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Torrents

Us Sinners did not cost a lot to make. But, the little it did, I haven't gotten most of it back.

The first time I saw a torrent listing was when I first started sending out screeners and I got pissed. I was told by people "in the know" that it might be listed, but that doesn't mean it's actually there. It's just listed so you'll sign up and pay to join the site.

Now I see it on quite a few torrent sites and all have to get paid to download it.

Shouldn't these sites be held accountable for the movies they're giving away for free illegally? i know they don't actually house the files themselves, they're just the middle man. But, they're the middle man profiting from product they do not own.

I know it seems futile to even be bothered by something like this. But, damn it I can use some money and these people might be getting cash that could be going to me.

It seems if a group of film makers who weren't rich got together and brought suits against these sites, the courts and public opinion would be heavily on the side of the starving artists and not the thieves.

Just a thought.
 
My feature movie has just now been listed on the torrents. Cannibal Killer Clowns On Dope has made it.

I figger any exposure is good so....I shall put effort into promoting the legal avenues for selling it and live w/ the fact that torrents are here to stay. most people shy away from torrents because of viruses and legal issues. Give people what they want , make it easily accessible and they will pay
 
Problem is if you aren't rich you probably don't have the resources to bring a protracted lawsuit against these companies - even if you could, if most of them weren't located offshore somewhere outside the reach of US courts.

But, damn it I can use some money and these people might be getting cash that could be going to me.
How much are these people paying to join the site? When I google your film I find it on DVD on Amazon for $29.99 a copy - except that it's currently out of stock. So to me it seems clear that if people are downloading your film on these sites it's because they simply aren't willing to pay what you're asking. $29.99 seems like a lot - I can't remember the last time I spent that much on a single DVD, and yours doesn't have the name recognition or marketing push of the cheaper DVDs you're competing with - so why would someone pay that much? Why wouldn't they choose a significantly cheaper option like the torrent sites? And I don't mean this to be directed specifically at your film, I think it's just something any filmmaker has to figure out if they want people to buy their film.
 
Problem is if you aren't rich you probably don't have the resources to bring a protracted lawsuit against these companies - even if you could, if most of them weren't located offshore somewhere outside the reach of US courts.



How much are these people paying to join the site? When I google your film I find it on DVD on Amazon for $29.99 a copy - except that it's currently out of stock. So to me it seems clear that if people are downloading your film on these sites it's because they simply aren't willing to pay what you're asking. $29.99 seems like a lot - I can't remember the last time I spent that much on a single DVD, and yours doesn't have the name recognition or marketing push of the cheaper DVDs you're competing with - so why would someone pay that much? Why wouldn't they choose a significantly cheaper option like the torrent sites? And I don't mean this to be directed specifically at your film, I think it's just something any filmmaker has to figure out if they want people to buy their film.
I wouldn't pay $30 for any DVD. But, I also wouldn't download a torrent of it. But, I also don't watch movies on my computer. Us Sinners is available to rent from Netflix, rent from Amazon, a download purchase from Amazon, and I'm selling copies on Amazon for $15 each. It's also available from me directly for $20. Would I buy it? No. Not if I could rent it. If I desperately wanted to see something and couldn't rent it, I will buy it. The only movie that pops into my head is Battle Royale and it was worth the money.

You're basically okaying stealing because you feel the product is too expensive. That's fine. But, if you steal, then get caught, you should be accountable for your actions. These sites ask for money so that thieves can steal someone's product.

What it would take is a group of film makers to get together and bring action against these sites. It's the movie equivalent of Napster. Every HD keeps a record of downloads, uploads IP addresses. It's a worthwhile cause I think. Of course if you could get lawyers interested, after all is said and done, they'd have the money and the film makers would still be broke.
 
Piracy by its very nature, is a service issue.

You can dig in your heels and call it unfair (which it is) and throw litigation after litigation at the end users or you can go the way of alleviating it by offering a better service... be that reducing the price, offering it as a digital download (without DRM) directly from your website, promoting a "pay what you think" style of system or any myriad of other techniques which have been successful.

