Hollywood can’t fight TikTok but can use it

Some people are publishing entire movies, in bite-size clips, on the platform. Studios needn’t worry, though.

| Updated on: Sep 22 2023, 10:08 IST
Instagram looks to do a TikTok, YouTube; video war coming soon; here is what IG users will get
1/8 Good things are coming to Instagram even though it is more due to fierce competition by the likes of TikTok and YouTube rather than something it really wanted to do. As far as Instagram users are concerned, their favourite app is all set to get features that they could only see in other apps and it is going to get more entertaining. The Instagram feature coming soon is full-screen videos and indicates that the app is focusing on staying relevant. In a world where user attention span is short and very fickle, this move is expected to, not just to retain Instagram's base, but actually add to it. (REUTERS)
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2/8 Instagram head, Adam Mosseri, posted a video on Twitter where he elaborated on new features. In it he underlined that perception is important and therefore, Instagram does not want to be bracketed as a "square photo-sharing app" in the minds of users and the rest of the global digitally aware community and henceforth, it will get more into entertainment and video. (AP)
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3/8 Mosseri took to Twitter to explain and this is what he posted. "At Instagram we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging." (REUTERS)
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4/8 Mosseri said, "Video is driving an immense amount of growth online for all the major platforms right now and it is one direction I think we need to lean into more. People say they use Instagram to be entertained. Because lets be honest, there is some serious competition right now. TikTok is huge and YouTube is even bigger. We have to embrace that and that means change." (AFP)
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5/8 As far as the point about videos is concerned, Instagram already is into videos with IGTV, Reels, and Stories, but from now on, it will be giving much more emphasis on this medium. (AFP)
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6/8 And what is it exactly regarding videos that Instagram has in mind? Macrumours has listed these - "full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video." This surely, sounds like TikTok. Mosseri has said that this app's popularity is something Instagram wants to have. (AFP)
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7/8 Macrumours has it that Instagram will start testing recommendations and these will show up on users' Feed and that too in a month or so. (REUTERS)
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8/8 Over and above that, Mosseri says Instagram wants to be more transparent in the public's eye regarding its plans. So, expect to hear a lot more about what is going on in the House of Instagram going forward and today's video can be considered as part one. (Pixabay)
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TikTok is becoming a hub for entertainment piracy, with users chopping up films and TV shows into segments for free consumption. (AP)

TikTok has become a new frontier of entertainment piracy, with some account holders chopping up films and TV shows into scores of segments and publishing them, apparently for the delectation of those who can't be bothered to buy a movie ticket or pay for a streaming service.

But Hollywood shouldn't be worried.

It may be free, but it isn't easy to watch films and shows this way. For fear of lawyers and TikTok's copyright police, the pirates make the segments hard to find. You can spend hours tracking down all the snippets for the latest blockbuster and string them together in the correct order. For all that effort, you might miss important sections of the movie — and, most frustrating, discover that the climactic action sequence hasn't yet been posted.

Why would anyone consume their entertainment this way? The treasure-hunt aspect of finding the content may be part of the draw. Some TikTokers say they enjoy being able to read the comments of others who have watched the movies or TV shows and leave critiques of their own.

And what's in it for the pirates? They can't easily make money because nobody would knowingly sponsor stolen content or place advertising against it. But they can grow their following: Views and likes are their own kind of reward.

What they're doing obviously infringes copyrights, but in sharp contrast to previous generations of pirates, they needn't fear phalanxes of entertainment industry lawyers waiting to take them to court or Washington lobbyists demanding legislative intervention. That's because, unlike videotapes, DVDs and ripped AV1 files, a string of snippets on TikTok is hardly an existential threat to the industry.

Until someone — or something, since this could be a job for AI — comes up with an easy way to seamlessly thread together snippets into an uninterrupted movie or TV show, it's hard to imagine substantial numbers of people will take to this form of viewing. For now, the effort required to hunt down, or even just shut down, the pirates may not be worth the outcome.

Platforms like TikTok and YouTube do a certain amount of policing and have grievance mechanisms for copyright violation, but the Digital Millennium Copyright Act gives them substantial legal cover from the activities of pirates. The job of finding and filing suit against them falls mainly to Hollywood studios and TV production companies. Industry organizations like the Motion Picture Association can't help much: Jan van Voorn, chief of global content protection at the MPA, told the Wall Street Journal that they are geared to fight commercial piracy but not the nickel-and-dime variety.

If you can't beat 'em, co-opt 'em. Recognizing that the social platform is how millions of Americans now consume content, more and more creators are using the platform to find an audience for their movies and shows. Last month, Peacock made the first episode of its new series Killing It free to watch, in full, on TikTok. (The first three episodes are also available on YouTube, as are all 10 episodes of the first season of Paramount 's Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.)

For studios, the hope is that TikTok, like YouTube, can serve as a platform to raise awareness and create buzz for their new movies, whether through legitimate trailers (movie marketing campaigns now routinely include a TikTok strategy) or illegally uploaded clips.

As I was researching this column, a clip ripped from American Psycho randomly popped up on my TikTok screen. It reminded me that I've never seen what is widely regarded as a classic. So I tracked it down on Amazon Prime and will be watching it this weekend.

I'll leave it to Lions Gate Films, which produced American Psycho, to decide whether to sue the TikToker who posted the clip or to thank them.

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First Published Date: 22 Sep, 10:08 IST