Recently i came across this tweet from Duncan Jones, the director of the small film that could, ‘Moon’:
“Dear BitTorrenters… so pleased Moon is well-liked by u; 40, 000 active seeds cant be wrong! One thing. Will you please buy the DVD as well? inch
Film piracy is no longer a very hot topic; it has been around long enough in order to cool down a little. That has not, however , prevented it from continuing in order to cause a lot of problems for the movie industry. Dodgy DVDs and progressively, illegal downloads, cost the film industry massive amounts of revenue every year. A report in 2005 for the Motion Picture Association (all the big studios) estimated that the studios lost $6. 1 billion a year and that the industry in general (theatres, cable tv etc included) dropped $18. 2 billion. At the time it was estimated that of that $18. 2 billion, $7. 1 was due to internet piracy. There are few people, Personally i think, who would disagree with the suggestion that will that figure has risen. This loss of revenue will obviously result in serious financial problems for the studios and is certainly contributing to their current downfall.
The movie industry is not with out clout however and it is responding to this particular threat with both with hard lawful measures and also by raising understanding of the consequences of piracy. Recently the particular founders of the hugely popular unlawful download website Pirate Bay were found guilty of copyright infringement and so are looking forward to a year in goal. Nationwide the film industry has charged one of the country’s largest internet service providers of encouraging pirates, its largest users, to upgrade their deals and turning a blind eye to their download content.
On the other, friendlier, side of the equation, the Trust for Internet Piracy Understanding in the UK has changed its campaign from the aggressive and accusatory ‘Piracy is definitely Theft’ adverts to a kindlier thank you note for supporting the Uk film industry by not embracing illegal downloading.
Piracy, in particular, web piracy can be assumed to be developing. Even if it is not, it is a significantly big enough problem at the moment for some thing to need to be done about it. Piracy needs to stop, or at least be controlled to prevent it from completely undermining the film industry (something that will some people may be all for but that the studios (i. e. those with the money and power to effect change) most emphatically do not). Fit, why has internet film piracy become so popular?
Obviously the prospect of having a product for free is plenty enough enticement for some. Others see it as the start of the end of capitalist materialism along with a shining new future for the arts. These reasons do not account, I think, for the huge numbers of otherwise ‘respectable’ people who engage in this practice. The particular anonymity of sitting behind a pc and large number of other people doing it are usually certainly factors that encourage piracy. More significantly I think is the embrace technology that has allowed it to get so simple. Obviously hugely increased internet speeds facilitate film piracy but so too does the openly available and easy to use peer2peer software program such as BitTorrent.
Behind all this, I feel is an increasing disengagement with the cinema as more entertainment is to be found in front side of the computer (YouTube games, networking sites etc). Fewer people need to leave their computer to be interested or to do the shopping or pay bills, why should they leave their computer to see a new film? Disgruntlement along with Hollywood; poor films and the ever-increasing cost of seeing them, both in the cinema (up to £15, when it was £5 in my youth) and on DVD (and the yet more costly BluRay) may also encourage people to unlawfully download films. Dominic Wells argues that people are using downloaded films as being a test of brand value; we. e. that people will go to the cinema to see another film by exact same director or will a DIGITAL VIDEO DISC of a film they have downloaded. This is certainly a much more economically efficient way for the customer to find the film they want to own or pay to experience in the cinema. A glance at the summer’s hit films display that it was not the star powered heavily marketed films that did well and created a buzz, it was smaller films such as ‘The Hangover’ and ‘District 9’. Some research on the music industry (which is massively affected by online piracy) argue that pirated tracks encourage people to buy the song legally. However , some might find this as mere wishful thinking, arguing that people will never go back to paying out when they don’t need to.
One final major factor that encourages piracy just about everywhere except in America is the delayed discharge dates that the rest of the world encounter both in cinemas and for DVDs. Films are often available online before they are launched in America but once they show inside a cinema they are definitely online. Plenty of internet buzz surrounding a film launched in the US that will not reach Britain for another two months will encourage people to download it and be able to take part in that debate. Most experts, such as Julien McArdle, who directed a documentary on the issue of piracy, agree this is one of the most significant changes that could happen. McArdle made his film on a budget of about C$700 and is distributing this for free on the internet. Slyck. com has been doing an excellent interview with him.
With so many reasons to pirate films (the first and foremost of which will always be that it is free) it is no wonder that so many people are doing it. The internet is become such an effective tool and platform and because it is open and free everyone the pirating community has been able to steal a lead on the film industry. The studios and distribution companies are, however , developing new models to allow them entry into this marketplace. So far companies like Apple have lead the way, selling downloadable movies through their existing iTunes store. Other companies are providing similar services and being embraced by the studios; Universal Pictures UK chairman Eddie Cunningham when UK website Wippit started offering permanent downloads in 2006 said “I think what you’re seeing here is the beginning of the revolution in terms of how we can disperse digitally and I would expect you’ll see a lot more news of this type within the next few months. ” The internet has also been embraced as a distribution tool from the independent filmmaking community. Downloading a film is cheap and simple and obviates the need for DVD burning and postage. It allows easy access to a global target audience makes marketing and interaction with viewers a very fluid networked affair that may be very effective for the independent film.
There is general agreement however , that not enough has yet been done for the model of legitimate film downloading. Many different people have as many different ideas regarding it’s future. The basic split together is whether you try and provide films for free or not. Some promote the particular Spotify model of where you can stream although not download songs for free and acknowledge adverts every five songs or so. Quite how this would translate into movies is not yet known – it works for short films on sites where the advert is played before the film but one advert might not produce enough revenue for a feature and no-one wants their film disrupted. Dominic Wells argues that internet streamed but legally bought movies will revolutionise the industry. The hypothetical case study he gives is that of the Bollywood gem trying to find an market in the states. There are very few places he argues, where the audience population (primarily Indian) is dense enough for it to make financial sense for a movie theater to show the film. Spread out across the country, however , are enough audience members to generate a significant profit. By being capable to search a database of on-line films and find this Bollywood jewel and then download it to their home for a small fee, this niche market audience finds the film it really is looking for and the film finds it ALL OF US audience.
This sort of model will rely on superior technology and online facilities to that which we have at the moment nevertheless. Sky and other cable service providers are starting to develop the household hub computer/T. V. complete with internet, standard television stations and demandable programming, but it is not really quite yet a reality. Once this is in place and download speeds have increased yet further, DVDs can become outmoded and everyone will simply down load what they want to watch. Simultaneous release, each internationally and between cinema and home-viewing (i. e. DVD or legal download) is a necessity for this to start happening and, according to He Mason, author of ‘The Buccaneers Dilemma’ says that can’t happen “until DVDs/Blu Ray are well plus truly dead and buried” He goes on to say that “we’ll see the companies using file sharing sites more to promote films, and content deals between your studios and torrent sites are already happening.
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