A Message from Ed

So let’s talk about piracy.

When our no-budget videogame spoof “Press Start” came out in September 2007, two years of my life – and the lives of numerous others – had been spent making it a reality. But within a couple weeks of its release, pirated torrents of the movie were everywhere. You couldn’t even Google the title without finding sites where you could download the entire film – including all of the DVD extras. I saw message boards posting links, with responses like “Thanks! I’m showing this to my kids right now!”

Rampage was released less than two weeks ago. Torrents are already up. More people have downloaded it illegally than have bought it. LOTS more. In fact if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that it’s been downloaded by more people than will EVER buy it.

I feel the need to make something clear that maybe hasn’t been made clear before: Dark Maze Studios is not some big faceless company. It’s one guy. Me. A host of extraordinarily talented people have been willing to work with me for virtually nothing to make these movies possible, but the studio itself is still just yours truly. And you know what? I’m not raking in the cash from Press Start, or Rampage, or the ads from Press Start Adventures. Neither is anybody else. And in fact, I’m a long way from making my money back on Rampage.

Look, I am not “The Man.” I have a full time, regular day job that supports my ability to make films. People who pirate my movies are not sticking it to anybody. They’re just robbing someone of his dream to make a living doing what he loves.

But honestly, I think that assuming people have some political motivation to pirate films is giving them too much credit. They’re stealing because they can. Because it’s easy. It’s just a few clicks to have something they want for free, breaking a law that no one will ever catch them for.

And the ultimate result of all this? People are going to stop making stuff. People like me are going to quit making movies and videos because they can’t afford to, and because they’re sick of spending years of blood, sweat, and tears working to make something that’s going to be stolen immediately by thousands of people who couldn’t care less. I’ve just about reached that point. And that’s depressing, because there are still so many projects I want to do.

So the only thing I can do now is air my grievances in vain here, to a crowd of people who haven’t pirated my films.

But lastly: to whoever it was in Lawrence, MA searching for “Dark Maze studios rampage torrent” yesterday, here’s your IP address for everyone to see: 98.217.245.171. Have a nice day.

15 Responses to “A Message from Ed

  • SquarEvil
    12 years ago

    Mr. Glaser, let me just say that I am a HUGE fan of your (as well as X-Strike Studios) work. I followed your website since I first saw Press Start on Newgrounds (while the movie was still being filmed).

    I bought the movie on the first day it was sold and may or may not have convinced others to get it (I advertised the movie on some sites I registered for.) Of course I loved the movie.

    Time’s have been hard right now, but I finally bought Rampage yesterday, and look forward to watching it this weekend.

    It truly is a shame that so many people are getting your amazing movies without you getting anything in return (especially since they’re so cheap). I won’t lie and say that I’ve never pirated anything. But the truth is that I’ve NEVER pirated anything from independent companies like X-Strike, Dark Maze, PBC, etc. because they all deserve all the money they can get for all their hard work.

    I’ll always support Dark Maze no matter what (BTW congrats on being a part of TGWTG.com), so it’ll be a shame if you decide to stop making movies.

    So good luck to you. I hope things get better for you in the future and I’ll be sure to tell people about Rampage after I’ve seen it.

  • Leon101
    12 years ago

    That blows. Rest assure I will not pirate your movies, I just bought Press Start from Amazon, I would have bought it from your site, but I have an account already on Amazon and didn’t want to have to whore out my credit card on another site (I have too many now, I’m just waiting for someone to rob me).

  • Anonymous
    12 years ago

    I’m a pirate.
    An admin of a community of pirates, in fact.

    People request your film every now and then, and every time, me and the other admins have the same response: Go buy it. I’ve never touched a single torrent, and I constantly delete all torrents hosting your work that I’ve found.
    You’re the guys we look up to, and the guys we SHOULD support. You’re not a guy trying to overprice your work for another yawnfest of mediocre crap. You’re not trying to play Follow The Leader and insult our intelligence with what’s “Hip” and “In” now. You’re someone trying to realize your dream, who’s honestly in this for the fun and love of it.

    You say how we’re simply thieves and we’re doing this just to steal, but I can assure you from the bottom of my heart–seeing this happen to the guys we root for is crushing. Beyond crushing, in fact.
    I’m sorry for all the monetary loss you’ve suffered so far. I’m going to pass this post on to the other admins, and other admins of other boards.
    We’re going to work double-time to crush the links and the torrents.

