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Piracy 
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Post Piracy
don't know where I else I can post this thread, but if a more adequate forum is ever created for it, I guess you could move it.

so, there is the piracy issue. and by issue, I'm referring to piracy here in South America, because obviously it's the only reference I have. I don't know how dangerous it would be to say this, but I'll admit it anyway: of the 1000 plus films I own on DVD, about 40% are pirate copies. but they're not any pirate copy - they are actual copies of the original DVDs, which have exactly the same image quality, options and even sometimes bonus features as the legal discs.

don't judge me yet.

original copies of films here in Peru cost 40 bucks more or less in average. pirate copies? the equivalent of $1.50.

no, I don't feel bad about purchasing these copies. the typical "I do it because everyone does it" excuse may sound infantile, but here in Peru is the truth. EVERYONE (and I mean everyone from every social class, every sex, from every part of the capital city) buys piracy. I've seen cops buying films where I do, Peruvian celebrities that film anti-piracy commercials buying them, and even little kids and old people doing it.

also, as you already know, it's MUCH cheaper, image and sound quality is the same, AND.... DVDs arrive actually BEFORE the original copies do.

why is this?

the issue is the following: unless we are talking about an established franchise, a potentially successful movie, a film featuring a well known cast or famous celebrities, or a potential blockbuster full of mindless action, special effects or CGI, movies virtually NEVER arrive one time here in Peruvian theatres. for proof, just check my film criticism website. I haven't seen most of the Oscar-nominated movies. My "currently on Peruvian theatres" review section contains movies that were released in the States MONTHS ago. and if I somehow manage to release a review on time, it's because I was reviewing a movie that was released simultaneously in almost the whole world. (For example, Indiana Jones 4, The Dark Knight or Star Wars Episode III.... all established franchises.)

why do people buy piracy? because it's cheaper, because it looks and sounds the same as the original copies, but ALSO because most films never arrive on time. another example: Saw V is already available on DVD in the States, right? well, the film is getting its theatrical released here in Peru tomorrow. TOMORROW. and we're talking about a franchise that has been pretty successful among Peruvian teenager, a fifth installment of a movie series everybody knows and that fills theatres. if a film like Saw V takes so much time to arrive, can you imagine how much I'll have to wait to watch a film like Slumdog Millionaire or The Wrestler? Do you think Frost/Nixon will even get a theatrical release here?

But instead of improving the service of distributors or trying to bring quality films on time, Peruvian authorities tell us to stop buying piracy because it's "bad", because we are "stealing." but let me tell you something: I DO have a blu-ray player (quite possible one of the ten people in Peru who have one) and all my 14 blu-ray discs I've bought through Amazon.com because the average blu-ray disc in Peru costs 60 dollars. in amazon? 20. how can they expect us to stop buying piracy if purchasing a legal copy (either DVD or blu-ray) is so expensive? piracy is so strong here that Blockbuster had to leave 2 years ago (it barely lasted 10 years in Peru) because no one rented. RENTING a film in blockbuster was 5 times more expensive than BUYING a pirate movie.

so yes, I'm aware of the fact that piracy is illegal, but "legal" film service is so mediocre in here, that us Peruvians have absolutely no reasons to stop buying piracy. oh yeah, and the best thing about it? the guys that sell piracy are regular, nice guys like you and me, who know A LOT about films. I can go to them and ask something like "do you have a 20s films starring such a guy?" and he'd know the name of the film, who directed it, who wrote it and the name of the rest of the cast. yes, this means that the even the service pirates provide is better than the legal one. in the place I buy, for every five films they give me one for free. where else can you find something like that?

well, I'm aware piracy is not as strong in the States, but I'd like to know what are your reviews regarding it, now that you know what is the situation here in South America. I know it's a big post, but I hope you liked reading it and, most importantly, understood my (our) reasons for "supporting" piracy.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:29 pm
Post Re: Piracy
Well usually in America we use torrents and fire-sharing programs for our piracy. I admit to pirating three movies:

-Interstella: The story of something, I forgot the title but it was a long music video for Daft Punk's second album, Discovery. I did buy the DVD though.

