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May 17 2009

Sony Pictures CEO admits to gross ignorance

Via Slashdot: Michael Lynton is a guy who “doesn’t see anything good having come from the internet, period“, because of the piracy that has apparently eaten into his profit margins.

I contend that what has eaten into your profit margins is the fact that casual movie-watchers are now better equipped thanks to new technology to identify stinkpiles of movies BEFORE shelling out big bucks — between movie-goers texting others to warn them away, and people “trying before they buy” (Note to self: check out Zeno Clash), now fools and their money have a chance at sticking together a while longer. At the risk of self-incrimination, I personally have a library of legally bought DVDs made up of movies that I felt were worth my money, every one of them having been watched prior to purchase — either by watching at a friend’s when they owned or rented it (when will THIS be a crime? Or does it fall under “public performance”?), or having (*horrors!*) downloaded it prior. Movie pirates are made up generally of two groups — people who had no intention of ever buying it to begin with, and wouldn’t have watched it if the option wasn’t free, and people who like to know ahead of time whether they’re buying something worth more than one viewing.

Copyright laws are coming to a head in North America, and this is one picture I can’t wait to see. The old world, outmoded business models of the RIAA/MPAA crew, versus the new digital era where duplication and redistribution of data costs so close to nothing as might as well be free, for both parties. Entrenched and paid-for interests in government will likely side with the old world model, because that’s where the money is, so that side can afford the fight. I always tend to root for the unfunded underdog in these things.

Green Day Blank CD-Rs -- bloody brilliant, guys!

Green Day Blank CD-Rs -- bloody brilliant, guys!

I see it as a fight along the same lines as open source vs proprietary software; save for the fact that the copyright example is dealing with the same base component on both sides of the fight (e.g. the movie or song), they both have differing ideas as to where the monetization of the product should be made. OSS / new copyright model proponents see the monetization of the product coming from supplementaries — for OSS, manuals, support, and physical distribution; for the copyright fight, concerts, paraphernalia like t-shirts, or even blank CDs with printed labels. (Never mind their great music, I love Green Day just for doing this.)

Never mind that blank tapes were going to destroy the industry, television and VCRs were going to destroy the industry, then blank CDs and DVDs were going to destroy the industry, and now the internet is going to destroy the industry. Adapt or die, guys. Either keep coming up with technology or law based ways to keep your old model on life support (at the risk of causing your audience to desert you), or figure out new ways to make money off the product.

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