Ridiculous: Short-Sighted, Anonymous Hollywood Exec Flips Out Over Using BitTorrent For Promotions

from the what-year-is-this? dept

I had thought that we'd gotten past the point at which Hollywood execs would freak out over the use of a modern, better, more efficient technology to help promote a movie, but apparently in the minds of some of the folks who run the big movie studios, we're perpetually stuck in 2004 or so. That's the only explanation I can figure out for this wacky article from TheWrap, which highlights what appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course) Hollywood studio big shot absolutely losing his mind over the fact that a major movie is promoting itself by distributing the first 7 minutes for free via BitTorrent, in a marketing deal done with BitTorrent Inc. Indie studio Cinedgim made the deal with BitTorrent to promote their new film Arthur Newman, starring Colin Firth and Emily Blunt, and it seems like a perfectly normal way to promote stuff, but not to one studio exec who can't even bother to stand behind his words by identifying himself.
"It's a deal with the devil," one studio executive told TheWrap. "Cinedigm is being used as their pawn."
A deal with the devil? Funny, I remember most of the major studios doing deals with BitTorrent Inc. six years ago. That was for a poorly planned out and poorly executed video download store, but still. Most people now recognize that there are all sorts of opportunities in going where your customers and fans are. That a Hollywood exec doesn't see that is a bit scary for whichever studio they happen to work for.
"It's great for BitTorrent and disingenuous of Cinedigm," said the executive. "The fact of the matter is BitTorrent is in it for themselves, they're not in it for the health of the industry."
Now that's just funny. As if the studio execs are not in it for themselves? The studios have focused on a business model that sucks the life out of the "health of the industry" for ages, by trying to squeeze out as much money as possible from just a few ideas -- doing remakes and sequels and adaptations, rather than doing anything that is new or unique. And then they use Hollywood accounting to make sure the actual creators almost never get paid any additional money, while they make many times over the amount invested. A statement like that pretends that the exec has the "health of the industry" in mind, rather than his own bottom line.

And, of course, there's a strong argument that this statement is totally wrong as well. Cinedigm really does appear to have a much bigger focus on the health of the industry than this nameless studio exec, because Cinedigm is trying to adapt with the times and to embrace new opportunities.
"I really missed them being at the forefront of the piracy issue," the studio executive said. "I don't remember them going, 'Naughty, naughty, don't use our technology for that.' They don't give a shit."
Huh? Actually, from rather early on, BitTorrent made clear that you shouldn't use their technology to infringe, because BitTorrent does nothing to hide your IP address. When it first came out, in fact, most people talked about how it wasn't a great technology for infringement, given the lack of secrecy involved in using it. Furthermore, from as far back as I can remember, BitTorrent the company (which this exec seems to confuse entirely with BitTorrent the protocol) has worked hard to promote legitimate and non-infringing uses. We already talked about the (failed) partnerships with Hollywood in the past, but the company has long been focused on helping to try to find ways to drag Hollywood execs into the 21st century with a better, more efficient platform for distribution.

Really, this exec just seems to be acting in a knee jerk way against BitTorrent the company without understanding very much at all. Hell, even the idea of releasing the first seven minutes of a movie online for free to drive more views -- that's been done for years. There's almost nothing new here at all. In fact, we wrote about a movie studio doing the exact same thing thirteen years ago when Dreamworks did that with Chicken Run. How could it possibly be a bad thing to release the first 7 minutes of a movie for free, in an effort to convince people that it will be worth their while to go see the full thing? Well, I can think of one way: if you make crap movies where the first seven minutes will convince you not to pay to see the rest. Perhaps that's this exec's problem.

Thankfully, the forward-looking folks at Cinedigm don't seem put off by one anonymous exec at a competing studio:
"Blaming BitTorrent for piracy is like blaming a freeway for drunk drivers, " Jill Calcaterra, Cinedigm's chief marketing officer said. "How people use it can be positive for the industry or it can hurt the industry. We want it help us make this indie film successful."
Furthermore, it appears that they're planning to use BitTorrent to promote a number of other films this way as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 11:49am

    So Jaron Lanier is still smoking those 1up Mario mushrooms I see. And writing bs. Except now the red gnomes turned into red little bittorrent devils. And I thought the guy from Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen) had a bumpy ride...

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

    Cinedgim did goof. They should have put the 7 minutes on Usenet instead. Apparently the studio execs still haven't realized that all the real pirates (and therefore a lot of their paying customers) have moved over to Usenet.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 12:28pm

    So a portion of a movie, not the whole thing, ended up on Bittorent that can act as an advertisement for the full movie.