    Honor super omnia.

  • I think you have probably picked the wrong medium.

    That doesn’t help much.

    But it’s true.

    Ultimately you will need to look at your work that can easily be copied and redistributed as marketing for things that can not.

    You can’t just copy the old way of monetizing. It won’t work, it’s also mostly dependent on marketing rather than content. Making beter content doesnt get you anywhere if you play by the old rules because they are designed to reward better marketing.

    Things are changing, the fact that you are able to produce films is testiment to this fact. However this change is also disruptive and the old models of payment are not going to survive so well.

    Your best bet is actually to out pirate the pirates, provide the content for free but in a better way with easier access and in a way you can control. Build a community around it and pimp DVD sales whilst still giving away the content in a controlled manner. (provide social status for patrons)

    Ads wont help, they require a huge scale before they really make sense and worse still when it comes to social media they don’t seem to work at all.

    However people do buy things they already have all of the time and they will happily drop money on social status they they wouldn’t dream of spending on content. Provided you make this act as frictionless as possible. They will also watch the same thing over and over again…

    I’m not sure if any of this can even be applied to movies but maybe it can.

    *shrug*

    I make games and you may have noticed that games could be pirated perfectly over the internets a long long time before movies could. The above comments are from my understanding of this. Free to play games are for instance a direct response to piracy, it is really a solved problem but it only works because games are interactive and like everything else it has limitations.

    Maybe I have some social viewing code/design/server stuff you can use. By that I mean I have a very strange social viewing, uhm, game that may be retrofitted into some kind of social viewing event. But I have no idea if it will help or be good for you or even make any sense whatsoever 🙂

  • Erico
    12 years ago

    I ordered the movie when it first came out and haven’t regretted it at all. It’s a wonderful little yarn with bits and pieces here and there. (Tell me I’m not the only person who caught the “Uncle Steve”/Startropics/Legend of Zelda reference…)

    I don’t have anything noteworthy to contribute to the moral discussion, so I’ll just leave it at that. Press Start’s a good yarn. Having it on DVD gives me something to show off in the house.

    Good work, Ed. And thanks again.

    -Erico

  • Ed Glaser
    12 years ago

    Anonymous,

    Wow, that was a very unexpected response! I’m a little speechless.

    While, as I’m sure you can understand, we may not see eye to eye on the issue of piracy, I enormously appreciate your kind words and support. I’m glad that some of my assumptions about pirates turned out to be wrong. Thank you for spreading the word – making people aware is a great help.

    And thanks to everyone else who’s commented here for your support! I’d love nothing more than to keep making movies for you guys.

  • I just purchased Rampage off the Internet. I would never pirate your stuff. I really wanna see you make more awesome projects.

  • Ellen
    12 years ago

    Hey Ed,

    As someone who helped in a very small way to create Press Start, I think I speak for the whole team when I say that we all share our love and support for Dark Maze and what it stands for. Piracy is awful, and the above posters are right that there’s no good way to stop it, when the technology these days makes it so gosh-darn easy. And there will always be people out there who will default to the cheap option with no thought to the aspiring artists who made it possible.

    Have you posted this on some of those message boards you mentioned? I think that would be a wise idea, given that as you said yourself, the people on this site are already loyal to you. And perhaps if the people who are about to download an illegal torrent were to hear this plea from the artist who created it, they might be encouraged to shell out the ten bucks and actually support him, instead of just taking advantage of your genius.

  • JT Molloy
    12 years ago

    I used to pirate music a lot, not so much anymore. I’m a die hard punk rocker and feel I should support independent artists so I buy LPs at the shows and use iTunes if the band isn’t obscure enough.

    The days of Us Vs. Them, Napster Vs. BMI/Warner/Columbia/Metallica are over people. There are now ways to actually pay for things legitimately over the internet and support what you like.

    Plus! If people pirate it, they won’t get my rad insert drawing!! Not to mention the intended movie quality, DVD Extras like the making of and the bonus levels.

    C’mon people! I know we live in the age of instant gratification whilst on your comfy chair, but I promise, going to the website, ordering it, and getting it in your hands will not burn too many calories!

  • Duke Williams
    12 years ago

    Dear Ed,

    I found your work a long time ago on Newgrounds.com, as did many people, and after watching my first Press Start Bonus Level, I was an instant fan. Just yesterday, my friends and I watched Press Start, probably for my 100th time, and their first. It’s still just as funny as it was when it arrived on my doorstep from your website.

