Discuss: Can You Be a Film Fan If You Pirate Movies?

Last week, the discussion about movie piracy heated up again, as it will continually until a workable solution to the problem is found or until the art form ceases to exist.

I spoke with indie filmmaker Dan Eckman on Reject Radio on Sunday, and got his thoughts on piracy. Of course, despite seeing the nuances of the situation, he hates piracy. Why? Because he and his crew worked insanely hard on Mystery Team, and people that steal it are disrespecting that hard work.

As you can probably tell, it’s my opinion that you can’t be both a true film fan and pirate movies.

However, I fully admit that I can’t exactly explain why.

My argument goes something like this:

  1. If you love film, you should love those who create it so that you can appreciate it.
  2. If you love those who create it, you should support them.
  3. If you steal from them, you’re not supporting them.

That’s actually pretty good. I realize that it’s a tough world out there, and that people can’t afford all the things they need to live, but I just don’t see how anyone could take content without paying for it and 1) not admit to themselves that they are stealing (granting that what they are taking is available for purchase) and 2) still claim to love movies.

The only interesting gray area that I can see was offered up by my friend Ryan who has only pirated one thing in his life – a rare movie from Jim Henson that was so weird it never saw a real release. That’s a tough one to argue against. If the artist wants it out there, but no one will put it out there, is it ethical to find it and watch it without paying?

That’s just a side question to the main one, but the whole thing is fascinating to me. I realize that this makes me sound like an old fogey who hates poor people, and it’s always precarious to define something like fandom, but I just don’t see any way around it.

But I’m open to suggestions.

What do you think?

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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