-Today You Die: A Steven Seagal movie....I've seen worse.

-Into the Sun: Another Steven Seagal movie...this one's pretty bad.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:44 pm
Post Re: Piracy
Great Topic Sebastian!

It's great to hear a point of view from someone outside the United States and I know of a person who dabbles in Piracy as well... But I know he tries to adhere to a code of conduct when he does download something. Here are the rules he told me he does:

1. I never pirate a film I would watch in a theater regularly.
2. If the film is of high quality, I will buy it once it is available to me.
3. If the price for something is exorbitant, then I will pirate it as a statement to the company that it is extortion to the consumer.

Now, I am a huge believer in Capitalism and openly despise those who pirate everything they can get their hands on just because it is free, but all that companies that "suffer" from piracy need to do is change their business model towards the interest of the consumer. If you give a consumer what they want... they will be glad to buy it, and your business will go up. Now, I don't know what the political situation in Peru is like, and I'm wondering whether your government places a huge tax on any foreign exports because that can seriously hike the price up for films. That is something I'm sure you as an individual can do little to change but it is something to think about. As for what you are to do in your situation... I would probably do the same thing. The companies and the government would both benefit greatly if the taxes and the business situation would be changed in the interest of the people... then piracy would not be so widespread in your country I'm sure. The only hope at the end of the tunnel I can see for you is that the age of digital distribution on all things electronic are just around the corner. I disagree with James when it comes to the lifespan of Blu-Ray and other physical digital media. In about 7 years there will be no need for physical media and that will change the film market forever. Production cost will be half of what they are now, and if they are smart the price of the media will go down as well. What companies need to do is show consumers all over the world that they are willing to deliver quality at a price that its worth forking over hard-earned money to own.


Last edited by Raymong on Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:46 pm
Post Re: Piracy
yeah, I guess I also have some kind of "code of honor " when it comes to piracy. I only buy pirate copies of films that:

a.) I haven't seen in theatres
b.) I know aren't worth watching in theatres nor buying for 20 bucks
c.) whose original copy is ridiculously expensive

and I ALWAYS buy the original copy of films that:

a.) I saw first in theatres and LOVED
b.) know I will like or is considered a classic (that's why I have the blu ray collectors' edition of Casablanca, for example)
c.) I plan to watch in theatres although it's been released on DVD first

Raymong wrote:
Now, I don't know what the political situation in Peru is like, and I'm wondering whether your government places a huge tax on any foreign exports because that can seriously hike the price up for films.


Yes they do, especially on films and books. I guess that's why they take so much time to bring classy, award-nominated films, because they don't want to spend a shitload of money on a film they aren't sure will be a success. that's why I say it's the government's fault, and that's it is hypocritical of them to tell us to stop buying piracy because it's "bad", when they aren't doing anything to give us REAL REASONS to stop doing it.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:02 pm
Post Re: Piracy
It is hard to be against piracy when so much product, be it film or music is just so low par. Why would I want to buy something that in all likelihood will disappoint in some fashion? Part of that statement covers falsifying the content of a movie within the trailer. How often have you been pulled in by what seemed like a great time only to find it was crafty trailer editing and that you saw the movie in the 30 second spot for free?

As for it being good or bad...I haven't seen any actors begging on the streets or any major film distributors asking for loose change. I am guilty of pulling in a movie from Netflix, breaking the encryption, copying it, and sending it back. I have never ran across a decent pirate copy of a theatrical release so have never bothered. But back in the day, I used to have a small collection of 'screeners' which were not supposed to get out to the public. For those who do not know or remember these, it was an advanced VHS copy of a movie for the store to review and see if they wanted to carry the movie in-house. In a sense that was an early form of being a taper or theater pirate, just on the rental side. I never felt bad about that either.

