Independent movie studio puts trailers on file sharing network:
- To the world’s largest entertainment companies, the controversial Kazaa file-sharing network is Public Enemy No. 1—a wildly popular source of free, downloadable music and movies.
But to Lions Gate Entertainment, an independent film studio based in Marina del Rey, Kazaa is the means to a more profitable end. Breaking ranks with mainstream Hollywood, the company is using Kazaa to promote its big fall film through the Internet—with the financial help of Microsoft Corp.
Kazaa’s software connects tens of millions of users to one another’s computers through the Internet, enabling them to easily find and copy digital songs, movies, games and other files. Major film and record companies call it the online equivalent of shoplifting, and they are seeking an injunction against Kazaa from a federal judge in Los Angeles.
Lions Gate faces the same piracy problem, with unauthorized copies of the film “Frailty,” episodes of the TV program “The Dead Zone” and many of its other productions freely available on Kazaa. Nevertheless, it has been using the network to distribute up to 10,000 trailers each day for its forthcoming film “The Rules of Attraction,” a satirical look at sex and drugs on an affluent college campus.
There’s no direct relationship between Lions Gate and Kazaa. Instead, Kazaa users are being steered to the “Attraction” trailer by Altnet, a Los Angeles-based service that helps copyright holders deliver files securely over the Kazaa network.
Nor is Lions Gate paying Altnet for its services, said Tom DeLuca, Lions Gate’s vice president of new media. The undisclosed tab is being picked up by Microsoft, which provided the software Lions Gate used to digitize the trailer.
“You can’t ignore these networks,” DeLuca said. “The audience for ‘Rules of Attraction,’ they’re the ones on the peer-to-peer networks.”
Altnet’s pitch to entertainment companies is simple: It offers cheap distribution while deterring piracy. By relying on Kazaa users to transmit more than 90% of its files to other users, Altnet can distribute files virtually for free. And by wrapping those files in electronic locks, it can protect against piracy and give copyright owners a way to demand payment.
To Lions Gate, using Altnet is a form of counterattack. “We know that piracy is a problem, and this is our move to try to take control of the situation,” DeLuca said….