Sean Parker’s New Streaming Service and its Implications on Piracy - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
The future implications of Sean Parker’s new streaming service, “The Screening Room,” that will allow consumers to purchase a $150 box that enables them to purchase new releases at $50 a movie are undeniable.[1] The problem of piracy is also an undeniable problem in the movie industry that is only growing as the top 10 most pirated films in 2015, with Interstellar leading the way at just shy of 47 million downloads, were all downloaded more than the number one downloaded film in 2014.[2] The problem is obviously growing, not shrinking , and some feel “The Screening Room” will only add fuel to the fire.
Sean Parker, Screening Room, Innovative, Movies, Streaming, Theaters
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Sean Parker’s New Streaming Service and its Implications on Piracy

Sean Parker’s New Streaming Service and its Implications on Piracy

The future implications of Sean Parker’s new streaming service, “The Screening Room,” that will allow consumers to purchase a $150 box that enables them to purchase new releases at $50 a movie are undeniable.[1]  The problem of piracy is also an undeniable problem in the movie industry that is only growing as the top 10 most pirated films in 2015, with Interstellar leading the way at just shy of 47 million downloads, were all downloaded more than the number one downloaded film in 2014.[2]  The problem is obviously growing, not shrinking , and some feel “The Screening Room” will only add fuel to the fire.

Among its chief opponents, the UK’s Cinema Association and The Art House Convergence, are worried that “The Screening Room” presents an unprecedented opportunity for piracy.[3]   The Art House Convergence’s founding Director Russ Collins pointed out that Sean Parker’s previous experience with a media-sharing platform, Napster, resulted in massive piracy and is naturally suspect of Parker’s ability to foreclose the same result to the movie industry this time around.[4]  However, as alluded to earlier, piracy is already a massive problem that isn’t going away anytime soon.  Lawsuits may shut down sites here and there but there are far too many of them for that to be a prudent strategy.[5]  We saw this exact scenario play out in the music industry, as after the 9th Circuit shutdown Napster, other file-sharing services sprang up like Grokster, Kazaa and Gnutella.[6]

Those in the music industry denied that a shift was occurring in the way people were consuming music for too long and ended up paying for it.[7]  When faced again with a transition in the form of streaming services, music companies decided to ensure they got a piece of the pie this time around by selling licenses to streaming services such as YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora.[8]  The movie industry should look to this history as a lesson and are being given the opportunity to do so as Parker is giving them the chance he never gave the record stores and movie executives.[9] Parker is inviting those in the business to work with him and rather than fight him, they should recognize the opportunity and join him.[10]

Their fears of piracy are obviously valid ones but directing those fears at Parker may not be.  Instead, they should view The Screening Room as a potential benefit to combatting piracy.  The VP of Strategic Communications for the U.S. Motion Picture Association of America has stated that “[o]ne of the best ways to combat piracy is to make more legal content available to consumers.”[11]  Two ways to supplement that pursuit  is to make new releases available faster and easier to find, both of which would be accomplished through The Screening Room.[12]

Additionally, Sean Parker has insisted that the boxes used will be equipped with anti-piracy technology.[13]  He has retained Hollywood attorney Skip Brittenhamh to represent The Screening Room who has also addressed the issue, simply echoing Parker’s statements in that it will have features designed to thwart any such attempts.[14]  While the technology hasn’t been tested yet,[15] even if it isn’t perfect, it may be the best way for the movie industry to combat piracy and maintain control over their intellectual property.

 

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamfaze/2016/04/10/screening-room-vs-the-screening-room/#724ca21372f90

[2] http://variety.com/2015/digital/news/top-10-pirated-movies-of-2015-see-alarming-increase-in-downloads-1201667982/

[3] http://deadline.com/2016/03/screening-room-art-house-convergence-open-letter-tim-league-1201720859/ and http://deadline.com/2016/03/the-screening-room-sean-parker-uk-cinema-association-attacks-1201722491/

[4] http://deadline.com/2016/03/screening-room-art-house-convergence-open-letter-tim-league-1201720859/

[5] http://www.forbes.com/sites/nelsongranados/2015/08/31/the-war-against-movie-piracy-attack-both-supply-and-demand/#6b87713a772b

[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/08/technology/grappling-with-the-culture-of-free-in-napsters-aftermath.html?_r=0 and http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=98767&page=1

[7] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/08/technology/grappling-with-the-culture-of-free-in-napsters-aftermath.html?_r=0

[8] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/08/technology/grappling-with-the-culture-of-free-in-napsters-aftermath.html?_r=0

[9] http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/15/11439694/sean-parker-movie-rental-plan-the-screening-room-cinemacon-2016

[10] http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/15/11439694/sean-parker-movie-rental-plan-the-screening-room-cinemacon-2016

[11] http://www.forbes.com/sites/nelsongranados/2015/08/31/the-war-against-movie-piracy-attack-both-supply-and-demand/#6b87713a772b

[12] http://www.forbes.com/sites/nelsongranados/2015/08/31/the-war-against-movie-piracy-attack-both-supply-and-demand/#6b87713a772b

[13] http://latinoweeklyreview.com/?p=291608

[14] http://variety.com/2016/film/news/screening-room-sean-parker-steven-spielberg-1201730698/

[15] http://latinoweeklyreview.com/?p=291608

William Scott Kim

W. Scott Kim is a second year student at Fordham University School of Law and a staff member of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal.