YouTube to get MGM’s also-rans

According to the New York Times, the rumours about YouTube adding full-length movies are about to come true — sort of. The paper says that MGM will announce a deal with the video site on Monday to run some full TV shows and also some movies, with ads appearing alongside them. But the content isn’t really much to write home about:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios will kick off the partnership by posting episodes of its decade-old “American Gladiators” program to YouTube, along with full-length action films like “Bulletproof Monk” and “The Magnificent Seven” and clips from popular movies like “Legally Blonde.”

Wow — the chance to watch old episodes of American Gladiators and Bulletproof Monk. Hold me back.

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Does Britney really want to get social?

There was quite the hullabaloo in the blogosphere and Twitter-verse over the weekend about pop princess Britney Spears launching a new blog-style website and setting up a Twitter account. Will Brit actually be posting messages to fans on Twitter? Unlikely, I would think — although not impossible, I suppose. Dave Matthews does it (at least from what I can tell this is the real Dave), and even shares his thoughts about personal matters such as… well, go read it for yourself. Other artists do it too, including Ben Kweller and David Usher (who has adopted social media with a real passion, and was our guest on a panel at mesh 2008 in May). And others too.

That said, however — and no offence intended to Dave or David or Ben — there are few stars of Britney’s caliber out there blogging and Twittering. And no, I don’t think Courtney Love counts, although some of her MySpace posts are a lot of fun, if a rambling stream of consciousness (or unconsciousness) is what you’re after. Among other things, it’s fascinating that Britney’s Twitter handle is @therealbritney, something I suppose is inevitable in a world of Fake Steve Jobs and characters from TV shows like Mad Men setting up Twitter accounts. Do people care whether it’s the real Britney? And how would they know, assuming they care?

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Real vs. the MPAA: Dumb and dumberer

When reports first came out about a month ago that Real Networks was launching a DVD-ripping software application called RealDVD, a number of people — including yours truly — wondered what on earth the geniuses at Real were smoking. How could such a product not get sued? Even though the software uses its own digital-rights management controls to prevent sharing, burning, etc., it seemed obvious that the movie industry would have a conniption when they got wind of RealDVD. And guess what? They’ve gone ahead and launched a lawsuit against the company.

Real’s lawyers tried to get the jump on Hollywood (or rather, the Motion Picture Association of America) by filing a lawsuit against the organization first, asking the courts to rule that RealDVD complies with licensing agreements, but that’s the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass at best. But if Real is dumb for ever thinking it could launch such a product, the MPAA is even dumber for opposing it. If the app includes DRM controls that prevent users from sharing and burning, then why not let DVD buyers make copies that they can watch on their computers? Seeing any kind of copying as a crime hasn’t done the industry any favours so far.

IMDB finally gets with the program

Almost a decade after Amazon bought the darn thing, the Internet Movie Database or IMDB is finally getting the ability to stream movie trailers, TV shows and other content, so that when you go and check the site for reviews of a film or goofs (my favourite feature) or a plot synopsis, you can watch some of it right in the page. As Rafat Ali notes at PaidContent, this is so obvious an offering that it kind of makes you shake your head that it has taken so long — but that’s the movie industry for you. Apparently Amazon has signed deals with CBS and News Corp. (for content from Hulu) as well as Sony, and is hoping to get more. I wish them luck.

IMDB was probably one of the first websites I became addicted to — I loved going there before I picked a movie to watch to read reviews, and I loved going there after to read the goofs and other trivia — and it’s also one of the first that I can remember showing other people to try and get them to understand the power of the Web. Unfortunately for me, and anyone else who lives outside of the United States, most of the content that will be available through this new offering is restricted to U.S. residents, and so without some kind of anonymous proxy tool, you will get the dreaded “this video is not available in your country” warning.

Marvel: Please don’t watch our movie


Apparently this was all the result of a misunderstanding involving Oracle, who talked to Marvel and was planning a similar screening, and a lack of communication with Paramount. Too bad — I was hoping to see Mike and Marvel go toe-to-toe on this one 🙂

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In yet another example of how not to do customer relations or PR of any kind, Mike Arrington has a stunning exhibit from a lawyer representing Marvel, the comic powerhouse whose Iron Man character has become a major motion picture. Mike wanted to put on a social event for TechCrunch fans, so he booked a theatre and planned to show the movie for free — although he asked for $1 per ticket to cut down on the no-shows. Wham! That is apparently verboten, according to Marvel’s lawyer.

“You have not been authorized to exhibit, sell tickets to, nor invite the public to an Iron Man screening.”

As Mike points out, the whole process began with a phone call to the number listed on the official Iron Man movie website for “group sales.” So what is the Marvel guy’s problem? Hard to say. Obviously, movie studios and content companies like Marvel have an interest in holding publicity premieres, etc. and also have relationships with movie-theatre chains, who don’t want to see just anyone rent a theatre and go into competition with them. But still — is that any way to handle such a thing? It just makes Marvel look stupid, and mean.