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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

“embedding disabled by request”

I cannot tell you how completely insane it makes me to go to YouTube looking for trailers to feature here and to see how many of them have had their “embedding disabled by request.” Or how crazy it makes me to discover that a trailer I embedded in a post a couple of months ago “has been removed” from YouTube “due to terms of use violation.”

Who is forbidding embedding? Who is complaining about terms-of-use violations? It can only be the movie studios. Who else would have reason or authority to do either?

And yet… why on Earth would the studios forbid embedding of their trailers, or otherwise complain about how their trailers are being circulated around the Web? Trailers are ads for movies. They’re advertising. If fans want to freely disseminate trailers — want to give free advertising to studios — who in their right mind would try to shut them down?

I wish I could figure this out. I wish I could figure out how the studios have not already completely imploded from their lack of understanding about how the Internet, social networking, and online word of mouth can work for them.



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posted in:
movie buzz | trailers
  • I don’t post videos on YouTube, but I was under the impression that ’embedded disabled by request’ was something under the control of whoever posted the video, not a 3rd party person who might have created the video.

    That is, if I post a “Star Trek” trailer to YouTube, the studio may complain and get it removed (no, I don’t know why either), but whether it was embedable or not was under my control only.

    Am I operating under an incorrect assumption?

  • I have been baffled by that for a long time as well. People want to come to them and watch their advertisements that they’re paying millions to get in front of people and they’re going out of their way to stop people who are seeking it out and interested in the movie from seeing it. It’s fucking mind-boggling. They’re just so pants-shittingly terrified of the Internet. It really should be criminal to run an organization and still have so little understanding of the Web at this point.

    Their MO now is to send takedown letters first and ask questions later. Thanks, DMCA. They aren’t the only company that’s so dumb, though. Just the other day, Warner Music took down all of the music videos of one of their own subsidiary companies. That kind of stupidity is just priceless. Here’s the coverage of said incident on BoingBoing: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/05/04/warner-music-to-warn.html

  • Oops, Bill posted while I was writing my post. Yes, Bill, the embedding is a setting that’s picked by the user uploading the video. Ditto for whether commenting is enabled.

  • Victor Plenty

    Major studios are run by a tiny handful of giant corporations who are in this game for the long run. Their ultimate goal is a future where they regain total control of distribution. They’re willing to sacrifice some free advertising and some customer goodwill in the short term, because if they win, it won’t matter how much we all hate their guts. Anyone who wants entertainment, or any other useful data, will have no choice but to pay the gatekeepers.

    Online distribution on sites like YouTube, with so much decentralized user control, is a threat to that goal. They are still figuring out what they prefer instead. Will they retain more control with pay-per-download services like iTunes, or with ad-supported streaming like Hulu? They aren’t sure about that, but they seem to like YouTube less and less as time goes on.

    If it weren’t for Google’s deep pockets, I suspect YouTube would already be long gone.

  • David

    I firmly believe that most of the time it is not a conscience or malicious thing they are doing. There is a team of lawyers somewhere who are paid to crawl through video sites and send cease and desist order to anything that has a property of company X. Even more likely that this is completely automated with programs and form letters. Then YouTube or whomever basically just plays it safe and drops the video no matter what it actually is.

  • Henry

    This might be a stupid suggestion, but can ads be considered some sort of intellectual property? For example, if I’m the dude that gets paid for whatever reason every time the ad gets run (I created it, my voice was used in it, whatever), then I’m not going to want it distrubted for free. The studios might be bound by the legal rights of their employees to get paid when this kind of stuff is aired.

  • Robert

    Their MO now is to send takedown letters first and ask questions later.

    What amazes me is how the movie studios stay in business at all mostly putting out crap. I’m obviously not representative of their target demographic because if I were they’d be out of business.

  • “This might be a stupid suggestion, but can ads be considered some sort of intellectual property?”

    actually, that is an *excellent* question. i always thought ad agencies were paid on a per product basis, but i’m not sure. i work for a law firm that handles IP and trademark stuff, and i’m going to ask that question of a couple of the attorneys around here.

  • Victor Plenty

    “Intellectual property” is the new land rush. If certain factions get their way, absolutely everything will be considered one form or another of intellectual property, owned and controlled by some corporation, all the way down to every individual word and letter in every language.

    This may sound absurd now. A hundred years ago everybody would have agreed it’s absurd to grant exclusive legal protection to simple phrases like “I’m lovin’ it.” Now that phrase is owned by McDonald’s, and any poor soul who uses it without their permission risks being sued. Even if the corporation isn’t currently suing anyone over it, they are reserving the right to do so.

    I suspect any competent lawyer asked about the current legal status of advertisements will answer that it depends on the ad in question, and helpfully offer to research it for you at their standard hourly rate. :)

  • Robert

    If certain factions get their way, absolutely everything will be considered one form or another of intellectual property, owned and controlled by some corporation, all the way down to every individual word and letter in every language.

    Check out the actions of the sleazoids at Monster Cable – famed sellers of overpriced, fancily packaged pedestrian quality speaker wire, who’ve been on a campaign to legally harass anyone using the word “Monster”. A famous example is a mom and pop used clothing vendor that calls themselves “Monster Vintage” who they attacked. There’s a section dedicated to bashing Monster Cable at the Monster Vintage website. Apparently they even tried to strongarm Disney over their movie Monsters, Inc. It was settled out of court, which I suspect means Disney corporate allowed them to leave with their lives if they left immediately.

    But then again, Disney has perpetrated their own sleazy shenanigans.

    I’m a believer in capitalism but…

  • The big media corporations are retarded. I don’t know what they are thinking when disabling embed on movie trailers, but clearly they cutting off their free advertising. Also these cockroaches claim copyright infringement on trailers, and again they’re completely out of their sick, greedy minds. Actually I believe that some sunny day they’ll want from us to pay for watching their trailers, maggots!

  • Paul

    I have to admit that I’m torn between my artist-side who wants to shut down Internet sites that give away the stuff for free and have the death penalty for data pirates so that my intellectual property rights will be protected, and my sneaking intellectual suspicion that Marx was right: some day technology will be so advanced that machines will do all the work and we can do as we wish with our time without worrying about making money. In that context, information could be free in both senses of the word without hurting the artists. Sort of like on Star Trek, except taken to its logical conclusion instead of hedged about for the sake of the stories.

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