What was Warner Brothers thinking ?

This press release got a ton of attention. Warner Bros and Bittorrent announce revolutionary deal.

This deal was revolutionary. No question about it. Not because WB wants to use bittorrent type technology to distribute content. Using Peers and Seeding to reduce bandwidth costs is nothing new at all. Ive been an investor in Redswoosh.net for a while now. Im a believer.

What is shocking is that Warners didnt take the time to see what happens at the bittorrent.com site.

On the very site with their press release, bittorrent.com has a search engine. A torrent search engine. Mission Impossible 3, Scary Movie 4, you name it, its there. I downloaded their client, and as I sit here, its not fast, but its downloading.

Now I did have to go through some interesting chinese porn to get Scary Movie 4, but i got there.

Im a big fan of the technology, but using Warner Brothers content and a press release to promote a search engine that takes you to wonderful sites like piratebay , ep8.net, and worse probably isnt the smartest business move on WBs part.

And what was bittorrent thinking ? How stupid can you be to go out and brag about signing a deal with a major content provider while leaving an open door to everything they are trying to protect against on the home page of your website with the press release? Someone over there needs their head examined.

So to summarize, the movie industry spends millions upon millions to ty to stop piracy and train consumers into thinking that piracy is wrong. Along come Warners and Bittorrent. They sign a deal and promote it everywhere. People who want to read the press release or download the technology get taken right to a website that without apology promotes the theft of content.

think maybe we will see people who never knew what bittorrent was before, go to the site, download the client and rationalize that this all must be legal because right on the homepage there is a deal between the Harry Potter people and the company and website that allows me to download anything I want for free ?

COunt me as someone who had let his bittorrent client lapse and go unusable until i saw this deal announced and followed the links to bittorrent.com. Now i can steal all the content i want. If i were so inclined. (and i wont let the movies finish downloading )

Good job Warners

47 thoughts on “What was Warner Brothers thinking ?

  1. User accessibility will be a lucrative market in the future. The federal government is requiring websites to be accessible to the disabled (including the blind). CheckEngine USA is a business that specializes in accessibility.

    Comment by Brett S. -

  2. You could partner with iTunes, Google Video, or start your own site to allow fans to download your content legally.

    Comment by Tw -

  3. The legal issue with Bittorrent is that you are also uploading as you are downloading in most cases ,so that would be equal to unauthorised distribution and seeing the studios hold the copyright even on clips of a movie Mark could be held liable for copyright infringement .

    Comment by Matt -

  4. Sime,
    You really need to read up on the law. Unless Mark has a complete copy of a movie that he downloaded illegally on his hard drive, there is nothing that the MPAA can do.
    You also need to read up on how bittorrent works too. Part of a file is not a movie.

    Comment by Irish John -

  5. It would be fun to see the Studios go after Mark for copyright infringement instead of Grandmothers who dont own computers .

    Comment by Matt -

  6. “Now i can steal all the content i want. If i were so inclined. (and i wont let the movies finish downloading )”

    Erm…you should really read up on how Bit Torrent works. It doesn’t matter if you don’t finish downloading (leeching) as you are always uploading (seeding) as you are downloading. You are still distributing content illegaly, if not all of it. Bow your head in shame!

    But would the MPAA/RIAA ever sue you? Not likely.

    Comment by Sime -

  7. What is even more ridiculous Mark is Warner’s deal with 180 Solutions ,a notorious AD-ware\spy-ware company .Kevin Tsujihara, President Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group better start looking for a new job .

    There’s a Multitude of companies in the “legitimate” content distribution space including Mark’s Red Swoosh .

    Kontiki has Time Warner and AOL with shows on its IN@TV service and Wurld Media is soon to launch a video service from NBC\Universal with its Peer Impact service .

    http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art_aid=43217

    Comment by Matt -

  8. Jason & Elliot make a lot of sense and so does this move by Warner. It’s all about the audience and I’m pretty surprised you would even question this.

    Americans like media, and they’ll buy it.

    They won’t, however, pay $10 for a movie AND $5 to rent it AND $20 for a DVD AND another $8.99 to replace it in a year and a half when their 6 year old decides to play frisbee with the DVD collection AND another God knows what they’ll have to pay when DVD is obsolete for the next format.

    Buy once, read everywhere.

    re: NBA officials
    They can watch the games with the 40-42 teams.

