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Phoney Piracy

Tuesday 15 March 2011, 15:34

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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I explode one of the dafter myths of movie piracy and explain why the bold release strategies employed on a handful of recent films like Mum and Dad, On Tour and now Route Irish definitely represent the way forward.

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    Comment number 1.

    I can see your argument for it Doc, but surely, Cinema prices would have to drop, just to give the philistines a reason to unstick themselves from the sofa.

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    Comment number 2.

    Couldn't agree more. Simultaneous distribution is the way forward for today's rapidly moving and tech savvy world.
    And if you introduce digital projection and transfer of films to cinemas nationwide then huge amounts of money can be saved on distribution costs.
    The future is digital and if cinema doesn't keep up with the trend its going to be as hard hit as the music industry was a few years ago.

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    Comment number 3.

    Totally agree Mark.
    This is a great step and a perfect way for more people to see lower-budget and art-house pictures. It's also great for those films which don't get a large cinematic release.
    I'm sure I'll get to see 'Route Irish' at the Duke of York's Brighton but I highly doubt Ken's latest will flood into our local Odeon's and Cineworld's.
    This is a wonderful thing for cinema and it seems mental that anyone would want to complain about it.

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    Comment number 4.

    The future's simultaneous distribution, the future's digital, the future's... three-dimensional. *chuckle*

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    Comment number 5.

    Mark, I don't think that simultaneous release would stop piracy. Even if a film was available on DVD/ Download legally while in the cinema I would still download it illegally because it is free. My only reason for downloading is that as a student I cannot afford all the films that I want to watch.

    If anything it would increase the ammount of pirating as DVD / BluRay rips with all the special features and quality would be appearing online from day 1.

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    Comment number 6.

    Got to disagree on this one. If we did have simultanious cross-format releases for all films, then cinemas would be empty, blockbusters wouldn't be going bust, and pirates would be watching crispy bluray rips on day 1 instead of shaky handycam recordings.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 8.

    Ooops didn't realise I put whilst twice in the same sentence. Sorry.

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    Comment number 9.

    How does one phoneticize that buzzer noise?

    To quote David Lynch (minus expletives), "Now, if you're playing your movie on a telephone you will never, in a trillion years, experience the film. You'll think you have experienced it, but you'll be cheated. It's such a sadness that you think you've seen a film on your 'f-ing' telephone. Get real."

    Exactly. People who watch movies with their phones don't deserve to watch movies, but hey, they're paying for the tickets, yes? To get their revenue, theaters are going to have to charge EVEN MORE per ticket if half of the audience is gone. Doctor, that probably means more 3D films than 2D.

    The idea that the people who would buy Ken Loache's or Todd Solondz's new film on a phone are the same people who text incessantly in the theater is bonkers.

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    Comment number 10.

    I do agree with what you say, Mark, but I do feel that you're forgetting the most important part: it's often not a question of format, but of price, and in a world where saving every penny matters, if they can easily get a film for free from any nuber of sites on the internet, why should they pay for it?

    (P.S.: I don't think that way personally, but there are many who do)

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    Comment number 11.

    I can't believe I've had my comments removed. Thank Darwin, I can express my opinions freely in The Guardian.

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    Comment number 12.

    I agree that digital simultaneous releases are the future model. A couple of caveats though:

    1. Piracy will still exist because nothing is ever going to be cheaper than free. Consider the example of the music industry: music can be distributed digitally in a legal fashion but people still share songs illegally.

    2. To counteract this effect, streaming services would seem to be the most obvious model. In order for streaming to be viable, average broadband speeds will have to increase and become less variable - current services are just too unstable to watch full length movies at present IMO.

    3. A compromise "lending" model might work, allowing users a limited download of film for off-line use with some sort of watermark being embedded in the picture (with perhaps a "premium" package removing this) - if I were a l*vef*lm or n*tfl*x, this would be my approach.

    Regardless, there has to be an acknowledgement by the industry that the genie is out of the bottle and it's never going to be the same again - the medium is the message (massage?) afterall...

