I've heard enough stories about the legendary film producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein to recognize that they're known as being characters around Hollywood -- and sometimes are known to make some quirky decisions. In a recent edition of Kevin Smith's Smoviemakers podcast
, they discuss how the Weinsteins knew they had a terrible movie in Dracula 2000
but released it anyway because "it's called Dracula 2000
So, somehow it doesn't surprise me that Harvey Weinstein recently complained publicly about piracy
-- but seemed confused and ignorant about who to blame. His main target: the tech industry providing him all the tools to get into the 21st century. But, he seems determined to stay in the past -- and live in a world of ignorance. It's as if he's heard a few of the MPAA talking points, as well as some of the more hysterically misguided anti-piracy rants online... and synthesized them into the ultimate in clueless rants:
Hollywood power player Harvey Weinstein has urged Big Content to take a “hang ‘em first and talk about it later” stance when it comes to piracy.
Right, because when you're ignorant and pointing the finger at innocent players, it's always better to kill first and realize you're wrong later.
Keynoting at the BFI London Film Festival, he railed against the online industries' approach to piracy, and slammed Apple and Google for “getting paid, not the actors.”
On what is he basing this? Both Apple and Google offer the ability to pay for movies, via deals negotiated with Hollywood. If the actors aren't getting paid -- then perhaps it's the studios' fault
, with their fun tricks and Hollywood accounting
, whereby they set up neat shell companies, who the studios charge huge fees to, so that their movies are never technically "profitable" and residuals never have to be paid. It couldn't be that, could it? Perhaps the reason actors aren't getting paid is because the studios are taking the money that Google and Apple are giving them... and playing accounting tricks.
"I think we are being done a massive disservice by these companies," he said.
Let's see, these are two companies who have built the
key pieces of the modern distribution system that allows them to better deliver movies to consumers, including with unique and new monetization options? That's a disservice? Well, I'll grant you, perhaps Harvey's right that they've done a disservice to studio bosses
in that they've disrupted them. The business of the studio used to be to act as the gatekeeper
on promotion, distribution and monetization of movies. But Apple, Google and others are changing things so that the studio heads have less control over the market -- and the filmmakers can actually go direct. No wonder he hates them.
“I think after the [US Presidential] election we need to rally filmmakers, content providers and musicians around the world as long as these companies [continue to make content available] under the guise of free Internet.”
Good luck with that. Besides, he seems very confused in thinking that it's Apple and Google that are somehow broadcasting his content for free. That's not the case, and you'd think someone with more than two seconds of experience with the internet would recognize that.
“I love it when these Internet dudes say to me, hey man; we just want to be 'content neutral.' Next time, I'll say sure, I'll get my tie dye shirt and come and sit in your billion dollar mansion in San Francisco or Silicon Valley for a while, soak it up," he quipped.
Really no need to comment on that one. He then praised France's HADOPI three strikes law and pretended to prove a point.
"If an Internet company steals content, they shut it down. And let me tell you, Apple France, Yahoo France or Google France, none of them have gone out of business."
Of course, that's not true at all. He's displaying his near total ignorance (yet again). All Hadopi does is send individuals (not companies) accused (not convicted) of uploading unauthorized content, letters warning them that their connections could be cut off (and after three of these, they can lose service). So, no, they don't "shut down" an internet company. It has nothing to do with that at all. Also, it's been a colossal failure. Even after Hadopi fudged the numbers
to make their results look better there has been no increase in sales
and the current government has declared Hadopi to be a failure and wants to cut its funding
The fact that it has done nothing to increase sales is the key point. Since Harvey was talking about "getting actors paid" (a red herring, of course, but...), you'd think that he'd be a lot more concerned about whether or not the 3 strikes policy actually worked to get more people paid. It hasn't. So, if his concern is getting actors paid, Hadopi hasn't actually helped.
There are plenty of discussions to be had about how to deal with whatever challenges and opportunities the film business currently faces. But this wasn't one of them. Pointing the finger and blaming tech companies, even though they're not doing what he claims they're doing -- and then praising a failed law that hasn't done what he thought it had done -- is not productive at all. It just makes him look out of touch.