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David Poland

By David Poland

Piracy: A New Thread

Kim Voynar got things rolling with her Piracy, Again? Arrrrrggggh entry, which was based on Mike D’Angelo’s honest, but wrong headed shrug-of-the-shoulders piece about piracy.

I have commented on the thread a few times and this morning, the single stupidest meme in the whole piracy discussion was repeated AGAIN by Mark F…

“Since the owner of the so called ‘stolen’ material still has the material, there is no theft.”

I started to respond on the thread, but 50 comments in, things are going in circles. Also, those of you who are not playing over at Film Essent – and should – might have more to add. My response to Mark F…

Sorry, Mark F, but that argument is patently ridiculous.

To argue that opportunity costs are not real is either ignorant or willfully avoiding responsibility for anything other than “what you want when you want it.”

Spinning your analogy to reality, it would be like stealing cable television… the neighborhood is wired… no one is getting a weaker signal from the theft… the owners of the copyright are not individually affected by your actions… but you are stealing the cable company’s potential—for which they have invested heavily—to sell you a monthly subscription. And if enough people steal that cable signal, it will have a direct effect on the cost to everyone else in your neighborhood that is paying for their signal.

The mentality is that movies, music, television and whatever is like fruit… it is just there… an act of nature… so if you pick an apple here or there, does it really matter to the orchard that sells them by the ton?

Every time you duplicate and distribute—whether for profit or not—a copyrighted work, you are eliminating at least one, perhaps a dozen, perhaps more opportunities for the copyright holder to sell that work.  Period.

There is a limited window in which this is considered reasonable. It’s called Fair Use. If you purchase a copyrighted item, you have the right to share it with others in a “fair” way. But you don’t have the right, for instance, to reproduce the content and sell it.

The logical, unspoken, step in the “still have the television” argument is… “So what? Why does it matter if I see the copied item or give it away for free? They still have their content. I’ve just copied it.”

The loudly spoken step is now being taken by Barry Diller of all people, whose Aereo is one of the great scams of modern media. Diller is taking broadcast TV off the air, including the major networks, and broadcasting it over the internet, charging people $12 per household for this.

How can you be sure it’s a con? Because Aereo pretends they are getting the broadcasts off of 100s of thousands of tiny little antennae… and maybe, somehow, they technically are. But it’s clearly a bullshit attempt to find a legal loophole and claim that they are empowering the individual with rights they already have. Does it really matter to anyone, aside from lawyers and judges, where the signal comes from? The undeniable bottom line is that Aereo is selling something they are not paying for in an industry that is just now coming to grips with how costs and profits are going to be divide up in the new unwired—but fully wired—digital world.

It’s weird to see Barry Diller as a barnacle on an industry he helped build. But that’s what he has become. Aereo’s only real play is getting purchased as a technology buy by one of the big cable or satellite companies, having laid out software and a system for streaming delivery. (I am assuming that it doesn’t suck.) DirecTV and the cablers are all working on having their streaming of their basic services untethered from your home wi-fi so you can do what Aereo offers as well as getting the cable nets, all in a legal package. Diller’s plan must be to sell to, say, Time-Warner Cable because they are too slow to have built their own streaming network while Comcast and DirecTV rush into the fray.

Point is… even the “legitimate” players are willing to be pirates for 30 pieces of silver. They just have a lot more infrastructure to do it.

But there is a big difference between intellectual content and your television or blender. The inherent value of an object is whatever it is. Builders of those objects take those chances and do their best to get it right. But that is their game and there are rules for it.

If you write a book or write a song or make a movie, the thing you sell is not the paper or the digital coding that makes an mp3 or the film stock/file of a film. The value is defined by the interest and willingness of people to spend money to engage your intellectual property. Copying, outside of the boundaries of Fair Use (boundaries which we can argue separately), is a theft of that potential willingness or interest.

