Saturday, April 25, 2009

Video Piracy - Good or Bad for Indies?

I'm an anti-piracy kinda guy. I believe that creators have the right to benefit from their work and that copyright infringement is theft.

But for indie filmmakers is piracy bad for your career?

Basic copyright laws were agreed on by many nations to protect a creator's ability to earn a living from his creations so that he can keep on creating. Without that protection creators can't earn a living, stop creating and civilization goes down the dumper. So copyright (literally the right to make a copy of a work or derivatives of the work) is a good thing, in my humble opinion.

The other night I heard an interesting alternate point of view about copyright and video piracy. A filmmaker said he'd be happy to have his work pirated in China because they can't afford to pay for the films anyway - so there's no perceived revenue loss - and it means that his work gets seen by a huge audience.

Ultimately, in this filmmakers' view, he sees a Chinese immigrant coming to North America and, flush with cash, recognizes the filmmaker's name on a film and decides to buy it because he's already familiar with the filmmaker's work.

I had to marvel at this perspective. My first thought was that this is like condoning gang rape because it may lead to love & marriage.

My self-righteous self bristled at the idea that a creator would allow - or even encourage - his work to be pirated for the sake of improving his career.

I know that some artists plan for free and viral distribution of their work to build a profile or lead to potentially greater returns. But that is a planned rather than involuntary release.

What's your take on this?

Can piracy be a form of viral marketing strategy?

And what are the ramifications to the public's perception of copyright and the creators' rights to earn a living from their creations?

Is this a slippery slope for creators?

United States Copyright Office
Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)
Wikipedia entry on 'Copyright'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a filmmaker, but filmmakers have to accept the reality of the problem, and find a way to make it work for them

What is the way? I feel there could be some advantages. Obviously dvd's sales with extra content, but also merchandise, other non digital incentives.

I also believe that if you develop a real fanbase, they will support you work, as they wont see any more otherwise.