Sophie Scholl Filmmaker Wants Compulsory License To Give Movies Away For Free

Encouragingly, these people include artists and, sometimes, even people at labels, movie or game studios. The entertainment business still acts as if piracy is going to wipe out the entire creative industry, but things are moving in the right direction. And proof that piracy is directly linked to weather people can find the movies or shows they want when they want to is very evident over at the new PiracyData.org website. The site mashes up data from TorrentFreak, the top 10 most pirated movies on BitTorrent, along with data from Can I Stream It. The end result is a chart of the top 10 most popular movies on BitTorrent and whether they are available online in any form, streaming, rental or purchase. Obviously, this data has been available for a while, but it’s only now been put into context like this. And the results speak for themselves. For the past three weeks, the time over which the data has been collected, none of the top 10 movies, not a single one has been available for streaming, on Netflix, Hulu and so on. Only one in five have been available for rental and a little over half of them could have been bought from the likes of iTunes and Amazon. This week, four of the top 10 movies can’t be bought, rented or streamed anywhere. Three are available for streaming and, for six, a digital copy can be purchased online. Obviously, people will and do pirate movies and shows even if they are available legally. In fact, some will grab it from BitTorrent even if it’s available somewhere for free, sometimes it’s just a matter of habits. But it’s pretty clear that the entertainment business could do a lot more to fight piracy in a way that satisfies consumers, rather than trying to get Google, ISPs or the courts to force people to pay it.

“The Counselor” (Oct. 25) Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz go bad in Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor,” based on an original script by Cormac McCarthy. Yes, please. “Jackass: Bad Grandpa” (Oct. 25) OK. “Ender’s Game” (Nov. 1) An adaptation of the beloved young adult novel (from non-beloved author Orson Scott Card) stars Hailee Steinfeld, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford. “Free Birds” (Nov. 1) An animated movie about turkeys, “from the Academy Award-winning producer of ‘Shrek.'” “Last Vegas” (Nov. 1) Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline star in this comedy, which looks like a mix of “The Hangover” and “Grumpy Old Men.” Turtle from “Entourage” co-stars, at least for one scene. “About Time” (Nov. 1) Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson star in this romantic comedy-cum-time travel drama from “Love Actually” director Richard Curtis.

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Breinersdorfer argued in his article that such a license would be the only effective way to fight piracy, which is particularly rampant in countries like Germany where legal services have yet to gain traction. Torrent and streaming sites offer free movies, but make good money with ads, he said. So why not offer companies an easy way to license films and share some of that ad revenue with creators and studios? Subscribe to gigaom.com Said Breinersdorfer: Why shouldnt it be possible to organize the whole thing legally if internet gangsters can make millions with ads? His proposal: Institute a one-stop-shop for online licenses where internet companies can acquire rights to use any film that is no longer in theaters. Entrepreneurs would be free to launch whatever video platform they want, whether its a genre-specific, ad-supported streaming site or a premium platform with paid HD downloads, and then just pay a predetermined fee, which would then be distributed to rights holders. Breinersdorfers proposal is radical, but not unprecedented. Compulsory licenses have long been a key part of the music business, where every band can freely cover another bands songs without first asking for permission. Similarly, radio stations dont have to strike deals with record labels before they air their songs. Instead, stations pay compulsory rates to composers and publishers through entities like ASCAP and BMI. However, its unlikely that we will see similar licenses for the online use of movies any time soon. Even in the music biz, attempts to broaden collective licensing have failed.