Amazon Studios Launches!

The Appetizer

In an interesting development in business models, Amazon announced the launch of Amazon Studios, a new venture whose goal is to enable aspiring filmmakers easier access to making their dreams come true and breaking into Hollywood.  The venture will allow a user to upload screenplays and sample films.  From there, through the use of what they call “community tools,” other registered users have the ability to evaluate and edit the uploader’s project.  In addition, submissions that are reviewed and considered the best by experts and the company executives, Amazon will exercise an 18-month option on the product and bring it to Warner Brothers who they have a first-look deal with.  Along with this,  to the highest rated submissions, Amazon will offer monthly and yearly awards that total to $2.7 million by the end of 2011.  If a submitted project is transformed into theatrical release, then the creator will be paid $200,000.

The Main Course

The Dessert

Another example of the potential opportunities that digital media offer to the media industry, as well as an another example of how impactful digital media has become on the industry as a whole.  Amazon, not unknown for taking initially head-scratching investments in digital revenue generation initiatves such as the ultra successful Kindle, again shows why they are more than just a online store, but a leader in the digital evolution. There have been similar systems created in the past for evaluating content for professional consideration over the digital medium, however, none of them have offered such huge financial pay offs, or been given the level of exposure this product has.  At the moment, I have not personally tried out the service, however, as an individual whose background is in the tv/film industry, the moment I read about the concept of the community tools and the potential number of people, who do not have the ability/power to push one’s project to the next level, having the ability to access it, I immediately thought about IP protection.  In addition, who owns the IPs upon submission to Amazon?  That, in truth, is the major question because for a start up filmmaker, while $200,000 is definitely nothing to shy away from, businesses know that the bread and butter of any company is in their ownership of IPs.  So once a user submits their ideas– is it still theirs? Are the prizes their pay off?  After so many people start to “edit and evaluate” it,  does it become something completely different, and ultimately the property of Amazon as a result- or does the creator have to share ownership rights (and therefore prizes) with the additional community editors/evaluators?  If Amazon has ownership of the IPs, then they have just pulled off a very slick, yet potentially beneficial to the aspiring filmmaker, opportunity.  The intelligence of this is that Amazon has basically set up a system where users will come to them with IPs and give them away to Amazon, thus minimizing development cost, and increasing their IP collection without having to manually search for it, again cutting time and cost.  If they receive over 1000 projects from around the world a day– and if others are given the ability to edit and evaluate that project, then that project technically is something different afterward than the original upload and definitely before viewing by a potential studio, thus minimizing an uploader’s ability to sue for their material/project being stolen (not saying that Amazon would do that).  In addition, with all of the potential editors/evaluators of so many projects, that too decreases the expenses Amazon has to pay out to individuals to provide those services. 1000 projects a day, and I am just being modest (just look at how many pet projects get uploaded to YouTube just for exposure)– do you realize how many IPs that is in a year’s time???  It is a goldmine because if they ultimately decide to sell that studio for whatever reason, its value will be astronomical due to the technology and IPs it has underneath its belt.  Ultimately, while the opportunities it opens up for many who are aspiring is great, it does raise questions, very serious ones, about how Amazon will protect a user’s project/vision from others who may want to steal their idea.  If a person’s project, particularly a script, is uploaded for an entire community to see and edit, who is to stop someone(s) from that community from taking that entire idea/concept, modifying a few things here and there, renaming it, and then resubmitting it as if its their own?  Who is to stop an already established filmmaker or writer who may have writer’s block from becoming a member, seeing an idea and then making their own version of the exact same concept, and due to their credibility and connections, are able to get it greenlit– as their own!  Then both the user and Amazon will lose out.  This is where I see potential issues– the protection that is in place– what is it and how is it enforced?  Placing someone’s project/passion out for the world to see with limited to no protection from someone who may not have the same level of integrity as its creator can ultimately work against the entire purpose of such an amazing development that Amazon has created.  Again, I have not personally used the service (yet), however, just from what I am seeing, the issue of IP protection and ownership will be where Amazon I hope has placed the majority of its efforts in because cash prizes will only justify so much.

The Overall Meal

5 Stars!

The Doggybag

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