What's Worse Than Letting The Lawyers Run Your Entertainment Company?

from the who's-in-charge-over-there dept

There are plenty of examples of the damage lawyers can do when they're effectively allowed to run entertainment companies, as their efforts to protect copyrighted material alienate fans and kill off the promotional value of content. But perhaps even worse than letting lawyers run an entertainment company is putting it in the hands of your anti-piracy chief. According to an article in the New York Times, Warner Brothers Entertainment's head anti-piracy exec reviews all the company's digital distribution deals -- which would go a long way towards explaining its "strategy" in this area. The exec even has the gall to portray the studios' deal with BitTorrent to set up a crappy store selling DRM'd content as something groundbreaking, when it's just the latest studio-backed download site that puts locking down content above everything else, including building something consumers would actually want to use. That's what happens, though, when you let your company be controlled by somebody whose only job is to try and stop piracy. It's simple -- if that's your top priority, your products will reflect it, and subsequently, so will your bottom line. Sure, maybe nobody is pirating movies from the legal BitTorrent store, but hardly anybody's going to be buying movies from it, either. When stopping piracy is the top goal, everything else -- including actually making money -- is going to suffer. These are the sort of people who say you can't compete with free, so they focus on the fruitless, impossible task of eliminating the free content, instead of figuring out how to change their business models and make money in spite of the free content.

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  1. identicon
    Chris Westland, 2 Apr 2007 @ 8:57pm

    'Giving away'

    Obviously in the current market, it's only going to be the indie bands that use the free services, because they are the only one's who need the service and the publicity.

    The bigger issue is how the proceeds are shared. Warner doesn't actually make movies or music -- the artists, directors and production companies do that (there is no more studio system, sorry). And they don't deliver the content; movie theatres, TV networks and DVD players do that (and they don't manage or make these). Warner is just a gatekeeper that cuts contracts and arranges some financing in order to skim proceeds of the top. They could do a lot more, and I think that they had the opportunity in the 1990s to be the next Google. But that's not their nature.

    You can see what happens when one of the artists challenges Warner's arrangement by looking at Peter Jackson's beef with Warner over being shortchanged 30-60 million from earnings from Lord of the Rings (which Warner just lucked onto anyway). Jackson got his own lawyers, sued, won ... and Warner punished him by locking him out of the Hobbit prequal.

    Who's an example of a company that delivers content for free, and makes a lot of money doing it -- the 'Big Guy' ... Google. Sure, it's not all video or music, but eventually I think Google will be the big player (or Googlezon), and I think that Eric Schmidt will figure out ways to keep making money without having to bludgeon it out of the artists and their admiring fans.

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