Movie Piracy in Hollywood Why Should You Refrain from Downloading Pirated Movies
There was a time when the terrifying group of pirates used to roam across the open sea and pillage cargo-carrying ships and often the coastal villages. The new-age pirates, however, operate in shadows and they are only after the intellectual properties like films.
In 2014, Sylvester Stallone starrer big-budget action film, “Expendables 3” lost over 100 million dollars as the movie was leaked to the “pirates” three weeks before its release date. By the time it was released in theatres, it was already watched 70 million times through illegal means.
Well, that’s just one example of how movie piracy is causing the studios to lose big bucks over illegal views. However, it hardly matters to the consumers. According to a survey held in 2017, by Top Homework Helper, 39 percent of the US consumers don’t care if the studios lose money from illegal sharing of their intellectual property.
Furthermore, the survey revealed that 24 percent of the respondents expressed their interest in pirated movies. Well, it does not end here. The consumers have also expressed their interest in watching pirated versions of live sports and original content from premium streaming services like Hulu, Netflix and Apple’s iTunes.
Why Do the Consumers Encourage Piracy
The practice of movie piracy is not new to the government or the consumers, but surprisingly, even after all these years, the concerning authorities have not been able to put an end to this sort of illegal activities. Why? Primarily, because the consumers want this trend to continue.
Well, if you take a close look, there are some simple explanations behind the undamaged popularity of pirated movies among the consumers.
People only want the content
Most consumers have only one agenda. They want to know what the movie has to offer. It hardly matters whether they watch it on a big screen or their laptops. You must have seen how popular the trailer-breakdown videos are on the internet.
If the analysis of only a three-minute trailer of an anticipated movie can fetch millions of view, one can only imagine what kind of viewership the pirated version of the movie can get.
Nobody wants to wait
2018 saw the release of one of the most anticipated movies of recent times – Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War. While promoting the movie, the creators started the trend of #thanosdemadsyoursilence to urge people not to share spoilers of the movie, but people did it anyway.
The moment “Avengers Infinity War” hit the theatres; the internet was filled with spoilers. If you were a person who didn’t want your experience of watching this film to be spoiled, would you wait for the release or watch it as soon as possible, even illegally? We all know the answer.
People want a convenient option
Movies are meant to be experienced on big screens. But a huge portion of the consumers seems to disagree with the fact. Now that pirated videos are available on the internet for free, people find it more convenient to download the movie and watch it according to their schedule.
People's lives have become busier than ever, and the emergence of the smartphone has enabled the users to access things on the go. If a person is psyched about a particular movie but cannot make time for the theatres, the chances are that he may end up watching it illegally on his mobile or laptop.
People need an alternative for DVD
Netflix's CEO, Reed Hastings said in an interview that they expected a constant declination in the number of DVD subscribers every quarter, forever. Also, you may have also noticed that the latest laptops don't put DVD drives anymore. While DVD is dying its natural death, the consumers look for a convenient option that is easy to use and convenient.
The online streaming services that offer movies often come with a subscription of 24 hours. So that’s not really convenient. On the contrary, the illegally downloaded movies stay in the device as long as the consumer decides to keep it. It allows him or her to watch it as many times as he wants.
These aforementioned points do explain why the consumers are providing fuel to movie piracy, but that does not change the fact that piracy is illegal. And as people keep encouraging such practices over the years, the studios, as well as the people associated with the movies, will continue to lose their revenues.
How does movie piracy affect all of us
If you think movie piracy is only hurting the big Hollywood studios, then you are wrong. It affects anyone who has contributed to the production of the movie, starting from the electrician, carpenter, sound engineers to the actors, musicians, writers – everyone!
The big studios like Disney, Universal, Fox and Paramount, are still somehow managing to do great at the box-offices, but piracy is hurting the small studios and independent filmmakers the most.
The small-budget movies, made by these creators do not usually get a massive number of distributions. In addition, if they are leaked to the “pirates”, they lose their slim chance of making a profit to the illegal views.