You can argue all day, dancing around the detail, about how you have a right to what I create because… well, you want it. And if I put up a pay wall and made The Hot Blog a pay site, I would surely lose the vast majority of my readers. But it is my right to do as I like with my intellectual property. And no one has a right to say, “Well, it was free for 15 years and I miss it, so I have the right to take it… it’s not like me getting around the wall is going to cost him money.” You’re right. It wouldn’t cost me anything… except you as a subscriber if you missed reading me enough.

But I get to make that choice for myself. You don’t.

I am one of a very small group of people who can make a living off of sharing their ideas. I am lucky as hell. I appreciate that every day of my life. And when I’ve squeezed the last drop out of that lemon, I will have to find an alternative way of living, presumably off of my ideas. Maybe consulting. Maybe seminars. Maybe a private subscription site that offers even more specific things that industry people want. Maybe DP/30 becomes a cash cow. Maybe Starbucks is in my future. I don’t know. But again, I have to navigate that. And you don’t get to do it for me, for better or for worse.

Personally, I think the biggest ongoing thing about piracy is that people feel they are in the right. They feel that corporations are raping and pillaging and so what if we get the what drops of the cart. Fuck them!

But I see, living in the situation, the costs to smaller organizations and individuals. Maybe they are not as easily measured. Maybe the cause and effect is not as obvious. But believe me, when big companies get screwed, they push along the losses to us all.

It really comes down to a parking space at a busy mall. I was there waiting, but you are in a rush, so you zoom in front of me to take a space that just opened. I will eventually get a space. You would have eventually gotten a space. No one is dead. The sun will still rise the next day.

BUT… you only thought of the rush you were in, giving no consideration to my reality or feelings. You broke the unwritten rules of parking civility, again, without any thought to others. Fortunately, I am not insane and I didn’t have a gun and not only weren’t you shot, but the person walking near your car didn’t get hit by a ricochet. And maybe I won’t feel entitled to zoom ahead of someone else who is patiently waiting because, damn, it just happened to me. Or maybe I will. Maybe I won’t yell at my kid for whining because we haven’t parked and they need to pee and another 5 minutes is torture. Maybe I will. Etc, etc, etc…

And maybe you really needed to get to the store so you could get home to your dying wife. If I had known, I would have let you have the spot anyway. But it does work both ways. There are people with righteous anger.

Have I digressed? Not sure.

I’ll simplify. Golden Fucking Rule, people.

If you wrote the 400-word novel over 5 years and 80% of novels were being read on digital devices, would you be okay with someone posting the novel so people could download it for free while Amazon was charging $10 a download? All between friends, of course. I e-mail it to 2 friends and they e-mail it to 2 friends and so on and so on and so on…

Deep dark truthful mirror… it’s only cool when you do it to a nameless, faceless corporation, right?

55 Responses to “Piracy: A New Thread”

  1. hcat says:

    Whenever I hear the rationales of people who watch pirated material all I really hear is this…

  2. Suburban Idiot says:

    There is a medium, though. As sure as some people who download or copy illegally (or even legally, for that matter) are taking away a sale that otherwise would have happened, it’s also as sure that many people who do download or copy illegally (or legally) would not have purchased (or not been able to purchase) the item at full price.

    When I buy a song from iTunes and go ahead and put that song on a CD for both my wife and myself. If I could only burn that song to one CD, far more often than not, I’d just do without the second copy.

    Same with books. Sometimes I have my Kindle with me, sometimes I have my iPad with me. I can read the same purchased book on both. If I was limited to only one device, it’s unlikely I’d buy a second copy.

    So are those missed sales? A company could count them as such, but most of the time, they aren’t really.

    And certainly, there are plenty of people who do illegally copy/download who couldn’t possibly afford all they’ve downloaded. Morally, they certainly shouldn’t have access to the stuff they can’t pay for, but we can’t really count something as a lost sale if the potentially buyer didn’t have the capacity to buy.

  3. storymark says:

    Since when has “not being able to afford it anyway” been a defense for theft?

  4. David Poland says:

    Suburban – What you are talking about, in terms of your use, IS Fair Use.

