When Will Hollywood Stop Blaming Everyone Else And Help Itself?

from the stop-blaming-others dept

Just last month, we talked about two studies released by Hollywood. The first was one from the MPAA itself, which (as happens all too often) focused heavily on blaming Google for its supposed problems in monetizing the online world. It used some highly questionable methodology to suggest that people doing searches ended up downloading unauthorized flicks. This was released in coordination with a Congressional hearing on copyright, in which the message pushed by the MPAA’s sister organization, the RIAA, was “what we really need is for Google to help us return to our former glory.” Oddly, that same day, NBC Universal released the second version of its own “piracy” study, which aimed to show how “big” the problem was. However, as we noted with both this and the original version of that study, when you look at the data, it shows pretty clearly that the “problem” is one that Hollywood has made for itself. That is, when good, convenient and reasonably priced offerings hit the market, an awful lot of video watching moved to those authorized offerings. It’s when those offerings were missing entirely that the amount of unauthorized access seemed to shoot up.

Inspired, in part, by the thinking about these studies and claims, Jerry Brito from the Mercatus Center teamed up with Eli Dourado and Matt Sherman to launch a new site called piracydata.org, which attempts to collect (and visualize and — most importantly — make available) data that shows whether or not the most “pirated” works each week are available for legal access. It’s still at a small sample size so far, but the initial results don’t speak well to Hollywood’s claims that it’s adapted to the digital era.

The MPAA’s attempt to talk its way out of the hole it’s dug itself is kind of funny. Basically it’s a “hey, squirrel!” response.

The Walking Dead was pirated 500,000 times within 16 hours despite the fact that it is available to stream for free for the next 27 days on AMC’s website and distributed in 125 countries around the world the day after it aired. Our industry is working hard to bring content to audiences when they want it, where they want it, but content theft is a complex problem that requires comprehensive, voluntary solutions from all stakeholders involved.

Now, if you’re not the MPAA and so tied up and confused by unauthorized access, you might look at that information and realize that putting it on AMC’s website was probably the mistake. That’s not where people look for stuff these days. Yes, they made it free, but they didn’t make it convenient, meaning they didn’t put it in a form that some portion of consumers want, and watching it directly on AMC’s website appears to take a large group out of their natural flow. That’s something that Hollywood could learn from, but it never does. It just points the blame finger.

However, the data continues to be fairly overwhelming that the “piracy problem” is a problem of Hollywood’s own making. It could solve it if it wanted to, by focusing on making more content more widely available in more convenient ways and prices. Yet, instead, it wants to blame everyone else and order them around to “fix” a problem of it’s own making.

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Comments on “When Will Hollywood Stop Blaming Everyone Else And Help Itself?”

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70 Comments
Violynne (profile) says:

The MPAA also lied about that access, as video streaming requires users to have a registered cable account to view them.

My wife tried to watch Hell on Wheels and was denied because we’re on AT&T U-Verse, which (at the time she visited the site) was not an option for us.

This morning, she tried to access the site now that AT&T U-Verse is one of the “partner” options, but apparently, it must have been added recently as the option is still not available for AT&T U-Verse customers.

Sound familiar? HBO Go, Xfinity, etc… all require people to pay $150+ cable bill just to stream a show that they can’t get because they don’t have cable.

Nice try, MPAA. Try telling the public the truth, for once.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

yeah, they are liars and scam artists…

don’t know why, but i continually try to go online WHILE I’M WATCHING A SPORTING EVENT I PAY FOR to get the ‘extra’ camera angles thing they keep bugging me with on the teevee… i think that is a GREAT idea: let ME choose which camera angle i want to see at any particular time ? way cool…
but it NEVER FUCKING WORKS…
i don’t even get a nastygram on screen that tells me, ‘oh, so sorry, even though you fucking PAY for this crap, some other bullshit is going on at the korporate level that won’t allow you to watch it…’

it.
just.
doesn’t.
work.

you’d think a huge MEDIA company would have this shit figured out, but all they do is manage to PISS OFF their viewers with crap that DOES NOT WORK…

FOAD cbssports…
you too, espn…
dicks…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy
eof

Rikuo (profile) says:

“Now, if you’re not the MPAA and so tied up and confused by unauthorized access, you might look at that information and realize that putting it on AMC’s website was probably the mistake.”

