Tuesday, 18 August 2009

How online TV and Movie copyright infringment could be made a thing of the past...

Over the last year or so, I can not recall a week going by where I wasn't presented with yet another newspaper article concerning a case of copyright infringement, where it is usually a confused and frightened looking teenager or university student, who has unfortunately come up against the big boys... Most of them end up getting slammed with ridiculously high fines, that they couldn't ever hope to pay off in they're lifetime! Leaving them starting life looking down the path of bankruptcy...

Although these high-profile and very public cases are meant to ward off others from infringing on copyright, people continue to seek out Movies and TV Shows online. Where do they often end up? Well...Its most likely on a site hosting the content illegally or they will download it onto they're computer
through some peer-to-peer software, for viewing offline.

Often these videos are hosted by a company outside of copyright jurisdiction, they can be of low quality and do not have appropriate licensing agreements in place for that content - ultimately resulting in lost revenue to the production company or royalty owners.

There are two major problems that need to be addressed by a company seeking to host TV Shows and Movies legally. The first is storing and delivering the content, which often means astronomical fees for 100's of Terabytes or even Petabytes of Storage space (1 terabyte = 1024 gigabytes) and high speed, reliable and unlimited bandwidth connectivity. If you manage to find a way over this hurdle then you are often limited by the second problem, the TV/Movie industry itself!

It is such an arduous task to license content legally
The process is outdated and needs streamlining for today's on demand society. At this very moment production companies and royalty owners are losing out on a lot of money, for content that they created and paid for! In my opinion there is a way out - there looks to be such a simple solution - "Pay-Per-View Revenue Sharing Agreements".

An auditable system is put in place that accurately records if a viewer watches all of a TV Show/Movie (where all might be contracted to mean 80% of the video was viewed) and the system will also record instances where the content is only part viewed. Video advertising is placed at the beginning of the content and at pre-determined intervals in the video (e.g. every 15 minutes). For each advert viewed both the host and copyright owner share advertising revenue - at an agreed upon percentage.

Theoretical Projection of Earnings

NOTE: These are actual view count figures off a popular video links site and the film was chosen at random.
  • Film: Jaws (1975)
  • Film Length: 130 minutes
  • View Count: 38,537
Of this view count lets say:-
  • 60% watched whole movie: 23, 122
  • 20% watched half the movie: 7,707
  • 10% a quarter of the movie: 3,854
  • 10% chose to turn it off soon after the first adverts: 3,854
Now lets do a revenue projection for adverts shown to a customers who watched the whole movie:-
  • 15 second Ad impression cost: $0.25c
  • Adverts per ad break: 2
  • Ad break shown at start, then every: 15 minutes
  • Number of ad breaks based on film length: 9
  • Total for Film: $4.50
Revenue generated by customers who watched half the movie:-
  • Number of ad breaks based on 1/2 watched film: 4
  • Total for 1/2 watched Film: $2.00
Revenue generated by customers who watched a quarter of the movie:-
  • Number of ad breaks based on 1/4 watched film: 2
  • Total for 1/4 watched Film: $1.00
Revenue generated by customers who left soon after the movie started (So would have only watched the introduction ad break):-
  • Number of ad breaks: 1
  • Total for 1/4 watched Film: $0.50
Now lets say an agreement is made for a generous 50:50 revenue share:-
  • Total income for film: $125,244
  • Split revenue: $62,622
This is just one film with a below average view count for the site the figure was extracted from. Many movies show view counts of 100'000+ - Significant revenue is being lost to copyright infringement. If we just look at 100 movies, using the above estimates - a potential $6 million doesn't make it to the movie production companies...if not much more when you start to look at films who's view counts are significantly higher!

With the advent of high speed fibre-optic connectivity in the home, the amount of people turning to on-demand internet video is only set to increase - I do not want to see content makers losing out!

There are solutions that could help prevent copyright infringement and offer a real revenue stream back to the copyright owners - the industry just needs to adapt to them!

1 comment:

  1. As long as it will be possible to rip movies and distribute them online in a form where they can be viewed without advertising interruptions, people will do it and no-one will use your website.

    You're coming at this from the totally wrong angle, just like the MAFIAA and the rest of the incompetents. You can't stop users from getting the content they want as easily and directly as is technologically possible by trying to impose artificial limitations. The best you can hope for is to make paying for content almost as easy and attractive as downloading. A major way to do it is to give the consumer the strong impression that 99% of whatever they pay for a product goes directly to the creator and only a microscopic amount ends up in the hands of any intermediaries. The consumer has to feel much much more connected to the original artist, to the idea of supporting the creation of art by paying for it.