The film has found a remarkably large audience for such a low budget indie, and lots of money is being made. The problem, somewhat predictably, is that it's not Seidler and her fellow producers - the ones who actually laid out the cash to make the film - who are earning from it.
Who is making money from And Then Came Lola? Pirate websites and those who sell ads on them, most notably... Google. And Then Came Lola was pirated and started showing up on the torrent sites and web lockers almost immediately upon release. Check out the short video below, in which Seidler tracks down the illicit streams of her film online and attempts to have them removed. It's depressing.
You'll note that Seidler has decided not to do cartwheels about the fact that the pirate websites and Google are providing free marketing and promotion for her film, and spreading it virally to a much larger audience than she might ever have expected through conventional distribution. Instead, she focuses on the fact that while fantastic technology for web distribution of independent films clearly exists, and folks are clearly making money from this creative product, the creators themselves are shut out of the revenue streams.
On her own blog, Pop-Up Pirates, Seidler documents her campaign to contact the companies advertising on her intellectual property.
In the scheme of things, our successful (highly-pirated) little indie film is a mere drop in the piracy bucket–we are one among thousands. Collectively this tainted revenue is significant as is the harm done to those whose work is being stolen with the mere click of a mouse.
Certainly companies with the technological capacity (and robust balance sheets) of Google can afford to turn some attention to this issue. If these companies can offer ad placement based on cached cookies and metadata, why can’t they vet the websites where their ads appear?
Seidler was recently interviewed on National Public Radio about the issue of advertising on piracy websites. You can hear the interview at this link.
The Music Technology Policy interview ends with a chilling quote. Asked if her experience of being pirated might influence future decisions to independently finance films, Seidler responds:
"Well there's no way financially I could do it, nor would I want to."
And in case you happened to have seen And Then Came Lola without having actually purchased the DVD from its creators, and are feeling a little less morally justified about having done so, Ms. Seidler is offering you an opportunity to feel better about yourself again. See below: