The MPAA's Problem In A Nutshell: Views Relationship With The Public As One Way

from the consume,-consume,-consume dept

We just wrote about some of the more questionable bits of Chris Dodd’s appearance in San Francisco this week, with part of our complaint even being the venue. As impressive as the Commonwealth Club is in bringing in big name speakers, it’s not a venue that actually attracts the people Dodd needs to talk to. The average age there was probably close to double my age and the non-press attendees seemed more interested in his take on the Presidential election than copyright policy. Dodd has now penned (well, probably some flunky wrote it for him) an opinion piece for Politico, in which he tries to claim that his visit to SF was about working together with the tech industry. Of course, the tech industry, for the most part, wasn’t at the event. That’s because most of them were a few blocks south of there, in the various incubators in SOMA working hard on new and innovative services.

Reading Dodd’s column, it’s pretty clear where the problem lies. He still thinks of the movie business and its relationship to the public as a one way thing: they deliver content that the public consumes. He’s right to point out that the public is the ultimate boss for the entertainment industry, but he frames them, incorrectly, as consumers, rather than something more:

If there is one key point I hope the audience left with, it’s this: Despite what the media and the advocates on the extremes would have you believe, the content and technology communities are not adversaries, we’re partners. Our companies call them audiences and tech companies call them users, but giving consumers the best possible experience is our shared goal. In the end, we all report to the same people: consumers.

We both share a commitment to innovation. Developing fresh and interesting content, and new platforms for seamlessly delivering that content to audiences, is the lifeblood of both of our industries. That’s why Hollywood is partnering with Silicon Valley and others — from YouTube to Facebook to Netflix to Roku — to deliver our great content to screens of all sizes. In fact, every one of the studios that I represent at the Motion Picture Association of America has a distribution deal with Google. Partnerships with these tech companies are only growing. There are currently more than 350 unique, licensed online services that provide motion picture content to viewers around the world, including more than 60 in the U.S. alone.

Notice the language here. The public’s job is only to consume what the MPAA delivers. It’s all about distribution, in one direction only. There is no attempt to actually further listen to what the public says (in fact, Dodd has famously dismissed the concerns of the public, calling them thieves for wishing for better and easier access to content that they can share and build upon). There is no attempt to understand the public. It’s all about shoving content to them in one direction.

But that’s not how the media landscape works any more — and this is a big part of the problem. Above all else, the internet is a communications platform, in that the conversation is multi-directional. Yes, part of that can be broadcast content, but the public wants to do much more. They want to discuss and share and have experiences with each other. And their concern over the MPAA’s constant overreaching on things like copyright law are that the end result will actually prevent them from communicating and sharing.

If he were actually concerned about the public, he wouldn’t just talk about shoving content to them, he’d be talking about understanding what they want, and that would mean actually talking to the public on the internet, where they live.

Take UltraViolet, for example. UltraViolet is technology that allows customers to purchase content in one form — digital or physical — and then watch it on any of their devices. UltraViolet is the result of a coordinated effort between dozens of content and tech companies — because all of these companies understand that it is in the best interest of their customers to ensure that people do not have to buy multiple forms of movies or shows.

Indeed, he spoke about UltraViolet over and over again at the event. But UltraViolet is really the shining example of the MPAA’s wrong approach. It’s an attempt not to deliver what the public really wants — but to have the MPAA and some tech companies try to build a service that fits what Hollywood wants, while pretending to give the public some more control. It’s just a new form of DRM. The fact that it’s received mostly scathing reviews says it all. This wasn’t designed with input from the public. It was yet another attempt to tell the public what it should like.

The tech community will be integral to helping solve this problem. It’s going to require cooperation and voluntary best practices from all interested parties. We saw some of that earlier this summer when Google altered its algorithm to de-emphasize pirated content. That was an important step because it recognizes the problem, and it recognizes Google’s ability to do something about it. It was not a silver bullet, and there’s much more to be done — but it was a good acknowledgment from Google that content theft is a problem and one that can be tackled.

Yes, the tech industry is important, but not nearly as important as the public. And Dodd has made little to no effort to actually hear from them. Just the fact that he thinks Google’s decision to pervert its search results is an example of the kind of innovation that’s needed, again shows how misguided his approach is. He thinks that the “innovation” is about limiting consumers and holding back technology. It’s about protectionism, not about opening up new opportunities and new markets. It’s not about enabling what the technology can do, but holding it back.

That’s not innovation. That’s not what the public wants. It’s protectionism for an industry that doesn’t want to adapt.

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Companies: mpaa

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Comments on “The MPAA's Problem In A Nutshell: Views Relationship With The Public As One Way”

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Tim K (profile) says:

Crappy Partners...

