in poor areas of this city how to be filmmakers. So there's that. But I don't have 20 years to wait for some magical paradigm.

      Yes, there are a lot of societal problems besides piracy. But I also think that you don't have an inkling of how deep the problem of piracy goes. People seem to think that it's this low percentage of people that would have paid for your movie, or song, or book, that steal it. In my experience, and in the experience of many that I have talked to who have also been victims, that it's easily 90 percent of that paying audience that downloaded your thing. Why do you think it is that Hollywood only makes big budget tent pole films now? To get kids into the theater. Period. 3D and rehashed garbage is the industry's solution.

      There have been many, many studies on losses in the film industry. Last year the estimates just for film piracy in the U.S. range from 4 billion on the low end, to 6 billion on the high end. A truly excellent study for the music industry pegs music piracy’s ANNUAL harm at $12.5 billion dollars in losses to the U.S. economy as well as more than 70,000 lost jobs and $2 billion in lost wages to American workers. And that's just the music industry. So gosh, let me just get one of those jobs that you're talking about. Are you seriously telling me to find a high paying job to support my art? You're in a sweet position. Here in L.A., myself and most everyone I know in the film industry is clawing over one another to get positions on really low paying shoots that last 4 weeks. Even the Union is throwing up their hands and saying "sure, work non union. We won't even think about a fine. There just aren't enough jobs for us to act like assholes." The last job I thought I had was for a "Lifetime" movie. They wanted to pay me the exact same amount that I earned in 1986. But unlike 1986, they wanted locked reels in 2 weeks. Edit a feature in 2 weeks? Seriously? But I said yes. In less than a week before principle was about to start, the director told me that they decided to go with someone younger. That's the way they think here. So even us editors face the same discrimination as a 40 year old actress. I know character actors who would earn 10,000 dollars for a week in 1990. Now they get scale. Why is this? Talk to any producer that's been around awhile, or any distributor, and they will tell you "I'm not sure how much we can make before it's put up on a pirate site." Just one example: the big budget film "Battleship" grossed 65 million. The perfect film for 14 year old boys, so why so little box office? The film was on pirate sites 4 weeks before its release. The big push from studios is how to guard its product, at least until a release. What chance does an indie have? Especially now that pirates are paying you to upload a film to their site? Yes, you too can earn 35 bucks per 1000 downloads! Tell your facebook friends!

      I work uncredited fixing films for a living. As budgets dropped, and studios stopped making mid-level features, my work started to dry up. That's why I wrote the book; so I could survive during dry times. I had no idea it was going to be as big a success as it was. But success is a double edged sword: the more popular something is, the more likely it will be stolen. Quite literally, within 30 days of being pirated, I was selling in a month what I sold in a day before piracy. 2 months after, I was selling even less.

      The societal ills you speak of have been in America for 30 years now. But in my field, shit didn't start hitting the fan until piracy was commonplace. All of a sudden, producers had to factor in piracy to budgets. Budgets dropped to nothing, or skyrocketed. Those 15 million dollar budgets don't exist. Producers have run the numbers. To get a film into profit, you have to keep budgets under a million. Substantially so. Investment companies for films have all but dried up, because even a dentist knows that his kid has 8000 songs on his iPod, none of which he paid a dime for.

      Look, I can talk about this until I'm blue in the face. There are those, like you, who think piracy isn't stealing, which is an obscene view. Or that we need a new paradigm because that song writer doesn't make a dime unless someone actually pays for the song. 91 percent of film industry workers are freelance, at least here in Hollywood. Each year, film schools graduate thousands that flock here. And with fewer films being made, we are all going after the same jobs. The trend now is to hire young people that are hungry for those first jobs, because they'll work for peanuts without complaining. Since budgets have dropped, producers find that youth is the way to bolster that bottom line.

      I guess I could take a page from your playbook and head over to CNN on Vine st. and cut news... Oh, wait. We don't have universal healthcare here in America. If you're over 45, you're not getting that job. They want young, healthy, people in their 20's that are less likely to use the health insurance they offer.

      Think what you want, but I've been in the piracy trenches for a long time now. I know for a fact that it kills jobs (just ask the 2 employees I had to let go). I know for a fact that there are less films being made that have a decent budget. I know for a fact that I am making substantially less because of my direct link to piracy.

      Jordie, I would encourage you to take a look at:

      The problem is so serious here, that many of us in the industry do work for that fights content theft. How often have you heard that Studios and Unions are on the same side? This is a first, I assure you.

      7 years ago
  • Moralizing against piracy isn't gonna stop kids from Freeprojecting Game of Thrones any more than it stopped them smoking dope.

    If one wants to at least reduce piracy then a better culprit might be all of the rent seeking middlemen like cable companies that artificially inflate prices. Charge a fair price for a high quality, reliable stream and the value added over pirating might seem worth it.

    7 years ago
    • Very true, Peter. They won't stop, especially here in America where getting something for nothing has become a blood sport. Kids here really don't think beyond their self interests, much less how downloading that movie affects the ability of the writer to make a living.

      Here, cable companies have a monopoly. They've sliced up America into territories with the help of politicians who they paid with lobbying dollars, so that they could do something that is illegal here: create a monopoly. Odds are, your cable provider is also your ISP provider. And if you want a fast connection, you pay through the nose for it. So killing piracy has become impossible, because the cable/ISP makes money off piracy. It's also the reason America has the slowest and most expensive internet of any 1st world nation. Think the UK is bad? Come here.

      7 years ago
  • Breaking Bad's creator says that piracy helped his show survive:

    7 years ago
    • Well, Cath, for every single example of how piracy helped, I can come up with 1000 where it was absolutely destructive. Sure, piracy has helped some, but even WITHIN those examples, somebody is getting screwed. What's dangerous about showing the few that piracy helped, is it's a constant "go-to" example to justify stealing, and that hurts a lot more people than it helps.

      7 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich I also think that Piracy for high-quality TV drama is different for film because a TV series goes over a much longer period of time and piracy acts like an advert for the culture of the TV series rather than the series itself.

      People want to feel like they are part of something and pirating TV series facilitate this by acting like a teaser. People watch it online leagally until they are up to date and start watching either legally on TV or VoD, or start start buying stuff related to the show to increase thier enjoyment of it.

      You cant do this with film. Once you watch a film that's it. That's the product consumed, there is no next episode, there is no follow up.

      This is one the main reason why I think piracy helps TV as much as it hinders Film.

      7 years ago
    • @Javier Saavedra I agree. Every example of how piracy has "helped" is from a television show. Especially something with cross-market appeal. But those shows are set, in a way. Either through advertising (Breaking Bad) or already paid for subscriptions (Game of Thrones). But as an actor, writer, director or producer, those residuals are just gone, gone, gone. G.O.T. certainly helped the writer of the novels, though.

      But if you've only got one film without Action Figures you can sell at every toy store on the planet, you're sunk. And since budgets are so low now, what cast and crew get paid is a fraction of what it was 20 years ago. Any budget over a million is sure to fail at recouping its costs. And that's if you can keep it off the pirate sites long enough. If you haven't made that distribution deal before that happens, you'll never get a distribution deal at all.

      7 years ago
  • I think the OP makes a great deal of sensible points which read well on paper, but aren't even close to telling the entire story. The situation is considerably more complex than that, and until we all wrap our noggins around the big picture, pointing the finger single-handedly at piracy is moot. It might feel good to blame the pirates who stole your e-book for your lack of being able to make a living, but ask yourself this -- how many of those kids who casually clicked on a link and downloaded your e-book bothered to actually read it?

    7 years ago
    • Does it matter how many read it, Kays? (BTW, not an ebook). The point is within 30 days of being pirated, my sales plummeted. What I would normally sell in a day became what I sold in a month, if I was lucky. I lived off sales of the book for 4 years, with 2 employees-- until the day it was pirated.So yes, I can point my finger directly at piracy as the single reason for not being able to live off my work. I can also point my finger at Google for putting pirate sites at the top of the search of my book. There is absolutely no question that piracy killed me.

      To have your work stolen is such a kick in the gut. More than money, it's as if a piece of your soul is gone. It's something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

      I don't know what you do for a living, Kays, but think of it this way: you work a 40 hour week, and come pay day, your boss has decided to pay you for only an hour. Think about that in a very literal way. How would you feel? And what would you do about it? The first edition of my book took three years to write, and cost a considerable amount of money. As writers, filmmakers, musicians, creating another work isn't something that you can do quickly. And you just don't know if any creative work will "hit." It's not as if I can call the labor board, tell them my boss screwed me, and show up again for work on Monday, knowing the problem of not getting paid has been solved.

      Focal press has been bugging me for years to write a book on directing based on a seminar I do. When I wrote my first book, piracy was a tiny blip on the radar screen. Now it's moving full boar. Now, if the directing book were to be extremely successful, as my first book was, the odds are excellent it will be stolen within weeks of its release, instead of years. So I have to ask myself, is it worth it?

      7 years ago
  • @Dan Selakovich
    I understand what you're saying and I was being rather flippant - so apologies for that.
    Your position seems to be that funding via the investor model is now impossible because DVD sales are down due to piracy.
    I suspect there's more at work in the lack of investor money than just piracy.

    Evidently, that old model that once worked for you needs evolving. How that should be done exactly I have no idea - but I suspect it's going to be orders of magnitude more work than it used to be and involve concrete, provable guarantees.

    7 years ago
    • Ray, I took no offense to anything you said, so no apology necessary. I'm just trying to figure out how to make a living at this later stage in my life. I self-published my how-to book, and luckily could live off of it, even if no film work came my way. After it was pirated, that was impossible, so I wrote an expanded 3rd edition and sold it to Focal Press for a lousy royalty.

      Given that investment is so difficult here (the SEC rules are very strict. You can only approach 32 people to invest in anything. You have to hope you picked the right 32 people. If rules were more lax, and say, have a kickstarter campaign where a 5 dollar investment was just that: an investment, with an unlimited pool of investors, then I think we could get somewhere. That's my only solution so far).

      What I'm doing now is writing my first novel. I'm skipping traditional publishing, and going the ebook route. Thankfully, it's not easy to crack the current ebooks, so hopefully I can make a living. And given the low cost of less than 3 bucks, surely that would stem the tide of stealing if it were pirated. And a novel, unlike my how-to book, only costs me time. The first edition of my how-to cost about 15,000 dollars. If a novel cost that much to produce, I probably wouldn't be in the game at all. So wish me luck!

      7 years ago
  • Making a copy isn't theft. It lacks many of the features of the definition of theft (depriving someone else of their copy would be), but there is not actually a good English word for the injustice you feel, so we call it theft because you would feel the same way as if it were theft. The truth is more complicated and it's so much easier to blame anyone easily identifiable & not so powerful. I do sympathise but may come across as not much.

