Walking Dead Producer: Piracy's Pushing Content Creators To 'The Precipice'

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Walking Dead Producer: Piracy's Pushing Content Creators To 'The Precipice'

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Better than an Emmy? No way, says executive producer Gale Ann Hurd.

Gale Ann Hurd's been in the entertainment business for over 20 years; she produced a little thing called Terminator back in 1984, Aliens in 1986, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgement Day ... the list goes on, and these days she's The Walking Dead's executive producer. When the Guardian caught up with her at the Cannes Lions festival the subject of piracy soon dominated the conversation. After all, The Walking Dead is second only to Game of Thrones in the piracy stakes; is being heavily pirated really better than an Emmy?

"I think that's really dangerous thinking," she responds. "We are poised on the precipice ... because of the prevalence of piracy. The content creators won't get a revenue stream, to the point that they won't be able to create." It's not quite end times over at The Walking Dead - Hurd suspects there's a season or two left in Kirkman's material - but Hurd strongly feels piracy threatens the industry as a whole.

Google and the advertising industry could be more effective at dissuading piracy, Hurd feels. "Search engines should be able to filter out pirated websites," she says, pointing out that in searching for House of Cards she was unable to find Netflix as an option in the first 50 hits of a Google search.

"When you do go on these websites, they look legitimate," she continues. "They have advertising from well-known brands ... How would a consumer know the difference between a legitimate site and an illegitimate site?"

It's worth bearing in mind that the problem isn't just a piracy issue; the business model as a whole is burdened with ridiculous policies that lock whole regions into a system in which piracy or paying through the nose are the only two options on the table. That, and long gone are the days when Australia, for example, was happy to wait a few days, or weeks, or longer, for its content. Something needs to change, Hurd's right about that; but is it Google's search protocols, or something else?

Source: Guardian

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I'm not asking for links, but what are these legitimate (actually work and don't have viruses/forward you to surveys) websites that look like Netflix or some other legitimate video service, but are t3h warez or whatever and not a torrent site? I'm getting kind of an impression that she doesn't quite understand how these things work.

And on the note of "dangerous thinking", no Google should not be filtering out websites. Even in those instances where ROM sites are blocked because of the DMCA or whatever, Google doesn't like it and lets you know that it happened. Some, I repeat some of those pirated seasons of the Walking Dead would never have been bought, which is bad. That does not mean that censorship of the search results for "The Walking Dead" into Google should be looked into or expected to fix anything.

Make your releases worldwide, don't price gouge the fuck out of a nation for having the audacity to live there, and don't put shows behind a paywall that is literally inaccessible to people who want to give you money, and enjoy your earnings for a job well done if the content is good. People will still pirate it, but you will only drive yourself mad if you consider every seeder a person who downloaded instead of paying. A big chunk of those people were never going to pay you even if there were no torrents.

Gabe Newell was absolutely correct when he said that Piracy was a service problem. After getting used to Steam I pretty much entirely stopped pirating games. Now that I have Spotify I've stopped pirating music.

I don't really watch TV because short attention span, but if I did my first stop would be Netflix or Amazon. If I can buy a show for a reasonable price (The current Amazon price is $42 for Season 4 in hi def, which I consider reasonable) then I will. (And it's worth noting Amazon sells regular definition for $27 for the season, which is less than $2 an episode)

There will always be pirates, but a lot of them are high school and college students who may not have the disposable income anyways. If you make it easy and cheap enough to acquire your show legitimately, there will be plenty of people happy to pay.

Piracy is a difficult issue, but it's more a symptom than a disease. When you take away the people pirating to try things before they buy(and why not, given we live in an age of trailers and marketing that are often completely false characterisations of the actual product), the people pirating because the product isn't available legitimately where they live yet(and may never be), the people pirating because of anti-consumer practices like region locking and overcharging some regions or providing them with lesser versions of the content/product, and the people pirating because they're short of cash at that moment in time but who end up supporting the creators of what they consume at a later time(for eg, pirating a TV show while it's broadcast, but buying the blu ray boxed set later on), who are you left with?

Well, people who wouldn't pay money for the product unless piracy was extremely inconvenient and even then may just not consume it at all rather than pay, and as yet no corporation(and lets be clear, that's what we're talking about here in the main, multi-national corporations not Joe Indie with his handheld camera) has come up with a way to do that which doesn't also negatively affect legitimate consumers who bought the product. Indeed in many cases piracy is used as a justification by corporations to deliberately and maliciously attempt to erode consumer rights. You can argue the ethics regarding this last group, but the practical reality is they wouldn't be a source of revenue for creators or distributors anyway, so while the idea of people enjoying their work for free may stick in the craw of some content creators, they're not particularly relevant.