    And yes, people stealing what they can’t afford is, on paper, a loss. And the reality is, it has ramifications. You don’t know what they will be able to afford next month or next year. You don’t know whether they will cord cut, replacing their cable bill with illegal downloads. You don’t know whether they will skip paying for HBO or Netflix because they can steal much of that content.

    It’s a big, blurry world out there.

  5. Idiocracy says:

    Disagree. Louis CK had nice success with his d2f offering. His audience is digitally savvy and could easily pirate his product, but they’re also loyal. The “nameless, faceless corporation[s]” you defend aren’t loyal. Why should I worry whether the The Lady and the Tramp DVD I just bought – to replace the VHS I previously owned because I loved the movie so much when I saw it in theatres – will play in my region-free DVD player?

  6. Joe Leydon says:

    Hey, I can’t afford a new car right now. None of you folks will mind if I take yours, right?

  7. Don R. Lewis says:

    I just feel bad for THE HUNGER GAMES. Piracy hurt it this week. Badly.

  8. palmtree says:

    It’s a sad day when we need to ask people to observe the Golden Rule.

  9. JS Partisan says:

    Story, that’s been the excuse now for years. I get it in terms of the shit economy and the such, but they seemingly can afford every apple product and PC product under the sun, yet asking them to spend money on the entertainment they love so much and to not steal it, is a bridge too far for these people.

    I don’t get it but people like idiocracy have a point. These companies love to fuck us over and that leads to a great deal of apathy from consumers. Why they are pissed at the entertainment industry is beyond me. The real assholes are the cell carriers in this country, who provide a shit service compared to the rest of the world, and charge double for it.

  10. Idiocracy says:

    I think there’s a bigger discussion here as to what constitutes ownership. If I have to buy every format Hollywood dreams up, I’m not purchasing the negative, I’m purchasing a copy of it in a given medium (one with a limited terms of use – ie whenever Hollywood decides to switch formats). That sounds like a license. If that’s the case, all the content creators should re-evaluate your deals with your distributors because they’re fucking you worse than the pirates.


    You can’t bequeath your iTunes library apparently (so do you own it?). What if I digitized and bequeathed my VHS/DVD/BD library, would it be a liability for me (or my beneficiaries)?

    Sales vs Licensing is an issue and it does relate to piracy:

  11. David Poland says:

    Just tot he Louis CK point… the reality is different for narrower release content and especially for exceptions to the rule, like CK.

    For instance, I don’t think there is anything wrong with day-n-date for indie films because the problem they face is the size of their initial distribution. But for studios, opening wide and spending $30m+ on advertising, the windows are life and death.

    This is, strictly, a different issue.

    But if you were to either convert a VHS you own or to crack a DVD for use on your personal electronic equipment, I believe that is still legally Fair Use (even if the fine print suggests otherwise). It’s when you get into distribution that there is a problem.

    One of the reasons this is all still being debated is that we are in such a young stage of streaming and image quality. I don’t expect that we will buy much of anything a la carte in the years to come anyway.

  12. djiggs says:

    Mulling over your piracy argument, I am thinking back 10 years ago in the lives of young Mr. Poland & Mr. Jeffrey Wells. Do you feel that you engaged in privacy when you posted early April 2002 first non-Sony authorized look of Spiderman? What about the 2001 alternate work print for Gangs of New York that you and Wells wrote about? Did you bring that subject up when you were interviewing Ms. Schoonmaker for the December Hugo DP/30? It would have been interesting to hear that conversation.

  13. David Poland says:

    Completely valid to bring up, jdiggs.

    And I have said before that I would not repeat the Spider-Man choice again.

    Gangs is more along the lines of the obscure film critic interest that Mike D’Angelo started with.

    I have also said that I would handle Hostel 2 differently as well.

    I have never claimed to be infallible or not to have made mistakes.

    And reality does change. The value of content has changed in the 15 years that I’ve been doing this. And so, perspective has changed as well.

    Ironically, I cracked DVDs for the first time this last year… to do packages for Ebert… Fair Use and all. Very odd feeling. But you wont find me sharing A Clockwork Orange with anyone… except by giving someone the Blu-ray I bought that replaced by the new completionist Blu collection.

