Zombieland Director Goes After Fans, Doesn't Understand Popularity

from the treat-your-fans-right dept

Charles Vestal alerts us to the news that Zombieland writer/director Rhett Reese has apparently be using Twitter to shame people who were mentioning that they were watching unauthorized copies of Zombieland at home, declaring to each one: "You realize we do what we do for money, right? Same as you." This comes soon after we highlighted some directors and moviemakers have found success by embracing those who were downloading their movie, recognizing that it was leading to more sales.

And, in fact, at least some of the people that Reese called out complained that they had actually seen the film multiple times in the theater and planning to buy the official DVD once it came out as well. In other words, the reason the movie is downloaded so much is because people like it, and yes, they still are supporting the moviemakers.

So, what made Reese lash out at these fans? You guessed it. He claimed he had just watched the 60 Minutes episode on movie piracy -- the one that we debunked for being factually incorrect, and it resulted in him getting angry at these fans, without thinking through the fact that the download might not be a substitute. But, even after the fans told him they had seen the film multiple times in the theaters, he's complaining that this decreases the chances of a sequel getting made. Given the massive popularity of the film -- both in the theater and online -- that seems highly unlikely. As we've seen before, the popularity of a movie in unauthorized downloads closely correlates with its box office take in many instances. It's rarely a sign of "lost revenue," and quite often a good indicator of actual revenue. In fact, the details show that Zombieland has done amazingly well, already earning back much more than it cost. Reese has a strong and loyal fanbase who want to support him and a very successful movie on his hands. Rather than attacking them, he should look for ways to embrace them and give them more real reasons to buy.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Joe, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 3:44pm

    I saw it in theaters opening weekend, but I also downloaded it when the r5 came out...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 3:47pm

    Saw it in theaters, didn't download it, plan on buying the DVD, and I just tweeted a link to this article to Mr. Reese.

     

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  3.  
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    kyle clements (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 3:56pm

    haven't seen it, and after reading about his reaction to enthusiastic fans, i don't plan on seeing it anytime soon.

    I'll just wait 'till its on TV, where I can also watch the movie for free. But that's a completely different kind of 'watch it for free', because by the time it hits TV, the hype will be dead and I wont want to buy the DVD at that point.

     

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  4.  
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    scarr (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 3:57pm

    I want someone to do a study to show that there's a correlation between how much something is downloaded and how much money it makes. That will prove (by MPAA logic) that sharing makes them money.

    For example, I'm sure Transformers was downloaded more than Zombieland, and it got a sequel. I'm sure Zombieland will too.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:02pm

    Re:

    Exhibit A: The Dark Knight.

    Most downloaded movie of 2008, biggest moneymaker of 2008 (and in the past decade).

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:08pm

    Well, now I have a reason not to go spend a single penny on the inevitable Zombieland sequel (this is Hollywood after all, where every even remotely successful movie franchise gets a sequel or six).

    (And I actually saw Zombieland at a theatre.)

     

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  7.  
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    Ben (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:09pm

    Re:

    Ah, but correlation is a two way thing:

    Was it downloaded more because people saw it at the cinema and liked it, or did more people go and see it at the cinema because they downloaded it first?

    FWIW I don't download movies, because I'm scared of getting caught and I get unlimited movies for $20/month at Blockbuster, but I do support the downfall of the RIAA.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:12pm

    Re: Re:

    It's impossible to know unless you ask the pirates, really.

    I don't pirate movies, myself. The only time I ever did it was two weeks before Dark Knight was coming out on DVD; I'd already seen the movie twice in theaters prior to that, I was getting the DVD anyway, and I wanted to see the movie again at that point.

     

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  9.  
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    scarr (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Re:

    Dammit, man, this is the MPAA we're talking about! They don't need causality; they write causality. We just need correlation to support our story and we're done. :-)

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:26pm

    "...they had actually seen the film multiple times in the theater and planning to buy the official DVD once it came out..."
    So, what you're saying then is that the piracy is caused by the the entertainment industry's own release "windows", AND that if customers were able to purchase the DVD as they left the theater then they wouldn't have pirated the movie at all.

    Way to go, MPAA! Way to drive your customers into the hands of the competition!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:27pm

    Re:

    But they need the windows! They can't make 300 million dollars off a summer blockbuster if they don't have the windows!

     

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  12.  
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    Techdirt Piracy, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:42pm

    Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    I remember when Techdirt was actually interesting to read. Now it just seems to be article after article about freeloaders who should be "embraced" as a new "model". Giving content away for free might help you become more famous, but it doesn't put bacon on the table. The fact that Zombieland has already made a profit does mean we can now go grab it for free. For every Zombieland there are two other movies that tanked. Zombieland's profits will lead to more films from the studio because they will have funds to take the risk to make more movies (hopefully, more like Zombieland which I happily paid to see and enjoyed).

    Fact is most people who downloaded it and watched will never spend a dime on it. Why would anyone embrace a market that spends little to no actual money (as a whole) on product?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    Oh, you're SO going to get ripped apart by other commenters.

    *grabs the popcorn*

     

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  14.  
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    Lance, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:53pm

    Saying that having seen the movie in the theater first and then downloading it was "leading" to more sales is a logical fallacy.

    While some may spend $$$ it's quite obvious that the majority of downloaders do not spend money on the film or any merchandise.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:54pm

    Re:

    And you can prove that how, exactly?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 4:59pm

    Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    "Fact is most people who downloaded it and watched will never spend a dime on it."

