Monday, April 09, 2007


In the rush to wax lyrical about abs and sandals, I completely neglected to include in my previous wibbling some observations about the anti-piracy ads (now, don't go confusing the ads with the abs) which were screened during the pre-show show when we went to see 300.

Let's ignore for a moment the very strong element of preaching to the choir that is unavoidably associated with these ads, and with their cousins, often to be found on DVDs, whether rented or purchased. ("You wouldn't steal a movie ... Erm ... ")

The anti-piracy ad that screens in our cinemae points out how ripped off you would be by purchasing a knock-off DVD of a feature film. The sound quality will be lower, the picture will be smaller, and you might have to put up with filmed footage of someone a few rows in front of you getting up to go for a wee.

Let's look at those things.

If you buy a pirate DVD, then like any DVD, you're probably going to watch it at home. In that case, unless you have the most amazing home cinema system known to humankind, you know in advance that neither the picture nor the sound is going to be as good as you'll get down your local [insert name of cinema here].

And even on that issue, our experience of 300 last weekend included a couple of scratches and sound pops, the likes of which we don't normally get on home-viewed DVD. By the way, if you do have the best home cinema known to human kind, let me offer my condolences - I know that they say it's what you do with it that counts, but it also helps a great deal if you've got a lot of whatever you've got.

Obviously, I'm not talking about home cinemae at this point, and equally obviously you are over-compensating for something!

Anyway, that's two of the three arguments dispatched with. And a sentence with a prepositional ending - how my teachers would weep!

What of the argument that says that if you watch a pirate DVD, you'll have to put with the twat three rows in front of the camera who just had to get up and go for a widdle during the pivotal moment of [insert name of movie]?

This strikes me more as an argument against going to the cinema rather than against buying pirate DVDs. Or indeed, an argument in favour of waiting until the DVD is released and then downloading it via BitTorrent or whatever spyware-laden peer-to-peer networking client takes your fancy.

I am not and have never been a fan of digital restrictions management (DRM) technology. The film industry's efforts to protect its revenue stream are just so misjudged it makes me wonder whether this is an industry that is as creative as it would have us believe. The fact is that any attempt to restrict digital content is doomed to failure, yet the content creators insist on trying to apply the economics of scarcity to their products, when that economic model simply does not fit.

Unlike the sad story of MacroVision that blighted VCR technology from its inception, and the even sadder fate of Digital Audio Tape, which died a death at the hands of the music industry who feared what would happen if people could make perfect, digital copies of their music, with MP3 and the various video codecs in common use, the digital cat is well and truly out of the bag, and content producers will have to come up other ways to make money from their products.

As cinemae rose to the challenge of home video by selling the experience of going to the cinema, so content producers have to rise to the challenge by selling the advantages of content ownership, or content rental.

It will be interesting to see how it pans out over the next few years.


Nick said...

I couldn't wait for Alien vs Predator to be released in the cinema here in the UK, so I downloaded it from the net. (Yes, my taste in movies is questionable.)

It had been filmed in an American cinema, and had the usual mediocre quality, and the occasional person going to the loo. But what annoyed me was the constant chatter from someone a couple of rows away from the camera who kept up a running commentary the whole way through in one of those terribly thick redneck accents.
"Hehe, awww yeah man she's gonna get it for sure!" "Whoa fuck man that's bad!" etc etc.

At one point I was so annoyed I actually turned around to tell the guy to shut the fuck up - when I realised I was sat in my bedroom and there was no one there with me.

Anyway. A pirated film is a pirated film. Is anyone going to cry because Mr Movie Producer can only afford silver plated hubcaps instead of the platinum ones he'd have gotten if everyone had bought tickets to see it instead of downloading it?

Qenny said...

Indeed, I won't shed any tears either, but the fact is that the guy on your pirate copy would have been just as much of an irritant to those who were unfortunate enough to be in the cinema when he chose to grace it with his unwelcome presence. In other words, the anti-piracy ad works better as an ad against going to the cinema at all rather than against buying or downloading pirate movies.

Mark said...

The argument on those ads really has as much clout as an undercooked chicket breast. "You wouldn't steal a wallet; you wouldn't steal a car; you wouldn't drown a box of kittens; so don't buy pirate DVDs"

I love it when they say pirate videos feeds terrorism. I can't really imagine how downloading Harry Potter on Limewire can really feed anyone. It's rather shameful really.

Qenny said...

Indeedy. None of the rather sad blokes I've seen flogging knock-off DVDs looked even remotely like a terrorist.

Maybe it's just easier to hide a camcorder in a set of robes than in western clothing ...?

David Weeks said...

When people talk about 'Fat cats' and 'siver wheel hubs' they are sadly missing a more important point.
Profits from successful movies help create a market for more movies to be made and to employ the hundreds of technicians associated with this. Reduce the profits and you reduce the incentive and the willingness to risk capital in investing in film-making projects. There are so many worthy films that do not make a fabulous profit and whose film companies go down the tubes that the culture of piracy and its acceptability does nothing but harm.
Yes, the anti piracy ads are pathetic. As a regular attender and payer of tickets to real cinema I can assure you that the rurbbish notion that people walk in front of the viewer during the film is quite untrue. those who comment on this obviously doo not go to the cinema or they too, would know this.

Brian Sibley relies on the meagre royalties from sales of his LOTR cds to try to keep body a soul together.
I find it hard to support theft of his rightful and hard fought for, earnings by Bit Torrent and those that avail themselves of this internet robbery.
Fine, when the victim is some faceless corporation but when it is your partner who is victimised and suffers real financial loss and hardship, then it puts the question of piracy into a different perspective ~ don't you think?