    …and since I’m on your blog, I have to say that I hope you didn’t take this comic with you in it seriously.
    https://farlane.wordpress.com/2006/04/24/nba-comix-they-never-said-it/

    Comment by farlane -

  9. I think this is all much ado about nothing in the short term.

    Piracy will continue unabated as long as the industry continues to consider the product itself a saleable commodity.

    Media will continue to be devalued as long as bandwidth grows and costs drop.

    Media is going to be corporate sponsored; media will be sold, but because the media is going to serve as long form commercials, it won’t matter that piracy is an issue. In fact, the more downlaods the better because more people are watching the advertainment.

    Microsoft is exec producing Halo. In fact, they commissioned the script by Alex Garland (wrote 28 Days Later – one of my favorite flicks) and have oversight over the whole production. The Hollywood machine is merely being used for its movie-making and marketing expertise… hired guns. Microsoft has control over what will be seen on screen.

    It won’t be too long in the future when Aston Martin commissions a new James Bond script and develops it with the Broccolis in order to introduce a new world car. Or a fashion designer will commission an edgy thriller and outfit all actors in the fall line (instead of wasting the cash on runway shows that seven people get to see). With DVRs and pop up blockers, adverts need a way to hit their audience.

    In this paradigm, the audience can’t TIVO commercials out. There are no ads to dodge. The entertainment is the ad.

    McDonald’s already is offering cash to rappers so that they mention products or the brand in songs. That’s right, McDonald’s is commissioning mentions in songs – at a set price per mention. I know because I recently freelanced for New York labels working out deals in this regard.

    All of which is to say: When McDonald’s pays your favorite hip hop artist 500 grand to do an album filled with various brand references, it doesn’t matter how many units it sells. You want downloads – in fact, you’d encourage it.

    Time for a plug: Our documentary, MIXTRESS X, needs distribution. It chronicles the travails of female DJs in hip hop, a traditionally misogynistic music form. http://www.mixtressx.com for a trailer. Check it out, Mark.

    Comment by blyx -

  10. “Now I did have to go through some interesting chinese porn to get Scary Movie 4, but i got there.”

    There is No chinese porn at all.
    The bigest pron country is Japan.

    Comment by xpp -

  11. Mark, how much would you like to bet that the chinese porn is pulling in a bigger audience than Tomkat’s love-scandal-driven MI3?

    Just a thought.

    Give em hell.

    Comment by Blake -

  12. Somebody think about legal produce ? I don;t think so… pirate production unfortunately is flourish

    Comment by IceManJI -

  13. “Now I did have to go through some interesting chinese porn to get Scary Movie 4, but i got there.” – Absolutely classic Mark.

    The whole thing really does add legitimacy to the bit torrent name, something that all of hollywood was trying to take down. WB has undoubtably done more to promote illegal downloading than legal.

    As far as what Jelp said above: just because people are going to use bit torrent illegally, doesn’t mean you have to work WITH them to provide your legal content (and therefore promote their illegal content for them). You could partner with iTunes, Google Video, or start your own site to allow fans to download your content legally. There’s no need to serve people illegal and legal in the same spot.

    Comment by Adam -

  14. Yes, The answer is to realize that this technology exists, people are going to use it illegally , and then adjust your business accordingly.

    Comment by Jelp -

  15. We need to fight the system. I am only commenting here because y’all shutdown the comment on the one that actually commented on officiating. Officiating is foul in every sport and in the biggest games. And now OWNERS can’t EVEN BLOG about it. That’s not freedom of speech.

    Bloggers of the world UNITE!!! http://blogs.foxsports.com/sportsnuttz

    fight the power. We wan’t 1,000,000 comments in the blogetition.

    sportsnuttz

    Comment by JC -

  16. As someone who works in the DVD industry as both a screenwriter and marketing director, I’ve got to say this is at least a step in the right direction. People want legal and simple ways to get movies when they want them. BT also addresses your issues about how VOD is limited by available bandwidth. The software gives companies time to build more infrastructure.

    Also, you don’t mention that the fact that one of the conditions WB had in the deal was that BitTorrent clean up its act.

    The pricing is totally unrealistic considering that the cost of burning a DVD5 size disc at a replicator is only about 40 cents. The whole package for a standard one disc release is at most $3 a disc/packaging. Why not charge 99 cents per download for the movie only? If they want the extras – you have to buy the disc.

    That separates the two revenue streams…

    Comment by Bill Cunningham -

  17. We need to fight the system. I am only commenting here because y’all shutdown the comment on the one that actually commented on officiating. Officiating is foul in every sport and in the biggest games. And now OWNERS can’t EVEN BLOG about it. That’s not freedom of speech.