    Funny how your fact...isn't one.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:02pm

    "Fact is most people who downloaded it and watched will never spend a dime on it. Why would anyone embrace a market that spends little to no actual money (as a whole) on product?"

    Wow...you must work for the entertainment industry, siting facts without any proof that they are "facts."

    Meh...

     

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  18.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    "Fact is most people who downloaded it and watched will never spend a dime on it."

    Facts usually have to be true and verifiable. I challenge your "fact" and wish to see your evidence. Until such time, I will read that sentence as:

    "It is one person's completely uneducated guess that people who downloaded it and watched will never spend a dime on it."

     

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  19.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:04pm

    Re:

    Obvious how?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:08pm

    Just goes to show that people like Woody Harrelson and his pot smoking ways. No Woody and this movie would have bombed.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    Hypothetical situation: (actually, it's not hypothetical - it's very real because it's my situation)
    Is it worth allowing one person to see your movie for free when that person would not have otherwise paid to see your movie IF it means that that person is going to tell ten to twenty of his friends that they should go see/buy the movie because it was sooooooooo good?

    With my situation there is no "loss" because it would never have been a sale in the first place. However, there is benefit in the word-of-mouth advertising which is MUCH more valuable than regular advertising.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:18pm

    I have a friend, it's not me, but he's a friend of mine. I know him very very well, so I can tell his story and express his opinions. But he's not me.


    My friend went to see Zombieland opening weekend, and even brought his girlfriend, who has a terrible sense of humor, to see it at $10 a head.

    The following weekend, he really wanted to see it again. His girlfriend, unfortunately, did not. So my friend downloaded a copy, because he wanted to see it again and it wasn't worth another $20, and a bored girlfriend, for the same hour and a half of entertainment.



    My friend has a very easy policy when it comes to downloading movies. He doesn't think much of it. Sure, he doesn't want to get in trouble, but he doesn't feel morally guilty about it. If a movie is worth paying for, he'll pay for it. If a movie is just something to pass time for two hours before his girlfriend wakes up on a saturday/sunday morning, then he doesn't care about paying for it. If it wasn't free, he'd just play WoW instead.

    Downloading movies hasn't affected a single sale for my friend. If there was going to be a sale, a sale was made. Downloading has not prevented him from spending money on the films he would have been inclined to spend money on. However, a lack of downloading would simply mean that he'd never see or care about those movies.


    He'll watch mediocre movies, or movies that he isn't excited to see, if they're free. But they're meaningless enough that he would never have paid for them, even if there was no download available.


    So while he may have downloaded empty movies "Push" and "Hot Fuzz", that hasn't prevented him from seeing "Dark Knight" in theater twice and buying the DVD, or dragging his girlfriend to movies like "Zombieland" and "Star Trek", even when she didn't really want to go.

    On the flip side, he has downloaded a few movies with low expectations, like "The Incredibles" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", that he's loved and gone out and bought for his DVD collection. I can see something like Zombieland easily doing the same for some people who aren't sure if they'll appreciate the sarcastic, dry wit.


    While I'm sure there is, in fact, *some* impact on sales due to downloading, I think chances are good that the people who were going to pay for it, still pay for it. Those that were going to go see a movie, will still go see a movie. It's an event, an activity, something to look forward to, etc. It's just as much about going out to see the movie, or being able to watch it at home in 1080p that really makes the movie.

    Most of the people who download movies and never contribute anything toward the film generally wouldn't have spent any money on it in the first place. They're the ones who would have been playing WoW/reading a book/[insert entertainment here] instead, and never have thought about that movie again.


    At least that's what my friend and I think.




    TLDR: Filesharing may hurt sales very minimally, but it very likely may not. Those who would pay, still pay.

     

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  23.  
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    Turkish, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:34pm

    Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    "Fact is most people who downloaded it and watched will never spend a dime on it."

    This is completely true. What you are missing is these people would have never spent a dime on this movie regardless of internet piracy. People who pirate are either die hard fans who are going to buy anyway, bums who would rather not see a movie than spend money on it, or people who weren't interested in seeing a movie until they saw a pirated version. This third group of people just might go out and buy the dvd after, or go to theaters to see the sequel.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:51pm

    Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    Yeah, materially it's no different than visiting a friend who bought the DVD and sitting in his living room with him watching his copy.

    And what's funny about this is that these movie people go on and on about Internet sharing, and nobody says a word about (r)^3, which probably happens more often in the US and is untraceable. For people with data limits on their ISP plans, it's probably cheaper, too. But it's apparently not destroying cinema.

     

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  25.  
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    Vincent Clement, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:53pm

    Imagine how much more money he would make if movie theatres sold DVDs of the movie in their lobby? If you have a ticket stub, you could get a buck or two off the price.

     

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  26.  
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    Michael Ho (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    Giving content away for free might help you become more famous, but it doesn't put bacon on the table. .... For every Zombieland there are two other movies that tanked.

    Movies tank all the time -- it is not due to piracy. Some movies are just bad. Other productions spent too much and found that the demand for the umpteenth sequel wasn't as high as expected. If piracy were eliminated, would that guarantee the success of all movies? Piracy is likely a minor blip on the overall revenues...

    Fact is most people who downloaded it and watched will never spend a dime on it. Why would anyone embrace a market that spends little to no actual money (as a whole) on product?

    There's no "lost sale" here. But more fans *can* be created. This is about adapting to take advantage of cheap distribution costs. A downloaded movie should NOT be able to compete with the "theater experience" -- and if it does, then the movie makers should try to make the theater experience *better* -- not try to go after people who were never going to go to theaters in the first place.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:02pm

    Re:

    The only thing "quite obvious" is that you don't have any actual, you know...facts, to back up your stupidity.