Lastly, I hope we're actually allowed to discuss the subject of the article, given the somewhat overzealous moderation that tends to happen 'round here when the topic comes up. If we're not, might I suggest that in future you just disallow comments on any article that touches on piracy? Probably less hassle all around.

My money says 'something else' - I haven't actually seen any Game of Thrones, since the only way to see it is to either pay out the nose for it on itunes (which leaves me a season behind) or pirate the hell out of it, since that gets me the episodes as they release. Everyone I know who has seen it here has... wait for it... pirated it, since it's ultimately the most convinent and cheapest option, instead of being forced to pay for Foxtel just so you can watch it or having to wait months after a season finishes just to catch up on missed episodes.

There's a reason Game of Thrones and Walking Dead are so heavily pirated down here, and it sure as hell isn't because everyone get's a kick out of pirating things, that's for sure. Maybe if HBO took it's thumb out it's ass...

When you stick to a delivery method that not everybody wants to use, that not everybody even has available to them, of course you'll have a piracy issue. Take note of Breaking Bad, which put a partial season up on Netflix, and then put the rest of that season up almost as soon as it finished airing. People were watching that legitimately, and AMC was able to get licensing fees from Netflix out of it. Maybe not as much money as they'd have hoped for, but it's a damn sight better for the studio than piracy is.

P.S. Thanks

I feel for the challenges Hurd faces, but "piracy" is not the problem, but a symptom.

Give people reasonable access to the content they want and "piracy" will plummet. Gouge them, make the jump through outrageous hoops or wait significant periods of time to see it locally, and studio/networks are at fault.

The TV channel/cable paradigm has been broken. People want access to their content when they want it, on whatever device they'd like it. Attempting to keep the model alive will result in people going around the model to find other means to ingest it (like piracy).

"...pointing out that in searching for House of Cards she was unable to find Netflix as an option in the first 50 hits of a Google search."

Well, she's either a liar or an imbecile. Wikipedia, IMDB, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon. Those are the first 5 I get. There's also a giant google window on the right that tells you the network is Netflix, the awards its won, where you can purchase it and for how much. Scrolling through the first 50 results I couldn't find a single site from which to pirate the show.

Plunkies:
"...pointing out that in searching for House of Cards she was unable to find Netflix as an option in the first 50 hits of a Google search."

Well, she's either a liar or an imbecile. Wikipedia, IMDB, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon. Those are the first 5 I get. There's also a giant google window on the right that tells you the network is Netflix, the awards its won, where you can purchase it and for how much. Scrolling through the first 50 results I couldn't find a single site from which to pirate the show.

I get the Netflix site for the show in the top 10 (first page) and I live in a country that doesn't even get Netflix.

Plunkies:
"...pointing out that in searching for House of Cards she was unable to find Netflix as an option in the first 50 hits of a Google search."

Well, she's either a liar or an imbecile. Wikipedia, IMDB, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon. Those are the first 5 I get. There's also a giant google window on the right that tells you the network is Netflix, the awards its won, where you can purchase it and for how much. Scrolling through the first 50 results I couldn't find a single site from which to pirate the show.

I was going to post something similar to this. I googled it and a link to the show on Netflix was the very first thing that came up, it's a paid advert but it is still the first result. Maybe she doesn't include advertising as advertising?

Falterfire:
Gabe Newell was absolutely correct when he said that Piracy was a service problem. After getting used to Steam I pretty much entirely stopped pirating games. Now that I have Spotify I've stopped pirating music.

Yup, I'm exactly the same. I don't pirate music because I can simply say "get the Led out" to my phone, push it with my thumb and done. Getting any of this TV content outside the US is inconvenient to say the least. Either you can get the Blu-ray off Amazon - a year after the fact when the whole thing has been spoiled if you don't live under a rock, get it off Netflix, which doesn't have much content outside the US, or sell our houses to afford Sky. This is the open market biting them in the arse.

Oh and she's chatting shit about House of Cards. 13th hit is Netflix. The preceding 12 are indeed legitimate sites. Stuff like imdb and the BBC. Reporting on it. Or Amazon - selling it. If you're going to make claims that piracy's killing you, you should probably think about not making shit up.

