Let Me Be Perfectly Clear: I DO Think That File-Sharing Hurts The Film Industry

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Reading it over, I see that my previous blog post ended up achieving the opposite of what I wanted it to, when I began writing it.  This is probably because it was written in haste, but that’s no excuse.

I had no idea what a hubbub it would cause and how much my intentions could be misinterpreted.  If you read it, you will see it begins by paraphrasing Paul Simon in “The Boxer” and saying that we all believe what we want to believe and disregard the rest.”

And the point I was trying to make with the blog was: maybe we should stop and not do that for a moment. 

Now I agree with the MPAA that file-sharing hurts the industry.  Most studio executives and producers and journalists think the same way. It’s common sense.  I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for people who defend file-sharing.

After all, why on earth would I spend a year and a half of my life working 24/7 to create SpeedCine, which is devoted to fostering legal online movies if I thought that file-sharing was good?

But none of us in the industry are interested in a study that looks at what’s really going on.   What we want is a study that quantifies how much we are losing. To say that file-sharing hurts the industry and then estimate how many people do it and calculate the damages is not a study.  You cannot study a phenomenon if you begin with the conclusion.

And an attempt at finding the truth—whatever it might be--is a handy thing to have in a time of crisis and change and opportunity.

Where I know I went wrong is that I made my opinion all too clear that file-sharing might have worked to the advantage of this one film.   Millions of times things that are generally not good have worked in an unexpected way to someone’s advantage.  I was making no generalization statement about file-sharing.

What has happened in the blogosphere has been a lot of shouting.  People who are against file-sharing say it that I’m wrong and I can’t prove it. Of course I can’t prove anything.  People who are for file-sharing say that this is just more evidence that file-sharing is good for the industry. Which is total bullshit.

It’s not evidence of anything at all.  It’s just data.  Data doesn’t prove anything one way or another.  

What I’d like to see is a real study.  Where you poll people, and ask questions like these:

Did you watch the copy of “Wolverine” on the net?   Did you ever pay for the movie in any way afterwards?  Theatre? DVD purchase? Rental? Netflix? Redbox?

For non-file sharers:  How did you hear about the film?  What made you want to see it?

I think it would be interesting.  Again, it wouldn’t “prove” anything absolutely, but it might raise the level of the discourse.

Now for my readers:  Do you like the idea of a poll like that?  And if not, why not?