     

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  28.  
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    Curious One, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    (r)^3?

     

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  29.  
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    Josh (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:09pm

    Bittorrent made me want to buy into the Z-land franchise

    Hey #2 - I just Twittered him a link here as well.

    This all makes me rather sad.

    Zombieland is easily one of my favorite movies of 2009. I've been heavily recommending it to anyone who will listen (it's an endearing indie-roadtrip film without too much action-horror). In fact, I love it so much, I've been considering hyping it via my social feed - which really says something because I go out of my way to avoid advertising.

    Here's my personal relationship with the film:
    * Opening weekend, downloaded the OK-quality cam version. Skipped the first and last parts, skimmed through the middle, kind of liked it but decided I wasn't in the mood to watch the whole thing.
    * Following Friday, put it on in the background while making dinner. Paid it more attention, got that it wasn't a "typical" zombie flick.
    * While eating dinner, I re-watched the middle hour and fully paid attention. Unusually, I actually let the movie play without any skimming.
    * After dinner, watched the "Bill Murray as Bill Murray" section several times in a row.
    * The next day, I grabbed a higher quality rip and watched my favorite bits again.
    * Then I read the Wikipedia entry, felt a real connection with the production and then literally started jumping for joy when I read they wanted to franchise the series - sign me up for the theme park ride, 2 t-shirts and the live experience.
    * Yesterday I started organizing a group trip for a midnight showing. I dislike the entire movie theater experience but though this would be a fun exception,.
    * Today I read this... but I'm still holding out hope.

    In addition to the standard "an artist I like isn't getting CwF/RtB" disappointment, I'm upset because Zombieland appears to be one of those rare works that would actually benefit from an explosion of franchising. But that's going to be a lot harder with creators battling true fans.

     

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  30.  
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    Curious One, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    What is (r)^3?

     

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  31.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    FACT: Most of the people that didn't spend a dime on this movie, didn't pirate it at all (they didn't even watch it). FUN ASSUMPTION: Not pirating this movie causes people to not spend any money on it.

     

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  32.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:25pm

    Re: Re:

    That's a big fat lie. There's plenty of facts to back up his stupidity.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    rent, rip, return

     

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  34.  
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    nelsoncruz (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:40pm

    "beyond depressing"

    Rhett Reese said it was "beyond depressing" that Zombieland was the "number one most pirated movie" on Bittorrent. However, as the director for Ink showed, how many other movie writers/directors would love to be in that position??

    It's a bit like an artist being "depressed" that his music is the number one most played in the radio!

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:51pm

    Re: Re:

    And doors! So they can open them and throw all the pirates out.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:53pm

    Re:

    It's my Woody or the high Woody.

     

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  37.  
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    King Henry IV, Part 1, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:55pm

    Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    Now it just seems to be article after article about freeloaders who should be "embraced" as a new "model". Giving content away for free might help you become more famous, but it doesn't put bacon on the table. The fact that Zombieland has already made a profit does mean we can now go grab it for free.

    ...

    Fact is most people who downloaded it and watched will never spend a dime on it. Why would anyone embrace a market that spends little to no actual money (as a whole) on product?



    I think you're wrong. It's interesting to see how many people share the viewpoint that it could be easier to do business with these companies if they were more open to meeting the needs of their customer rather than the company. Requesting that they meet them 100% of the way, on their terms, in their stores, at their operating hours isn't going to work anymore.

    Listen bub, every step you take to be closer to the people who put bacon on the table and make it easier, you can increase income 5-10% more.

    Piracy will never be completely stomped out. It's silly to think it will. Several years ago, it accounted for less than 4% of all lost sales.

    When it comes to people like Rhett Reese chastising people on twitter for not paying him, I wonder if he considered setting up a paypal account so people could donate to him. It sure would be better than telling people off, especially if his work stands alone, and is creating buzz.

    Because people are now more focused on trying to take care of piracy, good movies are tossed aside for a more over-reaching concept of originality. Apparently, a number of people have talked his movie up, and what was taken as an insult was promotion for others to watch it. Hollywood does a great job putting out a lot of crap, and people probably liked his stuff.

    As for business models, these days, it seems there are more examples of people who give their work away and pray, which isn't the model Mike talks about, and it seems like what Rhett is doing. I could be completely incorrect, but this seems to be the point Mike is trying to make.

    When Rhett Reeses says "You realize we do what we do for money, right? Same as you." and doesn't give a link to give his fans a way to donate, he comes off like a pompous ass.


    It's fine that he's living in his own Private Idaho.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 7:10pm

    Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    You're so self-absorbed that you're losing touch with reality and becoming a boring, vapid waste.

    Branch out of your packaged, cookie-cutter world before you lose your mind.

     

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  39.  
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    Sean (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 8:20pm

    Re:

    A large group of people in Northern Kentucky got together this Halloween dressed as Zombies walked around town then several of us went to see Zombie Land.

    It was a lot of fun and the movie was good but reading Mr. Reese's thoughts I hope that he does not make a Zombieland 2.

     

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  40.  
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    Chucklebutte (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 8:27pm

    Sorry

    This movie just looked horrible, most zombie moves are horrible, most movies in the past decade sucks too. I downloaded the R5, I havent been to the movies in over 10 years and dont count on me going to the theater any time soon, and I probably will never watch zombieland, I just download movies to download them I watch maybe 1% of the movies I download.

