Last week Kim Dotcom — the notorious king of piracy — unveiled Mega, his new, barely legal file sharing site that is sure to be a haven for illegal video sharing. Film distributors are up in arms and a renewed cry for harsher consequences has reached the ears of Congress.
Yet there is no legislation, lawsuit or technical restriction that can stop piracy. In an industry riddled with conflicts of interest, many leaders of media companies are reluctant to speak frankly, but every single one of them knows they cannot protect against piracy in any absolute way. We can put up roadblocks, we can scramble data, but there is always a way around digital security.
So how do we defend against piracy when there is no way to secure content?
Kim Dotcom himself provided the answer in this tweet a couple of weeks before launching Mega:
@KimDotcom: How to stop piracy: 1 Create great stuff 2 Make it easy to buy 3 Same day worldwide release 4 Fair price 5 Works on any device
This is the same core message that online media companies have been trying to get across to the film industry for several years. Anyone who has worked on digital distribution knows without a doubt that the root causes of piracy are actually on the supply side. Even media executives who won’t admit to it publicly know that the core problem behind piracy is the user experience of legal purchase and viewing.
Ironically, last week the MPAA — creators of the FBI warning on DVDs and champions of digital rights management systems that prevent purchases on one device from being played on another —accused Kim Dotcom of damaging the consumer experience. But citing consumer experience as an attack on piracy only points out how flawed and out of touch the MPAA approach is. Most pirated titles available in crisp HD of course (shaky 8mm footage captured in a theater is now a rarity) and the consumer experience is also about the entire process of finding a film, paying for it, and watching whenever you want. In that context the pirates are often providing a user experience that competes very well with most traditional options.
So deal with piracy head on, distributors, filmmakers and studios at every level need to stop complaining about the ethical and commercial problems of piracy and begin competing with it. Media executives have long argued that they “can’t compete with free” but the marketplace consistently disproves that notion, and the huge success of systems like iTunes utterly destroys it. iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and others have succeeded precisely because they compete directly with piracy by providing better accessibility, ease of use and instant gratification.
Viewers can now watch almost any widely released film, in HD, on any device, almost immediately. Whether they choose to pay for it or not is largely up to the distributor.
Rob Millis is the founder of Dynamo Media and one of the creators behind the Dynamo Player, the first online pay-per-view platform freely available to independent filmmakers. Rob was an early pioneer of online video production and distribution, and has been a founder, investor or advisor with several online media and industrial technology companies. You can find Rob on Twitter at @robmillis or learn more about Dynamo at http://www.DynamoPlayer.com.
SF Film Society Blog
Watch the Angulo Brothers from #TheWolfpack in the hilarious mashup of Mrs. Doubtfire, Sister Act, and Dirty Harry commissioned by #SFFS featured on our site sffs.org
Two weeks left until the Early Deadline for the #SFFS Hearst Screenwriting Grant on July 8th! Visit our site for details on the grant and deadlines www.sffs.org
Check out the #LizGarbus documentary #WhatHappenedMissSimone? available on Netflix June 26! Learn more about the legendary singer and her tumultuous career in this festival favorite. #SFIFF
#Advantageous is now on Netflix!Check out blog.sffs.org to read all about director #JenniferPhang's filmmaking experiences behind her Sundance 2015 Grand Jury Prize Winner. #SFIFF
Fun fest fact for this Friday: #SatyajitRay's #PantherPanchali is likely the most played film at #SFIFF! And with good reason, it is often listed as one of the greatest movies ever made. Not to miss: SFFS Programmer Rod Armstrong will give a special intro to a screening of it this Sunday, June 14, 7:15 at Shattuck Cinemas.
Did y'all hear that SFFS-supported #RomeoIsBleeding just won another Audience Award at #SIFF2015!? Plus they received a Special Jury Prize. Congrats to director #JasonZeldes (pictured), subjects & crew! Their next stop is @RooftopFilms.
Photo by #PatMazzera at 58th #SFIFF
Open to apply: SFFS FilmHouse Residencies! Our residency program provides filmmakers with a creative community and FREE collaborative work space in SF's Chinatown. Be sure to read our "How To" before applying and remember Filmmaker Pro members or above pay no application fee! Application and details at http://bit.ly/FilmHouseApp
#TBT: Standing ovation for the world premiere of #RomeoIsBleeding at El Cerrito High School during #SFIFF 58. Honored that the Film Society supports this powerful film through our Documentary Film Fund. It is a truly compelling and uniquely Bay Area tale of the role of art in community healing. Such a wonderful memory from this year's Festival. See all moments (new pictures up!) on SFIFF's Facebook page. Photo by Pat Mazerra. #SFFSsupports #CinemaByTheBay
See more #SFIFF: We are thrilled to have hosted the Bay Area premieres of a number of stunning new films by emerging and established directors at the 58th Festival. However, equally exciting for us is that many of these movies make their way into the world and reach audiences beyond our two-week celebration. Landmark Theatres in particular have picked up a variety of alums from this most recent Fest. To see which flicks are showing at their Bay Area venues for the remainder of this month and through June, visit SFIFF's Facebook page. Pictured: Albert Maysles' final film #Iris, now showing at Landmark's Clay Theatre and at Shattuck Cinemas.
No need to keep on the hush hush: the San Francisco Silent Film Festival kicks off tomorrow at the #CastroTheatre! So excited to copresent two gorgeous films screening in this year's program: All Quiet on the Western Front, Lewis Milestone's cinematic version of the classic antiwar drama, which will screen with live musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (May 28, 7:00), and Flesh and the Devil (pictured), an exquisitely photographed film starring John Gilbert, Lars Hanson, Barbara Kent and #GretaGarbo at her most alluring (May 30, 7:00). For full info & to buy tickets, visit silentfilm.org. #SFSFF
We are thrilled to have hosted the Bay Area premieres of a number of stunning new films by emerging and established directors at the 58th SFIFF. However, equally exciting for us is that many of these movies make their way into the world and reach audiences beyond our two-week Festival.