    Capitalism has never ever worked well for independently creative or information based work. Ever. Except in a very narrow set of circumstances. Capitalism in it's current design only works well for either physical commodities or services. So 'make me this video' or 'write me this copy' works fine - you are basically selling a service, doing work for hire. That's what I did today - editing & sound design for an advert.

    Way back in history some bright spark decided that instead of fixing a basic fundamental flaw in the design of capitalism, it's terrible treatment of & relationship to creative pursuits, we should simply start pretending that copies of information were a commodity like copper to make it seem like it is and so created this thing called copyright.

    This is artificial scarcity by force but might doesn't make right. It is not true in the rational sense, only a power based one. It is not a right but a privilege to stop people from copying by force.

    The basic problem is art & thinking is not and never really was consumed in the first place. It is eternal, copyable & adaptable but Capitalism would rather you think of it as a finite commodity. Experiencing art doesn't destroy it in the process. It is not an orange.

    In some times and places, copyright infringement was punished by death and torture but it didn't actually stop copying. People still did it. A lot of people.

    Yes. We have a problem but blaming everyone who now has a printing press in his pocket will not actually help that much (we all have this machinery now and mostly copy for no intended profit motive at all). Have you noticed how piracy has also killed off the obvious private profiteers you used to see down the market? I bet they are moaning about the good old days now.

    We could, if we had the will, redesign the socioeconomic system we live in and do a much better & fairer job for all creative workers but that is too complicated and there is little political will because it won't please big capital who actually don't really care about creatives unless it can make them rich too, then they love you.

    Copyright can never fix this basic untruth. It can never make it right. You can make copyright infringement as draconian as you like. You can bring back the death penalty even. It won't make capitalism & those who have to live within it's confines treat creatives well. They will just use copyright to shaft you instead.

    I feel your pain. It is an old one. Being forced to survive within a system that is completely bonkers & unfair, and pretend black is white and the evil doers are really the guy next door.

    The value in what you do is the first instance, the master, the original work. The rest is worthless and always has been. That is something that capitalism in it's current form does not deal with. So they would rather you got pissed off about copyright because that is nicely dodging the real issue.

    (PS I also do sell copies of things but know it's nonsense really)

    7 years ago
    • This a typical media headline, using conventional terms to describe a modern process. The term "STEALING" means you remove something belonging to someone else, which deprives them of its use, like a bicycle or a car, for example. That is not what is happening with films and other electronic material, instead you make or get a COPY of the original. It may be identical in every respect, but it is NOT the original. Then comes modern practice on the concept of ownership: are ideas really from an individual, are scenes of Westminster parliament, or my face really something that is OWNED by someone else?

      I think the answer is a BIG NO, they are not, and this causes the conflicting views in the field. Intellectually people do separate revenue from ownership, for example interest on a loan, from capital, an actual physical object. Our laws even see these items as different in quality from each other.

      I think Cuba has a better solution to this than the American capitalist view: they consider the art to have come from society and been "honed" by the individual artist, not in a vacuum but as part of a society and culture. So they pay accredited artists like anyone else, and they are treated as professionals, deserving resources, and competing for such, and having to explain and justify their art, and why it should be supported by everyone.

      Now Cuba is a difficult example because their society is run for very different reasons, and therefore in different ways to us, but they take advantage of technology and see it as a benefit to be able to copy. For example the news reader will remind everyone to set their recorders to copy a film after the news finishes. Recently they have had public debates about how (in particular musicians) should be paid more as they are more sought a mixed economic solution.

      In the UK the BIG companies just bleat about this, and the small struggling companies (yes like mine) suffer from loss of revenue. In truth this could be solved at a stroke by a radical revenue collection scheme, any registered product gets a small amount for its use, and everyone contributes to that fund, as a society. Why won't this happen: because money grabbing, by use of the concept of legal pros and "ownership" is used to MAKE money. Hardly any of that process contributes to the "ART" and it is why so many good people are unrecognised and working as waiters, instead of making good cultural films for all of us.

      7 years ago
    • @Charles Wood stealing is taking something that belongs to others whether it's a copy or not... otherwise stealing a Porche wouldn't be a crime as it's a copy made from an original design... we do live in a 'modern' world and therefore work by a modern idea of ownership and we do not live in Cuba and therefore work within a capitalist set of rules... I'm not saying that it's great (it's not for the most part) but that is the reality... another reality is also that piracy is stealing even if we do apply your concept because piracy deprives writers, actors and film makers their jobs.

      7 years ago
    • @Christopher Technological and social progress are not the same thing.

      The problem with concepts like 'owning an idea' is where is the boundary? At what point is it fair? It is effectively renting the same thing out multiple times and indefinitely. If I rented out my same flat to lots of people at the same time, that is more like copyright. How many times should I be able to do that? At what point is someone infringing? Is a visitor infringing? If I play music in my house then should my flat mate pay too or have they stolen it? If my friend watches my DVD of a favorite film should they have paid? How should someone be punished for experiencing art without permission?

      It is impossible to make laws that do this well i.e. justly and in a way that makes intuitive sense to everyone. You are asking people to believe in something made up. You are making law about metaphors rather than reality. People tend to follow laws when they make intuitive sense not because of fear. You simply wouldn't expect to spend 2 years in prison for accidentally watching the wrong youtube video, like they have tried in Japan.

      Even the people making these laws frequently break them because they don't really understand them either. The home office has a copyright case against them. An antipiracy campaign infringed copyright without them knowing (or maybe caring). Netflix uses piracy as a measure of what to shows to 'buy' to 'rent'.

      So back to progress and modernity.. Soon it will be technologically possible to use more draconian measures such as facial recognition & geo fencing to stop more people (your friends) experiencing art without paying more rent too.

      So if you try to watch something and your partner or friend walks in, it could stop working until they pay rent too. How many people should be able to watch a film together? Is it worth the invasion of privacy and building a surveillance state to implement such a thing? Microsoft, apple and amazon have all been patenting new ways to make people pay rent. Yes, they now 'own' ways to control behavior.

      What about geofencing so you can't take a picture of your friend at a concert in case you infringe copyright? Will that improve things? Will that be more 'progress?' and more modern? Will that make it more fair to everyone & the creators really? Will that make people respect 'ownership' more or will people just find it really bizarre & annoying when their camera stops working? Someone took pictures of me performing on friday night and posted them on the internet? Do I own them? Do they? What about my personal information? Do I own that or does google simply because they have the money and tech to track me?

      If a film distributor blocks/attacks my showreel because it contains a clip of a film I worked on that they bought the 'rights' to, is that fair because I used 'their property'? I was one of the creators.

      The whole thing is a mess. The mess can only get worse with increasing information technology because it doesn't map to reality very well of either human nature or the design of the socioeconomic circumstances we live in. Technology is just making this more obvious.

      The new big tech middlemen won't be treating creators any better than the previous era of media middlemen. Your fate as an independent will be subject to amazon & google's and the rest's secret proprietary algorithms (that they own!) and surveillance tech.

      7 years ago
    • @ John Baker

      I don't why but I actually felt quite angry reading your piece. Copyright is the law and exists to protect the creativity and earning potential of the originating artist. The only reason film and music industry have not been completely obliterated is that some people still have some semblance of integrity and respect for these creators. If your view does in fact become the prevailing attitude then the creative industries would really be doomed and you would be out of the job. So no, I don't we should shrug our shoulders like stoners at a car crash at the blight of piracy, but educate people about its real impact and invest in the technology to frustrate and catch those who do download illegally.

      7 years ago
    • @patrick astwood Do you feel as sorry for the millions of musicians who lost their jobs to sound recording in the first place? What about the talking pictures vs theatre actors and pit musicians? After all once you can sell copies, you don't need so many competing skilled performers, writers any more do you?

      Many years ago I was a jobbing musician. I witnessed the destruction of local live music economy and by far the biggest influence was the rise of the popular DJ. That is music based on using copies rather than playing & writing. That of course was great for a few stars and labels though (with budgets big enough to use copyright to effect). Just not in terms of numbers of creative people.

      I am not saying there is no problem with making a living as creatives and performers facing new technology. There is. A big one. I am saying it is not as simple as we would like to believe.

      A big problem that people overlook is technology combined with capital tends to centralise power in the long run, not the reverse. That's why you end up with very powerful small numbers of studios, labels, stars etc. over time and now big tech stores becoming new giant world middle men killing off smaller bookshops based in local economies etc. This is why I won't buy a kindle or sell my stuff through apple, amazon etc. I prefer to use book shops still.

      The economics of all this sucks. If you think copyright & more punishment can save small intellectuals, creatives & performers you are wrong. You have always needed a big legal budget if you want to use copyright to effect. Its a system that works for the big guys. They can afford to play the game.

      We certainly do need some kind of better way of doing things for monetising creativity, I just don't agree without a corresponding massive overhaul of the economic system too, copyright can fulfill these objectives in the long run for a large number of people.

      I am not shrugging off the problem at all, I am saying it is actually worse. Copyright is not the magic bullet that everyone desperately wants it to be.

      7 years ago
    • @John Baker I'd have to agree with you about copyright. It's absolutely worthless. I could get a site to take down my book by sending a DMCA notice. But an hour later, it would be back up from another source. It's pointless.

      I guess what gets to me the most, is the lack of ethical behavior. My dad was a professor of education. He'd written 8 text books on the subject. If he wanted to quote another author, he'd get permission. In my house growing up, the worst thing you could do was plagiarize someone else's work. I think I could have stolen a car, and the punishment wouldn't have been as bad as stealing someone else's words.

      I know quite a few High school teachers who've told me that plagiarism is commonplace now. One school gives out programs to teachers that search the net for plagiarized passages in student papers. One teacher I know has found stolen work in 100 percent of student papers.

      I have to say this new world is completely foreign to me. I was raised in a different time where the work of others was respected. Now, instead of asking an author for permission, it's up to the author to find infringements of his/her work, thanks to a court decision in favor of Youtube. And sending out a DMCA notice is pissing into the wind on the best day.

      Piracy is just way too profitable for Google and other industry players for anything to be done about it. And if kids plagiarize school papers without effect, there's just no way to stem the tide. Perhaps I'll start my own pirate site that pays the author of the work instead of fattening my own bank account.

      7 years ago
  • @Dan Selakovich
    Good luck sir. I do sell my fiction via the agent -> publisher route but I've been mostly moving over to Kindle as it's far more profitable (and publishers are putting everything on Kindle now too and paying me no royalty). I have 100% editorial control with myself as publisher and the way Kindle is set up via their cloud and device makes it very difficult to pirate.

    As for funding film (which is what we're here to talk about) I do have a suggestion that I've discussed with other filmmakers in the past. That is to target markets where the old investor model perhaps still works.
    Those markets of course would be the international, foreign language markets.
    How viable that is for you specifically, I don't know. Though certainly something to think about.

    7 years ago
  • My argument would be that we cannot stop the inevitable. History is repeating itself, as god knows the music industry has, and will continue to spend millions fighting piracy, whilst it only continues to grow as each new generation grows up with better knowledge, of faster, cheaper technology.

    I understand that piracy hurts the industry, however the fact is that you'll never be able to stop it, unless you really want to see regulations such as ACTA come into place? And god forbid if you do...

    My ethos is with the Games of Thrones, or Cosomonaught approach. You can only embrace the change, and if you fight it, you'll come up short and be left behind the times. With the new technologies theirs new ways around piracy, which come as a result of people being forced to think outside the box. It's good pressure if you ask me.

    7 years ago
    • Embrace the change? OK, Olly. But what do I do in the mean time? Rent is due. The Game of Thrones approach? To cheat actors and writers out of their royalty? Yeah, I couldn't do that.

      7 years ago
  • This has been a fascinating discussion because it suggests more issues than anyone has been able to fully address. There’s something of a microcosmic aspect here that really can’t be resolved without stepping back to see where the issue of IP piracy sits within a more macrocosmic perspective. It is as much a socio-political issue as one of dyed in the wool neo-con capitalistic assertions of morality.

    I recall another story concerning Microsoft’s efforts to prevent the mass piracy of their software in China. After some analysis it was strongly suggested that equating loss of income with the quantity of pirated property was grossly flawed because the bigger part of those doing the piracy would never ever pay for software anyway, simply because it was beyond their means. It was further suggested that tolerating the poor ‘stealing’ their products actually resulted in those same poor becoming real and faithful customers as their situations improved; to the extent that it made good business sense in the longer term.

    So the scale of actual loss to copyright holders is probably far less than over simple maths might calculate. Furthermore, most piracy is not about selling cheap copies but more of a ‘Robin Hood’ crime.

    Film makers suffering diminished income these days are more likely to be victims of exponentially expanding competition than of piracy. The old days of a few mega buck streams of distribution are changing. Creative media types should look at how the more ‘with it’ music creative’s are rising to the same challenges. We need to be just as creative with our financial and business models as we are with content. Lots of people in all walks of life are suffering from the inequitable affects of our out moded and perverse economic structure and there’s no reason why the suavely urbane intelligencer of film and TV production should be any the less affected or any the more privileged.

    7 years ago
    • Competition & weird economic side effects comes from strange places as well as the availability of copies (whether paid or unpaid).

      For instance, the second big blow to the local live music economy in my area (after the rise of DJs) came from when venues realised that it was cheaper to host a stand up comic who only needed a microphone, less transport, no proper sound mixer BUT they could charge the same for tickets. So bigger profits as it is much more expensive to run a live band around. So music venues made more money by no longer hosting as much music!

      Attention is limited too and spread more thinly than ever. This means you need a bigger budget to stand out.

      The surveillance as a business model funded 'free' web has exasperated this attention thinning massively. Google & facebook are not your friends really. They are in the business of profiling to carry out social engineering for profit, taking away attention that might have gone to something much more creative.

      "Huston, we have a problem." It just a really really bloody messy one.

      7 years ago
  • Thank you all for such well reasoned responses.

    Capitalism is a lousy system, but it's the system I have to live in.

    I still think piracy is stealing, because the result is the same. If your employer decided not to pay you for your work, isn't that stealing? Is your labor not a tangible asset? Or the argument that "I wouldn't have paid for it anyway" doesn't hold water, because I lived through it, and know that it's not true. Let's say you got caught shoplifting a roast from your local market. How long would the argument "I wasn't going to eat it anyway" hold up?

    I mean, good lord, if you don't think a movie is worth the rental price, then why watch it, much less download it? Much less pay a subscription fee to a pirate, or click on their ads.

    And yes, there might be other factors at work in the big view. But in my little world, it was piracy, and only piracy, that killed me. I would encourage anyone to make a feature, and see how quickly piracy will sink you. Most that defend piracy have never had any skin in the game. Just live through it once. Just once.

    Why is it OK for a pirate to make money off my work, but if I bitch about that, I'm flooded with "so and so was helped by piracy" or "Piracy isn't stealing" or "If you can't make a living off your work, your work must be shit." Or my absolute favorite: "Record labels screw their artist, so I'm sticking it to Warners by stealing the album." So depriving the artist of that dollar royalty on a CD and giving it to the pirate is your solution? It's exhausting.

    I haven't been in my 20s for a very long time now, but if I were, I might have a different view of all this. In the bank failures of 2008, my union pension was wiped out. No retirement for me. I put the banks and pirates in the same fraudulent column. Living off a book, or movie, or music, is exceedingly difficult. But creative work is all I know how to do. And because of my age, even a job at the local fast food is out of the question--even if it came to that. Whatever anyone, or any government, comes up with, in for a penny, in for a pound, just let me make a living.

    The video game industry doesn't have much of a problem with piracy. I've never owned a video game, but apparently you have to enter a code to get it to work. I'd hate to do that for a DVD though. That's a nightmare to even think about. I've never owned a cracked version of any piece of software, but I could afford it, for the most part. And if I can't, it wouldn't even cross my mind to head for PirateBay. The more product is stolen, the more expensive it gets for the rest of us, after all. And opensource seems to be working, and those that invest the most time and talent to a program seem to make money off opensource. But that model doesn't work for movies.

    Somewhere in this thread, I mentioned changing the law for crowd funding. There are a lot of us here that are trying to get the government to change SEC law, so that a five dollar investment through kickstarter is exactly that: an investment, not a donation. (Currently, that is illegal). Then at least, you have a large mass of people pushing to make your film a success. AND you can pay your crew. What a concept! Then you have a large number of people (investors) with skin in the game, who can encourage their friends to see it in a legit outlet, instead of stealing it.

    But for now, television seems the only way to go. Even if that television is on Netflix. "House of Cards" was very successful, as is "Orange is the New Black." Time for me to give up features and writing, and get to work on a series.

    7 years ago
    • Actually the 'locking' part of software can really screw you and your projects up. I have had a bug in the authentication part of my paid audio software stop me from using it because of some incompatibility. The company's response was simply "give us more money to upgrade." They wouldn't actually fix it even though I had paid (the bug took a year to appear). So I had no choice but to switch software as they might do it again to get more money later. I looked around for equivalent software that didn't require a key and gave them my money instead.

      You didn't hear about the legitimately bought gift from Obama to Gordon Brown (a collection of classic films) that wouldn't actually play in the UK because of locking?

      All these things have side effects and can go wrong. The company doesn't usually care because you have already parted with your money.

      7 years ago
  • I know of a struggling director who encourages his classes to steal, or pirate download, movies to study their structure. I wonder how he will feel when his eventual movie makes zero profits? I see that many small indie movies are now ' on tour' with a director doing Q&A after the show. They travel to far flung areas of the Uk. See the Adam Ant Documentary, now on tour. That was refused funding by uk tv companies. Now with the US tour by Adam Ant the film should do well in the US.

    I am planning a refinement of this to fund a film where everyone is paid. Yes the actors as well. I hope it works as I can see no other way at the moment to make a film pay.

    7 years ago
    • Holy cow, Andy. Could you please arrange to leave me in a room with that director/teacher for just 5 minutes? Don't worry, I'll bring my own baseball bat.

      The more famous you are, the more the film tour thing could work. As Kevin Smith said "it's the only way I can make a profit" when he did the same. But he charged 20 bucks a ticket, and has a following. Let me know what you come up with. Seems to me that the actual traveling and promotion would eat away at any gains. This would make you better known for the next thing, and possibly that's enough to make a next thing.

      For bands, touring seems the only way. But the song writers for Justin Bieber don't make a dime off tours.

      7 years ago
  • It's funny how people who justify piracy(or sharing as the doubletalk term) use the word ART.

    What we do is Show BUSINESS with the emphasis on business. That is, if you're in this to make a living. If you're just doing it on the weekend with an iphone or your dslr and grabbing some friends to make your 'film', then the pirating of your 'film' won't matter. But those who are serious, it does affect them.

    New models may have to be made, but don't justify immoral behavior. It takes a LOT of effort to make a film (pre, prod, and post) and MANY people. To get a quality product, you need a BUDGET, which, if your film is pirated, you won't be able to afford a budget for your next film.

    7 years ago
    • Yeah, it's amazing how common sense just drops away from so many. What part of "making a living" don't you get? Thanks, David.

      7 years ago
  • @Dan Selakovich

    It absolutely matters how many will read your book, because just because someone pirates a copy of your book it doesn't mean that person would have bought it in the first place. How are your physical book sales? Have those declined as well? I think that writers are actually in a much better position to weather piracy than musicians and filmmakers.

    To answer your question, I am a filmmaker, music composer and occasional recording artist; so I am extremely familiar with watching my income go from regular six figures to barely scraping by in a matter of years. I have to ask though, how much does piracy really impact my financial reality vs. other factors?

    If you feel so inclined, you should read this study which found very little impact of piracy on potential sales:

    I assume the book of yours you are referring to is this one: "Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build: How to Build Your Own Camera Cranes, Car Mounts, Stabilizers, Dollies, and More!"

    But I have to ask, why are you singling out piracy for diminishing sales and not even mention the countless blogs, web sites and youtube videos which teach all of the things that your book does? Why aren't you angry then at this guy:
    or this guy:
    or this guy:

    Well...I think you get the point.

    7 years ago
    • You obviously didn't read my posts. Here, I'll help you out: The point is within 30 days of being pirated, my sales plummeted. What I would normally sell in a day became what I sold in a month, if I was lucky. I lived off sales of the book for 4 years, with 2 employees-- until the day it was pirated.

      Here's your logic: you go to a rental house and get a camera for the weekend. When returning the camera on monday morning you say "I didn't use the camera after all, so I shouldn't have to pay the rental fee." Piracy affects you extremely quickly. At the time, I published and sold the book from my own company. I knew the numbers. I knew, in those 30 days, that my sales went from 20 books a day to 20 books in a month, if I was lucky. That first week confused the hell out of me. I had no idea why sales had dropped so quickly and so sharply. I thought that maybe I had dropped in the search engine results. When I check google, the first 2 pages were pirates sites where you could find my book. I knew each and every brick and mortar outlet that sold my books, and even their search results were lower on the list. Eventually, I wrote an expanded 3rd edition to help combat the 2nd edition piracy, then sold it to Focal Press, where I make a lousy royalty.

      Yes, that's the book. I'm not going to bother watching your youtube links. I know that there are many who've taken my plans, then made a youtube video showing how to build something. There are also those that have never heard of me, that show how to build rigs on youtube. I don't have a problem with it. I wish those that use my plans gave me credit, but it doesn't eat me up. Why? Because those videos actually boost my sales. Again, been at this a long time now. The first edition was released in 2003. I know what helps, and what kills.

      But I also work in the film industry, so I am well aware of the larger picture.

      7 years ago
  • Anyone with a film in their head actually worth making to throw at the world wouldn't give a fuck all about all the issues raised in this post, it wouldn't even cross their mind.

    If you want to make money become a stockbroker, not a filmmmaker.

    7 years ago
    • So, Daniel, you must be one of those producers on SP that lists "expenses only." You may not care, but your investors will. Who's talking about making boatloads of money? I'm talking about making a living. I'm talking about eating and paying rent.

      Make that film, Daniel. You may not worry about piracy now, but I promise you, you'll worry about it when your film is up on PirateBay and a thousand other sites. When crews won't work for free any longer because you used up your favors. When that mixing stage or rental house or post facility says, well, business is way down, so we don't do discounted rates, much less work for cost.

      Know what my wish is? To have enough money to pay my cast and crew properly. Why wouldn't anyone give a fuck all about that? Exploitation isn't in my wheelhouse, I'm afraid.

      7 years ago
  • I feel sorry for anyone whose film business has been scuppered, whether by piracy or otherwise, although I'm not at all convinced that it's the piracy that's been the main instrument of their business failure. Right now, if I'm looking for external perpetrators, I'd look more towards banksters, their familiars and place-men within governments and other powerful elites. With the equally Orwellian aplomb of those who can hide in plain sight, they've just made off with upwards of seventy trillion of our dollars and pounds.

    As wrong as it may be that many people feel comfortable stealing IP (perhaps they subscribe to one of the underlying tenets of our current form of capitalism; 'Let dog eat dog and the devil take the hindmost'), the affects of piracy have been much over hyped, a bit like the disproportionate hype against welfare cheats whose real cost to the exchequer is actually only a fraction of one percent of the welfare budget, making virtually no impact on the nations finances compared with the much greater loss actually generated by the incompetence of those administrating that department. Anyway, IP piracy seems unlikely to end any time soon unless a viable means of pursuing enough cases to prosecution can be created. With most consumers of piracy being broke and unable to pay fines or retribution we'll just have to build more jails!

    The real point for us as film makers is that we need to modify or even radically reconstruct the business models we depend upon. Complaining about piracy probably won't help much and in some cases may actually be counter productive. Theatrical and TV distribution will continue to provide viability for many but generating more funds ahead of release and before production is going to be part of the solution. Films will need to provide added benefits for funders, more than just shares in the risky hope of distribution profits.

    Identifying and creating value for funders within creative content goes beyond mere product placement, which nevertheless can be very beneficial without compromising integrity. Additionally both features and factuals can dovetail, in many differing, suitable and proportionate ways, with popular campaigns and interests that producers are happy to be associated with; with particular reference to the millions of individuals associated with such issues. The Internet makes all this utterly and affordably doable. Crowd funding methods are evolving; already structures are being developed that Lawfully avoid 'over regulation' caused by unnecessarily obstructive statute legislation on both sides of the Atlantic. For reasons that must surely be obvious, those aforesaid powerful elites would rather folk did not create their own alternative economic structures. It ought to be a new era for both fiction and factual productions, whereby much of our art can benefit financially, and we're not talking peanuts, from brand new and emerging structures.

    It's only evolution.

    7 years ago
    • In my small world, I feel it's under-hyped. Piracy was a problem before the banks fucked us all. It's only made the problem worse, I'm afraid.

      To be clear, I'm not for putting anyone in Jail unless they make money off stolen work. So the 20 year old that steals a song writers living is off the hook.

      My question is evolve to what, exactly?

      For me, the only answer right now is to choke off the pirate's money supply. I love wikileaks, and feel they do the world a great service. But they've been slammed to the mat financially because our idiot government convinced Visa, Mastercard, and paypal to stop payments to them. But what it did show was stopping payments and advertising on pirate sites easily doable. Stop payment systems to them. They'll disappear soon enough. Pirates are in it for the money. Not some pie-in-the-sky notion that creative property should be free to the world.

      Then, as suggested here, if people want to give their work away, or pay what you want, then it's the choice of the creators. Not the pirates.

      7 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich I actually agree with preventing advertisers supporting piracy. In fact you should take this a step further by supporting banning surveillance as a business model which is what advertisers now use to bypass the culture business.

      Think about it. Once you can target the individual, you don't really need culture, at least of any quality.

      Advertisers used to have to work alongside & cooperate with culture business because they had the audience. Now, instead big tech can profile individuals and target them directly. What, where & quality is now simply irrelevant to them.

      The surveillance funded 'free' web is a massive problem in terms of distorting the whole economics of culture based businesses but nobody seems to be worried about that. Copyright won't fix that either. Unless it applied to stealing personal information, so these people couldn't buy and sell your personal life to fund their social manipulation experiment.

      7 years ago
    • @John Baker I couldn't agree more. I bought an air conditioner, and started getting all of these ads for air conditioners. It was creepy as hell. Besides, didn't they know I had already bought one? I suspect it will grow to something even more sophisticated very, very quickly. We won't be able to take a breath without someone knowing about it.

      I've read some stuff where a trojan horse was put into pirated movies. I think there must be millions of computers out there that could be controlled from some Hacker's basement for all sorts of nasty activity.

      7 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich Yes Sony even did this when they released a music CD in 2005 that installed malware if played on a computer. Everyone wants a piece of you.

      7 years ago
    • @John Baker Yeah, I remember that. Nasty little thing. Also remember being glad I didn't own a windows machine.

      7 years ago
  • Unfortunately, there's plenty of pirate sites that don't ask for anything, providing free downloads for just about anything in the digital domain. With mobile anonymous servers that can be based in any of several disinterested host countries (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and others), effective policing is going to be challenging.

    7 years ago
    • If the commercial pirate sites get closed, the free ones will follow or fall over. Bandwidth costs money, bandwidth sufficient to run a popular pirate site costs lots of money.

      7 years ago
    • Hi John, I've never seen a pirate site that didn't ask for money OR have advertising. And I've seen a lot.

      7 years ago
  • I agree 100% with Dan.
    I once got into a project with a Romanian, a Russian and a very straight English guy, Paul. Paul, to the surprise of the Romanian, stated from our first meeting that he would not use pirate software tools.
    Later in the discussion the Romanian expressed disquiet about his vulnerability. How could he be sure he would ever be paid for his work?

    It was lovely to see the his face when I said

    "Paul won't even steal from Bill Gates, the richest man in the world. He's not going to steal from you!"

    From then on, the project started to fly. Everyone knew they were dealing with honest people.

    I personally would never get involved in any project with a bunch of thieves.
    Comrade Sir henry

    7 years ago
    • Wish there were more like Paul in the world. I saw an interview with a music producer who was getting killed by piracy, and complained about it around the dinner table. He was shocked to find pirated music on his son's iPod. "If I can't get my kid not to pirate, and he's lived with me for 15 years now, he knows why we're having financial problems, how can we convince anyone to not steal music."

      7 years ago
  • "Here's your logic: you go to a rental house and get a camera for the weekend. When returning the camera on monday morning you say "I didn't use the camera after all, so I shouldn't have to pay the rental fee.""

    That's a flawed comparison, because while I had the gear, I prevented the rental house from generating income by renting it to someone else. A kid who has bits of data of your book sitting on their hard drive is not preventing you from selling copies of your book, nor is he likely to have bought it in the first place should it not have been available to him online.

    I still maintain that you're not losing the amount of sales you think you are strictly due to piracy. Does it have an effect on your sales? Maybe, if you read that EU study that I sent you probably about .5%, let's be generous and say that the amount of lost sales is 10 times that you likely lost 5% of sales.

    Is it possible that your book sales dropped simply because you exhausted your core audience and the sales dropped in much the same way that box office sales drop after opening week-end? This drop caused you to search online where you discovered torrents of your book, but how do you know they weren't available long before you looked, when your sales were still quite high? Is it also possible that a competing book, or web site came out shortly after yours which captured a portion of your sales?

    I am not here to argue that piracy has no impact on sales, but I don't think it has the impact that you think it has. Your book (like most niche products) has a finite audience, once that audience is exhausted your sales will plummet, piracy or not.

    Times are changing fast, I don't like it any more than anyone else. As I said, I went from making a solid income to wondering if I still have a career left, I would love to blame myself for not being very good at what I do; but the truth is that everyone around me is experiencing the very same effects and I reckon not everyone is a dolt. Is piracy affecting me? Probably, but not nearly as much as an over-saturation of the market, an increase in competition, and much more damagingly a large group of people who are willing to work for free or offer their work for free.

    I'm sorry to hear that your income has dropped, but I would urge you to look beyond the most obvious scapegoat, it's a distraction from matters which are IMHO much more troubling (and have a deeper impact).

    7 years ago
  • Another thought has occurred to me which I think bears pointing out:

    Who is interested in your book? Based on your own words "BUDGET? YOU DON'T NEED NO STINKING BUDGET!" People who don't like to spend money, they are probably students or ultra low-budget filmmakers who aren't even willing to pay for those el-cheapo Chinese knock-offs, they're looking to save a buck anywhere they can.

    Is it a surprise then when the very audience you are trying to sell to, is also the type of audience who is always looking to save money by any means necessary?

    (this is where we all collectively say "DUH!)

    7 years ago
  • I saturated the market inside of 30 days? Yeah, I don't think so. I wish what you were saying were true, but it just isn't. The competing market was my book for a price and my book for free.

    Look, Kays, I'm sick of defending something I actually lived through. Where I was the writer and publisher, knew my numbers, knew the market, knew what else was out there. I didn't make it a success as some sort of fluke. I worked incredibly hard at it. You can send me all the studies you want. I can send you studies that say the opposite. And this insulting bullshit of "did you consider this?" Seriously? When you see your livelihood slipping away, there's nothing you don't consider.

    Even if what you say is true about 5 percent is lost to piracy, here's the reality: If your film is found on a pirate site while trying to secure distribution, NO distributor will touch it. Unless you four wall it, it will never see the inside of a theater.

    7 years ago
    • Humans and economics are amazingly weird. Really fucking weird.

      I did an experiment recently, with something I previously sold copies of for a tenner. When I split it into a completely free cut down version that anyone could download and a fuller paid version that cost 3 times what I set as the original price, I actually sold more! That is nuts.

      People still download plenty of the 'free' ones of course. Maybe some of those tell people who buy the other version. I don't know. I even sometimes ask people for feedback but they never reply.

      7 years ago
    • @John Baker I don't find that weird at all, John. I'd much rather pay for a full length version than a free cut down one.

      7 years ago
  • Philip Pullman said something recently to the effect of "The technology has become so blindingly brilliant that people aren't aware of the hugely immoral acts they are committing". This is spot on.

    Companies and ourselves need to advance and adapt to a market that has run away from us. It's all very well arguing that it helps sell the product in the end but it, as an act in and of itself, is a crime. End of story.

    The London riots a couple of years back might have helped sell a certain kitchen utility because people busted into shops and stole it who wouldn't have otherwise bought it. They're friends and family might have seen it in their kitchen and thought it was a great product so went and bought one themselves. So does that mean we should allow people to break into stores and steal products? Surely not.