    And I didn’t get to bring up the Gangs cut with TS… not enough time. Burning there is a next time, I surely will.

  14. cadavra says:

    Everyone’s overlooking the root of the problem. We’ve raised a couple of generations that have an astronomical sense of unearned entitlement and who believe that all art and entertainment are free and they shouldn’t have to pay for them. Downloading a movie from BitTorrent is no different than walking into a Best Buy, sticking a DVD down your pants and then leaving. Theft is theft, no matter how much you try to justify it. And until (if it’s even possible) we can make people understand this simple concept, nothing is going to change.

  15. Kim Voynar says:

    cadavra, the thing is, it’s just not possible to change everyone’s mind, or to make everyone see things from your perspective. I happen to agree with your point, and to me it’s a very simple concept. David clearly does as well. The debate is interesting for a while, but once it gets circular and everyone’s just saying the same things, I lose interest in it.

    Certainly, there seem to be at least as many people on the “piracy doesn’t hurt anyone,” or the “but I really want it so I’m entitled to have it” side of the argument, and from their perspective, I guess we’re missing the point for not understanding what they see as a very simple concept.

  16. Idiocracy says:

    US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:

    “Federal copyright law supports and reinforces our conclusion that [the Distributor’s] agreements permitting third parties to use its sound recordings to produce and sell permanent downloads and mastertones are licenses.”

    In other words, federal courts have decided the DVD you put down your pants at Best Buy is not the same as the iTunes file illegally obtained via BitTorrent. I know this a point of contention but it has been litigated and there is precedent.

  17. Gus says:

    Cadavra, what Idiocracy is saying is that stealing a physical disc is not the same thing as making a digital copy, because in the second case you are not removing the physical disc, so there is not a lack of property in the second case. The disc still exists in the hands of the owner. So that is not quite the same thing. It is true that many people copy things instead of buying them but it is not true that all the people who have copied things have stolen a thing that someone else owns. They have infringed on the copyright, which as has been said by law, is not the same thing.

  18. David Poland says:

    So idiocracy, stealing the licensing right is less of a crime than stealing a piece of plastic?

  19. V_ says:

    I think the anti-piracy ads about “you wouldn’t steal a handbag” did a disservice to the argument. People used common sense not laws and thought “it’s not the same” because the handbag owner doesn’t have it anymore. The viewer rejected the whole message.
    If the ad had used analogies such as your one about stealing cable-TV, or climbing a fence to get into an
    event or riding a train without a ticket then people might have understood that the provider was missing out on income and this had implications. A crime of unathorised access/use might have been more understood by the general public than theft.

  20. David Poland says:

    V – I think the “you wouldn’t steal a handbag” was meaningless because in spite of the fast cutting and effects, it felt like being lectured by your grandparent… not because the idea is faulty.

    Stealing is stealing is stealing. It’s in the consciousness of the thief… which is not to say that the ability to rationalize theft makes the theft any less real.

    Again… stealing a copy or signal IS stealing someone else’s property. If you want to make a semantic argument that it is stealing a license or a right and not an object, go to town. But that’s in the land of “It depends on what the meaning of the words ‘is’ is.”

  21. anghus says:

    Still my favorite take on Piracy ads.

    At some point when i’m bored and have the time to dig out the numbers, i’ll share some information about piracy. Two of the films i wrote and produced were heavily pirated. It’s readily available in stores in a country where we have no distribution deal.

    One of the Producers on a film i did was on vacation in Jamaica and walked into a hotel where our movie was playing on a television behind the counter. It was a bootlegged copy being sold on the street for 2 bucks. He got a copy while he was there and brought it back. I had a friend in the military who bought a copy a bootlegged DVD of a film i did in the Middle East. Over the years i’ve amassed a collection of DVDs from overseas of these low budget indies i’ve done. At least 25% of them are bootlegs.

  22. JS Partisan says:

    That’s the thing David: a generation of teens and young adults do not see it as STEALING. They see it as either a right or an opportunity or whatever their justification is, but it’s not stealing to them. It’s free stuff that’s out there waiting to be plucked like an orange from a tree. Sure it’s not their tree but they don’t care. It’s there, they want it, and that’s the end of the story.

