Movie Industry

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
bittorrent, crowdfunding, listing, movies

amazon, imdb

Would IMDB Really Not List A Film Because It Was Distributed Via BitTorrent?

from the really? dept

Allen was the first of an awful lot of you sending in this story of how independent film producer Enzo Tedeschi claims that Amazon-owned refuses to list his film in their database, because of plans to distribute it via BitTorrent. The story is pretty heavy on the speculation side, unfortunately. Tedeschi seems to be doing some interesting things, looking to use crowdfunding to finance the movie, but he claims that IMDB won't list the movie.

The explanation that it's because of the BitTorrent release is pure speculation. Another article, from TorrentFreak provides some more details, with notes of rejection from IMDB. They claim that the movie needs to be associated with a production company that has a history of releasing movies, in order to get listed at this early stage. However, Tedeschi notes that this is a real production house that has released movies in the past, all of which have been listed in IMDB. The only thing that he sees that's different is the planned BitTorrent release.

I'm not sure that's really the case. My guess is that IMDB's admins are somewhat arbitrary in determining what to list, and they have some policies about making sure a movie is really "real" before it gets listed -- hence the claims of not listing it until there's more evidence that the release is coming soon. I'm not sure if this is the best policy for IMDB, but it doesn't sound quite as nefarious as some have made it out to be.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    It's Not YouTube

    True. Wait and see. IMDB is not Youtube. They don't want to have a section devoted to every home movie out there, so they need to have some process to validate that a film is something more than Fred yakking at a camera in an altered voice. That kind of nonsense could never be considered a "film".

    There are plenty of indie films at IMDB. We should start being concerned sometime AFTER the film is actually released.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Rekrul, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    The IMDb is run by petty dictators who do what they like.

    I used to be quite active on their message boards. Then I openly criticized the mass deletions of messages and how they refuse to even explain WHY they do anything. The next thing I know, I was banned as well. No warning, no explanation, no appeal, I just can't access the boards any more. I didn't violate any of the posted terms of service, and when I requested arbitration of the dispute, I was ignored even though the TOS at the time clearly stated that "any and all" disputes would be settled by arbitration. I wrote to Amazon and they told me it wasn't their problem. I wrote to the Seattle attorney general, since the IMDb is effectively a business, making money off user-generated content. They ignored the AG as well.

    The people running the IMDb don't give a flying f*** what anyone else thinks, they do what they like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 2:02pm


    You really called the Seattle AG over IMDB? Not making fun, I just can't see myself doing that....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Thanatossassin (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    Anyone heard of Ink?

    Well you can look it up on IMDB, because it gained it's following from torrents, which led it to be found on-demand and even streaming on netflix now. If it's a good film, it will find it's niche, and make IMDB, if that's really a goal...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    cc (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    They make an interesting observation on their blog ( "while the Pioneer One series has been seen by several hundreds of thousands of viewers, it is also not yet listed on IMDb."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    chris (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Anyone heard of Ink?

    i downloaded it, but i haven't watched it yet :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    chris (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 2:47pm

    not to sound all tin foil hat or anything

    but one of the reasons i run my IP blocking software on a dedicated machine instead of on my firewall is that using the blocklists from bluetack to block connections from anti-p2p organizations blocked access to imdb and a bunch of imdb's content, even after i white listed

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Stuart (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Re:

    I am making fun of him right now. Anyone who calls the AG over getting banned from posting on a board has more issues than I have time to fully examine. There is no denying this fact.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 4:14pm

    IMDB has long since gone to shit. They used to be great, now I avoid at all costs. Wikipedia has all the info I ever need.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 4:19pm


    Doctor Horrible is listed, while Dr. Smoov isn't. I love them both, but I can understand drawing a (necessarily arbitrary) line somewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 4:29pm

    Time to replace IMDB

    Host the data for your own movies. Make information readily available in a standardized format. If one doesn't exist, propose one and make it easy for others to use it too. Allow metadata and promotional images to be copied freely and used in other people's databases and applications.