Piracy to me is a lot like prostitution. You cannot get rid of it, so the companies need to find a way to embrace it or fight it legitimately rather than just tossing people behind bars for a phantom number of supposed 'lost' sales.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:30 pm
Post Re: Piracy
Here's my deal. I live in Canada, and there's a levy placed on all writeable media, mp3 players, and anything else likely to be used for piracy. The government claims this money is distributed to artists, and I'm inclined to believe them. So technically, downloading music and movies for personal use isn't illegal in this country.

Not that it would stop me anyway, because the services available here for obtaining media legally are ridiculous(as they are everywhere). Driving to Rogers or Blockbuster costs gas, potential late fees, and at least 6 dollars to rent something. I routinely walk out paying more than 15 dollars for two movies. I do this on occasion to ease any guilt I might have. Services like netflix(or zip.ca here) still require me to walk/drive to my nearest postbox.

All of that sounds like whining until I drop this: I can download a dvd quality movie in less than 30 minutes at full speed. Now if I were to stream that video, it would be seamless. I could select the movie from the list, click go, and start watching the movie. This could be done for music as well. I don't care about a physical copy at this point, IF I can watch it again whenever I want. I don't care if that means downloading it again or keeping it local, I just want the ability to rewatch it at that point.

If the system supported dual payment methods, either monthly rate or ala carte, I think everyone would be happy. If you don't use the service, you don't pay for it. If you use it heavily, there's a monthly fee associated. With a system like that you could still track things like box office numbers and sale rates. There's still a number to report to the stock holders. Everybody wins.

Of course it would mean putting a lot of people out of a redundant job(retail clients, packaging, delivery), but maybe there'll be new work in the media industry because of all the saved money. These things have a way of balancing themselves out.

Whatever the case, I downloaded Gran Torino and watched a DVD quality version two weeks before it hit theaters. If there's any justification for digital delivery, that's it right there.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:39 pm
Post Re: Piracy
Hi everyone,

I'm not trying to lecture anyone here. Be careful on this thread because a code of conduct about piracy does not wash if you get caught.

I have a friend who always argues that he is doing no harm because he would not have watched the film anyway. I cannot convince him that if we went into Target and stole a candy bar he could not argue that he would not have bought it anyway.

The film studios are doing a great job promoting the development of piracy and torrent sharing. As internet pipes get bigger there is going to be an increased demand for a one stop location for a download service (iTunes if you will). The studios could start the process of eliminating packaging, distribution costs and retailer profits. Of course it's not going to happen over night but if they don't jump in the next couple of years they will be facing the disaster that we call the CD business.

The music business sat on the fence moaning about piracy while Napster wrecked their business model and converted many millions of teenagers over to the idea that you don't need to own discs to listen to music. Now the film studios are moaning about piracy while sites provide movies illegally on line.

A one stop location and all you can eat monthly charge in DVD/HD would be heaven for many movie fans. I'd pay a subscription for this. it would replace Netflix in a flash.

Yeah, I tried downloading but the quality at the time was dreadful or the version turned out to be a fake and it had taken 2 days to get the file.

If internet gossip and the evidence from the music business is correct, people want to download. I'd reckon that the studios would be better off developing their own business than trying what the recording companies failed, the legal sandbags trying to hold the flow of the torrents.

Rob


Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:52 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:55 pm
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Location: Mount Laurel, NJ, USA
Post Re: Piracy
You can't put the genie back into the bottle once it's out. Casual piracy became a major issue with Napster. It taught an entire generation of Americans that piracy isn't really bad. That same philosophy has moved into the motion picture industry.

One problem is that the studios have not reacted to this. Instead of proactively trying to limit the damage caused by piracy, they have whined about it being illegal and tried the punitive road. All that does is make the studios seem like bullies. 20th Century Fox against some college kid. Doesn't sound like a fair fight.

