The Good Pirates Part 1 – Hyperdistribution

Baden, 26.08.2009 6 Kommentare

hypernetworksThe audiences of today are technically savvy. When it comes to a media like TV or video, most know how to get what they want, when they want it… and will watch it on the device of their choice. Much of the file sharing technology used to make this possible, such as bit torrent, has been under direct attack by Hollywood under banner of Piracy. But in many aspects, Hollywood is trying to kill the very thing that it has created.

If anything, the last 50 years of TV and advertising has taught us that when we want something, we want it NOW. We live in an on demand world where most anything can be found, bought and enjoyed 24 hours a day from anywhere–we have infinite choice.

But now, the very viewers that have been trained to have it their way, right away are being told: „No, you may not watch until we say… when we say… where we say.“ and „This video is not available in your country.“ Why? Because the current distribution channel no longer works.

Take TV for example. A TV show is produced, paid for by advertisers that want eyeballs seeing their ad. The show is scheduled for broadcast and people watch–everyone is happy. Now enters a technology that allows the broadcasted show to be recorded for later viewing and the advertising is almost always skipped over. Then the show is encoded and shared for free using another technology, specifically bit torrent. Now many, many more people are able to download this TV show, and watch whenever they want, on what ever device they want and for „free“.

the-piratebay-logoOf course this is also known as Piracy, and Hollywood has spent an enormous amount of money fighting this technology. Perhaps piracy should not be feared and fought, rather harnessed. After all, a downloaded TV show using a file-sharing technology like bit torrent can enjoy the widest distribution, and the most eyeballs possible. And what is more, this hyper-distribution system gets more efficient the more it is used. How does this work in the market place? How does Hollywood make money with free?

Here it is important to remember that the #1 reason to create a TV show is: Get Viewers. But how can money be extracted from the viewers that are downloading a TV show for free? It’s not money the viewers are providing, it is the eyeballs–the money comes from the same place it always has, namely advertisers.

The question now is: what will advertising look like in a hyper-distributed TV show that does not have commercial breaks, is watched all over the globe and on many different types of devises? Advertising in a hyper-distributed system will be covered in a following post, but in the meantime, how can you imagine advertising will be embedded into downloaded TV shows?

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  1. Sebi | 27.08.2009 11:22

    Very well said, „piracy should not be feared and fought, rather harnessed.“ First of all, according to CNN The Screening Room, 2008 was one of the most successful years for Hollywood, ever. And digital movie piracy is at an all-time high. So, why battle those who made production companies big? The music and movie industries work in similar ways and have similar attitudes, so let’s think back to the Napster trial. Metallica’s Lars Ulrich fought Napster and exactly those people, who made him a multi-millionaire. He went on a crusade against the MTV and Internet Generation and as soon as Napster shutdown, eMule, Kazaa, and later on BitTorrent emerged to cause even more damage to the music (and movie) industry. By now, the movie and music industry should have understood that if you cannot beat them, you should definitely join them. Some artists, like Nine In Nails and Hawthorne Heights, understood the situation and became more popular and were able to make better money than ever before.

    As for how to make money with FREE: Advertising is obviously one way to generate some money. Nonetheless, many internet users have become blind for banners. I sure am, and many of my peers as well. One way to generate money that has been proven effective by different artists in the entertainment business is selling merchandising and live events. Take all those reunion tours from Phil Collins with Genesis or Sting with The Police. One can find all the classic songs online on legal and illegal platforms. Music in CD or MP3 format has become a commodity. But experiencing music in a live setting has (almost) become a luxury good. Not everyone has the money to buy two tickets for $90+ each every other week, and I’d consider that a cheap ticket. And once you’re at the gig you might want to buy a T-shirt as a souvenir, for another $30+.

    Wong Fu Productions, a young team of Youtubers and filmmakers, create clips that get distributed on Youtube for free. They solely generate money by selling A LOT of merch and making professional music videos for newcomers. A perfect example of how free leads to money.

  2. Dirk Worring-Ramstoeck | 26.08.2009 14:42

    Just as a short notice to the INTERNATIONAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ALLIANCE (even though they don’t read Blogs from evil Countries): Switzerland is not a part of the USA. Not even of the EU. You might have not known this. Beside lots of other things…

  3. Baden | 26.08.2009 14:15

    @@digichr: I have also had more than my share of negative experiences with not being able to watch purchased US box sets. Such enormous amounts of time and energy is being spent on trying maintain control of an obsolete distribution system–hoping that the future will just ‚go away‘, rather than participate in the innovation and technology that has already been built.

    For a good laugh/cry, try reading through this totally laughable report on the changes that the MAFIAA’s feels Switzerland needs to make to get off the list of enemy countries.

  4. @digichr | 26.08.2009 13:38

    They funny thing also is, that here in Switzerland you can’t legally get some series. They for example air on a Canadian channel which you can’t pick up.
    The series are on DVD, but with the wrong regional code.

    I am aware, that my taste of media differs from the mainstream. But what does it hurt, if they would let me BUY such series at iTunes or whatever shop. If someone likes Swedish fish he can order it. If someone likes US series he can’t order it.

    The only way for me to get some series is the download. As we know it is legal in Switzerland, and if they don’t want my money I don’t feel bad.

  5. Dirk Worring-Ramstoeck | 26.08.2009 11:54

    I totally agree with what you mention here. Hollywood and Music Industry have spended way to much time to fight and sue, instead of coming up with smart on demand concepts, that serve the changed way of consuming entertainment. By now, they could have a running system, if time was invested into that instead of marching lawyers. As it turned out, „pirates“ are the largest group of people who buy entertaiment software online or the old fashion way, after they tested and tasted. And when I look at the quality of the entertainment, yes Sir, I want to see the first 15 minutes of your new so called blockbuster, before I am willing to pay to see it in the movies. Or maybe not. When that movie, new Album, Software turns out to be stupid and not worth a penny, but a painfull waste of time.

  6. Baden | 26.08.2009 10:15

    I would just like mention that much of the research done for this and the following related posts was gathered from two Heros of mine: Larry Lessig and his must-see T.E.D. Talk on laws that choke creativity and Mark Pesce’s infamous lecture from 2005 Piracy is Good?.

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