Let’s Talk About Machinima – Part 3 of 3

Let’s Talk About Machinima is a 3 part series. The first was Machinima from the perspective of the Machinimist. The second tackled Machinima from the point of view of the game developer. Finally, the third is a bit of a forward thinking proposal on Machinima.

Part 3

“So, Where is Machinima Going?”

While I make no claim to being the Nostradamus of the machinima world, I do believe I have a model that could simplify machinima for both the machinimist and the developer, while protecting everyone’s rights and hopefully letting some start-ups make money without having to take out a second mortgage (or sell their game collections on eBay). Of course, what I’m proposing will likely take the backing of a major machinima operation like Rooster Teeth or Machinima.com as well as the cooperation of a few game studios. Think of the proposal as taking the next step past what Machinima.com has built to date.

A Modest Machinima Proposal

To boil this down to its basic level: YouTube for Machinima, but with a model by which the end user can actually make money. The site, for the sake of this proposal let’s call it NewMachinima.com, is the key to the entire proposal. It allows all users to upload video content. This content will be limited to machinima for which the site has acquired a specialized license. That content can then be classified by the uploading user as “free,” “donation,” or “subscription.” Free content is just that, free. Donation content allows people to choose to donate to the machnimist, but the content is still free. Subscription content is limited to paying subscribers. On the latter two, when payment is made, 70% goes directly to the uploading user. The remaining 30% is divided, with 15% going to the game company and 15% retained by the site. Of course, these numbers are variable, depending on actual application.

Why This Idea Works:

1. Developers Keep Their Rights

The most important thing from a developer’s standpoint is protecting their rights. Under this plan, the developer has issued a license, one time, to the site. They have avoided the fees associated with repeated licensing, but have maintained a license for the end user. They only have to police other video sites (like YouTube and Google Video) for possible infringers.

2. Machinimists Can More Easily Publish Works

YouTube already makes putting video on the internet easy, and that is not the main purpose of this site. The main purpose is to take some burden off of the machinimist in procuring a license to create their art. Moreover, with the engine appropriately licensed already, the machinimst will have little trouble retaining the rights to their portion of the work or registering a copyright.

3. Everyone Profits

The key problem with YouTube is they make money off your hard work. The key problem with posting your machinima independently without securing a license and charging for it is that you’re making money and the developer is both losing money and rights. This concept solves both of those issues. The machinimist can make money from his or her work. The developer makes some money for providing the license. And, of course, the website makes money so it can continue to provide the service (although ads may be a necessary evil, at least for the free videos).

So, when can we start?

The business model is right here, and it is relatively simple. In fact, I would be happy to work with anyone on a project like this. The difficulties, however, are not insignificant.

  1. The group creating this site needs startup money.
  2. The group also needs some industry connections to at least procure those initial licenses.
  3. The legal work involved is fairly complex, so a competent attorney would be needed to coordinate the licensing.

Those are just the three main issues, as I’m sure a few dozen smaller issues will likely pop up in the interim while bringing this idea off the ground. However, properly executed, this could be the next step in the machinima evolution, bringing even more machinima content to the masses. And from here, who knows what the future could bring, be it Xbox Marketplace integration or something even newer and more revolutionary.

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About Mark Methenitis

Mark Methenitis is an attorney in Dallas Texas. Mark received his Juris Doctorate and his Master of Business Administration from Texas Tech University and his Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas.

4 Responses to Let’s Talk About Machinima – Part 3 of 3

  1. There are too many variables still open here. Cost to viewers of the tier structure? Cost of running the site? Etc. Concept is like a mini-Revver, which [claims to be able to] track content (i.e. a machinima movie) even when emailed etc. to others. But maybe w/o the ad in front. Or maybe with it… Just thinking out loud here.

  2. Patrick says:

    The key problem with YouTube is they make money off your hard work. The key problem with posting your Machinima independently without securing a license and charging for it is that you’re making money and the developer is both losing money and rights.

    This is the primary misnomer of Machinima makers, that the game company loses money if their game is used in a Machinima production that the producer gets paid from.

    First of all, if the Machinima is making money – it stands to reason – so is the game publisher, because viewers like the game scenes and will buy a game that they never would have, had they not seen the visuals in the Machinima film.

    Machinima is a wildly exciting medium for game publishers, but don’t expect them to respond to your requests for rights to use their game in Machinima. They will not answer you because there are too many legal ramifications for them to answer in writing. There attitude is don’t ask – don’t tell, but PLEASE USE OUR GAMES IN YOUR MACHINIMA BECAUSE IT BOOSTS OUR SALES!

    You all are shooting yourselves in the foot with all this copyright worry. JUST DO IT!

    Machinima is already a lop-sided win-lose situation where the game publishers have everything to gain by your using their games in Machinima – and you get nothing!

    There are a few Machinima producers who sell their productions, Rooster Teeth is one of them, with not only no complaints from the publishers, but with their silent blessing, because they are reaping the benefits of these productions in sales they would not realize without them!

    EA actually hosts StrangerHood on their site. They cannot in all legal fairness bless one company with making money on their product and sue another.

    The first game publisher that sues a Machinima producer can kiss their profits good-bye, as that company would be boycotted for their overt greed and insensitivity to their customer base – AND NO ONE WOULD EVER MAKE ANOTHER MACHINIMA PRODUCTION WITH THEIR GAMES…and their sales would suffer – and eventually lay offs and good-bye giant behemoth game publisher.

    When I produced The Zone, a Machinima based TV show, game companies were begging us to include their games on the show.

    Right now they’re just watching you bicker over what is legal and what is not, all the while taking your hard work straight to the bank while you languish and in-fight out of frustration.

    Make your video, and sell it! If it sells, than the game company is going to make their money in sales. You’re not selling the game. no one can PLAY your video, but it sure does inspire people to WANT to play the game in the video.

    Stop shooting yourselves in the foot and just DO IT! make you money! You worked hard for it. The game publishers have nothing but more free press and advertising by your use of their games in your videos.

    Right now, they’re exploiting the situation, telling you to add their logos and the logos of other companies – FOR FREE! And juvenile Machinima makers do it, without profiting a dime for giving them and their affiliates all this free advertising.

    JUST DO IT! And stop all the in-fighting.

  3. Patrick, while I appreciate your zeal, you’ve entirely missed the point. Revenue or not, a derivative work erodes the rights to the original work without a license. And last I checked, Rooster Teeth has a license for every game they produce machinima from (the Halo series, The Sims 2, F.E.A.R.). Simply saying “It isn’t fair that they can and I can’t, so I must be able to” isn’t a strong argument. Having rights and licenses to works has nothing to do with “fairness.”

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