Content Leaks: Call The Lawyers, Or Talk To Fans Honestly?

from the which-do-you-think-works-better? dept

You may remember last year all the press attention that came about when a work print of the movie Wolverine leaked out a month or so before the movie was set to be released. At the time, 20th Century Fox went ballistic and all of the talk was about legal threats and getting the FBI involved (in fact, the FBI eventually did arrest someone accused of the leak). However, in our post about the leak, we wondered if a better response might have been to not freak out and call the lawyers, but address fans who were downloading the leak as fans and treat them with some respect. Totally off the top of my head, I mocked up what Fox could have said:

Hey Wolverine fans! We know that you’re all looking forward to the release of the movie next month. We’re excited too! By now you may have heard that an early totally unfinished version has been leaked online. It’s missing a whole bunch of stuff — including some amazing special effects — and honestly, this version isn’t a finished product at all. We think you’ll get a much better overall experience by waiting for the full finished product, but we certainly understand that some of you just can’t wait (trust us, we feel the same way!). If that’s the case, please, feel free to check it out, but please remember that this isn’t even close to the final version. If anything, think of this as a “behind-the-scenes” peek of just what a movie looks like before all the real “movie magic” gets put in there. If you do check it out, we hope you’ll join us May 1st to check out the finalized version as well on the big screen the way we intended for you to see this awesome movie. It’s just a month away!

But, of course, that’s not what happened at all. I still do wonder how people would have responded if 20th Century Fox had responded that way. While it’s not quite the same scale, we now do have some information from a band who did choose to do something somewhat similar when their album leaked. It’s obviously on a much smaller scale, but involves a similarly obsessive group of fans who were eagerly waiting for the content. In this case, it was the release of an album from a band called Man Overboard. The story is explained by the band’s manager, where they quickly and actively responded to the album leaking a month ahead of schedule by not freaking out, and moving to treat fans who wanted the album with respect. In this case, it involved putting the album up themselves as well, and proactively communicating with fans. And the response was that fans loved it, with some pointing out they were buying the album just to show support for a band that would act that way:

The response could not have been better. Many fans praised us for being “adults” about the situation and countless fans were thankful they got a record they had been waiting for a month early. Other said they would buy the record just to support a group behaving in this fashion. On messageboards and blog comments we could not have gotten a better response,with at least two dozen compliments on how cool it was for us to release the record to our fans early instead of inflicting the usual torture of waiting upon our fans.

We earned loyalty from our fans and made them into evangelists by doing them right, which coincidentally also did us right. A win-win situation that most labels turn into a lose-lose situation. We could not be more thankful to have a smart label and team that made us able to benefit from something that is usually thought of as a catastrophe.

Nice to see some people making this work. Somehow, I doubt we’ll see many of the “big” guys figure this out any time soon, unfortunately.

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Comments on “Content Leaks: Call The Lawyers, Or Talk To Fans Honestly?”

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15 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

I think it’s fortunate that the big guys don’t realize this. It’s what makes this little guys stand out. If releasing an album was expected after a leak, there wouldn’t be as much support. I love what they did, and hope more people do it, but I think this model has a limited lifespan (limited only by the stupidity of the big record labels which is very big, but limited nonetheless). That doesn’t mean that other related models will not work or that people shouldn’t benefit from this model while it lasts.

Urza9814 says:

Re: Re:

I agree 100%. I was just about to post noting that a lot of people apparently said that they purchased the album because the band was “acting like adults” and “just to support a band behaving in this fashion”. If everyone behaved in that fashion, it wouldn’t be anything special, and wouldn’t be a reason to buy. Nice to see people capitalizing on good customer service, but sad to see that doing the right thing is seen as novel and worthy of praise. It’s like if the U.S. government started giving out medals to everyone who hasn’t been convicted of murder.

Anonymous Coward says:

But, of course, that’s not what happened at all. I still do wonder how people would have responded if 20th Century Fox had responded that way.

The movie made hundreds of millions of dollars doing it the way they did it. Can TD show any evidence of loss of revenue based on how FOX handled it? How is catering to the piracy of their film (as inevitable as it may be) a good long-term strategy for these media companies that have a racket going (and they well know it?)

Sure they could give the movie to fans! They could give a plush doll away with the movies, and a slush puppy and free attachable claws! They could do lots of things that would please their fans to no end, but would it result in dramatically better returns? I highly doubt it, I see a point of diminishing returns.

I just don’t see it. These companies, Apple, they sell just as much an image as they do a movie, and I think they are very protective of that image that they create films and they want that presentation protected. They don’t really care about the repercussion of someone getting attacked by the FBI affecting their fanbase. You are talking about a public that donate relief to Haiti for a month or two and then forget where Haiti is on the map, do you honestly think the public gives a shit?

Ri (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Can TD show any evidence of loss of revenue based on how FOX handled it? “

So, I’m not sure if you’re thick enough to buy negative proof arguments your self or if you’re just trying to win a debate here, but… Typically when someone asks you to prove that something doesn’t exist, they have no foundation to their argument whatsoever. So, let me ask you, can you prove that the tooth fairy dos’t exist?

So, you’re probably going to come back with “he made the assertion, the burden of proof is on him” just guessing…

lux (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sure they could give the movie to fans! They could give a plush doll away with the movies, and a slush puppy and free attachable claws! They could do lots of things that would please their fans to no end, but would it result in dramatically better returns?

Probably. People love free stuff. As you mentioned, they’re selling an image, so I don’t see how handing out free gifts on admission or purchase of the DVD would wind up hurting them. If anything, they’d be helping themselves out by furthering their brand through what in essence is advertising:

http://techdirt.com/articles/20100222/1028568252.shtml

This kind of thinking seemed to help out Old Spice:

http://techdirt.com/articles/20100728/17372910400.shtml

And Mike fairly points out the following as well:

That said, the increase cannot be necessarily attributed entirely to the social media campaign, since a coupon campaign for the body wash was also running at the same time.

I do know the last time I watched a funny YouTube video, however, I cannot recall the last time I clipped and turned in a coupon. To use an antiquated term, I’d say web 2.0 was responsible for this.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“These companies, Apple, they sell just as much an image as they do a movie”

1. WTF does Apple have to do with this?

2. Did *anybody* see this movie just because it was released by Fox and they have a certain image? I doubt it.

3. Actually, if anything, Fox’s image hurts them. They’re the ones who constantly cancel great TV shows that appeal to exactly the same demographic as comic book movies.

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