Second this. While I haven’t yet watched the Walking Dead TV series (I’ve only so far played the game on Steam, and yes, trolls, that means I bought it! Looking forward to Season 2), I have as of a couple days ago started watching my anime via legal stream on Crunchyroll. Problem there is, what CR are allowed to stream to Irish users is much smaller than their US catalogue, ditto Netflix. So, in order for me to enjoy their full catalogue, I’ve had to use my VPN and log in via a US server. This means that I have to be very careful if ever I need to talk to CR support staff, or they might notice my method of payment is from outside the US.
What this also means is that given the behaviours of the copyright cartels in the recent past, I wouldn’t put it past them to demand that CR conduct audits every once in a while, to see if there’s people like me consuming US-licenced shows while paying with a foreign-to-US credit card, and then sue the pants off me/CR, crying copyright infringement all the way.

Another point is that people hate making loads of accounts. If I were to go totally streaming for my shows, I would want everything I watch to be on Netflix. I wouldn’t want all the shows I do want to watch to be on multiple sites, with multiple accounts and of course, multiple payments to each. I can justify a tenner a month for Crunchyroll, and if Netflix had any shows I wanted to watch, perhaps a tenner for them: I wouldn’t want in the slightest to pay for another streaming service for just the one or two shows, especially if they also demand I have a TV package as well, which I steadfastly do not want.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

yes, last point is crucial…

sure, MAYBE i can get show X from here and show Y from there, but it is a massive PITA for something that is such a minor thing to do ‘right’…

that is the thing that pisses me off: it is probably EASIER to do it ‘right’ than it is to lock it up, but they get that shit ‘wrong’ ALL THE TIME…

also, WTF validity does it have to say a show is ‘pirated’ if it is a ‘free’ show and is otherwise available to download/stream ? ? ?
how can you steal something that is given away ? ? ?
(i know: mafiaa ‘logic’…)

art guerrilla
aka ann archy
eof

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, by convenient, he means usable.

Currently if you have an Android device, well fuck you. If you want to watch the entire show, well fuck you to. If you live outside the US, oh, that’s a huge fuck you. Don’t remember what happened at the end of last season? You remember that episode of South Park were the cable company employes would pull open their shirts and rub their nipples? Yeah, that level of fuck you.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Pirate Bay is evil because it allows you, the viewer, to do whatever the fuck you want with the file you download. Freedom is evil, the devil’s trap, etc. In order to be good, virtuous and all that crap, you have to watch it according to the network’s terms, even if that means an inferior player software and stream.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

My content my rules, that’s called copyright law. If you want to create compelling entertainment yourself you can do so, and then you can make it available on every streaming service, every torrent site, etc… If you create the content you are LEGALLY ENTITLED to determine how it can be distributed. If you don’t make the content you are legally obligated to follow the rules of the content rights holder.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

You’re in the wrong industry if you want to dictate terms. Too many suppliers, not a necessary product. Your power to negotiate is approximately nil.

The only way you can ever enforce your will upon the masses is with brute force. If you withhold people just move on. You can sell on their terms, or not at all. It’s entirely up to you.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Still not answering the very important part, which is WHY. You are just repeating the WHAT, that copyright law entitles you to the control. Yes, we all know that’s what copyright law says. I want to know WHY I should follow it in the year 2013, with modern technology being as abundant and resourceful as it is.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I make the content, my rules. If you make the content you can make your own rules.

That’s true…up to a point. That point is the moment you make your content available to another human. Once it’s past that point it’s governed by society’s rules, not yours. Copyright is a government granted monopoly granted by the will of the people. Without the force of the law behind them your “rules” would mean nothing.

Anonymous Coward says:

The site currently reads:

“Over the past 3 weeks, 53% of the most-pirated movies have been available legally in some digital form.”

So, half of the most pirated videos are available in digital form. That number seems somewhat damning against the argument that pirates are under-served clients…until you read the rest:

“Over the same period, only 20% have been available for rental or streaming.”

“In addition, 0% have been available on a legal streaming service.”

Yeah…that might explain the source of the problem.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“So, half of the most pirated videos are available in digital form. That number seems somewhat damning against the argument that pirates are under-served clients..”

Not really. “Available in digital form” often just means “available from one source, in a DRM format that will only play on certain devices, limited by time, geography and often overpriced”. That still leaves a hell of a lot of room for people to be under-served.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The Walking Dead was pirated 500,000 times within 16 hours despite the fact that it is available to stream for free…”

Uhm is it just me or is this the reason all the MPAA reports show piracy as larger than it really is? I mean how do you pirate something that’s being given away?

Maybe the next step will be to call John Steele to start shaking down everyone with copyright claims for illegally viewing this material?

