The Digital Download

gazing at the digital video horizon

Archive for February 2009

Do Digital Pirates say “ARRR”?

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Pirate vs Copyright [Copyright New Video Group Inc. All Rights Reserved 2009]

Illustration Copyright © New Video Group Inc. All Rights Reserved 2009

Arrr! Arrr! Arrr!
A pirate, a pirate, a pirate says “Arrr!”
It might seem strange, just a bit bizarre,
But they know you’re a pirate,
When they hear you say “Arrr!”
-From The Backyardigans

A few weeks ago the NY Times published a cold sobering truth that the commercial digital download industry didn’t want to be reading about in the newspaper of record. Was offshore pirated streaming reaching a point where the commercial markets might just not be able to compete?

From The New York Times: By BRIAN STELTER and BRAD STONE  February 5, 2009– Hollywood may at last be having its Napster moment – struggling against the video version of the digital looting that capsized the music business. Media companies say that piracy – some prefer to call it “digital theft” to emphasize the criminal nature of the act – is an increasingly mainstream pursuit. At the same time, DVD sales, a huge source of revenue for film studios, are sagging. In 2008, DVD shipments dropped to their lowest levels in five years. Executives worry that the economic downturn will persuade more users to watch stolen shows and movies. “Young people, in particular, conclude that if it’s so easy, it can’t be wrong,” said Richard Cotton, the general counsel for NBC Universal.

Pirates are a pretty nasty lot. Not the digital pirates that the Recording Industry’s RIAA had their lawyers chasing until recently– those pirates are nice pirates. They’re our friends, our children, even ourselves. How do we reconcile the surly pirates of yore (and, Somalia!) with college kids that won’t pay for a download because “it’s not just about the money?”

It seems that pirates being mean, bad and ugly is a black and white world that is now so gray. “We’re competing with free,” is the way Eddie Cue, head of Apple’s iTunes stores, nailed the competitive landscape in another Time’s article. While the Hollywood Studios walk on tiptoes so as to not disturb Walmart, their DVD cash machine, the emerging commercial digital storefronts are being strong-armed by the studios to charge ten or more dollars per download– making competing with the free streaming sites an uphill climb. As streaming services refine their offerings and their interfaces, they are creating a new world of free movies that seems deceptively legitimate.

Nickels, Dimes and Quarters

The video business might indeed be having their Napster Moment– if piracy is to race along towards broader appeal and acceptance and the price of a download is to continue pegged to supporting percentage of the retail price of a DVD. The fear is that to price the online download to compete with “free” is to undermine the stability built into Hollywood’s value structure. This mindset so reminds one of how with Napster and its progeny out there in plain daylight the record companies kept the CD’s retail price point up around $16.

I don’t know how we get there but I sense that over time the pipeline for digital downloads will, like water, seek its own level. The first DVD players that came out cost over $1,000 with movies selling up to $90 each. Now the players are available for $50 and movies selling for $15. For the ecology of content production and distribution to find their level in the digital playing field, the prices need to trend towards micro transactions of nickels, dimes and quarters. Maybe fifty cent pieces.

Oh, by the way, we trademarked that illustration at the top of the page and anyone who pirates it and publishes it– beware! We have engaged all those under-employed RIAA gumshoes to track you down, sue your sorry ass and teach you all a lesson about piracy.


Written by newvideogroup

February 25, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

9/11: Press for Truth

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What really happened on 9/11 is likely to continue to haunt us all. Like the Kennedy assassination which occurred over forty years ago historians and, in this case, passionate filmmakers will be sifting through the evidence and the government’s reluctance to pursue a rapid and thorough investigation. It took some determined widows (known as the Jersey Girls) to push for truth. In they discuss at length where this films goes. Here’s a snippet:

The docu presents a reasoned overview of the Jersey Girls’ story. The widows and survivors got together initially because no investigation was planned for exactly what happened before and after 9/11. There was a lot of confusing information to be sorted out, such as the fact that no jets were scrambled when the airliners were known to be hijacked, although doing so was standing operating procedure for even minor aerial misadventures, like an off-course jet over Florida. Contradicting administration statements, older news bulletins on the web revealed that the government knew for months that Al Qaeda operatives were in the country and that their plans for violence specifically mentioned hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings. The survivors also noted that many high-ranking Pentagon officials cancelled travel plans for September 11 because of ‘security concerns.’ Why that particular morning, and why just them? Finally, when President Bush was staying in Florida, anti-aircraft missile batteries were installed atop his residence — an extraordinary precaution, we are told.

Here is the direct link to “9/11 Press For Truth” on iTunes.

For more information about the 9/11 families and their push for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, check out this blog:

Written by nvdigital

February 25, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized