Harvey Weinstein's 'Hang 'Em First' Approach To Piracy Hits All The Wrong Suspects

from the research-not-his-strong-suit? dept

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.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: apple, google, yahoo

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Harvey Weinstein's 'Hang 'Em First' Approach To Piracy Hits All The Wrong Suspects”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ripe for disruption

I didn’t sense a disturbance in the Force. But I did hear many loud thumps. As if several trolls had massive strokes/aneurysms all at once and dropped to the floor (possibly dead, but then again we’ve seen many we thought long gone return this week… so I doubt they’re truly passed on).

Love that second part though. Thank goodness I had finished my soda before I scrolled down. I’d have spit it out otherwise, on the new laptop I’m setting up here at work. And that would have sucked.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Ripe for disruption

Did I mention the new laptop has a 1 TB hard drive? Well, it does.

But we all know that it won’t be used by AutoCAD, ArcGIS and a plethora of other programs that require large amounts of space to install and even larger amounts of space for all the projects/data created within them. I mean seriously, we all know the only reason to have a 1 TB or larger hard drive is to pirate things. /s

Big Hardware and all that. Amiright, bob?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Ripe for disruption

> I still have a 25MB HD hanging
> around somewhere. And it probably
> still has some flavour of DOS and
> a handful of games.

> Can you beat that?

I remember the days when I could start my Mac, run my word processor and/or image software and save my documents all on one 800K floppy. I was heady with excitement when I bought an external floppy drive and added another 800K of storage space to my system. I had no idea what I was going to do with all that extra space.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ripe for disruption

I need a 3 TB HD. Lol. I have always gotten the latest of everything when it comes out.

When CD burners first came out, I was the first person in my high school to have one. And I went with an external one just because that was all that was available at the store. And to make up for the cost of it, I took to renting it out for a night to other kids (but only ones that could be trusted to take care of it). Made what I spent on it back in like 2 weeks.

When 320 GB external hard drives came out, got one too. It cost an arm and a freaking leg, and despite being made by Seagate and all the failures they were having regarding external drives at the time, mine is still alive and kicking (although I’m constantly deleting things to keep from filling it… currently only have 14 GBs left).

I literally found on the sidewalk a 1 TB Toshiba portable hard drive, in a case and everything, when they first came out. “Oh my, now that is a find! This thing will never get filled!” Within a month I was at less than 300 GBs, now I delete stuff to not go below 250 GBs.

Sigh. Curse you storage! [shakes fist at the 1 TB Toshiba drive sitting on his work desk]

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Ripe for disruption

Hollywood power player Harvey Weinstein and the rest of these greedy Hollywood A-holes should be hung first instead of taking first.Why bother talking to scumbags like these greedy people.I say it is about time we had a Hunting Season Open on Hollywood Execs.
Sign me up for Open A Hunting Season on Greedy A-Hole Copyright Maximalists.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Ripe for disruption

Oh dear, I sense a disturbance in the Force. I foresee this comment section will be infested by trolls.

Wasn’t Harvy Weinstein the reason why Fanboys took so long to come to the theater? He fired Kyle Newman and brought in Steve Brill to recut and reshoot the movie, only to screw it up and turn it into EuroTrip in Star Wars land. Once the fans rebelled, he was forced to bring Newman back into the picture to cut out all of Brill’s crap and recut the movie in 36 hours. I heard from others who watched Newman’s original cut that it was much better than the amalgam of Brill/Newman that finally appeared.

So the “disturbance in the force” was pretty accurate.

Ever since I learned (from Newman and Spacey) at Comic Con San Diego in 2008, of all the crap that went into wrestling the movie back from Weinstein/Brill, I pretty much ignore any movie that Weinstein produces now. He isn’t in movie making for the art, and I can understand why he is so upset about piracy…since it effects the only reason he is in the business.

Lord Binky says:

Well I’m sure he’ll be glad to know that I have yet to successfully squeeze anything into my ethernet cable so I’m sure nothing is being stolen.

Copied? Perhaps. But definitely not stolen. Whew, that’s a relief. AmIRight?!

Word choice matters, whether it’s in business or in a script. A small but important lesson Mr. Weinstein hasn’t shown to have learned yet.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

The really telling thing

The really telling thing about Weinstein’s comments is the complete lack of consideration for the customer. This shines in the quote about Apple, Yahoo, and Google France not having gone out of business.

Why mention this? Nobody was worried that they would. That wasn’t the objection at all.

I find the fascination with high tech companies interesting because it reveals that to the big studios, the only thing that counts is big companies. Actual human beings apparently don’t exist — only cartoony wallets to be mined and cartoony pirates to rail against.

Also, there’s the perpetual question of why do the studios think that tech companies have any sort of obligation, moral or otherwise, to help them with their business problems?

