MPAA Effectively Shuts Down Largest Fan Edit Movie Site

from the can't-make-stuff-better dept

One of the great things about Matt Mason's The Pirate's Dilemma books is the never-ending examples of how allowing people to take content and remix it leads to greater overall creativity and almost always opens up new opportunities for the original -- even as the original creator sometimes freaks out about it. A great example of this is with movie fan edits -- attempts by fans of certain movies to make the movie even better by re-editing it, changing scenes around, cutting out certain scenes, adding in new special effects or even new scenes entirely. Such efforts are non-commercial, and tend to increase attention and interest in the original film. The first such popular fan edit came after the release of The Phantom Menace, back in 2001, when fans were upset about a variety of things (Jar Jar Binks' character being a big problem). What came out of it was The Phantom Edit. The resulting attention caused many more people to get into the business of editing films.

TorrentFreak reports that one of the biggest sites for sharing such fan edits has effectively been shut down by the MPAA, which sent a DMCA takedown to the site's hosting provider, forcing the site to pull all of its download links. Prior to this, there were no specific complaints, and Lucasfilm apparently was a big supporter of various fan edits. Considering the nature of fan edits, it's difficult to see how these are likely to diminish the commercial value of a movie. Some might claim that people will be drawn to the fan edits, rather than the authorized cuts of a movie, but that seems unlikely for most people. Realistically, the only folks who are going to invest their time in watching a fan edit would be someone who was already a fan of a specific movie, and was interested in how other fans had re-imagined and re-cut the film.

Lucasfilm has been able to build up tremendous goodwill among fans by allowing such fan edits, knowing that they tend to make fans of various films even more attached to the originals. It's disappointing, though not surprising, that the folks at the MPAA would rather shut off such creativity rather than encourage it.


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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 24th, 2008 @ 7:43am

    If They

    If they already had Lucasfilm behind them as supporting this for at least their films, and ALL content was taken down, can't the site sue the MPAA for a false DMCA takedown?

     

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      chris (profile), Nov 24th, 2008 @ 7:59am

      Re: If They

      can't the site sue the MPAA for a false DMCA takedown?

      hell no, that's why the DMCA is so flawed.

       

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        ZC, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 8:31am

        Re: Re: If They

        No, the DMCA is flawed for a lot of reasons.

        First, it holds the ISP accountable for recognizing the DMCA, instead of the company/entity providing the content. The ISP can get in trouble for someone else's actions.

        Second, it enforces a "shoot first ask later" policy.

        Third, there are no repercussions clearly defined in issuing false DMCA takedowns. You can sue for pretty much anything, it is just a question of countersuits and success rates. I'd imagine this could be sued for in the form of harassment, but I don't know that I've heard of a successful suit for false takedowns.

        Those are the biggest problems I can think of offhand.

         

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      Norm, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 11:46am

      Re: If They

      Um, I think there is some confusion about the DMCA here.

      can't the site sue the MPAA for a false DMCA takedown? hell no, that's why the DMCA is so flawed.

      Not quite. The owner of the content. AKA whomever owns the copyright on said content CAN sue the MPAA for, what is esentially, fraud. The DMCA does specifically allow this. That said, if the site owns the content, then yes, the site can sue if it can provide proof than they own the content and not the MPAA.

      First, it holds the ISP accountable for recognizing the DMCA, instead of the company/entity providing the content. The ISP can get in trouble for someone else's actions.

      This is blatantly incorrect. Whomever uploaded the content is the liable party because they are the ones that actually violated the copyright. The site that hosts the content merely has to comply with a DMCA takedown notice (which they did). The ISPs are in now way liable. They are protected by the "Safe Harbor" provision which means that they are not liable for any content being transmitted over their networks.

      Second, it enforces a "shoot first ask later" policy.

      I completely agree here.

      Third, there are no repercussions clearly defined in issuing false DMCA takedowns. You can sue for pretty much anything, it is just a question of countersuits and success rates. I'd imagine this could be sued for in the form of harassment, but I don't know that I've heard of a successful suit for false takedowns.

      You can countersue like I said above, but I agree with you that is extremely hard for a content owner to prove that they actually own the content. I don't know the actual process, but I'm pretty sure it involves a bunch of red tape. Also, I have not heard a single successful case.

       

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    **AA wins again, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 7:54am

    **AA flexes it's muscle

    This is dumb, I wonder how much money the **AA puts into things like this, between the lawyers, and many many other jobs, its just doesn't seem worth it. It just goes to show the **AA is NOT hurting for money and they have nothing better to do with it. I think "giving it to the children" would be a better headline then "**AA shuts down another business" or "**AA sues yet another low income single parent family". I'm wasting my time thinking about it, lol.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 9:01am

      Re: **AA flexes it's muscle

      Off topic a little, but...

      Why is it exactly that people "censure" the name of RIAA and MPAA, as in "**AA"? Is this a tounge-in-cheek message that these are offensive terms and should be censured? Or some other reason?

      It would seem to me that if your message is how screwed up the MPAA and the RIAA is -- which is always the message when these obscured versions are used -- that you'd want to use their real names so that the posts would have a higher chance of being found in a Google search. And more people would stumble on the discontent that exists with these organizations.