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    Comment number 13.

    With that in mind, would film artists get royalties in the way that songwriters do? Is there a film equivalent of PRS making sure the money gets there? In which case, your streaming sites would presumably pay that way...

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    Comment number 14.

    I agree with everything you said but there is one fundamental flaw... if they make films available for download on release or streaming... their will always be somebody who will figure out how to copy it and post it illegally on the internet for people to get it for free. I'm personally don't see a problem with downloading films from big studios who have billions and billions to spend on films but I see a problem for smaller art house films that will be lucky to be on 20 screens in the cinema same goes for music in my humble opinion.

    Rip off the big guns... support the people who actually need the money or support the films you like by seeing the film in the cinema or buying a dvd.

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    Comment number 15.

    I think you're being uncharacteristically naive here Mark. As mentioned before, people download for the sole reason that it's free. If someone is not sure they're going to like the film, they‘re no more likely to pay for the film online than they are at the cinema.

    Also I like the idea that a film is only available (legally at least) at the cinema for a short while; it gives the launch of a new film a sense of occasion. Maybe I'm alone on that one though.

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    Comment number 16.

    the problem is that they will download it legally and then they will spread it (illegally) to everybody else...

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    Comment number 17.

    Just to play Devil's Advocate a little:

    There's a little film called The Man From Earth, it's low budget but has a few well known faces in it and also happens to be brilliant. The producers of the film have publicly thanked illegal file sharing sites for raising the awareness of the film to a level it may not have got otherwise, going so far as to set up a paypal account to accept donations from anyone who illegally downloaded the film but wish to contribute something towards it...

    There was an argument made in the gaming community recently that piracy does not harm revenue as much as is claimed. For instance if someone has no interest in buying, say, 'title A' but downloads it on a whim; no revenue has actually been lost. Furthermore upon playing the illegal copy of 'title A' they realize they enjoy the game and purchase it legally soon afterward; thus piracy led to a legitimate sale that otherwise may not have been made.
    It's a controversial argument but it could be extended to the realm of film.

    Other arguments to be made pro-piracy would be if certain films (or even cuts of films) are unavailable or unobtainable for some reason.

    An element of piracy I detest, always have and always will, is the sale of pirated material. The above arguments only cover a self serving individual and whilst controversial are logical and legitimate. Anyone mass producing illegal copies of games or films etc for their own financial gain is blatantly breaking the law.

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    Comment number 18.

    @Dave B: I would contest your assertion that the sole reason for illegal downloading is due to it being free - you can't discount the convenience factor.

    For better or for worse, people like to consume their entertainment within the cocoon-like safety of the home - first-hand communal experience is perhaps becoming more of a niche pleasure, as will the novel exclusivity factor of a cinema-only release. In my workplace, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who regularly attend the cinema - it's just not convenient enough for them (particularly those with families).

    In addition, people don't want to wait for that convenience either. One just has to look at Sky TV showing the final episode of "Lost" a day after its domestic broadcast - that would probably never have happened 10 or even 5 years ago (no doubt someone will disprove this!).

    I agree with MiST that the more eyeballs, the better, regardless of the bottom line.

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    Comment number 19.

    Time and again I read or hear about films I'd love to see in my local cinema in the Netherlands, but cannot because they're not released here. Some of them not even on DVD. So at the moment my choise is to download those films illegaly... or not see them at all. What would you do?

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    Comment number 20.

    I think the biggest reason why taking your phone is rubbish is because no one pirates films that have been filmed on a mobile phone. Hand cam rips are only a very small part of piracy, not many people want to watch a film with video that poor even if the audio has been taken from the audio for deaf people feed. Instead the majority of movie piracy is probably of DVD Screeners of releases. In the UK at least these can often appear before the film has even been released in the UK (such as Black Swan's delayed release date). Forget multi-platform release, getting films at the same time as other parts of the world (mainly US) would be a start!

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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