When They’re Not Selling Movies Anywhere Can They Claim Piracy Losses?

It took a month for the winner of the Academy Award’s Best Movie category The Hurt Locker to appear on New Zealand screens. It will be many more months DVDs are on sale and perhaps years before we can legally purchase the movie online and DRM-free. Rather than satisfying demand for the movie it was delayed and missed the hype of the Oscars. Will illegal downloads of The Hurt Locker be counted and should we respect them when they’re not even selling a movie?

If you buy a DVD exactly are you buying? Should owning a movie mean that you have a license to access it on any device, or should you be forced to buy it on DVD, then again for your iPod? The New York Times looks at the issue of ownership and how conventional rights are taken away when you buy books online: “I bought an e-reader for travel and was eager to begin “Under the Dome,” the new Stephen King novel. Unfortunately, the electronic version was not yet available. The publisher apparently withheld it to encourage people to buy the more expensive hardcover. So I did, all 1,074 pages, more than three and a half pounds. Then I found a pirated version online, downloaded it to my e-reader and took it on my trip. I generally disapprove of illegal downloads, but wasn’t this O.K.?

3 thoughts on “When They’re Not Selling Movies Anywhere Can They Claim Piracy Losses?

  1. Yea – I don’t really “watch” movies… I have relationships with them.

    I’ll see them on TV, I’ll see clips on the web – if I really like them I’ll see them at the cinema, quotes from them will work their way into my every day languages, I’ll rave about them to other people… I might even remix bits of them for the web, I’ll use them as the basis for seeking out more by the same people.

    It’s complicated. Some of the interactions make money, some don’t. Bruce Robinson who wrote/directed Withnail says in his autobiog that he didn’t make a penny from it. I’d be happy to punt him some money as a thank-you… but there isn’t a way of doing it – and in fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it wasn’t illegal in some way.

    Hal Hartley says that he’d be happy for people to watch his movies for free – but for crying out loud, not in little youtube boxes where the quality is awful… but… he doesn’t own his films (people with money do), so doesn’t get a say.

    It’s complicated – for me, downloading a film carries about the same gravitas as hearing a song on the radio – it’s just part of the mix.

    The idea that an obsolete distribution/economic model should be set in stone, with the side-effect that it turns ISPs into wire-tappers, and gives corporations the ability to arbitrarily cut people off from their communication systems is just wrong though.

  2. I watched an illegal download of the Hurt Locker over the Easter weekend after being unable to find it anywhere else. The picture quality was poor and I would rather have watched it on DVD had the opportunity been available.
    If publishers want us to stop downloading illegal copies and support the artists then they need to provide a viable, available and competitive alternative.

  3. Hurt Locker was available on the net last year. It was a 700MB DVDRIP .avi file which is very close to DVD quality (approx 600 square px wide as opposed to 720 anamorphic). Any movie that comes out on DVD anywhere in the world is usually available on the net the next day. Hollywood often releases DVDs in region 5 first… that includes the Soviet Union! What do they expect? Wake up big content! Global digital release dates as soon as the movie has had its run in theatres! Give consumers an online portal to be able to buy or rent a standard def/hi def file for the same price as the video store and they won’t download! $6 of standard def, $10 for a hi def file. There are no production costs for the disc/cover/case/shipping, only minimal online storage. Ditch the world zoned staggered release and get with the program. Evolve or die, just like the music industry. But don’t die, because we love our movies and music. Just evolve!

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