Four people from Pirate Bay have been convicted in a Swedish court of contributory copyright infringement, and sentenced to one year of jail.
Aside from the irony of sending digital pirates to prison while at the same time being unable to fight real pirates in the Indian Sea, this historical conviction is likely to change nothing. Just like shutting down Napster did.
Despite numerous attempts throughout the centuries, noone has managed to successfully outlaw revolutions, and technology is inevitably evolving quicker than regulation can, especially in democratic societies.
Final Burp: “We have long been a leading IT nation but with these kind of actions we will be left behind and become dependent on other nations’ arbitrary views”. Christian Engström, Pirate Party. In other words, approach towards digital can be a source of competitive advantage among nations, just like loose financial regulations used to be.
The movie industry traditionally looked at films as a sort of one-shot product: a film is produced and sold, so that you can start producing (and selling) another one. In case of success, here comes the sequel. Other sources of revenue were limited to home video and television, and this sources became more significant with the arrival of DVDs, pay-tvs and pay-per-view.
Despite a shift in the revenue portfolio (movie theaters, dvds, tv) the business model is still focused on producing one, single piece of entertainment, and selling it all over.
Some categories of films (sci-fi, kids…) have taken this business model farther, through licensing agreements, so that the latest Disney films gives birth to dolls, backpacks, pencils, videogames, and pretty much anything.
Apparently, this may mean that films are treated as brands.
But only to a certain degree: the original creators of the film are often responsible for the film alone, with licensee are allowed to exploit it in a number of ways. If we look at it more deeply, this is still the case of a producer creating one, single piece of entertainment, to be replicated.
What the movie industry hasn’t done yet (with a few exceptions) is looking at films as just one, major step in a longer narrative process: the film allows you to introduce the story, or to express a climax, but then the narration (the brand) goes on with many more pieces of entertainment.
And here is where Derek Zoolander starts to matter: Zoolander was created as a typical Hollywood one-shot product. A film is made, and later sold on dvd/pay-per-view/cable/… Should we be lucky, we may expect a sequel that is as good as the original.
But if we look at Zoolander as a brand, we may come up with so many more opportunities: a modeling school, of course; a make-up and hairstyle line; weekly tips on what to wear that you can download on your mobile; a website where you can upload your picture, so that Derek can give you suggestions for a makeover… Much more than the traditional licensing.
The “Derek Zoolander’s Group for really really ridiculousyly good looking people” on Facebook now accounts for more than 200.000 members. I’ld guess that most of them would love experiencing more Zoolander content, and Hollywood has no interest in leaving that to Facebook alone (or to consumer-generated films on youtube)
Star Wars is one of the few examples of Hollywood films that are actually managed as a brand: you can experience the world of Star Wars in so many more ways than just watching the 3 great, original films (and the 3 subsquent prequels, if you really really have to).
There are videogames, roleplaying games and comic books adding original pieces of content to the Star Wars universe, so that you can even get a full sense of it without having actually watched any of the films.
In this perspective, the film is only a significant investment in the creation of a brand, thus giving a very different meaning to box office figures.
Final Burp: How many films are interesting enough that people want to be involved in the story long after they exit the movie theater?
*Disclaimer: This post was originally supposed to be based on “L’allenatore nel pallone”, an italian cult-movie on the most unlikely football coach. But then I realized that Derek Zoolander is more of a global icon than poor Oronzo Canà.
I was supposed to write a post on the movie industry: this is not yet the post I had in mind, but it’s still got something to do with it.
The entertainment industry is currently struggling for its own life: it produces content that costs big bucks, yet its consumers have become accustomed at getting it for free. And they don’t want to go back to the old days where you had to pay about 19$ for every record you’ld have in your music library, or (gosh!) 7/8$ for each and every movie you’ld watch.
Broandband + Peer2Peer have resulted in millions of consumers getting and sharing all that content for free, and not seeing much wrong in it.
In the last issue of Wired, Chris Anderson offers a broad view on the economics of free: how the digitalization of many industries is at the same time forcing and allowing companies to give away products and services for free, and how it’s still possible to make (loads of) money out of it. (If you were wondering, yes, you can read the article for free)
Anderson also offers a list of 6 possible free-marketing strategies, with examples of successful activities.
Though noone can deny that so many industries must sort out the contraddiction between suppliers that are determined to get paid, and consumers that are not willing to pay, it’s still unclear whether some of the examples provided only succeeded because they were attractive, new experiments (Prince, Radiohead) or if they can evolve into sustainable business models.
All in all, Freeconomics promises to be a concept that we’ll have to spend thoughts and time over and over again in the future.
Final Burp: “Every economy that becomes digital, eventually becomes free” (C. Anderson)
This video is actually the first 2’28” of “Music & Lyrics” (translated in Italy as “Scrivimi una canzone”).
For those of you who are not familiar with the film, it’s the story of Alex Fletcher, a has-been pop star from the ’80s (Hugh Grant) who’s offered a second chance at stardom by writing a song for a famous britneysh fictional popstar (By saying this I don’t imply that Britney is in any way real…)
In the film this video is used to introduce Alex Fletcher and his old band (the Pops) and it’s just, well, brilliant!
The hairstyle, the moves, the shirts, the way instruments are (not) played, the visual effects, the dancing doctor (my favorite) make it look at the same time very realistic and dropdead funny.
I don’t know if this happened anywhere in the world, but running this video on Mtv would have been a terrific way to promote the film.
After watching “Cloverfield” I’ve been thinking at how the movie industry promotes its films, and this provides additional food for thought for a later post.
Final Burp: Actually it’s not about how to promote a certain content. It’s about wondering what that content is.