So who is REALLY profiting from YouTube uploads of feature length films?

Last week I posted about Rocketboy and how another movie, ‘The Bridge To Terabithia’ had been an inspiration for the current redraft. I found the whole film on YouTube and embedded it into the blog.

At the time I did think twice as it is unusual to find an entire film on YouTube, especially when it isn’t clear as to who and why the person uploading feels they have the legal right to do so.

Once the blog entry was live, I received a number of comments from a filmmaker who felt very strongly that I was in some way encouraging piracy. To be clear, I do not advocate piracy, but the issue is far less clear cut to my mind. Here is my thinking.

  1. I am pretty sure that Google, who own YouTube, would be quite wary of copyright infringement when it comes to Disney.
  2. I am pretty sure that Disney have the resources to spot uploads of entire films on YouTube – this film was uploaded by a guy (not Disney) nearly one year ago and has had nearly 1.6 million plays. It’s hardly low key.
  3. I know how easy it is to have content taken down from YouTube.

This leaves one of only two possibilities to my mind.

  1. Disney doesn’t care enough to have it taken down (they do have the resources and reach to deal with this faster than you and I can make a cup of tea).
  2. Disney have their own reasons for allowing the film to be freely available on YouTube.

I can’t believe that Disney don’t know about this upload considering the 1.6 million views and nearly one year has passed since its upload. So I can only assume that it’s the second reason, they know it’s there and for their reasons, have chosen to leave it there (for now at least).

Why would they do this? For me there is one main possibility.

‘Terabithia’ (plot spoiler) has an unexpected death in the story. Read reviews on Amazon and you will find lots of angry parents who thought they were going to watch something like Narnia but ended up with something much harder hitting (watch the trailer above and you will see why). Parents can now check out the film on YouTube before spending money on a DVD for their kids.

I am pretty sure that being available on YouTube has increased their DVD sales (or at least Disney believe it has or will – and if not, they may pull the film).

So do Disney know? Is this a clever tactic to deal with parents who are unsure as to whether to buy this film for their kids? Or have they seen a spike in sales ever since it was uploaded?

The new world of film distribution often resembles the wild wild west, with opinions, facts, misinformation and innovation providing a platform as stable as the shifting sands of the Sahara.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones
My movies
My Facebook
My Twitter @LivingSpiritPix

10 Responses to So who is REALLY profiting from YouTube uploads of feature length films?

  1. Mark Morris February 11, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    I would say YES Disney know and the person who uploaded it has their permission Maybe the grandson of one of the owners Who knows. Maybe its not been making any money and is a way to advertise it to get it into the collective consciousness to maybe get global broadcasters to air it.

    It is a strange one though as the guy is showing more as well.

  2. Chris February 11, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    The uploader was VERY rude when contacted and asked why he thought he had the rights. I suggest he is in no way connected to any of the filmmakers or Disney.

  3. Mark Morris February 11, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    That’s even weirder. I imagine he’s been inundated with emails asking him similar stuff though so you would expect him to put an explanation up to stop them. Out of a million people if just 0.5% question it / complain to You Tube that’s 5000 people.

  4. martin February 11, 2013 at 10:16 pm #


    Being the film maker who initially asked about the link to the film in question I would like it added to the record that I didn’t in anyway feel strongly that you were encouraging piracy. I simply pointed out that you were linking to a film on You Tube that was clearly owned by Disney, was uploaded by a guy in Italy and who had managed to secure 1.6 million hits for what I can only assume is not his property. I was pointing out that we are all part of an emerging culture where boundaries between ownership are becoming increasingly blurred. You Tube has a content ID system which would allow Disney to be aware of the existence of this film on You Tube and you are probably right in assuming they know it is there and don’t want it removed for whatever reason. My point was quite straightforward – how are any of us going to protect the rights to our films if the major players are not confronting Google about copyright infringement. If Disney don’t care then what is the future for rights protection? And if they do care why are they not doing more to stop it. I was merely pointing out your oversight – nothing more.

  5. nassim February 13, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Chris, that’s a great post. For us, independent filmmakers, it’s straightforward to take off your film off youtube but i wanted to ask you what is the best way to take off your film from other sites that share your film: i am not talking about torrent sites.



    • Chris Jones February 13, 2013 at 9:09 am #

      Hi Nassim, I suspect the best course of action is to threaten legal action. Go in hard.

  6. Edward February 13, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    Chris, it isn’t unusual to find entire films on Youtube. In fact there are many of them.

    Susan Buice and Arin Crumley demonstrated as far back as June 2007 that uploading your entire film to Youtube is a very good idea (when all the so-called experts told them it wasn’t):

    Almost 6 years later and Disney and our rude Italian are together demonstrating that this strategy (of giving away your movie for free on Youtube) is still profitable (for Disney especially).

    If the new world of film distribution does indeed resemble the wild wild west, then instead of “pirates” why don’t you start calling them “pioneers”?

  7. nassim February 13, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Cheers Chris, there are actually many independent Moroccan feature films like mine that are uploaded illegally on these kind of sites. I thought there was some overseeing body to make a complaint to. i will try what you suggested and see what happens. Thanks!

  8. Chris February 13, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Hi Edward – so bottom line for you personally – imagine you have raised £100k of money, £50k coming from your mums house that she remortgaged for your dream.

    Your movie is complete. It’s AWESOME. So, would you upload it to YouTube FREE?

    I am not saying you would or you would not, I am not saying you are right or wrong, but I do note that most commentators on this don’t actually have massive investments on the line. It’s one thins saying it, it’s another doing it.

    I am also noting that there is a massive lack of data to support any argument. Who else has emulated Four Eyed Monsters with success? If was such a great strategy, since 2007, have those guys made many more profitable movies? If it works so well, surely they will be making a movie a year.

    Pioneering in spirit yes. Wild West yes. Have they or anyone else found that gold in them thar hills yet? I don’t thinks so. Would LOVE to be shown that I am wrong on this.

  9. Mark Morris February 13, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Make as much on film release, VOD, DVD’s and TV networks. After that an occasional repeat or DVD bought etc until it begins to fade.

    If this happens and it doesn’t alway many Walt Disney films are family favourites and year in year out money spinners but failing that. most films become a steady little income that could satisfy an independent film maker but not enough for a big studio to care.


Leave a Reply

tumblr statistics