Content Creators Coming To Terms With The Fact That Their Works Will Be Shared
from the getting-over-that-hurdle dept
I’ve been noticing a trend lately of content creators who discover unauthorized copies of their works are being shared actually responding somewhat reasonably to it. In almost every case, the story starts out with a claim of how they were upset and annoyed at first… but quickly got over that. In the past few days, I’ve come across two more such examples. The first, from the LA Times, involves the producer of the movie Unthinkable, starring Samuel Jackson. Apparently, due to the studio that financed the flick going under, the film suddenly was without domestic US distribution rights, and couldn’t find any fast enough. So it went direct to DVD. But… before the DVD came out, the film leaked, and it’s now one of the most talked about films on IMDB, even though it hasn’t even been released!
The producer notes that he had very mixed feelings about the whole thing:
“I’ve been unbelievably torn over the whole thing,” says [producer Cotty] Chubb, best known for having produced such films as “Eve’s Bayou,” “Dark Blue” and “To Sleep with Anger.” “It’s tremendous to go on IMDB and see that our user rating is 7.3, which is the highest rating of any movies in the current Top 10 there — you have to go down to ‘Iron Man 2’ to find a higher rating. But on the other hand, while everyone is debating all these important moral questions, I want to ask them another important question — hey, guys, what about the morality of watching this movie on the Internet for free?”
Of course, rather than freak out, or threaten to sue, Chubb just asked people exactly what he wanted to ask. He posted a comment himself, politely asking those who had seen the movie directly on IMDB about what their feelings on downloading the film were, and whether or not there was a price they would pay for it, while also noting that he was quite “grateful” for all of the attention the movie was getting due to the downloads.
After tons of people responded — almost all of whom saying that there’s nothing wrong with downloading a film — Chubb didn’t freak out, but recognized the onus is on himself and the industry to respond:
“We’ve got to come up with a new model, because the old one just isn’t working anymore,” says Chubb. “You just can’t fight against a model where the movie is available for free. People clearly want to download movies online, so it’s time we figured out how to get some money out of it.”
Similarly, here’s a totally different story, about author Peter Nowak discovering that his latest book was available for unauthorized download. Again, his feelings were mixed, but he eventually realized that getting angry and fighting this served no useful purpose:
My initial reaction was shock – how dare someone rip off something that I put so much work into? For a moment, I completely understood Lars Ulrich, the Metallica drummer who years ago became the poster boy for the anti-file-sharing establishment when he and his bandmates sued Napster.
Fear not, though – my anger was short-lived, and not just because I’d like to avoid becoming a self-important douche like Lars at all costs. I’m certainly not the first author to get pirated, and I won’t be the last. It’s an inevitable reality that everyone today must face. And no, I don’t think any number of Draconian copyright laws are going to change this. Technology has let the cat out of the bag, permanently.
As someone who has partaken of the occasional Torrent, it would be hard (and thoroughly hypocritical) for me to be angry. I’m also not of the mind that file-sharing necessarily hurts the artist or creator. In my experience, most people who download something for free weren’t going to buy it anyway, or they already have and just want a digital copy, so it’s not exactly a lost sale. Moreover, if they like the product they’ve downloaded, they may recommend it to someone else, who in turn may actually choose to buy it. In a way, the so-called “pirate” can become a good sales advocate.
In fact, he then notes that there are plenty of examples of authors using such publicity to their advantage, while also realizing that some of the problem is that his book doesn’t have an official ebook version yet, though he’s now working hard to make that happen as soon as possible.
I think it’s completely normal and natural for people to have that initial negative reaction — especially if they don’t follow some of the details of what’s happening and how such file sharing has helped some do much better than they would have otherwise. But it’s especially nice to see more and more content creators get over that initial shock, and then start to logically look at the situation, and realize that what consumers really want is something different than is being provided, and the responsibility is on the content creator to better provide consumers what they want.