    So...what are the movie studios going to say when another workprint is leaked, one missing all the special effects? Ya know, like what happened with that Wolverine Origins movie? It's pretty much the same thing. The fact that it's done with or without their permission doesn't matter - in the end, a portion of an unreleased movie ends up accessible for free viewing, acting as an advertisement.

     

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      ChrisB (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

      Re:

      The only reason Wolverine Origins make $80MM opening weekend is because of the workprint leak. That movie is crap. I watched the work print and went out to see the movie just to see how they added the special effects. If I hadn't seen the work print, I would have stayed away due to the reviews.

       

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    jameshogg (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:22pm

    I wonder what the dying last words of this stupid war on piracy will be. What immediately springs to mind is a quotation of Tim Minchin's:

    "...but who's the world going to revolve around now?"

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

    Really? From "TheWrap", whatever that might be? About equally unknown "Cinedigm"?

    And off this STRING of alleged unverifiable factoids Mike makes generalizations about how blind "Hollywood" is. Sheesh.

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

      Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

      Well, a regular reader of this site would know that this is not a generalization, that there are plenty of articles demonstrating how blind Hollywood has been.
      Then again, you've confessed to never reading the articles.

       

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        jupiterkansas (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:11pm

        Re: Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

        He's confessed to never BELIEVING the articles. But still keeps reading them.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:30pm

      Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

      "Cinedigm" is a company that distributes films.

       

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      jackn, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

      Re:

      We already know how blind. You words suggest u r blind too.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

      Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

      You do know a google search would show this story reported many times on other websites with the same facts as well? Perhaps one of them would prefer your cock-gobbling comments a bit more.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

      Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

      Really dude you need to get a life.

       

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      DannyB (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:38pm

      Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

      If Cinedigm is so unknown as you say, then why should you or a clueless Hollywood Exec care about how Cinedigm distributes its own films?

      In fact why should a clueless dinosaur Hollywood Exec care about how any other modern firm distributes its own films in this millennium?

       

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        ratskywatsky (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:10pm

        Re: Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

        I have no idea why an unnamed exec would comment but Cinedigm has released exactly 4 films under its current name and per my above quote the "Major film " in question ( Arthur Neman) had the worst opening I can recall for a film opening on over 100 screens ( nearly 250 in this case) it grossed an average of $455 per which means about 60 people per theater went to see for the entire weekend. I can assure you no actual exec at a major studio would give a rats ass if they released the entire film on BitTorrent. I just get annoyed when people who know nothing about film distribution make absurd statements such as claiming Cindedigm is "Major Studio" ( on a side note they are NOT A STUDIO at all, they are a distributor as are most companies outside of Hollywood). They do NOT make movies they acquire them after someone else has paid to have them made or that is a major film release but don't let facts get in the way of a good story. This is about the last film I would use as an example of BitTorrrent being good for a films sales.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Apr 30th, 2013 @ 2:15am

          Re: Re: Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

          "This is about the last film I would use as an example of BitTorrrent being good for a films sales."

          Your comments seem to be missing the point of the article. This isn't about showing that torrents are a great way to promote or Cinedigm's exact place in the food chain (the article doesn't claim that they're a major studio, by the way. The link to the source article refers to Arthur Newman as a "major movie", but nothing in the article states that Cinedigm is a "major studio").

          It's about the typical reaction among incumbants to this kind of move. Realistically, they're not doing anything massively new. Movies have been promoted (or even distributed) through torrents before. Movies have been promoted by showing people the first reel before. Nothing here is truly new.

          But, even so, we have a studio executive (who apparently does work for a major studio) attacking Cinedigm as though marketing in this way is somehow wrong. That's the point of the article, and is incorrect. Torrents are a neutral technology, BitTorrent are not involved with pirated material, and the setup allows people to distribute and promote legal material if they wish. To pretend otherwise is either to misunderstand the technology or just be afraid of different ways to promote content that don't require multi-million dollar advertising budgets.

          It's the same old story - Hollywood incumbents lashing out at new technology that they feel threatens their place. The only newsworthy part of this is that it's taking place in 2013, whereas most of the questions raised and challenges issued were answered in 2003.

           

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            ratskywatsky (profile), Apr 30th, 2013 @ 8:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

            Sorry but facts do matter. Cinedigm is NOT a " studio" big or small. The standard definition of a studio is company that MAKES films and thus invests significant money in them. Cinedigm is a distributor that has virtually no track record either now or in its previous incarnation as New Video in theatrical film distribution. Arthur Newman is NOT a major film. It is a piece of crap that was almost surely sold to Cinedigm for next to nothing as they were willing do distribute it. Some unnamed studio exec allegedly criticizes them for this and this is a story? No serious exec would care what Cinedigm does with the film. The eagerness here to use even a story built around an anonymous quote and false details to attack studios shows how often there is little interest here in facts when studios are involved. I am not a big fan of studios on many issues but this is a non story. Sorry that I am "missing" the real story when there is no story.

