In the second half of Anne Thompson’s latest Risky Business column about day-and-date/alternative release plans, she hits on one of the major dangers of Google Video. Producer-director Ben Rekhi, one of the earliest users of Google Video who released his terrorism thriller “Waterborne” on the website market, was given faulty download numbers by the company. “They told me last week that there was a glitch in their accounting,” he told Thompson. “A design flaw. They said they never misled me, that they were giving me estimates that were not accurate. What had been 3,000 downloads went down to 300. It was shocking and depressing. It was one-tenth of what I thought it was.”
While the story goes on to say that Rekhi is disappointed, but remains dedicated to the “democratic distribution process,” I’ve heard other filmmakers comment on the fact that there is no outside accountability for filmmakers using the system. Since Google Video monitors and measures the amount of downloads, filmmakers are forced to trust the company’s own reports. Since Google takes a 30% cut of the profits, I guess they don’t have any motivation for misreporting the numbers, but with filmmakers at the whim of the company, perhaps the system isn’t so democratic, after all.