That?s why Hollywood is partnering with Silicon Valley and others ? from YouTube to Facebook to Netflix to Roku

Really, I thought they were doing everything possible to kill off Youtube, Netflix and Roku? Ridiculously high licensing fees, cable companies trying to encrypt all TV so that nothing but a cable box will be able to view it…I think Youtube they might finally be accepting, but they’ve fought quite hard against it (including one hand putting up videos and the other taking them down). But yeah, they really want these techs to succeed…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Crappy Partners...

It always makes me laugh that they say that pirates don’t want to pay for things.

Lots of people I know have either seedboxes or usenet accounts. Both usually cost more than a subscription to netflix.

What you pay for is the service, which the MPAA et al just don’t get.

Zos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Crappy Partners...

i’ve actually got two netflix accounts as well, one for the kids tv’s for cartoons, and one for the main tv/main bedroom.

the interface is nice and simple, plenty of series and such for when we just want to “page through channels”.

i watch stuff on netflix that i’d never bother to download, or don’t have space for (like the full run of angel and buffy which my wife is working through now).

The seedbox is comes into play for current run stuff and ebooks, since they can’t manage to get an a la carte on demand that meets my needs, play on any device, at any time, with whatever selection i’m looking for.

Zos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Crappy Partners...

it’s the device limit. you can only stream to two devices at the same time.
at bedtime we’d have two kids streaming in their own rooms, and be unable to watch something grownup (on netflix) in ours. Not a big deal for me, but my wife’s slowly working through doctor who, angel and buffy…all of which are on netflix.

I considered a hulu plus account, but found i couldn’t physically bring myself to give money to those bastards, even though the net result would be more programming available total, since one or more tv’s could be streaming via the hulu account. (i’ve got roku’s on every tv, 4 total…essentially they get used as netflix boxes, or to stream content from my media server pc, but the kids just use them as netflix boxes because they can navigate that interface easiest).

once the wife works through her queue or the kids get old enough to learn how to find their own content and don’t need netflix, then i can change it up again, but for now it works.

Zos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Crappy Partners...

i see netflix streaming cataloge as a continuous fight against companies upstream that would like to strangle them. They do pretty well despite that imo. Plus, for old series runs, and kids cartoons it’s worth the 8 bucks a month to me.

i wouldn’t wait for a disk, i’d just head to the bay 🙂

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Crappy Partners...

Why support this MAFIAA Industry of Greed ? Why would anyone believe the lies that spew forth from Chris Dodd’s Greedbag Mouth ?
Support the local Artist and find Indie Art to purchase.The more we stand up to the large Corporations the better it will be.
Do not let yourself be sold on their lies and Dis-Information.

And I so wish the Tech Industries could just tell these guys to Frak Off.
Maybe some of those Tech Players should Band together to make their own Film Studio signing up all kinds of Indie Content to Compete against the MAFIAA Greed.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Dodd isn’t alone. That is why a lot of media companies are failing to understand what the public wants.

One example is the way the publishing industry embraced the iPad. They thought of the iPad as a way that the public would consume their products. They thought they would be saved by electronic subscriptions that let big publishers just replace physical magazines and newspapers with electronic ones that are a lot cheaper to produce and distribute. Unfortunately for the big media companies the public seems a lot more interested in applications that let them interact with other individuals and with the media itself. Some of them are starting to figure this out. The others are going out of business.

Lord Binky says:

It’s hard to demphasize pirated content when that’s the specific thing users are searching for. People use google because it works, if google stops working for what they are using it for, they find something else. Their goal doesn’t change, how they go about it does. It sounds like they are missing a simple understanding of human nature.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

The majority of Hollywood’s efforts have resulted in how many different services?

I remember the article a while back discussing one author’s problem with finding a way to watch Thor online.

The MPAA ignored the author’s aggravation over there not being any way to rent the movie, but rather pointed him to Netflix which requires a subscription fee.

If they actually listened, they’d know he didn’t want to pay $8 to see one movie when there already exists a way to rent online movies for half that price.

Zangetsu (profile) says:

Not in Canada

I’m a little confused. I went on to the UltraViolet site and tried to register an account. I couldn’t because there is no option for Canada. I can register if I am in the United States or the United Kingdnm but not in Canada. So, is this because:

A) Canadians are too smart to go for this
B) The MPAA has no understanding of their target audience
C) The MPAA has too many legal hurdles to overcome to offer their own movies in different countries
D) All of the above

I’m kind of leaning towards D) myself.

MrWilson says:

Re: Not in Canada

Didn’t you get the Special 301 Report? Canadia is full teh pirates, eh? Can’t have the pirates getting access to our super secure DRM’d content. They’ll have to access the content the same way the rest of the world does, via bit torrent! Uh…wait…I mean, they should do without, the freetards!