Whatever you DO go with, remember that a pirated copy is not lost revenue - chances are that person wouldn't have bought your DVD even if they couldn't find a pirated copy.

Once you get that mindset going, you can focus less on "fighting" piracy (I mean, just look at how stuffed the MPAA are - an industry giant in its dying throes) and solving the problems which lead to it.
 
Something to bear in mind though: a site with a paid membership to access torrents rarely, if ever, has torrents of what they're listing. They're scams. The real file sharing happens for free, which is the point of it. People who want unlimited access to movies/video games/music/etc without paying for it. I wouldn't worry too much about it if you're seeing it on pay sites, it's probably not actually there.

I read something fairly recently where the piracy scene is moving off the web; going back to usenet and irc channels, websites without dns records (so they can only be accessed by knowing the IP address), etc. As josh-o mentioned, those pirated copies are likely people who wouldn't have bought the film anyway.

Thinking out loud, maybe it might be a good idea to start end credits with a URL, so if people DID want to buy/donate after pirating the film, they'd know where to go (let's not kid ourself into thinking that most people watch all the credits). I don't know what I think of a general "pay as you like" scheme...in music, it seems to work well for, well, Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails. All the small-to-midling artists I've known who try that usually end up with much less than had they just set a price.
 
I don't know what I think of a general "pay as you like" scheme...in music, it seems to work well for, well, Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails. All the small-to-midling artists I've known who try that usually end up with much less than had they just set a price.
I'll admit that it does take a huge amount of luck and (mostly) marketing to get it done.
Going back to Video Games, there's a "pay what you like" package called "The Humble Indie Bundle" which puts 4 or 5 popular small games together into one package where you can pay whatever you like. You can download it for multiple devices (so if you want to put it on your PC AND Mac AND Tablet you only pay ONCE!) and you choose where the funds go (donation, developers, other)

But get this: you could donate ZERO DOLLARS and still get the full games with the same license as if you had paid for it.. Average donation price, however, worked out to be about $8 each and they easily average over a million bucks each time they do a drive... using OLD GAMES which have been available online for months at a time.

In the realm of film, Louis C.K recently used Reddit to launch a show of his using a $5 flat-rate system directly from his website. He cut out the majority of the costs of distribution by doing everything himself and, of course, he's practically a house-name online anyway.

So whilst these situations might not be something you can just pull out of thin air, it's definitely possible if you offer something unique to your users in a way that makes them feel like you're not just out there to screw them over for every dollar they have.

I'm definitely not saying that you should throw the current model out the window, but thinking outside the traditional box of distribution is necessary if you want to prosper "despite" piracy. You'll probably find that you also retain a greater userbase who will look for your works in the future. I mean, currently, how many guys would buy your work, never to return??
 
I wouldn't pay $30 for any DVD.
So why are you charging $30 for it on Amazon?

You're basically okaying stealing because you feel the product is too expensive. That's fine. But, if you steal, then get caught, you should be accountable for your actions. These sites ask for money so that thieves can steal someone's product.
I'm not okaying stealing, I agree that it's wrong - but that doesn't change the fact that it's going to happen. The entertainment industry, with all of their financial, legal, and political resources, have utterly failed at significant attempts at shutting down illegal online distribution. In fact, I'd say that at this point they've proven that it can't be stopped via technological or legal means - so to me it's a waste of time to approach this as a problem that can be solved by directly trying to stop people from doing it.

The only way I can see to do anything about it is to look at it as existing because there is a demand that is somehow not being met. So the solution becomes figuring out how best to meet that demand - as well as accepting that some level of illegal downloading is likely to exist no matter what you do. The thing to realize is that there's no gain in trying to prevent all illegal downloading - only in figuring out how to get the people who are willing to pay something to pay you instead of someone else.
 
Now I see it on quite a few torrent sites and all have to get paid to download it.

