Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Copyright Rant

I got Spirited Away, and I was just about to watch it, when, out of boredom I actually read the copyright notice, which said "Unauthorized distribution hurts, in the final consequence, not the studios, but yourself, as dimishing profit will decrease the variety of movies".

So what this means is that every movie's bottom line suffers, and thus some movies become unprofitable. In fact, the lesser known movies, the ones that make for 'variety' will be hurt the worst.


It's widely accepted that illegal distribution only truly hurts the really big productions, the blockbusters. I have no hard evidence for this, but there is strong empirical evidence that unknown or little known authors and works can gain a huge boost by distribution for free. Look at Cory Doctorow. His first book became the best selling SF debut in history, partly because he permitted it to be distributed online, free of charge.

So what the copyright notice then becomes is "We take huge profits from the blockbusters, which we use to pay for less successful movies. The cash we rake off the top of the super-successes allows us to indulge in underground, indie films."


No movie studio ever gives a film the green light it isn't convinced will be successful.

So what is left is "Don't steal our stuff".

I finish with the words of a wiser man than me, Lawrence Lessig.

"The sentence 'It's my property, and nobody is going to take it away from me' sounds a lot more convincing than 'It's my monopoly, and nobody is going to take it away from me'".

And with that, I wish you a politically and ecumenically correct 'Season's Greetings'. Now I will get down with Chihiro, the evil witch Yubaba, and a few beers. Cheers.


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