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in Filmmaking
on Jun 12, 2006

The BBC runs a fascinating dialogue between MPAA President Dan Glickman and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s John Perry Barlow.

Here’s a taste:

JPB: These are aging industries run by aging men, and they’re up against 17-year-olds who have turned themselves into electronic Hezbollah because they resent the content industry for its proprietary practices. And I don’t have a question about who’s going to win that one eventually.

There are a lot of kids out there copying and distributing movies not because they care about seeing the movies or sharing them with their friends but because they want to stick it to the movie business. It’s widely assumed that you can’t compete with free and that seems like a reasonable thing to think. But this has not been my experience. I mean I’ve made a fair amount of money over the years writing songs for ‘The Grateful Dead’ who allowed their fans to tape their concerts.

We were at one point the biggest grossing performing act in the United States, and most of our records went platinum sooner or later.

It’s an economic model that has worked in my experience and I think it does work. It’s just that it seems like it wouldn’t. It seems counter-intuitive.

DG: It is ridiculous to believe that you can give product away for free and be more successful. I mean it defies the laws of nature.

All of us kind of need to chill out
Dan Glickman, Motion Picture Association of America
Would a clothing store give all their clothes for free? Would a car dealership give all its cars for free? Of course not. If they don’t make a profit in this world they’re out of business. That’s just the laws of human nature.

JPB: If I were to encounter Dan Glickman on the street and we were to have a civilised conversation about this subject, which would be a long shot, I’d tell him to relax.

I’d tell him to spend less of the resources of his industry on fighting the inevitable and more on learning about the conditions that they find themselves in and recognising the opportunities, which I think are vast and very encouraging. But they can’t get to those opportunities until they quit trying to stop progress.

DG: First of all I’d tell John Perry Barlow that I’m very relaxed and if we met each other we’d probably have a very good time. But all of us kind of need to chill out.

The fact of the matter is that people who create content for movies and television have to make a profit. If they don’t you won’t see all this wonderful stuff and listen to it.

But he is right to the extent that we need to be finding new and different ways to get our content to people, whether it’s internet or whether it’s iPod or whether it’s remotely accessed in various parts of the world. If [we] don’t the consumer will not be satisfied and in this business the consumer is king and queen. If you don’t make them happy they won’t buy your product.

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