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MPAA: Ending Illegal Downloads is Up to P2Ps

5 May, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Fritz Attaway, EVP of the Motion Picture Association of America, heard plenty from peer-to-peer network operators such as BitTorrent, Limewire and Vuze May 5 at the P2P Media Summit.

He just didn't hear much that he liked.

“I didn't hear a lot that helps convince consumers to move to the legal business model, instead of the theft-based business model,” he said during the first day of the spring Digital Hollywood event at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. “Both legal and illegal content [is available on most P2P networks].

“I don't think that's a choice you should be offering. … This industry just has to decide where its future lies. If it lies in the distribution of legal content, discourage access to illegal content.”

The third-annual P2P summit, hosted by the Distributed Computing Industry Association, brought together P2P operators, Internet service providers and content companies to wrestle over how Hollywood can monetize a medium that many people long have been using for free.

“This is not a new thing with us, adopting technology,” said Derek Broes, SVP of digital entertainment for Paramount Pictures. “It's the association with theft that we despise … pirates for pirates.

“That's our interest in P2P … that everyone play nice.”

Paramount has certainly tried — and succeeded — when it comes to digital distribution. Last year's Jackass 2.5 was available first as an online, free streaming video, and then as a for-pay digital download, VOD and DVD. That was a Hollywood first.

“After it was available for free, it did extremely well [in for-pay formats],” Broes said. “That's a great example of what you can do when you give it to the consumer for free and then give them the opportunity to enjoy it in more traditional formats.”

Broes expressed a concern about P2P that was common all day from content owners: There are so many different file-sharing companies operating on different protocols and offering different levels of free vs. for-pay content.

“None of you are going to be successful if you don't work together,” Broes scolded P2P operators.

Limewire, one of the more popular P2P networks, is making headway in the ad-supported download realm.

“And we think this is a global solution,” said Limewire CEO George Searle.

Still, others argued that the studios are as much responsible as the P2P networks when it comes to consumers choosing paid-for content.

“If I search for Iron Man, what type of experience, what do I need, to click on the legal results?” asked Joey Patuleia, co-founder of Brand Asset Digital, which markets and brands digitally distributed content. “[The studios] need to understand the lifestyles of these consumers … [and] provide a more value-added experience.”

Ted Cohen, managing partner of TAG Strategic and former SVP of digital development for EMI Music, said: “It's a tough period right now. Everyone's got to make deals, long-term, if we're going to get through this awkward transition from physical distribution to digital.”

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