There will never be a way to eliminate piracy, and this post isn't even about piracy in other countries, where it's a cottage industry. But the way to curtail it is to introduce a reasonable price structure. There's no logical reason why a digital, downloadable copy of a movie should cost $10, $15, or $20. That's ludicrous. It encourages piracy. For digital movies, basic costs are close to zero. After that, eveyone gets royalties on a percentage basis. So sell the movies cheaply. VERY cheaply. Certainly less than $5.

This won't happen. First, it would wreck the rental industry. Can't rent movies if they can be purchased for those prices. Second, it would cut away at profits. So the trade-off is keeping the price levels where they are and risking an expansion of piracy as bandwidth increases and people continue to believe this is a victimless crime. The solution is there; the studios don't want to explore it.

Sounds like I just wrote something I had been planning for an upcoming ReelThought. I can cross that one off the list.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:27 pm
Profile WWW
Post Re: Piracy
Makes you wonder if anyone has a reasonable guess of how many pirated copies of the average film there are vs. legit ones. The math could be workes out to see if your idea is true. Meaning if there are 3 fakes for every one real copy of the Dark Knight, then at $5 and no fakes they make the same amout of money as one real, 3 fakes.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:50 pm
Post Re: Piracy
James Berardinelli wrote:
You can't put the genie back into the bottle once it's out. Casual piracy became a major issue with Napster. It taught an entire generation of Americans that piracy isn't really bad. That same philosophy has moved into the motion picture industry.

One problem is that the studios have not reacted to this. Instead of proactively trying to limit the damage caused by piracy, they have whined about it being illegal and tried the punitive road. All that does is make the studios seem like bullies. 20th Century Fox against some college kid. Doesn't sound like a fair fight.

There will never be a way to eliminate piracy, and this post isn't even about piracy in other countries, where it's a cottage industry. But the way to curtail it is to introduce a reasonable price structure. There's no logical reason why a digital, downloadable copy of a movie should cost $10, $15, or $20. That's ludicrous. It encourages piracy. For digital movies, basic costs are close to zero. After that, eveyone gets royalties on a percentage basis. So sell the movies cheaply. VERY cheaply. Certainly less than $5.

This won't happen. First, it would wreck the rental industry. Can't rent movies if they can be purchased for those prices. Second, it would cut away at profits. So the trade-off is keeping the price levels where they are and risking an expansion of piracy as bandwidth increases and people continue to believe this is a victimless crime. The solution is there; the studios don't want to explore it.

Sounds like I just wrote something I had been planning for an upcoming ReelThought. I can cross that one off the list.


James

We've exchanged emails on this and agree.

I actually think that if rentals were low enough and available on line the purchase market would dry up quickly.

The reason many companies die is that they cannot see change because they are too focused on the present. It took Netflix to move Blockbuster from relying on 30% of their revenues from late fees. They have never recovered.

The music industry spent years fighting Napster. They won that battle but lost the war and have never recovered.

A top of the line Comcast account will enable you to download 4.7GB in under an hour today. This will rapidly speed up over coming months and years.

Rob


Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:45 pm
Post Re: Piracy
I pirate movies - it's immoral and I'd rather not to do it, but there are a number of reasons why I do:

-Money - I just can't afford to buy a new movie every week.
-Unlimited access - I can download as many movies as I want at the pace that I want.
-Huge selection - Other than Netflix (which, sadly, doesn't operate in Canada), there's no way to get such a vast selection of movies. Within an hour, I could be watching a movie that isn't available in any stores in the city.
-The gap between theaters and home video releases - I don't know why the industry insists on sticking with this tactic. It's incredibly annoying to have to wait months after the theatrical run has finished to view a movie at home.
-Permanency - I almost never delete what I pirate. I like the idea of having all these movies at my fingertips, with me wherever I go.
-Convenience - No more going to the video store. Simple.

