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Viant Report: Hollywood Should Accelerate Legal Pay Model for Downloading Films Before Net Pirates Rule the Roost

25 Jun, 2001 By: Hive News


The Internet is the pipeline for the illegal trading of 300,000-500,000 movies a day, most while still in their theatrical window of distribution, according to an article in the Hollywood Reporter on an in-depth report by Viant Corp.

Andrew Frank, Viant's chief technology officer and lead author of the report "The Copyright Crusade," said thatthe decline in Napster usage should not be miscontrued as a sign that piracy is going away.

Frank also said that theatrical films swapped online find their way to the Internet in various ways, according to the Reporter, including telesynch versions recorded from projection booths, films obtained through leaks in the postproduction process and guild versions of movies.

The Reporter article said that "screeners" are a less significant source of pirated films because of their generally poor quality. Screeners are made by simply pointing a video camera at a movie screen.

Frank also noted that the large number of film trades doesn't necessarily mean the movie industry is losingsubstantial money. After all, said the Reporter, The Matrix is one of the Internet's most downloaded movies, and its boxoffice take and DVD sales remain very impressive.

Frank said the study indicates that a market for downloading movies from the Internet exists. Efforts toformulate a legal model whereby consumers pay for downloads, or that is ad-supported, should be accelerated, he said.

Also outlined in "The Copyright Crusade," says the Reporter, are so- called "wildfeeds," or pirated content that appears on pirate channels. Wildfeeds cited in the report include "Endgame," the series finale of "Star Trek: Voyager" that appeared on a piracy channel a week before its legitimate broadcast.

The report concludes that the digital copyright wars will be won by the rights holders for several reasons, as cited by the Reporter:

-- "Copyright law is fundamentally well-established and rests on a solid history of precedents."

-- "With the disappearance of venture funding that many peer-to-peer upstarts need to finance their operations, they are in an extremely weak position to mount any kind of campaign, legal or otherwise."

-- "The coming year will see a wealth of new content service offerings, which will test a variety of distribution and payment models and, with proper marketing, are likely to generate considerable consumer enthusiasm."

-- "As post-PC Internet-enabled entertainment devices like Sony's PlayStation2 andMicrosoft's Xbox, HDTV and a new generation of broadband stereo and portable music and video devices become prevalent, along with services like VOD and digital radio, the PC will become less relevant as an entertainment device."


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