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Miramax C&Ds Kung Fu Movie Reviewer 278

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stupid-dmca dept.
Mirkon writes "When a movie distributor attains rights to a film, it's rather predictable that they go after individuals offering the movie for sale or free. But Miramax took it a step further - as reported by Wired and on the site itself, Mark Pollard of Kung Fu Cinema received a Cease & Desist letter from Miramax concerning a link on Kung Fu Cinema to a movie purchasing site for the Jet Li movie Hero (set to be officially released in North America in April 2004). Fearing Miramax (and thus Disney) and their army of lawyers, Pollard deleted the link, as well as another for Shaolin Soccer, also unreleased in North America. Pollard criticized the studio for not permitting the original version of such films to hit the states, saying "If they own the rights to this film, then this film is not available to U.S. consumers -- period." The EFF also has some comments regarding the fact that Pollard has done nothing wrong in the first place."
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Miramax C&Ds Kung Fu Movie Reviewer

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  • by junkymailbox (731309) * on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:51AM (#7724429)

    Slashdot links to a story [slashdot.org] that links to Kung Fu Cinema [kungfucinema.com] that links to a movie purchasing site.

    Beware the wrath of Miramax lawyers!

    fp?
  • by eurleif (613257) on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:54AM (#7724443)
    But it seems like this is somewhere along the lines of telling someone where the nearest drug dealer ir (not comparing the two crimes). Isn't/shouldn't that be illegal?
    • Please explain how ordering a DVD from Hong Kong is the same as buying drugs.

      Hold on, let me strap my self in for this one, I'm sure its going to be good.

    • "No, sorry, officer, I can't point you to the nearest drug dealer because we have a free-speech-limiting law in place that prohibits me to do so. You and you're fellow police officers will have to look elsewhere for your dope. Have a nice day."
    • by JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:22AM (#7724649) Homepage
      But it seems like this is somewhere along the lines of telling someone where the nearest drug dealer is.[sic] Isn't/shouldn't that be illegal?
      Um, no.
      Talking isn't/shouldn't be illegal.
      Doing things that harm others is/should be illegal.
      If person A is selling drugs, and person B is saying where person A can be found, then go and prosecute person A.

      --
      • by the_consumer (547060) <slash@smitty.mai ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:54AM (#7724917) Homepage
        Who did person A harm?

      • Um, no.
        Talking isn't/shouldn't be illegal.
        Doing things that harm others is/should be illegal.
        If person A is selling drugs, and person B is saying where person A can be found, then go and prosecute person A.

        Yes, it should be illegal. If I were to say "There's a lot of drugs in [insert name of local "urban" housing project]", that would be okay. If I were to say "Go down to the corner of 4th and MLK Blvd, and talk to the guy in the red stocking cap. Tell him Leroy sent you", then that would be an access

        • If I were to say "Go down to the corner of 4th and MLK Blvd, and talk to the guy in the red stocking cap. Tell him Leroy sent you", then that would be an accessory to a crime (purchasing drugs).

          <div style="voice:jayLeno">Didja ever wonder why "Martin Luther King Boulevard" is always in the scariest, most violent neighborhoods around the country? Why is that, huh?

      • Outside the realm of being an accessory to a crime, there is a notable exception to this rule - pandering. It is illegal to tell someone who sells sex services, ie, pimping.
    • Owning drugs is illegal. Owning a movie isn't illegal. Playing a movie you own shouldn't be illegal.

      Corporations are brainless organisms which only care about making profit. They're like yeast. They'll merrily shit in their environment until everything that forces them to work is illegal and anything that reduces their profit (IE, competition) is illegal. Like yeast, their shit will probably eventually kill off the colony, then someone will drink it like a fine port. Er... or something.

    • by gaijin99 (143693) on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:56AM (#7724938) Journal
      But it seems like this is somewhere along the lines of telling someone where the nearest drug dealer ir (not comparing the two crimes). Isn't/shouldn't that be illegal?
      Generally, telling people how to commit crimes, or telling them where they can obtain illegal things isn't illegal itself. The "Anarchist's Cookbook", for example, includes detailed (if boobytrapped) information on all manner of things ranging from cooking up Meth, to building pipe-bombs. Its perfectly legal.

      This makes sense from pretty much anystandpoint you want to look at it from, even though it does sometimes produce odd results. It goes back to the basic idea that crimes are actions, you can't arrest someone for speculating about how nifty it would be to rob a bank (you can, however arrest someone for *planning* to rob the bank, you don't have to actually wait for them to do it). If it were otherwise we'd be entering the wonderful world of Thought Crimes (TM).

      Besides, the way it works now leads to some very amusing situations, such as the "wine brick" that was sold during prohibition. This was basically a compressed bunch of raisens. The instruction sheet contained an interesting warning:
      Caution: Never mix contents in two gallons of warm water
      to which you have added a pinch of yeast, and one pound of sugar.
      If this mixture is left to stand in a cloth covered container
      for two weeks, an ALCOHOLIC beverage will result, which is illegal.

      • Although I've never tried to build anything difficult from "The Anarchist's Cookbook", I was always under the impression that most of the info was fake and wouldn't work.

        Of course I didn't find out about that until I tried smoking banana peels way back in high school. And is that where I got the drinking nutmeg idea or was that from a William S Burroughs book?

        I think the US is getting close to making things like the Anarchist's Cookbook illegal to own anyway. But that's okay, it's all in the name of Pat
    • wait a minute....
      (not comparing the two crimes). Isn't/shouldn't that be illegal?

      why is it that people automatically assume that something is illegal?

      These were links to a place where you could buy the 100% LEGAL origional version of the movies listed.

      The american public has been brainwashed into believeing that if a company sends their lawyers after you then you must be doing something illegal or commiting a crime.

      No crime is happening, corperate america does not make laws (they buy them).
      • The american public has been brainwashed into believeing that if a company sends their lawyers after you then you must be doing something illegal or commiting a crime.

        Mirimax owns the US rights to the film - so they have the right to control the sale of that movie in the US - which includes preventing imports. Companies prevent the drect import of their goods at many times.

        I don't think they should be able to do that (but they can) - I wonder how companies get around import (trademark, in this case, IFA
        • I'd like to see some basis for your assumption that a company owning the copyright to something prevents people from buying or importing from another country.

          Keep in mind that these are not knockoffs or illegal versions, they are 100% legit for their country of origin.

          The companies have no right whatsoever to restrict buyers from purchasing foreign versions, or selling those foreign versions in North America. Sending out a C&D is just legalspeak to frighten people off.

          The webmaster of that site shou
          • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Monday December 15, 2003 @02:42PM (#7726708) Homepage
            I'd like to see some basis for your assumption that a company owning the copyright to something prevents people from buying or importing from another country.

            The relevant laws are 17 USC 106 (the right to distribute), 109 (first sale), and 602 (importation).

            The relevant case is Quality King v. Lanza Research, 523 US 135 (1998).

            "[The prohibition] encompasses copies that are not subject to the first sale doctrine-e.g., copies that are lawfully made under the law of another country...."

            The importation is direct infringement -- the linking is likely contributory infringement, as there is an underlying direct infringement, probably constructive knowledge of infringement, and material contribution to the infringement.

            Keep in mind that these are not knockoffs or illegal versions, they are 100% legit for their country of origin.

            Of course -- 602 doesn't _just_ apply to piratical copies though; it applies to copies that were lawfully made, just not lawfully made under US law. If Miramax owns the rights under US law, only it can lawfully make, or cause to be made, copies. The fact that it was lawfully made in DVDistan is basically irrelevant.

            The companies have no right whatsoever to restrict buyers from purchasing foreign versions, or selling those foreign versions in North America. Sending out a C&D is just legalspeak to frighten people off.

            No, they've got this right. It's not often used, and it's not well known, but they have got it. It's pretty stupid though, I admit.
        • The grey market is not illegal. It is just not officially sanctioned. Often the manufacturer will not warranty the product, but on something like a DVD- who cares.

          In this World market economy, Companies need to offer thier products for a price that people are willing to pay or else they will go elsewhere.
        • Mirimax owns the US rights to the film - so they have the right to control the sale of that movie in the US - which includes preventing imports. Companies prevent the drect import of their goods at many times.

          So this means you cannot provide a link for non-US visitors on your site??
    • What the fuck are you smoking? This isn't about selling illegal substances, this is about selling movies. Not bootlegs, either - these are perfectly legit copies.

      What's happening is that Miramax is taking its sweet time releasing the movies in the US - so the free market steps in, and people start buying DVDs from overseas retailers. If that's illegal now, then we got big problems.
  • Uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hookedup (630460) on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:54AM (#7724445)

    Hello McFly!

    You sell something in one country, other people in other countries are going to want it!
    How exactly does this make marketing sense?
  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:55AM (#7724453) Journal
    I'd be fairly To'd. links should not be illeagal under any circumstances. I really think that this is a freedom of speech issue which should be tried. We need a lager group to support him, or for Miramax to attack someone who already has support.
  • by elysian1 (533581) on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:55AM (#7724457)
    at my local Chinatown. They're both pretty easy to find.
  • by mirko (198274) on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:56AM (#7724459) Journal
    I was in San Francisco in September and I bought the Hero DVD in Chinatown !
    (I also got a French subtitled version of Shaolin Soccer one year and a half ago !?)
    How can Miramax be *that* late and how can they ignore that one may find these DVDs in Chinese shops ?
    • Miramax isn't late, they're just busy releasing the other crap that marketing thinks middle America will like. Really good movies get the shaft with alarming regularity.

