Google to negotiate digital rights for Miramax Film archives

Nathan Fan is a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Web TV is the new place to be, so it seems. Google is currently in talks with Filmyard Holdings to license the digital rights to Miramax Film’s extensive repertoire. The negotiation efforts are in the hopes of bolstering its online services such as YouTube and Google TV into a “Web destination for longer form content” to compete for viewers and advertisers with other online services, such as Netflix, Apple TV, and Hulu. Filmyard Holdings LLC is currently finalizing the $660 million purchase of the Miramax library from Disney, a deal confirmed back in July 2010. The Miramax library includes over 700 films, including Academy Award winners such as “Chicago” and “Shakespeare in Love”.

Google’s YouTube is known worldwide for its amateur video and sometimes pirated material, but has also been trying to attract viewers through the streaming of free licensed “movies” content. YouTube’s current line of licensed films, however, is rather dated and does not offer much to draw viewers and advertisers away from its competitors’ offerings. Google’s other online video service, Google TV, has experienced some major roadblocks as many major networks have blocked access to their online episodes due to concerns over piracy and diversion of advertisement revenue.

While others like Blockbuster are still championing their DVD-rental business models, if Google’s negotiations with Filmyard come to fruition, it will bring Google in line with the rest of the online video market. Google’s approach of advertisement-based revenue will also reflect lucratively on its potential investment as new studies show that viewers are more willing to accept as much, if not greater, advertisement loads with online streaming as with cable TV. However, Google’s licensing deal may not be an immediate pay-off as Google will be limited by Miramax’s existing exclusive licensing deals with pay cable networks, which in some cases give exclusive broadcast rights to films for as long as 14 years after a film’s theatrical release.

Reports state that the negotiations between Google and Filmyard are expected to close by December 10 of this year.

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