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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It only constitutes commentary on legal issues,
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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.

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