      The studios ignore the mass pirates because it's sexier and easier to go after file sharers with a big marketing campaign. To combat the pirates in China, Russia, etc, they'd need actual guns and stuff, because there are real pirates out there that will kill you if you raid their CD duplication factories.
      • by mirko (198274)
        the other crap
        Well, as perceived from Europe, "Hero" had was outstanding bith in terms of picture and storytelling : not just another blockbuster. IMHO, it was the best picture of 2003, ex-aequo with Devdas, an Indian "opera".

        You'll understand if you watch the Chinese army hailing...

        About "Shaolin soccer", I have to say it was really funny, but of course, soccer doesn't seem as popular in America as in Europe...
        (I personally don't like to watch soccer but the movie made it quite enjoyable)
        • Hm, I just looked at the list of movies that Miramax has released, and I really enjoyed a lot of them (Amelie, Clerks, Heavenly Creatures, etc). OK, it isn't that they're cranking out junk movies, although I really can't endorse or forgive Bridget Jones' Diary. I attribute the late release of Hero and Shaolin Soccer to laziness instead. Get on the stick, Miramax!

          I'm feeling cranky today, can you tell?
  • This is why.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kenja (541830) on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:56AM (#7724460)
    This is why I ordered a copy of this killer movie from Hong Kong the day Miramax said they where going to be doing the US release. Every movie Miramax has gotten its hands on has ended up being ripped apart in re-editing.

    The movie realy is good. A simple story told from several view points using a diferrent color scheme for each one. If you can, watch the original and do not go to the US release.

    • Re:This is why.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LeoDV (653216)
      Exactly. I did the same for Shaolin Soccer, the U.S. version of which 20 minutes were cut and the movie was re-scored with shitty hip hop instead of the brilliant orchestral music of the first movie. I had the DVD one year before it came out in the U.S. and when that version finally came here I didn't even budge -- I had owned the movie for three years.

      As far as Hero is concerned, it's a fantastic movie, and definitely meant for the big screen, that's why I'm happy and grateful that it was released here (F
      • I honestly haven't heard of cuts being enforced onto other Miramax foreign buys. They own the rights and release far too many good films for me to ignore and boycott. They might not get entirely even coverage, but Amelie, City of God (yeah, it got shafter overall, that one), and non-asian movies seem to get released eventually- w/o cuts.

        Hell, Iron Monkey got cuts. Who the hell were they thinking was going to see Iron Monkey!?
        I believe that Zhang Yimou (the director of Hero) has also come out to say that Mi
  • by ceenvee703 (655877) * on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:58AM (#7724476)
    the Jet Li movie Hero (set to be officially released in North America in April 2004).

    Yeah, I believe that one. Shaolin Soccer was supposed to have come out this past summer... saw trailers for it during Bend It Like Beckham and saw movie posters for it hanging in theaters. Has it been released theatrically here? No. Even if it had been, it was going to be a highly-edited version.

    That's why people end up having to buy things like Hero "illegally." In fact, I think I'll go order a copy right now... before Miramax tells eBay to cease and desist...

    • The Shaolin temple is sueing to stop people from using there name. That may have stopped US distrabution of Shaloin Soccer.
    • Bah. I've seen the original Shaolin Soccer, and it was hilarious. Please, do we really need Hollywood editors to "fix" it for American release?

    • Heh...

      Funny story, true story...

      So, the other day I decided to order the rerelease of the old Shaw Brothers' movie, The Magic Blade. I ordered it off of the Internet (http://Sensasian.com [sensasian.com], I think) and put it in my Likko player. It was great, I was happy I purchased it. So, the next day or so, I took it over to my parents' house, where my brother lives, so he could see it too. Well, I tried it in several DVD players, and none would play it. My parents' house is bursting with conventional DVD player

    • I'm not sure what the deal is about Shaolin Soccer - my local rental place has had it in for the last 2 years - we've rented it a few times already. It'll be interesting to see what a hack job Mirimax makes of it tho..
  • by wrinkledshirt (228541) on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:59AM (#7724488) Homepage
    The EFF also has some comments regarding the fact that Pollard has done nothing wrong in the first place.