    Gotta make something worth seeing for me to actually watch it, money has nothing to do with it, if the movie is good ima watch it.

    I just download movies in hopes that one might be good. But usually after IMDB searches, watching trailers on youtube, the movie gets deleted.

    Apparently though this movie is good? Dont see how the bartender from cheers killing zombies is supposed to be good but whatever. Apparently there is a ton of retarded people out there that cum all over themselves for this movie, so why is this guy so emo? Seems you have your own zombie army of idiots that will swarm to your shitty movies. So make your shitty sequel and enjoy the view from your gorgeous house and do me a favor go take bath in all your money to cool your self off, seems to me you need it.

     

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  41.  
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    cram, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    Hi Michael

    "Movies tank all the time -- it is not due to piracy. Some movies are just bad."

    "If piracy were eliminated, would that guarantee the success of all movies? Piracy is likely a minor blip on the overall revenues..."

    Of course, not just some, many movies are bad to terrible. But in the absence of piracy they would stand a better chance of recovering all or part of their money.

    Basically, piracy eliminates the chance of cutting your loss because:
    a) too many people have already spread the word that your movie is bad
    b) those who have heard it's bad, but still want to check it out, would rather try and get it for free than spend 50 bucks watching it in a theater or buy an overpriced DVD.

    Someone mentioned the example of a guy watching the movie, liking it, and telling 20 of his friends. It's a double-edged sword: if the guy hates it, he's gonna tell 20 or 200 people that the movie stinks. Here, piracy will actually end up preventing a lot of people from paying good money to watch a perfectly bad movie that will leave them cursing on the way out of the theater.

    We all know at least one movie maniac who is a rabid downloader and has a huge appetite for crap. He's doing the hard work for us: every pirate saves many people time, money and the guilt associated with pirating.

    Piracy is good for the general public but certainly not for the industry. No amount of preaching by Techdirt can persuade them, because acceptance of piracy would mean ceding control to the public. And there's money to be lost in doing so.

    "There's no "lost sale" here. But more fans *can* be created. This is about adapting to take advantage of cheap distribution costs."

    Oh no, there are plenty of lost sales here. How do you think moviemakers made money all these years - the public just didn't have any other option, so they went and bought the discs. Now they don't, as they have other options. Also, earlier movies were only competing among themselves; now they have added competition from games, the Net, etc.

    "A downloaded movie should NOT be able to compete with the "theater experience" -- and if it does, then the movie makers should try to make the theater experience *better* -- not try to go after people who were never going to go to theaters in the first place."

    I wonder why Techdirt keeps touting the theater experience, as though it's a surefire way of ensuring profitability. The theater can never be duplicated, but surely you know that the theaters alone cannot make a movie profitable.

    How long do movies run in the theaters, given that about a 1000 movies are released a year?
    How wide is the average release?
    What part of the earnings do the theater owners keep for themselves?
    What happens once a movie is out of the theaters but is yet to break even or become profitable?
    What percentage of a movie's earnings are from TV, international distribution and the shiny discs you guys love to hate?

    Without considering these questions, how can you say piracy is hardly a blip on revenues.

    Moviemaking is a complex businesss; making profitable movies even more so. If only it were so simple as Techdirt tries to make it out to be!

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 9:24pm

    ok fine. I will not see your movie in the theater, via download or DVD.

    Happy now?

    What a turd!

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 9:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    Oh look, repeating more things that are proven false again and again and again and again and again and again.

     

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  44.  
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    Brad, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 10:17pm

    mainstream blah blah

    Never liked Zombie flicks... Vestal's attitude tells me, may be a different flick, same alternative movie Director attitude, "I'm too good for you," and ironically, don't "get us," either. Didn't like Goths in High School... too much drama and white makeup, still is. Good thing I wasn't planning on seeing this anyway. Sadly, In spite of friend's initial positive reflections on the flick, find Vestal's politics too simplistic and mainstream knee-jerk for my tastes.

    I'll download movies I wasn't planning on watching in the theater or on disc anyway, but is often what leads me to buy the disc or on rare occasion, see on the "big screen." Time for the Hollywood mainstream to either embrace new technology or leave it to the digerati and stop complaining if they think the decline in traditional viewership is in some way related to more desirable modern alternatives.

    Doesn't seem like traditional distribution has really been negatively impacted, but if mainstream media can't figure out how to deliver content the way consumers want it, shut the hell up if folks use more desirable avenues that Hollywood artificially prevents rather than figuring out their own way to entice viewers and make the experience worthwhile.

    Our flapping forefathers with the tilt-a-whirl would be disappointed.

     

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  45.  
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    JezuitX, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 10:40pm

    Come on Techdirt

    Your whole premise faulty. You're basically saying that because a movie is doing well it's perfectly okay to steal that movie so you can watch it again and again at home. Sure there are some people who say it in theaters and did exactly what you're saying. However there are potentially tens of thousands of people who just by passed the theater, waited to download the movie, and watched it without giving the makers of the movie a red cent.

    Sure you can say this is a fraction of people. However, if you losing even a small percentage of revenue it's still money you've STOLEN from the people that helped make and distribute this movie. You can't argue with a straight face that these people, deprived of the ability to steal the movie, would simply not watch the movie. If you download a movie there's some interest in seeing the movie. This interest would lead to going to the movies, buying the DVD, or renting the DVD.

    Point blank people...piracy is theft. Just come off your high horse and admit it already. Sure you're robbing millionaires, but to say you're doing something that doesn't even matter is just wishful thinking at best (lying to yourself at the worst).

