Movie Piracy

The Sacrament

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Poetic Justice

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Wouldnt Steal a Car

The MPAA was wrong in 2004 when it launched its wonderfully mockable “You Wouldn’t Steal a Car” campaign to fight piracy because they elevated a grossly uneven analogy to slogan status. Even with all other things being equal, comparing a movie ticket to something you take out a loan for is pretty moronic. The truth is that downloading a movie or TV show is closer in spirit to speeding in that car you wouldn’t steal: driving over the speed limit is an easy crime to commit; a lot of people do it without qualms; and although it happens regularly without incident, it sometimes leads to catastrophic consequences. Admittedly even that analogy fails because of the uncomfortable equation of loss of life and limb to loss of livelihood, but it’s streets ahead of the MPAA’s now-abandoned scare tactic. Still, just as people are going to text while driving despite dozens of poignantly disfigured warnings, online piracy is (and always was) here to stay. In the past few weeks, three things have happened that highlight this pointless battle again and prove that the pirate chant, “We’d pay if you let us!” was right.

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netflix

It’s been a standard argument from the piracy community that if there were better access to movies and TV shows online, there would be a lot less illegal downloading. It turns out they now have a powerful ally in delivering that message. According to a recent interview with Stuff (via TorrentFreak), Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said “The best way to combat piracy isn’t legislatively or criminally but by giving good options,” and he has the internal data to support that mindset. According to Sarandos, every time Netflix enters a new territory, its numbers go up while Torrent numbers go down. There are a lot of conclusions to draw here, but Sarandos himself has the money quote: “One of the side effects of growth of content is an expectation to have access to it. You can’t use the Internet as a marketing vehicle and then not as a delivery vehicle.” In other words, there’s a new nation of fans that are asking why they see a movie’s 2 teaser trailers, 5 full trailers, 10 posters, 30 character posters, commentary, interviews, set footage and hi-res official pics online, but can’t see the movie there.

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How much movie advertising is too much? What’s the number? When 25% of the movie is online in ads before it comes out? 10%? 2%? Are you ready to go back to a world where the magic and mystery happens when you’re in the theater instead of at your laptop? Louis Plamondon’s (aka Sleepy Skunk) “Amazing Spider-Man in 25 Minutes” is an awesome look at the movie, but it’s also a critical middle finger to movie marketers for stealing that magic. We spoke with the mash-up editor about finding 20% of a blockbuster online before it hit theaters, what that means for piracy and how that’s deeply unfair to the people who worked on the movie. Download Episode #139

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On Charlie Rose last night, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes explained his desire to shorten the time between theatrical releases and home entertainment availability. His reason? It’s great for everyone ever. It makes sense that Time Warner (which owns New Line, Warner Bros., HBO, DC Comics, Castle Rock Entertainment, and other media ventures) would want to shorten the window. Bewkes evoked the dreaded P-word in his initial rationale for getting movies to television screens sooner, but he also recognized that there’s an audience beyond pirates that wants to have home-viewing options. “Everyone in the business, including theater owners, has an interest,” said Bewkes. But what exactly is in the theater owners’ best interest? And what will broadband bundled with shorter waiting periods mean for DVD and Blu-ray?

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Earlier this week, Deadline Wherever reported that during a panel at CinemaCon, exhibitors discussed the option of allowing patrons to text during films. It was pitched as an attempt to attract younger audiences to the theaters, even though it doesn’t actually address the reason (price of films, quality of the home video experience and rampant online piracy) why teens and college students don’t go to the movies as much as they did in the 70s and 80s. At Film School Rejects, we support a staunch no-texting policy (and no tweeting, Facebooking, web surfing, Wikipediaing, playing of Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja) at all theaters. However, instead of pointing out the fallacies of this idiotic suggestion, we’re taking a look into the future. Here is a possible timeline of what might happen were texting allowed in movie theaters. Gird your loins and enjoy this cautionary tale from Cole Abaius and Kevin Carr.

