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Internet Cheaters Exposed B Side Filmbaby Eztakes Essay

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Any independent artist, filmmaker and musician knows the challenges and hurdles of getting their content out to the public, while at the same time trying to make some money, or at least break-even to cover their costs. An independent film can take anywhere from one to four (or more) years to conceive, the last task, then, is to find proper distribution. There are several websites online that (apparently) fill this need and cater to mainly young independent artists, filmmakers and musicians.

In conjunction with Princeton School of Media Studies the following is a study investigating these so-called opportunities on the Internet and assess the legal implications. This three-year study was conducted between the years 2005-2008 and followed the path of over 500 independent artists, from over 20 countries, using several websites under investigation.

This abbreviated study followed the independent artists and their dealings with the Internet platforms in all aspects (communication, signing-up, legal aspects, royalty awards, marketing and sales activity). The five selected websites under scrutiny were B-side, Filmbaby, Eztakes and Lulu. As will be seen, several of these websites are, not only failing to properly address the needs of independent content creators, but ACTIVELY deceive, manipulate, defraud and cheat these creative people.

B-side( to its own mission statement B-Side is an entertainment technology company that captures audience opinions to discover great films and deliver them to viewers around the world. (1) 95 participants had submitted their content to B-Side, and after 20 were rejected, 75 were observed for 18 months.

Right from the outset the biggest problem independents faced with B-Side was exactly what they had hoped for: proper content distribution. Since B-Side admittedly discovers films through audience feedback from its community of hundreds of film festival websites, the focus, reach and outlook for independent artists is prefixed and inhibited. As Hill maintains: Viewer tastes vary based on ethnic background, social situation and cultural conditions. (2) This aspect provides a non-negotiable situation, since all sales and marketing are based on focus groups. B-Sides own claim of representing the worlds largest film focus group (3) is highly doubtful, and no evidence could be found to back up their claim. If B-Side were to deliver films globally through their own website, why would they even need other partnerships with other distributors, including the Independent Film Channel?Throughout the study period, communication with B-Side management and customer service was fair, and questions were responded to in a timely manner. The legal aspects and proposed Terms and Conditions in view of the DMCA were questionable, in particular B-Side stating in paragraph 6 that:If you post content or submit material you grant B-Side and its affiliates a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sublicensable right and license to make, use, sell, sublicense, reproduce, distribute, perform, display, prepare derivative works from and otherwise exploit all such content and material as if it were the full owner thereof. Furthermore, you grant B-Side, its affiliates, and sublicensees the right to use your name and/or user name in connection with the content. You represent and warrant that all content and materials you provide shall be your original work product and will not be based on, or derived from, the proprietary information or items of a third party. You will defend and indemnify B-Side and its affiliates from any claims resulting from any content or materials you provide hereunder. (4)As Kleinman and Forster have found this user agreement clearly violates a users right to proprietorship and any artists signing such an agreement basically hands over all rights (5) to the website owner, without any mention of how these rights can be retained and transferred back to the content creator.

As for sales activity the outlook was pretty grim and the Indy filmmakers received a limited royalty payout, which partly is due to the unresolved discrepancies as mentioned above. A filmmaker thus pays over $400 up front, and sees $35 in revenue, which after taxes leaves him/her in the negative.

In sum, B-Sides own claims do not correspond with the real-life experiences of the artists being the object of this study. Any independent artist should thus strongly consider dealing with this company, and probably seek out other distribution alternatives.

Filmbaby( Baby is a leading assistive distributor for independent filmmakers. (6)As our study concluded ...

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