However, ShareAmerica, a platform run by US Department of State, reveals the fact that the practice of movie piracy is affecting every one of us. Here’s how:
It is affecting the internet speed
According to a study published by CreativeFuture, this illegal uploading and downloading of illegal materials takes up to 24 percent of the bandwidth used in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions. Due to this massive data transfer of copyright-infringing material, the internet speed in these particular regions gets affected.
The practice puts your privacy to threat
If you have ever visited the websites that offer illegal movie downloads, you may find a massive number of ads on those pages. Most of those ads contain malware, which can infect your computer system and even steal your personal data. In fact, a study reveals that consumers are 28 times more likely to receive malware from such websites.
It is bad for the country’s economy
You'll be surprised to know that film and television industries in America are responsible for around 2 million jobs in the country, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.
In fact, the local businesses that support the particular industry accumulate around $43 billion annually. If the production of films gets reduced, it will have massive effects on the country’s economy.
So you can see, encouraging the practices of piracy of intellectual property is only going to backfire on us. The studios may be facing an immediate threat due to the increased level of such activities, but eventually, they are going to make a negative impact on everyone.
Hollywood and its link with piracy
In multiple occasions, the investigations have found Hollywood's connection with the illegal practice of movie piracy.
In 2015, one year after the incident with Expendables 3, Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” was leaked. But this time, FBI traced the leak to a Hollywood executive. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the watermark on the leaked file led to the office of Alcon Entertainment’s CEO, Andrew Kosove.
Piracy revolving Oscar-nominated films
The list does not end here. The practice of illegally leaking movies on the internet increases around the time of annual Academy Awards (Oscars).
In fact, a study has found a massive 385 percent increase in piracy worldwide once the films get nominated for the Oscars. This raises a question whether the studios and the distributors are using piracy to advertise their film or not.
Surprisingly, all the feature films, nominated for this year’s Oscars were already published illegally on the internet before the award ceremony even took place. Most of the films were available in higher resolution. In fact, some of them were sourced from the copies that are given to the reviewers and the juries (award judges).
The voting committee members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences received 68 screener copies, including 59 DVDs and 9 Blu-Rays for the 2015 Oscars. According to a report, twelve of those screeners got leaked, while another ten of the Oscar nominations were shared as “cam” copies.
Four movies, including “Captain America: Winter Soldier”, “Still Alice, “Mr. Turner” and “Two Days, One Night”, were leaked before they were released in theatres. Those two, which weren’t leaked, included “Glen Campbell: I’ll be Me” and “Song of the sea”.
2016 was not any different. Reportedly, around 50 percent of the Oscar-nominated movies were leaked from screeners’ copy days before the award ceremony was held.
In fact, nine of them were available online before they were even released in the theatres. Most of the movies were available in high definition, except for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, which was leaked as camcorder recording.
Piracy revolving the Oscar nominees may have increased in the past few years, but the incidents are nothing new to Hollywood studios. In 2003, a copy of the videocassette of “Something’s Gotta Give”, which was meant for Academy member Carmine Caridi, was leaked.
This incident made quite the stir that pushed the major studios to announce that they would no longer send out their movies to the juries and the reviewers. However, that decision was withdrawn rather quickly, in order to maintain a healthy relationship with the critics and the award voters.
However, studios have taken some initiatives to put an end to this series of incidents. Now, screeners have forensic watermarks which help the authority find the source of the pirated movies.
The industry lawyers then send out demands to take off the film from the websites that violate their copyright and remove the related links from internet search results.
What have the investigations revealed so far
A number of governmental and non-governmental entities have investigated the issue regarding piracy of Hollywood movies. In most cases, an involvement from Hollywood’s end was found.
According to the piracy-tracking firm Irdeto, Hollywood screeners accounted for 31 percent of the illegal downloads that were tracked in 2015. Six Oscar nominees of that year, including “The Imitation Game”, “American Sniper”, “Selma”, “Whiplash”, “Wild” and “Still Alice” were available online before rolling out for retail purchases.
