by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 6th 2012 11:24am
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 14th 2012 10:39am
from the sorta dept
So, here's the problem. Disney (not WB) has decided that it's going to make a movie out of The Wizard of Oz -- which it has titled Oz, the Great and Powerful. And it appears that WB wants to do everything possible to make life hellish for Disney if it moves forward on this plan. The first step? According to Eriq Gardner over at THResq, it was to quietly apply for a trademark on "The Great and Powerful Oz." Note the similarity to what Disney has called its movie. Except, it turns out Disney was sitting pretty... having filed for a trademark on its version of the phrase/title... a week earlier. Thus, Disney has the lead here and WB's application got tossed.
The THResq piece questions if WB was planning to make wider use of trademark to try to prevent things like this from happening, avoiding the fact that the copyrights on the works have long gone into the public domain.
In the past year, Warners has been one of the most aggressive filers of oppositions at the USPTO's Trademark Trial & Appeal Board. Especially over The Wizard of Oz.It goes on to talk about one ongoing case in particular, concerning a company selling wines in Kansas that it's named after aspects of the Wizard of Oz. The company is claiming (correctly) that the book is in the public domain. But WB is claiming it doesn't matter, because public domain only applies to copyright.
For instance, the company has gone after potential merchandise associated with Dorothy of Oz, a $60 million-budgeted animation film scheduled to be released later this year by Summertime Entertainment.
Warners also has attacked registrations on a series of neuroscience books entitled "If I Only Had A Brain," a restaurant called "Wicked 'Wiches Wickedly Delicious Sandwiches," a clothing line known as "Wizard of Azz," Halloween costumes under the brand name "Wicked of Oz," and dozens of other Oz-related marks.
While that case continues, you can bet that WB won't let Disney just go ahead and make this movie without putting up a bigger fight.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 2nd 2012 9:44am
from the good-for-redbox dept
However, after lengthy talks between WB and Redbox this month, the companies couldn't come to an agreement over the new demands from the studio.This could get interesting, because the last time they had this fight, the studios sought to block companies like Walmart from selling to Redbox, and Walmart put in place some restrictions to make it harder for Redbox to do this. I still think Redbox could potentially crowdsource these purchases, and get around any restrictions.
Instead, Redbox has opted to turn to "alternate means" to purchase the films on DVD and Blu-ray it makes available to rent for as low as $1.20 a night through its more than 28,000 kiosks -- and offer them the same day they hit store shelves to buy, according to Redbox senior VP of marketing Gary Cohen.
Either way, it's stories like this that show why the First Sale doctrine is so important. Redbox should be able to buy from alternative sources and then be free to rent those movies. And that's the case due to "first sale" rights -- even if Warner Brothers wants to pretend they don't exist.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 31st 2012 1:32pm
from the are-they-that-clueless? dept
Under the companies' previous agreement, users could add discs to their queues even before they went on sale. Warner executives apparently believed that policy made it easier for consumers to wait, confident that the discs would arrive eventually.What's amazing about this policy is that it seems to provide the exact opposite incentives of what WB should want. At least, when they could put it in their queue as a sort of "pre-release" commitment, they knew they'd be getting it soon, and would have less incentive to go out and get it through unauthorized means. But, now, they won't even have that, making it even more likely they seek the movie out via unauthorized means. WB is in complete denial if it thinks this is suddenly going to make people more interested in buying the physical DVDs.
But now when users search for Warner's "A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas," which goes on sale Feb. 7, the Netflix website simply says the movie is not available. Consumers will have wait until March 6 to add the film to their queues and until April 3 to get it in the mail.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 21st 2011 7:17am
Did You Embed The Leaked Trailer For Dark Knight Rises On Your Blog? Under SOPA, You May Face Jail Time
from the the-dark-knight-rises,-indeed dept
That said, this whole incident should be a damn good reminder of why the felony streaming portions of SOPA in the House and S.978 (the felony streaming bill) in the Senate are pretty scary. Under those bills, Sheridan could have potentially faced many years in jail for his helping to promote this movie. Remember, the point of these bills is to make a willfully infringing "public performance" of such works a potential felony. It has to be for commercial advantage or private financial gain, but those can be broadly interpreted: if the purpose is to get people to your site and advertise yourself and your work.. that can be commercial advantage. It's willful, because everyone knew the video was leaked, and not legit at the time. But is it a public performance? Hell yes.
Courts have determined that links can be public performances, noting that:
the most logical interpretation of the Copyright Act is to hold that a public performance or display includes each step in the process by which a protected work wends its way to its audience.... Using the same approach, the court determines that the unauthorized “link” to the live webcasts that Davis provides on his website qualifies...So forget about worrying about Justin Bieber going to jail... start worrying about merely embedding the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises.
Is this really the kind of law that America needs right now?
Tue, Nov 22nd 2011 8:22am
from the bad-gets-worse dept
I guess the people running Warner just don't realize that customers want quality content. Sadly, when you are offering crap to customers there really isn't much you can do to polish it up. Maybe the next deal will actually be worth it. Most likely not though.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 15th 2011 8:44am
Warner Bros. Wants You To 'Buy' Movies Instead Of Rent... And By 'Buy' It Means Spend More To Still 'Rent'
from the that's-not-buying dept
Rob Pegoraro, in commenting on the article, notes that oddly, the article doesn't even mention DRM in talking about why people don't want to buy from the studios or the fact that it's still much more convenient to get the content by unauthorized means. But that concept still hasn't reached the brain trust at Warner Bros., who seems to insist that as long as you can access the movies you "bought" from anywhere, people will prefer that to file sharing. While it's great that they're at least trying to add benefits, to make it more valuable and worth paying for, the whole thing smacks of someone's father trying to "act cool" for his kids' friends. Warner Bros. still doesn't seem to understand why people like things like Netflix: the convenience. Everything about Ultraviolet sounds inconvenient, and that hardly makes anyone want to "buy."
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 10th 2011 10:40am
from the is-this-what-we-want? dept
As you may recall, Warner Bros. was among those who sued the cyberlocker Hotfile for infringement. Hotfile hit back, pointing out that it had worked with Warner Bros., and even created a tool to make it easier to issue takedowns. And Warner Bros.'s response was to takedown tons of content that it had no right to. In responding to these countercharges, Warner Bros. flat out admits that it did exactly that. It says that sometimes it just did basic keyword matching, which caught all sorts of other content it had no right to, admitting that it never checked the actual file to make sure it was infringing.
Warner admits that, as one component of its takedown process, Warner utilizes automated software to assist in locating files on the Internet believed to contain unauthorized Warner content. Warner admits that it scans and issues takedowns for The Box (2009), a movie in which Warner owns the copyrights. Warner admits that its records indicate that URLs containing the phrases “The Box That Changed Britain” and “Cancer Step Outsider of the Box” were requested for takedown through use of the SRA tool.It also issued a takedown over some open source software, simply because a Warner Bros. employee didn't like it (the software was a download manager that the WB employee thought could be used to infringe.) It also admits that it took down some software that it distributed, but over which it had no copyrights and no rights to issue a takedown.
Even more hilarious, is that Warner Bros., in its response to the Hotfile countercharges, seems to suggest that it's preposterous to think that it should have to actually check to make sure files are actually infringing... even as it appears to be making the argument that service providers should do exactly that:
Warner further admits that, given the volume and pace of new infringements on Hotfile, Warner could not practically download and view the contents of each file prior to requesting that it be taken down through use of the SRA tool.And yet, we're regularly told that YouTube should be responsible for checking the content of every video uploaded. Among the other mistaken downloads were the text of a Harry Potter book, which may be infringing, but Warner only has the copyright on the movies, not the books.
After all of this, Warner Bros. tries to brush this off by saying it doesn't really matter, since most (though not all) of the content it took down was infringing anyway, so I guess it thinks it was doing other copyright holders a favor. Of course, that's not how the law works. The fact is, some copyright holders want to give their works away for free, and don't need or want some Hollywood giant taking it down for them.
Either way, this once again undermines so many of the arguments of the copyright players:
- That it's "easy" or "obvious" to determine what is and what is not infringing. Since Warner Bros., (like Viacom before it) can't seem to get this right themselves, why do they continue to insist that it's so easy.
- That it's "easy" or "obvious" for service providers to monitor and stop infringement directly. If even the copyright holders themselves -- who have less content to review and more knowledge of what's actually infringing -- can't get it right, why do they claim that service providers can do this?
- That laws like SOPA won't be used to take down non-infringing speech. Once again, the evidence shows that they did exactly that. It's just that under SOPA, Warner Bros. would have been able to completely kill off Hotfile prior to its ability to make its case in court.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 3rd 2011 11:01am
Warner Bros., Right After Announcing Record Profits, Pleads Poverty In Asking People To Support 'Grassroots' Campaign For E-PARASITE Act
from the that's-chutzpah dept
In July, we informed you about the creation of and Warner Bros.’ involvement with Creative America, a grassroots coalition uniting the entertainment community and others against one of the biggest threats we face as an industry: content theft. Thank you to those of you who have already joined and supported Creative America. This is an important first step, but there’s still more we can do.I dunno. WB, if you've just made $822 million in profits alone, perhaps you could donate some of that to residuals? Ha Ha, who am I kidding? Movie studios never pay residuals. Remember, this is Warner Bros. And part of the reason it was so profitable this quarter was the latest Harry Potter movie. But last year, we got to analyze the accounting on an earlier Harry Potter movie, showing how Warner Bros. played with the numbers to take a movie that brought in $938 million and still let Warner Bros. claim a $167 million "loss," through highly questionable accounting, designed almost entirely to avoid paying royalties. The trick, of course, is to set up each movie as its own "corporation" that has to pay the parent studio "fees" for certain "services." You keep ratcheting up those fees, and the studio makes a ton, but the "company" that is the movie can always claim a loss to avoid paying royalties.
Thieves in the U.S. and abroad continue to make millions of dollars off our work, talents and creativity. For instance, “The Big Bang Theory” is one of the most popular targets of digital content thieves, with more than 600,000 illegal digital downloads thus far in 2011. Meanwhile, “The Hangover Part II” was illegally downloaded some 700,000 times in the first five months since its theatrical release.
Content theft doesn’t just affect a single show or film or even studio. It affects residual benefits, pension funds and health plans as well as jobs that our industry supports—whether directly or in ancillary markets and businesses. Therefore, it’s in all of our interests to stand behind Creative America.
Honestly, if you know anything about the numbers, you'd know that Warner Bros. is a much larger threat to residuals and other things like health plans and jobs, than any file sharing by some kids who'd never pay to see the movie anyway. SOPA/E-PARASITE isn't going to help people in the business get paid. Execs, sure. But not everyone else. Not by a long shot.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 27th 2011 10:28am
from the oh-come-on dept
Here's the thing, though. What's to stop a library from just buying an official version and lending it out? The whole thing is pretty silly anyway. Is Warner Bros. really thinking that if someone can't take out one of its movies from the library, that they'll really go buy the DVD from WB? Also, doesn't this seem like a form of price fixing?
In the end, though, it's unlikely to actually help. Slightly more enlightened studios, such as Paramount, actually tested such 28-delays and looked at the data, which said Netflix and Redbox don't cannibalize sales, and appear to "expand" the movie business. Too bad Warner Bros. hasn't seen that movie yet. Perhaps they're still waiting for the 28-day delay to pass.