Shouldn't these sites be held accountable for the movies they're giving away for free illegally? i know they don't actually house the files themselves, they're just the middle man. But, they're the middle man profiting from product they do not own.
I have been fighting piracy of some of my products for years so I am very familiar with how torrents work. The PAID torrent sites harvest key words off the internet, including off of Amazon. They also harvest real torrents from sites like Pirate Bay.
99% of downloaders don't pay for these sites. They simply go to Pirate Bay or Demonoid. So the long story short is that those are the only 2 sites that you need to worry about. You CAN fight piracy by posting decoy torrents. Make sure you have some real content or your torrent will get bad reviews or even deleted by moderators. I suggest creating a movie that has the first 3 minutes of your movie, then add some deleted scenes in such a way that someone might even be confused into thinking that it's still the real movie even though the continuity of scenes makes no sense. Then add some behind the scenes footage, scenes from a student film of yours, and whatever crap you can find that you own. Gradually post your decoys under different user account names, and with varying torrent descriptions.
Also if you have a web space provider, create some fake "forum pages" with links to your decoy file that you uploaded to RapidShare type sites like FileFactory. People often search for "[title of movie] + download + forum" or "[title of movie] + download", etc, etc. Add the pertinent keywords to your fake "forum pages".
Demonoid will actually remove torrents when you email them, although it's very sketchy. Sometimes I've had to email them twice. They will finally remove it without ever even contacting you.
All of these sites are usually in jurisdictions that have no copyright laws (Russia, Netherlands).
These bad people also sell old pirated software for ridiculous prices. Just Google OEM software and most if not all of the top search results are illegal sites. You can usually definitively pick these sites out by the odd "terms and conditions" page, where they massacre the English language.
 
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I like the suggestion of listing your web site at the end where people can go to buy legit copies.

A friend of mine in Texas offers a special edition version of his movie to those who buy legit copies with an autographed photo in the DVD case of his lead actress, which the pirates don't have access to copy. If you can offer a special edition of your production distributors and no one else has access to you should be able to recoup some revenue.
 
I doubt that, but lets say they do - no punitive approach anyone's tried so far has done a thing to slow down the growth of illegal downloading. What makes you think a fed crackdown will be any more successful?
 
And here we go - a change to the way the pirate bay works that'll allow it's entire database of torrents to fit into 90mb. What good does blocking a torrent site do if a new copy of the entire site can be uploaded anywhere in seconds?

https://torrentfreak.com/download-a-copy-of-the-pirate-bay-its-only-90-mb-120209/

And remember - there's much more to the internet than what's available on publicly visible websites. In fact, there's probably far more that isn't visible than is - at best the feds' efforts will make a dent in the surface, but the activity of sharing files will likely be entirely unaffected.
 
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Don't worry, the feds are gonna crack down on them more and more in the future which is GREAT. Screw um. Piracy is for the pathetic.
Yes, crackdowns work oh so well and that's why there is no more terrorism or drugs....oh wait. Look piracy is here to stay. Taking down one site is like cutting the head off of a Hydra. Plus there have been studies that have shown that piracy in the long run actually helps out and that Hollywood and the Gov't just make up the $ that is lost due to piracy.
 
Piracy can't be stopped. Of course that's ridiculous. But, sites that accept money for offering illegal goods should be held accountable. Every site has an owner IP address etc. It doesn't matter if film makers get a dime from these people and sites. If they lose enough (look at Napster) things will change.

You should never accept (which many of these posters have) something inherently wrong.

I'm not talking about large budget blockbusters. Because lets face facts, THEY HAVE the ability to keep their product under wraps. It's leaked because it's allowed to be leaked. If it's leaked by accident, then someone's head is going to roll. If an editor/sound designer or some other post production personnel takes the next blockbuster and leaks it, what's the chances they'll ever work again? Who risks their livelihood to give away a product?

But, it's the indie guys that aren't making any money that this hurts the most. I'm not personally doing anything about it, because I'm not giving them my credit card number to see if what they're saying they have is actually true. Plus, if I give them my CC # and it is true, I'm gonna be really pissed.
 