    Bloggers of the world UNITE!!! http://blogs.foxsports.com/sportsnuttz

    fight the power. We wan’t 1,000,000 comments in the blogetition.

    sportsnuttz

    Comment by JC -

  18. Peter? Peter?! Mark Cuban on line two.

    Comment by kissing ass -

  19. With the media industry losing the battle against file sharing, a cliche comes to mind, If you can’t beat em . . .

    Comment by Clay -

  20. Back in ’98, I was called in to help finance a Seattle startup which had the potential to rectify most of the problems associated with the music industry. Without typing out the details, it was going to be a MySpace for indie bands and their fans. The company was going to provide essential back-end support to bands, such as just-in-time CD burning, and all sorts of other good stuff.

    Unfortunately, the founder/CEO turned out to be a knucklehead extraordinaire who drove his entire team to mutiny and then to finally abandon the project.

    We coulda made history with that one.

    Oh well, you win a few and lose a few.

    http://www.antiventurecapital.com

    Comment by Peter -

  21. I used to buy Patti Smith bootleg records in the Village when I was younger, and would mail her a $5 money order for every one of those albums I bought!!! Guess we grew up in an age when your fealty as a fan made you WANT to see your favourite bands make money.

    Were Melanie (Safka) up there I’d be very tempted to download her stuff since I owned all of those albums in vinyl and it’s almost impossible to get them on CDs unless you want to spend a fortune at Amazon, but I’d feel twice as guilty since I’m sure Melanie is certainly not living in the lap of luxury now. I can understand having a few videos up there like Google does, but to entirely download an album or movie…imagine, they have Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” in its entirety…is basically wrong.

    While it’s common knowledge that record companites routinely rip off musicians, the artists deserve even the pittances they recieve from those sales.

    Comment by EminemsRevenge -

  22. They’ll never stop illegal copying of data no matter what laws or technology is put it place. People will always find away around it whilst their is demand, and unless something happens to change huamn nature, then the demand will always be there too.

    Comment by Transformers @ The Moon -

  23. Let’s shut down the internet… after all that is really how pirated and illegal stuff gets around.

    Comment by Irish John -

  24. The problem is that illegal downloading (and it is still technically illegal) is perceived as either as a victimless crime, a form of half-baked rebellion or some kind of adjunct to the bill of rights.

    However, it’s not a victimless crime. Who do you think suffers when a DVD comes out and its sales are undermined by free downloads? I assure you the executives are not taking a pay cut. Its anything but rebellion. As I stated already you are not ‘Sticking it to the Man’ when you illegally download you are more likely sticking it to the Man’s secretary. (hmmm, maybe I should rethink that analogy)

    I think the larger issue here is this bloated sense of entitlement we seem to have in our society. The attitude that you are entitled to possess any music album or movie release as some kind of inherit freedom is ridiculous. I feel like I am entitled to drive high-priced, luxury sports cars but for some reason the dealerships don’t seem to want to sell me one on my budget and stealing one because I believe they are overpriced is probably just going to land me in jail. The same is true for the movies and music. If the artists who produced the music and movies agreed that every man woman and child was entitled to them they would probably have put them on their own web sites for free download. Albums and Movies are a commodity just like any other. The fact that they can be downloaded from BitTorrent instead of being sold in some back ally out the back of a truck just represents a different form of trafficking.

    Comment by Kyle -

  25. That wasn’t Chinese Porn. It was just a scene from Scary Movie 4 with Carmen Electra.

    Comment by Filthy Fowl -

  26. I’m surprised at you, Mark-you seem to be implying that you agree with the RIAA/MPAA that downloading/file sharing is “stealing.” This is a complete fiction made up by the RIAA out of fear for their archaic business model.

    You’re generally pretty progressive on this stuff. It’s not that we all want it for free, it’s that we want it NOW, we want it HOW WE WANT IT, and we want to be able to DO WHAT WE WANT WITH IT, at an affordable price (99c a track is still too much, as is $14.99 for a DVD or CD. What you lose in margin, you’ll more than make up in volume). Bittorrent comes closest to addressing these needs, so we use it. If something better comes along, we’ll use that.

    The sooner the studios and labels figure out that they can make a ton of money through voluntary collective licensing–or another model that allows consumers to do what they want with the stuff they buy while still paying the people who make the content–the better off everyone will be, labels and studios included. Then deals like this will make perfect sense.

    Comment by Jason T. -

  27. Mark, I am a college student. I do not have any money. Would you give me 2500 so I can pay for my classes? I go to an Indiana University campus in Indianapolis. You would be my hero.

