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Interesting thoughts. I have been feeling for some time that we could resolve a number of distribution problems by having program producers create an "official," checksummed package for each episode of their programs, including commercials, in high-resolution format (e.g., .mkv). Then, reserving all other rights, the producers would encourage one and all to download and repost the ORIGINAL file (with commercials and other inserts, no modifications at all) as much and as often as possible, for free. If they must, the rightsholders can unleash the legal dogs on anyone who created or circulated an "unofficial" version (e.g., without commercials or including different commercials), but leave everyone else alone. The sponsors would get innumerable opportunities for their messages to be seen, the programs would be free to "go viral" and find their proper audiences, and perhaps some privacy-preserving way to estimate viewership could be found to help producers know what to charge sponsors, and sponsors to know how many pairs of eyeballs they get for their dollars spent on any particular program. The whole strong-arm approach to copyright enforcement is wrongheaded, greedy, and corrosive, imho -- ultimately self-defeating. On the other hand, creators need to get paid, especially those who produce niche or small-audience programming. I'd like to see industry people try more sincerely to find ways to fix the problem, instead of ways to rope more people into "captive audiences," from which ever more revenue is "extracted." I don't know about you, but I'm tired of being expected to pay for some entertainment industry middle manager's cocaine habit, wife's spa treatment, daughter's orthodontia, and son's college tuition at Party U. Perhaps the scheme described above, or something similar, can eliminate enough of the middle-men so that quality programs of at least Eureka-caliber can be produced on much smaller budgets, allowing a sponsorship-and-free-electronic-distribution business model to work out for everyone involved.
Toggle Commented Aug 11, 2011 on Saying goodbye to Eureka at WWdN: In Exile
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Thank you for this. It takes me back to the mid-1990s, when I was brewing with my brother-in-law: We called ourselves "The Brews Brothers," and designed a logo (featuring us in fedoras and ray-bans, holding big mugs of suds), which we used on our ink-jet printed labels. My son, only about five or six then, and too young to actually participate in the brewing, "blessed" each newly-capped bottle with a kiss. Long story short, my brother-in-law moved to Nevada for various reasons and we fell out-of-touch. We moved to a different place that had a lot less room, so there was no proper place to resume brewing, even if I had found a brew-buddy. About a year or so, my wife demanded that I clean out the garage refrigerator, in which we had once stored our brews. I discovered an old "library" bottle of our standard pale ale. I couldn't stand to pour the beer out without tasting it, even after so many years. I popped the top: Nice fizz and mist! I sniffed. It didn't smell off at all. I poured it into a mug: Nice head, clear color, and good carbonation with tiny bubbles! So I got brave and took a sip. Amazingly, this 15-year old bottle of beer was ... GOOD. It did seem a little stale, I admit, but it was very, eminently drinkable and I wouldn't have been embarrassed to serve it to a friend. I drank that beer as slowly as I could, enjoying every memory it invoked, and I was sad when it was gone. So, was it my son's blessing, the extreme care that my brother-in-law and I took with the ingredients and process, or simple dumb luck that preserved that beer for so long? All I can say is, do your absolute best, put some real heart into the beer -- make sure the good memories of the experience get into the bottle -- and, with a bit of luck thrown in, maybe you will enjoy a surprising experience like mine, ten or more years down the road. It can happen. Since then, I have harbored thoughts of resuming the homebrew hobby with my son, now 20 and living two hours north. Your blog posting makes me want to get serious about that, now more than ever. Maybe we'll brew a batch for his 21st. Hmmmm....
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There are so many things to say; here are just a few: Wil, thanks for Parrish. I'm sorry we won't have a chance to get to know him better. We have enjoyed your post-TNG work, in Leverage and Numb3rs, especially. Good luck in landing on your feet. Eureka was one of the few shows that my family and I could instantly agree to watch. I am a child of the 50s (born in the geeky IGY), my wife a child of the 60s, and my son has just turned 20 and graduated from UC Berkeley. We have watched and loved the show since episode one. Such broad appeal across the age ranges is rare, and SyFy makes a mistake to trade it for a handful of beans (for the suits to count). Either SyFy is as evil and clueless as Comcast has shown themselves to be, time and again, or they were simply in dire financial straits, in danger of disappearing themselves (which might be a good idea). I remember watching a CSPAN panel discussion taped in Washington a few years ago -- I think at a National Association of Broadcasters meeting or something similar. The guy representing Comcast kept talking about "extracting revenue from households." I know something about corporate culture. If THIS was their representative, I reasoned, and he couldn't refrain from using such terms in public -- seeming rather proud of the company's plans to increase "extraction," actually -- then the whole place must be crammed full of pirates, sharks, and shysters. I haven't seen anything in the few years since to make me change my mind. So, if that's the case, then SyFy is under a LOT of pressure. Fans of Eureka ought to have a contest for the best "there never was a eureka" ending. There have been postings here referencing Newhart, and St. Elsewhere, the latter especially apt because Eureka has its own autistic kid who could be dreaming about the whole thing. How about the Bobby Ewing ending: Allison gets out of the shower and goes back into the bedroom to find ... Stark still in bed! Or the Wizard of Oz ending, with Carter waking up after being knocked unconscious at a crime scene and recognizing members of the support squad and paramedics attending him: "You were there, and you, and you..." (But who would be Toto? Vince?) Or the Matrix ending ("Red or Blue pill, Fargo?") Or the holodeck historical recreation ending (loved ya, "Enterprise"). Or the Life on Mars (American) ending? Or the closed-the-timeloop-back-in-on-ourselves-and-disappeared ending? Or the ... or the ... well, you get the picture. I'm sure the contributors here can come up with at least ten or twenty more. Maybe a grand mashup of ALL such endings as a loving tribute to Eureka and all the SF that came before. Finally, the question of what comes next for SyFy? Wait for it ... Law & Order: Uranus.
Toggle Commented Aug 11, 2011 on Saying goodbye to Eureka at WWdN: In Exile
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