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Ologhai Jones

Streaming: All Movies And T V Shows Ever Made

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Is it only a matter of time before ALL movies and TV shows ever made will be available for streaming (either via a pay-per-view or subscription model) online?

I've recently been taking a look at the likes of Netflix, Lovefilm and Blinkbox. I very much like the idea of not having to own any physical media and having anything and everything available to me online. It doesn't seem to me we're there. Will we ever be there, or will there always be some movies and TV shows (e.g., old or of limited interest) that'll only be available if you're lucky enough to have found a copy when it was available?

Short of some completely new technology coming along which makes what I'm about to say seem silly (and perhaps render the internet obsolete), it seems to me that we can't not get to a point where everything ever made will be available online, but will it be months, years... or longer?

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Is it only a matter of time before ALL movies and TV shows ever made will be available for streaming (either via a pay-per-view or subscription model) online?

I've recently been taking a look at the likes of Netflix, Lovefilm and Blinkbox. I very much like the idea of not having to own any physical media and having anything and everything available to me online. It doesn't seem to me we're there. Will we ever be there, or will there always be some movies and TV shows (e.g., old or of limited interest) that'll only be available if you're lucky enough to have found a copy when it was available?

Short of some completely new technology coming along which makes what I'm about to say seem silly (and perhaps render the internet obsolete), it seems to me that we can't not get to a point where everything ever made will be available online, but will it be months, years... or longer?

Some stuff is unlikely to ever be made available "officially":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_wars_holiday_special

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heil_Honey_I'm_Home

I suppose once copyright expires on an item there shouldn't be much the erstwhile owner can do to hold onto it.

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Some stuff is unlikely to ever be made available "officially":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_wars_holiday_special

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heil_Honey_I'm_Home

I suppose once copyright expires on an item there shouldn't be much the erstwhile owner can do to hold onto it.

That's a good reply, and showed that my originally use of 'ALL' wasn't quite correct. I appreciate that there'll always be some content that isn't available, but at present it seems as if there's plenty of stuff you can't get on Netflix and similar. In the same way, there's probably lots you can't even buy on DVD (or is rare enough to be silly, e.g., http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hysterical-DVD-Region-US-NTSC/dp/B000055XM6/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1378570780&sr=1-2&keywords=hysterical.

To clarify: I guess I was asking will there come a point any time soon (within a handful of years perhaps) where 99%+ of anything ever made (not just movies but TV series too) will be available via a single service.

As I say, in an ideal world, I'd own no (or almost no) physical media at all and just watch whatever I want whenever I want for, say, no more than the equivalent of what Netflix costs now (or maybe via a pay-per-view or pay-to-own-a-digital-copy model).

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For legal content we will never get to 100% - there are always disputes about rights that will prevent some old works form being re-sold.

Nope eventually it will fall out of copyright, when that happens no arguments. However whilst in copyright you'll keep getting disputes like the likely lads one where James Bolam won't sanction any repeats.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/tv-radio/the-likely-lads-fall-out-as-bolam-refuses-to-sanction-tv-repeats-1899057.html

The trouble with the internet is that it's global and copyright laws are consistent across the globe.

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Dislaimer: as someone who has worked professionally as an historical advisor to the makers of about 40-50 historical TV documentaries and feature films over the last decade, I've had quite a bit of experience working with moving image and sound archives. So I'll try to keep this brief.

Every movie and TV show ever made will never be instantly accessible, and for two essential reasons.

1. They weren't preserved in the first place, and a lot of early radio and TV wasn't even permanently recorded in the first place (i.e. it was broadcast live without any recording been made as it went out). Photographic film was used as the only major 'video' recording device, and phonograph records or photographic optical sound of some description (e.g. the Philips-Miller system) before the invention of magnetic tape (invented essentially by the Nazis; in widespread use from the late '50s) as the only audio recording device before video and audio tape came along. This stuff was very expensive, difficult to use, difficult and expensive to store, and in the case of nitrate film a liability to store because of its inflammability. Oh, and these media are all subject to very rapid chemical decomposition unless they're kept in a cool and dry atmospherically controlled vault. At room temperature and humidity, your typical reel of film or acetate-on-steel phonograph record will be destroyed in 50 years at most. Experts in this area reckon that about 70% of commercially released film and 90% of radio broadcasting before 1950 is permanently lost.