    Comment by Travis -

  28. They were reaching for the stars trying to recover from piracy by adding to it. They think it will make them some money. Only time will tell I guess.

    Comment by Brandon Connell -

  29. Mark, I just want you to know that millions of people, incuding myself, completely agree with your take on NBA Officials. I think it is rediculous that the league would slap you with a fine like that, yet from another standpoint I’m glad that someone out there has the power and the balls to say the things you say. I wish to say thank you, from the millions of NBA fans in US and all around the world, for improving the great sport of basketball.

    Comment by Kirill -

  30. AT&T is laying fiber in my back yard RIGHT NOW. They will be providing content digitally to approx 20 million people over the next few years. I would expect the ala-carte legislation would break this barrier, and companies will have their own CHANNEL for movies, completing the circle you ‘whined’ about several years ago. I’m surprised these movie companies aren’t backing that instead of spending dimes on anti hacker legislation. Most people won’t hack if the content is affordable, high quality, and AVAILABLE immediately.
    I liked the article.

    Comment by David James -

  31. Wow…I just read your comments on officiating in the playoffs. Maybe it would be credible if the NBA didn’t allow 54% of its teams into the post season. (16/30 teams, 33/60 officials – that seems to be right in line….it’s probably about time you quit whining about everything.)

    Comment by Derek Bergen -

  32. Mind-blowing, man. They obviously need to hire me to do research for them. Any idea where exactly I should address my resume? Power and madness to the BitTorrent people.

    Comment by Mr. Hand -

  33. OK, and so why is no body investing in Dynamic streaming of Video. An average movie length is lets say about 80 minutes. That’s 80 minutes of time available for downloading while the movie is playing. Dynamic downloading as the movie is playing or download only what the user can see give/take a few minutes is all needed to show the same quality without the wait! If anyone wants to know more let me know?

    Comment by Mitchell -

  34. Hello Mark, you should be canonized. That’s all.

    Comment by Alex -

  35. This makes total sense to me Mark. It just doesn’t seem to be a wise decision to promote with a product that seems to be working against you, along with the type of content you’d prefer people wouldn’t want to see you being associated with.

    Someone made a comment about buying a gun, and then not using it. But this doesn’t apply here to WB from the company end of things. Would you promote a children’s film by working a deal with an online adult video distributor, then announce it everywhere? Sure it’s a great deal, they’re a law abiding company with plenty of legal content, and they’ve got a great distribution network, but is that really a good idea?

    Comment by Ron -

  36. I found a great bittorrent website that hosts torrents of various shapes and sizes. I’m not actually sure how they manage to get people to seed these torrents, but it seems to work for the most part. Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of torrents die, though, do to lack of seeders.

    But, it’s a great program. Last week, I finished downloading the original movie The Producers. This movie is difficult to find in DVD, let alone in a downloadable windows media format on the internet.

    Comment by Nathan -

  37. Pirates generally leave things alone if they’re avaliable freely. The more you make things inconvenient for the user- the more people pirate the product just to get a more convenient version.

    Look at Starforce and how they’re being (Deservedly) driven out of business.

    Comment by I applied to you for a job once... -

  38. The real question is why would someone want to download scary movie 4?

    Comment by Stephen -

  39. What’s WB supposed to do? Pretend like people don’t already know about illegal movie download sites and so make the announcement someplace where people can’t download illegal content? It’s an irrelevent point.

    People are willing to pay for digital downloads of media *even if free alternatives are available*. Exhibit A: iTunes.

    The answer is to realize that this technology exists, people are going to use it illegally (regardless of laws), and then adjust your business accordingly.

    Comment by DML -

  40. What’s WB supposed to do? Pretend like people don’t already know about illegal movie download sites and so make the announcement someplace where people can’t download illegal content? It’s an irrelevent point.

    People are willing to pay for digital downloads of media *even if free alternatives are available*. Exhibit A: iTunes.

    The answer is to realize that this technology exists, people are going to use it illegally (regardless of laws), and then adjust your business accordingly.

    Comment by DML -

  41. I agree with Jason. The stupid move was the rediculous price. People lose files all the time. That’s why I still pay for CDs and DVDs; there’s value in the fact that it is a physical copy. Sure, I rip them to my computer, but I know that I’ve always got that backup that can be played on anything.

    Warner wasn’t even thinking about the consumer when they made this deal they were think about the larger profit margin.

