Video en Poche (an approximative translation would be « Video in Pocket »), is an initiative of Utopia, an independent group of French movie theaters seeking to answer questions from our time on cultural exchange and pay for the creation. In a context of what the culture industry has called the « copyright wars », which tends to oppose the creators to their audiences through the creation of draconian and inefficient laws. Video en Poche is a modest contribution of independent movie theaters who have a direct link to their audiences, a human link which is about trust and culture. The fundamental role of independent theaters, or art houses, is intermediation, giving advices about films which are not so well known than blockbusters. People are ready to pay a reasonable price for culture, but for a culture without numeric handcuffs, a culture which have a social meaning, because culture is about exchange and relationships. If the price is reasonable and if the service involves advice and human relationship in the real world, they can understand and accept this price, because we not treat them like consumers, we explain to them our approach, which is not about mass consumerism, it’s about fair use between artists and their audiences.
The concept is straightforward : in the cinema members of the Video en Poche network, customers bring their own USB key or memory card. Using appropriate software (under GPLv3 license, see the Launchpad page for more details), we copy onto them the movies of the customer’s choice in the open format Matroska, without DRM, for the unique price of 5€ (which includes 3€ for the right holders, 0.82€ VAT, and 1.18€ for the cinema). The minimum resolution quality of the video is like that of a DVD, or HD resolution (720p) where possible. At the beginning of this project, in a comment on a website, someone compared it to the times when his mother came with her pot to fill it with milk: it was a beautiful and meaningful image. And indeed, people come to our theaters to fill their USB « pot » with movies, they don’t come for only one, many ask us for 3 to 8 at a time - a way they buy movies that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Video en Poche is already a success, we are now beyond the experimental phase, we are extending and building an efficient network of independent theaters in France.