    Whether or not he did something wrong is irrelevent. It's whether or not he did something unprofitable. Some corporations these days seem to believe they have a god-given right to profit, and that censorship and lawsuit chill is an acceptable tool to that end.

    Until the average freedom-loving American starts to wake up to this and works to get the courts to adjust, it's probably only going to get worse. What happens when they realize that not talking about it on a website doesn't curb the problem? Tinfoil hats, people, they'll be after your thoughts next.

    I'm sort of kidding, but not really. They're already blaming text messaging for ruining movie profits.
    • by splattertrousers (35245) on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:18AM (#7724630) Homepage
      Whether or not he did something wrong is irrelevent. It's whether or not he did something unprofitable. Some corporations these days seem to believe they have a god-given right to profit

      Companies that are out to make a profit stick around. They get investors. Most companies that aren't out to make a profit disappear rather quickly. Therefore, most companies that exist are out to make a profit. It's not evil. It's pure business.

      Companies will do what they feel they need to do to make profit or to stop losing profit.

      and that censorship and lawsuit chill is an acceptable tool to that end.

      It's both acceptable and successful. They said, "please stop telling people where to buy this DVD that our contract says shouldn't be sold in the US", and the guy in question said, "OK".

      It's not as if they passed a law that trampled this guy's rights. They just asked him to stop and he did. IMHO, he should have said "no", but he's allowed so say "OK" if he wants.

      It's just unfortunate that saying "no" would cost the guy a lot of money and time. Something needs to be done about that, IMHO.

    • by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:33AM (#7724711) Homepage Journal

      You know, I saw a story about that somewhere and I didn't know if I should laugh or cry. They (the movie studios) were bitching that people shouldn't be allowed to have text messaging tools like cell-phones and whatnot in movie theaters because people were leaving the Hulk and similarly lame movies and TM'ing their friends not to see it. They would leave the studio and immediately let a dozen people know that the movie was a bonafide peice of Hulking (sorry) crap-a-roo.

      The justification for this idiotic "thought" process? Yep, you guessed it! It's cutting into our profits when people TM other people not to go see a movie! Ohhh... boo-frickin-hoo. At what point does the fact that your product is total shit actually kick in around here anymore? I love how these big interests are so conveniently redefining the rules so that they have a right to steal people's money in the name of "profits".

      By the way.. if you're wondering what a crap-a-roo is, it's like a kangaroo, only crappier.

    • by fermion (181285) on Monday December 15, 2003 @12:32PM (#7725339) Homepage Journal
      Not only is the private citizen doing nothing wrong when posting methods that the US consumer can purchase a product, or get the best deal on product, but the firm that thinks they can suppress such information is exhibiting increasingly unsustainable historical behavior.

      US firms pretty much want the opportunity to purchase source material or finished parts anywhere in the world, put those items together into a product anywhere in the world, engineer those products anywhere in the world, support those products anywhere in the world, and then sell those products to US consumers without any tariffs, tolls or taxes. The firms say any government imposed fees will cause unnecessary friction in trade that will only hurt the consumer. OTOH, these same firms want the government to create as much friction as possible for the consumer that attempts to find the best way to spend his or her money.

      This is really just modern imperialism pushed by multinationals. It is no different from the British government forcing the Indian people to pay a tax on a critical produce they could easily purchase themselves. This is really no different from certain countries denying their women independence by denying them an education. This is really no different from the imperialistic method of stealing local resources, manufacturing them in the imperialist country, and then selling them back to the oppressed savages. These are really just laws that limit arbitrage opportunities to a privileged few.

      US firms cannot have it all. Firms cannot claim the right to destroy communities by exporting production to cheaper labor markets, and then deny those communities the opportunity to bypass US firms in their purchasing decision. Firms cannot claim the right to limit the availability of product to the US consumer, the one basic right we still enjoy in the US, just because it will hurt the bottom line.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:00AM (#7724492)
    The "Region system" for CD's makes no sense, as all it does is hinder sales.

    If I am in Region 1 and want one of the many Region 2 DVD's (that will never come out in Region 1), I have to get a hacked DVD player, or get a pirated/cracked version of the CD.

    Next time you see those "Movies: They're worth it" anti-piracy ads about lost revenues, remember that the movie industry is throwing roadblocks in the way of those who want to legally purchase AND view legitimately-pressed DVD's. If they wanted money, they'd make the DVD's available to those who want to buy them.
    • Well I live in a region 2 area and I have to say that 2 out of every 3 DVD players here is "region free". That said, I think the regioning helps people like MiraMax think they can easily get away with stopping release of movies in certain regions. All part of the greater scheme of sucking as much profit out of you as possible. :P
    • If I am in Region 1 and want one of the many Region 2 DVD's (that will never come out in Region 1), I have to get a hacked DVD player, or get a pirated/cracked version of the CD.