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

The following is just a rant and nothing more.

I can watch The Walking Dead on AMC’s website for free? I did not know that. I also didn’t know I missed Season 4 Episode 1. Good thing that they released this piracy report or I wouldn’t have been able to watch it at all since they have dumb ass windows for streaming.

Now that I am watching it, I can see why people don’t use their service. Their player is absolute shit. I can’t get at the controls, they keep disappearing even when I’m moving the mouse. I can’t use full screen as I have multiple monitors and it insists on using my primary monitor. So I’m stuck watching it in it’s tiny ass window.

I also have no idea what happened to get them to this point, I don’t remember crap from last season and I can’t watch the last episode to remind me.

The advertisements I don’t mind, but this is not how you do streaming.

Anonymous Coward says:

Good enough offering

To really compete with unauthorized access, what they offer should be at least as good as what one can find from an unauthorized source.

The non-streaming unauthorized sources present the product as a non-DRMed file in a standard format, to be downloaded in full before playing. This leads to at least the following qualities:

1. Once downloaded, it does not depend on an Internet connection to be played.
2. It can be played as many times as desired. This includes playing only part of the movie, and pausing whenever desired.
3. It can be copied to any device you have. If the device supports the file’s format and has enough processing power, it can be played.
4. It can be transcoded, allowing it to be played on devices which do not have enough processing power.
5. It will not disappear. Once you have it, nobody else can make it go away. You can make as many backup copies as you want.
6. It is purely digital. It does not depend on physical media or dongles. You can use any media you want to store it.
7. If you like it, you can share it with your friends.

The only authorized sources I know of that have all these qualities are the ones which allow you to download a DRMed file for which the DRM can be stripped. And since you have to do the extra work of stripping the DRM, it is clearly less convenient.

I do not know enough about streaming (authorized or unauthorized) to have an opinion about it (other than “Flash sucks”).

out_of_the_blue says:

JUST A BUNCH OF NUMBERS! MEANS NOTHING!

“Over the past 3 weeks, 53% of the most-pirated movies have been available legally in some digital form.
Over the same period, only 20% have been available for rental or streaming.
In addition, 0% have been available on a legal streaming service.”

SO WHAT? It’s not connected to anything except some arbitrary picks. It in NO WAY supports any position! It’s JUST numbers. But it’s being presented — and repeated by piratey types — as meaningful, in a quite brazen attempt to make nothing into something.

Now, kids, the people who made those movies have SOLE say over how they’re distributed. You have ZERO say in it except in a negative way — by not buying — and that includes NOT watching — the content.

This is again quintessential Techdirt, and I’ve long had a tag line for it:


Where fanboys assert that multi-billion industries are doing it all wrong!
07:24:10[i-577-1]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: JUST A BUNCH OF NUMBERS! MEANS NOTHING!

Oh OOTB just go off grab your check from one of those organized crime syndicates otherwise known as the MPAA and RIAA.

You’ll never understand why this is an issue or agree to the very valid points brought up. You’re just anti-anything that doesn’t tow the MPAA and RIAA party lines.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: JUST A BUNCH OF NUMBERS! MEANS NOTHING!

“Now, kids, the people who made those movies have SOLE say over how they’re distributed. You have ZERO say in it…”

First off, I’ll cut you off there cause that’s about the only legitimate arguement you make.

Second, you miss the point being made by the article where the numbers show a trend. The trend is that people are priating stuff that isn’t legally available more than they are priating free stuff.

“SO WHAT? It’s not connected to anything except some arbitrary picks. It in NO WAY supports any position! It’s JUST numbers.”

Oh yea you don’t listen, guess it’s no use trying to explain things to you when you ignore the facts. Cause no matter how ignorant you are, the numbers show that piracy would likely drop if content were available in ways people wanted it (I don’t mean free, just less restrictions).

“Now, kids, the people who made those movies have SOLE say over how they’re distributed. You have ZERO say in it…”

Yea that whole circular argument. Congrats on spinning that so we can’t break your “broken logic” argument. If you keep spinning, maybe there is a position for you in the industry.

By the way, Thank you for smoking…..

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: JUST A BUNCH OF NUMBERS! MEANS NOTHING!