             

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            ratskywatsky (profile), Apr 30th, 2013 @ 8:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

            Sorry but facts do matter. Cinedigm is NOT a " studio" big or small. The standard definition of a studio is company that MAKES films and thus invests significant money in them. Cinedigm is a distributor that has virtually no track record either now or in its previous incarnation as New Video in theatrical film distribution. Arthur Newman is NOT a major film. It is a piece of crap that was almost surely sold to Cinedigm for next to nothing as they were willing do distribute it. Some unnamed studio exec allegedly criticizes them for this and this is a story? No serious exec would care what Cinedigm does with the film. The eagerness here to use even a story built around an anonymous quote and false details to attack studios shows how often there is little interest here in facts when studios are involved. I am not a big fan of studios on many issues but this is a non story. Sorry that I am "missing" the real story when there is no story.

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 8:24pm

      Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

      Dammit you did it again. The first sentence;gold. The second one;not so much. Quit it man, it's embarrassing. I want to like our posts so much but you just won't allow it.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2013 @ 3:42am

      Re: "appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course)"

      yes, some unknown, told this other guy who is equally unknown something that cannot be confirmed, by someone who is anonymous about something about a movie and bittorrent.

      So I am told.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    obviously cant use it him/herself (officially!) so condemns it out of hand. also obvious that he wont say anything positive about torrent because it would go against the collective. in other words, nothing other than a big mouth with no guts or brains!!

     

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    emilio, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:44pm

    Well, obviously, the threat to the health of the industry is that movie makers will be encouraged to expend nearly their entire budget on the first seven minutes of the film to drive sales, with absolutely as little as possible spent on the remaining 83 minutes...

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    When are they going to realise that it is not the technology that is the problem but how SOME people use the technology?

    Copyright people love the car analogy so here goes. You would never blame Ford if someone driving their car killed someone while driving recklessly.

     

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    ratskywatsky (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:56pm

    I don't want to get into the piracy issue as I disagree with nearly everyone here ( worked in indie film for 20 years)but it is absurd to call Cinedigm a major studio and even less so this film a major movie. They have dealt mostly specialized in documentaries ( they were New Video for many years) and have VERY little experience with theatrical release. The film in question opened this weekend to one of the worst box offices for a film on over 100 screens in recent memory (average $435) I am not blaming the box office on BitTorrent , the film had bad reviews but it is hardly any kind of proof that BitTorrent helps sales. Obviously the DVD & streaming sales remain to be seen but I would not hold my breath.

     

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:55pm

      Re:

      So in that case the bad reviews are to blame for the poor box office showing. Who is going to go see a film when multiple sources say it is not good?

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:58pm

      Re:

      This isn't a piracy issue at all. This is an issue of a movie executive who simply doesn't know what he's talking about.

      Bittorrent is a file transfer technology. That's all. To say that using it is in some way a "deal with the devil" is the same as saying that using FTP or email attachments are a "deal with the devil."

       

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        RD, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:24pm

        Re: Re:

        "Bittorrent is a file transfer technology. That's all. To say that using it is in some way a "deal with the devil" is the same as saying that using FTP or email attachments are a "deal with the devil."

        But...that's because they are. If it's on the internet, or uses the internet, its de facto evil, illegal, immoral. It just is. Also theft, has to be.

        /s

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2013 @ 6:10am

      Re:

      bittorrent doesnt have to make every crappy movie a success in order to be a good thing.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    The studios have focused on a business model that sucks the life out of the "health of the industry" for ages, by trying to squeeze out as much money as possible from just a few ideas -- doing remakes and sequels and adaptations, rather than doing anything that is new or unique.

    So just the other day you noted that the industry is enjoying record employment. Today the life is being sucked out of the "health of the industry".

    So which is it?

     

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      JarHead (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:50pm

      Re:

      It means that while the employment is booming, the industry's foundation is unsound, hence a growing chance to come crashing down. Not unlike the housing bubble.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2013 @ 3:47am

      Re:

      neither and both !!! I guess..

      ask 'mick the nick'

       

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      JMT (profile), Apr 30th, 2013 @ 5:13am

      Re:

      These are two completely different things that are not mutually exclusive. Nice try to catch Mike out, but you fail.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2013 @ 6:00am

      Re:

      I don't know. Why don't we ask the Hollywood executives who claim that the movie industry is booming and they're paying Chris Dodd more money, but also at the same time whine that all the actors are starving.

      You're not trying to say that Hollywood is lying, are you?

       

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    btr1701 (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:17pm

    Industry

    > "It's great for BitTorrent and disingenuous
    > of Cinedigm," said the executive. "The fact of
    > the matter is BitTorrent is in it for themselves,
    > they're not in it for the health of the industry."

