Movie piracy 'like terrorism'
November 16, 2002 12:59 AM   Subscribe

Movie piracy 'like terrorism' The drive to protect movie copyright needed to be "as concentrated an international event as the war on terrorism", according to Star Wars producer Rick McCallum.
posted by helloboys (32 comments total)
If that's what he wants then it looks like those who violate copyright law have little to worry about...
posted by herc at 1:05 AM on November 16, 2002

Geesh, maybe if P2P networks take away their sales, they will only make 50,000 a year in personal income....
posted by mildred-pitt at 2:08 AM on November 16, 2002

Big budget film-making faced a total collapse in three years if studios don't quickly address the threat posed by movie downloading on the internet, McCallum said.

Wow, that's the biggest incentive to pirate I have seen yet.
posted by epimorph at 2:13 AM on November 16, 2002

The Empire Strikes Back.

First of all, this busy movie producer has no idea how much movie material isn't to be found or readily gotten on the p2p networks. Does he sit night after night doused in the glow of a maximized Kazaa window and actually try and download this bandwidth intensive crap? I doubt it.

He has no idea and he's talking out of his ass. He's not out there "in the trenches" of p2p filesharing nightly, he's merely hearing and speaking for what he needs to hear himself say from a corporate (endearingly Star Wars) perspective. Somebody's gotta come out against this non scourge.

I could see if everyone were connected via a napster-like clone (no pun intended) on T1 connections, sharing movies like bubble gum in the third grade, he'd have a point. But that's not the case. What then could his point be?
posted by crasspastor at 2:16 AM on November 16, 2002

Damn, epimorph, that's exactly what I thought when I read that! Big budget film-making may collapse? God, we can only hope. I've been trying to watch the DVD of Attack of the Clones... Heaven save us from the bad acting, dull writing, and pedestrian camera work of big budget films. The last two films I saw in theaters were Spirited Away and Secretary. I enjoyed both. Big budget CGI wouldn't have helped Spirited Away, and Secretary would not have benefited from a flying car sequence that could easily be turned into a platform-jumping video game.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 2:27 AM on November 16, 2002

If movie piracy has the same effect that piracy has on the record industry, then I for one wouldn't be surprised in the slightest. But at least he's done some research into the issue before getting wildly apocryphal ...
posted by walrus at 2:29 AM on November 16, 2002

Hint for any RIAA, MPAA peeps reading this thread: if someone is going to pirate something, they weren't going to buy it anyway. Now get over it.
posted by walrus at 2:31 AM on November 16, 2002

Walrus, that's a terribly flimsy rationalization.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 3:16 AM on November 16, 2002

Actually Walrus, I disagree. I've bought more cds/dvds as a result of piracy than I ever would have without it. I hate to be ripped off and would rather try something out first before I buy it. Sometimes works out and sometimes doesn't, but if after trying I come to believe that the product in question is of high quality then, yes, I would buy it. So maybe the RIAA and MPAA should think about turning out better quality products at better prices instead of bitching and moaning and placing the blame on pirating.

Besides, movies acquired through a p2p, even at their best, do not look as good as a dvd.
posted by joedan at 3:35 AM on November 16, 2002

I don't mean to be flimsy. Did you read the statistics in the article I linked? There doesn't appear to have been any impact on CD sales due to filesharing. This surprised me for a while, until I thought about it. I 'm guessing there are two classes of people downloading files: people who want to check out a lossy version before they spend money on the real thing (like me and joedan), and people who were never going to buy a copy anyway. That's my theory about why sales have not been impacted by the phenomenon. It may be a flimsy theory, given. Have you a better one?
posted by walrus at 3:38 AM on November 16, 2002

I never bought CDs or Tapes back in high school because I was too poor, but soon I was downloading MP3s off the 'web, then FTP, then IRC, and then the campus lan.

I guess I've never really gotten into the whole 'culture' of buying music, but since then the few times I have purchased CDs was due to my inability to find them online. Make of that what you will, I guess.

