INTERNET CHEATERS EXPOSED: B-side, Filmbaby, Eztakes and Lulu

Essay by bobwatsonUniversity, Master'sB+, July 2008

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Any independent artist, filmmaker and musician knows the challenges and hurdles of getting their content out to the public, while at the same time trying to make some money, or at least break-even to cover their costs. An independent film can take anywhere from one to four (or more) years to conceive, the last task, then, is to find proper distribution. There are several websites online that (apparently) fill this need and cater to – mainly young – independent artists, filmmakers and musicians.

In conjunction with Princeton School of Media Studies the following is a study investigating these so-called “opportunities” on the Internet and assess the legal implications. This three-year study was conducted between the years 2005-2008 and followed the path of over 500 independent artists, from over 20 countries, using several websites under investigation.

This abbreviated study followed the independent artists and their dealings with the Internet platforms in all aspects (communication, signing-up, legal aspects, royalty awards, marketing and sales activity).

The five selected websites under scrutiny were B-side, Filmbaby, Eztakes and Lulu. As will be seen, several of these websites are, not only failing to properly address the needs of independent content creators, but ACTIVELY deceive, manipulate, defraud and cheat these creative people.

B-side( to its own mission statement B-Side is “an entertainment technology company that captures audience opinions to discover great films and deliver them to viewers around the world.” (1) 95 participants had submitted their content to B-Side, and after 20 were rejected, 75 were observed for 18 months.

Right from the outset the biggest problem independents faced with B-Side was exactly what they had hoped for: proper content distribution. Since B-Side admittedly discovers films through audience feedback from its community of hundreds of film festival websites, the focus, reach and outlook for independent artists is...