    Piracy is a force that can not be stopped as long as there is the Internet or a way to duplicate. This world is one of ‘have it now, for free’ mindsets, and so many pirates have lost site of their first goal,to stick it to a major corporation and support The Little Guy.
    I am glad for Anonymous’ comment. Not every pirate is a no good thief. They, in a light, have a slightly just cause still, and it is good to see that still around.

    For those who pirate independent movies such as Press Start; you’re missing out. You can’t say ‘Check out this kickass movie I bought from a one man studio who writes some of the most amazing stuff ever, all in his free time.’

    No, from what I’ve seen of things like this, they can say: ”guys,this is funny. dunno who made it.” or something to that like. I buy CDs because I want the cover art, the actual cd, those little booklets, things that people put a lot of effort into and things like look good to have. Call it art, or call it tacky, but it’s what I like. I also like supporting those who’s work I can. And I can say that purchasing Press Start was a great way to spend under 20 dollars. I’ve been having a great number of laughs since, and will for a long time.

    Ed,keep up this amazing work of yours. Don’t let these pirates get you down. You’re more talented than a lot of people behind a camera,and I can not wait to see more work from you. I can’t wait to see Rampage!

    You have had, and will continue to have, my support, as well as countless other fans.

    Keep it up

    Duke Williams, Ohio

  • TheMP
    12 years ago

    I think it's absolutely horrible that people would do this to someone in your situation

    As many have said before me, the pirates have lost sight of what there goal was

    You may not remember but I emailed prior to release of Press Start and asked if there was to be a European release

    I am more than glad it was available for import.
    Otherwise, I admit, I may have resorted to pirating. Not because I would have wanted to but because I would of had to

  • Anonymous
    12 years ago

    Mr Glaser,

    I am also a producer of things which can be pirated, and I feel your pain. I'd just like to discourage you from taking the numbers on torrent sites at "face value." There are other things to consider. As only one such example, I'd like to tell you why I personally ordered three copies of your "Press Start" movie on DVD today:

    A friend of mine brought over a copy of your movie that he had ripped from goodness-knows-where, saying "You have to see this!" I watched it, yes, illegally, and it was without question the funniest movie I have seen in recent history. So I immediately thought of two friends I knew would also appreciate it, and I thought I really should support this guy by buying a copy for myself. Thus, three copies. (If you decide to cross-reference this comment against the website orders, I'm probably not as anonymous as I'd like anymore!)

    None of those three would have been purchased had it not been for the illegal copy I received first. Quite frankly, I'd have never heard of you at all if not for my overenthusiastic and underscrupulous friend.

    On a tangential note, I tried ordering my copies off Amazon first, and even though they list it in stock, they were not going to ship 'till August; their customer service reps suggested that the "in stock" indicator was a lie. I suppose you probably see more profit from the link on the website than from Amazon, though, so it probably worked out in your favor in the end.

    One question for you: Do you consider people who rent the movie from Blockbuster or similar to be stealing your will to produce? In the case of businesses like that, you might sell one copy for every hundred or thousand watched, or more — who knows? Do you feel that authors of books curse library patrons and feel discouraged from ever writing again?

    Your (paying!) fan
    – Anonymous (but not the same Anonymous as above)

  • Ed Glaser
    12 years ago

    Thanks for all the kind comments and support. I'm surprised people are still finding this post.

    To the fellow above, I have absolutely no problem with rental stores or libraries (although as far as I know none currently carry Press Start). It's 100% legal, and a great way for people to check out the film without a large investment. If people rent it and really enjoy it, I hope they'll pick up a copy. But if not, no problem.

    Sorry to hear about the weirdness with Amazon, but thanks for ordering it through the site. As you surmised, it does support Dark Maze more directly.

  • citadel
    11 years ago

    let me add that apart from those people that offer “Turkish Rambo” for free (like the ones you mentioned)
    there are others that get the point to charge for it making money from it.

    See this page for example :

    http://www.trash-online.com/dvd-TURKEY.htm

    offering “Rambo” and other Turkish films on dvd-r

    they have legal info too! :

    http://www.trash-online.com/legal.htm

    I think these money-hungry individuals are 10 times worse than the
    file-sharing crowd.

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