      PS: "It's" is a contraction.

       

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        Your Gawd and Master, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 9:17am

        Re: Re: **AA flexes it's muscle

        Since you're going to correct someone's grammar/spelling...

        I think you mean "censor".

         

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          shmengie, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 9:24am

          Re: Re: Re: **AA flexes it's muscle

          "Why is it exactly that people "censure" the name of RIAA and MPAA, as in "**AA"? Is this a tounge-in-cheek message that these are offensive terms and should be censured? Or some other reason?"

          two reasons:

          1) yeah, they suck
          2) more importantly, **AA or FUAA is shorthand to encompass both entities, cuz they both end in AA.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 11:49am

          Re: Re: Re: **AA flexes it's muscle

          Since you're going to correct someone's grammar/spelling...

          I think you mean "censor".


          no, he got it right the first time

           

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    JB, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 8:51am

    Thanks, MPAA!

    Wow, I never knew such a thing existed as fan edits. I'm going to have to go look them up and check out a lot of the movies I was disappointed by. Thanks again, MPAA, you really know how to let people know about all the cool innovations out there.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 9:56am

    Woot

    This is just another example of the MPAA trying to show that they can control the internet, when in reality they cant. When one site goes down, 5 pop up. This will always have them behind and never in front. People need a place to share ideas. When they lose a place to do that the usually crate there own. so in essence you had one site to deal with then you stranded all of there users and now you have the potential of more than thousands of new sites being created. MPAA you will never win. Adapt or Waste your money. Visit P2P Tech Time http://www.p2ptechtime.com

     

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    ScytheNoire, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 10:03am

    The MPAA, often times like the RIAA, is always overstepping it's boundaries and filing false DMCA claims, which is why the DMCA needs to be done away with altogether. It's using a mini-gun to kill a fly, and just doesn't work properly.

    Also the MPAA and RIAA constantly seem to think they control ALL movies and music, when in fact, they don't. They represent a select group of studio's, and those studio's themselves have the right to disagree with the organizations and have the right to give permission. Often times, it isn't even work that is in any way related to the MPAA or RIAA, they just claim ownership, which is false and illegal.

    MPAA and RIAA need to be stopped and put out of business. They are nothing more than a media mafia using lawyers as thugs and hitmen. It's extortion and threats, and that's all they do.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 10:35am

    Hypothesis: Failure of another industry

    The problem, as evidenced, is the poor business decisions being made on old 1970s business models that were created when only a few companies could execute on the full operations of a studio and production house.

    Today, the internet, and proliferation of readily-available tools such as iMovie and Avid are well within grasp for any aspiring hobbyist, and have the ability to open up avenues previously unavailable for an "Indie" film maker. Today, an Indie filmmaker doesn't need a "break" or learn how to pitch a movie. They can put up a finished product on the internet or show it at a film festival.

    The problem, as I see it, is lack of organic content, hence sites such as Phantom Edit. But this too, will be fixed soon: as TV stations sell their professional grade Beta Cam SPs, Digibetas and legacy VTRs on the surplus market, systems that were once hundreds of thousands of dollars will be sold to aspiring editors, producers and directors to try their hand at making something, from end-to-end.

    This is substantiated with the stories of the real innovators on the fringe of Hollywood are doing. Robert Rodriguez, for example, edited Sin City completely at his home studio, and George Lucas, (The man who created THX because the existing standard at the time for a sound system, was poor.) is also pushing the technology envelope with Phantom Edit.

    As the Pixar guys would say, "Technology pushes art, and art pushes technology." And when you use the technology, it opens up so much more creative avenues.

    Things are certainly changing. Within 5-15 years, It's doubtful anyone will need "A Break" into the inflated-cost, unionized industry. I forsee internal union fighting, passing blame around; much like the Auto Industry's debacle today. They may go to Washington DC with tin cups asking for a bailout because no one will buy their product. Indies will be to Hollywood what Toyota is to Detroit. It will be interesting if the industry can retool to meet market demand.

    So in closing, here's two thoughts:
    "Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it" ~British philosopher George Santayana, the book Reason in Common Sense

    "I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." ~George Bernard Shaw

     

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    TDR, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 11:51am

    A quote from Aliens which is relevent to the *AA situation in general. Ripley reflects on human nature:

    "You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them f*ing each other over for a g*d percentage."

     

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    Edu, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 7:04pm

    liveBD

    This is definetely something that could be done with liveBD without violating any rights, we should be able to share edits of our movies with other owners of the same disc.

     

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    Rekrul, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 6:56pm

    Wow, I never knew such a thing existed as fan edits. I'm going to have to go look them up and check out a lot of the movies I was disappointed by.

    Look for "ADigitalMan" or "ADM". He/they like to put out extended versions of popular movies by adding the deleted scenes back in.

    For example, there's an ADM extended version of The Terminator that includes several scenes that aren't in any released version of the film. There's also an ADM "fourth option" version of Terminator 2 that includes the scene of the T-1000 searching John's room, but leaves off the alternate ending. There are also ADM extended versions of most of the Harry Potter films as well.

     

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