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Aug 1, 2010

Yes Men Go VODO: A quick roundup from the blogs

VODO’s release of The Yes Men Fix The World: P2P Edition has done very well, gaining around 250,000 downloads in ten days, with approximately $16,000 in direct viewer support. The film landed at number six in TorrentFreak’s list of the top 10 films downloaded on BitTorrent last week.

Given the popularity of this release, we’ve had a bunch of nice coverage on the big blogs, including BoingBoing, TorrentFreak, NewTeeVee, Mashable and Techdirt. This post contains some clips from a few of them.

First up, Janko Roettgers of popular post-TV blog NewTeeVee interviewed Yes Man Mike Bonanno, in ebullient mood:

new donations are currently coming in at a rate of $500 per hour.” “It’s going great,” he said, adding that there has been “tons” of e-mail feedback from viewers as well.

Bonanno told me that the duo had a hard time securing distribution deals for the movie, which chronicles pranks against Haliburton and Dow Chemical, amongst others. For instance, the film won an audience award at the prestigious International Film Festival in Berlin, but hasn’t gotten any distribution in Germany. There has also been only limited theatrical release in the U.S., and getting the movie even in a few theater oftentimes took a lot of work. “It’s just kind of amazing how much easier it is,” said Bonanno about reaching an audience via P2P [...]

The duo has already said that it will definitely publish its next movie on file-sharing sites again to give back to people who finance its production with their donations. But Bonanno said that they could also change their mind on other distribution methods, like theatrical releases or TV deals, depending on how much money the current donation campaign will bring in.

The duo is currently planing to sell its next movie to TV again, but doing so tends to add a lot of additional costs for legal clearances and similar issues. “There is a chance that we would just release it on P2P,” if enough money came in via donations, he said, adding: “We might consider it as a completely alternative distribution model.

Meanwhile, over at Mashable’s, Samuel Axon explained that one of the reasons The Yes Men decided to release this version via VODO was that they’re being sued by the US Chamber of Commerce for material contained within the film, and

None of the networks are willing touch it until the lawsuit is resolved.

The Yes Men didn’t just do this to give the impression that it’s not all about commercial gain. They also did it to avoid paying for E&O or “errors and omissions” insurance, which documentary filmmakers are often required to buy if they can’t verify that every detail in the fore or background of every shot is free of copyright infringement. The E&O requirement is a huge hurdle for independent filmmakers.

Obviously in VODO’s estimation, the Yes Men are doing nothing wrong by exercising their freedom to express dissent over the Chamber of Commerce’s stance through parody. We support their right to put their voice out there, and it is indeed interesting that traditional distributors and the old infrastructure apparently can’t compete in terms of speed or being able to stand behind something a bit riskier. Over at Techdirt, Mike Masnick picked up this theme:

It’ll be interesting to see if more indie filmmakers jump on alternative distribution platforms not just because they’re more efficient, but also because it gets them around having to deal with overbearing E&O insurance issues.

“If copyright was actually working the way it was supposed to, and protecting the authors that would be great,” Mike Bonanno told popular file-sharing blog Torrentfreak. “But that’s not how it works anymore – it just protects money; whoever has the most of it. And usually that means that the authors are fucked anyway!”

The release continues to enjoy great popularity on the BitTorrent networks via our support from partners like uTorrent, Mininova and others. This piece from UK TV Industry weekly Broadcast is interesting, as it picks up the major issues around the release while struggling to grasp the way our distribution system actually works. Hopefully next time they’ll ask us ;)

1 Comment

  • The Yes Men are the heroes of our time, they totally did it what had to be done!

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