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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

how the studios don’t really seem to care about piracy…

Speaking of piracy and Sicko

My Film.com buddy Cargill makes a point I’ve been trying to make for ages:

While the big boys spend tons of scratch frisking and wanding film critics who come in to see the film early, hoping this will in some way prevent piracy, films like this keep getting screwed. From the inside. That’s right…. These aren’t clandestine ninja theft operations with Mission Impossible wires suspending people from the ceilings or cameras in the projection booth. These guys are simply grabbing the tapes used to edit and perfect the film for release and just walking out with them. That’s why they look so clean and are so prized by pirates.

So, let me get this straight: critics wearing jeans and a t-shirt practically get a cavity search when they want to watch the thing, but these guys are walking out of the building with boxes of tapes?

Last night at my screening of Ratatouille — to which I had to arrive an hour before showtime so that I could be assured of getting a decent seat, because Disney is one of those studios that does not grant me access to seating reserved for critics — I was allowed to bring my laptop with me into the theater, but I was told that even during the hour I would be sitting there before the movie started, I could not remove the laptop from my bag to use it, or it would be confiscated.

This is the idiocy the studios are going through in their “attempts” to “prevent” piracy: they seem to believe that somehow, my computer would be able to magically record the movie before it had even started and even though the only “recording device” the computer has is a keyboard. (I could transcribe the movie, perhaps, if I could type fast enough, but there doesn’t seem to be a market for that kind of thing.)

Why did I have my laptop with me? Because I am a member of the working press, and I had just come from a press conference with Michael Moore. And I was glad I had the laptop there, too, because we members of the press waited for Moore for 45 minutes beyond the time at which he was promised to show. (Not Moore’s fault, or anyone’s, really: he was doing one-on-one interviews with other journalists.) I’ve been to these things before: I know how they go. I knew I’d be waiting around. And while I was waiting, I was able to get some other work done. This is the reality of being a member of the working press: we wait a lot. But the time is not lost if you can work, and you can work, thanks to the magic of our modern technology.

And I could have gotten a helluva lot more work done while I was waiting for Ratatouille to start. If only the studios weren’t being entirely disingenous about how all those pirated films are actually being pirated.

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