Also Google does block many of these piracy sites. ISP's also block a great many of the domains too. That piracy hasn't slowed up one bit since those blocks were put into place shows that it's probably not the best way to go about it. Pirates will always find a way to get past that stuff.

Aggieknight:
I feel for the challenges Hurd faces, but "piracy" is not the problem, but a symptom.

Give people reasonable access to the content they want and "piracy" will plummet. Gouge them, make the jump through outrageous hoops or wait significant periods of time to see it locally, and studio/networks are at fault.

The TV channel/cable paradigm has been broken. People want access to their content when they want it, on whatever device they'd like it. Attempting to keep the model alive will result in people going around the model to find other means to ingest it (like piracy).

The idea of trying to give people what they want is a pleasant one, but you will never beat "free" when it comes to getting a hold of something you want. It's just not going to happen. The only way is to make the product BETTER than the free option.

Not really buying it... I never understood the logic behind condemning piracy for things people already paid for. If I pay my subscription to cable, the only reason for me to pirate a series is to be able to see a show at reasonable times instead of just waiting for the reruns. Yet for those people, I am a thief for using something akin to a VCR or a TiVo.

I wouldn't mind to use a system like netflix (in fact, I often do) for new TV series, if it wasn't for the incredible amount of segregation and equivalent services and the constant region lock.

Learn from Steam: the best way to fight piracy is to make it easier for people to get legit... Every time I get late to watch a chapter, having paid for cable, and get reminded that I am a second class citizen based on where I live; is a new ocassion for me to risk a torrent site and feel less and less guilty of what "threatens the industry as a whole"

Makabriel:

The idea of trying to give people what they want is a pleasant one, but you will never beat "free" when it comes to getting a hold of something you want. It's just not going to happen. The only way is to make the product BETTER than the free option.

Not to be argumentative, but I respectfully disagree.

IMHO, Apple proved with iTunes that if you give people the product they want at a reasonable price and acceptable flexibility, they will pay rather than taking the risks that come with "free".

The people I know that pirate due so not because they don't have the money, but because of barriers that the content providers put in the way. I know people with HBO that still pirate GoT so that they can watch it on airplanes, for example. Of course, my sample size may be too small

Here is a list of features "piracy" has that have yet to be supported by movie/tv publishers

1. absolute selection (every movie and tv show ever made)
2. available worldwide the same day as first broadcast (usually minutes after the broadcast concluded)
3. drm-free local copy so you can transcode a version for any device you own
4. free

There needs to be the equivalent of Steam for movies and TV. You buy once and you "own" forever. You download your library at will from their store, and you store as much locally as you care to. You get a steam "video" app for your phone or tablet that lets you download versions of the things you purchased optimized for your devices. The DRM chains hang as lightly as possible with an "offline" mode that only requires phoning home once a month.

Free isn't even the major feature of none torrents, none of the "legit" services provide features 1-3 at any price.

hah its great that she thinks people use Google to search for pirated material. Its a good start but once you find that one "site" you'll never use google again. Not that i know what that is of course... <.< >.>

Aggieknight:

Makabriel:
The idea of trying to give people what they want is a pleasant one, but you will never beat "free" when it comes to getting a hold of something you want. It's just not going to happen. The only way is to make the product BETTER than the free option.

Not to be argumentative, but I respectfully disagree.

IMHO, Apple proved with iTunes that if you give people the product they want at a reasonable price and acceptable flexibility, they will pay rather than taking the risks that come with "free".

The people I know that pirate due so not because they don't have the money, but because of barriers that the content providers put in the way. I know people with HBO that still pirate GoT so that they can watch it on airplanes, for example. Of course, my sample size may be too small

It is not. Everyone I know has HBO and still pirate GoT because the legitimate service is too restrictive in format and reproduction.

Then there is the problem of content segregation. Netflix, HBOGo, Amazon, Hulu, Ultraviolet, Paramount Channel, Disney Anywhere... the list of services with similar features but different content (and different policies) goes on and on. In the end, even under optimal circunstances (living in US, with decent broadband and credit) there is no way to get access to everything unless you are subscribed to dozens of services. If simplicity and ease of access is the way to fight piracy, movie companies are pretty much enticing pirates with their policies.

If I want to watch say The Last Starfighter again to relive the awesomeness of the film, I'll check to see if it available on Netflix to stream. If it is not available(only available on DVD), I'll hit a few sites that do have it available for streaming. I like Netflix and HBOgo as both sites stream well quickly with excellent quality, yet if their libraries are lacking, I know where to go to get my fix.