This latest rant from OOTB reminds me of Prince’s statement a while back about digital data
“His management’s pre-interview list of guidelines insisted, “Please do not discuss his views on the internet,” but perhaps Prince hasn’t read them. “I personally can’t stand digital music,” he says. “You’re getting sound in bits. It affects a different place in your brain. When you play it back, you can’t feel anything. We’re analogue people, not digital.””
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110624/12140014847/prince-digital-music-has-different-impact-your-brain.shtml

S. T. Stone says:

Re: JUST A BUNCH OF NUMBERS! MEANS NOTHING!

SO WHAT? It’s not connected to anything except some arbitrary picks. It in NO WAY supports any position!

You ever hear of the term ?analysis??

Legal avenues of watching movies/TV shows or listening to music or reading Ebooks help curb piracy. If Hollywood doesn?t want to work harder to present content in a way that keeps the consumer?s convenience in mind, Hollywood will continue to see piracy rise.

Had AMC had worked out a deal with Netflix or Hulu Plus to put new Walking Dead episodes on those services as they come out, the season premiere might have ended up lower on weekly ?most pirated? lists.

And you can?t consider these numbers in a vacuum, by the way. Numerous other studies have shown that both increasing legal access to content and making it as convenient as piracy helps lower piracy rates. While these numbers don?t explicitly support the same conclusion, it doesn?t take a genius to figure out why tons of people pirate(d) Pacific Rim: Hollywood hasn?t made it available for legal streaming/rental (likely because of its stupid insistence on release windows).

The numbers don?t mean anything on their own, true. Take them out of the vacuum, however, and they mean more to Hollywood that any piracy numbers ever will. Hollywood has the chief solution to its woes staring it in the face; it just has to lean over and give that solution a big ol? French kiss instead of a slap to the face.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: gas distribution

“Now, kids, the people who made those movies have SOLE say over how they’re distributed. You have ZERO say in it except in a negative way — by not buying — and that includes NOT watching — the content.”

So if you fart inside your office, you – the creator of the fart – have SOLE say over how it’s distributed. It’s in a closed, controllable environment. So: CHECK. You have SOLE say over how it’s distributed.

Now, obviously, as the great farter you are, you want to share it with humanity. You open your window to release your fart to the whole wide world but – you don’t want just everybody to be able to smell your fart. Only selected people should come to enjoy your creation.

And now, as the big crybaby you are:

– You run to the government, asking them to control the friggin winds for you!
– You accuse anyone who gets to smell your fart without your consent to be an infringing pirate! (I know, I know, these damn piratey pirates could choose NOT to smell it by holding their goddamn breath!)

In the end, you’re nothing more than an old fart…

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

I disagree

…putting it on AMC’s website was probably the mistake. That’s not where people look for stuff these days.

If people want to watch a show badly enough, I’d wager that they’d be more than willing to deviate from their usual interweb watering holes in order to visit the network’s site to catch the latest episodes of the show.

I actually ended up doing that for CW’s Arrow series, and I pay a visit to the CW website every now and again to check up on it.

Sure, streaming it from the CW’s site forces you to watch commercials just like with cable. That’s a given. However, I actually took the time to compare video quality from the network site against a few streaming sites, and I have to admit that the CW’s video quality is much better than (most) of the streaming sites.

Of course, part of the MPAA’s[well, cable network really] problem is that they don’t aggressively advertise the idea that you can stream (recent) episodes of their current shows on their website. The only cable network that I’m vaguely aware of which actually markets the website successfully is the USA Network. For me, their best ads for the streaming/”visit our website for more stuff about the show” came from Burn Notice, which just ended last month after going for seven amazing seasons and one side-story movie.

The other problem is that once a show goes off the air and into re-runs, Hollywood tend to drop the show from the network website (supposedly to make room for new content, which makes sense). Which is why my younger sibling, who’s a growing fan of the old Sci-Fi channel’s Eureka, has to searching for streaming sites in order to watch it.

In other words, the problem isn’t people don’t necessary look for stuff on the network websites, it’s that the MPAA et. al. aren’t doing enough to get the word out for the Internet side of the equation. It seems reasonable to assume that if Hollywood was more outspoken about the streaming capability for TV shows on the network sites, that number of pirates steaming the latest episode would plummet because folks would have a viable, legal alternative.

Of course, this means that Hollywood would have to finally accept that the Internet isn’t just another little gimmick to be scoffed at or smothered because it upsets the status quo. And who knows when they’ll figure that out (if at all).

As the Zen Master says, “We’ll see.”

