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On protection of commercials…

I'm a QuickTime clip fanatic. I'll admit it. I love collecting movie previews, music store videos, and Super Bowl (and other funny) ads. I don't share them with friends, I don't publish them on P2P networks, I just build my own little entertainment library for future use. It's fun, for instance, to go back and watch movie trailers after having seen the full movie to see just how they differ (you can occasionally find scenes that made the preview yet didn't make the movie).

When QuickTime trailers and music videos first began appearing, saving them was easy. With the passage of time, though, things have changed. Producers are now starting to take advantage of QuickTime's ability to mark clips as non-savable and non-cacheable, making it much, much harder to capture these clips. While it's still not impossible, it's definitely tougher. Which leads to the subject of my brief rant...

Why are producers making it harder for consumers to record (and yes, potentially share) these video clips? After all, what are they? They're commercials! Producers should want us to copy them, distribute them, post them on P2P networks, write about them and offer them for download from our blogs, etc. The more they get spread around, the happier the producers should be. Videos help sell songs; movie trailers help sell movies; commercials help sell products. So why, exactly, do we need to be prevented from saving and potentially sharing these things? Throw this one in the category of things I just don't understand...

11 thoughts on “On protection of commercials…”

  1. I have never understood this either. I also have never understood how a site like (the original) AdCritic folded or why it couldn't make any money.

    It's going to get worse for advertisers. Since getting a DVR I basically haven't seen a commercial. I'll start watching a show 20 minutes late so I can blow through the commercials and hopefully end just shy of 'real-time'. The only commercials I've seen on TV are the few that caught my eye during fast-forward. Getting free, favorable ad-distribution online seems like a no-brainer, but the buyers are too reliant upon old-media metrics to give up control. By the time they do, they'll be 75% obsolete.

  2. Robert X. Cringley's theory:

    Apple is trying to seem like a "tough guy" so that the movie industry people will feel comfortable using them for an online movie store.

  3. I just wanted to let Joe Maller know that has been back as a subscription service for a few years. It's owned by AdAge and I think it does make money.

  4. It's actually pretty easy to understand. This is an area that my job deals with in a peripheral way. I license photos from photo agencies (Corbis loves me) and photographers for textbooks that my non-profit educational institute produces for our students.

    The owners of the intellectual property in those commercials is often not the advertiser. It's the content creator. And that creator hse a reason for not wanting ads to be distributed freely. It cuts into their business.

    They are paid big amounts of money to run a specific ad in a specific market for a specific amount of time. If it's run anywhere else, or any more times it requires a payment to the creator of the ad.

    So even though the content creator might love that they to be paid for every time an ad is played, they could never keep track. And they could never figure out a reasonable amount of money to charge since they'll never know who played it when, and how many people have seen it.

    Of course this doesn't always apply. The company whose product is advertised could pay a significanly larger amount to take over the copyright of the ad, but that doesn't make much fiscal sense most of the time. Most ads are for a specific time and audience only. Products change and it doesn't add to the bottom line.

  5. Well, Rob, I'm joyed to know there's another Mac soul who collects Apple's ads, etc., just for fun. I haven't figured out why I do it. But I do. And now I'm happy to be able to organize them in iTunes.


  6. Hi.
    There is a way of getting unsave Quicktime Movies.
    In Safari open the activity window and search the movie adress. Copy it and than paste in the downloads window.

    Tchau from Portugal


  7. Well, I've got an explanation and I think it suits all DRM policies and technology protection systems... It's that the order of things has changed and today we are presumed guilty until proven innocent. All these media producers would never think that we'd do anything else but try to rip them off if the chance is given us... "Backing up that 25€ cd you just bought? No way! If I let you copy it your just gonna sell copies of it to all your friends, we know it!"

    They need consumers to have a purpose in producing their stuff, but then they'd never trust the consumers! They need us but to them we are the ennemy! Thus, boosted by these paranoiac ideas, they spend fortunes trying to invent new protections that anyone who's ever had a clue about computers knows are not going to last anyways... Actually, the more they try and protect their shit, the more fun and exciting it is to try and copy! =)

    To me, this is pointless. I think the media producers need to accept that times have changed and need to spend more on educating people than they spend on useless protections.

    I personnally admit I'll use P2P to download a lot of music; But I think that is good for the artists as I discover many new things this way and still buy cds... I just don't buy cds for just one song as I used to when I was younger... I buy the stuff I'm sure I'm really going to enjoy and I feel happy about giving money to the artists.

    I think P2P has this that is very good: it is a tool that lets us listen before buying and educates us to make better decisions when actually buying the products!

  8. I couldn't get Tchau's tip to work on the Fantastic 4 720p trailer, but I did find something that does: within the QT7 player, try Window -> Show Movie Info. A complete URL is provided.


  9. Eric,

    I work for an advertising agency and I know the problems about intellectual property. But you are mixing two different things.

    It's normal that the photographer, actors... earn money on a pay-per-view basis. But this is based on what the company will put up front, period. If the advertising campaign has ended and the film is off-line nobody will get anymore cash since no more cash will be spent.

    Now if I, Benoit, want to keep this ad because I like it and I want to see it again once in a while, am I stealing money from anyone? Is Brand X increasing it's advertising budget without telling the film crew?

    When it's in the press, are people supposed to destroy the evidence so they can't see the ads a week, a month or a year later? And can you imagine how horrible are those that do throw away their magazines but have cut away a few pages without paying an extra for the models, photographers, make-up, hair-dresser... all those pros that made that page so great.

    So please come back to Earth. The brand has payed the license to use the images for a certain time for a commercial reason. Now the public can not keep a souvenir? Is he to be considered a burglar if he does so, the "authors" consider themselves robbed if the commercial product is kept for private use?

    If we follow your idea DVD recorders and Tivos should scramble ads so that they can not be viewed again, again and again because the content creators can not be payed in consequence. Everybody will follow your idea. Except the advertising industry, then the brands, then the medias that will lose revenues and finally the content creators without a job.

    When you play pool, as in life, before making a point think where you'll be to make a second point or lose.

  10. Forget the internet. I've never understood why so many printed promotional brochures carry a copyright notice. You mean you don't want me to make a copy of your ad and show it to my spouse / boss / neighbor / coworkers / etc?


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