Freedom or Copyright? - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)

Alex Hudson home at
Mon Feb 11 15:18:07 UTC 2008

On Mon, 2008-02-11 at 09:58 -0500, simo wrote:
> On Mon, 2008-02-11 at 09:38 +0000, Alex Hudson wrote:
> > For example, even the cheapest independent film is realistically going
> > to cost ~$100k. Nobody is going to buy a copy of that film at that
> > price. They probably would spend $10 on a copy, but that's not the true
> > value of the film and therefore someone spending $10 on a copy of the
> > film shouldn't expect to have the right to do what they wanted with that
> > film as if it were theirs.
> This is simple, you make a contract, before the film is ready to be
> shipped, with the major theaters, so that you are sure you will get
> enough money to cover the costs. Once that is done you have your money
> back (and probably something more) anything else that comes is just a
> plus and should not be enforced.

It's not that simple. If you make the contract before shipping the film,
you've already incurred the cost of making the film and don't know if
you're going to get the money back. If you can't make the contracts, you
don't get your money back.

That's actually how the industry works right now. What happens is that
producers effectively underwrite those contracts, and if/when a film
doesn't make enough money, they take a loss. If the film makes more
money than it cost, they make a profit. Managing the risk of creating
films which lose money is what makes a film company successful.

Of course, film companies do that balance over a _number_ of films: they
expect a certain number of films will lose money (and they don't know
which ones). They just need to be profitable _on average_. If they had
to make that decision per-film, a lot fewer films would be made: if they
could only ever cover their costs, they would only ever make the films
they knew _for sure_ would generate the revenue. Anything which could
potentially create a loss would _never_ get made.

Trying to exclude profit from an industry just totally misses the point
of what profit actually is, and how it works :(

> > I'm not saying that anyone has a right to be able to do this kind of
> > thing profitably, but there is a balance here: if it's not possible to
> > do something viably for a living, then few people if any will do it. 
> Then probably that's how it should work. Be sure that if something is
> needed people will give money, if not, they won't. This is how it works
> for everything. Or should we force people to buy the FooBarBaz Machine
> just because other wise the FooBarBaz manufacturer will not get money ?

You're completely missing my point; I'm not talking about forcing
anything - I'm arguing completely the opposite, letting the free market
allocate money to film makers.

Telling people that they cannot release a film in a certain manner is
effectively forcing people _not_ to buy from them. That makes it harder
to earn a living from that work.



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