      Actually, there are lists of software hacks [dvdrhelp.com] that you can find on the internet to help with that. Of course, this doesn't really help most grandmas who expect something to work without punching in the first 6 digits of pi into their remote control keypad.

      Oddly enough I had to use one of these hacks recently to view a Region 1 DV

  • by downix (84795) on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:00AM (#7724494) Homepage
    And here is Miramax proclaiming it a grand victory. It is such a victory that they just forced hundreds of formerly potential customers into p2p file sharers. Miramax must love how they're encouraging the illegal file sharing that their other movie studio bretheren have damned as dangerous. Give a hand for Miramax, another promoter of P2P technology.

    A file swapper is not born, he is created when something desired is not availible at the price desired. When that something is not availible at all, that turns all of those that wish it into p2p file junkies.

    Sorry state of affairs, honestly.
  • I had a hard time finding Hero also. Know what I did? Downloaded it from eDonkey. And if they don't fuck up the release over here (ie: chop it up, dub and/or dubtitle it without making the original vocal available), I will still purchase it. Idiots.

    Sorry, no ed2k link provided. I don't want to get my own C&D. Shouldn't be too hard to find though.

    BTW, I bought a copy of Wasango (sp? Volcano High in English) on eBay for $10. Region free. Wanna bet that's legit?
  • by yar (170650) * on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:04AM (#7724534)
    It appears that Miramax is stating that their exclusive rights to movie distribution include the purchase of IMPORTS. Since when is it illegal to import a legal copy of a video from another country? There are import CD and movies available at video and music stores all the time.
    • by dschuetz (10924) <slash AT david DOT dasnet DOT org> on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:18AM (#7724626) Homepage
      Since when is it illegal to import a legal copy of a video from another country?

      Since always, actually. It's quite annoying.

      Remember how anal-retentive the folks who make "Beanie Babies" were a few years back? They were exercising their import-control rights so strongly that people buying legal, licensed beanies from abroad were having them seized at customs.

      Essentially, if someone owns the copyright for a product in this country, they can restrict the importation of any copies of that product from abroad, even if that product was purchased legally (and for which they already received payment).

      So, technically, I shouldn't be allowed to buy a copy of West Wing in the UK, even though WB gets a cut of the sale from their UK arm. (of course, now that they finally released it in the US, it doesn't matter).

      This has been the case for years, but it's rarely strongly enforced. Personally, I'd love to see something like this go before the courts -- I can see (but don't agree with) companies having an interest in (and rights to) regulate the wholesale importation of goods, but for individual purchases, they should go away.

      As for this particular story (which I haven't read yet), if the movies in question were available for legal sale elsewhere, there shouldn't be anything wrong with having a link on the site, even on a US-hosted site for US-based audiences, just because the web's a global medium and they could argue the link was a service for overseas readers.

      • Essentially, if someone owns the copyright for a product in this country, they can restrict the importation of any copies of that product from abroad, even if that product was purchased legally (and for which they already received payment).

        Except for the fact that Miramax would not own the copyright, they would have licensed distribution rights. There is a world of difference, and although I don't live in the US, I can't see why buying the DVD from overseas would be illegal at all.
        • Except for the fact that Miramax would not own the copyright, they would have licensed distribution rights.

          In this case, they amount to the same thing.

          I can't see why buying the DVD from overseas would be illegal at all.

          That's because you're thinking like a consumer, and I heartily agree with you. It shouldn't be illegal. However, local copyright owners (or licensees) disagree, because for them it's not about whether or not the original copyright holder gets paid, it's about whether or not they make
      • Since when is it illegal to import a legal copy of a video from another country?

        Since always, actually. It's quite annoying.

        Shipping in single copies of copyrighted works from abroad for personal use is permitted. So is carrying them back in your luggage when you travel. See 17 USC 602 (a) (2), the text of which follows:

        Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work that have been acquired outside the United

    • Actually I believe that Miramax's rights pertain to whatever contracts they have with their distributors. I would assume that these contracts limit or ban the sale of these movies into the U.S.

      The remedy for Miramax would be to terminate business with the foreign company.

      If I'm wrong and Miramax can arbitrarily control U.S. imports, then we're all in much more trouble than you realize.
    • Since when is it illegal to import a legal copy of a video from another country?

      In Denmark, since december 2002. An EU directive forced through that giving or selling copyrighted works imported into the EU is illegal without the consent of the "rights holder". Several small countries including Denmark had voted against it - the danish minister claimed that it had been forced through by english publishers. Several other EU countries have implemented the directive as well. [wiki.ael.be] (They should have done it by Dec
  • Fearing Miramax (and thus Disney) and their army of lawyers, [...]

