My rant on copyright abuse!

I support media/film/music sharing, via torrents or other services.  PirateBay helped me promote my work and helped me get it seen much more than any other media company ever has – they were also cool, friendly and easy to talk to and unlike every single exec I’ve ever dealt with – PirateBay didn’t make me jump through any obstacles but simply helped me promote my project.

I look at film as a part of culture – people told each other stories for ages, now sharing stories is suddenly looked down upon.  With that in mind, I made my recent production of DPRK: Land of Whispers available online, for free.  There were a number of people who supported the film with donations and/or positive words (which I’m all very grateful for) but despite its popularity, I actually lost money on this project – I wasn’t motivated by cash and I really did not mind – until major media companies began to steal my film and make profit for themselves from it.  Now this is what seems truly appalling to me!  The very organizations which scream the loudest against copyright abuse are the ones who seem to abuse copyright laws the most!

  • TVP2 – the primary Polish broadcaster took clips from my film, used them out of context, cut my credit and told me to go to hell when I asked them for compensation, ignoring every one of my following attempts to contact them.
  • Major Russian TV, Russia24did exactly the same, in fact even worse – as they used my footage heavily out of context for their propaganda report on North Korea.
  • Vietnamese Netflix-like service PhimHD recently started charging people to watch my film on their web site – of course without any proper rights, and without sharing their profit with me or without even asking or notifying me.
  • And worst of all – it’s YouTube itself, which since April constantly hassled me with false content-matches, flags and other unreasonable abuse, which resulted in them two months ago forcing me to put ads on the film, the profit (about $200 per month) from which goes not to me, not to supporting the North Korean people, but directly to the pockets of rich Google execs.

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My stance has always been simple – if someone wants to use my film for a purpose which is neither directly nor indirectly commercial (aka – when NOBODY earns money from their finished project) – i am more than happy to share the film with such person/group without any hassle.  But if someone wants to take my work and make money from it for themselves – well then it’s only logical than I should be first of all consulted, and secondly – compensated.

I can rant about it on a blog post but in reality that’s the extent of action I’m able to take, as the little guy never really has any rights.  Sadly however, I am really rethinking whether I want to release my future projects publicly online, especially via youtube.  I want everyone, regardless of where they live and how much they make, to be able to see my work, but I am truly tired of this system of abuse.  First you have to beg media companies for funds for your film.  Then after months of being rejected, you find a way to make the film without them, on your own.  And as soon as you do, they steal your work and show it as their own.  It’s not right.

If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions for alternative distribution models, i’d certainly love to hear from you.