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Sunday, March 18, 2007

News: Torrent Problems

Hello,

I'm seriously considering removing all of the downloadable versions of my tutorials.

What is prompting me in this direction is my recent awareness of a torrent posted on 3DBuzz that contains 61 Blender tutorials. Nineteen of those are from my site. I know that once something like this starts, it becomes seen as something to do even more. I don't view it as a way to "get the word out" about my site, especially if I'm not even asked first. There are other tutorials in the torrent from other popular websites, as well.

I feel that I've made the effort to consider the circumstances of those with slower connections while still trying to maintain high-quality tutorials. However, some see that as an opportunity to make themselves feel worthwhile by taking advantage of the hard work of others. I mean, what's next? My tutorials being sold on ebay like Blender is currently being sold...illegaly? I may not be able to stop it but, I'll do what I can to not make it so easy.

My biggest concern with all of this is that, at some point, my efforts must become commercially viable (I'll always do regular free tutorials, btw). It takes a lot to do this and many sites have failed due to a lack of vision and understanding of basic economics (i.e. everything can't be free). My hope is that BlenderNewbies is a continuing and growing success. I can't do that if all of the content of my site is all over the internet. Why visit the site if you can get it somewhere else? What if I choose to create compilation CDs of all the tutorials? I lose options like that when torrents become involved. Which means I lose an opportunity to create some income to help keep the site alive.

One reason I switched to the SWF format is because it gives me the best presentation options (along with the best picture quality) and is probably the most widely used format. The biggest reason, however, was the streaming aspect which allows viewers with slower connections to have access to the tutorials 90% faster than having to download the entire file first (10% buffering and you can begin watching the tutorial). So, not having a downloadable version shouldn't be so bad.

I haven't decided, yet. I'm keeping tabs on the torrent to see how many downloads there are. If it gets to be pretty high, I'm pulling the plug on the downloads...sorry.

What are your thoughts?


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23 comments:

WT said...

WOW, thats not good news for anyone. I would hate to see such a wonderful resource altered as currently it is very beneficial for everyone and eaches needs. But I do see you point of view and again find it sad for everyone involved whom views your site as a resource as well as yourself who spends so much time to provide it to the community. Sorry to hear of your situation. What a shame =(

Anonymous said...

So far, I don't think your tutorials contain anything that isn't available for free - your level of expertise is just not quite there yet, and the presentation needs to be a little more polished (mainly to do with the spoken content - not the technology or subject matter). However, I fully support your rights over the distribution and sale of your tutorials.

Hassan said...

I think the quality of your tutorials are amongst the best in the Blender community. The download option is handy, but not having your tutorials would I think be a bit of a loss. Do what you need to do too keep the tutorials flowing.

Thanks for all your effort, I do appreciate it.

Kernon Dillon said...

Well, I certainly agree that the tutorials are not quite "there" yet. This is a work in progress and I've certainly come a long way since I started.

However, you don't have to be a highly-polished expert to create learning materials. There's a boat load of highly-polished junk out there. To say that my tutorials aren't original is more than a stretch and, my level of expertise is not on display, it's my willingness to teach.

Bart said...

Kernon,

anything that you offer for free (including the SWF files) is subject to this, I'm afraid. If you're considering to monetize your content then yes, it's a risk to publish everything online for free.

These are my current thoughts on this:

1 - give away as much as you can, keeping a good watermark in the videomaterial. Encourage downloads, torrents and what have you. Sooner or later, good things will come to you.

2 - offer only a selection/the highlights of your future material on-line, or don't offer the highest quality online.

3 - even while people can download your content from p2p networks, this may not harm your sales. People who do this would probably not have been your customers anyway. Maybe they're even helping you to spread the word..

4 - even if content is freely available, people are willing to pay for a nicely packaged DVD, with a personal introduction of the author. Look at the Blender manual: all the content (and more) is available on-line for free, yet the printed version sells by the thousands.

Oh, and I *do* think that your level of expertise is good enough to consider creating commercial training material.

Bart

Bruce said...

I agree with Bart.

I suppose that usign of P2P in this case is just other way how some people are used to look for e-resources. I do not use it, I can use Google, and that is the way I have disocered your website.

The second thing is probbaly connecton. Me personnaly do not have problems. (Maybe once or twice your downloads were stuck somehow). But probably people are using torrents also beause of download speed and stability.