    Remember the Michael Eisner (CEO, Disney) sketch on Family Guy?

    Eisner: (cheerful) "See you at Disneyland!"

    [gets into his car]
    Eisner: (angry) "Bring money!"
    [speeds off]
    z
  • WTF... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wakko Warner (324) * on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:09AM (#7724569) Homepage Journal
    Whatever happened to the concept of a free market economy? Shouldn't people be able to purchase this film, and tell others where to do the same, without fear of being sued for it? What law(s) would this even violate?
    • Whatever happened to the concept of a free market economy?

      Silly consumer, the global "free" market is only for companies looking to get cheap labor elsewhere! Mere humans are not permitted to participate in this so called "global economy".
  • by matchlight (609707) * on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:11AM (#7724585)
    A whois [whois.net] of kungfucinema.com shows it's registered to a person in Seattle Washington. I think that's how they can bully the guy. I'm sure if there was a HK based movie selling site, there wouldn't be much that Miramax could do, unless they also owned the HK rights to the movie as well.

    This is a classic example where even when a big corp. is wrong, making them do the right thing would cost too much time and money with almost no return.
  • by mocm (141920) on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:13AM (#7724599) Homepage
    if you delay distribution for more than 1 year. Some companies seem to buy up exclusive distribution rights for asian movies just to prevent them from competing with their own products. Like Disney did with Studio Gibli and Miramax with Hero, Shaolin Soccer or others. (Just try to get a DVD of Drunken Master 2).
    These tactics are in total contrast to the purpose of granting distribution or copyrights. Which should promote the arts and encourage artists to publish their work.
    • With Studio Ghibli and Disney, its a long story... Basically, Ghibli was really pissed about the hack-job the first American distributor for Nausicaa pulled. So much so that they now refuse to acknowledge that the release even happened. Disney (technically Buena Vista, but Disney for all intents and purposes) was, IIRC, the only one that would agree to a clause that said they could make no edits or changes other than dubbing. In return (again, IIRC) they got exclusive rights for all DVD distribution outside

  • By removing these links, he's making it more difficult for people to purchase these films, thereby allowing us to protect our interest in these properties. -- Matthew Hiltzik

    Uhhh... what? Sooooo... it's in my best interest to... uh... NOT let people buy my products? Umm... I think I must've missed that econ class.

    Direct translation from bullshit PR spin-ese:

    By removing these links, he's making it easier for our people to rape consumers when it comes to purchasing our films, thereby allowing us to ext

  • Oh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wakko Warner (324) * on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:15AM (#7724608) Homepage Journal
    Hey, am I breaking the law [yahoo.com] by linking to places [www.wmmb.us] where you can buy this DVD [smartcart.com]??

    Please C&D this post.

    - A.P.
  • by palad1 (571416) on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:24AM (#7724655)
    He did the movie a disservice by writing something about it.

    All we need to know about Shaolin Soccer and Hero can be accessed using AOL keywords SHAOLIN SOCCER and HERO.

    Move along citizen, the computer is your friend.

  • When are people finally going to realize that situations like this, caused by strong copyright law are an inhibitor to the free market and not something that helps it. In this situation, even the copyright crazy who believe it's an artist's god given right to control the dispersion of their ideas should be able to see the problem with it. The "artists" (film-makers, actors etc.) released this movie abroad and are getting paid for it, these people were simply importing it.
  • This reminds me of anime fansubs you can get from newsgroups or bit torrent. While the anime isn't licensed in the US all is good and download all you want. But as soon as its licensed, the links go down (for torrent at least) and you're out of luck if you didn't get all the episodes.
    • No, not really
      The most important point here is that anime fansubs are technically illegal
      (you're downloading something somebody worked hard for for free, some lawyer proved this is illegal, although I can see the point)

      While if you buy a DVD from another region, you're actually spending money that goes to the producers.
      In this case you have actually bought a product

      Why should this be illegal just because you live somewhere else? It's ridiculous!
      If you aren't satisfied with the products offered in your co
  • By now it should be clear that globalism and multinationalism is something for the benefit of corporations -- cheaper labor, differential market pricing. It's not for consumer benefit at all.
  • Shaolin Soccer (Score:2, Informative)

    by CrazyTalk (662055)
    Shaolin Soccer was playing ever-so-briefly my local cinema here in the US, so I dont know what they mean by "not released". After seeing the beyond-bad previews, there was no need to see the film.

