Let's Talk About Piracy
No, It's Not Okay. Stop Pretending It Is
I haven't seen the Australian horror film Charlie's Farm, but after hearing director Chris Sun talk about his frustration with piracy, I might actually blind buy the sucker. Listen to his rant, take it in:
Piracy is so ingrained into everyday society that we no longer think about it. It's not a big deal anymore. New movie hits torrent sites, so people start downloading it and discussing it. Nobody thinks about the repercussions anymore. Movie studios are trying their hardest to bring down torrent sites, but the general public choose not to care.
But IT IS A BIG DEAL! Think about all of those independent filmmakers with genuine talent who put blood, sweat and tears into a project, only to get almost nothing from their efforts. I've spoken to Scott Adkins, who bemoaned that people keep downloading his movies even though he puts SO MUCH into them -- they're taken for granted. There are little movies that will never get made or will struggle to get financing because piracy is so rampant. Direct-to-video movies can be great, but mostly they're cheap & nasty because there isn't much money and nobody really cares.
By downloading a movie for free, you're stealing intellectual property. It's not fair on anyone involved in the production. By definition, that is a crime.
"But It's Fine, Films Still Make Money!"
The big guys aren't really worse off if a movie flops, sure, but studios are still affected as a whole by money-losing failures. Studios do not have unlimited funds; they're out to make money.
And you know what? People keep bitching and moaning about the lack of quality and integrity in blockbusters, yet each new Transformers film makes a billion dollars at the box office while the brilliant Mad Max: Fury Road does barely decent business. Movies are becoming safer and more generic BECAUSE THERE'S THE RISK OF MOVIES FLOPPING. Studios know the recipe for success, and it involves PG-13, vanilla pretty-boy actors, CGI overload and a subpar script.
So the next time you think about how much you hate that films are getting worse, just know that you're part of the reason if you're downloading stuff.
Also, to combat piracy, cinema ticket prices keep going up, and so do concession stand prices. So again, that's YOUR fault, you fucking pirates.
It Affects EVERYONE!
As I said, the big studio heads over at Fox and Paramount still get money, so do the actors and directors who negotiate their salary in advance.
But what about the little people? What about the lowly studio employees who get laid off because movies fail? What about the aforementioned indie filmmakers doing what they love, but not being able to make a sustainable living from it?
What about cinema workers who get laid off because business is struggling? What about cinema workers who get hours cut? What about the poor people working in retail stores who watch as the store goes out of business because people are too busy downloading and can't be bothered buying a fucking movie? What about the video stores that keep going under? Admittedly, Netflix and the like has created competition for video stores, but it still stands to reason that A LOT of people download stuff, rather than renting it.
Also, piracy is starting to affect the big players in Hollywood. DreamWorks, one of the big boys, has downsized and cut down on their motion picture releases because movies have been underperforming. People are too content to download them. So we'll never get sequels to great movies like Rise of the Guardians. Woe is me.
Entertainment Is A Privilege, NOT An Entitlement!
This is the big one. Downloading a movie is free. People who are too poor to rent movies or go to the cinema use this as an excuse to download. "A cinema ticket would cost me what I make in an hour! I need to eat and pay rent and stuff!" Fine. That gives you no right to steal, though. If you're in dire financial straits, you haven't earned the privilege to have that entertainment. Stick to free-to-air TV. It's like saying that kids living in poverty have the right to run into a grocery store and steal a bunch of good quality food. Except that people NEED food to survive. People don't NEED movies to survive, IT'S A PRIVILEGE!
Digital entertainment is not a human right. It is not a necessity. It is a luxury. Part of the pleasure, and the value we ascribe to luxury, is in the sacrifice and work we trade for its acquisition. To go for the quick and easy option of theft actually deprives you of much of the pleasure of ownership.
Also, complaining that you're too poor to pay for movies is a self-negating excuse. Poor people cannot afford computers, internet subscriptions, or multi-terrabyte external hard-drives.
Pay for your fucking entertainment. Or rent movies for free from the library. Or pay for Netflix. You are not entitled to illegally obtain movies when money is spent on making and distributing them.
However, Studios Need To Address Film Availability
The only time I will download a movie will be if I cannot find it anywhere. Obscure cult titles might not have even received DVD releases in my region, let alone Blu-ray! There's no way to watch them short of dropping cash to blind buy it from an overseas country, and that can be pricey as well as risky. So I will often download such titles.
Netflix and other streaming services are the perfect way for studios to address this problem. Them paying money to distribute movies in other regions and territories costs money - but Netflix paying them a bit for the rights to stream a movie they're not otherwise making money from? Why the hell not? Expand the Netflix libraries. Make rare films available.
What About TV Show Piracy?
Speaking of film availability, I am often compelled to pirate TV shows if they are either not airing in my region, or if they air up to a month after initially being broadcast in the United States.
This aspect is a lot better than it used to be, and HBO shows now air in Australia on Foxtel at the same time as they do in America, but other shows like Hannibal are not as successful.
TV shows need to be released simultaneously, and be freely available around the world. Otherwise, piracy isn't going away anytime soon.
Let's talk about it.