Fast forward a few months and it appears that someone
at The League of Noble Peers, using a little bit of clever psychology, may have
found a way to make the “donationware” model work: Steal This Film II, the group's “suggested donation” documentary on
intellectual property issues, met with resounding success immediately following
its release at the end of 2007, amassing more than 150,000 downloads and $5,000
in donations within the first four days.
The movie’s web site claims that Steal This Film II, so far, has at least 4.86 million viewers,
with close to 2.7 million downloads across a multitude of networks, spearheaded
by the site’s official torrents.
in his blog, Steal This Film II director and producer Jamie King attributes
the movie’s success to adjustments made to the donation request since the first
Steal This Film, which asked
for $1 donations to the creators’ Paypal account: “[We] received thousands of
them,” wrote King. “PayPal took around about 30 cents [per transaction], and
after the cost of transferring to our bank account, [there wasn’t much left] of
the generous donations to work with.” In Steal
This Film II, the donation request was adjusted to suggest – but not
require – a minimum donation of $5, with a “mystery gift” given to all those
who donate $15 or more.
The League of Noble Peers quickly learned that, in King’s
words, “people want that gift.” The “overwhelming proportion” of donations received
ranged between $15 and $40, which indicated that those that chose to donate did
so willingly, paying significantly more than they would have “for a DVD or a
cinema ticket.” More notable is the proportion of people who choose to donate,
which King roughly estimates is around one in thousand viewers – a number
closer to spammer’s odds as opposed to a viable way of recouping production
In a brief e-mail interview with DailyTech, King was quick to separate Steal This Film from Radiohead’s similar forays. “For us at STF,” he said, “the expectations are
much lower.” Radiohead was “looking for a model that can answer the old
question of ‘how do we get media creators paid an obscene amount?’ We’re
asking, ‘can we work towards a point where we could be able to continue to make
[movies] while exploring this new model?’”
attributes Steal This Film II’s success
to the creators’ wise avoidance of psychological
reactance, which states that people are inclined to respond in a manner
opposite of the rules when it inhibits behavioral freedom, much like how many
are inclined to pirate a given piece of media as opposed to purchasing it
encumbered with DRM.
While King doesn’t have any updated statistics on the film’s
progress – he is currently travelling and has limited internet access – he
maintains that donations and support are pouring in “apace, if not at the same
level of the first few days.”
Production costs totaled almost $40,000, with pay costing
even more. At this rate, Steal This Film II
could easily recoup its costs, and even turn a tidy profit for the League’s
next project – something it struggled with for the first Steal This Film.
quote: Q. Why is your film copyrighted?A. So that you can steal it. Of course there's more to say about this, but we're sure you can figure it out.