It is the right of every company to defend its copyright. And so is the case of Hollywood studios that have been fighting the “good” fight since the Napster scandal first shed light upon the new phenomenon of P2P file sharing. At least in one moment of our lives we face an event in which our copy or legal rights are broken, and so we can understand their constant and aggressive fight toward P2P. What we “universally” don't like is lying.
For a couple of years now, studios (movie and music alike) are accusing piracy and file sharing of destroying the movie and music industry. They're stating that with the increase in file sharing and P2P usage seen in the rising traffic toward torrent trackers, studio revenue is constantly going down.
Some of the executives have reached a point in which they lie in the face of magazine readers by stating that piracy has reduced income and they don't have enough money to make more films. Some others have warned that the continuing trend of pirating movies on the web will surely lead to studio bankruptcies in the very near future. All of this cannot be any further from the truth.
As any person that is involved in a creative environment where legal copyrights mean the right to get paid, we can all understand their quest in getting the proper payment for their work.
Disgraceful on their part is the way they do it. Taking a closer look at numerous studies and statistics about the movie and music industry, one can only think where these studios are getting their paranoid “end-of-the-world” type of statistics.
and ABC News
pointed out in articles published at the start of December 2009, the movie industry is billions of years away from any financial problem. And when we say billions, we mean billions. Take a look at the following graph, for example. It shows the worldwide movie gross income and the way it has evolved from 2004 until now. Take notice of the fact that the numbers for 2009 are still incomplete.
Not only did they make more movies than last year, but the rise in average ticket prices from $7.18 to $7.46 has contributed to a much richer year.
As you can see, there are no gloomy predictions in the near future for movie studios. Quite the contrary. Movie studios are expected to break their previous gross income record by more than $1 billion dollars. With $10.6 billion dollars expected to go in their pockets by the end of the year, the fact of the matter is that their fight against piracy leads us to believe that most of the movie moguls are starting to suffer from the “what if” syndrome. “What if online piracy didn't exist? How much money would I have made then?”
Let's not forget that even if this year's figures
are at $8.9 billion, the number is only $800 million under last year's figure of $9.7 billion. The mark is easily surpassable since movies like Avatar
and Sherlock Holmes
are to be released, only Avatar being expected to bring in figures of $700-800 million dollars worldwide. Also, the holiday season is starting, and all those cheesy Christmas movies are to be outed as well.
A regular reader can only wonder why these lies are necessary. Is there something to gain in victimizing yourself? Isn't the fear of ridicule bigger than the fans’ respect?
“Last year the leading Hollywood studios made 162 films — more than 40 fewer than in 2006, and the lowest number in a decade” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment in an article he wrote for Times Online
He added that “Online theft siphons billions of dollars out of the marketplace. That means less money to make movies. Projects get scaled back and others dropped. Some potential blockbusters won’t get made. Some new writers, actors and film-makers won’t get discovered.”
That may be true. But the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and its global partner MPA (Motion Picture Association), organizations that have fought for copyright infringements across the globe, are mainly formed and run by those financial-challenged “leading Hollywood studios.” Ironically or not, the MPA officially announced
on its website that “Worldwide box office reached another all-time high in 2008 at $28.1 billion, an increase of 5.2% over 2007” and also “The Domestic box office continued to grow in 2008, reaching $9.79 billion after a 1.7% gain.” Something is contradictory in here. Studios made lesser movies, but they cashed in more money?
Maybe the financial crisis that hit the economy made movie studios filter out risky projects, but when more profit was made that leads us to believe that good crisis management was involved. This does not show at all the picture described by Mr. Lynton.
We don't say that showing some respect and presenting us the hard facts will stop anyone from illegally downloading a movie, but personally, I would like to see studios not lying anymore. The law is mainly on their side. This propaganda is not needed. We could do without the poisoning and self-victimization of the rich Hollywood studios. Only on the power of the law and common-sense, the MPAA and other organizations have managed to bring down some huge torrent trackers around the world. Only this year, The Pirate Bay
were shut down with court orders.
The same thing goes for music studios. In a study presented to the world by TechDirt
, it was shown that in the home country of The Pirate Bay, the Swedish music industry has flourished, compensating from its drop in sales with an increase in live shows. Overall, artist and studio revenues went up since 2000. Some graphs provided by Daniel Johansonn and TechDirt can be seen below.
This is how TechDirt concluded the article, “Basically, these charts are showing the same thing that those other studies have shown. More music is being created. There is greater 'discovery' of new music. There are greater revenue opportunities for musicians, and the only part of the business that appears to be suffering is the part that involves selling plastic discs.” Not very far from the truth.
In my opinion, illegal file sharing won't see its end with the demise of Pirate Bay or Mininova. Already, some very good alternatives have risen up to the challenge:Local trackers
Since big studios have a tendency of going after the big dogs, and a big tracker always attracts unwanted attention and greatly increased running costs, more and more torrent owners are closing registrations or going back to a much smaller user base. Some trackers practically opt to filter out IP addresses based on city, county, region or country. A smaller community is practically the safest way to run a tracker these days.Use HTTP
Recently, we've been exposed to some hints that file upload sites like MegaUpload, RapidShare, HotFile, NetLoad, DepositFiles, FileFactory, MediaFire, MegaShares, SendSpace, Ziddu, EasyShare, FisierulMeu or Adrive are being used to store vast quantities of copyrighted files. The links to those files are posted on a large network of blogs, forums and message boards, categorized by moderators and admins, thus building an impeccable index to illegal download locations. The community contributes to the success of these forums by updating files or announcing dead links.Go third-world
Most of the recent new trackers that seem to appear have a hosting company located somewhere in a distant and undeveloped country in Africa, former USSR or countries with a weaker legislation in copyrights.Big trackers that were not taken down (probably will)
A short list: TorrentBox, H33t, 1337x, Demonoid, isoHunt, TorrentReactor, Btjunkie, RTN, BitShock, Filelist, OpenBitTorrent, Denis.Stalker, Hexagon CC, BiteMyTorrent, etc. And the list could easily continue with 100 more entries.Google
Did you know that adding the text “filetype:torrent” to any Google query, the renowned search engine turns into a torrent searcher? Practically, this is what isoHunt does. It checks other trackers for files, links and peers of a torrent.
Not only did movie studios fail to stop P2P file sharing, but they expanded their tools gallery and helped publicly to promote their services. Kids are learning not only what P2P is, but how to avoid firewalls, use proxies, know loopholes in copyright laws or even to illegally cap and share a movie online.
With the recent headlines made by their war on piracy, Hollywood studios should learn more from the Communist regimes that dominated and terrorized Eastern Europe in the 19th century: everything is done much better in silence. Imagine studios suing and closing down trackers with simple lawsuits, all this useless propaganda started with Napster in 2001. Remember that? Remember all the concerts by music artists and bands “for” and “against” the service.
Nothing was gained except for free publicity for P2P. That scandal made me aware that a person could get practically anything for free on the Internet.
In the end, we can easily say that Hollywood studios are simply exaggerating. Nothing can be gained from watching a cam-ripped movie at an infernally low quality with noisy sound and hearing other spectators chew popcorn and burp loudly. Movie fans will always be in a theater, still contributing to MPAA's record breaking years in gross income and attendances. Maybe the real big threat for Hollywood is the DVD sales sector, where pirates are not only ripping movies, but are making huge sums of money from it.
Until P2P file sharing gets the legal cloud cast over it by the MPAA removed, we strongly recommend going to a theater. In many cases, the experience is much greater and richer than watching a low-quality cap of the movie.