Incidentally, 'born digital' stuff is an even bigger nightmare. Even throwing money at running a fridge the size of an aircraft hangar (which is what a film archive vault basically is) won't solve that problem. Much of it from the '80s and '90s was on short-lived formats for which playback equipment is no longer readily available (DAT or M-2, anyone?). Even if you can get transfer and transcode the stuff into files that are playable nowadays, you still have to maintain them on a server or whatever for the indefinite future.

2. Copyright. Copyright in a moving image lasts for 70 years after the end of the lastest year in which the following happens: the first public performance, or the year in which the director, screenwriter, photographer or music composer of a film dies. This means that there are films made in the 1920s that will still be in copyright until the 2070s. Most of the output of major studios and broadcasters, even those that went bust, were inherited by other companies that took them over. For an ironic example, Berlusconi's lot own the rights to most British WWII propaganda films! So, to put them on Netflix, you'd need to negotiate a licensing deal between Netflix and the rights owner. There is literally a whole profession - the footage researcher - of people whose job is essentially to do the deals that enable 7 seconds of Hitler's home movies, or 14 seconds of a 1950s TV show, to appear in the history programme you saw on BBC2 last night. And while something is still in copyright, a public sector or not-for-profit archive won't want to invest in its long term preservation, because they cannot legally make it available (except for use in schools and universities, for which Section 34 of the Copyright Act provides an exemption) to anyone without paying the rights owner each and every time. By the time it's out of copyright, it'll probably be lost.

So no, we're never going to be able to see every TV programme or movie ever made online at the poke of a touch-screen - sorry. We're not even going to be able to see all of them that survive.

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2. Copyright. Copyright in a moving image lasts for 70 years after the end of the lastest year in which the following happens: the first public performance, or the year in which the director, screenwriter, photographer or music composer of a film dies. This means that there are films made in the 1920s that will still be in copyright until the 2070s. Most of the output of major studios and broadcasters, even those that went bust, were inherited by other companies that took them over. For an ironic example, Berlusconi's lot own the rights to most British WWII propaganda films! So, to put them on Netflix, you'd need to negotiate a licensing deal between Netflix and the rights owner. There is literally a whole profession - the footage researcher - of people whose job is essentially to do the deals that enable 7 seconds of Hitler's home movies, or 14 seconds of a 1950s TV show, to appear in the history programme you saw on BBC2 last night. And while something is still in copyright, a public sector or not-for-profit archive won't want to invest in its long term preservation, because they cannot legally make it available (except for use in schools and universities, for which Section 34 of the Copyright Act provides an exemption) to anyone without paying the rights owner each and every time. By the time it's out of copyright, it'll probably be lost.

Fascinating.

Can you explain why these restrictions are extended to such a ridiculous degree? I understand the bit about lobbying by Disney etc, but what's the reasoning? And the punishments for copyright infringement (in the US at least) seem bizarre - punitive damages for the slightest infringement - and I've read casually that even anti-terror legislation can be invoked.

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Dislaimer: as someone who has worked professionally as an historical advisor to the makers of about 40-50 historical TV documentaries and feature films over the last decade, I've had quite a bit of experience working with moving image and sound archives. So I'll try to keep this brief.

Every movie and TV show ever made will never be instantly accessible, and for two essential reasons.

1. They weren't preserved in the first place, and a lot of early radio and TV wasn't even permanently recorded in the first place (i.e. it was broadcast live without any recording been made as it went out). Photographic film was used as the only major 'video' recording device, and phonograph records or photographic optical sound of some description (e.g. the Philips-Miller system) before the invention of magnetic tape (invented essentially by the Nazis; in widespread use from the late '50s) as the only audio recording device before video and audio tape came along. This stuff was very expensive, difficult to use, difficult and expensive to store, and in the case of nitrate film a liability to store because of its inflammability. Oh, and these media are all subject to very rapid chemical decomposition unless they're kept in a cool and dry atmospherically controlled vault. At room temperature and humidity, your typical reel of film or acetate-on-steel phonograph record will be destroyed in 50 years at most. Experts in this area reckon that about 70% of commercially released film and 90% of radio broadcasting before 1950 is permanently lost.

Incidentally, 'born digital' stuff is an even bigger nightmare. Even throwing money at running a fridge the size of an aircraft hangar (which is what a film archive vault basically is) won't solve that problem. Much of it from the '80s and '90s was on short-lived formats for which playback equipment is no longer readily available (DAT or M-2, anyone?). Even if you can get transfer and transcode the stuff into files that are playable nowadays, you still have to maintain them on a server or whatever for the indefinite future.

