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Apr 6, 2009

DEAD MOVIES TELL NO TALES – A NOTE ABOUT MOVIE PIRACY


This past week, the issue of Movie Piracy again took center stage when a work-in-progress print of 20th Century Fox's upcoming X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE was leaked to the internet.

Fox moved fast to try and contain the spread of the file, but some damage was done as some 1 million plus people downloaded it. Some reviews – not all positive – were posted including, incredulously, one by a Fox blogger (Ain't It Cool News, the usual location for advance reviews and sneak peeks took the proper stance and refused to post any reviews.). The Fox blogger in fact even went on to mention how easy it is to turn around and download a copy of I LOVE YOU, MAN which is only in its third week of release. Was this guy out of his mind when he wrote this? I sincerely hope that this writer was or is eventually fired.

I am curious as to how so called "fans" would be so willing to jump all over a movie they are excited to see but A) isn't complete, and B) would be not nearly as exciting as seeing it with a crowd on a big screen with digital sound. I get the idea of wanting to "see it first" but by supporting movie piracy they are in fact ruining the chances of seeing any more of these types of movies by hurting their box office, and making the job of the creators and distributors more difficult by supporting piracy.

I once had a friend tell me that the music industry "forced" him to pirate music because of their pricing of CDs. Forced, huh. So let's say that same person goes into a clothing store and sees a shirt he likes, but it is way over priced. In effect, is that store now "forcing" him to shop lift?

Full disclosure, once upon a time I too used services such as Napster and Limewire to download music, and have since erased all those files and purchased all the full albums that I had obtained online. I once even downloaded a movie in 2002 – one that I had seen 3 times in the theater – but then erased it later when I purchased the DVD (which I had planned to do from the beginning but it still doesn't justify downloading the file in the first place).

Sadly, the files now being posted on the Internet have transcended the guy shooting in a movie theater with a camcorder, and now are almost at DVD quality. I have to say I cheer every time I hear of someone being sued by the movie or music industry for sharing music and movies. It not only hurts jobs, but it hurts the product as well.

Also thanks to DVD ripping software, it has become common practice for people to rent titles, copy them and post them on the Internet. Thanks to Macrovision and other companies, anti-piracy techniques are in place to hopefully prevent this, but someone always seems to find a way to crack it.

I am always surprised when I walk down a city street and see a vendor brazenly selling a movie on DVD for a movie that I had just recently paid to see in a theater. I came across this a lot in Toronto after leaving the Scotiabank theater (which was once known as the Paramount) where such vendors were literally selling these illegal discs a block away from the theater.

I have also been astounded when people for companies I have worked for have downloaded these files, and not only openly brag about it, but turn around and share them with other people. Shocking because I work in the entertainment industry, and these people by doing this are openly putting their own careers into jeopardy by not only the act of piracy, but also the money they are costing the industry by stealing their own product and making it available for free.

The argument that movies and music "cost too much" and that the moment these files are released they become public domain is utter nonsense, as is the "we're only hurting the millionaires". Sure you hear of Tom Cruise or Jim Carey and their multi-million dollar pay days, but what about the other 300 or so people it takes to make a movie? They are definitely not making that kind of cash, and it forces studios to cut costs even more and inspires things like runaway production which then puts those people out of work.

Let us also say that hypothetically, if a large majority of people had found a way to download say THE DARK KNIGHT before it was released, but then did not bother to see it at a Cineplex. By not gaining those precious box office dollars this greatly inhibits the studio from wanting to move forward with another movie in the franchise.

I have had people on the comments section of this blog, and on my Facebook page post links illegal Internet movie sites. Not only do I remove them immediately, but I also report those sites to the MPAA website.

I sincerely hope there are other people out there who feel the same way, and love movies enough to protect them from being exploited in this way (and yes, that includes the bad movies as well). Many of the studios are making the digital option much more attractive by including a digital copy with a purchased DVD which allows movie consumers to not only have a disc to watch on their home theater system, but also a legal copy that they can take with them on their laptop or iPod.

Anyone who comes across pirated movies or movie sites can report those sites on the MPAA website which is http://www.mpaa.org/.