Interesting Wall Street Journal article on Lucasfilms making it's StarWars video library available on the web for mashups:
"George Lucas, creator of "Star Wars," has never hesitated to protect his intellectual property, which is why some call him "Lucas the Litigator." But this week, his Lucasfilm plans to make clips of "Star Wars" available to fans on the Internet to mash up -- meaning to remix however they want -- at will.
The clips -- about 250 of them, from all six Star Wars movies -- will land on the Starwars.com Web site tomorrow, part of this week's 30th-anniversary celebrations of the release of his hit movie.
Working with an easy-to-use editing program from Eyespot Corp. of San Diego, fans can cut, add to and retool the clips. Then they can post their creations to blogs or social-networking sites like MySpace. More clips will come out from time to time over coming months."
And the business model?
"Eventually, the mash-ups will run with brief video advertising before them, with Lucasfilm and Eyespot splitting the proceeds. The efforts should bring refocused attention on all the "Star Wars" movies, helping to boost DVD and merchandise sales."
Admittedly, this is but a mere toe in the water for Lucasfilms, in terms of it's full library of content. However, it's interesting for two reasons in particular:
1. It points to the next phase of web video, which is to prove out models that microchunk video. And it does it by providing what I call Rules and Tools to mainstream users to make new things happen.
2. Also, Lucasfilms has historically had a great track record of figuring out new, innovative ways to make money from it's intellectual property.
Long before movie merchandising sales became the established multi-billion dollar business it is today (think lunchboxes and fast-food toy tie-ins), Lucasfilms pioneered win-win relationships on the merchandising front. This 1999 article from the Guardian points out the relative importance of merchandising vs. Box Office revenues:
"In the past 22 years, since the first Star Wars in 1977, merchandise built around Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, R2-D2, Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi has grossed $4.5 billion - a sum four times the box office take from the first three movies."
It's partnership with Hasbro a few years ago resulted in selling over a billion dollars worth of Star Wars monopoly sets alone.
The idea for allowing mixes of mainstream video is not new. Announcements to do similar things were made as early as a couple of years ago, as I pointed out in this post on the NBA's plans for it's video library. It's just that technology and bandwidth costs have continue to improve.
The Lucasfilms/Eyespot announcement is but the next step in making mix and match web video a mainstream reality.