    How you get those kids to want to buy things is beyond me. Personally, we should give up and instill a crazy sense of shame into younger kids about online theft! Seriously, theftshaming is the future of kindergartens everywhere!

  23. Idiocracy says:

    If you’re asking whether licensing theft is morally equivalent to petty theft, my answer is no. That was my point: licensing and sales are separate issues, as defined by the courts. Taking a morally superior stance between the two equivocates them.

    Are digital downloads licenses rather than sales? If they are, then distributors are complicit in egregious, quantifiable theft. That would be real theft, not the speculative damages which are so frequently tossed around.!

    Lastly, following up on another comment, studies suggest piracy doesn’t have that great effect on theatrical windows. It does effect long international roll outs, but that’s not stopping Universal from going international with Battleship a month before US theatrical. Is Sony to blame for Tin Tin struggling in the US because they released internationally in October? Even if Paramount lost a few million due to piracy, isn’t that a risk the studio takes into consideration when green-lighting a film?

  24. anghus says:

    Since TinTin was always going to make a majority of it’s monies overseas, wouldnt the bigger risk have been releasing it in the U.S. first and then having pirated copies make their way overseas where piracy is a much bigger issue?

    Looking at the numbers, i would say the greater risk for a film like Avengers would be releasing it in the U.S. first and then having the piracy impact international numbers.

    If your box office has a major overseas component (and what big film these days doesnt), release it overseas first.

  25. JS Partisan says:

    Releasing everything at once might be a logistical hassle, but it makes more sense in terms of keeping the story under wraps. Seriously, Avengers is going to be pretty much spoiled before most people see it here in the US, and that can’t be a good thing.

  26. christian says:

    And I love that Hollywood’s favorite recent franchise is THE PIRATES OF CARIBBEAN – those pirates are so damn charming with their lootin’ and roguin’….Irony!

  27. anghus says:

    im trying to figure out what exactly could be spoiled in Avengers.

    We know the villain, we’ve been teased on some cameo aliens in the third act, there’s a Stan Lee cameo.

    The only real spoiler i could think of if someone dies. But i know it won’t be Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, or The Hulk. Which means the only character that could die would be a supporting character with no franchise potential.

    Is there a plot turn in The Avengers that anyone will be surprised by?

    Now Dark Knight Rises, that seems to be a spoiler mine field. The Avengers? Come on. At this point it’s telegraphed to the point of being practically unspoilerable.

    I would like to TM the word UNSPOILERABLE.

  28. JS Partisan says:

    You love being dismissive of these properties. Yes, there is a plot that can be spoiled. Also, seriously, go to a comic book shop to get a proper understanding of how important Natasha and Clint are to that movie. Seriously man, do not dismiss Natasha and Clint!

  29. Indian Jobs Guide says:

    Good.yes piracy is very sin. It is giving loss to all.

  30. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Anghus – As I understand it, the spoiler is who is supplying Loki with the army. Although most of the fan community is pretty sure they know who it is.

  31. storymark says:

    Ive heard lots of fans say they know – its just that few agree on what they “know”.

  32. Desslar says:

    It seems to me that the pro-piracy crowd can’t really complain much about Facebook and others playing fast and loose with their personal data. After all, Facebook’s advertisers want that data, can easily get it, and even if they use it the owner will still have the data, so why shouldn’t they do as they like?

  33. Triple Option says:

    I’ve probably said this before but I wonder how much price point has to do with things. I remember when CDs came out and they were like $5 more than vinyl. But then they were sold on being indestructible and having superior sound and no flipping, etc. I even remember them always saying “right now there are only plants in Germany and Japan, once they’re made in the US, the price will come down.” Remember that one?? Ha!

    Anyway, the price became the accepted norm. Movie rentals between vhs and dvd had prices that were held in check. Of course prices go up for everything but it did seem like things got expensive relatively quick. $5 for a movie rental, $17 for new CD, $9 for popcorn and a coke in the theater… I’m not saying it’s right but I can see why people’s consciences wouldn’t bother them so much getting a bootleg copy as opposed to sneaking out the store with a CD. They feel gouged doing what they normally did for years essentially w/out complaint.

    I realize there are different entities involved, such as different sets of people setting the price for theaters as opposed to dvd rental, and what determines the cost of a cd at Target as opposed to a song on iTunes but it seems as if competition was wiped out of the supply & demand curve. Or, suppliers didn’t account for option C when determining their unit cost of what a consumer would pay for their product in what form, and that is C). None of the above.

    There’s a psychological issue of people not viewing the piracy as theft but I think there’s also an issue of people not otherwise seeking out alternative methods of receiving their product if they feel like normal channels (legal) are not in line with what they feel is fair and reasonable. Whether they feel it’s a victimless crime or see themselves as the victim whenever they make a purchase the right way, I really feel like if a decade ago that downloadable songs were $0.30 cents each and digital movies were like $5, the level of piracy wouldn’t have gotten so high. At least in the US. I couldn’t substantiate any numbers and those dollar amounts I just pulled out of the air but I do think a condensed profit margin would’ve been far better for the overall state of the industry than the massive collapse that has taken place. Would both ways had resulted in lost money or revenue? Sure, but I think overall health and asset value would’ve been much higher.

  34. anghus says:

    I havent heard any of these rumors about a second villain. My guess would be Red Skull. Since we see the cosmic cube at the end of Thor and in Captain America.

    Again thats not a spoiler, if its true, since its clearly woven into the pre-existing narrative. A spoiler would be something you didnt see coming that would surprise you.

    Finding out Ducard is Ras Al Ghul in Batman Begins is a spoiler.

    The Red Skull popping up Avengers would not be.

    Avengers is unspoilerable©

  35. JS Partisan says:

    No, it can be spoiled. Your opinion is not representative of the facts, sir! THE FACTS! Nevertheless, it’s probably someone who wears a glove. An infinitely awesome glove.

  36. anghus says:

    are you really suggesting that Thanos and the inifinty gauntlet are going to show up in Avengers? Please tell me you’re joking.

    At that point, why not bring The Beyonder and Infinity into the mix.

    I did have a great conversation today about the Avengers. A friend of mine at lunch says “When does the Avengers come out?”

    I respond “Next month”

    He says “Green Lanterns not in this thing, is he? Because i fucking hated Green Lantern.”

    I almost wanted to say “yes” just so he could go in thinking Green Lantern was going to be there.

  37. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Thanos was hinted back in Thor – this artifact was in the background of the vault.

  38. JS Partisan says:

    Anghus, apparently Thanos is the power player behind what Loki is doing. He helps Loki in order to create a distraction, so he can get into the vault, and take back his gauntlet.

    Why you have a problem with one of the more interesting villains in all of Marvel being used is beyond me. Seriously, Thanos is awesome, and if you really want to create a bigger threat for future movies. Whose a greater threat then the guy who wants to kill the universe?

  39. Martin S says:

    if you really want to create a bigger threat for future movies. Whose a greater threat then the guy who wants to kill the universe?

    It makes sense, but your eyes are bigger than their budget. Marvel chops every production to cut risk, which made sense when they were an indie. But that shouldn’t matter now, yet its become SOP.

    They’re not going to do some big Avengers space opera. They’ll bring Thanos to whichever state/country is offering the best tax incentive and shoehorn the story to budget.

    They can’t do kree-skrull because Skulls are with the FF rights. They could bring in Nova or a Captain Marvel, otherwise the dynamics of Avengers/Thanos is the same as Avengers/Loki.

    Scalett is signed for IM3, so Anghus, she’ll be running around Wilmington pretty soon.

    I’m wondering if Hunger Games opening has raised the bar for Avengers internal expectations. Do they think 150 is attainable or is it a liability, meaning anything under 125 is going to be sniped as weak.

  40. David Poland says:

    Idiocracy… there is nothing in what the Harvard professor says that contradicts anything I believe. Additionally, I believe that SOPA had too few protections.

