Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Oh, Please!

Don't take away our preview screenings Mr. Warner, it'd kill us.

I see that the Movie industry has taken the same approach that the big dollar recording industry has - punish the consumers of their products for "piracy". A month or so ago, it was Fox threatening to "delay" releases in Canada; this month we find Warner Bros. taking away our "preview screenings".

The argument is that "most" movies are pirated in Canada by people going into the theater with a camcorder and recording it. Apparently, recording things in a movie house is not "criminal", and therefore won't get you thrown out of the theater - at least in Canada. The movie studios want us to implement harsher laws a la what exists in the States. (Such as the DMCA - one of the most brain damaged pieces of legislation ever promulgated by congress...)

Personally, I've seen one or two of the bootlegs made via camcorder. The quality generally is pretty shoddy. Frankly, a movie buff isn't going to be happy with the quality, and the people who are happy with it probably don't care enough about movies to bother going to the theater at all.

As for the "street market vendor" selling bootleg DVD's in China or other countries with a very different idea of "intellectual property", they'll just find a different source for their wares; or live with the fact that their "supplier" will be delayed somewhat.

So-called "Piracy" of entertainment products is pervasive - it's been around as long as consumer recording media has existed. The recording and movie industries (among others) that peddle their wares in the consumer market need to learn to make "piracy" their ally, not their sworn enemy. In a game of "spy vs. spy", the other guy can always come up with a new way to bootleg things.

Warner Bros., Fox, Universal and others need to come to the realization that for the most part, pirate versions represent phantom sales that they would not have had in any event. Simply put, the movie buff isn't going to give up their theater screening, and the consumer of the pirate versions probably never go to the theater in the first place.

If Warner Bros wants to undermine the pirates, quietly pre-release a low quality "bootleg" version of their movies in a viral marketing campaign within hours of the first screenings. Stick a few ads into it if you "must" make revenue from it, and see what happens. It won't kill the serious commercial pirates, but I'll bet that it will be more successful than trying to punish your customers on the assumption they are pirates.

1 comment:

North of 49 said...

Can't remember where I read a smackdown of this silly policy, but it did point out that a large proportion of the bootleg copies are sourced from within the movie industry itself -- not camcorder-wielding pirates.

It also pointed out that the figures used in justification didn't add up: apparently 40% of bootlegging comes out of New York, 50% from Montreal, leaving only 10% from the entire rest of the world. But of course! Sacre bleu, how could we have been so blind?