    On a side note, there is a "Shaolin Martial Arts Studio" that I often pass by, and I can't help but think of that movie and laugh (and picture kids kicking flaming soccer balls) whenever I see that sign.

    • Re:Shaolin Soccer (Score:3, Informative)

      by Scrameustache (459504)
      I saw Shaolin Soccer (a dub of the hong-kong flick), its freakin' funny.

      Its a parody of martial arts movies, there is no way an american corporation can do it justice, they can only butcher it.

      However I do support cutting out the part where they sing in a restaurant...that was lame, and might have made sense to chineese viewers, but was mostly weird for me.
    • Re:Shaolin Soccer (Score:2, Informative)

      by malducin (114457)
      It's not released because Miramax, which own distribution rights in the US hasn't officially released. What you probably saw was a theatre getting/importing a reel and showing it, or maybe as part of a film festival.
  • by Demona (7994) * on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:43AM (#7724828) Homepage
    I already knew Disney and Hollywood were protectionist thugs who, like all thugs, believe in one set of rules for them and another for the proles. But I didn't realize it's gotten even worse since the last time I ranted about this same subject. [samizdata.net]

    Fuck the Mouse that Whined. Nobody has the right to interfere with free trade of lawfully obtained property between consenting adults.

  • by dido (9125) <dido@impe r i u m .ph> on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:47AM (#7724863)

    Man, this is absolutely incredible. There was a theatrical release for both movies (which both TOTALLY ROCK!... I can only hope that Miramax & Co. don't butcher them!) here in my country a long time ago! Hero [jetli.com] was released here late last year, and Shaolin Soccer not long after if I recall correctly. Now, Shaolin Soccer, and maybe even Hero, have actually even been popping up on the Chinese cable channels (with English subtitles, thank goodness) occasionally. Does a whole lot of good for them to be closing the barn door after the horse has already run around more than half the world for about a year ongoing, don't ya think?

  • Miramax's "rights" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cajun Hell (725246)

    "Please be aware that Miramax Film Corp. is the exclusive licensee of the right to distribute Hero on all home video formats, as well as through other forms of exploitation in, among other territories, the United States and Canada. Your actions in this regard are completely unauthorized and violate valuable rights held by Miramax."

    What Miramax is talking about here, is purely a private deal between Miramax and the makers of the film. It is not in any way related to copyright law or the social contract to

    • Exactly. This case has nothing to do with copyright, and everything to do with bullying. It's a shame the guy just bent over and believed them, rather than finding out that clearly they had no legal right to force him to do anything like that.
  • Mirmax funded the production of hero, instead of later purchasing the rights. So i would assume that the are already made some money on it. Unless their contract only allows them to make money off the US release.

    I for one already got my copy of both Hero and Shoalin Soccer. Both of them are avaialable at sensasian.com [sensasian.com].
  • and post the text of the C&D, which contains the link.
  • by heironymouscoward (683461) <heironymouscowardNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday December 15, 2003 @12:26PM (#7725281) Journal
    Which I saw last night, since I still live in the Free World (aka Oceania).

    The movie is a telling of an old Chinese story. If you ever read Chinese mythology, you will know that they are mixed from generous helpings of love, drama, treason, duty, battle, beauty and tragedy, set in landscapes of stunning mountains and gorges, and generally featuring the epic plotlines Tolkien was inspired by when he wrote LoTR and the Hobbit.

    Hero is no different. The movie is visually stunning, a tapestry of color and force. It paints an overlapping series of stories, and the five main characters get more and more complex as the film progresses through intense red, blue, white, and green.

    The Kung Fu scenes are dreamlike and truly beautiful. Only the slightest sense of repetition spoils a few of the scenes, but it is easily compensated for by the sensuality of the filming. Yes, it is ridiculous to see people running on water or across tree tops, but this is the story of a person recounting his version o a myth. Some poetry is in order, and Hero delivers.

    The ending - which I won't divulge - is downbeat and not what I would have proposed, but this is true to the style of ancient Chinese stories, which do not - like many Western myths - celebrate the survival of the individual in the face of adversity. Rather, they tell stories of how intense personal tragedy and suffering can be placed into a greater context. A few dramatic deaths serve to highlight the lesson.

    Don't go to Hero expecting to see amazing fight scenes. It's a movie to relax with, a film to see twice, one to take your girlfriend to and to hold her when the lovers die, in true Romeo and Juliet fashion, alone on a mountain top.

    What I liked most about this film - apart from the visuals, the sound, the scenery, and the subtle plot - was its ability to portray all the characters as sympathetic, from the tyranical king, alone in his citadel of a palace, to the assassins and killers, each shown at the end to be Heroes. There are no villains in this film.
    • Ummm...you're kidding right?

