Movie Marketing vs The Lawyers
Anyone who does online marketing work for a media behemoth knows that ‘the online copyright issue’ is an endless source of frustration. I’m working with Fox on X-Files: I Want To Believe doing online marketing and promotion. As a geek film fan, working on films that you love is just the best thing in the world… except for the meddling of the legal departments.
Last week, I received a copyright infringement notice from Google because I have the X-Files teaser trailer on my YouTube account. I am working for Fox, to promote a Fox film and I got served with a copyright infringement notice.
OK, so Fox’s legal department didn’t know I’m working for Fox, therefore I was treated like ‘any old schmo’. They reported me to Google, Google told me they were removing the trailer. Unlike ‘any old schmo’ I was able to get in touch with Fox and was put on a whitelist to protect my account. Fine.
The X-Files trailer in my account has had over 160,000 views. It’s the most popular one on YouTube. A quick guesstimate, however, is that there have been 300,000 views of both the X-Files teaser and the new theatrical trailer on all of the YouTube accounts hosting them. That’s coming up to half a million views of the X-Files trailers. All of them on ‘unofficial’ YouTube accounts.
The demographics available on the teaser trailer in my account:
68% of viewers are male
23% are 35-45 years old
19% are under 18
18% are 25-35
17% are 18-25
16% are 45-55
7% are over 55
45% of the views have come directly from within YouTube
55% have come from either embedded players or external links
I’m going to assume that the statistics for the trailer are the same on everyone else’s channel. First, that means that the trailer is reaching *exactly* the gender and age demographics that the film industry goes after for a sci-fi, action, thriller. It also means that over half of the views are coming from OUTSIDE YouTube- on blogs and websites which have embedded the trailer. By allowing huge numbers of people to host the trailer on their own YouTube channels, and allowing the trailer to be embedded, it is reaching far more people than from inside YouTube. Also, people viewing it within YouTube are *looking* for it, the people viewing it from outside YouTube are more than likely not searching for it, instead are watching it at one of their regular sites.
So, what might the rationale be for Fox’s legal department to attempt to remove the trailer from YouTube?
1. Maybe they think that Fox should have its own ‘official channel’ and all views should be through that. Well, they *do* have an official channel except, they only put the X-Files theatrical trailer up 3 days ago *and* they labeled it wrong:
Consequently, they’ve got a low rating and a comments page filled with things like:
“this is the x files u noob”
“WTF THIS ISNT THE HAPPENING RETARD”
“whos the stupid fuck who posted this,such fucking ignornace that i want to kill myself”
“It’s the X-files 2 trailer, not the Happening… Be more professional, you are representing your studio on You Tube.”
And so on.
It’s got 25,000 views, but I suspect 100% of the viewers were expecting to see a trailer for The Happening, not the X-Files. Hence the negativity in the comments. What’s most interesting to me is that it’s been three days, yet they’ve not fixed it.
2. Maybe they think that they are losing money by allowing users to host the trailer on their YouTube accounts. Fair enough, they want to earn some money, they are a business after all. Well…
Number one, they need to sort out their official channels first (see above).
Number two, they need to accept that official channels get fewer views (They do, trust me. People would rather embed a video hosted by ‘any old schmo’ than the film studio. Why? That’s an essay in itself.).
Number three, restricting people from using your stuff in YouTube isn’t going to stop them from putting it online anyway.
If a person has an X-Files trailer on their YouTube account and has AdSense, the likelihood of them earning any real money is minuscule. Very few people earn decent money from AdSense. But let’s say like Break A Leg (thanks for the info, Colin!) someone gets 2 million views of the X-Files trailer on their YouTube account and earns $1600. That’s enough money to keep an X-Files fan college student in beer for a while at least.
That works out to be $.80 per 1,000 views. Let’s say that only 1% of the people who watch the trailer end up going to see the film. The film industry earns about $6 per person going to the cinema. That works out to be $60 per 1,000 trailer views on YouTube that Fox earns from ticket sales. So, is Fox more interested in earning $0.80 from AdSense or $60.00 from ticket sales?
Surely, they should be spending time and money thinking of ways to encourage *more* views of the trailer and encourage *more* people to go to the cinema rather than spending that money on the wages of their employees who trawl around YouTube and issuing copyright infringement notices day in and day out removing their own promotional material, making people angry and not earning them any friends.
When TV audience figures are down which affects the number of people viewing TV ads, when the cost of marketing films is going up (because they WASTE huge amount of money imo), does it honestly make sense to try and prevent the number of people seeing the trailers advertising your films? That is what’s going on here. They can try and spin it to say that it’s ‘copyright infringement’, but in reality it’s just shooting themselves in the foot.
Of course, I’m not the only one who has received copyright infringement notices – loads of X-Philes have and not only on YouTube. Some have had their YouTube accounts closed because they had committed the terrible crime of making ‘fan videos’ of the X-Files (clips from the programme cut to music). One of them had over 300,000 views. 300,000. That’s a lot of people interested in a Mulder and Scully shippers video… And now, it’s gone… along with all of those thousands upon thousands of people who would have stumbled upon that video and thought, ‘The X-Files, I loved that show! I wonder what’s going on with the X-Files now…?’
Whereas I think it’s perfectly acceptable for studios to remove full films and programmes from the web (though I honestly don’t think they are losing any money to people who would be satisfied watching a small, pixelated version of a tv show divided up into 10 minute chunks on YouTube, I mean, that viewer isn’t going to be buying a DVD anyway… but… I’ll give that one to them cos of bit torrents), but to go after people for copyright infringement of PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL is stupid. Equally, going after people for fan-made music videos is stupid as it’s “PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL” of another kind.
The X-Files is a brand. Fox needs that ‘brand’ to be spread as far and as wide as possible within the next month. Attempting to restrict that because of ill-thought-out financial reasons will hurt their ticket sales.
Come on Fox, sort out your legal department and quick.
*EDIT* Fox’s official YouTube channel has now re-labeled the trailer as the X-Files.