That said, this guy is obviously insane. We need to prevent terrorism because we need to prevent people from dying. If 'terrorists' only created economic damage, I doubt the same resources would be used to try to stop them.
posted by delmoi at 4:03 AM on November 16, 2002

Yet another excuse for the internet-savvy MeFi regulars to attempt lame justifications for why they shouldn't have to pay for another's art, regardless of whether or not they agree with the dreaded big studios/labels/etc.

If you're so deadset against RIAA or the MPAA, don't watch or listen to the media they put out. Don't steal an artist's work and attempt to justify it as some personal crusade against the big bad business most of you probably don't bat an eye at when you buy food, clothing, etc. (or do you take that, too?)

Yes, there are problems with what RIAA and the MPAA. Yes, they should probably get on board with some form of internet release. Yes, the big companies put out a lot of slop in an effort to make money. No, you don't deserve someone else's work for free because of it.
posted by The God Complex at 4:28 AM on November 16, 2002

Best part of the article:

After a journalist staked out writer-director George Lucas's Sydney home during the production of Clones, crew members staged a demonstration outside the journalist's home, "chanting 'this is what your daddy does, do you like it?' to his children", McCallum said.The journalist and his children were upset but the newspaper made no mention of the incident and stopped staking out Lucas.

That rules. Taste of their own medicine.
posted by benh57 at 4:54 AM on November 16, 2002

Comparing movie piracy to opposing terrorism is one of the most ludicrous and insulting things I have heard in quite a while. The guy makes lousy star wars films, too. Now Gary Kurtz, on the other hand...
posted by nthdegx at 5:46 AM on November 16, 2002

Han Solo shot first.
posted by blogRot at 7:40 AM on November 16, 2002

The God Complex:

You do realize that copyright infringement and theft are two different crimes, right?

That said, I'll admit that when I participate in copyright infringement I don't do it in order to bring down the RIAA or MPAA or whoever. I don't do it to make some kind of statement. I do it because I'm a greedy bastard and it happens to be the simplist and cheapest option at the time. If more people would admit this I think we'd have much more honest discussions about this sort of thing.
posted by ODiV at 7:52 AM on November 16, 2002

If this zipperhead can't tell the difference between 09/11/01 and video pirating I would suggest someone ought to fly a plane into him but it would just go right through him with no damage.

Just no substance to the man, don't ya know!
posted by arse_hat at 8:17 AM on November 16, 2002

How have so many producers and studio execs completely forgotten how ill-conceived this whole anti-tech song and dance was 20 years back, when the VCR was first introduced? At the time, MPAA prez Valenti testified to congress referring to the new technology as "the Boston Strangler of the American film industry," apparently slightly underestimating video sales & rentals' eventual role as a significantly larger revenue stream to the movie biz than theatrical distribution (video currently represents a whopping $16.9 billion market vs. box office receipts' still quite healthy $8.4 billion).

Undaunted by facts or history, Valenti and company appear to be doing it again, now painting digital technology as, I suppose, the "Washington Sniper of the American film industry." And, based on the number of quotes like McCallum's that have been published recently, there seemss to be fairly broad industry support for that position.

Stuff like this just makes me embarrassed to be a film producer.
posted by thomascrown at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2002

i always enjoy how they pull these statistics out of their asses. I've never seen any of the antipiracy folks give out any real statistics, with sources.
posted by angry modem at 9:15 AM on November 16, 2002

My law school hosted a debate last wekk on P2P filesharing with one of the head lawyers of RIAA and a guy from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Apparently, RIAA is starting to go after individual P2P users more aggresively, focusing on those sharing the largest number of files first. They are currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Verizon [scroll down to "Another Attack"], to force them to turn over the identity of one of their DSL customers who is sharing about 600 files on Kazaa, presumably so they could sue him.

RIAA's also trying to get a bill passed in Congress that would allow copyright owners to use "self help" to protect their rights. It is unclear exactly what the bill would allow, but the speculation is that it would allow copyright owners to hack other users computers or launch denial of service attacks against them.

I do think that RIAA is right to be concerned about filesharing, because as walrus's Salon link says, even if it's not affecting CD sales now, it certainly will eventually. But the solution is not to sue the users, it's to make a product that is so much higher quality than what you can get from Kazaa that people will be willing to pay for it. Given how crappy Kazaa is in so many different ways, this shouldn't be so hard. Companies are already starting to move this way in terms of physical media with SACD and DVD-Audio, which are amazing sound quality compared to regular CDs. They need to do the same thing with online services, which current are either nonexistant, or they suck. As for film, the industry has scored something of a coup with DVDs. DVD sales are going through the roof right now and they'll sell even faster when Warner Bros. cuts the price to under $10 as they have indicated.
posted by boltman at 10:10 AM on November 16, 2002

No, you don't deserve someone else's work for free because of it.

Yes Sir!

Comparing movie piracy to opposing terrorism is one of the most ludicrous and insulting things I have heard in quite a while

Yes Sir!

Except that an mp3 is a poor, anemic sample of something I'd quite possibly rather buy, and terrorist educational programs, instructions and plans are sent most easily via smug p2p shareware.

The only mp3 files I am interested in are things I have already, or plan to buy.

Oh yeah, that and pr0n .
posted by hama7 at 10:16 AM on November 16, 2002

I share 700 or so files on Kazaa nightly. Why isn't the RIAA going after me?
posted by Rebis at 10:20 AM on November 16, 2002

as walrus's Salon link says, even if it's not affecting CD sales now, it certainly will eventually

I don't see any evidence to support that statement.
posted by walrus at 10:31 AM on November 16, 2002

I think the RIAA/MPAA needs to realize that not everoyone "pirating" music is sitting there thinking "Great, now I don't have to buy the CD of this since I can get it for free!"
Certainly a lot of people probably say this, but the RIAA/MPAA underestimates the people who say "Wow, this is good, I want to go buy it now."
I'll admit it, I pirate a good bit of stuff. I don't have a job, I just have what money I can convince my parents that I've earned, which isn't really a lot considering the various stuff I want to buy. I don't have the money, for example, to get a DVD of, say, and anime series I've never seen before and decide if I like it after the first couple DVDs. So what do I do? I download it first. If I like it, I'll usually delete it and (plan to) buy it.

For example, I "pirated" a copy of Spirited Away. What would the MPAA and Disney say? That I've cost them a sale. What would I say to them? "Well I'm sorry, but I can't drive 6 hours to see a movie". Granted, Spirited Away was one of those movies I wouldn't hesitate to buy unseen, but now I really can't wait to get it on DVD.

But, I do make it a point not to pirate stuff I could go and rent at the local Media Gallery or see at the theater, because the only reason I wouldn't be doing that would be from just being lazy, and it's not really fair to cost them a sale just because I don't really want to go through the trouble to see something in the theater. (After all, a rental or a movie ticket is a good bit cheaper than a DVD, and I usually don't have to pay for them either ^_~)

What I do pirate is stuff I can't find otherwise. Yes, Inu-Yasha is out on DVD in the states now. But they're not up to episode 90 quite yet, so I'll continue to download it until it ends (whenever that may be). Probably buy it on DVD someday, but the fact that it's 3 episodes (for $25-$30) of an ongoing series that is in the 90s may well put me off from buying it until I have a lot of money to burn.

Music is a bit of a different matter. I do download music that I could get otherwise instead of buying the CD, but that's because I simply can't afford to, say, import a $35 CD from Japan because I like 2 songs on it. But that doesn't mean I don't support those artists when I can as well. Just not as often.

And there are times when I don't download something, because I know that I'm going to be buying it soon and it's just easier to wait. Take the last CD I bought, Lifehouse - Stanley Climbfall. I could have downloaded it while waiting to purchase it, or for it to get here, but I didn't. Besides, it made it more fun. ^_^

Ok, I think I'll shut up now o_O;
posted by silvermask at 11:02 AM on November 16, 2002

Walrus, according to your link:
In the paper, Liebowitz argues persuasively that record industry experts failed to prove their assertion that Napster was gutting industry revenues. But he also argues that eventually, digital downloading will be a serious threat to those revenues.