Once the film industry bridges all those gaps, I'll start buying more DVDs. I still buy Blu-Rays and the occasional DVD when it's a bargain, but other than that I'm stuck with piracy.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:00 pm
Post Re: Piracy
Robert Holloway wrote:
James Berardinelli wrote:
You can't put the genie back into the bottle once it's out. Casual piracy became a major issue with Napster. It taught an entire generation of Americans that piracy isn't really bad. That same philosophy has moved into the motion picture industry.

One problem is that the studios have not reacted to this. Instead of proactively trying to limit the damage caused by piracy, they have whined about it being illegal and tried the punitive road. All that does is make the studios seem like bullies. 20th Century Fox against some college kid. Doesn't sound like a fair fight.

There will never be a way to eliminate piracy, and this post isn't even about piracy in other countries, where it's a cottage industry. But the way to curtail it is to introduce a reasonable price structure. There's no logical reason why a digital, downloadable copy of a movie should cost $10, $15, or $20. That's ludicrous. It encourages piracy. For digital movies, basic costs are close to zero. After that, eveyone gets royalties on a percentage basis. So sell the movies cheaply. VERY cheaply. Certainly less than $5.

This won't happen. First, it would wreck the rental industry. Can't rent movies if they can be purchased for those prices. Second, it would cut away at profits. So the trade-off is keeping the price levels where they are and risking an expansion of piracy as bandwidth increases and people continue to believe this is a victimless crime. The solution is there; the studios don't want to explore it.

Sounds like I just wrote something I had been planning for an upcoming ReelThought. I can cross that one off the list.


James

We've exchanged emails on this and agree.

I actually think that if rentals were low enough and available on line the purchase market would dry up quickly.

The reason many companies die is that they cannot see change because they are too focused on the present. It took Netflix to move Blockbuster from relying on 30% of their revenues from late fees. They have never recovered.

The music industry spent years fighting Napster. They won that battle but lost the war and have never recovered.

A top of the line Comcast account will enable you to download 4.7GB in under an hour today. This will rapidly speed up over coming months and years.

Rob


can't agree more with you two, and I believe the examples I explained in my original post serve to prove your points. if films (especially digital copies) were to be sold as cheaply as you say, piracy would certainly start weakening (not sure about dying altogether) here in Peru. the only problem? I live in a thirdworld country where less than half the population of the country have a computer, so I'm not sure if reducing the prizes of DIGITAL downloads would be the best solution here. reducing the prices of physical copies would certainly help.


Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:11 am
Post Re: Piracy
Hi All,

Firstly, I'd like to say that I hate, hate, hate piracy...but unfortunately I partake on a regular basis.

Like Sebastian, I'm also in a 3rd world country (Caribbean) where it also costs me about US$30-40 to buy an original dvd. A full tank of gas costs about US$15. A pirated dvd also costs me about $1.50. A cinema ticket ranges between $3 to $8 dollars depending on location/day of the week. So while I'd love to have more original dvds instead of my current humble collection it's simply financially impossible for me to do so.

I'd like to add that the availability of foreign/classic films is very poor...even among pirates, so I've taken to downloading some older movies in order to see them.

Btw, I think the forums are a great idea. Do any other critics do this?


Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:52 pm
Post Re: Piracy
James Berardinelli wrote:
There's no logical reason why a digital, downloadable copy of a movie should cost $10, $15, or $20. That's ludicrous. It encourages piracy.

Hell, I'd pay for a legitimate copy if it was priced at ten to twenty bucks. Here in Malaysia, the typical DVD costs upwards of sixty dollars.

Another problem is region encoding (which I understand is supposed to curb inter-regional piracy?), which means that, on top of the exorbitant price, there is a possibility that it will not work on my DVD player, which may come from China or Japan. This problem does not happen on pirated disks. So in effect, by forking out 18 times more money for a DVD that may or may not work, I am being penalised for following the law.

Robert Holloway wrote:
I have a friend who always argues that he is doing no harm because he would not have watched the film anyway. I cannot convince him that if we went into Target and stole a candy bar he could not argue that he would not have bought it anyway.

