Sita for the iPhone


I don’t have an iPhone, but you kids that do can now watch Sita Sings the Blues on it for $3.99, thanks to Mars Yau.

Why so expensive? Well, $1.712 per “copy” (argh!) goes to these giant faceless corporations licensors that contribute nothing to culture. The breakdown is as follows:

List Price: $3.99
After Apple‘s 30% cut: $2.79
Profit after paying $1.712 (License fee): $1.07

So I will get 50% of the profit: $.535 (fifty-three and a half cents) per copy – less than one third what the corporate extortionists licensors get. A better way to support me is to just watch the movie for free on the web and then send me a donation. I certainly endorse this project, but I wish there were a way to support Mars Yau’s valuable service – bringing the film conveniently to the iPhone – without supporting anti-social Big Media corporations more.


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

17 thoughts on “Sita for the iPhone”

  1. I think the idea of release an iPhone App is that it can reach millions of eyeballs who never heard about Sita Sings the Bules. This is a good promotion channel in other words.

  2. I’m going to have to agree with the “promotional channel” reasoning. This is just like me listing my book on Amazon — I get much less money that way, than I do through Lulu, but many more people will buy through Amazon than through Lulu. It feels like a “real” store to them.

    Probably many people feel the same way about Apple.

    Someday, that will probably change. But for now, being listed will probably get you more views and/or sales through your other channels. So it’s not just the 53 cents that you get from this.

    You’re absolutely on target to give fans this breakdown though — they need to learn that there’s a better way.

    To be fair though, there are also a lot of faceless corporations — ISPs for example — who are profitting off of your free downloads. Different distribution systems with different costs and different people profiting, but they’re selling “convenience”.

  3. @Terry – yes, and I’m glad more people may see “Sita” this way, hence my endorsement.

    To be fair though, there are also a lot of faceless corporations — ISPs for example — who are profitting off of your free downloads.

    The difference is that they’re providing a service, while the licensors just sit there being extortionists, contributing nothing and obstructing progress. I don’t mind Apple profiting, or ISPs profiting – their services have value here.

  4. Oh BTW — I did misread the above. I thought it was the overhead from Apple that you were mostly concerned about (only affects my last paragraph though). Apple’s making more than twice what you are, and yet still less than the Annette Hanshaw rights-holding corporations. Wow. That is something to consider.

  5. Does the share-alike license means that the derivative work from Mars Yau’s is also free? And if so, what does that mean? Can we have the source code for this iPhone app? Or did you gave him a different license in this case?

    I am just asking it out of curiosity, I do appreciate the idea of a mobile application to promote Sita Sings the Blues, even if on a closed platform.

  6. Small correction on the above statement, what I meant to ask was:

    Does the share-alike license means that the derivative work from Mars Yau’s is also available under CC?

  7. Even though it’s under a share-alike license, only users of jailbroken iphones could take advantage of it.

  8. Hi Nina,
    Have you ever thought of a Sita game for mobile devices? Something simple, fun, and catchy with the same bright animation that Sita has. I made a post over on the Maemo forums They have a great community that really thrives on free culture. Most of the applications are open source and developed by the community, although there aren’t as many games as on the iphone, so you’ve got less competition. Here’s the thread:

  9. The HD version of Sita on Youtube plays well on the iphone – i have verified this at an apple store (seeing if I could leave a couple iphones playing Sita to see if anyone gets curious)…

    I like what the first commenter, Joe, suggested, but the link he gave was not the 480p version (the linked file is actually 272p, aka 480×272). The original 480p version is 1.4 gigs, and the versions labeled “Large”, “Medium”, and “Small” (one of which he linked) seem to be re-compressings, whose purpose eludes me. I would suggest someone try to download the 1.4 gig “SD 480p” version and try it on their iphone.

  10. BTW, i’m very curious to know what process is used to actually get the money to the corporate wigs who get a cut from each sale… has someone set up some sort of automatic process someone could use the collected money between the respective parties? It would be nice if there was something in place like this, for the sake of those thinking about selling homemade copies while keeping in “full compliance” and all.

  11. I think the case against Apple is a bit overstated here. The iTunes cut isn’t excessive. The Sita content is being hosted on their servers and distributed through their bandwidth to an audience that’s been built up by Apple. And for the record, an analysis of Apple’s past fiscal results show that it isn’t making significant money on iTunes transactions. Rather, the company makes money on iPod/iPhone sales instead.

    (And yes, I’m a Sita supporter/donor.)

  12. It’s a shame too- I CAN’T be the only one that bought every song in the film after getting hooked on Sita. They’re missing an opportunity here!

  13. I was curious, but it seems that this is not available in Canada. Oh well, no skin off my nose, the free version isn’t IP-locked!

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