Thursday, August 14, 2008

A vast me be pirates

Movie Piracy reportedly costs studios hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Apparently it is more popular than ever; with more than one in five U.S citizens having a pirated movie on their computer (So says Solutions Research Group). Why do the studios suppose this is? Now lets be honest, there is piracy and there is piracy. Downloading a popular movie that has been around for years on DVD vs Recording a Theatrical Release and flogging it at the markets for $10 a pop. Apparently both of those are just as illegal?!! Go figure. For the purposes of this little argument I will choose a middle of the road "pirate". Lets say that this one legged, eye patch wearing no good deeder has just downloaded a copy of The Bank Job for their own personal viewing pleasure. I am using The Bank Job, because here in Australia this film has only just started playing theatrically, yet it has been available on DVD in the United Kingdom since the 30th of June and is available in the U.S on DVD and has been since the 15th of July. Well, it is now August and on the 7th, Australian audiences got to go to their nearest cinema and pay $14.50 to see The Bank Job. Heres something interesting for you...the current exchange rate between the U.S and Australia is nearly dollar for dollar...Amazon has The Bank Job listed for $14.99, so for 50cents more than the cost of seeing the movie at the cinema, I could own it on DVD day and date with its Australian Theatrical release. Ah but those pesky studios don't want that sort of thing happening and thus Region Coding on DVD was invented (although I should point out here that Australia turns a blind eye to Region Coding as it is seen as a violation of the consumers rights and so it IS!) Of course being available on DVD in other countries also means that there are DVD quality rips floating around on P2P networks. The average rip being 700mbish would take a consumer on 512K broadband just over an hour to lets recap...studios complain about losing profits from pirates and yet expect consumers to pay the same price as owning the title to see it in theatres almost a year after its first international theatrical date??!! Knowing full well that it will be available for download having released a domestic version on DVD. There are 2 countries in which the studios seem to have some idea about how stupid this kind of thing is. Russia & China. Both of these countries get what the "industry" is calling R5 releases. These are unmastered studio produced telecine transfers on DVD that you can buy for a few dollars. They usually contain dialog only for the country of origin (so Russian & Chinese only). The idea behind them is to combat pirated copies of movies by releasing these cheaper versions to market before the so called "official" release. (They are usually released when screeners become available).

Now at the end of the day the I am aware that the studios spend millions of dollars on movies and that they have every right to release them how they want, but they are also solely responsible for creating the demand for movies before release dates simply by having such staggered release schedules. I also can't believe the amount of money they spend to advertise piracy! If I spend $30 on a DVD I expect to be able to watch the film whenever and however and on whatever I like. I do not wish to be forced to sit through anti-piracy adds which frankly I find offensive being placed on a title for which I have just paid good money!!!

My suggestion would be that the sooner the studios stop blaming "Pirates" and start blaming themselves for creating this "bootleg" market, the sooner they can make more money off the demand for these films, be it closer regional theatrical release dates, faster Theatrical to Home market releasing, digital downloads, the end of the day the studios have the power to stop piracy dead in its tracks...they always have... stop looking to find someone else to blame and just accept your responsibility!

** side note: I do not condone piracy. I have a bought and paid for collection of over 700 DVD's and I am currently building up my Blu Ray Collection. The subject of piracy angers me given how much power the studios have and how little of it they put to the actual prevention of piracy. Most of their attempts to thwart piracy actually hurt the very individual who would never consider piracy simply by forcing them to sit through ads, or register inferior digital download copies with awful and completely unnecessary digital rights restrictions.**

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