Some of the reasons that people pirate these two shows the most is because the means of their distribution is very archaic. Everybody remember when music piracy was rampant? iTunes comes along, revamps the distribution in a way that it convenient, reasonably priced, and utilizes the newest major way people get their content - the internet.

The Oatmeal years ago had a really great way of describing what consuming content through what is for many an outdated source is like.

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

Now I don't pirate these shows. I don't have HBO, so I haven't seen the last two seasons of Game of Thrones. I want to watch it, but I don't pirate. The overwhelming majority of people aren't as stringent as me. They'll pirate it.

Do you really want to see The Walking Dead make more revenue? Put up the next episode, Season 5's premiere, on the internet, and choose a way to monetize it. Say, $2.50 to stream it ad-free, ads included, if you want to watch it for free, or even charge while doing the ads, which isn't wholly unreasonable if the stream goes live at the same time it airs for the first time on television. Don't make it require a subscription, don't make it overly difficult. Make it as simple as twitch.tv to watch, accept many forms of payment if you require payment. It will happen, I guarantee that people who otherwise would've pirated the show will watch it live for a small cost. Even if the person doesn't give a shit about the content creators getting money, since The Walking Dead is a very, very popular show, and getting to see it a few hours earlier means getting to participate in discussion earlier, people will pay for that.

Maybe they can crowdfund tv series in the future so they don't have to worry about lost revenue since they already got paid before they even produce.

In a perfect world, there will be no piracy, shows and games would be affordable and available worldwide at the sametime at the same price. But in the real world, the economics of a lot of these shows and games are managed by greedy bastards and governed by politics.
Some of these shows are ban in some countries, Some and made available days or weeks after it's release in another country, Yet some are priced almost doubled in some countries.

Humans are still alive today because we don't always follow the rules of nature, we were herbivores once but when we have no fruits we eat meat. When we were cold we put on clothes. When we didn't like caves we built houses. Therefore, when you market your products poorly we will pirate your shit.

Your crippled, stupid, ancient business model is pushing content creators to the precipice.

If you make it so people can conveniently get your content for a reasonable price, the only people left are the compulsive collectors who wouldn't buy it anyhow and people with no money who etc.

*Raises hand* Okay maybe I'm wrong, but in my experience I stopped pirating when the things I wanted became available for purchase in a way that was convenient to me. For instance, I never bought a cd until I realized my windows phone, xbox, and tablet all used the same service and buying it for one meant I had it for all the others. I stopped pirating games when steam became so much more convenient. I stopped pirating movies when Netflix and Hulu became staples of my life. So my question becomes, if it is possible for you to make money off of people who pirate by simply making these things available too them in a way that suits them, then why do you claim that people pirate when you don't meet that need?

she produced a little thing called Terminator back in 1984, Aliens in 1986, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgement Day ... the list goes on, and these days she's The Walking Dead's executive producer.

In all honesty, that sounds more like a sad case of "how the mighty have fallen" more then anything else.

OT: I have to agree with the idea that piracy is an issue (it's sure harmed the western anime industry like no tomorrow), but the real problem is that the industry doesn't seem willing to change as quickly as the times are. Sure, Canada might now be simulcast with american programs and be considered part of the US domestic, but what about the 100 million people from other English speaking nations? From what I've herd the UK hasn't even finished Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. yet, and they have Winter Soldier released for them a week and a half before the US (which really screws over the tie in when the hype was there).

I mean hell, I could say that we should at least expect shows being aired in nations which use the same language to be done at the same time, but Space Dandy managed to pull off a day-of broadcast with a dub that was pretty dame good.

I'm not really one to talk as I don't download anything but there is a clear example in my mind of why she's wrong (sort of), MLP FiM.

I live in England and so far, legitimately, I have seen two episodes on CN at 7 in the morning about a year ago. I have seen two DVD's with about 4 random episodes each on both and none of the eps are on Netflix. So HOW would I see them if not for Youtube or other online sites? Piracy is a problem but ease of access is such a big deal the fact that a lot of creators refuse to even address it drives me mad.

I did the same for Adventure Time and I now own all the comics and the DVD's of the first season, the others arn't out yet. I know it sounds kind of spoilt but isn't it a bit unreasonable to ask me to wait so long to join in with the rest of the fandom? I'm not up to date with Game of Thrones and trying to avoid spoilers online is like trying to stay cool in the Sahara!

What I'm saying is they would have a greater impact if they simply realized that they are missing a market that wants their product, and learned how to serve that market.

Over here the only "direct" option is two days later, on a channel that fills the transmission with commercials... So no thanks.