Please keep on your good work and turn this situation in your favour. If your tutorials will have watermarks, logos and links to your bewsite people will definitely be find your webpage. Torrent may be very good way to promote your work and some kind of advertisiment.

More people that will find your turials (which are in any case free)in p2p more people will visite your website. And they are definitely potential customers.

Film companies are also happy if film trailers are present in p2p channels.

Anonymous said...

Well, i'll chime in too. Obviously i like watching your tutorials. Even though I know most of what you're explaining, it's nice to see other peoples workflow and to see new ways to approach and solve different (simplified) problems. It's exactly what it is claimed to be...materials for newbies. Even non "newbies" still can learn from it, or enjoy it none the less.

So i would hate to see the content disappear.

I assume you must understand that there is nothing that can be done about the copying of files, and their redistribution, even in flash. That's true even if you don't allow for direct downloads.

Plus, why would you wish that this stopped? This is promotion for your "commercial" videos to come, right?

I really don't understand your thoughts about why you would care whether someone has torrented your work or not. Except, of course, if you are not being giving credit for the work.

If that is the case, why don't you get creative and add a little "advertisement" mid way through, or a couple, in ways that make it very inconvenient for someone to remove them...and thus remove you from your own work.

Watermarks are good and all...but why would it matter when you are giving them away for free...and everyone already knows where they come from. There wouldn't be a question, it's obvious you're creating unique materials.

I am actually quite excited to see what you might pull out of the hat for us on a commercial basis. I would of course expect it to be more than what is available currently, but i wouldn't doubt that you could impress us all.

...done with comments, on the the questions...:-)

What about the licensing of your work. I never have noticed whether you're releasing it under some open documentation license, or other. What license does your work fall under?

Plus, one last little thing. Are other people allowed to participate in this Blendernewbies adventure of yours? It's never been clear to me if i too could post my own video tutorials here, for example, or if it's a one man thing.

Well, keep up the good (and i know...hard) work. I think many truely do appreciate it. And don't worry if more and more people have access to your materials to learn from....that is the point, isn't it. If your worried about recognition..well..be creative in your approach to scam the scammers out of being able to remove a link back to you from the videos.

-Chris

Kernon Dillon said...

Thanks for all the good comments and suggestions!

Sergio said...

Hello there, fellow blogger. I am from Brazil and I'm following your work for some time now... I am really enjoying the Country Path series of tutorials and I can only say that it would be sad not to be able to download the contry path tutorials... My home internet connection is not good at all, and I download it from my work to go study at home... But if you feel that is a needed thing, I can't argue with you. If you want to publish a commercial version of your work (such as in DVD), I would be very interested, but I would have a suggestion... The DVD freights to Brazil seem to take too long and are quite expensive... That would be a good idea to put a downloadable version of the ISO file for burning (after the payment process, of course). I would be very much interested in that... Keep up the good work!

Regards,
- Sergio

Tony said...

Hi Kernon,

I definitely understand your concerns. I'm with Bart though, in general. I think widely shared content is going to be more and more prevalent, and it will be harder and harder to control this kind of thing. I think making things not-downloadable will be only a temporary fix, and probably harm your efforts more than help them in the long run by making the material less useful and accessible. The material will probably be downloaded and shared anyway all the same.

I think it's best to try to be creative and consider ways you can make this wide distribution of your material work in your favor. I think content sharing is an inevitable reality of our time, and content creators must be creative in finding new models of reimbursement. You gain a much larger audience with this kind of distribution, and I think with some creativity this can be exploited.

One idea would be to get advertising into the videos themselves. You could charge advertisers on a per-tutorial basis, and your price could go up as you could demonstrate more downloads of your work. On Emule, for example, it's possible to see exactly how many people are sharing a given file. You could use such numbers as a bargaining chip for charging for advertising on new tutorials. At the very least, make sure that all of your videos contain the url to this website and are clearly marked to lead people back here for more.

This is just one idea. I think this issue requires some thinking outside the box, and I would hate to see the usefulness of this site and these tutorials have to be hobbled in the name of content control.

By the way, as the copyright holder, if you see your material being sold on eBay, you should definitely complain to eBay and shut the seller down.

Anyway, you have a terrific resource and I hope very much that you can find ways to continue to make it worth your time. I also agree with Bart that your material is commercial quality. I hope that some combination of advertising and packaging the material for commercial sale down the road will work out for you.

