Battle Between Film Producers and Free Content Providers Heats Up

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Olin Business School course examines entertainment industry

"I think they are going to play a very important role in finding profitable models for the entertainment business.”

When producers of the Academy award-winning drama “The Hurt Locker” announced a lawsuit against tens of thousands of people who illegally downloaded the film online, students at Washington University’s Olin Business School weren’t surprised.

They’ve learned about the battle between the film industry and free content providers first hand this semester in the “Economics of Entertainment” course.

The course features a red carpet line-up of Hollywood execs including Andrew Karpen, president of Focus Features; Barry Weiss, chairman of RCA/Jive Label Group; and Jon Feltheimer, chief executive officer of Lions Gate Entertainment.

The popular class, taught by Glenn MacDonald, professor of economics and strategy, covers the institutions, data, economics and management challenges of the entertainment industry, with emphasis on the music and movie industries.

Milk, Brokeback Mountain and Babies are releases of Universal Pictures specialty films unit, Focus Features. Focus president Andrew Karpen told students that free content is a major concern of the entertainment industry. "Movies cost a lot to make and a lot to market," Karpen said. "Determining how that distribution pattern works and what you pay when, and how you get that content, is continuing to evolve.”

A downturn in the DVD market combined with the consolidation of electronic methods of delivery, such as pay-per-view, video-on-demand and Internet streaming, are requiring the film industry to reassess its traditional marketing and distribution models, according to Karpen.

MacDonald believes the movie industry ultimately will follow the music industry’s lead on the free content issue. He also is counting on his students to solve some of the problems facing the entertainment business.

“In every industry, young people see the new path," MacDonald said. "They’re great with technology, so I think they are going to play a very important role in finding profitable models for the entertainment business.”

About Olin Business School:
Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis is an institution of leaders: distinguished research faculty... exhilarated, brilliant students... and successful, energized alumni. Our 12 business degree and nondegree programs emphasize rigorously analytical, critical-thinking skills; applied learning; global competence; and communication and collaboration skills -- advancing today's business world and tomorrow's global leaders. Learn more about Olin Business School on the Web at:

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