    But again, this “Study say” stuff is crap. International piracy is a different issue than domestic… and much bigger piece of the piracy pie. There are markets that are underscreened and will not be screened to a workable level because of piracy. And there are markets that have enough screens, but have been cut in half by piracy.

    The US has plenty of screens and a relatively low occurrence of piracy. But as noted before, it is one of the real problems with studios investing in “black cinema,” as they were doing just a few years ago.

    All of which is to say, again, that the death of opportunity cannot be measured, but should not be dismissed as meaningless for that reason. Business, like nature abhors a vacuum, but if the empty space is already being filled by illegal downloading and pirated disc purchases, the space will never be filled by legal, profitable opportunity.

    And the film industry looks at the record business in horror. Things are not nearly that bad yet. And piracy is still overhyped. However, the continuing march of technology makes it easier and easier to steal and extends the opportunity to steal to a wider and wider based of people. The industry, understandably, wants to get ahead of the curve. Hard to unbite the apple.

    I still believe that most people are willing to pay a reasonable price for what they buy and not naturally thieves.

    We all know people who stole cable TV in the 80s and 90s, how easy it used to be… and that the vast majority paid for it and wanted the product the way it was meant to be. Cable and satellite providers made the access more complex and cut out a lot of the piracy. Of course, there are still people who steal and unscramble signals. The business didn’t end. But you didn’t have Barry Diller going around, trying to re-sell pirated content, skirting around the law with “tiny antennae.”

    I don’t know who you are, idiocracy, but you are obviously intelligent. Still, I feel like your arguments are very sophomore debate class. You want to distinguish every detail and turn it to the advantage of acceptable piracy.

    My feeling – which I think is shared by the majority of people who have ever paid for anything or sold anything of value – is that this is much simpler than that. It’s the macro view. Stealing is bad. Taking something of value to someone else and not returning anything but your own amusement is stealing. Unless we are really getting shaken down unfairly by the providers of content, we prefer to pay for what we purchase, even if free is easier on some level.

    Then the next step is, if you don’t pay for it, the system will eventually collapse. And that is when the movie and television business turns into Cuba, still driving cars from the 60s. 60 years of movies and 25 years of television are about to be completely available on demand all the time. Do you want something new? How will it get paid for?

    If your piracy-friendly answer is, “Let all the suckers who still pay for this stuff,” at least you’re being honest. But if you really believe that content wants to be free, you’re being foolish, as Chris Anderson’s book is. Monty Python established an audience and a brand for over 35 years by conventional methods before using free internet to rebuild the brand. And it was a great move. But it is only available to existing brands. New product requires risk capital. And when you remove the potential reward from the risk, you will kill new brands within a decade.

    The question is not, “Can Hollywood survive piracy in the US in 2012 – 2015?” The question is, if piracy becomes a norm, will Hollywood exist, aside from being a series of libraries, after 2025?

    Yes, there is fear of change. I get it. But as I keep pointing out, the studios are not nearly as stupid as they play on TV.

  41. The Big Perm says:

    Thanos! Thanks guys, you spoiled The Avengers for me! I had NO inkling Thanos would be in that movie. I hadn’t seen Thor, I didn’t see that clue! Now I know Thanos will be there, kicking ass and taking names!

    Who’s Thanos anyway?

  42. hcat says:

    Why he is the embodiement of Kang from another dimension.
    Hope that clears it up.

  43. palmtree says:

    DP, what do you think about this?

    It seems to be an interesting argument over the actual measured impact of piracy and how ridiculous that gets. Is there a better way of measuring this stuff?

    Also, what do you think about the remix cultures who use pirated materials, but then create art that is then distributed for free? Is it in our interests to allow that kind of art to exist or are those artists pirates like any other and need to be shut down?

  44. Martin S says:

    Palm – that link is awesome.

    It ties exactly into what one thinktank found out during SOPA, that the loss number was pulled from some pr/lobby memo and turned into mantra.