2. Copyright. Copyright in a moving image lasts for 70 years after the end of the lastest year in which the following happens: the first public performance, or the year in which the director, screenwriter, photographer or music composer of a film dies. This means that there are films made in the 1920s that will still be in copyright until the 2070s. Most of the output of major studios and broadcasters, even those that went bust, were inherited by other companies that took them over. For an ironic example, Berlusconi's lot own the rights to most British WWII propaganda films! So, to put them on Netflix, you'd need to negotiate a licensing deal between Netflix and the rights owner. There is literally a whole profession - the footage researcher - of people whose job is essentially to do the deals that enable 7 seconds of Hitler's home movies, or 14 seconds of a 1950s TV show, to appear in the history programme you saw on BBC2 last night. And while something is still in copyright, a public sector or not-for-profit archive won't want to invest in its long term preservation, because they cannot legally make it available (except for use in schools and universities, for which Section 34 of the Copyright Act provides an exemption) to anyone without paying the rights owner each and every time. By the time it's out of copyright, it'll probably be lost.

So no, we're never going to be able to see every TV programme or movie ever made online at the poke of a touch-screen - sorry. We're not even going to be able to see all of them that survive.

Thanks TAB. Can you comment at all on problems caused by licensed music in productions? I've heard it's complicated or prevented the release of some older works on DVD etc. and I think I heard it also scuppered a plan the BBC had to open up their archive for on-demand viewing (by licence-holders, naturally.)

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Can you explain why these restrictions are extended to such a ridiculous degree?

If you're the owner or custodian of this stuff, it doesn't seem so ridiculous.

To preserve it, you need a physical facility to store the media itself (ideally temperature and humidity-controlled). You also need the curators, technicians, cataloguers and other specialist staff needed to maintain it, restore it and make it available. This is not a cheap activity: the full-scale restoration of a feature film that only survives in poor quality and/or damaged copies costs anything from £50k to millions, much of which is labour cost. There is no way to automate the process of repairing torn perforations, dried-out splices and that sort of thing. Like art restoration, it has to be done by hand and by people who know what they are doing.

There are essentially two types of film and TV archive: the public sector or not-for-profit ones (e.g. the British Film Institute, BBC and Imperial War Museum), and the collections of commercial entities (ITN Source, Studio Canal etc.). They need to generate the revenue to survive somehow. The nonprofit ones derive some of their income from the taxpayer, but also depend on the commerical licensing of the stuff to which they own the rights too. The for-profit archives depend entirely on that. If they don't license footage to the producers of shows like Hitler's Dog in Colour, they go under and the films go into landfill.

So that's the reason why even decades-old films are regarded by their owners as bankable intellectual property. There is even a trade organisation - the Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries - which acts as a sort of trade union for footage reseachers, an lobbies against reduction in copyright terms and the Creative Commons brigade in general.

Thanks TAB. Can you comment at all on problems caused by licensed music in productions? I've heard it's complicated or prevented the release of some older works on DVD etc. and I think I heard it also scuppered a plan the BBC had to open up their archive for on-demand viewing (by licence-holders, naturally.)

When a programme maker licenses footage, (s)he will buy a licence which specifies how it may be used. The more wide-ranging the licence, the more expensive it is. So an 'all territories, all media, in perpetuity' licence is the most expensive and most flexible: it gives you carte blanche to use your show, with the licensed footage in it, however you like, wherever you like, forever. However, many programme makers on a limited budget can't afford to do this. So they sign a licence that says 'Three UK terrestrial broadcasts within three years of the date of signing, plus up to 10,000 region 2 DVDs sold within the EU only', or something like that.

The problem with these licences is that if you then want to reshow the programme, or sell DVDs of it, or make it available for streaming on Netflix 30 years later, you've then got to go and re-clear everything again. The most infamous example of this was Ken Burns's epic documentary series Eyes on the Prize, about the civil rights movement in America, made in the late '90s. It used a total of something like 3,000 audio and video clips, all of which were licensed restrictively. When they wanted to re-release it on DVD about a decade later, they had to get a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to hire an army of footage researchers to go and do it all again (and after the experience of dealing with the Martin Luther King estate, who are known in the TV industry as being complete moneygrabbers, it was suggested that the episode in question be renamed Eyes on the Bank). Likewise, when the BBC reissued The Great War a few years ago, about a year after the DVD box sets hit the shelf, they discovered that a lot of footage they thought was their own was in fact owned by a third party. The discs were withdrawn from sale because of the resulting dispute, are now as rare as hen's teeth and go for a lot on Ebay.

