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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The reluctant pirate

Personally I've got mixed feelings about piracy. If you use piracy to obtain movies,music, books for free, thus depriving the artists, studios etc of vital revenue then that's plainly wrong, both legally and morally. On the other hand I also feel that the music industry took the battering it deserved when music downloading and file sharing took off in a big way - for too long they had been ripping off music fans with their high prices, only a small percentage of which ended up with the creative artists who created the work in the first place. The music industry got a bloody nose and they had it coming.

But what about pirating material that is not available to buy? Is that wrong? There are hordes of old TV shows and movies available on illegal file sharing sites that are not available to buy, many of these have such a minority interest that they will never be available commercially so whilst this is technically piracy I see nothing wrong with this. If fact the industry can often benefit from this and have done - the BBC are one prime example because they have had many shows returned to their archives that they had originally lost - certain episodes of Doctor Who are only available for future generations because some fan recorded (pirated) the episodes when they were originally shown. In fact the BBC have reached out to pirates on more than one occasions asking for help in finding copies of missing programs.

So it's not all clear cut - piracy can often be good for both industry and fans alike.

What about downloading big screen movies though? Now this is wrong, totally and can not be justified....or can it? These days we have a worldwide web  and this means that in theory anyone can put anything online and it can travel around the world in moments. And yet the film industry still stagger film release dates. This makes no sense in the modern world - Take the recent release of Bond movie, Skyfall. It was out in the UK weeks before the US, so American Bond fans would read the reviews coming from across the pond and be frustrated because there was no way these could see the movie. Only they could - I wonder how many people downloaded Skyfall simply because they wanted to see it at the same time as most other countries? Many did, no doubt. A similar situation exists with Tarantino's Django Unchained - it's out there Stateside but we Brits don't get it until the 18th Jan. They did the same thing a couple of years back with the Coen's retelling of True Grit. I love westerns and although I was there to see True Grit on opening day I'd already seen it via a screener doing the rounds on the web. And it's the same situation with Django Unchained - I'll be in the cinema for this movie but I've already seen it via a high quality screener sent out to critics was leaked to the web - AND IT'S FUCKING EXCELLENT! 

Screeners have leaked since Napster popularized illegal file sharing. Illegal copies of “This is 40,” “Lincoln,” and even more recent releases like “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Django Unchained” have become available  in recent days. And these are not dodgy copies done by some arse hiding in the back of the cinema with a camcorder but high quality studio copies - the Hollywood studios send out screeners to critics, hoping to gin up critical conversation before the movies are made available on DVD or Blu-Ray. Each copy has an encryption or is watermarked in some way so if it does leak to the Internet the studios are able to determine just how it got there, and whom to strike from the screener mailing list next year.

Now I won't buy a pirated movie - not only because the quality is often bad but because I don't think it is right to do so, but if I can see a movie like Django Unchained immediately rather than wait weeks for it to his UK screens that I will do, and have done. Do I feel guilty? No not at all - I'll be there in the Cinema and I'll buy the DVD when it comes out, but having to read all the glowing American reviews and then be expected to wait weeks for the movie is bullshit. So maybe the studios need to wake up to reality and release their movies simultaneously around the world.

It's crazy in a world with the world wide web, to stagger film releases. Just as it's crazy for studios to spend a fortune taking fans to court which whilst resulting in convictions only create bad public relations with customers.The basic fact the movie studios need to realize is that there's something cool about an outlaw, but nothing good about big business litigating against movie fans.

Ahh well it's a tricky one but all I will say is - "That Django's a bloody good film, ah indeed Jim Lad and I'm certainly going to hand over my pieces of eight when UK screens finally get to show this movie, which could be the best western in decades.



Davieboy said...

If a show like Game of Thrones is on and Virgin Media are not making it available to me I will try my utmost to get it however I can. Usually a pirated copy is better anyway due to the lack of annoying adverts. Of course I will go out and buy the Blu-Ray the second it’s available as I did with GoT (my copy signed by GRRM himself!).
American TV shows need to change their model – stop selling though the middle-men cable companies and sell directly to the punters - I would happily pay a fiver for an ep. of Nashville (recommended strongly), Revenge, GoT etc. I don’t want to buy a “package”, I want to buy a show.
My thoughts are that I buy a lot of books, music & movies, always have done, plus I actually go to see live theatre and bands so I’m doing my fair share of supporting artists & writers, as I always have done.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

My sentiments exactly and ditto with Game of Thrones

Rayzer Sharpie said...

But its not just films - dvds, music and games come out in the US way ahead of UK and Europe. So, is it any wonder that piracy exists. Its a created environment.
Same with books - US have some great authors but their books just not out over here.