     

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  46.  
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    Cvnk (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 10:50pm

    One person's facts are another's falsehoods

    It's funny how people are free to state the "fact" that piracy actually helps movie sales without fear of contradiction but when someone has the gall to suggest the opposite everyone jumps down their throat and asks where they get their "facts" from? It's a two-way street. I doubt there are enough facts to fully support either supposition.

    People point out that Batman was the highest grossing movie of the year and was also the most pirated. Ok, but that doesn't mean pirating made that movie successful. It could just mean that like everyone else freeloaders wanted to see that movie.

    Also, why would you automatically believe someone when they respond to an embarrassing tweet from the movie's director by saying they saw the movie in the theater in addition to downloading it? Yes I suppose that could be true (although not something I understand since watching a movie once is usually enough for me) but I think the simpler and more likely possibility is that the person is lying so as to disarm Mr. Big Movie Director who publicly humiliated them.

    While I agree this guy took the wrong approach and this is obviously going to backfire on him I don't see why we should expect him to feel gratitude towards people he suspects are stealing his movie. And comparing his reaction to those of the people behind the movie "Ink" is bogus. "Ink" was a small indy film that had no PR behind it so it needed the publicity.

    I'm not blasting people who download copyrighted stuff. There are plenty of valid reasons for doing it. It's just that for every person I come across that touts the "noble" downloader (the person who also buys whatever they download) I find 10 others that scoff at the idea of paying for music of movies no matter what. "Why pay when you can get it for free?" I've been asked on a few occasions. Nice attitude.

     

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  47.  
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    Lisa (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 11:23pm

    Re: Come on Techdirt

    "However, if you losing even a small percentage of revenue it's still money you've STOLEN from the people that helped make and distribute this movie."


    Infringement is not theft.

    Infringement: New copy is created against the wishes of the copyright holder.

    Theft: Copy is taken from the owner without permission, thus no longer has it.

     

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  48.  
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    Michael Ho (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 11:37pm

    Re: Come on Techdirt

    You're basically saying that because a movie is doing well it's perfectly okay to steal that movie so you can watch it again and again at home.

    No. We're not saying it's okay to break the law at all. Copyright infringement is against the law. We're talking about how filmmakers can cater to their audience without treating their fans like criminals.

    Say, for example, that Microsoft has a search engine with nearly identical results to Google's results. Should Google tell potential users that they've used "stolen" search results? Or should Google try to make its search experience better than Microsoft's so that even if Microsoft displays the same results -- users will still type keywords into Google instead of Bing? That is how you compete. You don't complain about your users. Complaining does not win you any customers.

    Point blank people...piracy is theft. Just come off your high horse and admit it already.

    It's always easy to try to make things either black or white. Piracy is infringement. Theft usually only applies to rivalrous/excludable goods -- where if *I* take your car, you don't have that car anymore. But if someone watches a downloaded movie, it doesn't prevent anyone else from watching it. It doesn't even prevent the viewer from watching it again and again.

    Techdirt is merely pointing out that businesses that want to succeed shouldn't accuse their customers of theft. There are better ways to approach the problem of piracy. The movie business is trying to squeeze the wrong people. Offering reasons to buy to those who want to buy is a better strategy than trying to chase after people (who obviously don't want to buy) with threats and punishments.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 11:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    Of course moviemaking is a complex business. I've spent the last five years trying to understand it.

    The current release schedule is wrong. Consider for a second someone likes a movie they saw... What are they going to do? Go buy a DVD? Hell no, it's not available. Are they going to see in the the theater? Maybe, if it works with their schedule.

    This is one of the problems which Mike an I will butt heads on. The MPAA wants to come out with a new release system which allows people to watch a movie from start-to-finish in our own homes and is more convenient.

    But to do so, the MPAA wants to break our DVRs and TVs so we can't pause the movie and force new legislation so they remain in control. I get the impression that they're a bunch of white people who like lawyers.

    Point is, the idea will, and could work, but the absolute and total lack of communication with the consumer and secondary partner community is wrong, and that is the problem. If the MPAA had the ability to release to HD content at the same time as theater, as a PPV movie, it needs to be trusted. But the model needs to be adequately communicated to all partners and consumers.

    I get the impression that the MPAA can't trust Cable to be a delivery channel under this business model. Too many additional moving parts.

    So, um, why not have a few trials with Satellite providers who pretty much own the process from end-to-end?

    You're making this much more difficult than it needs to be.

     

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  50.  
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    Michael Ho (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 12:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    How do you think moviemakers made money all these years - the public just didn't have any other option, so they went and bought the discs. Now they don't, as they have other options. Also, earlier movies were only competing among themselves; now they have added competition from games, the Net, etc.

    This is exactly the reason why the industry must change. The marketplace has changed. Just as newspapers can't rely on classified ads anymore, filmmakers can't rely on selling plastic discs anymore. The companies that used to sell buggy whips can complain all they want about how cars will be the death of the horse-based transportation industry. But suing and complaining about customers usually doesn't win you any more customers.

    Moviemaking *is* a complex business, but we're actually trying to help here. Complain all you want about how pirates are thieves. Does it really help the movie industry that much to complain about their audience? Copyright is a government-granted monopoly to encourage the creation of more content. Do we really need a "war on infringement" czar? Or should content creators adapt to the market and serve their audiences -- like every other business does?

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 12:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    To add:

    Why do you need a legal precedent to deliver to your customers content they are already willing to pay for?

    People will pay for content and the experience. Hate to sound all gushy, but you're putting the cart before the horse. Give it a few years before you legalize it, "Give Peace A Chance" or something...