I'm currently working on a feature documentary about the Morro Castle disaster, and we're hitting the same problem. We want to buy all territories/all media/in perpetuity licences for the footage I want to use, but the producer is telling me that she can't afford it. So we've got two options: tell the story some other way that does not require the footage (e.g. a camera panning over a still image against a voiceover), or buy a more restrictive licence and accept that this will restrict how we can monetise the finished show, and for how long.

Suffice as to say that when you're dealing with the music industry, welcome to a world of pain. Unless you absolutely have to have a very specific recording for a very specific purpose, it's almost always easier and cheaper to hire your own composers and performers.

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Suffice as to say that when you're dealing with the music industry, welcome to a world of pain. Unless you absolutely have to have a very specific recording for a very specific purpose, it's almost always easier and cheaper to hire your own composers and performers.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jun/17/pink-floyd-back-catalogue-spotify

Pink Floyd's change of tune reflects a wider debate within the industry about the merits of streaming services like Spotify, and whether they can help reverse the decade-long decline in recorded music sales.

Spotify's per-stream payouts for songs played by its users are low. At the accepted industry average of just under 0.4p per stream, 1m Spotify downloads pays out around £3,800 – small beer for a band like Pink Floyd, whose career album sales are counted in the hundreds of millions.

The difference with Spotify and its rivals is that they pay out for every play, meaning the royalties mount up.

Since December 2012, Metallica's 10 most popular tracks alone have been played more than 24.4m times. The Rolling Stones have several tracks whose Spotify play-counts have passed 10m over a longer period.

Spotify says it will pay more than £318m to music rights holders in 2013, but has faced criticism from some artists over the size of its payouts.

Pink Floyd's digital music strategy has sparked controversy in the past. In 2010 the band won a high court battle against their label EMI over whether their albums could be sold as individual song downloads on Apple's iTunes Store.

Three years on, the Pink Floyd catalogue can still be cherry-picked on iTunes, and now albums including The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall are available on Spotify to be sliced and diced into playlists however fans like.

Spotify will now turn its attention to other streaming refuseniks, such as the Beatles, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin.

So its 0.4p per stream vs 99p per download on itunes...I can see why some labels/bands are a tad reluctant to allow their stuff to be streamed...

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It seems the solution is to find a streaming service based in a country that doesn't recognise copyright.

(At least until downloaders start getting prosecuted/sued. I am not a lawyer. Do your own research.)

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Likewise, when the BBC reissued The Great War a few years ago, about a year after the DVD box sets hit the shelf, they discovered that a lot of footage they thought was their own was in fact owned by a third party. The discs were withdrawn from sale because of the resulting dispute, are now as rare as hen's teeth and go for a lot on Ebay.

About 5 years ago the Daily Mail released all 26 episodes as freebies on DVD in cooperation with the BBC. The sets seem to go for as little as £15 on eBay. IIRC I even got the accompanying book for a small fee from the Mail too. The DVD packaging was slightly different to the BBCs but AFAIK the programmes are the same and complete.

I had to buy the Daily Mail to get them though :(

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About 5 years ago the Daily Mail released all 26 episodes as freebies on DVD in cooperation with the BBC. The sets seem to go for as little as £15 on eBay. IIRC I even got the accompanying book for a small fee from the Mail too. The DVD packaging was slightly different to the BBCs but AFAIK the programmes are the same and complete.

I had to buy the Daily Mail to get them though :(

I have them all on my media server.

Ripped from the same set of disks some years ago.

In tune with the thrust of the thread who remembers them telling us DVD and CD media copies were practically indestructible and data was safe for decades!!

To be honest with microservers and hard drives so cheap it makes sense to build your own streaming service. With a bit of linux knowledge and provision of the right software (all available foc) it can be configured to download your preferences automatically. Sickbeard, Couchpotato and SABNZBD are your friends.

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The Daily Wail / Great War release was a promo by BBC Worldwide for the sold version. The idea was that very few people would religiously buy all the required copies of the paper to collect the entire set of discs (and therefore buy the retail version in order to see the missing ones), and/or would want some of the extras that are on the retail edition but not the freebie version and then go out and buy it. The BBC did this a lot with the Telegraph and the Mail during the last decade, but not much recently.

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The Daily Wail / Great War release was a promo by BBC Worldwide for the sold version. The idea was that very few people would religiously buy all the required copies of the paper to collect the entire set of discs (and therefore buy the retail version in order to see the missing ones), and/or would want some of the extras that are on the retail edition but not the freebie version and then go out and buy it. The BBC did this a lot with the Telegraph and the Mail during the last decade, but not much recently.