And while I've had my gripes about HBO being included-then paid-then included again on the cable's normal plan thing. at least the channel gets that I don't want commercials interrupting the damn show.

I wish I could blatantly lie and still be taken seriously. I really don't care what the duders done in the past clearly they don't get it today. Making up bogus anecdotes(easily checked one even) and then blaming it for any problems with your show is just silly.

I mean it's a hugely popular show that's doing okay despite amc slashing it's budget repeatedly, firing the original guy in charge who had a clue on wtf he was doing and then setting an entire 2nd season in a bloody farmhouse. But no..it's piracy that's driving people away from your show not the drop in quality.

I wish I could be so blissfully ignorant.

Because as we all know budgets are shrinking, jobs in the industry are drying up and television in particular (an ad driven medium in most cases) is slowly collapsing in overall quality.

So, shall we bring up the fact that piracy actually helps sales of movies, TV shows and games, along with their respective merchandise? And that, by having things available freely and conveniently for most people, they actually garner a far larger audience than most traditional methods of broadcasting and distribution would net them?

I'm trying to expand on that point but, really, there's no need. I can understand their concern when things like searching "House of Cards" doesn't yield any legitimate results for 5 pages, except that that's just not true. When I searched it, Netflix was the 14th result and the ones before were either reviews, wikipedia, news about actors, trailers or announcements. Combine this with Phil Fish's recent suggestion that all YouTube content creators should be paying the makers of the games they're playing in their shows, and of the amount they get from ads, the MAJORITY should go to the game makers, despite the fact that LPs and reviews can only help the sales of a game by providing it with invaluable free marketing.

And, really, I think if you make something good then you should have nothing to fear. People haven't changed over the last twenty years to being hateful of creators or artists, if they see something good then they want to reward the person who made it. Generally speaking anyway.

Piracy is not "the symptom of a problem", or "a service problem", but a manufactured problem.

Even the people who want to argue that it is not *directly* piracy that is causing this menacing precipice onslaught of doom and desolation, seem to be taking it for granted that it is at least true, that creativity is dying, and artists are going bankrupt.

Well, if they do, that's not for the lack of money. Four years ago, The Walking Dead started out with 5 million in ratings, and now it has 15 million. The AMC Network's revenues grew from $1.08 billion to $1.59 billion. Gale Ann Hurd personally has an estimated net worth of $50 million.

These are the kind of people who lay awake at night in their palaces, terrified that someone might be having fun without paying to them, while their bloated inustry is making them richer and richer.

Entitlement, that's what it is, completely ignoring the purpose of copyright as a necessary, but limited monopoly used to promote useful arts, and only falling back to the starving artist rhetoric when they feel like censoring the Internet even more, and keeping authority over even larger chunks of popular culture.

Precipice? If only...

Why, what blissful ignorance we have here, milady. Would you like fries with that? Another random person talking about shit they don't understand, then cries when no one is doing anything to fix it.

Among all the examples of people who pirate these shows, there's one I haven't seen yet: Those who pirate it just because they want it on their computer.

See, I live in a house that is subscribed to HBO and we watch Game of Thrones as it airs... and then I also download it. I live on my computer and I could not care less about Netflix-style shitty streams that you don't even get to keep. When it comes to my favourite shows, I just want them on my computer! I re-watch them whenever I want and I'm not limited by a stupid DVR or poor streaming quality. I also make GIFs out of certain scenes.

tl;dr I just want the videos on my computer and the Blu-Rays (a whole fucking year later) don't even count since ripping them is pirating them anyways.

As a New Zealander, most of the shows I want to watch are behind about two or three paywalls. I have no problem buying the series on DVD/Blu-Ray when they come out, but some like to take the piss like Game of Thrones and come out about nine month after the season finishes.

Plunkies:
"...pointing out that in searching for House of Cards she was unable to find Netflix as an option in the first 50 hits of a Google search."

Well, she's either a liar or an imbecile. Wikipedia, IMDB, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon. Those are the first 5 I get. There's also a giant google window on the right that tells you the network is Netflix, the awards its won, where you can purchase it and for how much. Scrolling through the first 50 results I couldn't find a single site from which to pirate the show.

Actually what makes this really hilarious is that she just exposed herself without realizing it. Google tailors its search results to your previous searches and site traffic. The fact that when she used google and got the results she did may very well say far more about her own habits than it does about google. Either she herself pirates, or she is driving herself paranoid over piracy and google is helping feed her paranoia.

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