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: I disagree

I agree completely with you. Basically, your point condenses down to “Hollywood are shit at modern marketing”, which we here at Techdirt have heard plenty of, what with all the screaming that Google bend over and give them free SEO. Even that wouldn’t save them, because even if one were to search for “free legal stream [Insert Show Here]”, you then have to make it available. Last I heard, there’s quite a bit more than 125 countries on this planet…not only that, they’d have to work towards countering their very well earned reputation as being sites to avoid when looking to stream.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: I disagree

“If people want to watch a show badly enough, I’d wager that they’d be more than willing to deviate from their usual interweb watering holes in order to visit the network’s site to catch the latest episodes of the show. “

As I pointed out before, I was watching The Walking Dead on AMC’s website. I got half way threw before it just wouldn’t work any more and I was forced to stop. There are reasons why people don’t go to the network’s site. They’ve proven again and again that they have no idea how to handle streaming.

They could have thrown it up on Youtube, forcing Google to pay for the costs of the servers and Internet connection. Youtube already has a time tested player. While a few recent changes have made Youtube a little less user friendly, it still works.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: I disagree

“I actually ended up doing that for CW’s Arrow series”

I waited for it to turn up on Netflix. Then I got bored 4 episodes in and started watching Fox’s The Following on the same service. If Arrow hadn’t appeared, I would have watched something else, maybe from that network, maybe another, maybe something from another country. I’ll probably dip back in, watch a few more episodes, but I’m not going to go out of my way to watch season 2, I’ll probably just wait for that to appear on Netflix next year.

This is the problem. They’re trying to maintain control as if anyone gives a crap which network the show aired on. They don’t, they just care about the shows they want to watch. Some will wait for it to be elsewhere, some will pirate, some will pick up a box set in a bargain bin 4 years after the last season.

There’s other problems (see the comment above by Chronno about the issues he had using their site), but forcing people to go where YOU want them to watch something is always going to fail. Because people don’t care. You have to address the customer’s demands, even if that’s less than ideal for the way you’d prefer to do things.

David (profile) says:

Now, if you’re not the MPAA and so tied up and confused by unauthorized access, you might look at that information and realize that putting it on AMC’s website was probably the mistake. That’s not where people look for stuff these days. Yes, they made it free, but they didn’t make it convenient, meaning they didn’t put it in a form that some portion of consumers want, and watching it directly on AMC’s website appears to take a large group out of their natural flow.

The problem with having to go to the station’s websites for me is that I can’t use whatever device I want. My Android devices (tablet, phone, and Google TV), all show that I cannot access it with that device, but need my computer. I subscribe to 3 popular paid streaming services… PICK ONE!

Anonymous Coward says:

I just stopped by your site to see how things have been going since I stopped viewing your site a year ago. Looks like your popularity is waning. I remember when your stories used to have a couple hundred comments, now it looks like you rarely see more than 50. I guess that’s what happens when your other commentors bully people with descenting opinions and they all leave. It’s hard to argue or even have a constructive discussion when everyone on your site agrees with you. I tried explaining that to your readers but they didn’t get it. I guess they get it now.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

When the people with dissenting opinions (not descenting, that’s a different word entirely) come here and accuse us all as being pirates and then don’t bother looking at the big picture (e.g., me, a hardcore pirate who also spends an obscene amount on entertainment the legal way)…I’d call that bullying. As well as demanding that a blogger come up with a solution to a business model problem (while ignoring that he has been espousing such a solution for years)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And your popularity is off the charts, I’m sure. Do you have constructive discussions will all the others who left this site and share the same views that you do, then?

Learn to spell “dissenting opinions”, you dipshit, then come back when you’ve found some that don’t consist of sophisticated reproductions of “Neener neener neener.”

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“. I remember when your stories used to have a couple hundred comments, now it looks like you rarely see more than 50. I guess that’s what happens when your other commentors bully people with descenting opinions and they all leave.”

Or… it’s because you were one of the handful of disingenuous tossers who kept accusing people of piracy whenever they tried to explain situations like this, or other lies and misdirections. Probably one of those who felt victimised because people were willing to discuss and correct such misinformation rather than accept it. Since you left, less lies have been spread and thus less comments are required to argue against it.

From your tone, I suspect that’s the case, but since you’re afraid to comment in a way that allows people to examine your honesty we’ll never know, I suppose.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I paid for Pacific Rim at the cinema, and I’ll be paying for the Blu Ray when it comes out. I also bought the soundtrack after listening to it obsessively on Spotify. Your personal taste does not dictate the market.

Now, if I happened to pirate the movie while waiting for the official release, they’d only have themselves to blame. But they wouldn’t be losing any money since they’re not offering an alternative…

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