Netflix

Why can’t movie-streaming sites deliver the selection of movies that customers obviously want? This was the question posed by a recent New York Times column, comparing undersupplied services like Netflix with unauthorized platforms like Popcorn Time. The answer, the Times explains, is windowing—the industry practice of selling exclusivity periods to certain markets and platforms, with the result of staggered launches.

But the Times fails to ask a more fundamental question: why do streaming sites have to listen to Hollywood’s windowing demands in the first place? After all, while it’s clear why the studios like windowing—they can sell the same rights over and over once the promised exclusivity periods expire—it doesn’t seem like a very good deal for users. Those users get access to a smaller selection, higher prices, and fewer choices between platforms and services. It should be astonishing that a company that once had to maintain and transport a staggering inventory of fragile plastic discs is able to offer less when its marginal cost dropped to near zero.

The problem is that, unlike earlier movie-rental options, streaming rights fall fundamentally within a permission culture….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Cost Of Permission Culture: Or Why Netflix Streaming Library Sucks Compared To Its DVD Library”

It’s been viewed online nearly 7 million times. Sheryl Sandberg calls it one of the most important documents ever to come out of Silicon Valley. And it was created by the company whose stock increased in 2013 more than any other’s in the S&P 500—up nearly 350%.

“It” is a 126-slide PowerPoint called “Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility,” and it outlines Netflix’s approach to just that—culture—although it has primarily been interpreted as a “reinvention” of HR, as this Harvard Business Review article puts it.

Going through the entire PowerPoint (I have) is valuable in and of itself; if nothing else, you’ll see how very well done PowerPoints can be, for a change. But the HBR article, written by the former head of HR at Netflix itself, distills their approach to talent into five tenets based on two key insights into how people actually feel about performing their jobs…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Across The Desk: See Talent. Liberate It.”

If you enjoy streaming movies at home through Netflix or Amazon Prime (or whatever other service you use), get ready to start paying more, because there’s a new technology just dropped off at the patent office that promises to keep you from enjoying movies with a few friends.

If you’re wondering why anyone would let this technology into their home, rest assured thousands will. Even you might, unwittingly.

And who’s to blame for this patent? Wait for it after the jump…

Oh what the hell, it’s totally Microsoft…

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Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.

Michael Carusi points us to the news that Warner Bros., MGM and Universal Studios have agreed to pull nearly 2,000 films from Netflix’s library, in order to put them in the Warner Bros. Instant Archive. You may recall that Warner recently launched this archive, which is an incredibly overpriced and ridiculously limited offering. Apparently, they’re trying to bolster the offering in part by hurting Netflix. As we’ve warned, this sort of fragmentation does little to help anyone…

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Last week, Netflix announced that it received a Wells notice from the SEC. Apparently, while the SEC was cruising Facebook (what else is there to do while neglecting to investigate Wall Street?), someone noticed Netflix CEO Reed Hastings posting that Netflix had surpassed one billion hours of streaming old episodes of Facts of Life to shut ins.

The SEC staff thinks Hastings disclosed material information in this Facebook post, possibly violating Reg FD, the 2000 regulation that put a stop to companies giving an advantage to small subsets of investors by disclosing material information between blowing rails of coke off strippers.

But Facebook isn’t a seedy strip club full of free drugs and prostitutes (read: Christian Mingle). Reed Hastings has over 200,000 “fans,” many of whom are analysts and reporters. In pursuing enforcement without exercising a little discretion, the SEC ignores these facts.

Netflix is arguing that the disclosure was not material and that most investors knew that the CEO’s Facebook page is recognized as an avenue for public disclosure.

Regardless of the specific resolution of this matter, this is one more reminder that the SEC is woefully behind when it comes to adapting to technological developments. Like, oh I don’t know, HFT perhaps?

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* Welcome to the right side of history, former anti-gay marriage guy. [New York Times]

* Protecting free speech has to be more important than stopping hate speech. [National Post vai Overlawyered]

* Netflix is subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Seems unfair to me, people are already disabled, I don’t see why you have to make them deal with Netflix too. [Boston Globe]

* This Tony Parker lawsuit following the Chris Brown fight is right out of Eddie Murphy’s Raw where people start suing Eddie for “sprained eyes.” (If you haven’t seen Raw in a while, click the link. So funny.) [Daily Mail]

* This law would make it a crime for a teenager to breakup with his girlfriend via text. That sounds like a great idea. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* See my vest, see my vest, made of lizards I’ve smuggled to the U.S. [Legal Juice]

After the jump, you really have to check out Brian Cuban having an aneurism over Lindsay Lohan’s continued freedom…

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Sidney Spies

* Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg thinks Roe v. Wade was a mistimed ruling, saying things would be different today if the court had been more “restrained.” Well, wire hanger sales would be up, that’s for sure. [CBS News]

* Bait and switch of the day: personal injury firms are enticing plaintiffs to sue with promises of free iPads, but they may never see them. Blame England for this one. At least it’s not happening in America… yet. [Daily Mail]

* Netflix is settling its nationwide video privacy lawsuit for $9M. It’s embarrassing enough that you know you watched the Twilight saga so many times. Netflix doesn’t need to keep your shame on record. [paidContent]

* Remember Sidney Spies, the sexy First Amendment freedom fighter? Her final yearbook photo submission was rejected, and now her family wants to file a complaint — because nobody’s gonna tell their daughter that she can’t look like a skank. [ABC News]

* Roger Aaron, one of Skadden’s most prominent mergers-and-acquisitions partners, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]