    I would gladly pay for movies I download. Why? Quality. Bittorrent is garbage when it comes to trying to find the movie you want. Some joker rips the disc, adds their favorite compression scheme, squeezes it down to the size of a CD (because everyone wants that), and gives it some stupid name with their l33t tag. I would pay Warner money just to know that all of the subtitles and multichannel audio are in place and that the video hasn’t been squeezed to some arbitrary resolution.

    I used to use bittorrent as my “netflix” service : I’d set up a download queue, watch the movies and then delete them. If I liked a movie, I’d go buy it. Now that I’ve got a nice HD projector with surround sound, stuff from bittorrent has become a complete waste of time.

    Jason had a excellent point about HD discs. Very few consumers want to drop money on a HD player right now, but many already have an HiDef TV or at least a computer capable of HD resolutions. Warner should be racing to push HD content to these people since there is no extra equipment cost to the viewer.

    Comment by Eliot Phillips -

  42. Mark, I really didn’t understand what are you trying to say… but as long as we’re talking about the bittorrent.com search engine, here’s an excelent similar example: I can go to a local store, buy a gun, then go outside and start shooting people around me. BUT I DON’T DO THAT. I choose not to. I can also go to bittorrent.com and choose not to search and download illegal stuff.

    Comment by Marvin -

  43. I am really interested in seeing how this relationship evolves. I think it could be a good move for Warner Brothers instead of fighting sites like Bittorrent. People are still going to pirate movies, etc. but if Warner Brothers can utilize this technology to increase their distribution at a much lower cost and pass that savings on to their customers, then it will probably decrease the piracy while increasing sales of their product. Personally, I would spend a few bucks for quality and ease of availability versus downloading some screener w/ sketchy audio quality that I had to dig through a bunch of misc. torrents to find. Although it is certainly hard to compete with FREE.

    Comment by Craig -

  44. Actually, the thing I found more stupid was the pricing and DRM level they are going for:

    Pay full DVD price

    Not released any sooner than DVD

    Can ONLY play on PC that downloaded it

    What about bonus features? I’m I paying DVD price and NOT getting the same features? (Well, yes, because I can use my DVD on any of my DVD players.)

    I use MY outbound bandwidth to help others download it, but I get no break in pricing?

    There are many things they could have done to actually make this something people would WANT to do, but they didn’t:

    Larger discount for more seeding (If I download the file and disconnect, I pay full price. If I download the file and then upload the same amount to others 1:1 ratio, then I get a bit of a price break. If I leave my connection open long enough that I have uploaded it to others 5 times over, I should get a big break for that.)

    Authenticated playback. Let me go to a website, log in, and watch my video. Don’t restrict me to one PC. I have 5 in my house, and 1 at work. My DVD will go there easily. Go to http://www.steampowered.com. They ENCOURAGE you to log in at home or work and have access to your games. Those games are 3-4gb and are a traditional download. They could make a similar BT client that I could sign into and have access to my full library of movies. Maybe even “convert” my DVDs to HD or online format by inserting my DVD for authentication and then granting me d/l access.

    HD? Why not show that HD-DVD and Blueray are non-choices. With Bittorrent, I could download a HD movie in a coulpe days, same as I could wait for the video in the mail.

    Burning rights?

    In the end, it seems to be a move to say “See, there is a LEGAL way to download movies, but pirates don’t just want to download, they want it free”. I don’t download movies illegally(maybe overseas TV shows), but I would pay for downloads if they gave me SOME reason to do so.

    Comment by Jason -

  45. Hi Mark-

    When bittorrent.com started its search engine, they went to great pains to make sure no copyrighted data got into any search results. I just checked and apparently they’ve let that slide, I can find pretty much anything I can think of on there now.

    Comment by Troy -

  46. I’m surpried at you Mark, I think you know that a search engine isn’t designed to weed out certain content. Sure they CAN, but search engines that block certain content just don’t get used. Bittorent.com is a search engine, if you want to use it to pirate movies. You can. But you can also use it to search for NON copywrited material. Just because YOU wanted scary Movie 4 doesn’t mean that Bittorrent endorses you doing it. You can find child porn and bomb making manuels with a Google search. Have companies seperated themselves from Google? Should they?

    Comment by e -

  47. I’m a huge believer of bittorrent and use it for downloading. People use bittorrent for illegal downloading, and there are tons of private and underground bittorrent sites where you can downloading anything from applications to movies. But at the same time bittorrent will be the future of downloading and the film industry needs to understand this and get on board.

    Comment by Jeremy -

Comments are closed.