Anonymous Coward says:

i would have thought that, after the way Jews were treated in the 2nd World War, arrested, not accused of any ‘crime’, not given a trial, having their lives ruined, even sent to concentration camps to have their lives ended, all out of unwarranted and undeserved hate, would have made them a bit more careful of what they did to and how they treated others. obviously, they either haven’t realised what it’s like to be accused and/or persecuted or think it’s different because it’s them dishing the shit out!


Re: Re: Clueless American Suburbanite

Depending on your family history, all of that stuff happened “over there” and you have no real connection to it.

It’s not a matter of age.

Some people are just spoiled American suburbanites. They have never had to deal with serious problems whether they be poverty or oppression or even war. This includes “artsy” Jews.

Some people are just sheltered and their grandparents were equally sheltered.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

Trolls shilling. Same as usual.

Feel free to cite a quote from Mike in this article that actually support the “stealing” of content without paying.

Here, I’ll show you how to read and cite the actual article:

“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?”

What part of monetization for the movie producers involves the “stealing” of their content exactly?

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

FTA: Earlier in the week, Weinstein delivered a keynote at the MIPCOM conference in Cannes claiming that the rapidly shrinking movie business, shaken by piracy and consolidation, had pushed The Weinstein Company to ?accelerate? its television operations.

?You can do exciting things in television. There?s an audience for it and there?s an appetite for it. The movie business is shrinking to some degree and I think we have to look for new horizons. It?s exciting to do new things.?

I think he just solved his own problem.


Re: Re: Re:2 Sorry. We're just the amateurs.

We simply can’t compare to the likes of Weinstein when it comes to “stealing from the talent”. The best we can do is watch a movie on broadcast TV, rent it from Netflix, or get it from a BT swarm.

That’s nothing compared to what kind of exploitation Weinstein can manage.

He is most certainly up to his neck in “Hollywood Accounting”. His own wealth is probably stolen from actors and lesser known talent.

It’s like Satan telling you he’s come to town to clean up the place.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“It’s hilarious how Mike Masnick still claims to not be a piracy apologist.”

In yet another article where he neither defended nor apologise for piracy? It is hilarious how you seem to read things into articles that don’t exist, I’ll agree there.

“His blood boils the moment anyone publicly disses piracy, and he goes running to his keyboard to immediately bash out some manifesto on how horrible said person is.”

Yet, here you are to immediately white knight the people he’s writing about, but let’s not DARE call you an industry shill, right?

At least Mike manages to explain why he disagrees without lapsing into kindergarten taunts and name calling.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Referring to Masnick as a sociopath isn’t “name-calling”, it’s a fact, and it was proven in a post here a few months ago where he aced something like 4 of the 6 required behaviors.

Now why don’t you go and try to do something useful with your life, angry man, instead of spending your life defending crime and an intellectually dishonest slimeball?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh yeah, this comment definitely isn’t going to get reported. /s

Also, note that PaulT DID NOT defend crime or any intellectual dishonesty. The article is NOT about defending piracy. In fact, the only intellectual dishonesty in the article is on the part of Harvey Weinstein. Then again, it might not be intellectual dishonesty, it might just be plain ignorance (which in and of itself should be much more serious of a crime, especially in this day and age, than anything else).

Also, calling someone a sociopath, especially when they haven’t done a thing you claim they have in the article, IS name calling. It is not a fact. Nor did he meet 4 of the 6 required behaviors, at least not to someone who can properly diagnose antisocial personality disorders (sociopathy). You are very much JUST an anonymous coward, as such your “diagnosis” is worth squat. More so considering the fact that you just outright made claims (which immediately got reported) that have no basis in reality, much less what was in the article, regarding Mike.

Now, why don’t you go and try do something useful with your life, you sociopath, instead of spending your life trolling Techdirt, defending ignorance and spreading and advocating for on the behalf of intellectual dishonesty. Oh yeah, conflating copying with theft/stealing… that’s the biggest intellectually dishonest argument one can make.

Also, notice how I was able to refute everything you said with nary an insult? This is how grown ups respond to others. You might want to try it some time. Or you can go ahead and insult me and show who the adult is here, as well as who made a point worth reading. (I’ll give you a hint, it was me and never will be you. Also, I’d stoop to your level, but you’re the kind of kid who might blow a gasket when dealt the same level of respect, or lack thereof, that you dish out.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I would go as far as saying that the use of “psychopath” as a name for antisocial personality disorder is pretty telling about the person making the accusation: Psychopath is an evasion and anyone with the slightest hint of knowledge in the area of psychology would know that it is a Lock Ness monster with no recognition from science…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Referring to Masnick as a sociopath isn’t “name-calling”, it’s a fact, and it was proven in a post here a few months ago where he aced something like 4 of the 6 required behaviors.”