      Yes, this is one gorgeous movie. The colors, and views are amazing (expect no less from Christopher Doyle). The acting is decent to good- except Zhang Ziyi, I admit to not liking her, and it seems to me the cuts that the film (even your free world version) underwent under studio orders happened in her portion mostly, but she was bad...

      But this movie is a subtle as a rock or 700 Club parable about the bible. Eeegad, its a hard task to compare oneself to Kurosawa, but the format
  • from two video cds brought to my place from a female friend from chongqing

    i like hero, it's pretty good, very visual, great subtle cgi... sort of like crouching tiger hidden dragon on steroids... it concerns an ancient emperor of china who united the empire, and the assassins in his care/ against him

    there is this one scene where the two female lead characters are fighting in a forest full of yellow leaves... one uses the sun and the leaves to swirl and block the other's pov, causing her to impale herself
  • by LuYu (519260) on Monday December 15, 2003 @12:43PM (#7725471) Homepage Journal

    This is a good example of the censorship that copyright produces. Copyright was created to increase the amount of information available to everyone. Instead, it is being used to keep people from accessing information that they would legitimately pay for.

    The movies studios want to coerce fans into seeing the movie when and where the studios choose. Rather than allowing true fans to appreciate these movies when and where the fans, the customers, might want, they block their distribution. The movie studios do this whether or not the expect to release this movie in a given market. In the end, this leaves a minority of fans who have the interest and the financial means to see a movie locked out of it.

    Whether or not the copyright holders of these movies believe they can make money in a given market, they will refuse to let people watch it. If they cannot make money, there is no incentive. If the information is not distributed, the incentive is not working for society and should not be granted to the rights holders. Either way, the movie studios are blatantly misusing their legal rights. Their legal rights exist to give enough incentive to get information to be disseminated, not to stand as a barrier to the dissemination of that information.

    An individual should be able to purchase any movie from any market that person might desire to purchase from. Just because the majority of people in one area like some given thing does not mean everybody has to. Even if the movie is released in the US market, and most Asian movies are not, it still forces the US version on people, which in many cases has parts cut out of it and may be dubbed. An individual may want to watch the movie with subtitles or in its original language or in its original state.

    The practice of restricting people by region is racist. Regionalizing is saying that because you live in such and such a country, you will pay such and such a price or watch movies in such and such a language. Because you live in such and such a country, you will know such information. What is the difference between this and bathrooms marked Colored and White? I guess Jack Valenti is more of a good-'ol-boy than we thought.

  • ... despite the movie company going way beyond their bounds on this one, I'd like to mention that these are both great films.

    Shaolin Soccer is hysterical (in a Hong-Kong is insane kind of way). It's about a bunch of losers who use magic powers to win local soccer matches. They also break into song and dance periodically for reasons unknown, despite the fact that it isn't a musical.

    If you liked Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, you'll love Hero. It is sad and beautiful, with amazing battle scenes. In fa

    • Re:Great movies (Score:3, Insightful)

      by omega9 (138280)
      Hmm.. I just screened my copy of Shaolin Soccer for a bunch of friends at a party this weekend. It must have played at least 4 times in a row. I invite you to ask anyone that was there exactly how many times they "break into song and dance periodically for reasons unknown". One of the lead characters sings a brief serenade, which would only classify this movie as "musical-like" as much as any other movie that has anyone singing for longer then 3 seconds. Also, it's not "about a bunch of losers who use magic
  • I learned about Shaolin Soccer from a trailer in a theater at least a year ago, and have been eagerly awaiting the release. The preview said "Coming Soon" as did the posters that were displayed in the googleplex lobby way back when. So isn't Miramax falsely advertising this movie by saying "Coming Soon" and then not delivering?
  • Pollard criticized the studio for not permitting the original version of such films to hit the states, saying "If they own the rights to this film, then this film is not available to U.S. consumers -- period."
    Funny, I bought both Shaolin Soccer and Hero as gifts for people for under $10 each in Chinatown last week. And these aren't bootlegs, are uncut [which is a HUGE problem I have with Miramax], are excellent transfers and have perfect sound. SHaolin Soccer is actually made funnier by the Engrish subtitl
  • because you can order all the films in question off of it. I ordered Shaolin Soccer about four or five months ago and paid about 10.00 for it, and that includes shipping.

    I assume that even if an individual purchased one of these movies, they would have the right to resell it? Or would Miramax get its army of lawyers to write a nasty letter to you?

    If it is legal, some of these import companies would be on more legal ground to just sell them on Ebay as individuals instead of under a company name.

    I kind of

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