Now yours truly is no angel as I have dabbled in piracy myself, but I stay in the "gray" areas and focus my efforts on downloading obscure, rare, and out of print movies that I cannot simply purchase at a store, online or otherwise. That still doesn't make it right, but in some cases, it is the only option I have. I see it as the equivalent of buying a homemade DVD-R, that contains a VHS-rip of some obscure 80's horror flick that has long been out of print. So for any of you high and mighty "I never illegally download anything" folks who pick up fan-made DVD-Rs online and at conventions, well... you are technically pirates as well.
Anyway, the second thing that prompted me to share some thoughts and opinions on this matter was the new short that "Hatchet" director Adam Green created. It's a funny (and gory) PSA talking about the inherent dangers of illegally downloading films off the web. Give it a look; it's great!
Piracy is nothing new, especially on the web, and I doubt anyone really thinks about the possible repercussions. No, not the repercussions that you'll suffer if you get caught (fines and threats of actual jail time), but the ones that affect the film makers, actors, special f/x teams, and all those involved in creating the movies you decided you just had to watch for free. Yeah, I'm getting preachy, but it bugs me, especially when guys like Eli Craig (director of "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil") discover their movie has leaked out onto the web long before they were able to find a distributor. That's not cool.
Film piracy is chugging along with no end in sight (unless Net Neutrality ends and/or laws are passed that will block certain sites from the American public) and studios are fighting a seemingly impossible battle against the army of digital buccaneers that are plundering their film libraries. So how should the powers that be in Hollywood fight back? Should harsher consequences be implemented for those that are caught? Should a privatized web-police force be set up to go after illegal downloaders? Ummm.... NO.
Submitted for your approval, here are a few ideas I have that will not only help Hollywood battle online piracy, but will also benefit us consumers too.
1.HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS NEED TO BECOME "THRIFTIER."
If it's one thing I've noticed, it is that movie budgets are becoming pretty damned ridiculous these days. Here's a word of advice to all the big studios in Hollywood: Scale back your production costs! And while you're at it, stop spending so much damned money on advertising! If a film cost $20 million to make, don't attach another $20 million dollars in advertising fees to it! Now the movie will have to make back MORE than double its budget for you to see a profit!
If studios manage to get their crazy spending under control, the savings will eventually trickle down to consumers. Theater ticket prices (and maybe even concession prices) will go down, and the cost of a brand new DVD or Blu-ray on their initial release days may drop as well. Making films is a business, therefore studios should cut costs and increase revenue. Now this sounds easy on paper, but I'm sure there's tons of red tape that would make this simple solution next to impossible. Still, think it over Hollywood.
2. EASE PUNISHMENTS ON OFFENDING PIRATES
What? Go easy on those that would engage in digital piracy? Are you mad?! Well... no, I don't think so. The voices in my head say I'm perfectly fine. All kidding aside though, studios and the MPAA (who gave them all the power they have anyway?) need to chill out with their hefty fines and whatnot. Instead of charging several thousand dollars because someone has a few movies on their hard drive after visiting The Pirate Bay, why not force the downloader to pay the freakin' cost of a legal digital download or DVD? That way, they have "purchased" the film and can keep it, you turn a small profit, and walk away looking like less of a douchebag.
3. MAKE ALL DVDS & BLU-RAYS REGION 0
Who was the moron was that decided that there needed to be a whopping six (seven if you count Region 0) DVD regions in the world? That is just stupid as Hell! It is not fair to consumers when a film is available in a foreign country that is not available here. For that one reason alone, many people download foreign films off the web since they sometimes take months, even years, to reach the United States. Make all discs playable worldwide and piracy will take a hit in the gut.
If I can buy any movie I want, from any country on Earth, without having to own special equipment, that'd be amazing. Some companies already do this (Blue Underground) and it'd be awesome if others would follow suit. Then again... there's probably lots of red tape that would stop this from happening, since multiple distribution firms worldwide probably own the rights to various movies in each region (which is why the U.K. can get a "House" boxed set and us Yanks can't). If everything went to Region 0, I suppose it would most likely put a lot of them out of business. For that reason alone, this will probably never happen, but hey... the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.....
4. DIGITIZE ENTIRE FILM LIBRARIES; EMBRACE DIGITAL DOWNLOADING
One thing that always brings me back to the seedy world of movie downloading is the fact that there are so many films that are out of print, or just completely unavailable anywhere. Studios need to start going through their vaults, pull out everything they can, and convert them into a digital format. Not only will this help preserve many older, lesser known titles for decades to come (its always good to have a backup copy) but once this task is completed, the films can be sold to curious consumers.
Entire film libraries can then be streamed for a small fee, or downloaded for a bit more money, or customers can pay full price and either receive an actual DVD in the mail, or download a disc ISO and burn it themselves.
Warner Bros. does something like this with its own "burn to order" DVD service, however, the prices are high and the films are burned to DVD-R discs. (Wait a minute.... now studios are bootlegging their own flicks for a profit?!) Its a great idea, but who wants to pay twenty bucks for a DVD-R of "The Green Slime," especially if it's easy to download off the web, and readily available at a vendor's table at a convention? (Totally a rhetorical question by the way.)
To sum up this idea: Make more films available to your customers, keep the pricing reasonable, and make it readily and easily available in a digital format. Get it? Got it? Good!
Now these are just a few ideas that hit me, and its doubtful that any of them would ever be implemented or actually work (#2 and #3 would totally work by the way), but I felt that I had to throw my two cents in after reading what John had to say. If you agree with me, or disagree with me, or have ideas of your own to fight piracy while simultaneously benefiting consumers, be sure to comment below or over at the Vault's Facebook Page.
Finally, before I go to bed, I'd like to let you see the fun teaser trailer for PIRANHA 3DD that was unveiled during yesterday's airing of the SPIKE SCREAM AWARDS. It looks like so much fun, with tons of big ole boobies bouncing around, and lots of killer CGI fish, and.... Ving Rhames with SHOTGUN LEGS! Give it a look, then weep because it has been shelved by those idiots over at Dimension until sometime next year:
Well it's pretty late here in my neck of the woods and my eyes are trying to close without my approval, so I bid you all a good night.