Easter eggs? "Leni Riefenstahl's Director's Picks" ? :blink:

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If you're the owner or custodian of this stuff, it doesn't seem so ridiculous.

What about the consumers of this stuff?

The technical details are interesting, although it does look like a state sponsored monopoly. Cui bono? I guess the software industry.

But my original question: why is the copyright term being extended beyond the lifetime of the author - 30 years, now 70? Who does that benefit? The legatees. Who are the legatees? Corporates who can afford to buy out the copyright term - they last longer than flesh-'n-blood because of state subsidy through limited liability etc.

And then you have the competition issues.

Total abuse by corporate lobbying. Can't think of a better example, except the banks.

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What about the consumers of this stuff?

They have to realise that its ongoing survival costs money, which has to be found somehow. There are two ways of doing that: licensing revenue (of which consumer pay-per-view, either by buying DVDs or paid streaming, is a subset) or the taxpayer. I'd guess that media preservation worldwide is probably funded about three quarters of the former to a quarter of the latter, although, in the last 30 years or so, the Hollywood studios have started to invest very seriously in the preservation and restoration of their back catalogues: largely because VHS, DVD, cable TV and the Internet created new markets for them. For example, the British Film Institute's archive costs around £70m a year to run, of which £20m comes from taxpayers and most of the rest from the commercial exploitation of the proportion of its holdings which have either lapsed into the public domain or to which it also owns the rights.

But my original question: why is the copyright term being extended beyond the lifetime of the author - 30 years, now 70?

To answer that question you really need to go back to the first copyright legislation, the 'Statute of Anne' of 1709. It was precipitated by the fact that for the first time, a form of intellectual property existed that cost a signigficant amount of money to create, but which, once it had been created, could be reproduced and distributed at very little cost, courtesy of the printing press. If anyone had the right to print and sell copies of a novel, play, research monograph, etc. etc., their authors would not be able to make a living and would seek an alternative way of doing so. Hence, ironically from today's perspective, that act was subtitled 'an act for the encouragement of learning'. The idea was that by giving an author the exclusive right to exploit commerically his or her work for a set period of time after its creation, it would protect the livelihood of creative professionals.

The specific problem with moving image and audio recordings, one which the 1709 act and all those that followed it fundamentally fail to take into account, is that they are not just expensive to create in the first place: they are are an order of magnitude more expensive to preserve as well. Most written-word records on paper do not require as exacting atmospheric storage, many exist in literally tens of thousands of copies worldwide, and today they can be made available online at very little cost (in server space, bandwidth etc.). Furthermore, most were created by a single author who is long dead. The current copyright act reflects this well, I think. The 'typographical arrangement' of a published work is recognised and protected piece of IP, but not for anything like as long as a new work (25 years, as against 70 for an actual new work). So when Penguin brings out a new Jane Austen edition, the copyright they are given reflects the fact that they've incurred some production costs, but nothing like as much as if they were paying an author royalties. Were you to find any edition of one of her books published before 1987, you can scan it, put it on the net and generally do whatever you like with it.

But moving images and recorded sound are a fundamentally different beast. Unless, possibly, you do it at seriously high resolution and uncompressed, copying and digitisation produces a lower quality copy than the original, meaning that having footage of Hitler available on DVD or YouTube will not ensure the survival of the integrity of the original. If you do do it at seriously high resolution and uncompressed, making it available digitally is also seriously expensive (the 'Digital Cinema Distribution Master' of a feature film is around 10-20 terabytes, depending on length). So, were you suddenly to reduce the copyright term for films to, say, 50 years, a large proportion of the stuff in the world's film archives would go from having a monetary value as IP, to an expensive liability. In that scenario, either the taxpayer would have to cough up, or a lot of this stuff would probably go to landfill. And good luck making the case for more taxpayer funding of film archives: when the BFI secured a chunk of lottery money to build a new vault facility about 5-6 years ago, the Daily Mail ran a story about how grannies were being made to wait years for their hip replacements while a quango packed with NuLab cronies blew cash on old movies.

While a copyright term that can be up to 150 years or so in some cases appears excessive at first glance - and yes, it was extended to that primarily as the result of media industry lobbying, especially in the US - if it were significantly reduced, there would suddenly be a lot of archive operations that would be no longer viable unless the taxpayer stepped in with a very big cheque.

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