    Instead of having be the movie search engine, just allow Google to take on that role by having the information freely available and searchable. Movie information could also be traded on BT.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 9:40pm


    Or TMDB or thetvdb, if you absolutely have to use an online DB (though I also prefer just going to wikipedia.)

    IMDB lost a lot of respect when they took the work of a large population of their users and sold it off to the highest bidder (Amazon.) It may have been costing them a lot of money, and they may have really fought hard to keep it open, a lot of people stopped participating when they "sold-out." (I never had a problem with them selling out myself.) While they were legally in their right to do so; they certainly made a lot of enemies in the process.

    The biggest problem most people had wasn't the fact that they needed the money, but the fact that there was no real attribution (beside emails and usenet posts,) for the data which appears on IMDB, and while they claimed that those who submitted the data owned the copyright to that data, and only the website format itself was owned by IMDB, there is really no way to know who to blame/praise for the data on the site.

    Over the years, there has been a lot of stuff posted to IMDB which has been factually inaccurate (I pointed a mistake out to them once which included quotes directly from the director's commentary that invalidated information on their site, and yet that error persisted for years,) and their editors often ignored reports of these errors despite receiving ample evidence to the contrary (so much so that several projects popped up to record all of the errors on the site.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 10:12pm

    "movie search engine"

    It took me awhile, but I found their "about" page buried in their Help section.

    "It[IMDb] is a huge collection of movie information. We try to catalog every pertinent detail about a movie..."

    Their mission statement, apparently, is about getting the details of the movies they list. It doesn't talk about trying to list every movie-- it's nothing like "organize the world's information".

    With this in mind, IMDb seems useful for finding information about the movie you just saw. This story suggests that IMDb is less useful for finding out about that obscure movie. I suppose that a "movie search engine" would try to do both-- that is, if they have the resources.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Rekrul, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 3:36am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, I emailed them using the consumer complaint form on the web site.

    Here's what happened;

    I was a member of the IMDb for at least 5-7 years, actively posting on the message boards. There are No warnings of any type given for improper behavior. The only form of warning any users receive is to have the time delay between when they're allowed to post successive messages increased. Of course since the staff won't explain why they do anything, you're left to guess at the reason the timer got increased. In all my time on the site, I only ever had that time increase once, and that happened after I sent the staff a sarcastic message protesting the full-page animated flash ads that couldn't be closed (before I started blocking all ads). The increased delay was in place for about 2-3 days, then went back to what it was before. That's the only warning of any kind that I ever received.

    About a year later, I noticed that entire threads containing dozens of valid messages were being deleted by the admins for no apparent reason. When you try asking the staff to explain why a thread was deleted, they give you a BS "It's policy not to discuss the actions of admins." In other words, you don't have the right to know why an admin felt the need to delete a 50+ message thread on the appeal of horror movies. Then I noticed that respected users with long posting histories were getting deleted as well. Of course nobody had any idea why they were deleted, since the staff refuses to tell you anything.

    I wasn't the only one to notice this either. One of the most respected posters in the "I Need to Know" board, who answered probably 75% of the requests to ID film and TV show titles, closed his account in protest over the heavy-handed tactics being used by the admins.

    I looked in the help board and saw multiple posts from users wanting to know why their posts were deleted, even though they didn't violate the terms of service in any way. The answer by the IMDb drones was always to contact the staff. That was useless advice as the staff won't tell you why a post was deleted. I replied to 2-3 of these messages in a somewhat snarky way (toward the IMDb, not toward the user) and the next day my account was banned from accessing the message boards.

    When I emailed the staff they replied that they had the right to ban "abusive" posters, just like a real-world business will kick out abusive customers. When I asked what I had done that was "abusive", I got the standard "We don't discuss the actions of admins." I was also informed that if they discovered that I had registered under another account, they would also automatically ban that one as well. In other words, I was banned for life from the board and they won't even tell me what I did wrong. My posts may have been sharply critical of the IMDb, but I can't see where that violates any of the TOS.

    At the time, the TOS stated that "any and all disputes arising from your use of" would be handled by arbitration. Note that it doesn't mention anything about arbitration only applying to paid members. I wrote a very civil letter explaining the situation and formally requesting arbitration of what I felt was unfair treatment. I never received any reply. I then contacted Amazon to explain the situation. Amazon informed me that they have absolutely nothing to do with how the IMDb is run.