  45. anghus says:

    “Scalett is signed for IM3, so Anghus, she’ll be running around Wilmington pretty soon.”

    Awesome. We’re freaking flush with films right now. There’s a James Wan movie shooting here along with another horror film called Jezebel. Some movie with Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connely. Crazy amount of work here right now. My feature is supposed to shoot this summer and i’m barely able to assemble a crew. I might push to the fall just to get clear of all these productions.

    god bless this tax incentive.

  46. Martin S says:

    god bless this tax incentive

    Well, yeah, but also bless the damn infrastructure you guys built a number of years go.

    Hell, god bless The Crow.

    Actually, it’s the weather.

    I didn’t know Wan is in NC. I just saw something about Jezebel.

  47. Bitplayer says:

    You walk into a bar. The bar isnt paying for the cable tv it’s showing. It’s stolen. Should I be arrested for walking into the bar and watching tv? I didn’t steal anything, someone else did. I’m watching it but I didnt steal it. Whether I’m in that bar or not the cable is still pirated and the tv will run. So maybe you can nab the bar owner who hacked the cable but not the multiples of people who watched it. Dave this is what gets me about you. You got on your high horse with The ex-Fox 411 guy and said how he shouldn’t have watched Wolverine. He saw it on a streaming site based out of the country. I don’t beieve he downloaded it. So it was there to be seen whether he watched it or not. What crime did he commit? In fact he did a great service mentioning the movie was horrible even though his employers put it out. The person who commited the crime is the one who put it upon the site originally or stole the print/dvd.

  48. anghus says:

    For a critic to review a screener equates to a food critic reviewing a half eaten entree from a bus tray.

    No matter what people say, the plating is important.

  49. Bitplayer says:

    He wasn’t functioning as a critic. I think he wanted to see what was actually avaialable to be seen. It’s interesting.

  50. Idiocracy says:

    Stealing is bad. But is providing my Netflix login to my significant other the same act of theft as someone who hosts an unsanctioned screening w/o sharing the profits? Aren’t they both technically licensing theft?

    My fear is the macro argument stealing is bad doesn’t help “build a network that supports the industry in it’s legitimate needs” instead the macro argument perpetuates “overstated fears of piracy for which there is no real data.” (To borrow from the Harvard professor SOPA video).

    It’s the same overstated fears and lack of real data that enables TED to create the video ref’d above. I’d argue the macro argument Inadvertently does more to condone piracy as acceptable than anything or anyone else.

    “the studios are not nearly as stupid as they play on TV.” – most of the time, not always

  51. David Poland says:

    Idiocracy –

    This is the kind of thing I have a problem with in your arguing. Overstating the data is not the same as not having data. And the argument is not as simple as “theft is bad,” though on a moral level, that should be enough. The argument is that theft of content does have a direct effect on individuals and companies, as well as on the future of the industry.

    And the infrastructure is being built daily for the open, available, and relatively cheap access to virtually all copyrighted material. But there are real and not unreasonable business considerations along the way.

    People only think about what they can get and might want but can’t get or afford. But content creators can not afford to be so myopic.

  52. Martin S says:

    Overstating the data is not the same as not having data. And the argument is not as simple as “theft is bad,” though on a moral level, that should be enough.

    I agree on the latter, but as for the former, the damage has been done. It’s going to be near-impossible to walk back the idea that SOPA or any legislation is not a latticework built to hijack the web, when an argument can be made that loss is actually in the range of 250M. While I think that’s on the low side, it has more validity the MPAA stance.

    I really don’t see how the studios get out of this, because they refuse to make a distinction between theatrical/current-run episodes and catalog. I mean, we know why they won’t, but the vast majority do not understand library value. You can’t expect the average person to think a b/w movie or TV show has the same value as anything from the 1960’s onward, let alone 2K’s.

    Common ground would be for the online communities to realize anything that can branded as a new investment, (especially theatrical or currently running episodic), is greatly harmed through piracy, if studios in turn admit that catalog value degrades not just with time, but with market access.

  53. Don R. Lewis says:

    Movie piracy is the new Polanski

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