     

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  52.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 1:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    "Of course, not just some, many movies are bad to terrible. But in the absence of piracy they would stand a better chance of recovering all or part of their money."

    So the essence of your point is that piracy hurts BAD art?

    Promise me that if I keep downloading movies, Uwe Boll will have to stop making them.

     

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    herodotus (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 1:26am

    "It's funny how people are free to state the "fact" that piracy actually helps movie sales without fear of contradiction but when someone has the gall to suggest the opposite everyone jumps down their throat and asks where they get their "facts" from? It's a two-way street. I doubt there are enough facts to fully support either supposition."

    I, too, doubt that there are enough facts to know the answers to such complex questions as 'In an alternative universe where there was no internet but which was otherwise exactly the same, would Zombieland have made more or less money?' But my skepticism isn't due to the fact there haven't been enough facts compiled 'yet'. My skepticism is due to the fact that no one can never really know the answers to such questions. Pretending that we can ever know the answers to such questions is a form of self deception.

    But why are such questions even being considered?

    "People point out that Batman was the highest grossing movie of the year and was also the most pirated. Ok, but that doesn't mean pirating made that movie successful. "

    Ah, this is why such questions are being considered. It's because people are convinced that some sort of causality has to be proven.

    But causality doesn't have to be proven, nor is that the point. The Dark Knight cost $185,000,000 to make and has a total lifetime gross of $1,001,921,825. That is well over a fivefold return on investment. The fact that it was the most downloaded movie of last year AND the fact that it made $816,921,825 is all that is needed to show that 'piracy' doesn't keep movies from being profitable.

    "It could just mean that like everyone else freeloaders wanted to see that movie."

    Freeloaders have always been there. They used to be the ones who sneaked in the fire exits. They probably still are. Freeloaders are a constant. Worrying about them is like worrying about the weather: it doesn't help, it just gives you something else to be pissed off about. The good thing about internet freeloaders is that, unlike the fire exit guys, at least they aren't potentially interfering with the experience of paying customers by taking up seats and being obnoxious.

    "And comparing his reaction to those of the people behind the movie "Ink" is bogus. "Ink" was a small indy film that had no PR behind it so it needed the publicity."

    ALL movies need that kind of publicity. The idea that only 'small indy films' need to worry about it is false. No amount of PR can substitute for it. Hudson Hawk had a much bigger PR budget than "Ink" and look what good it did.

    "It's just that for every person I come across that touts the "noble" downloader (the person who also buys whatever they download) I find 10 others that scoff at the idea of paying for music of movies no matter what. "Why pay when you can get it for free?" I've been asked on a few occasions. Nice attitude."

    To be honest I don't buy into the 'noble downloader' either. Nor do I buy into the 'scumbag downloader'. As far as I am concerned there is only one kind of downloader: the inevitable kind.

     

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 1:39am

    what a jackass move

    I'm now less inclined to go and watch that movie. If the fans are being heckled by the director, he is not worthy of my money. (to my knowledge that movie isn't yet in the Dutch and Belgian movie theatres: IMDB reports a release date of 14 January 2010)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 2:28am

    It's sad enough that he only does what he does for the money. Real artists shouldn't be like that imo. I haven't seen that movie and now I certainly never will.

     

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    RT Cunningham (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 2:33am

    I'm downloading it right now

    I don't care what Mr. Reese tweets about, or complains about. I'm a so-called pirate and I'm downloading the movie right now to see what all fuss is about.

    I'm not in the US and the movie has not played near where I live, nor is it available for rent (and it probably won't be). I can however, buy a bootleg copy from one of the local pirate distributors, but I figure I'll save a buck or two by getting it myself.

    Am I a lost sale, Mr. Reese? I seriously doubt it since I can't watch it any other way (without paying the real pirates).

     

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  57.  
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    Call me Al, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 3:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    "Movies tank all the time -- it is not due to piracy. Some movies are just bad."

    "If piracy were eliminated, would that guarantee the success of all movies? Piracy is likely a minor blip on the overall revenues..."

    Of course, not just some, many movies are bad to terrible. But in the absence of piracy they would stand a better chance of recovering all or part of their money."

    If you make a bad movie you deserve to fail and lose money. Same as if you make any other kind of bad product you deserve to fail and lose money. The difference is if you buy a faulty microwave you can take it back and get a refund. However if you have spent a load of money on a film which turns out to be rubbish then you've wasted a load of money and the time you spent watching it. The movie industry has had it too easy for too long which is why they churn out substandard films which aren't worth the money it would cost me to see it in the cinema, buy it or rent it.

    I'll make a deal with the entertainment industry. If I pay to watch your film and decide I don't like it then you repay me and we'll call it quits.

     

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  58.  
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    Dom S, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 4:26am

    I download, but im not a pirate... i dont rip movies and put them up for download, i download what the pirates have put up...

    Anyway, I wont be watching this film for 3 main reasons:

    1) there are TOO MANY zombie movies out there... this genre is saturated and mostly overrated

    2) the cost of going to the cinema these days has increased almost bi-annually to the point where a trip for one person around my area to go and see a potentially crappy film (surrounded by moronic chavs and selfish ringtone-c**ts) will cost you in excess of £15. this is ridiculous money, i'd rather wait until its out on dvd and rent it from lovefilm.com for next to nothing (oh and rip it for my collection!)... or download it and watch it for free. if i actually like it (based on either of the previously stated methods) and I deem its value TO ME to be the cost of a dvd (also far more than i as a consumer would like to pay), i will then buy it. i view my downloading as a "try before you buy" excercise.