Anonymous Coward says:

biggest problems with Dodd are:
he cant open his mouth without lies and bull shit pouring out

he has no intention or desire to discuss anything with anyone concerning copyright and file sharing other than putting over his points only

he has no interest in using the available technologies or technologists, even though they would be to his industries advantage because there would have to be some giving on the part of his industries. all he and his ilk want to do is take, take, take!

he looks at customers as if they should feel privileged to his industries for having the products available to spend money on, rather than feeling that without customers there would be no industries anyway

Lord Binky says:

Because other businesses do so well without listening to customers.

Everyone knows when you go to a baker it isn’t a matter of what you want, it’s a matter of what they feel like making. ‘Psh, you are customers, you buy what I sell. No, I don’t feel like baking birthday cakes, maybe I will feel like it in a few months. Either buy what I have or go without’

Or you go to but fireworks, but you hear it all the time when they only have two things in stock. ‘But I only like snakes and sparklers.’

I know they always get my return business.

New Mexico Mark says:

I dunno

“Just the fact that he thinks Google’s decision to pervert its search results is an example of the kind of innovation that’s needed, again shows how misguided his approach is.”

Maybe Google could sell the idea of inaccurate search results by calling this the “Yogi Berra” filter and have deemphasized links warn that, “Nobody goes there any more, it’s always too crowded.”

Tunnen (profile) says:

The MPAA has a two way relationship

The MPAA think they have a two way relationship with the public.

They shovel hot steaming piles of crap into boxes.
They expect the public to hand them back handfuls of money in return.

If people stop paying for the box of crap, they assume it’s not the crap that is the problem but the people. So they then attempt to force the people, with the help of the government, to pay them. That way the public can enjoy their crap! =P

Anonymous Coward says:

They have no fucking clue what I want so here it is.

I want to be able to buy my tv by the channel. 500 channels is awesome only if you’re gonna use all 500 but I use 4 or 5 at best.

Going to the theater use to be fun but as I get older I rather be able to just buy it online “AT THE SAME RELEASE DATE”! Contrary to their beliefs I would much rather have something legally and also I would prefer a 1080 over a cam any day.

By the time I add up gas,soda, and maybe a snickers I’m looking at 30$. 30$ to be in a room with 30 other mother fuckers on their phones texting,laughing at shit that’s not funny,coughing,sneezing,and of course bringing along their spoiled kids that most definitely do not like the movie is not my idea of a good time.

I mean really I would probably pay just not to go these days.

I want to be able to watch my shit in boxers with a 6 pack and a pill crusher full of Vicodin.

I want to be able to pause my shit just in case I HAVE TO TAKE A SHIT. “I know I know”

If I have the urge to get my dick sucked by my GF in the heat of the moment well I would also like to be able to pause for that. “well maybe not pause just depends what I’m watching” A hole in the bottom of my popcorn bucket is fun but also risky. Saying she just really likes popcorn does not work like it use to back in the day.

I could go on for a week with reasons I’d rather watch it at home but I will not..

So till the day they make it easy again “FOR ME” I’ll stick to piracy or finding something else to watch.

PaulT (profile) says:

Ultraviolet is the best example of how clueless Dodd really is if he thinks that’s an example of the solution required.

Ultraviolet does nothing – NOTHING – that an ordinary DVD and media locker cannot do with freely available software. Its only purpose is to pointlessly restrict and annoy paying customers out of fear that they will pirate the content. However, all of the content is already pirated! As with all DRM, only the paying customer suffers, the pirates are unaffected – and the pirated copy that involves less restrictions and hassle starts to look very tempting.

In my case, I can honestly say that Ultraviolet has LOST money directly for the MPAA. A few weeks after having seen Final Destination 5 at a festival last year, I saw the DVD/Blu Ray combo in a store. I picked it, intending to buy – then I saw “Ultraviolet digital copy” on the box. I put it down and walked away. I still don’t own a copy of that movie, despite owning copies of all the other films in the series. Since then, I make sure I check for Ultraviolet, and I refuse to buy anything with it on. Oh well, at least Arrow and other quality independent labels have been getting my money instead. It’s the worst idea they’ve had since putting a time limit on the digital copy “included” on the disk.

Ultimately, there’s nothing to stop studios from removing the DRM and allowing people to do what they can already do with the pirated copy. That they think that pissing off the people who actually pay them money is the right way forward is why they’re failing. Of course, many of us have been saying this for years, but nobody’s listening to anything but sales figures – and even refusing to buy gets the wrong message across since they have their heads up their “everything bad is because of piracy” asses.

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