Paramount Worried It Can't Compete With A Bunch Of Amateurs

from the learning-to-let-go dept

Back at the last Techdirt Greenhouse event, one of the presenting startups was Jumpcut, makers of online tools to edit videos, as well as share clips and results so that others can benefit from it as well (the NY Times just had a nice article discussing Jumpcut and its competitors). The question Jumpcut brought up for discussion is one we talk about often here on Techdirt. Noting the rise of "amateur to amateur" content, where people could create, mix, distribute and promote their own content, the company wanted to know where the traditional content industries were going to fit into the mix. As an example of one possibility, the company showed a contest they ran with Warner Independent Pictures, where they let anyone remix the trailer for the new film A Scanner Darkly, and provided plenty of content for users to experiment with. It was a fascinating experiment, that got a lot of interest. However, what happens when people do this sort of "remix" on their own?

Take, for example, this new story about Paramount Pictures, who is suing a young, amateur filmmaker, who found the script to the new Oliver Stone movie, World Trade Center online, and decided to see if he could film his own version (condensed down to twelve minutes) using Yale student actors. The twelve minute version has actually received some good reviews, but Paramount claims that people might somehow confuse an amateur 12 minute video with their version starring Nicholas Cage and Maria Bello -- and backed up with hundreds of millions of dollars (including a $40 million marketing campaign). Considering that the movie industry has been complaining that you can't replicate $200 million films with cheaper production methods, this seems like a very odd position for them to take. However, more importantly, they're falling back on their view that they somehow control every aspect of the product these days, rather than recognizing that there's more to it than the content. Why not embrace these efforts as evidence of fan interest in the film, and use it to generate even more interest? Even if the amateur work isn't good or flattering, just the fact that people would bother to try to recreate it suggests an interest in the film. Encouraging more people to do so gets the idea out there that the original is a film worth seeing. After all, no one spends time making their own versions of films no one cares about.

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  1. identicon
    Junyo, 22 Jun 2006 @ 9:19am

    And this is different from a critic writing a review on a screener how?
    Because the critic is creating an original work (the critique itself) that comments on the orginal work. So in other words, it's completely different. Not even vaguely similiar. Original work versus wholesale copy. Get it?
    Your argument is officially the dumbest ever. Nazi.
    Yeah, I'm guessing nuance and reading comprehension are going to allude you.

    First off, how many people are actually going to skip the actual, professional version because of some amateur production of it?

    Second, how many more people will then go see the movie, because of the publicity generated by this copied version?
    Well, I'm sure his lawyer is going to argue that point. Unfortunately, for your point to be valid he'd need to demonstrate with hard numbers that more business was driven to the movie than was lost by his actions. If, as you say in the latter part of your comment, real revenue projections are impossible, there's no real way to do that, is there? Even then, that still doesn't prove fair use, it would merely take one of the 4 tests off the table.
    Next, "potential for lost revenue" is a bogus number. It's impossible to calculate. However, if it were a true "loss" then I could sue you for visiting any other website than this one because you chose to visit them instead of me. That's ridiculous of course, but gives you the extreme case of why "potential for lost revenue" is a meaningless number. Your example doesn't really make sense. You've got no builtin right to have people visit your website over any other. If however I diverted traffic from yours by copying the design and content of your website, then yes, you could sue me for the IP violation, and allege that you lost potential customers/revenue by misappropriating your work. And you'd be right. That's what Paramount is doing.

    All of the so called reasoning here is wishful fanboy thinking. You can't simply take someone else's script (copywritten dialog) appropriate it for your own ends and not expect the owner to be pissed. You can argue the wisdom of such tight control of one's property, but end the end it's their property, to treat as they please. And someone shouldn't be able to deprive them of their property just because the mob disagrees with how they chose to use it.

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