The release groups
Various reports suggest that there are several “release groups” which illegally share the popular movies online. In 2015, a release group called “Hive-CM8” grabbed the attention major tabloids by posting some of the most anticipated films like “Spotlight”, “Creed”, “Steve Jobs”, “Legend”, “Spectre”, “In the Heart of the Sea”, “Bridge of Spies”, “The Danish Girl” and others.
The same group also leaked films like “The Revenant”, “Brooklyn”, “Straight Outta Compton", "Room" and "The Peanuts Movie", over the holidays in the year 2015. According to Conversation.com, the groups apparently provide the users with either peer-to-peer download or streaming facility.
The role of the Hollywood industry
The illegal distribution of the movies might be affecting the industry at large, the more often than not the piracy is a byproduct of the overwhelming promotional activities done by the studios. In fact, the PR system of the industry has been identified as the constant source of leaked movies, as the supply of pirated movies continues to increase with time.
Interestingly, a pirated print of J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8” was found on the internet following Abrams’ interview with Howard Stern. Furthermore, the print had the watermark of H Stern on it. Despite being illegally leaked on the internet, the 50 million dollar film managed to collect US$185 million at the box office, according to Deadline.com.
“Super 8” was not the only exception in Hollywood. According to Conversation.com, the industry made more than 11 billion dollars in the domestic market in 2015, while the overseas collection was about 38 billion US dollars for the same year.
In fact, five 2015 releases, including Jurassic World, Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Star Wars the Force Awakens and Minions made over billions at the box-office.
After the alleged leaking of Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”, Hive-CM8 raised the valid point that the leak of a movie before their theatrical release date often helps the movie generate free PR. Even though the argument made sense, it is hard to fathom the fact that the big budget films would rely on such cheap tricks instead of the sophisticated promotional campaigns.
What does the law say about piracy
In the United States, and in most of the countries around the world, films are considered as an intellectual property of the studio, and any form of unauthorized selling, sharing or distribution of a copyrighted film is an act of Copyright Infringement. There is a number of federal laws that regulate the matter of movie piracy or illegal distribution of movies.
The US Copyright Act (1976)
The Copyright Act of the United States offers protection against the duplication of copyrighted material and the distribution of the replicated materials. This act identifies copyright violation as a criminal offense and provides the copyright owner with the power to file a civil lawsuit to protect his/her copyrights.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1988)
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act amplifies the penalties for copyright violation. However, its role is to prohibit the attempt to evade the anti-piracy measures set to protect the copyrights of intellectual property (like film).
The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act (2005)
The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act is a federal legislative act that identifies the use of camcorders in a theatre as a federal offense. It also outlines the penalties for leaking or distributing the movies that have not been released for public viewing.
The No Electronic Theft Act (1997)
The United States No Electronic Theft Act (NET Act) is a federal law that prosecutes the individuals who violated copyright, even though there is no monetary profit for them. The act prohibits the duplication, dissemination and sharing of movies.
Some States even have additional laws that prevent the act of piracy in the particular states. In fact, some criminal charges have been issued against the illegal-file sharing websites.
In 2016, Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of web’s largest piracy network was charged with the conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, the conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement, as reported in Mirror.
Vaulin was later arrested by the US Government in Poland. The website of the KickAss torrent (Vaulin’s website) was also taken down immediately. However, its mirror website appeared on the internet following the shut of the KickAss torrent.
Similar kind of actions was taken in 2009 when the four founders of The Pirate Bay were sent behind the bars. However, that could not put an end to the website operations.
Even though there are laws against illegal uploads and distributions of intellectual properties, the respective authority cannot bar downloading such content from the internet. This is also one of the reasons why the users around the world keep encouraging the act of piracy.
However, when a person is downloading a file (a movie or an episode of a tv series), he is also responsible for the distribution of the content in a certain way.
The tormenting programs generally ask you for seeding, which technically requires you to upload a fragment of the file on the internet from your end.
So technically, you are also an accomplice in the act of piracy. As a user, you may not be facing any immediate threat for downloading leaked content from such tormenting websites, but morally you are on the wrong side of the law.
Author bio: Jijo Thomas is an Essay Writer from the Florida who is currently associated with MyAssignmenthelp as an academic expert. Follow him @thomasjijo1 for more updates.