Czech filmmaker fights piracy by giving his most popular film away for free
by Martin Kudláč
- The Czech film The Can, a favourite among audiences, is now accessible free of charge as an anti-piracy gesture by its director
The popularity of The Can, Tomáš Vorel’s coming-of-age comedy from 2007, is not waning in the slightest, even today. Though the title’s continual popularity is something to be celebrated, it is also a double-edged sword, as the film became the subject of multiple pirating activities. An illegal copy appeared several weeks after the premiere, when somebody recorded it in the cinema and a ripped DVD was leaked before its official release. As is the case with its popularity, its illegal circulation is not fading away either. Vorel’s attempt to protect his work culminated recently in him giving away the entire film on a public channel on YouTube, where it already boasts over 300,000 views.
“It is our response to the thievish sharing sites and portals where The Can is offered stolen and without a licence, and always reduced to terrible quality. The Can is on YouTube in the best HD quality in which it was shot. YouTube is currently the only respectable supranational portal honouring the Copyright Act,” Vorel tells Cineuropa. The film was and is also legally accessible via various streaming services (iTunes as well as more locally orientated ones); however, “The consumption of The Can on iTunes is minuscule – ten views per month. On YouTube, it gets 10,000 views a day,” Vorel remarks as he justifies his decision to resort to a public platform, adding: “The VoD model is not flourishing in the Czech Republic.”
Cineuropa asked the Czech Anti-Piracy Union for a statement. It said: “The Czech Anti-Piracy Union supports and welcomes all new legal distribution platforms and efforts. It is an interesting experiment for older films that underwent normal exhibition. YouTube is the most-visited video portal in the world, and even though the income from one viewing is minimal with regard to the high number of potential viewers, a certain type of film can generate a profit on YouTube next to classical distribution.” Vorel will at least gain a share of the profits from advertisements displayed during the film, as opposed to nothing in the case of the movie’s illegal circulation. There has been some speculation about whether the arrival of the American provider of on-demand content Netflix will alter the situation. To this, Vorel responds: “CzechFlix is getting geared up in the Czech Republic, so we will see how this will work out.” He is referring to the recently set up “online subscription service offering premium Czech and Slovakian TV shows and films to audiences outside the Czech Republic and Slovakia.”