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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

hell freezes over: MPAA admits pirates go to the movies more than other people

From IMDB, in its short entirety because it’s so good:

MPAA Chief Concedes: Pirates Also Go To The Movies

The head of the Motion Picture Association of America, an organization that some Internet users have accused of using legal strongarm tactics to prevent them from downloading recent movies from the Web, has acknowledged that the downloaders go to movie theaters in far greater numbers than others. Speaking to the National Press Club in Washington on Monday, Glickman suggested that his organization is attempting to come up with a business model that will accommodate Internet users. “There’s no question in my mind that the studios hear their customers loud and clear on this point,” he said. “There are technology and policy issues to work through. But we’ll get there, advancing both the theatrical experience and the anytime, anywhere enjoyment of movies that consumers clearly want today and that technology is making possible. I think we’ll soon see some progress that will really open up how exciting this future could be for all of us.”

It’s so damn easy: Give people a way to watch movies or buy barebones DVDs on the same day a movie releases to theaters. Half those viewers will go to the multiplex anyway, and the others wouldn’t have anyway. It’s win-win for everyone.

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  • That’s Crazy Talk, woman! Next thing you know, people will start demanding that Hollywood make better movies, and then it will just be anarchy and riots in the streets and tear gas and rubber bullets and hurt feelings all around. Stick with the plan, MPAA! Sue five-year-olds who download illegal movies! Drive piracy underground into a thousand different outlets that you have no control of! Ban the technology–ban it, I say! We can just cram this whole internet thing back in the bottle and cork it, right? We’ll just pretend that none of it ever happened!

  • Doa766

    dvds? that so 2002, get on the blu-ray wagon

  • One point I’d like to make: Just because I buy more DVDs than most people, it doesn’t give me the right to steal a DVD every so often. Theft is theft. Just because pirates go to the movies more often than other people is not justification for them to take something that does not belong to them.

  • MaryAnn

    Just because pirates go to the movies more often than other people is not justification for them to take something that does not belong to them.

    No, of course not. That’s not the point. The point is that the corporations have been saying that piracy is reducing their profit, yet now we see that even the corporations know that that’s not true.

    Piracy isn’t going to go away, for many reasons. But it’s like any other kind of legal prohibition of something that many, many people would prefer not be prohibited: making it illegal doesn’t stop it, it just puts money into the hands of the criminals who supply it. (Not that all pirates are making money, but there are organized piracy rings that are making money, like the ones that sell bootleg DVDs on the NYC subway.)

    There’s consumer demand for day-and-date movies, and if the studios don’t meet it, someone else will, to the detriment of the studios *and* the creative people who make movies.

  • Katie

    It’s nice to see them finally admitting something that they should have realized/admitted a long time ago. I don’t buy bootleg DVDs and I would not buy a bare bones day-of release DVD as I’m one of the people who will go to the theater and spend my $10 to see a movie on the big screen AND I’m willing to wait for a “real” DVD (I like extras) but it’s a good idea and would probably save them money and reduce their head-ace in the long run.

    But as it’s common sense I won’t hold my breath. :-)

  • MaryAnn

    I don’t buy bootlegs either, but I have downloaded TV shows from England so that I can see them before they air here, and in uncut form. But then I also do watch them when they air here, and I buy the DVDs, too. I don’t feel like a pirate, though I suppose I am, technically. I feel like someone who’s dying to see something and would pay to do so if that option were available — I’d be a happy person if I could somehow get the BBC here in the States, and I don’t mean BBC America — but the option isn’t available.

  • MaryAnn, what you are when you get shows from England earlier than they’re available here in the US is a “reverse time-shifter”; you’ve basically got a VCR that lets you watch TV shows from the future. As long as you make it up by watching the shows when they air here or by buying the DVDs, the producer/airer of the show hasn’t lost anything by your having watched it earlier than everyone else here. Technically you’re not supposed to do it, but it really is not costing them anything when you do it, as long as you follow up as you described.

    I would debate that movie piracy doesn’t cost the studios anything. They do lose money on the bootleg DVD sales, twice: once when the bootleg buyer doesn’t go into the movie theatre to see the movie, and again when the bootleg buyer doesn’t buy the legit DVD.

  • MaryAnn

    you’ve basically got a VCR that lets you watch TV shows from the future

    Not quite. If I lived in England, I’d pay a TV tax that would help support the BBC. Obviously, I don’t do that.

    They do lose money on the bootleg DVD sales, twice

    I’ve said this before: The chances are good buying a bootleg DVD doesn’t change that person’s tendency to go to the theater and pay for a ticket. Either they’re going to go anyway, or they were never going to go. The only money the studios are losing is that bootleg sale itself. If the studios were the ones selling those day-and-date DVDs, they’d collect that money.

    Of course, the studios are still going to want to get people into theaters to see movies. And maybe this is where the real nub of the issue is: They’d have to make better movies that people will actually be willing to pay to see on a big screen. If you can check a cheap DVD to see whether you’re willing to pay more for the theatrical experience, the bad movies are going to suffer at the box office.

  • I’ve said this before: The chances are good buying a bootleg DVD doesn’t change that person’s tendency to go to the theater and pay for a ticket. Either they’re going to go anyway, or they were never going to go.

    I disagree, somewhat.

    While there are many people (myself, for example) who don’t mind spending $9 or more to see a movie in the theatre, there are a lot for whom if you offer them a choice of $9 per person to see the movie now or paying $10-$20 for a bootleg (or even a legitimate DVD) that you can watch as many times as you want in the comfort of your own home, they will choose the latter. (The third choice, obviously, is to eschew the theatre experience and just wait for the movie to hit legit DVD or HBO/Cinemax/Showtime. These are your “were never going to go” people.) The availability of bootlegs or even legitimate DVDs certainly has a negative impact on theatre attendance, because it presents an alternative that saps consumers away who might have gone to the theatre.

    It’s true that by reducing ticket prices and DVD prices, you could put a hurting on the bootleg market. But the movie theatres, being mostly independent from the movie studios, will almost certainly not go along with any plan that encourages day-and-date release of movies to both theatres and DVD, because that will divert a lot of people away from theatres. We go see movies in the theatre not just for the big-screen experience, but also because there is no other choice; if you allow a choice, theatre attendance will drop sharply. If you want to kill the movie theatre industry, encouraging faster release of movies to DVD is the surest way of doing it.

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