    Why should BitTorrent be obligated to do anything for the health of the industry? It's not *their* industry.

    Does the movie industry go out of its way to prop up the health of the car industry or the steel industry or the fabric industry? No? Well, why not? They expect others to help out *them* out of the goodness of their hearts. Shouldn't they reciprocate?

     

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      DannyB (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:42pm

      Re: Industry

      > "It's great for BitTorrent and disingenuous
      > of Cinedigm," said the executive. "The fact of
      > the matter is BitTorrent is in it for themselves,
      > they're not in it for the health of the industry."


      . . . said clueless dinosaur. "The fact of
      the matter is Hollywood is in it for themselves,
      they're not in it for the health of Google ."

       

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      anonymouse, Apr 30th, 2013 @ 5:15am

      Re: Industry

      Sadly the execs are the ones wanting to block any change as they would lose the money they steal every day, and we are talking about billions being stolen over the years.

      I am surprised that the fraud has not been investigated more as there is a lot of money on the table, or under it i should say.

      And one thing this article actually showed is that bittorent inc is in it for themselves, i was wondering about how they have not come up with an anonymous client.
      Now it makes more sense If they make it anonymous it will end up that the anonymity will be used against them to show they are trying to protect their users from any abuse of the system by the copyright cartel.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:28pm

    Deal with the devil?

    Funny that a Hollywood executive woulds say that, considering how in movies and TV Shows it's always Hollywood executives that are portrayed as the devil by their own 'employees'.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:53pm

    The purpose of IP law and the purpose of govt established monopolies on broadcasting and cableco infrastructure and the purpose of having laws that prevent restaurants and other venues from hosting independent content creators is not to promote the progress or to serve any public good. It's not for the good of creators either. The purpose is to allow middlemen to scam both the public and the artists by limiting the ways that content creators can distribute their content and ensuring that content creators must go through a parasitic middlemen to get their content distributed and hence pay them monopoly rents (in the form of giving up their IP privileges to the middlemen) so that both the public and the artists pay parasite middlemen monopoly rents to contribute nothing.

    Abolish IP. Abolish govt established broadcasting and cableco monopolies for private or commercial use. These things are theft.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:59pm

    Bit Torrent could help its cause by requiring universal background checks before permitting downloads of its software.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:21pm

      Re:

      I think a better idea is to abolish IP law. IP law is theft and theft should be illegal.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:51pm

      Re:

      Microsoft could require universal checks before people are allowed to buy a machine with their software, after all it could be used to replay 'pirated. content.
      /s

       

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    Chosen Reject (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:02pm

    Right now if you go to the trouble of trying to hide your bittorrent activities you are seen as a copyright infringer and nothing else. As more and more movie studios (and labels, game studios, publishers, etc) start using bittorrent to distribute promotional material like this, hiding your bittorrent activity will be seen the same as blocking tracking cookies. It'll be interesting to see how long privacy advocates are lumped in with piracy advocates.

     

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    Androgynous Cowherd, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:19pm

    Translation

    Translation: "WAAH! That indie studio is using technology we're too scared to use to compete against us??? NO FAIR!!! MOMMY, MAKE HIM STOP!"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 8:28pm

    Ya know:

    bit torrent could be a hollywood wet dream if they'd just pull their collective heads out their asses

     

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    emily taylor, Apr 30th, 2013 @ 12:41am

    bit torrent could get hollywood movies great results... its not the Bittorrent the company that supports piracy... it's actually the people who use it... the company should not be held responsible for anything as such

     

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    emily taylor, Apr 30th, 2013 @ 12:42am

    bit torrent could get hollywood movies great results... its not the Bittorrent the company that supports piracy... it's actually the people who use it... the company should not be held responsible for anything as such

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 30th, 2013 @ 1:14am

    ""I don't remember them going, 'Naughty, naughty, don't use our technology for that.' "

    I don't recall Ford saying that you shouldn't run people over with their cars either. Does that mean that we can ignore investigating every hit and run driver and just sue Ford now? Or does that mean that non-criminal uses of Ford's vehicles are now suspect because they didn't attack the illegal ones in press releases?

    "How could it possibly be a bad thing to release the first 7 minutes of a movie for free, in an effort to convince people that it will be worth their while to go see the full thing?"

    I'm going to guess that somewhere in this guy's mind he can't accept that the technology is used for legal purposes and so somehow views this as being some kind of advertisement for piracy. You know, despite it already being used in the mainstream for just that and this being a great example of how torrents are not de facto illegal.

    So, a clueless moron anonymously making uneducated statements showing how he neither understand the marketplace nor consumers, while attacking logical moves that have been proven successful in the past as though they're evil? I wonder if he's one of our regulars...

     

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


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