Piracy is less of an issue for the movie industry than is the dominance of the digital distribution channel by a single company, such as Apple.
That's what the CEO of Miramax told a movie industry crowd Monday at the annual MIPCOM event in Cannes, a sort of bazaar for entertainment content. While the audience listening to the executive's message was made up of industry insiders, the message has some interesting implications for consumers--namely, that when it comes to streaming video they should have more choice.
This is exactly the opposite stance that the music industry initially adopted toward digital media.
According to reports in Rapid TVNews and Music Ally, Miramax CEO Mike Lang argued that while some in the industry fear digital distribution of content because they believe it facilitates piracy, the real problem is distribution.
"Piracy really is not the bigger issue for our company or for our library," he said. "It's been lack of exploitation, just not getting it out there."
Lang has obviously seen what happens when sources of legitimate content proliferate: piracy decreases. It took the music industry many years and many lawsuits to learn that. Of course, by the time the music industry learned this, it had lost something it can no longer get back: it allowed Apple to get a lock on distribution, which has stifled true competition in the market.
According to Lang, this is something the movie industry needs to keep in mind when it begins introducing its digital business models.
"As the movie business we have to be very cognizant of that," Lang said. "That's why we did our deal with Netflix, and why we also did our deal with Hulu. We want multiple players to be successful."
"It's really important as an industry that we try to allow multiple players in markets around the world," he added.
Miramax cut a deal with Netflix in May allowing "several hundred" of the studio's movies to be streamed over the service, including titles such as Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, Bad Santa, and Kill Bill.
In June, Miramax inked an agreement with Hulu that allowed the streaming service to show hundreds of Miramax movies on Hulu Plus, without commercials, and to rotate 15 movies a month, with commercials, through Hulu.com.
Streaming video enthusiasts can only hope that more Hollywood execs start thinking like Lang and realize that choice is a better antidote to piracy than restrictions, police raids, and lawsuits.