    3) this Mr Reese bloke sounds like you're average money-grabbing a-hole. does he really NEED all of the apparent "lost-revenue"?? REALLY? after all, he probably lives in a 6+ bedroom borderline-mansion with 4 or 5 cars outside... NO ONE deserves or needs this type of lifestyle... NO ONE!!
    oh yeah, and add into that he's now insulting his fans and upsetting his potential customers (or "revenue", crudely speaking). he comes across as a selfish child who MAY HAVE lost a bit of money and has started throwing his toys out of the pram!

     

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  59.  
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    John Doe, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    Basically, piracy eliminates the chance of cutting your loss because:
    a) too many people have already spread the word that your movie is bad
    b) those who have heard it's bad, but still want to check it out, would rather try and get it for free than spend 50 bucks watching it in a theater or buy an overpriced DVD.
    Welcome to the age of the internet. Movies would tank without piracy because people can talk about them on the internet in forums, social networks, IMDB, etc. So no, piracy doesn't make movies tank, bad movies make movies tank. Nice try though, I give you a B- for effort.

     

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  60.  
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    Rob, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 4:59am

    Zombieland

    Saw it in theaters, downloaded it and plan to buy the blu-ray. Make good movies and I will support them.

     

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  61.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 6:04am

    Re: Re:

    "but I do support the downfall of the RIAA."

    Hate to be a fact Nazi ..... in this case it would be the MPAA

     

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  62.  
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    Six, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 7:07am

    Piracy

    I used to download stuff but I don't anymore. I did it mainly because I didn't want to spend the money renting or buying a dvd that I wouldn't like.

    I usually didn't download anything that I had seen before.

    So sometimes it is just about the money, but I don't think I would have spent the money on anything I downloaded anyway.

     

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  63.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re:

    Ah, but correlation is a two way thing:

    Was it downloaded more because people saw it at the cinema and liked it, or did more people go and see it at the cinema because they downloaded it first?


    For these purposes, it doesn't really matter. If the people downloading it are in large part the same people paying for it, then it's evidence that piracy doesn't hurt sales no matter which way the causality goes, or even if there is no causal relationship at all. The MPAA is claiming that piracy causes lost sales, so showing a correlation in the opposite direction is enough to debunk their claim.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 7:46am

    Re: One person's facts are another's falsehoods

    Nice anecdote.

     

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  65.  
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    TheStupidOne, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I agree causality does not matter in this case. Correlation is good enough because it will show that the studios aren't LOSING money to piracy. Why should they care about people watching it for free if they are still making their millions.

    Of course they won't listen to that and will instead argue that movies like Dark Knight would have made much more if it hadn't been pirated.

     

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  66.  
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    Constance Reader, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    "A downloaded movie should NOT be able to compete with the "theater experience" -- and if it does, then the movie makers should try to make the theater experience *better* -- not try to go after people who were never going to go to theaters in the first place." Hear, hear, and the Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Texas have proven you right a million times over since they first opened in the Warehouse District in Austin. http://www.alamodrafthouse.com

     

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    SomeGuy (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If the people downloading it are in large part the same people paying for it

    And there's the assumption you're making that they won't. they'll see 100k movie-goers and 100k downloads and complain that they lost 1/2 their profits.

     

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  68.  
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    SomeGuy (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    ... Are you arguing that piracy should be stopped because it saves people money? Because it keeps people from buying crap they don't want?

     

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  69.  
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    batch, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 1:19pm

    Re:

    Sounds reasonable to me. Too bad that the *AA's are the Wicked Witch of the West and reason is water. "I'm melting!"

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Re: Come on Techdirt

    "Theft usually only applies to rivalrous/excludable goods"

    Isn't this because the vast majority of goods transferred, legally or or not, are rivalrous/excludable goods? Rivalrous/non-rivalrous cannot be used to define theft. It has nothing to do with it.

    "where if *I* take your car, you don't have that car anymore."

    You have not defined theft with this statement in any way because it can describe either a legal transaction or an illegal transaction. The definition of theft comes from the unspoken conditions regarding this particular transfer of a car. The person not having that car anymore is due to it being a rivlarous/excludable good that was transferred, which happens regardless of the legality of that transfer.

    There are two unspoken conditions in your example. One, is the person described as "your" the legal owner of the car? Two, are you taking that car with the legal owner's permission. The second condition is the ONLY one that defines whether or not you taking the car could be considered a theft.

    Mike, this is still a strawman argument.

     

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  71.  
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    cram, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 8:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Techdirt continues to excuse piracy away

    "So the essence of your point is that piracy hurts BAD art?
    Promise me that if I keep downloading movies, Uwe Boll will have to stop making them."

    Hahahaha...so would I. Actually I'm just offering my 2 cents on why the industry is railing against piracy. BAD in the movie world is not bad per se, but BAD in terms of financial success. It doesn't matter if Boll keeps making bad movies, as long as the ROI is positive. This is the chief reason why the industry hates the Internet. Earlier I could make a movie and still hope to deceive enough people, worldwide, to spend their hardearned money on theater tickets, but now that number is woefully small.

    "If you make a bad movie you deserve to fail and lose money."

    It's easy for you to say that. But remember, all movies are gambles. There's always a slim chance of a movie losing money, even if you have the most bankable stars and a terrific script.
    Earlier, the industry had it better because it took longer for the word to spread, they at least had some time to recoup some of the investment (and later releasing and re-releasing and re-re-releasing it on DVD).

    "Same as if you make any other kind of bad product you deserve to fail and lose money."