That is what SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is for, If it ever passes. They do need to make some changes to not sound so aggressive. Soon they will be able to turn these sites off, or at least keep US users from going to them.

Torrents are a horrible thing for the mid-range profiting films, while the large films still make millions I have heard horror stories of $200,000 making back $120,000 from legit sales and loosing about 20,000 downloads, which realistically would be about 700 to 800 downloads of people that were searching to buy it.
 
Well, it all sounds good in theory, but let's look at a few trouble points:

1.) These sites don't actually have what they say. They scrape the search engines for keywords and then try to trick people: "Click HERE to download *obscure movie that you can't find anywhere* IN HIGH DEFINITION!".
Once you pay you don't actually get it. They're scams designed to prey on foolish users. If anything, they work in your favour by sapping money from the poor sods who attempt to pirate.

2.) Tracking IP addresses is inherently flawed. If your ISP gives you a static IP address and ties it to your account, then you can, most likely, figure out the surfing habits of a particular person. But what if you don't have a static IP or what if your IP changes on a regular basis? To highlight how poignant this can be, read this article; http://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2005/02/04/deceased_grandmother_sued_by_riaa, where the RIAA sued a woman who had been dead long before the alleged infringements occurred.

In the majority of the cases where users are "tracked" by their IP, the MPAA/RIAA send a threatening letter demanding that the person settle for a "small" amount (I've heard $3k-10k is the norm) in exchange for a dropping of the "investigation". The alternative is that they are sued into the ground and forced to dish out thousands of dollars in lawyer fees. When all is said and done, even if the defendant is NOT guilty, the MPAA/RIAA have much deeper pockets and can destroy the person through pure attrition of their funds by dragging out court cases...

How is that in any way fair? Even if the person is innocent, it would cost them thousands of dollars to defend themselves!

3.) Leaks of blockbusters...? There're dedicated people in the Scene whose job it is to leak telecines, screeners, etc. etc. The big studios are, in fact, less immune from the effects of piracy because the opportunity to acquire a copy of the film when it's being distributed worldwide is significantly higher.

4.) With regards to "accepting" piracy - in no way (and this has been reiterated by most of the posters here) do we advocate piracy in any way, shape or form, but litigation is not the answer. Piracy will not stop when we "make an example" out of people.

The most important point: a pirated download is NOT a lost sale! Thinking of them as lost sales is how the RIAA managed to come up with the ridiculous sum of 75 TRILLION DOLLARS (greater than the GDP of the entire world) when they sued Limewire.

I could go on and on about how SOPA is a blight of a bill but I'll keep it to a single point:

Even the worst mass murderers in the world were given a trial (whether or not it was fair is debatable) but SOPA would allow the US government to shut down websites at whim, without due process of any type. Look at how the US government has used the Patriot Act and the introduction of the TSA to do whatever the hell they want in the name of "Freedomâ„¢"

Sorry to get so passionate about this, but misinformation and a lack of understanding of both sides of the issue (not to mention millions of dollars spent on lobbying and kickbacks for the supposedly neutral politicians) lead directly to the introduction of dangerous bills like SOPA that in no way, shape or form will fix the problem at hand.
 
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Josh,

Let me ask you something? Do you want a career in filmmaking? Have you tried living off money earned solely from making movies? Judging from your age, I doubt it.

Piracy is a scourge to anybody who want to make a living making indie movies. Back before the internet took off I shot a feature horror film and it was distributed around the world. The film made for $35,000 made around $150,000. (We did not see a lot of that because a thief of a distributor who we sued.) Today that movie wouldn't return $20,000. Not all of that decline is due to piracy, but I'd guess close to 50% is.

I used to shoot indie movies for a living and I steadily saw the budgets decline with the advent of on-line piracy. As my career grew, my wages did not because people were not making nearly as many movies for $1,000,000. Budgets dropped to below the $250,000 range. Now for many indie filmmakers that is a chuck of change, but if you throw in some name actors, you find that the crew wasn't making a lot of money. I'd call it subsistence wages. You could live, but you could not thrive. You could not save for a house or retirement or sometimes even health insurance. On average I would shoot 4-7 movies a year, but was barely making it. Don't get me wrong, I loved shooting that many movies. Loved it, but I could not make a life at it.