Link? Did you take the test yourself? From your behaviour, I’m going to guess you ace all 6.

“Now why don’t you go and try to do something useful with your life, angry man, instead of spending your life defending crime and an intellectually dishonest slimeball?”

Which is more difficult for you to stop doing, I wonder? Calling names like a 3 year old, making up alternate reality versions of me to attack because you can’t handle reality (as ever, the polar opposite of your delusions) or simply stop doing hilarious things like replying to my every message with an empty rant then accuse me of not having a life?

I’ll be over here contributing to society. Let me know when you’re allowed to leave the playground, and we can discuss reality if you wish.

RadialSkid (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Ahem…let me try that again.

it was proven in a post here a few months ago where he aced something like 4 of the 6 required behaviors.

And perhaps you missed my reply to that, where I pointed out that the entertainment industries aced all six.


Ruben says:

Re: Re:

Actually, Mike realizes that fighting piracy, like the wars on drugs and terror, is a battle that cannot be won. Like jaywalking, there are laws against it, but enforcement is approaching nil.

Oh, and don’t forget, the people railing against piracy are often the ones responsible for enforcing their rights. Why aren’t they? This is a civil matter. Pirates are pirating. Sue the bastards already.

Additionally, entertainment is a luxury industry. One whose ego is quite inflated. I think that’s having a negative effect on their public perception.

PaulT (profile) says:

Erm, I quite liked Dracula 2000 as a cheesy bit of fun :S

On the other hand, the Weinsteins are the only producers I can think of who have deliberately chased away my money through region crap, recutting or redubbing movies without their original soundtracks or simply sitting on the rights to films I wished to buy.

You’ll forgive me if I don’t believe him when he claims that his own actions aren’t to blame for some of his own problems. From the interviews and books I’ve read on his business practices over the years, it’s amazing he’s still in business in the first place, to be honest.

Milton Freewater says:

Just another example

There are two sides in any “piracy” discussion: people who don’t have a problem with it and people who don’t understand the discussion.

Harvey is worried he’s earning less than he could. He has nothing to worry about – whatever he’s concerned about here (uploads on YouTube, in the case of this particular speech) it does not impact his bottom line.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why is HADOPI labeled as a fiasco? I can see why the proponents of HADOPI can use data from one year and twist it into something supporting their case, but the fact of the matter is that it is horrible science and very wrong to draw conclusions on the basis of that small a sample.
Let the frenchmen get a few more years of this torture. We can only really talk about the effects with at least a couple of years to look at and get as bad legal precedent as it will lead to.
If I were a writer on this blog I would shy away from labelling HADOPI yet. HADOPI is in my opinion one of the most important laws to keep for prooving how bad things go if the copyright maximalists get their will.
There is no reason to fight it unless you are from France!

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Some group who is obviously smarter than me told me I am losing money!
This was confirmed when the releasing company told me I was getting less money!
Obviously this is the fault of the companies who took all of the risks in creating a system making it easier for customers to pay for the content they want. They destroyed decades of hard work forcing society to bend to our will and maximizing our profits. Then this internet fad came along and it ruined everything!

This can’t be my fault, it has to be their fault!
And that is how you know he is American. It is never your fault when you can shift the blame to someone else.

The Real Michael says:

Hollywood has some nerve lambasting others when it’s become an immoral cesspool. That place is a dump.

As was brought up in the article, when it comes to not paying actors & employees, Hollywood are the masters of rooking the system (and so are the record labels), so right off the bat they have no moral high ground to preach down from. They can’t get over the fact that they have to compete on more even ground with filmmakers, both foreign and domestic, outside their own exclusive club, thanks to internet distribution. Heck, I’d much rather spend 10 minutes sifting through YouTube than suffer through the latest Weinstein-produced debacle.

Hollywood is practically irrelevant at this point. Do we really need another Robocop, Evil Dead, Little Shop of Horrors, Trading Places, Overboard, etc.? They cannot come up with anything original so they must resort to remakes, reboots and sequels ad nausea.

Anonymous Coward says:


“Mike Masnick still claims to not be a piracy apologist.”

And he isn’t, any more than you are an apologist for terrorism.

To quote you, that “isn’t “name-calling”, it’s a fact”. Weinstein is advocating continuing with measures that only *start* with lying about losses from piracy, and go worse from there.

There has been at least one case where RIAA minions impersonated a member of an accused person’s family to attempt to gain access to her child, then threatened her in order to force a settlement.

They’ve lied, extorted and deliberately forced people to fear for their children. There’s no way to deny that when Masnick “bash(es) out some manifesto on how horrible said person is”, he’s usually right.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...