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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Academy Yanks Clips from YouTube ... Apple Opens Door (A Crack) to Indies

- I happened to notice that all of the clips from Sunday's Oscar show had vanished from YouTube yesterday, so I wrote about that for Variety. Here's the lead:

    Web surfers will no longer be reliving the magic moments of the 2007 Oscarcast via YouTube. The vid-viewing site complied with a Tuesday request from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to remove all unauthorized clips of the kudocast.

    Several segments of the show, including host Ellen DeGeneres' opening monologue and musical numbers featuring Will Ferrell and Beyonce, had been among YouTube's most-viewed content this week.

Ric Robertson from the Academy told me, essentially, that they prefer for people to watch (or tape or TiVo) the awards telecast. That's where all their revenue comes from (through a broadcasting deal with ABC), and they don't want to diminish the ratings by having too much video floating around the Internet. In fact, Robertson said that the scraps of video on the official Oscar.com site will disappear soon, too, to "whet people's appetite for next year's show." Interesting strategy...

- Variety's Ben Fritz reports that Apple has done its first deal with an independent producer to make content on the iTunes Store. Fritz writes:

    Apple's digital content store on Tuesday started selling "That," a snowboarding action pic made for DVD by Forum Snowboards. Move [represents] the first time iTunes has sold video content that didn't come from an established network, studio or distributor.

    Though the Mac maker wouldn't comment on future plans, the deal with Forum indicates iTunes will selectively sell video outside of its high-profile deals with companies like Disney, NBC and Lionsgate. (Anyone can distribute video podcasts for free on iTunes.)

    Given iTunes' dominance in the nascent digital download market, that's sure to generate hordes of interest among independent film producers in all genres who don't have a distributor.

That's a good first step, but it still doesn't seem like there's a system in place that opens up iTunes to any indie producer who wants to sell content there. I've long been critical about Apple's hostile attitude toward indie content makers.

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