    What that kitchen product's creator might do though is stand on street corners handing out samples. Legally giving it away for a short period of time. If HBO did this on their website with GoT for five days then they might nip pirating in the bud and make money with advertising. Survival is in adaptation.

    7 years ago
    • Thanks, Mark. Survival is adaptation for sure. The rub is that piracy is so incredibly fast and destructive, you simply can not react fast enough with lectures, film tours, etc. Many of the standard things that I and others have tried. I wish there was a solution that didn't involve huge corporations. Google not listing pirate sources would help a lot, but Google isn't interested because they make millions off of piracy.

      Perhaps putting your feature on youtube. At least you'd make a few advertising dollars instead of nothing.

      I wish piracy did help sell product. Aside from very few examples, it doesn't. Those that have cross market appeal, like Game of Thrones, can sell more books, or fan crap. It doesn't help that actor that gets a small royalty for each DVD sold. What cable companies do here about once a year, is give away a week or two of premium channels, hoping to get more subscribers to HBO and Showtime. But really a drop in the bucket compared to the millions of computers their shows sit on.

      The UK stumbled upon a solution quite by accident: they made movies for adults--the over 40 crowd. They didn't have a huge piracy problem with "The King's Speech" for example. I think those that lived awhile before piracy, or the internet for that matter, lived in a world where you were expected to actually pay for entertainment. I think piracy is almost a habit. It's the first place to search if you want something. I taught for a bit at a film school here in L.A. I never had a single student that hadn't stolen songs or films. When I do seminars, there is definitely an age divide between those that download stolen property and those that don't.

      I'm always shocked at those that want to make a living in the film or music industry, but have a boat load of pirated movies and songs on their laptop.

      Focal Press has been bugging me for years to write a book based on a popular film directing lecture I do. It just seems pointless to me to put in the time and effort. Spending a year on a book, just to have it ripped off... Now if I could write it in a month, then the risk might be worth it!

      In the end, I'd rather be making a movie.

      7 years ago
  • I'm sad to say Dan that free down loads of a vast range of IP is a reality easily accessible by those with an ear to the proverbial ground. I do wonder by what arcane means or purpose such pirates are able to operate in terms of their own administrative costs. I imagine that no responsible and honest company concerned about their public image would knowingly place adverts or provide subsidies to pirates. Could be a Trojan horse thing, a most convoluted business plan or some other insidious way to scam people. Not forgetting, who I suspect represent a significant element, the vast numbers of super nerd odd balls who will hack into things just for the anarchic fun of it.

    I've read recently that in the wake of the Prism scandal newly created and profoundly enhanced encryption software is about to be released that is uncrackable, even by the most powerful secret government computers; surely any digital product could be made un-downloadable except with a constantly changing key code?

    7 years ago
    • Advertisers actually don't care like most companies. It's the bottom line. If there is bucks in clicks, they'll do it. Most of the advertisers don't even know where the ads are or what they are. It's all robots, not humans placing them & managing them. They would have to do extra work to even know. It is cheaper to not know!

      To give you an example, ten years ago most of the pirate software and sites were sponsored by corporations that were sister companies to media companies owned by their parent companies. In terms of capital, it is always in the family so to speak. It sounds crazy but that is how it was. Disney would be publicly outraged about how hideous a rival company was for promoting piracy but was indirectly owned by the same people!

      7 years ago
    • @John Baker Never heard that one. No offense to you, personally John, but sounds like rubbish. I've been fighting piracy for at least 10 years, and never ran across a subsidiary of any company running a pirate site.

      7 years ago
  • Hi John. Regarding advertising on pirate sites: there are very few humans in charge of that process. Google will put up ads anywhere that gets a lot of traffic, and boy, if you're giving away quality stuff for nothing, you'll get tons of traffic. There are also package deals that go through middlemen who don't care. I contacted Netflix ages ago and asked why in the world would they throw ad dollars away on pirate sites (besides the moral implications). Never heard back. It's very easy for anyone with a site to contact netflix, amazon, et al and allow them to advertise on your site. I very much doubt they check out any of those asking, aside from the traffic they get.

    Then there are sites that look very legit. You think you're just signing up for a competitor against Netflix, and damn, "they have movies that are still in theaters!" Customers never quite put 2 and 2 together.

    I think the only solution is to make a DVD uncrackable, if that's possible. At least it would slow the tide.

    7 years ago
  • Another way the UK has countered this problem is by making films nobody wants to see! Well, not the people who will be set up to torrent everything at least...

    The uncrackable DVD is here, blu ray rips are very hard to do technologically and the keys get changed when one is broken. I don't think it's the way. Have a sniff around YouTube, there are films on there shot on a handheld camera phone from a TV screen, then image stabilised. They look a bit weird and boaty, but unless you know what to look for it only becomes obvious with subtitles. No end of physical encryption will plug the fact that have analogue senses, so the film at some point be rendered in a way it can be filmed.

    Maybe we're waiting for the film equivalent of shazam which can tell what you're watching from what's rendered as opposed to metadata. Even if that was baked into every video player, phone etc., though, how long before the Chinese knock-offs without that circuitry show up on alibaba? In fact is there even much point in trying when you're competing against whole blocs to whom IP is an alien concept, where governments routinely copy blueprints of anything taken there for manufacture? Friend recently sold a film in India for theatrical, the distributor wasn't even interested in DVD rights, he laughed and said it would be everywhere on pirate so fast there was no way to recoup, and that's in a country whose film industry makes ours look teensy.

    If anyone does solve the problem by the way, first pint is on me. Heck, I'll get you under contract before we leave the pub and then my next call will be the studios...

    7 years ago
    • Thanks for mentioning India, Paddy. As I told you privately, the reason I started this thread is not because of my book. That was pirated years ago. It was because a friend had her film pirated recently, and was unable to secure distribution because of it. But since I lived through my book piracy, I thought it a better way to go.

      Let this be a warning to you all: DO NOT give a DVD copy of your film to ANYONE until you have exhausted all distribution channels. ANYONE! A cast or crew member may have all the integrity in the world, but they'll lend it to a friend, and they'll lend it to someone else, who will upload it.

      I've been following India for awhile now. They make U.S. piracy seem like child's play. It is absolutely crushing the industry.

      7 years ago
  • It's heartening to read that the majority see online piracy for what it is - theft.

    I occasionally lecture under grad film students and it appals me how many of them admit to watching and downloading films for free.

    The impact on indie film makers (and therefore the undergrad's future) is acute and a real threat. Business models for financing have to shift and adapt to the losses incurred through piracy on a constant basis which destabilises the independent market but has little impact on larger studio based productions who can absorb the losses and factor them into their balance sheets.

    I speak as one who has made four feature films in the last 5 years - all of which were internationally distributed and released across multi-platforms. The marked difference between the MG paid 5 years ago and the MG value today is enormous. From tens of thousands of dollars down to in some territories less than 10% of the MG value that was offered 5 years ago. These drops in value when set against the backdrop of a desire to spend more on each production results in a sliding scale of too much risk vs too little a return for investors to feel comfortable.

    I had my last film released in the UK on dvd on the 9th September 2013 - the film was available free online back in January of this year thanks to a film festival programmer uploading beware....pirates are everywhere and they're stealing your future which in turn will result in a shrinking selection of films to watch leaving the door open for more and more USA films to dominate.

    There will of course be a tipping point when Hollywood realises that their revenues have been denuded by pirates and then they'll sweep in. It's ridiculous that their DMCA rules are so weighted in the favour of the pirates and the hosting companies that allow the file sharing especially when you have some sites that carry a DMCA warning and then when you go to report a copyright infringement there is no contact form ergo no way of having your precious content removed.

    I have found too many sites with our films on them that carry adverts in front of them - AVIS, VIRGIN MEDIA, BOOTS etc should be illegal for ad agencies to block book advertising space on any of these sites - starve them of their revenue stream and the hosting charges and bandwith costs should choke them off and bring them down. I've contacted Virgin Media/AVIS/ etc when I have seen their adverts and they have had them removed but have also informed me that they have no control over their ad agencies who block book. Utter madness. In addition I have a life and can't spend every waking hour looking up our titles on sites and having them removed or calling the's considerably time consuming.

    If you contact FACT or any of the other industry bodies they cannot help unless you sign up to them - which in some instances costs thousands and organisations that are really the preserve of studios. The worst thing is not being able to find the root perpetrator of the hosting company - ie if you find your film on a site and there is no DMCA contact (or even if there is but it's blank) how do you find out who runs the site to sue or contact them. I've used WhoIs and ended up calling server companies in the USA/Canada etc all of whom refuse to do anything or to give you details of who owns the site. It's a mobius strip of chaos and avoidance from detection/identification that frustrates no end.

    I think the running total now for our 4 films online in terms of cumulative downloads and views totals over 3.5 million - now multiply that out by even just 99p a view and we'd have a sustainable business model, an attractive business model for investors and we'd have the funds to keep making films.

    I have nothing but contempt for the thieves and woe betide any of pirate who has the misfortune to cross my path.

    7 years ago
    • Thank you so much for this. It's nice to have someone more articulate than myself talk about their experience. I'm shocked a festival programmer uploaded one of your films. If you have any plans to drop by their house with a baseball bat, count me in.

      7 years ago
  • I know it's not easy for video streams, but it would be handy to individually watermark each screener copy, so you could conclusively prove it was that festival/facility/whoever that pirated the file. If nothing else, you could probably sell their houses to cover your damages. Do that enough times and you make copy zero a risky proposition!

    7 years ago
    • I have to tell you Paddy, after some very sleepless nights with my book sales plummeting, I very seriously considered hiring a hacker to slip something into a copy of it, so if downloaded, it erased the drive of the person stealing it. After finally getting some sleep, my fantasies of revenge subsided and my better, mostly moral, self took over. A water mark seems a better, and legal, way to go!

      7 years ago
  • I don't want to get into a capitalism versus Cuba discussion. Personally I think America is screwing Cubans as well as the main studios are screwing the rest of us. The issue is one of proportionality, which originally patenting and copyright were there to solve: supposedly to set out a fair solution to the issue, but then all sorts of other concepts beyond simple invention got attached: such as moral rights and Banks being big enough to ruin your business if you accidentally include their logo in a high street shot.

    I think the UK had the right view originally, of limiting the period of copyright and patent rights to a reasonable period, I would suggest 10 years rather than 70 after someone dies. To make anything done in PUBLIC to belong to everyone. Like I said "art" doesn't come from a vacuum, we ALL contribute in some way. The problem is that everyone has got greedy, and we have all fallen (or been brainwashed) into the line that the "State" can enforce it. It patently cannot. Almost all the security solutions fail, and really only protect the big boys...because YOU have to enforce your rights.

    What none of us want is a large greedy legal and insurance system like we have, making the money that should be going to the creators.

    I think there needs to be a WORLD rethink of creative ownership, and it needs to be individually based, not corporate. I think creators that do good work should be sensibly rewarded so they can go on to do more. I seriously wonder if , say Paul McCartney needs all that money to live well, and do what HE wants in his life, but the systems we have now accumulate ALL the cash to that successful individual and leaves a desert behind for everyone else to live off. No personal criticism intended, he was just the first seriously rich UK person I could think of that had contributed to our culture and benefited from it.

    At the end of the day EVERYONE needs to respect copyright because it is a fair and CLEARLY equitable system. then the so called internet "problem" will naturally go away. Right at this moment it is like a war, and nobody wins in wars.

    I am not expecting much change soon, because there are too many vested interests to put a system in place that the majority consider fair and reasonable.

    It is how civilisations die.

    7 years ago
    • I agree, Charles. Copyright law is insane. When they changed it here to 75 years after the death of the creator, I felt it was nonsense. But that's what you get when you elect a 70s pop star (Sonny Bono) to Congress. And forget patent for anyone but the wealthy. It's extremely expensive to go through the patent process.

      I'm also not advocating that some teenage girl go to jail because she danced to a Lady Gaga song and posted it to youtube. There has to be some reasoned response to what constitutes piracy. With the exception of Fan Fiction, Industry heavyweights have a knee-jerk reaction to any use of copyrighted material. I think that hurts everyone, in the end.

      There also seem to be many that don't know what they are doing is wrong when they download something. With my book, I am happy to help anyone out with questions. When I was the publisher, I knew if you'd bought the book or not. I was shocked when I got questions from people who had stolen it. Can you imagine having your car stolen, and the thief calls you up because he can't figure out how to adjust the seat?

      A friend of mine lives in Tokyo, and did a weekly Vlog on Youtube about the city. After a few years, he just didn't have time any longer. The vicious emails he got from his fans for stopping were many, and unbelievably nasty. The idea that one becomes angry when getting something for free and then not getting that free thing anymore is completely lost on me. I hate to sound like an old curmudgeon, but the sense of entitlement American kids have come to expect makes me ill.

      7 years ago
    • Sonny Bono, sure, but never underestimate the mouse! Disney is rich and connected enough to ensure copyright extensions every time Mickey is about to go public domain. That damn rodent is just too valuable for them not to fight for... ;)

      7 years ago
  • "Focal Press has been bugging me for years to write a book based on a popular film directing lecture I do. It just seems pointless to me to put in the time and effort. Spending a year on a book, just to have it ripped off... Now if I could write it in a month, then the risk might be worth it! "

    Or you could not make it available as an e-book? Seriously, you make it sound like anyone who writes a book is screwed because of piracy, but the truth is that book sales are still a very lucrative business, just ask E.L.James! As I mentioned, book writers (unlike musicians) are a relatively lucky bunch as many readers still prefer physical copies over electronic versions. Part of the problem the way I see it is that your book also happens to be marketed toward people who typically don't like to spend money.

    If all you are expecting from this thread is a pat on the back and for everyone to tell you how everything you say is 100% right, then why even bother with a public discussion on the topic, you can easily get that from your Facebook friends!

    7 years ago
    • Kays, it seems you're the one upset because I have a different view than you.

      7 years ago
  • Relevant article in the tech press this morning, about watermarking every single stream for 4k video standards

    Worth a read.

    7 years ago
    • Interesting, Paddy. I imagine in 5 years or so, things will be a lot better as more 4K content is commonplace. I've taken A. Martin's terrible experience to heart: a film festival uploading his feature to a pirate site. My low tech solution is to hide the festival name somewhere in the film for each individual festival. Then you could be certain where the original content theft came from.

      7 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich
      Yep if you can get it on screen even for a few frames at low contrast it should offer a lead...

      7 years ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin I was thinking even a single frame. As long as you know where it is!

      7 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich Single frame - problem is if it's pirated/transcoded at a different framerate it may skip your critical frame or the lossy compression will treat it as temporal corruption. Probably the same if the watermark is too low contrast, MPEG compression will just plaster over the top.

      I guess the best thing is to add the water mark over 60+ frames (I think that should cover at least one p-frame in MPEG4 standard) and ideally have it match move/motion track something in the image (maybe a power outlet in a wall, or something). If the watermark tracks the motion it won't be intrusive as it'll blend into the background, and won't get averaged out by MPEG compression.

      I remember early digital projection in Singapore - each screening had very obtrusive watermarking high contrast letters or characters burnt into the image at playback time. It was very ugly for the viewer, but very rugged. You could compress it pretty brutally and not lose the watrermark.

      7 years ago
  • Ah! Thanks for that Paddy. Being an old film editor, the technical issues often make me dizzy. Perhaps a book in the background with the title "Sundance Film Festival" on the spine! I'm no expert on AfterEffects, but I'm good enough to do that.

    With my friend losing a distribution deal because her film was found on a pirate site by the distributor, and A. Martin's heartbreaking story of a festival uploading his film to a pirate site, I'm determined to find a simple solution that even a Jury could understand.

    7 years ago
    • Book spine sounds like a very creative solution. I like it :). Also it is a great added service for some extra cash, versions for festivals but each requires a fresh transcode...

      7 years ago
  • Hmmmm... are you now saying I can make piracy profitable? ;) Sounds good to me.

    7 years ago
    • Absolutely! It's a problem looking for a solution. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake each year, there's cash around to get this right. Problem is the book spine might not be protectable so the technique itself copied... Hypocrisy is not unlikely if money is involved ;)

      That's why most anti pirate efforts are automated and proprietary, for patent royalties! Those guys are in the same position...

      7 years ago
  • I have a hat to throw into the ring, and it doesn't really have anything to do with whether piracy is right or wrong ethically, but rather an academic observation from my own research.

    Many distribution companies would observe illegal download rates to determine which indie films to purchase and release on DVD post festivals, and with the closure of some popular bootleg sites and the blocking of them by major internet companies, these mid-to-low budget films no longer rech an audience online, resulting in them not getting a distribution deal, as they are seen as too risky.

    Oddly enough, piracy and the law forcing hunt against it has resulted in people like us - the indie film makers - having fewer chances of that 'breakout success', thus allowing for distribution companies to maintain the low risk big budget films constant presence in the market. This is statically proven, heck - I'd hope that most of us are cinephiles, think back to the success rate of indies on DVD a few years ago in your local super and compare it to their current presence. They have all but nearly faded.

    Obviously we can now self distribute, and with V.O.D there are other audiences at work. Regardless, this simply points out one real issue: the nature of film exhibition and distribution and it's present process is very inadequate. The on-going presence and existence of piracy in the film market indicates a problem with how our current media is sold, it's pricing system and how we perceive audiences and how they should consume it.

    7 years ago
    • Hi Ben, that's the entire reason I started this thread: a friend of mine was being courted by a couple of distributors for a really solid indie feature she made. She was about to sign with one, and in the last minute, they backed out. Why? Because they found her film on many pirate sites. I mentioned this somewhere in one of my replies.

      The reason I focused on my book being pirated, was that it was a personal experience that I went through and thought, wrongly it seems, that a personal experience would help those that think piracy isn't a problem or even a good thing to see the light of day regarding this insidious problem. Especially given that films are pirated much more liberally than books.

      Some seem not to understand the very real issue. Distributors tend to work on this model for indies: do a 2 city opening, and if it does well, slowly push it out to, hopefully, about 10 cities. The idea is to get the film well enough known to have a strong DVD release to push the film into profit. If your film is on a pirate site, DVD sales will be next to nothing. They would have to be insane to pick up your film if it's already out there for free.

      The VOD experiment has not done much to lure people off the pirate sites to a pay outlet. Distributors have tried VOD and theatrical at the same time. But that hasn't been successful either.

      In the end, piracy forces a race to the bottom. I fear the future of indies will be much the same as ebooks: 99 cents for a digital copy. After amazon takes their 30 cent cut, you're left with 69 cents to deal with actor, writer, and director residuals as well as a corporate structure to support. Because, let's face it, you're a business now. And running a business is a full time occupation. You've got to support that infrastructure somehow.

      7 years ago
  • There are things that are much more important than the film industry, one of those things is the freedom of information.

    I guess the short response to your problem, Dan, is, and I know its tough, that your bitching is going to make little difference. There is going to be no way to regulate this, "piracy" is here to stay.

    Adapt or die.

    7 years ago
    • What does Freedom of Information have to do with Theft of IP? I don't get it?

      As for regulation, well there *are* ways to regulate it and there will be more. Should we suck it up because a bunch of kids who have no concept of just how much it costs to run a home let alone make a movie want to spend their money on tangible 'swag' instead of intangibles?

      Are you really saying we should all give up and accept there should be no movie industry?! I can't believe that's what you mean, but I can't see any other result from giving up altogether.

      7 years ago
    • Alasdair, adapt to what, would be my question. I really don't understand your comment. That movies should be free? How does that economic model work, exactly? Or that there shouldn't be movies, but free information? And how do those providing this information make a living? There's lots of information that's free. You can take classes at Ivy league universities on-line if you want, at absolutely no cost. You can go to youtube and learn just about anything from how to break into a car to rebuilding an engine. What information do you want that you can't get from legit sources giving it away?

      But from those of us that need to pay rent and eat, we actually do need money for the work that we do. You support the pirates that make money from fees their subscribers pay, or from advertising on their sites. Why is it ok for them to make money off the hard work of others?

      In this utopian society of free stuff you advocate, why would anyone supplying the free stuff do it in the first place? If a song writer can't make a living, they will find something else to do.

      7 years ago
  • As to the moral question, You think people who work in film--the majority--get a fair wage? Please. I was a grip for $4/hour back when I foolishly thought I wanted to get into production. If it's about fair wages, why get so riled up about piracy? I'm sorry but you can't demonstrate conclusively how piracy affects wages. You can demonstrate that major, profit turning (in spite of piracy) productions aren't paying most of their crew (principles aside) properly. So why ignore that topic?

    7 years ago
    • $4/h is low. You chose to accept it of course, but it is low. If you were working on a union production and were a union member and had trained for years as a grip, you'd get union rates. That's the upside of unionisation.

      The downside is that SOME unions mandate minimum crewing levels, and all kinds of other conditions, and that makes for a very expensive shoot. In the UK, BECTU and PACT (technicians and producers) used to have a negotiated ratecard (for union shoots) - as I understand it that has expired and it is now all by negotiation.

      Piracy means the overall profits from making a film are lower - this means more films lose money, which makes investment harder to secure. One way to still make movies with this lower level of investment is to shoot non-union. Believe it or not, all producers I know would love to have the budgets to shoot union shoots but just can't afford to do so. As such there are more non-union shoots, and rates are depressed as that's the only work available and people will accept it.

      You yourself were a part of the problem accepting $4/hour which meant a trained qualified grip somewhere wasn't getting union rates. But anyway, that's how piracy drives down rates.

      7 years ago
    • You're kidding, right Peter?

      "I'm sorry but you can't demonstrate conclusively how piracy affects wages."

      Yes, I can. The RIAA did an exhaustive study on this: “That cast includes songwriters, recording artists, audio engineers, computer technicians, talent scouts and marketing specialists, producers, publishers and countless others. One credible study by the Institute for Policy Innovation pegs the ANNUAL harm at $12.5 billion dollars in losses to the U.S. economy as well as more than 70,000 lost jobs and $2 billion in lost wages to American workers.” And that's just the music industry.

      Or take a movie like "Zombieland", the most stolen movie of all time with a million plus downloads. The film tripled its production budget, which means it squeaked out a profit, barely. 15 years ago, Zombieland would have made a huge profit, and there would have been a sequel with lots of good paying jobs. So far, the studio has decided not to make a sequel, because piracy, they fear, will kill any chance at profit.

      How Hollywood has decided to deal with piracy is huge tent pole films. 200 million dollar 3D trash cartoon movies to get asses in seats before piracy takes hold. They have all but abandoned the 15 to 30 million dollar picture that put lots of people to work. A crew for a 30 million dollar picture is the same size as a 200 million dollar picture, after all. So instead of a studio making 30 pictures a year, they make 12. Thanks Piracy!

      The studio heads are doing just fine. Who piracy really hurts are the below the line workers. Here in America, we don't have national healthcare. For a union film worker to keep their union health and pension, they have to put in a certain number of days each year. How can you get enough work with 12 features? And let's not forget all of the support services. In an industry town like mine, the majority of jobs are connected to the film industry. During the writer's strike some years ago, an unbelievable amount of restaurants closed, for example. Now we don't need a strike. Piracy is doing it for us. Researcher Stephen Siwek, in a study for the Institute for Policy Innovation, found that the theft of movies through piracy results in the loss of more than 46,000 jobs in the motion picture industry and more than 94,000 jobs in other industries that otherwise would have been created.

      So just to keep food on the table, many union workers here are working on non-union shoots. As far as direct wages go in our little corner of the world, for an indie film to get into profit, producers believe that they have keep films under a million dollars. Often, much under. That's where your four bucks an hour comes in. (Though that is illegal here in America, and am not sure why you'd agree to work for that). So you have very skilled workers working for seriously depressed wages.

      That's the link to piracy. And look, even if you don't believe that is true, the PRODUCERS AND INVESTORS believe it to be true. And lower budgets mean lower wages.

      7 years ago
    • $4 an hour may be low, but it may have been all the film maker had to give you. Yes, I've seen even lower rates, but most of these people don't end up getting their films in the cinema. Micro-budget productions usually don't see any of the money they spend on film makers back. And the producers usually work for free, as they often don't know how to find investors.

      Anyway, I got paid a low rate to work at the phone company, that doesn't mean I break into phone boxes and steal mobiles phones / cellphones. I never stole from an employer. Minimum wage waiters don't tend to steal food from their employers.

      If the pay is too low for you, either find a higher paying job or try to negotiate your wage.

      The fact is, I tried to leave the film business because piracy makes it harder to find investors. I can't afford to pay people want I'd like to pay them.

      So, I made a film where the crew consisted of a stunt consultant who worked for one and a half day, two trainees who had never made a film before, and three actors (including me) who were able to help out with the camera and editing.

      If I could pay them more, and get a bigger crew, then no one would have to work weekend jobs and I probably wouldn't have been collapsing after each day's shoot.

      Hopefully, I'll have a larger budget next time.

      7 years ago
  • I don't steal movies. I know people who have had copies of films, and it used to get me very angry.

    I think we should listen to people like Peter. We hear all this "We are the 99%" Robin Hood stuff all the time. People think that it's the rich people losing out when they pirate. Yes, they are ignorant, but we need to understand that they have been brainwashed by a lot of Hollywood films into thinking that all film producers are rich and/or greedy b's.

    Now, here's something that annoys me. When people upload videos to youtube without profit sharing, Youtube lets just about anything on. But when I upload my own stuff on, stuff I shot, or stuff I paid for, they threaten to take it down.

    I have the rights to this stuff, obviously, the production values aren't as high as Hollywood. Youtube probably knows this, but it goes after the little guys who want a share in the profits so they don't have to pay up. (I hear Spike Lee had a similar problem with cinemas a few decades back.) The geeks make the money, and the creators don't see any.

    If advertising made money, I'd just have adverts all over the place. But, many of the ad serving companies are con artists.

    7 years ago
    • Hi Vasco, can you expand on the Youtube experience? It sounds as if they want to advertise on your film, but not share those advertising dollars until they've sucked all of they can out of it--then graciously let you into the profit sharing model. You can message me directly, but I think a lot of people might be interested. Perhaps start a different discussion outside of this tread.

      7 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich

      Dan, There's an option to monetize content, right? Well, They invited me to monetize content when a lot of my connections started liking the first video I made with FCPx (about a year and a half ago.)

      Then, when I uploaded other movies to monetize, they said that the copyright holder said something about the music (a Japanese sounding tune available with iLife, or iMovie and FCPx.) Apple give the rights away to the song, so I sent them the details.

      The thing is, they claimed I had no viewers. That wasn't the first time either. I've had more people comment on my videos on sites like "LinkedIn" or "Facebook", than Youtube says viewed them. Either these users all sat in the same house in different countries and... (Okay, that's another story, won't get into it.)

      So, I pay for music content through sites like Not, it's not the best quality, only 16 bit mostly. Not really worth stealing. Still, I paid for the license to use it.

      I had these videos on my website for months, but I wasn't asking for a profit share. Two hours after I ask for the profit share by hitting the monetize buttons, Youtube asks for evidence of ownership. Again, Youtube claims there were zero views, therefore there are zero complaints, right? Either they are lying about the views and cheating me out of the profit share that way, or they are turning a blind eye to alleged copyright infringement where they get to keep all of the profits.

      At first, I didn't use the monetizing option because I found it distracting to have all these extra ads. Then, I see that Youtube tends to put ads in front of and on the side of stuff that isn't monetized anyway, and also I wanted to try and get some money for my work.

      One of these videos is basically me doing a work out and saying what the exercise is. I don't see how that could be infringing on the rights of any third party. If it did, they should have said so months ago, when the video was more popular.

      I mean, if their computers can detect that the songs on my videos are related to someone else's, why not tell me when the videos are first published? Why wait till I ask for a profit share?

      Fact is, Google fought against SOPA because they'd lose advertising money and would have to treat content creators fairly. Had nothing to do with free speech, Google has no interest in free speech when it gets in the way of their money. Google is not a trustworthy corporation. Too bad with don't have a Nielson ratings type of service to verify the number of viewers for certain kinds of content. (It's pretty difficult with so many Youtube channels out there anyway.)

      I bet Amazon and the others also cheat content creators. They probably say "will that author notice if some of his Kindle purchases go missing."

      We need non-profit, disinterested third parties in this. Problem is, now that many of the content creators tend to be poor, and the distributors mega rich, it's hard to fund such a non-profit to protect the rights of content creators.

      Google's not the only ad serving company I have issues with, but I brought Youtube (their subsidiary) up in case any other filmmakers had the same issues.

      7 years ago
    • @vasco de sousa That's a freakin' nightmare, Vasco. Don't get me started on Google! Their motto "Don't Be Evil" is absolute bullshit.

      Unfortunately, SOPA was a really bad law. It went WAY too far, and gave huge corporations control over content... or how much you'd have to pay to get to content. It simply crushed net neutrality.

      I've heard similar complaints to yours about Youtube. Basically delaying profit participation until after the views have reached their peak.

      7 years ago
  • That's some thread, and no, I didn't read it all. That's because I'm a musician, and we've been living with it all for quite some time now.

    I don't have any answers. Nobody does. The only advice I can give is ...


    The 'model' you used to know, of indies getting by on relatively 'low' sales, funding an industry and the jobs of people working on them, has gone.

    It's just gone.

    There's no point even discussing the morality or illegality or otherwise of piracy, or its effect, or non-effect, or anything else. You'll just have to understand that the numbers you now need to be 'viable', financially, are something in the order of 100,000 X as many you used to. That's going to be the Spotify-level micro payments you'll be getting - as we get- on the few plays your film will get on the sites of the future.

    Both the film and music businesses - and i stress BUSINESSES, whether you do it for art or hopefully income as well- are now VOLUME businesses. They always were, but now, even more so. That's the result of digital.

    So if you're not mass market, you're nowhere.

    That is now your business. There are no choices, no get outs, no magic bullets.

    I used to make records. Now I compose for TV. Sometimes I work on films found through SP who get me in to compose music.

    But not for "expenses". I gotta eat, too.

    7 years ago
    • I'm afraid you're right, Tom. It was my hope to get those that didn't realize the devastating affect of piracy to pay attention. What surprised me on a forum for filmmakers who make a living, or want to make a living, off their films don't see it as a problem. I think they'll have to have something stolen to get a clear picture.

      In the end, if there are those that are more careful about handing out screeners or water marking their films in some way when they submit to festivals, I'll consider this thread a success. Which is unfortunate. But hoping for more is as futile as trying to keep your work off a pirate site.

      Spotify exemplifies this race to the bottom, where you have to be happy with a few pennies. The problem with film is it's so expensive. It was hard enough finding investors before the torrent. Now, it's nearly impossible because even the least savvy investor has a kid with 8000 stolen songs on his iPod.

      7 years ago
  • The commentary that we should go with the flow and that piracy and the internet and exploitation is inevitable is disturbing. Before the internet, we had television, radio, we still have it. All points of sale had deals with rights organizations in those halcyon pre-internet days. Google has finally set up a deal with Harry Fox, for exmaple; this is years after these issues began with billions in revenue gone into their pocket we (songwriters I refer to in this case) can't retroactively collect. The distributors, because of this racket, refuse to sign assumption agreements on union films because then THEY WOULD BE RESPONSIBLE TO PAY OUT UNION FEES on films that may make income they'll never see. It's absolutely true, on top of this, that if they see your film already pirated, it blows any deal and it's a LIE anyone saying this isn't so, but what does it matter...THEY'RE NOT PAYING UPFRONT FOR THESE RIGHTS ANYMORE ANYWAY! I am not blaming the public. I blame these points of sale, these portals, these companies that aid and abet and take no responsibility to monitor downloads of original work because there is no one stopping this. There should be no difference in payments arranged with these sites and the way radio and tv payments work. Youtube should have these relationships in place with AFTRA, SAG, BMI, the Writer's Guild, whatever collection agencies are out there working to collect on our copyrights. Anything else is STEALING. Some of us didn't raise our money crowdfunding, we invested in work OR HAD INVESTORS, we have a right to recoup on that work. No one is stopping anyone from choosing that route and giving their work away, but some of us did make our living on our creative work and our royalties before the house of cards fell away because of the internet. There are thousands of uses of my music work I'm no longer able to collect that show up on youtube, RECORDS BEING SOLD OUT OF LATVIA I CAN'T COLLECT ON, that I was able to survive on to work on other projects...yes the new deal with Harry Fox is now picking up a minute amount of that. I don't choose to continue working in film or music because of this atmosphere after 2 decades of doing rather well, I've had it, and am now writing novels and ironically, of course, the publishing world is going down the tube at this juncture, but at least it doesn't involve the outlay required for the other art forms when I "give it all away." Kudos to you doc people who think this is the best thing since sliced bread, running to kickstarter, having your day jobs behind the scenes on talk shows, US CREATIVE NARRATIVE filmmakers who are making ambitious FEATURE films that require huge money as independents, can NOT risk in this medium anymore in this atmosphere of "give it all away" while in any other profession people are ENTITLED to COMPENSATION for their CREATED WORK. ON TOP OF it, union actors are pushed to the wayside because everything now is about bypassing the unions, so union actors have seen a reduction in work while non-union work is booming for people willing to work for nothing or peanuts. This is not progress...The money, THE BILLIONS, is ultimately going to THESE INTERNET PORTALS in advertising revenue etc. NEVER MIND THE PIRATING. This is what's wrong and it would involve support by our GOVERNMENTS to right the situation so that the internet falls in line as RADIO and TELEVISION did in the past when the same situation was presented. These people owning these points of sale are NO DIFFERENT THAN THE WHITE COLLAR SCUM WHO HAVE FACED JAIL SENTENCES FOR STEALING ON WALL STREET and SHOULD BE PAYING OUT OR GOING TO JAIL. Right now there are no laws to MAKE them pay out a small percentage of their REVENUES back into copyright collection agencies as it has always existed ELSEWHERE.