    Movies are probably the only business where the audience can't claim back their money even if the product is admittedly bad. You can't get your time back or be compensated for it. It's an unwritten contract the public had entered into with showbiz. But not anymore. Now people can sample a movie and decide whether they like it or not, whether they will support it or not (by watching it in theaters or buying the DVD). The industry has lost that control and they don't like it.

    "Movies would tank without piracy because people can talk about them on the internet in forums, social networks, IMDB, etc. So no, piracy doesn't make movies tank, bad movies make movies tank. Nice try though, I give you a B- for effort."

    No, "bad" movies are now faced with a greater threat of tanking now, because one does not have to wait for discussions on the forums. One can simply download it or pick it up at a dirtcheap rate and be done with it. As this happens with more and more movies, the industry loses more and more as they keep churning out one bad movie after the other.

    If you remember, before the Net people relied on a few newspapers for movie reviews, to make a decision on spending money at theater. Then we came one step closer with the Internet, where hundreds of news sources and sites offered reviews, making the job easier for the viewer.

    Now we have rampant piracy and filesharing, which has bestowed greater power on the user - why spend time on blogs and forums when you can actually watch the movie and judge for yourself?

    Thanks for the B- grade, Prof...I'm merely trying to present a holistic picture here, not defending the industry.

    "... Are you arguing that piracy should be stopped because it saves people money? Because it keeps people from buying crap they don't want?"

    :) Where did I argue that piracy should be stopped? As though it's an option! What I am trying to say is the industry is agitated by the rampant piracy because it no longer has the power to successfully market "bad" products. As I said earlier, piracy is good for the public but not for the industry simply because the public now has the power.

     

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  72.  
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    Michael Ho (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 11:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Come on Techdirt

    I'm not making an "argument" here. This is a definition.

    Theft is defined (conventionally) as taking a rivalrous good without permission from its owner. A police office can arrest people if the value of the rivalrous good is non-trivial. That's how theft usually works.

    Is it generally considered "theft" if you tell me a joke and I repeat that joke elsewhere? No, because jokes usually have trivial value. So what if you have a very valuable piece of advice -- if you told it to me thinking that I would keep it secret, but then I told many more people... is that really theft? What if I just told one other person, and you never found out about it? Is that theft?

    Songs and stories and ideas are fundamentally different from rivalrous goods. That is a definition, not a strawman argument. Treating non-rivalrous goods the same way you treat rivalrous goods is a decision that society can make. But it doesn't have to be that way.

    The argument here is that non-rivalrous goods should be treated differently from theft because the offense of spreading an idea (without permission) is not the same as the offense of taking a car (without permission).

    If you wish to define theft in such a broad manner that unauthorized communications are treated in the same criminal fashion as stealing a car, you are welcome to hold that opinion, but I'm pointing out that not everyone holds that opinion -- and in some cases, that definition of theft can be detrimental to the progress of society.

    Imagine if you could only give a man a fish... and it was considered theft to teach a man to fish.

     

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  73.  
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    Benefacio, Nov 13th, 2009 @ 4:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Come on Techdirt

    "So what if you have a very valuable piece of advice -- if you told it to me thinking that I would keep it secret, but then I told many more people... is that really theft? "

    According to laws at various levels here in the US and abroud, it could be considerd theft if the advice is considered a trade secret and you had agreed to not tell anyone.

    "If you wish to define theft in such a broad manner that unauthorized communications are treated in the same criminal fashion as stealing a car"

    Nope, that is putting words in my mouth. I am trying to show that focusing on what is left behind, when that focus has nothing to with legality, is a strawman argument.

    "Imagine if you could only give a man a fish... and it was considered theft to teach a man to fish."

    Wow. Just.... wow.

     

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  74.  
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    Benefacio, Nov 13th, 2009 @ 5:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Come on Techdirt

    PLease let me be another reader that begs for the ability to edit comments. Pleeeaaasssee....

    "The argument here is that non-rivalrous goods should be treated differently from theft because the offense of spreading an idea (without permission) is not the same as the offense of taking a car (without permission)."

    That is not a discussion I am trying to have, though. The point I am trying to make is that adding rivalrous/non-rivalrous to the definion of theft, when that condition (non-/rivalrous)applies to both legal and illegal transactions is neither logical nor practical.

    From a legal perspective we already differentiate different types of theft based on circumstances and these different definitions get different treatment.

    To re-iterate; It does not matter whether you take possesion of the car with or without the owner's permission, the owner STILL LOSES the use of that car. The loss of use is not unique to theft and therefore not a valid part of the definition. The loss of use of the goods obtained makes the goods rivalrous, but not stolen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    identicon
    cc, Nov 13th, 2009 @ 2:11pm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
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    Michael Ho (profile), Nov 14th, 2009 @ 2:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Come on Techdirt

    The point I am trying to make is that adding rivalrous/non-rivalrous to the definion of theft, when that condition (non-/rivalrous)applies to both legal and illegal transactions is neither logical nor practical.

    Seriously? It's not logical or practical to separate "theft" from "copyright infringement"? The penalties for theft vs copyright infringement are treated very differently by the law. I agree both are illegal, but the two actions are not the same.

    Loss of use is not unique to theft... sure. But that doesn't mean that "rivalrous" can't be part of the definition. Taking stuff isn't unique to theft, so does that mean taking stuff can't be a valid part of the definition of theft?

    I suppose you're trying to say that "theft" is the superset of "copyright infringement" -- but that that does not negate that there is a difference between the two concepts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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