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    Saturday, 05 December 2009 10:52

    Regina's Filmmaking Blog #3.5 - Bonus Blog about Bootlegging Bastards

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    BLOG 3.5 – Bonus Blog about Bootlegging Bastards

    During the past couple of weeks, I have had an unwanted crash course in bootlegging, DVDRips, file sharing, bit torrents and pirates.  As a struggling filmmaker, it makes me want to VoMiT.  <(If you don't get that joke, you especially need to keep reading.)

    I didn’t really know what any of those terms meant.  I thought the only bootleggers were those people selling crappy $5 DVD’s on the streets of New York, and certainly nobody would bother bootlegging Teenage Dirtbag.  I wasn’t at all worried that my film wasn’t available for download the day it was released on DVD.  Why wasn’t it available? Well, because there were sound issues holding it up with iTunes, and to be perfectly frank, my distributor is small and old-school, and didn’t worry about getting it up on Hulu or Cinema Now, or anywhere else.  They didn’t quite grasp the magnitude of how important it is to make it available for download… IMMEDIATELY. 

    I am embarrassed to say, neither did I.  If I couldn’t get the movies I wanted from Movies On Demand, then I would get them the old fashioned way – Blockbuster.  Not Blockbuster on-line, Blockbuster the store down the street.   I hadn’t even explored the option of Netflix until they ordered my film. Now I subscribe and love it, just in time for mail to become the outdated way of getting movies.  People download nowadays. 

    Thanks to my favorite new mentor, Mark Sevi, I found out that Teenage Dirtbag’s bit torrent numbers were off the charts.  I didn’t even know what he was talking about.  Basically, it meant thousands and thousands of people were stealing my movie, giving it away, and worst of all - selling it on-line without the rights!  Mark told me I should be flattered, but I was furious. What an absolute violation!  Don’t those buttholes out there understand that this isn’t some big money studio picture, and their theft isn’t a drop in the bucket?!  It’s just little ol’ me, my friends and family who invested, my hard-working sales agents, and my struggling distributor.  It matters!  This meant war.

    Step 1, I called my distributor and gave them the numbers of how many people were downloading the movie, and told them if they want to stop the bloodletting, they better get the damn thing up onto a download site, and fast.  Step 2, I launched a Cease and Desist effort against the file-sharing sites. (It has been about as successful as trying to clean sand off of the beach… But whatever, I’m angry.)  Step 3, educate fans of the many legitimate ways to get the movie.

    By the following day, my distributor miraculously got the film up on Cinema Now.  Three days after that, they added a new on-line store to their website, and were selling the download directly. Within two weeks, the movie was up on iTunes.  (Turns out money is a good motivator.) So I won one very small battle.  But the bit torrent numbers have continued growing to staggering numbers across the globe, which means I am not only losing the war, but it is a bloodbath, day after day.   For those of us who desire to make our living on intellectual property, we are so screwed.

    Let my mistakes be your lessons: 

    1. Don’t assume the person selling or distributing your material knows what they are doing.  Just because you sold your work, or got distribution, doesn’t mean your job is done.  No one cares about it more than you, so stay involved.

    2. Protect everything you have in any way that you can.  Copyright, register, watermark, etc.

    3. Be a step ahead of the bootleggers.  Make it easily available through lots of on-line sources, and you’ll be more likely to get paid.

    4. Send the legal threats, make the noise, report the thieves.  

    5. Walk the walk… don’t download other people’s movies/songs/etc. just because you can.  Saving $4.00 isn’t worth the bad karma. 

    6. And finally, if you’re like me, and are a little oblivious to the digital age, get on top of it – NOW.


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