(anti)Pirates of the Caribbean

When my friend Marisol replied to my previous post on Almodóvar and his tontería about piracy and illegal downloads, she quoted a website with these words:

“Online piracy isn’t about altruism, it’s about income. ”
“It’s difficult enough to see one’s film being pirated widely online what is most disturbing is that everyone is making money, it seems, except those who own the rights to the film… For content creators, it’s bad enough being ripped off by online pirates–but to be further ripped off by established companies is truly stunning. ”
“Online piracy isn’t about altruism, it’s about income. “

I replied to her reply (!) in the comments to that post … but I need to reply to that quote and website in a new post. That is, here.

The popuppirates.com is a site developed by one person, which I can understand, but it actually sounds like a well-orchestrated campaign against downloading.

The argument of the “Dirty Money” article Marisol quotes is basically the following: You don’t get to fight the downloading lords if you don’t fight all those who place ads, sell stuff and even allow financial transactions on such sites.

This seems a bit fishy to me. One individual mounting up such a fight? On behalf of the film industry? He writes “our films”… after all!

Being ripped off, he writes, using a heavy language. That’s equivalent to “being stealed from”.

I already answered that argument in my previous post Almodóvar, piracy and a tontería, so I won’t repeat my logic here. Also, I must state again what I wrote in my answer earlier, that actor Javier Bardem had earlier written about the same theme and caused a huge turmoil: See here, (in Spanish -remember to translate via Google) and in comments to his positions, here.

Here I will add this. The phenomena of illegal downloading must be divided into two branches. One is made of those individuals who download “for personal use”, no matter how illegal that may be -most times it is not, of course. They are millions, we are aware of that. But they are not thieves.

The second branch is that parallel “black market” industry which created a full distribution chain, and that we perhaps may compare to a mafia. I never condoned that operation.

However, I find non-argumentative all those who state that piracy accounts for “lost revenues” of such and such amount. I would need to see first what are the effects of those “lost revenues”. I would need to see also how the alleged “lost revenus” are calculated, who in the industry is responsible for them and who lost something, actually. You see, somebody from within the industry is almost always responsible for the leaked copies…

Of those who may suffer, it seems to me, like always, only the big fish lose something. The small film directors, the indies will not, since they actually do not get much out of royalties or the distribution of their work. Probably they don’t get anything at all, with or without piracy. The workers have already been paid, long before the “stealing”. So, what is the issue? Perhaps those who will suffer something are the investors who now must look for a different distribution scheme.

However, no matter how we may think about it, this form of massive download culture is here to stay, and we won’t be able to fight it, nor to reverse it. Vain are those campaigns that portray the individual downloader as a thief. They are insane and shameful.

The cost of the downloads must be divided among all those who use the Internet, period. Like we do somewhere with health or education. We redistribute. We share. There is no other way, for the moment. I see no damage in all users paying a little more for their Internet connection and thus assuring their right to watch whatever they want when they want. That is happening with music. Why not with movies? Because the film industry is regulated by archane rules which have divided the world in “zones”, according to which if you live on one zone you cannot watch a DVD produced in another. You consider that just and fair? But that is the law.

The film industry ought to treat illegal downloads and “lost revenue” exactly like VISA does: they account for fraud, stolen stuff, etc in their business model. And they pass that cost to the consumer and others. I have never seen a massive campaign of VISA against piracy. Why? They are not the media!! They don’t own the media. Also, they made do with the situation, instead of crying out. They adapted.

So, please, film industry: we love you. But do not do campaigns like that that indignate us.

In the end, it is us who will watch your movies, right?

About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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