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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

Warner Bros. desperately misunderstands movie piracy

There are all different kinds of screenings members of the press are invited to, at least here in New York City. Often they take place in large multiplexes and draw large crowds of nonpress people who win tickets from radio stations, are invited by marketing organizations, and so on. And some studios force all of us attending these screenings — whether we’re working press or not — to go through a security gamut that includes a bag seach and a wanding. The security guards aren’t looking for guns or other weapons: we are free to shoot ourselves or our fellow moviegoers if we like. What we are not free to do is shoot the film — the guards are looking for camcorders.
I hate this. I am there to help a studio promote a film, and I am being treated like a criminal. It makes me furious, and I’m not the only one (Joel Siegel and I once practically started a riot at one screening over asinine “security” procedures). And I’ve often been heard to grumble that if the studios are really that worried about piracy — and are totally unwilling to acknowledge that “most pirate copies of popular movies circulated online are the result of leaks by industry insiders rather than home or cinema copying” — then they simply shouldn’t hold these types of screenings in the first place.


Warner Bros. has taken a decision whereby this week it would no longer hold promotional screenings of movies in Canada, and all press screenings would take place in a private room.


Darcy Antonellis, Warner Bros.’ senior vice president of worldwide anti-piracy operations, defended the move Tuesday, saying weak Canadian copyright rules have made the country a haven for organized crime syndicates to make and sell illegal DVDs.

It is currently not a criminal offense in Canada to make recordings of movies in theaters for personal use. In order to prosecute a pirate, there must be proof that the copy of the film is being made for commercial purposes.


Warner Bros. Pictures Canada’s much-ballyhooed move to cancel all of its preview screenings to combat film piracy did not inspire any of the country’s other major movie studios to follow suit.

Instead, the remaining major players – the likes of Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, Sony and Paramount – reacted yesterday by saying and doing nothing…

As several critics pointed out, anybody who wants to illegally camcord a major feature film can do so on the Friday it typically opens (whereas most advance screenings take place on Wednesdays – with security).

Heh. And in other News of the Cluesless, Warner Bros. Division:

The Warner Bros. film studio has said in a statement that they are soon going to make available their movies for sale on the web in Hong Kong.

They are going to sell their movies online through ViDeOnline Communications Ltd. in this market which is considered to be one of the biggest markets of pirated movies.

These movie downloads would be offered through the web service hosted at 08Media and the consumers would be able to acquire hit movie titles including “Superman Returns” and Oscar-winning “Happy Feet” in addition to older titles.

Yeah, that’s the way to combat piracy: let people download movies they can already buy on DVD.

They just don’t get it, do they?

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