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Since 2004, Hyman “Big Hy” Strachman has sent over 300,000 bootlegged movie discs to military units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Never expecting any money and using an estimated $30,000 of his own coin, the 92-year-old took up the hobby of bootlegging after his wife over more than 50 years died. According to this incredible piece in the New York Times, Strachman discovered a site that cataloged soldier requests for care packages, and after noticing that many asked for DVDs, he started an operation that started slow and evolved (with the help of a professional disc burner) into an enterprise that saw hundreds of movies copied every day. The practice re-connects him, a World War II vet, to the military, and the result so far has been a few binder’s worth of Thank You notes but no legal notifications from studios.

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Getting the other side of the piracy debate, I speak directly to an online pirate about why he does it and how he sees it. Plus, Goon co-writer Evan Goldberg talks hockey and the violence of comedy while Detachment director Tony Kaye proves he’s still slightly crazy. Download Episode #124

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There’s nothing like a loaded question to start the day, especially when tensions are consistently high about the piracy issue. Both sides are so committed to their positions that even people on the sideline and in the stands are feeling the heat rise off the field. SOPA was crushed by the sheer force of populism on the internet, and as the MPAA and internet service providers ready slower downloads for suspected pirates, the folks over at Paralegal (obvious movie fans judging by their name) are concerned with another question: doesn’t the movie industry have a hypocritical position toward piracy? They’ve created an infographic answering that question with a resounding, “Yes,” and since they included an image of the Borg, it qualifies for posting. There’s a ton of information here. Check it out for yourself:

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The Motion Picture Association of America must die. It’s a monopolistic behemoth that poisons creativity and commerce while hiding behind the failed task of educating parents about film content, and the time has come to call for its dissolution. The above logo is what we, as movie fans, are most familiar with when it comes to the MPAA because we see it on trailers and home video, but that symbol is really a trick of PR. The goal of the MPAA is not to rate movies, even if that’s the product we know and loathe best. The MPAA’s founding, fundamental aim is to maintain the corporate dominance of its members – the six largest studios. It does not serve fans. It does not serve families. It does not serve filmmakers.

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In October of 2011, Representative Lamar S. Smith (of the great state of Texas) introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act to Congress. The bill’s aim was to bolster copyright holders in fights against those that infringe upon them, and that’s an important task. Intellectual property theft can be incredibly injurious to the victim. In fact, FSR had to cut through red tape in the fall of last year to stop a Chinese-based website from stealing its content and republishing it wholesale. Plagiarism is despicable, and stealing the hard creative work of others is too. However, SOPA is tantamount to drinking drain cleaner because your nose itches. The bill is unduly generic – granting massive powers to the government and entities who would wield it like a plaything to shut down websites for spurious reasons and to keep them down throughout what would inevitably be a drawn-out legal process. In short, for an accusation with no meat on it, some of your favorite sites could be shut down on a whim, creating both temporary and possibly permanent damage. As you can see from our masthead today, we’re in full support of the protest against SOPA (and PIPA, it’s cousin in the Senate). While we don’t know how powerful the SOPA blackout might be, we genuinely wish we could go dark as well, but it’s just not feasible for a site like ours that operates on a smile and a shoestring. Losing a day of revenue is just too much of a […]

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We here at FSR pride ourselves on speaking with authority. It doesn’t always happen (especially when I’m writing about Inception after drinking three boxes of wine), but it’s the goal we strive for. We’re bursting on the brink of boastfulness to provide a service most other film sites don’t offer – the ingenuity and odd creativity of our team of writers. Our readership is up 46% this year and that’s thanks in a major way to our fans, to the fourth box of wine, and to these features and editorials. If you missed them the first time, enjoy adding your two cents. If you’re catching them for the second time around, feel free to flame on for old time’s sake. (Click on any of the titles below to read the full articles.)

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So far, the war against film piracy has had a familiar pattern. Unfortunately, it’s a pattern that leads to failure.

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