Ole Henrik Antonsen
Chairman of the Board
Morten V. Stephanson
Lawyer, Rights Alliance
The business model is far from reality, harmful to cultural life and clearly illegal.
This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.
On January 11, Aftenposten printed a post by Alan Milligan, one of the founders behind the film service White Rabbit. By using the service, you can search for more than 100,000 movies that have been posted on the internet, without the permission of the rights holders.
Milligan and White Rabbit then try to make money on this pirate business.
If you pay two euros, White Rabbit gives you “permission” to watch the movie as many times as you want, forever. 60 percent of the sum is supposed to go to the licensee / producer, and 40 percent keeps White Rabbit himself.
The only problem is that the business model is far from reality, harmful to cultural life, and, we believe, clearly illegal.
Invokes noble motives
To justify its model, White Rabbit refers to Article 17 of the EU Digital Market Directive (DSM), which according to them provides “room to obtain permission after launch”.
This is not the intention behind DSM article 17. On the contrary, it states that providers of sharing platforms should seek to obtain permits in advance and do their best to remove content that has been uploaded illegally. Claim White Rabbit apparently ignores. Article 17 also does not apply to content that White Rabbit itself locates and links to.
Has anyone been paid by White Rabbit yet? We do not know, but strongly doubt whether it is at all possible for White Rabbit to know who should rightfully have the income they generate
Milligan invokes noble motives and claims that he helps to make available films that do not already exist digitally.
It’s obviously a crazy production – White Rabbit is dominated by popular, commercial films, and very many of them are also available elsewhere (albeit at a more sustainable price).
Ignores the law
We have been in contact with a large number of Norwegian producers who have content on the service, such as Mer Film, Filmkameratene, Paradox, Kjetil Omberg, Qvisten, Maipo and Nordisk Film Production. No one has been asked by White Rabbit if it is okay for the films to be out, and no one has received settlements or a share of the income.
Has anyone been paid by White Rabbit yet? We do not know, but strongly doubt whether it is at all possible for White Rabbit to know who should rightfully have the income they generate.
The rights alliance is fundamentally positive to technological progress. We are concerned that good films should be available to people, and that filmmakers should be paid fairly. But when White Rabbit ignores current law and business practices, they instead end up creating confusion, acidifying the debate and doing great damage to the cause they claim to be fighting for.