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More on Movie Piracy

 I�ve already developed a blog-essay on the piracy problem, especially with respect to music (see below). Apparently this is becoming a bigger problem with movies also.

 The Lehrer News Hour on PBS featured a story on Monday April 12, 2004. Jeffrey Kaye anchored the story, and Barry Meyer, from Warner Brothers, spoke. He warned that the increase in piracy can affect the willingness of investors to put money into new projects, especially riskier movies.  

Much of the piracy happens with high-action films before they are available on DVD. Nevertheless, the bootleg DVD�s are cheaper and file-sharing transfer of movies is becoming more common. Twelve years ago it would have taken over a week to transfer a movie, today it may be about an hour.  

So I�m not sure that art films are at as much risk. Nevertheless, as an �artist� with daring material that I think I could try to sell to the movies, I can see how this can affect me.  

A paradox of all this is that I have offered most of my own text content for free browsing, as it is not of a nature that lends itself to big-time infringement. My motives were to stimulate political argument. Nevertheless, I could have contributed to a climate where Internet users believe that �everything is free.� Just because I have few costs and no employees doesn�t mean that other commercial interests will. On the other hand, users may believe that �broadcast television� is free, when of course it is paid for by advertisers, as are many supposedly �free� websites. (Mine, by and large, is not; it simply has very low costs.) 

The movie industry is taking all kinds of steps to improve security during production, as well it should. This would include watermarks on prints to detect later piracy. On the other hand, the entertainment industry has proposed a lot of copy-protection legislation regarding DVD players and personal computers that would interfere with �fair use� and that might even hinder low-cost artists (like me) from manufacturing and distributing their own (legally owned in a copyright sense) work. The industry has also tried to stop smaller film companies from sending free DVD samples to academy award judges. Like the music industry, the motion picture industry would do well to facilitate legal downloads for which subscribers pay a fair market price (which may tend to go down with technology). Already innovative movie rental companies like Netflix are offering low-cost plans for consumers to rent many films.  

But, for now, I am somewhat in the middle of all of this, as a self-published artist.  The story will surely develop. 

Links:

Essay on music piracy

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Respect Copyrights

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Copyright 2004 by Bill Boushka  subject to fair use