This analogy is misleading though. If I steal a candy bar, the shop owner loses that candy bar and the profits that he would have gotten from its sale, no matter whether I would have bought it in the first place. The studios do not lose the movie.


Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:47 am
Post Re: Piracy
I recently visited the Philippines. Their movie tickets range from $4-$5. The bulk of working-class Filipinos earn approximately $5-$6 per day. For many, it is unreasonable to spend an entire day's wage on a 2-hour movie. Pirated DVDs on the other hand are being sold for $2 or less. Unless movie theaters and studios are willing to make movies available at a significantly reduced rate, they cannot eliminate piracy.


Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:46 am
Post Re: Piracy
In the end it comes down to one thing - money.

The studios don't want to give up any avenue for squeezing revenue from the public. The music industry made the same mistakes.

The people that run these businesses just can't seem to get their heads around the power of the internet.

I don't pirate - I've been offered pirate versions of movies but the quality, while not bad, was not good enough for me. I'm not condemning anyone either - we all do what we do.


Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:42 pm
Post Re: Piracy
I'm fine with paying $10 for digital movies, but I agree that $15's a bit much.


Sun Feb 15, 2009 9:55 pm
Post Re: Piracy
Just like Sebastian, I live in Peru, and while I'm not a fan of movie pirating, it's become a necessity. Original DVDs are just way too expensive, even if I really like the movie, paying 40 dollars for it is a bit much.

I own about 350 movies on DVD, and only 30 of those are original copies. We have to turn to piracy because it's cheaper and because, like he said, movies take forever to arrive in theaters here. One recent example: Gran Torino was meant to open two weeks ago (I even wrote a cover story of it for the magazine I write for), and once it got completely ignored at the Oscar nominations, the distributors pushed it all the way back to late March. Frost/Nixon, The Reader, and Milk are all set to open in April. That's how long we have to wait.

I turn to piracy not just because it's cheaper, but because it lets me see films I normally wouldn't have access to. Still, it's kind of a double-edged sword. Most pirated copies are DVD quality, but occasionally something can go wrong. Like maybe the disc freezes halfway through the film, or you get one of those studio screeners where the screen turns to black and white every seven minutes. Or maybe you're watching a movie recorded by a Handycam off a movie screen in a theater. You never know. I bought a copy of The Happening recently which looked excellent, yet the whole film was in Russian and whoever pirated it erased the subtitle options.

Personally, even though my English is pretty good, I still have to watch some movies with subtitles. Maybe there are accents I don't understand, or maybe you bought a disc with great picture quality but horrendous audio which makes everything hard to hear. And then the subtitles are all wrong (I own a copy of Australia where you can tell by the subtitles the people that made it had a hell of a time understanding the accents). Even if you don't pay attention to the subtitles, this can be distracting; it's taken me out of a movie numerous times.

So, that's a risk about movie piracy. The quality is often excellent, but not always. But until they find a way to make original DVDs cheaper, that's all we got. That, and we need more outlets where to buy DVDs; there are very few places that sell them, much less at comfortable prices.


Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:25 am
Post Re: Piracy
EDIT- im not going back for nobody. IM NOT GOING BACK!!! :D


Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:49 pm
Post Pirate or not to Pirate?
I have downloaded a few films, not a lot, usually movies unavailable to me, am I costing Hollywood money? I see a minimum of 100 movies a year at the cinema, and have a DVD collection probably in the thousands (never counted). I don't download blockbusters or crappy CAM rips, and if I like a film, I'll buy it. I don't distribute or sell any of these films, or keep them in a library. Most of what I would download, is unavailable to me or something that I would NEVER pay to see. I have though bought and seen theatrically many films that I might not of without a download. The movie industry, through advertising and warnings says that I am a criminal and a social outcast (in the UK anyway, I'm a 'Knock-off Nigel' :lol: ). I don't feel particulaly bad. Do You?


Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:33 pm
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