21 June 2006

Undermining the Case for Long Film Copyrights

One of the arguments given for protecting films with long terms of copyrights is that they are very costly to make, and so film producers require long periods for full payback. It is certainly true that many films are obscenely expensive today, but whether they need to be is another matter.

For those, like me, who argue that films will become progressively cheaper to make as technology advances (and open source software takes over), without any substantial loss in perceived quality, an article in the Washington Post provides some useful ammunition.

According to the story:

Chris Moukarbel was intrigued by director Oliver Stone's latest project, a $60 million movie to be released this summer about two police officers rescued from the rubble of the twin towers.

But as a 28-year-old filmmaker, Moukarbel wanted to do more than simply watch Stone's "World Trade Center." He decided to create his own version -- using a bootleg copy of the screenplay and Yale University student actors -- and offer it free on the Internet.


According to its lawsuit, which was filed Friday, the studio is afraid that people will see the student film on the Internet and confuse it with the big-time Hollywood version set to hit 1,500 screens on Aug. 9 and backed up with a $40 million marketing campaign.

Well, if that's the case, it can only be because you don't actually need to spend $60 million to make such a film. So it looks like Hollywood is digging itself into a fine hole here. (Via Techdirt.)

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