This is Travis Corcoran, founder and president of Technical Video Rental, Inc. (soon to be renamed as "SmartFlix").
I'd like to thank Christopher Sanderson for his kind invitation to drop by the forum and say a few words.
I'd like to get the copyright issue out of the way quickly: some commenters mention that renting out videos without permission from the copyright holder is illegal in Europe. They're entirely correct...however, the law is different in the US and Canada. Here, the right to resell, lend, and rent is acquired along with the purchase of a legal copy of the video.
Video rental stores in the US do not pay higher prices because they intend to rent - in fact, they often pay lower prices, by purchasing in bulk. Video rental stores do not pay royalties with each rental - however, a few large chain stores *choose* to pay a small amount on each rental (Blockbuster, for example), but that's part of agreements they negotiate with the vendors, in return for paying nothing up front to get a copy of the video.
Next, and just for the record, let me state that TVR takes a very strong stand on respecting and defending author's rights to their work. Every one of the tens of thousands of videos we own is a fully legal original.
Finally, some vendors are concerned about lost sales because of rentals. I believe that, if anything, TVR has led to far more sales.
Because TVR has a very broad selection of how-to videos of all kinds, folks often find us when they would have never found smaller vendors that carry only a few titles. We've had many customers tell us that they never knew about entire categories of videos until they visited our site.
Whenever a customer approaches us for information on purchasing a video, we tell them that we do not sell videos, and we direct them to vendors. We don't know exactly how many extra sales vendors have made because of our referrals, but we know that there have been dozens, if not hundreds. Many vendors have actually asked us if we would be willing to sell their videos in addition to renting them, and this is something we're looking into.
Of course, not every customer does go back to the vendor and purchases a video, sometimes they're satisfied with just a rental. This doesn't always mean that a sale was lost: a customer who is willing to pay $9.99 to see a video once is often not willing to pay $30, $50, or $70 to buy a video, and the original vendor did not lose a sale because such a customer was never in the market to purchase a video to begin with. In fact, because of TVR, the original vendor made several more sales than he otherwise would have...to TVR. Think about the videos you rent from the corner video store - would you buy each movie you watch, for $20, $30, or $40, if you couldn't rent it for $3?
When VCRs first came on the scene 25 years ago, the movie industry got very upset when video rental stores opened. They protested that these stores "weren't fair", because they cannibalized business. They even tried to stop them legally, before the courts ruled that video rentals are legal. Over the 1980's, though, the studios realized that the stores were buying far more videos than the customers ever would, and recognized that this additional channel was putting a lot of money in their pockets. We think that having your video available through TVR will do the same for you.
I strongly believe that the record shows that TVR is, as Christopher said, effective as a form of viral marketing.
As a final word: if you like a video enough to watch it twice or more, please purchase copies from the original vendors. It seems that Christopher has done great work with these videos, and building a community here. For those folks who are already familiar with Christopher and his videos, it would seem to be a no-brainer to purchase copies straight from him.
...but if there are hobbies other than photography that interest you, and you're not sure how the various competing videos stack up, and you're not sure that you want to spend a lot of money purchasing with out taking a "test drive" first, then Technical Video Rental might be a decent choice for you.
Thanks to all of you for your time, and thanks again to Chris for the invitation to speak here.
Travis J I Corcoran, President
Technical Video Rental, Inc.
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