Rant: Monetization, Nintendo, Adblock, Youtube, and Content Ownership, Oh My!

Since I feel really strongly about all these subjects and they all recently made the news in the past few week, here’s a rant from Ben!

Let me preface this with some information.  When I was younger and was making a hard effort in wanting to become a comic book artist, I was mentored by a man who used to be a comic book inker and penciler.  His name was Wayne Howard, and he was a mentor, a second father, and all around friend and he has been missed since his unfortunate passing a few years back.  Wayne was a very humble man, but he taught me more than just how to ink a comic page; he told me how the industry worked.

Now, he worked back when artists got paid per the page, and the going rate was around $20 or so a page.  Doesn’t seem like much, especially to live in NYC, even back in the 70’s, so Wayne always told me “Draw a page a day, every day.” and told me about how he finished pages during thanksgiving at his in-laws.  What’s more is, up until the year he died, whenever the Marvel Team-Ups issues he drew with Gil Kane were collected and re-released, or the Charlton Horror collection he did was collected and re-released, he still got residual checks.   He made a comfortable living as a graphic designer after leaving comics in the 80’s, but those checks were still money.

Now that I’ve prefaced this post, shall we begin?   I’m not a totally hardline, traditionalist when it comes to Intellectual Property Rights.  Now, I do believe it SHOULD exist, but at the same time the past model for the past 100 years isn’t meant for the internet.  Nor should it.  Neil’s a bit more moderate than I am, but I understand his point.  A few months back, I showed up on the Webcast Beacon Newscast, and the topic of ‘reviewtainment’ was broached by the show’s host. (here is the episode for the majority of our listeners).  Marcus, another guest of the show, said that ‘reviewtainment’ is, and I quote, “Creative output by non-creative people by riffing on an existing piece of media”.

Honestly, I couldn’t put it better myself.  Now, when someone does a traditional style review where they take 3-4 minutes to talk about something as an overall impression/recommendation, that’s one thing.  Reviewtainment, on the other hand, moves outward to what I always call ‘video walkthroughs’, where the percentage and importance of the related content shown is amazingly high, with the segment going upwards past 20 minutes.

Honestly, this is far beyond what Fair Use covers.  You can’t show something in it’s entirety and then go “And this is my opinion” at the end and claim Fair Use.  The team of MST3K always went out of their way to purchase licenses.  In fact, that very team recently did a kickstarter solely to purchase a license to Twilight, just to riff it.  It’s not surprising the majority of Reviewtainment people are on Blip versus Youtube.

Blip is a sinking ship.  Their web traffic is way down.  Those few people that actually counted on Blip as a feesible revenue stream are now looking outward to that sinking ship and decided to blame…. AdBlock.   Currently, I’m a web designer, so I know a few things about the web based on having to work in it and checking/ensuring site cross compatibility.      Adblock isn’t available in IE, which still has the bulk marketshare of all browsers.  In fact, adblock is on less than 10% of all web browsers that view online videos.  If your online business model can’t account for a 10% loss, then there’s more problems with the business that turning off adblock can’t fix.  WHat’s more is I see people defending this statement, stating that people using adblock are stealing content.  Stealing content from content thieves.  Honestly, I don’t see the problem.  To make it clear, when Red Letter Media had a part of their Revenge of the Sith review taken down, the guys in charge of RLM admitted to consulting a lawyer who told him there was no way to challenge it.  The review has since been restored when LucasFilms decided to drop the matter.  But the thing to keep in mind is RLM now exists based entirely on the good will of a few content holders.  Not exactly a place you want to be if you’re trying to monetize.

This leads us to the final part of this nasty news pyramid.  Nintendo is now making money off every Let’s Play video on Youtube using their video game footage.  They aren’t issuing system wide takedowns, or suing LP’ers… they’re just redirecting those that monetize their youtube accounts to their pockets instead.  Honestly?  Not too broken up on this one.  You can’t simply say ‘Screw the corporations!’ and ‘It’s ok to steal from someone big!’   Just by the fact that an entity is big doesn’t automatically mean their rights are trumped by a smaller entity’s.  IP isn’t something so simple that can be defined by internet guys.  As always, if you have questions, consult with an intellectual rights lawyer.

3 thoughts on “Rant: Monetization, Nintendo, Adblock, Youtube, and Content Ownership, Oh My!

  1. Yeah, I’m not much for tradition.

    My basic philosophy can be summed up as apathetic/path-of-least-resistance. I don’t see today’s market as being particularly lucrative to today’s creative minds, particularly as far as comic sales go, and my reaction to this is “so be it.” I’m not going to shake my fist at the internet for things I can’t control. Trying to fight it and applying fixes is only going to produce more problems than it solves.

    But that’s where I take issue with this blaming of audiences for using ad-block. The thing is, the same people who are using ad-block are the same people who’ve always used ad-block. It’s not that they’ve increased in number. It’s that the Blip bubble has burst.

    It’s like breaking a leg and the trying to fix it by applying a Band-Aid. On the wrong leg.

    I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who don’t have the gift of foresight, and for the rest of my comment, I’ll be speaking directly to Blip users. Either adapt to changing trends and technology or go home. Stop whining.

    And don’t think for a minute that I’m only taking aim at internet reviewers. I have this same feeling when I see TV executives like Jamie Kellner accusing DVR viewers of “theft” because they skip ads.

    Viewers have always skipped ads, even before the days of VCRs. Commercial-time was when you got up and went to the bathroom. Commercials have never attained a 100% reach of their audience. It’s just the way it is. They can’t make you watch, and you’re not a thief for turning your head away.

    The onus isn’t on the audience to stick around and view your commercials. The onus is on YOU to make us watch them. The audience doesn’t owe you anything. Not their time. Not their money. Nothing. You have to make a reason for them to provide these things. And when they actually give you these things, show at least a little appreciation for their time, even if you don’t make any money.

    And asking your audience to let the ads play is pretty slimy, because while it gets a couple bucks in your pocket, it doesn’t benefit the advertiser to have people play their ads muted or in a minimized window. You’re basically telling your viewers to rip off the people who pay you.

    And by the way, the day is coming when they get around those tricks, too. And viewers will come up with new tricks. Both of these are perfectly fine. I expect both sides to do this. There’s no sense in fighting it.

    If you don’t like it, either adapt or get out. There is no other option.

    • Exactly! Adblock has always been there. As has people that don’t watch commercials… but they’ve always been a MINORITY.

      Jamie Kellner and CBS aside, very few in television outright attacks people that skip commercials. WHy? Because it’s LESS THAN 10%! Compared to piracy, less than 10% a loss in a potential advertising audience is nothing to worry about.

      Everyone else in ad-based revenue streams do very well, even with accounting for 10% of the audience not getting the ads. The number one company in ad-based revenue on the web? GOOGLE. They figured out if they had the number 1 used set of sites on the web, they’d have a big net, thus a 10% loss in ad audience would be… well, a drop in the bucket. Google? lost a drop in the bucket, but they got a whole damn ocean.

      • And by the way, I’ve dealt with this mentality before.

        The LAST guy who wanted to treat his fans like criminals for “stealing content” (i.e., did what fans do) left the internet in a huff. It was another webcomic author. He didn’t like what he couldn’t control, and he burned himself out trying to fight it. And I said to him, “You’re going to burn yourself out. You’ll be gone soon. And I’ll still be here.” He didn’t like that, but it turned out to be prophetic.

        The people today who put the problems of their waning internet fame on their dwindling fanbase are going to suffer the same fate.

        And I’ll say to all of you what I told that same individual all those years ago. You’ll be gone. I’ll still be here.

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