Rebis: I'm not sure that they are trying to go after everyone that is sharing a large number of files, I think they are trying to find a smaller number of people to make examples out of in order to strike fear in the hearts of other P2P users. Also, your ISP may be protecting your identity from RIAA, although it's not so clear that they have much legal ground to stand on given the DMCA.
posted by boltman at 11:58 AM on November 16, 2002

But he also argues that eventually, digital downloading will be a serious threat to those revenues.

So, I'm asking where his basis is, for that kind of statement. It's the same statement he was making years ago, before he had to admit that the facts didn't support it. If the facts aren't there, why kill the technology on the basis of mindless speculation? This isn't the first time we've had this kind of argument at all. The C90 cassette and the VHS tape were going to destrory the industry, remember?
posted by walrus at 12:35 PM on November 16, 2002

I do it because I'm a greedy bastard and it happens to be the simplist and cheapest option at the time. If more people would admit this I think we'd have much more honest discussions about this sort of thing.

That what I was getting at in a most beleaguered fashion.

Except that an mp3 is a poor, anemic sample of something I'd quite possibly rather buy, and terrorist educational programs, instructions and plans are sent most easily via smug p2p shareware.

That's completely different though. I think it's an interesting way to sample new music and help yourself make informed buys, but when it's used to blatantly take someone else's work and not pay them anything for it, well, that seems like it's going to hurt legitimate artists and not effect big fabricated acts who sell enough records not to notice.
posted by The God Complex at 1:30 PM on November 16, 2002

On a related note.

Roxio to buy Napster assets. Roxio says "Napster has value that is synergistic with Roxio's current digital media offerings". Of course what the article doesn't mention is that Roxio is also a distribution partner for pressplay. Previous MeFi discussion about pressplay.

I was going to start a new thread but then I remembered about this one from earlier today.
posted by riffola at 1:44 PM on November 16, 2002

In the latest issue of New Scientist someone studying attempts to stop filesharing came out and said the only way to effectively end it would be to lower the price of CDs.
posted by drezdn at 2:24 PM on November 16, 2002

Let's see, they're using the events of 11 September politically, to gain support for a self-serving agenda.

Gosh, never seen anyone do that before.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:44 PM on November 16, 2002

I agree with someone's earlier comment about filesharing being, quite simply, so much easier. I don't have to go into town to find the CDs I'm after (and finding plays a huge part when it comes to some of the CDs I'm after. Damn song-recommending obscure music-snob friends); with filesharing wanting a song leads to having a song in minutes. Gotta love that!

I used to think that people saying "The music industry should get with the times and embrace this new medium instead of trying to squash it. If they did something like that, I'd definitely pay one" was one of those things you say believing that you'll never have to answer for it. Of course the more that I think about it, it's probably true. If I could whip out my credit card and get a 320kbps version of "March of the Generals" (just that one song), by 'Nigo', then I would. Imagine that, the internet making unavailability a thing of the past. Ahh.

Of course while I'm rambling, I might as well mention something related to this, since this discussion is actually about film after all. Region-encoded DVDs. Seriously, they drive me insane. I tried to import the recently-released 'Felicity' season 1 box set (I'm in Australia), but due to region-encoding, doing so in apparently illegal. Thankfully a friend of mine downloads the episodes and lends them to me from time to time, but if given the opportunity I'd glady buy them. I want to give the production company my money, but damnit, why must they screw me over?

Obviously, my conflict is with availability. In my failed attempts to exchange money for goods, I turn to other means that allow me to accquire such goods. Does that really warrant a war-on-terrorism-esque act of retaliation?

Am I that bad?
posted by teem at 7:11 AM on November 17, 2002

Your not that bad teem. The history of media conglomerates and new technology is a history of the public having to beat media companies up until they're forced to take our money.
posted by Mitheral at 12:12 PM on November 18, 2002

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