    7 years ago
    • Well, you're not wrong. I don't know how song writers make it AT ALL. The truth is, they aren't.

      I could write a book on my dealings with Google and Pirate sites. It's the huge players that make millions off of piracy, and that's why it is thriving. A friend of mine who had really decent royalty checks for 30 years saw them disappear about 10 years ago. He set up a meeting with ASCAP in NYC to see what the hell was going on. The only thing he said about the meeting, "If you're not Elton John, they don't give a shit. That's not the way it used to be."

      I've been working on a novel, too, Jill. I wish us both luck.

      7 years ago
  • Sorry to necro, but this article on techdirt seemed relevant

    7 years ago
    • Thanks, Paddy. I know quite a lot of people that get Academy screeners, and man, they are SO protective of them. But most are below the line people, and they know that their jobs are dependent on studios making money off the films they produce. On the other hand, when SAG gives out screeners, many of the actors are pretty loose with them. I find that weird. Their residuals are based on DVD sales, after all.

      7 years ago
  • Hi Dan,
    A very interesting thread, and I am with all of us in trying to understand how to a)raise money for productions and b)make money once they are finished. I am currently looking at Shane Carruth's business model.

    I am in agreement with the commenters who said that this new generation have to face the fact that piracy is here to stay. It started with cassettes, then VHS and now there is the more efficient model of the net. So where does this leave us?
    firstly, watermarking preview copies of films THROUGHOUT is necessary for festivals/previews. (I would suggest an organic fractal pattern that does not show so obrusively. It might make a portion of the picture blotched but better than a fat logo. Something like that, anyways!)

    Secondly, self distribution. It may mean that part of your initial investment package will have to go into that, but see it as needing another department like makeup or camera. If you budget for P&A, and show a profit chart to the investors, all they want to know is that they will get X% back on what is a normal very high risk investment.

    We are to now expect a fast drop off in profits, which is sen by the mass media now telling the general public about the opening weekend figures. Something no-one outside the film makers was ever interested in before.

    Thirdly, work out a way of writing films to reduce costs. It never hurt Harold Pinter or even Lloyd Kaufman.

    If you ask for less, then maybe you will get more.

    I am with you, but I personally try to channel the anger and frustration into practical methods, otherwise I would go mad. Baseball bats are not the solution, unless you were one of Hitler's mob.


    7 years ago
    • Hi Nikolai, baseball bats are just a joke. Though if given one right after my book was stolen... There's a real visceral anger that oozes up when you have to start scrambling to pay rent and eat. I admit, I was unprepared, and thought piracy was just something the big guys had to deal with. But kids don't make that distinction.

      That was years ago, and I've accepted my fate. I try to learn ways of getting around it. The model most have been forced to adopt is the one you mention: lower budgets. But I'm long out of my 20s, and when I ask others to work for little or for free, I get a real knot in my stomach. I'm older, my industry friends are older. They all have families, mortgages, and all the rest. But anything over a million now is simply out. We have to join this race to the bottom and hope that we can get a buyout from a distributor before said distributor finds it on a pirate site, because that will kill the deal.

      If you're well known, you can pull a Louis C.K.--but that takes fame, and a financial cushion that fame allows. Outside of that, it's a mad scramble.

      Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

      7 years ago
  • I understand you frustration at the loss of revenue as a content creator. I am with you on this. But we are seeing an overwhelming trend towards the general public's mad dash towards taking whatever they can, for as little as possible. One has to ask how such a selfish, non-communicative and responsibility-free culture has arisen. I assume from you posts that you are form the US. Here in the UK, we have seen our film industry go from being a productive self sustaining industry, to becoming a service station for Hollywood. This all seemed to co-incide with Star Wars, and the death of the Eady Levy, a government tax initiative that was killed off by the Conservative government in the 80s.

    I am now working with a small company that mainly produces genre titles for DVD and VOD for under £100k, and learning their business model since they are one of the only home grown establishments to produce feature length drama successfully year in year out.

    We have become an export nation, with most of our directing talent being sucked up by advertising and television. People have to pay the bills.

    I would attribute the lack of UK film not down to piracy per say, but a lack of governmental support and a culture of accounting taking the lead.

    I completely agree with the comment that Film is an industry first and foremost, but don't you think that the current climate of constant conspicuous consumption and social pressure towards making a fast buck have not damaged film?

    We also have the digital democratisation of equipment. People do not want to pay for crew or equipment, since they know that the product will be digested within minutes, and no-one wants to watch a rerun. They want something fresh, again and again and again. And with the quality/price/availability of cameras and sound recording devices, why pay for it to be done properly when someone else can just knock it out for half the cost, and create three times the quantity?

    Film was seen as the "fourth art' during the 60s. This was mainly due to a lack of distribution platform and high cost of production. Now we have Youtube.

    There are so many contributing factors in the loss of wages that again I could not point the finger directly at piracy.
    It is a global shift towards mass media consumption. People desperately need to escape their own realities regularly.

    We need to adapt to this new model if we are to continue our 'art'.

    I am personally in favour of a reduction in IP to 10 years. I sadly suspect it will vanish completely.

    As a film maker, I also believe that the only way to survive, other than reducing my budgetary needs through script, is to create unique content that does not follow trends.
    It is highly risky, but by being a market leader, the corporations will then hopefully buy into your work. Bt this takes stubborn determination.

    The other solution is to just tow the line and work for Discovery channel or Leo Burnett and produce whatever the market demands.

    It is the old chicken and egg. Does the market demand a certain product or are they led by us?

    Excuse the ramblings, but it is helping me even to try to understand my own position on this.

    7 years ago
    • I know what you mean. I watched the shorts up for the Oscar. The majority seemed more "calling cards" for a Hollywood job than an independent vision.

      There are many reasons for the race to the bottom, piracy being just one piece of the pie. But for song writers and indie filmmakers, it has become a pretty large piece.

      7 years ago
  • It certainly damages the industry and it is worrying how many people actually refuse to pay money to see or buy a film. However I have read of instances, one being the director of the indie film "Ink" where he actively promoted the piracy of his film as it gave it exposure that he never would have received. Did he make any money? No, but it gave the film a wide audience and we can only hope that those people will pay to see his next film should it get a theatrical release. I am all for the idea of releasing new films simultaneously online and on cinema so people have a choice. Home cinema systems are so good now that you can have a quality experience from the comfort of your home and I think this would stop people from downloading. I own an unlimited cineworld card and still love going to the cinema but I have had so many films ruined because of people talking that I have at times decided to wait and watch the film at home when it is available to rent or book a half day leave to watch it at a quiet screening. Now I will obviously pay for the rental but many will download for free if they do not enjoy the cinema experience. The cost of seeing a film at the cinema has to be reduced too along with the price of food. For a working class family to attend a film is simply too costly and this needs to be addressed if we are to stop people from downloading something for free.

    7 years ago
    • On the idea of cost, I really think movies should be priced a little more along the lines of other retail products. For example, an indie that cost a million to make might have a ticket cost around $8. That Hollywood blockbuster around 15 or 18 bucks. That would get more people into those indie flicks. I can't really agree on popcorn costs. That's what theaters are, in the end: a way to sell snacks and make a profit. If it were only ticket sales where they made their money, a lot of theaters would have to close.

      Theaters fight VOD tooth and nail. I think they are shooting themselves in the foot. That time is coming, and they need to find a way to work with it. Possibly, theatre owners could get a larger ticket percentage on films that have a same day VOD release. And VOD prices need to be lowered. Here, a same day release can cost 16 bucks to stream it at home. Yes, cheaper than taking the family out, but VOD isn't thought of that way. It's one kid in his bedroom with sticker shock who immediately tries to find it on PirateBay.

      7 years ago
    • Blockbuster distributor cut can be 90%+, the cinema can be making 50p/seat which barely costs staffing, bulbs, power, cleaning etc. That's why the popcorn is expensive - but do your cinema a favour, that's what keeps the lights on!

      7 years ago
  • Got a report in my email today. A study that shows the millions of dollars pirates make off stolen content. In short, their profit margin is between 80 and 94% on advertising alone. Even a small site with stolen content can bring in $100,000 a year. The larger ones are in the millions of dollars--all while the creators make ZERO. Still think piracy is a good idea? You can read the report here:

    7 years ago
  • If piracy is the main problem to getting paid properly, then why are crews not getting paid properly to do corporate and advertising films? They are not affected by this problem. In fact the inverse. One would think we should be going back to the heady days of the 80s, no?

    7 years ago
  • Corp. vids have always been low paid. At least around here. Commercials, on the other hand, are extremely well paid here (except for actors, who get screwed out of their royalties).

    As for narrative film, studios have all but abandoned mid range features; they say because of piracy. Whether that is true or not, THEY believe it, so the end result is the same. The same is true for budgets: the common belief is that for a film to get into profit, it has to be made for under a million or over 30 (less than a year ago, it was over 12 million. Things are changing fast!). Whether true or not (I think it true), it is the common wisdom now, and that depresses wages for small films. The real insidious part about it, is that it depresses wages on shows that could actually afford to pay more. Cable networks (syfy and Lifetime being the worst offenders), see what crap pay people are working for now just to survive, and figure they can get away with it. And they can.

    Though this is a bit off topic from the link above showing the huge profits pirates, ISPs, Google, Microsoft, et al make from stolen content. When the big players make millions off stolen work, it's not going to end unfortunately.

    7 years ago