    So, I finally filed a consumer complaint with the Seattle AG's office. After a period of a couple months, they told me that the IMDb hadn't responded to either letters or phone calls and that there was nothing else they could do.

    I know most people consider this going overboard over a web site, but it really pisses me off that the admins running it are allowed to just ignore the posted terms of service and ban people on a whim. Why do they even have terms of service if they're just going to ignore them? Show me where it states that making snarky comments about how the site is run will result in your being banned for life. In fact, can you show me any other web site with a forum that will ban a user for life with no warning and no explanation of what they've done wrong?

    Plenty of other users on the boards posted genuinely abusive messages toward other users, posted spam, etc. None of them get banned. I post 2-3 messages criticizing the IMDb policies and I get banned? Yeah, it pissed me off!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Rekrul, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 3:44am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So it doesn't matter that not only was I unfairly banned from the site with no explanation and no appeal possible, or that I could no longer make contact with any of the other users I regularly talked to? Especially as they instituted a policy where only verified users can access the boards and my Amazon account was already tied to my old account, effectively locking me out of the board verification process.

    Oh, did I mention that the verification process was a "voluntary" one that they decided to make mandatory so that they could better track the users?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 10:42am

    Re: Anyone heard of Ink?

    That was indeed a pretty darn good indie film. I enjoyed it. Streamed over Netflix by the time I got to watching it so that is where I got it from.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    While I completely understand why you are pissed off (I would be too to say the least), I think going to the AG is a little over board. Yes they may violate their ToS but they are a company and in America they tend to allow companies to get away with plenty of abusive practices for a long time before anything happens. In the end it is just a website / company and they do not have to let you post.

    Look at it as they have lost a valuable user.
    The best thing to do would be to find another site that is better than IMDB with their users but has a similar purpose. Then whenever you get a chance, spread good word of mouth about it to people and simply state how IMDB is not a good place to go. With all of their high valued users leaving because of the IMDB abuse, the point will be made when they completely fall out of relevance because they suck. I actually barely use IMDB anymore for anything. Netflix suffices just fine for information for me these days.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re:

    I stopped when they sold out. Netflix or wikipedia suit me just fine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    RobShaver (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    Purple Violets

    On IMDB they say, ""Purple Violets" became the first feature film to premiere exclusively on iTunes." I guess it wasn't free, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Rekrul, Oct 2nd, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The best thing to do would be to find another site that is better than IMDB with their users but has a similar purpose. Then whenever you get a chance, spread good word of mouth about it to people and simply state how IMDB is not a good place to go.

    The problem is that no other web site even comes close to having the depth of information that the IMDb has. Not only is the "official" information more comprehensive, but the comment board for each title is often a valuable source of information, such as helping to identify guest stars in TV shows that may not yet be listed in the episode pages, information on ratings and cancellation news, news of upcoming guest stars, etc. Not to mention that the "I need to know" board is (was) a fantastic resource for finding the titles of movies and shows that have slipped your mind. However, the staff there has basically stated that the database pages are the only part of the site that they consider important and that the message boards are nothing more than a niche function used by a small percentage of their users. They claim this despite the fact that whenever users ask why there's no search for the boards, they're told that the size of the boards and the volume of posts makes such a feature impractical.

    I just want to see some accountability on that site. If a user has done something wrong, why won't they tell them? What's the big secret?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    Thanatossassin (profile), Oct 3rd, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    Re: Time to replace IMDB

    I'm all for a wikiMDB section in wikipedia or on it's own; I'm amazed one hasn't been started yet...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Marko Roberts, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:35am

    Re: IMDb banning

    I got banned for criticizing IMDb too last year after they "revamped" their crappy site. I think a lot of us probably did and there's nothing we can do about it - not that I'm bothered anyway now. But it proved yet again to me how much of these site owners are control freaks. IMDb have become one of the worst sites of it's kind in recent years - I'm glad to have been kicked out of there!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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