March 22, 2005 6:22 AM PST

Site will cater to offbeat films

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--Got the next JibJab sitting in your video camera? A new company plans to give unknown auteurs a place to sell their flicks online.

Brightcove, founded in 2004 by former Macromedia CTO Jeremy Allaire, will launch a service later this year that will let filmmakers who are not part of the studio system sell their movies directly to consumers. Most won't be two-hour epics. Instead, the site will largely cater to budding cartoonists, independent directors and the people who happen to have good video of sports moments, natural disasters or current events.


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"Rights holders will be radically empowered," he told an audience here Monday at PC Forum, an event owned by CNET Networks, publisher of News.com. "The editorial control (of broadcast networks) is something that will be pushed out to the Internet."

Video on demand has replaced Internet appliance and social networking as the buzzword concept among consumer start-ups. Some, such as EZTakes, hope to deliver movies to the home over broadband networks that can be burned to DVDs. Others, such as ObjectCube, are already delivering adult content in this manner. The company is specializing in adult content largely because major studios remain skittish about Internet downloads.

History says some of these companies may make it, while many will perish.

Brightcove's plan is to create an entertainment distribution portal for artists such as Brian Taylor, a self-taught graphic artist in Scotland who created the Rustboy cartoon. Warren Miller, who directs ski movies that get shown in municipal auditoriums, also fits the profile of a Brightcove director. Allaire didn't say that Taylor or Miller would participate in the service, but he showed off their films during a demonstration of the technology at the conference.

Directors will sell their sell their movies on Brightcove's site, which will also leverage community input to determine what to host there. Consumers will likely be able to buy single films or subscriptions to the films from directors on the site and then watch them on a TV or PC.

The site will make money through facilitating these sales and, in all likelihood, advertising.

"We don't expect to see any significant Hollywood content" in the relatively near future, he said. "Our expectation is to not allow pornography."

Is there a market for obscure content? While people differ in their opinions on that subject, Allaire asserts that at least there is a huge quantity of it. Brightcove, he acknowledges, will also have to patrol its site for movies of questionable taste and those that raise problematic legal issues. A home movie of someone chopping off a finger probably won't make it onto the site.

The emphasis on unknown artists is also a reflection of the difficulties involved in getting deals with studios and cable operators.

"The problem is negotiating an economic arrangement with those operators is a very cumbersome, complex process," Allaire said.

Although the burgeoning field is already very crowded, Brightcove has connections working in its favor. Allaire founded Allaire Corp., which merged with software maker Macromedia in the late 1990s. Brightcove investors include Accel Partners.

Brightcove's presentation was one of the more crowded ones at the conference and drew, among others, Mitchell Kertzman of Hummer Winblad Ventures and Vinod Khosla of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

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Maybe... But then again, maybe not
Brightcove is getting a lot of PR, but I don't think their model is right. I mean, how much different arethey than all the other media providers are they? You provide them content and they determine if it will air. Big deal.

It's not these guys that will let small producers share their media with the world -- it's resources like bittorrent (www.bittorent.com) and olivelink (www.olivelink.com) that let people braodcast whatever they want from their own machines (no gatekeeper) that are going to revolutionize the world.
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