What Are You Missing? April 11-24

April 25, 2010
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1. Not long after we were treated to an article on the rise of the Hitler Downfall video meme, we witnessed the fall of the Hitler Downfall meme via DCMA notice. Aaron Barnhart points out that there’s no legal justification for the demand, YouTube encourages those who have posted them to complain to have the videos put back up, and Google has highlighted the “fair use” button for use in these situations, but the production company demanding the removals defends its actions. Not surprisingly, Hitler himself is in favor of the removals. Also not surprisingly, Hitler is outraged by the removals.

2. The Government Accountability Office acknowledged that media piracy is a problem, but says there isn’t good enough data available yet to determine how much of a problem it really is. Geekologie helps out with an infographic about music piracy. Meanwhile, Paramount has turned to distributing movies on pre-loaded hard drives, and those drives will be heavily laden with DRM protection. Finally, Pirate Bay, the BitTorrent site, might be holed up in a nuclear bunker (no kidding), and the major studios are developing smart bomb capabilities to penetrate it (kidding…I think).

3. Investment in digital music is on the rise, but songwriters complain that they’re not getting the revenue they’re due from services like Spotify; for instance, Lady Gaga earned only $167 from one million plays of “Poker Face.” If that factoid doesn’t strike you, perhaps this graphic visualization of what music artists earn from online distribution will. Leor Galil considers the possible upsides of offering free music online. In a different post, Galil writes about the dreadful state of radio formatting and playlists. The band Pomplamoose has fostered a strong following almost solely from their YouTube videos (which I highly recommend), though since the group mainly plays covers, which thus turn up in searches for the mainstream originals, it may not be a strategy that most indie bands can capitalize on. Another strategy most other musicians won’t be able to capitalize on: being Kevin Costner.

4. Facebook’s recent privacy (or lack thereof) changes are worrisome to many. Plenty of others don’t seem to mind, though, as Facebook (and YouTube, which just turned five) continue to dominate social media traffic; one study says that Facebook is by far the most popular internet site in the workplace; and Gerd Leonhard, in his discussion of how to build an entertainment brand with social media, points out that “it took TV 13 years to reach 50 million people, but it took Facebook just two years.” Maybe Facebook can even help to save newspapers.

5. Twitter also had a big change during this fortnight, launching promoted tweets. Josh Bernoff says this is great for marketers, but user opinion is mixed, and there are challenges to its potential for success. Anil Dash says this is nothing truly new for Twitter, while B.L. Ochman says it changes the game. Ads and all, the Library of Congress will have every single tweet archived for future reference. Christopher Beam provides suggestions for how historians could best capitalize on this archive; short version: hashtag it, folks. Things are quite complicated for Twitter in Mexico.

6. Right on the heels of being at the center of one taste culture debate (over Kick-Ass), Roger Ebert quickly stirred up another with a post saying that video games can never be an art. His comments section exploded (3300+ at last check), and video game defenses appeared all over Twitter and the blogosphere (here’s just one from Olivia Collette). If there’s a museum in Paris devoted to video games, does that make them art? Video games are at least doing better as commerce, as sales were finally up last month, and Sony’s Playstation format enjoyed some rare victories. Other good video game news links: Eduaro Baraf provides a lengthy discussion of the game development process; Call of Duty’s creators have launched their own company; Nielsen looks at video game playing measurements; the Wikileaks Iraq video raises questions about the convergence of war and video games; and Tanner Higgin raises questions about the convergence of violence and laughter in videogames.

7. DVD sales and rentals dropped sharply in the first quarter, and such struggles for home video could usher in new models. But Blockbuster’s CEO is still optimistic about rentals, anyone who’s got a piece of Avatar’s DVD sales is thrilled, and Netflix’s CEO is also very happy, though more due to streaming than DVD. Speaking of streaming, Redbox has some new studio agreements for DVD rental delays, but is looking more into streaming, and YouTube is getting into streaming movie rental now. Telco 2.0 considers how the studios can best leverage their position in regard to online distribution.

8. A company called Kickstarter could help boost independent film distribution with an innovative DVD funding model. Successful Kickstarter-funded indie releases include an online comedy and an acclaimed documentary. Video-on-demand is also heating up as a viable indie distribution outlet, with Comcast making available via VOD a set of Tribeca Film Festival entries. Tired of having to capitulate to funding and marketing needs, a group of indie filmmakers generated a manifesto (rant?) that says filmmakers should just focus on making films, and that generated a voluminous and varied response on Twitter.

9. Random film links worth a look: a short history of short films; how theaters decide on trailers; theaters are once again trying live events; there was a crazy development process behind Cruise and Diaz’s Knight and Day; a study says people are more emotionally attached to movies than other media (source: Cinema Advertising Council, so…); Tyler Perry got a lot of analysis (here, here, and here); Hollywood appears to be terrified of I Love Phillip Morris, which has been delayed yet again; Scorsese’s going 3D; porn’s going 3D with a Caligula remake; porn parodies are proliferating; actresses can’t seem to win no matter their weight; and Andrew O’Hehir tells film critics to quit moaning about criticism being dead and just go back to writing about movies.

10. Links to the best News for TV Majors links of the fortnight: BBC Budget Allocation; Transmedia Presentations; Madness Changes; $9.95 for Hulu; Economic Value of Networks; Conan, TBS, Syndication; Sitcoms Are Back; What Directors Do; Tina Fey Backlash; 3Dizzy; SyFy Gets Wrestling; DVD Extras Online.


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