Studies

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
availability, infringement, prices



High Prices, Lack Of Availability Driving Lots Of Infringement

from the well,-duh dept

As we've seen before, if you make authorized content available in a convenient and useful manner, it can really help minimize infringement. Of course, if you don't make it available, or if you price it wrong, it just makes the problem worse. A new report out of the UK took a look at the availability and price online of some top films and found that the movie industry isn't doing a very good job, likely leading to much greater infringement.
DVDs are available for just shy of 100% of the films. But a wealth of British cultural history is simply not available through legal providers. Only 43% of the top 50 British films can be bought or rented online. Similarly, only 58% of the BAFTA Best Film award winners since 1960 have been made available.

The situation looks worse if iTunes is discounted. Excluding iTunes, only 27% of the BAFTA award winners are available, with 29% of the best British films. Only 6% of the best 50 British films are on Film4 OD or Virgin Media, with 14% available through a LoveFilm subscription and 4% through pay per view on LoveFilm.
The industry wants so badly to blame infringement for many of its structural problems. But, perhaps if it just focused on making the content available in a convenient fashion at a reasonable price, they'd realize that it really was just a business model issue all along and had nothing to do with "piracy."

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2011 @ 10:47am

    It is really easy to blame piracy on the industry, because that doesn't require anyone to look at themselves. It actually also requires people to consider business models and look at what it would take to get these movies to market.

    Let's start with the obvious: There are costs involved in taking a film from actual film and digitizing it. It generally isn't a straight forward process, because you need to color correct and color enhance the existing film stock, as with age, some of the colors do wash out and fade. A simple knocking out of a digital copy of a 40 year old reel of film would look horrible.

    Second, you have to format it for DVD / Blu Ray, including setting chapter points, etc. Not a huge deal, but still some work. Not to forget of course that you have to create the cover for the dvd box, and so on.

    Finally, you have to send them film off to be banged off onto shiny discs or file converted into a format usable by download / streaming services. DVDs tend to have minimum runs, and if you want to stock each of the online sellers, you are still looking at probably running 200-500 pieces to really have enough inventory to bother. Oh yeah, you have to ship that inventory, and someone has to store it.

    Now, what would the sales be for the 1973 winner of the BAFTA award, Day For Night? Well, in the US, the reseller Amazon is pushing is selling it for $34.95.

    Most people, faced with paying $34.95 or pirating it for free will just pirate the damn thing and be done with it.

    See, the problem is simple: For the small and narrow market for these movies, people are not willing to pay the costs to make it happen. We aren't even talking about the movie makers turning a real profit, we are just talking about recouping the costs to get it to market.

    Now, going forward, things are a little different. Almost every "modern" movie is digital from the word go, and the costs to put it into a format that allow retail sales (DVD, download, vod, etc) are already baked in and paid for up front. It is a little dishonest to look back on old material that wasn't intended for digital consumption and complain about a lack of availability, while the market itself is proving unwilling to pay to get the job done.

    Demand isn't there enough to justify supply, certainly not at the price required.

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