The French company behind MovieSwap, which was promising to let users worldwide share DVDs in a collective library and then stream titles over the Internet, has pulled the plug on the project.
In a little over a month, MovieSwap had raised nearly $100,000 from 4,829 individuals on Kickstarter, more than double the original funding goal of Paris-based Vodkaster.
But Vodkaster CEO Cyril Barthet said MovieSwap would have needed at least $3 million to launch globally. Because fewer than 5,000 users signed up on Kickstarter, the company’s institutional backers felt the model was “very ambitious and risky.” On Tuesday, the MovieSwap project was canceled and the company said contributors would have their refunded.
MovieSwap promoted itself with the hashtag “#FreeTheMovies,” but the company insisted the service was 100% legal because it worked in the same way a consumer can lend DVDs to friends or trade them. Hollywood may not have agreed: At least one studio exec said the service clearly wasn’t authorized to stream content from DVDs.
Barthet said his company didn’t face any legal threats during the MovieSwap campaign. In fact, he claimed, the idea with MovieSwap was “to build an attractive and comprehensive legal streaming service that could seriously challenge piracy.”
For now, Vodkaster will focus on its existing DVD-to-digital and streaming platform in France, which claims to have a collection of 200,000 discs. “We have an ambitious win-win plan to make the (electronic sell-through) market grow through a new, smart disc-to-digital user experience, including strong partnerships with major French retailers,” Barthet said.
The news of the company’s cancellation of MovieSwap was reported previously by piracy-news site TorrentFreak.