Best,

Tony

Szabo Zooley Zoltan said...

Wow, bad thoughs, and i also understand you concerns. But i definitelly agreeing with Bart.
And the tutorials are the best ones. Congrats for them.

And keep up the godd work pls.

Regards Zoli.

Andrey said...

I think you should upload your tutorials to MetaCafe for the 1st few months or maybe less time, and sign up for producer rewards.

For every 1,000 views after 20,000 MetaCafe will pay you $5. Doesn't seem that much, but just dropping by an alternative.

Kernon Dillon said...

MetaCafe...that looks very interesting. The quality of their videos is much better than youtube. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

I came here because I got that torrent. I found your site through that and now I'm getting in to blender because of it! I say, embrace it!

Anonymous said...

hi i'm a french newbie in blender's world and i want to tell u not to remove your downloads cause it's really cool to learn blender with your help but off line with blender open to make replay when i make some mistakes.

I'll just advice you to put your works under creative commons with a by-nc-nd license (obligation to credit to your site, no commercial use and no derivate authorizatons)

sorry for my english ;) and many thanks for your great works

i'm expecting the next part of the country path with impatience.

Wray said...

Sure, I like torrents. Some times, I nab up one to save myself the tedious task of manually getting a bunch of episodes of things, tutorials for example. Torrents are really convenient. I'm sorry that you feel like you're being violated. The only way I think you can beat the torrent monster is to release torrents yourself and brand them as official. File sharing isn't going to go away. That being said, you've done some amazing work. Be assured that, even though it has you mad right now, the truth is that the more people have your videos the better, and it really IS getting your name/website out there into the world. :)

Scot said...

I agree with what alot of you are saying. I do think you will lose alot of potential future customer's if you quit offering some type of video free content. I myself am a membersponsor over at 3dbuzz. They offer free tutorials for the newbies and the more advanced tutorials you had to signup as MS or buy the dvd's to get the advanced content. Like other's said you wont get the word out if you dont offer some type of free content. That is what gets 3d'ers hooked and they know that they are getting their monies worth when buying advanced content. Good luck Kernond your work is great!

Anonymous said...

My tutorials being sold on ebay like Blender is currently being sold...illegaly?

I understand your perspective, and feel for your position. The management of one's copyrighted works is growing incredibly difficult in the digital age, and no clear answers are in sight. That aside, I felt the need to comment on the above quote.

There's absolutely nothing illegal about selling copies of Blender, or any other GPL'd software for that matter. The only real stipulation is that, as a distributor, the seller must be willing and able to furnish the source-code to anyone who requests it.

None of this diminishes the fact that it is illegal for people to distribute your videos without your permission to do so. You might want to try contacting some of the torrent trackers, though. You'd be surprised what a polite and well worded request (or cease and desist) can accomplish.

Anonymous said...

My first thought was: Who would actually bother to find tutorial torrents from warez sites? Yes some people seem to share whatever they get their hands on, others tend to leech everything that shared, but quite a few actually needs any of it.

Anonymous said...

I found your site =D

Anonymous said...

Can someone please tell me what I need to install in Blender in order to import a .3ds file?

Kernon Dillon said...

If you've already tried

File-->Import-->3D Studio (.3ds)

with no success, then you might try the forums at blenderartists.org or http://forums.cgsociety.org/forumdisplay.php?f=91

J. Kevin Tumlinson said...

HOLY CRAP!

Ok, until I read this blog entry I had no idea that some idiot was out there SELLING copies of Blender! The seller I found was also offering GIMP and several other open source suites for sale. Sheesh...

I understand why you'd want to pull your tutorials. I'm sad to hear it, though. But I go by this credo... if I put it online then someone's going to take it. I can't tell you how many times I've come across a photo I've shot, a graphic I've built or an article I've written with no credit given to me at all. I think it's just the nature of the Internet for everyone to assume everything is free for the taking.

I'd say this... if you are truly committed to helping people learn to use Blender then it doesn't really matter how they get hold of your tutorials. Plagerism and open theft are the sincerest forms of flattery, after all.

It sucks when you don't get credit for your work (even worse when someone ELSE gets the credit, trust me) but you're not really "losing" anything by this. Offer the downloads and place plenty of warning to would-be moochers that the eye of shame will scrutinize them if they steal!

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