I’ve been meaning to blog this for a while but…
In a little over two months time, the long-awaited horror movie The Tunnel will receive its world premiere. Rather than a traditional theatrical release, the movie – which is set in abandoned real-life tunnels under Sydney, Australia – will make its debut online for free with BitTorrent. Simultaneously it will be released on physical DVD, to be distributed by Hollywood giant Paramount Pictures.
I almost fell off my chair when I heard the news that Paramount will be releasing the Tunnel for free on bit torrent with no DRM of any kind!
No matter what the film is like, Paramount and the guys behind the tunnel have basically won. A film which would have gone straight to DVD somewhere in a junk bin somewhere could just have been elevated to the most downloaded movie of May (maybe).
Someone in Paramount must have done the maths…
The movie budget was $135000 and to be honest any film will easily eat that for a worldwide publicity. On top of that, its a small risk. The copyright owners (the team who created the film keep the copyright and are licensing it to Paramount) have created something which looks like a cross between Blair witch project and Creep so its got limited mainstream appeal. In actual fact, it would have made more sense of films like FAQ: about time travel would have blown away everything else if they had choose to do release in the same way. I also wonder if the process can be popular enough to get stuff back into the cinemas? Bit like my experience of Donnie Darko.
Paramount gets a Kudos +1 from me…
Ars Technica, has a nice piece about a couple of efforts to replace the current copyright law with something much more enlightened.
Suggesting something new to replace it can be a harder job, and Litman turns her attention to that task in an unpublished new paper called “Real Copyright Reform” (PDF). Part of a spate of recent reform proposals (Public Knowledge is heading another high-profile effort, for example), Litman’s quest to reform the 1976 Copyright Act is, as she acknowledges, quixotic.
“None of these proposals is likely to attract serious attention from Congress or copyright lobbyists,” she writes. “Right now the copyright legislation playing field is completely controlled by its beneficiaries. They have persuaded Congress that it is pointless to try to enact copyright laws without their assent.”
Still, academics have never limited themselves to something as tawdry as “reality,” and Litman’s theoretical work here is no exception. Her entire reform proposal is based on a few key principles: returning power to both creators and consumers, radically simplifying the law so that people can understand it without a lawyer, and beating the record companies, publishers, and movie studios about the head with a shovel.
Who might object to that? The big distributors, for one, would probably not be pleased with any plan devoted to ousting “the current vested intermediaries from their control of pieces of copyright, and return that power to the creators.”
I had a read through the PDF of Jessica Litman’s and although I found it hard to follow at first, it started making a lot of sense. The arguments and references seem to be up to scratch but as the whole piece concludes on, the fact that Copyright was never written to cover the millions of ordinary people who want to share there culture with one another. The last few extensions to Copyright have had such a massive chilling effect, maybe it is time to relook the whole damm thing from scratch, even if its going to take a lifetime it will be worth it for our children and there children.