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For Independent Films, Piracy is a Red Herring

For Independent Films, Piracy Is A Red Herring &

To date no-one has actually been able to prove a single penny of lost revenue due to unauthorized distribution. The RIAA/MPAA surveys on the subject are great works of fiction, completely without factual basis (or even rational discourse).

So when the LA Times published an article with filmmaker Greg Carter claiming that he had lost “hundreds of thousands” of dollars due to unauthorized distribution. Unfortunately, like all these type of articles, any fact, substantiation or – dare I say – proof, is completely lacking. The article is a fact-free zone supporting the assertion.

Well, both and some other independent filmmakers take on the assertion and dismiss it.

From Techdirt:

Reader jjmsan was the first of a few of you to send over this silly piece in the LA Times claiming thatindependent filmmakers are being hurt by unauthorized file sharing, but it’s completely devoid of any actual evidence. It kicks off with the story of one indie film director who released a movie and insists that he’s been harmed. But what’s the evidence? Well, a lot of people have downloaded his film. Ok. So? When other movie makers saw that, they put in place smart business models toencourage people to buy something, and they did quite well because of it. By embracing file sharingand combining it with smart business models, tons of filmmakers who never would have been able to do anything with their film have now been able to build an audience and make a living.

But probably more relevant is the response on from other independent filmmakers :

It’s undeniable that piracy has substantial impact on studio films. The higher profile the film, the more ‘leakage’. For independent films, though, it’s extremely rare for piracy to noticeably affect revenue. The independent film audience by and large has no interest in stealing content. They just don’t. The fact that a film is out there on file sharing sites doesn’t prove that a single person has downloaded the film and watched it. In fact, some of the most visible file sharing sites aren’t file sharing sites at all. They’re fishing sites that use every film title under the sun as bait to lure unsuspecting users into thinking they’re downloading a film or other content only to have their machine infected by a virus and/or taken over by a bot.

I think they’re wrong in the (again unsubstantiated) assertion that “piracy has substantial impact on studio films. Once again, no-one has provided evidence that would support that assertion. High profile “leaked” films have gone on to set box office records and do great business with no apparent harm.



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2 responses to “For Independent Films, Piracy is a Red Herring”

  1. Most of these indie films are on the net because they couldn’t get theatre release. Their only return on investment therefore is for the legitimate paid downloads. Of course they could always put it on the shelf and get nothing.
    Perhaps they need to look at the half full glass, not the half empty one.

  2. 99.5% of indie films don’t get a theater release. If that’s your strategy your odds are better to take the money you would have used to make the movie and gamble it in Vegas.

    Without a viable business plan for ROI on the film, you’ve just got an expensive hobby. However, the good news is that there are lots of independent films that have done just great using new ways of reaching and monetizing their audiences.

    Making a film and then seeking distribution is one of the fastest paths to broke I know.