The following guest post from independent filmmaker Ellen Seidler is a rebuttal to Kim Dotcom's letter to Hollywood that appeared in The Hollywood Reporter this week. Read more from Ellen at her site PopUpPirates.
Dear Kim DotCom,
With all due respect, you just don’t get it. Creators are not frightened by the Internet, far from it. High speed internet and unlimited cloud storage undoubtedly offers artists the ability to share our creative efforts with audiences, connect with fans, and collaborate with other artists across the globe. We wholeheartedly embrace it. But we also embrace our right to make a living at our profession--or to use your words--thrive in this Internet age.
However, these days we are hardly thriving. Instead, many of us spend our time working on films that tell important stories about often overlooked communities, or trying to raise money for our next project, knowing that no matter how many steps we take to ensure that our film, or song, or photograph is available in a variety of formats, the reality is that once it is released (and in some instances before that release) it will be uploaded to “freemium” cloud storage sites like yours, and shared freely (and monetized) by people who have no right to do so.
Rather than reprimanding such users for exploiting artists, your site, in fact, rewarded them for uploading popular content. While I see how that might benefit an individual – and your extensive car collection and reported luxury lifestyle suggest it was incredibly beneficial for you – it’s disingenuous to say that providing an online platform that exploits the very people who create the content you claim to love produces a net benefit to society.
You contend that the people of the Internet will rally to your cause. You seem to ignore that the Internet is not the sole domain of people who believe that all content should be free. For the record, the Internet does not belong to you and your ilk (no matter how many times you change your name). The Internet belongs to us all--and that includes the millions of artists and creators who deserve a fair marketplace and an Internet that works for everyone.
And, for what it's worth, we are the ones who are innovating. We are developing new business models--from crowdsourcing our fundraising via Kickstarter to developing new distribution channels that that compensate artists for their work while providing audiences with what they want, when they want it, in the format that is most convenient for them.
When you look at it that way, you’re the one who seems to be stuck in neutral, trying to hold on to a “business model” you attempt to justify by contending that you’re helping artists get exposure and simply giving the consumer what they want. If you really wanted to help artists you would have done what Youtube did and implement a content ID matching system that allows creators to control (and monetize) their work. For someone so technically savvy and forward thinking, I would have thought that would be a no-brainer.
The fact of the matter is you justified stealing from, and exploiting, artists because it worked out for you, to the tune of more than one hundred million dollars. Regardless of the issues you have with the rule of law, you can’t just throw a basic human right out of the window because it interferes with your ability to monetize your black-market business model.
If you’re serious about liking our creative efforts, I’m glad to hear you claim that you’d like to work out a solution. While an independent filmmaker might not be exactly who you thought you were addressing in that letter (FYI, you stole from all of us, not just some anonymous, corporate entity you call “Hollywood”), I’d love to have lunch and see what we can come up with. Given your current situation, I’d be happy to travel to you, but perhaps you could loan me one of your jets--or that submarine sounded fun...