There was piracy before torrents and the internet. If you sold your movie to Thailand, within weeks of delivery of the master, there would be bootleg DVDs available. (That's why people always delayed delivery to Thailand.) That kind of piracy required physical copies be made. Now with the internet and downloading, there is no hard copy. People don't think it's stealing if there's no physical thing being taken. Downloading as spawned a generation of people who think ideas and intellectual property are free. What they don't understand is if you take my ideas, I can't afford to make more ideas. No more cool movies you love because the filmmakers can't afford to make them because they can't afford an apartment or food.

As awful as SOPA and PIPA were, I was in support of them. I figure they'd re-write some of the more onerous items.

If a pawn shop is repeatedly selling stolen goods, they should be shut down. If a site is giving away stolen movies, it should be shut down.

Scott
 
Scott, I agree wholeheartedly with what you say, and as both a game developer and someone who has a lot of time invested in freelance film and video, piracy can, does and will affect my bottom line in some measurable way.

But both SOPA and PIPA center on an inherently flawed idea and in my opinion are the start of a slippery slope towards a closed off internet. This may not sound like a huge deal, but I would argue that the uptake of a free internet has been the greatest cultural boon in our short history and to destroy that foundation is to, essentially, knock our society off the ladder it's been climbing these last 20 years.

Nothing in the bills addresses the core problem - that, as you correctly pointed out, there's a new generation of people brought up to believe that piracy is a victimless crime.

Sure, we could shut down warez-bb, TBP and all those other large distribution sites.. only to have 10 more of them pop up overnight! This will then lead to people moving the websites to locations outside the jurisdiction of the US and the status quo will continue.

Here is my (very summarized, again, I could write a thesis before running out of things to say) view on why I think piracy is a service issue:

1.) The US gets everything first - they have a plethora of streaming options for both TV and Movies, they get the latest releases as soon as they arrive.

2.) The world is then separated up into "bits" with an artificial demand forcing different regions to receive material later, and at inflated costs. (Case in point, here in 'Oz we generally pay double what the price is in the US despite the dollar being in our favor.. EVEN for digital distribution!)

If I want to watch or stream or rent or download the latest release from Hulu, I can't. Why? Because of the fact that my region has been designated a different order to that of the US. We don't have anything that even comes close to a half decent streaming or rental service.

So if I want to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks 45 or whatever the latest dribble that's just been released, I have only several options:

1.) Wait for it to come out in cinemas (perhaps months after the US release date)
2.) Wait 3-4 months for it to finish in Cinemas and buy a $40 DVD with a movie which I don't legally own (just a license to) with anti-piracy ads which I can't skip and which are region locked so the studios can maintain their pricing monopoly and gouge me for all I'm worth.
3.) Pirate it a day after it comes out and do whatever I want with it. (P.S: I don't pirate anything, this is just an example!)

I would argue that, like you mentioned, a huge amount of the bootlegging come from places like the Asian and (in my experience) Russian markets who are in essentially the same boat as me when it comes to getting their goods - very very very limited!

So how do we solve the issue of Piracy?
We need to consider the SERVICE.
How do our customers get legitimate, paid for copies of our work?
Do we make them go through ridiculous hoops such as DRM or do we make them buy multiple copies (1 for your PC, 1 for your TV, 1 for your PS3, 1 for your iPad)?
Most of all, how do we make our customers feel like they're more than just a cash cow?

There have been plenty of suggestions with plenty of pros and cons so I won't bore you with a list, but something has to give for this industry to thrive because the old model is in its death throes.

I've seen this first hand with video games - have a look at Steam for an EXCELLENT case study in how to break open a difficult market (they successfully sold games in the Russian market.. WOW!)

So until this service issue is sorted out, SOPA, PIPA and ACTA are simply ill-though out "solutions" that won't really solve the core problem and therefore do nothing to stop the demand.
 
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