But before you get all upset with my flagrant misuse of copyright law, let me clarify what I mean by this. Ok, I actually do mean that I will download an illegal copy of Serenity. I will and I will watch it on my homemade video entertainment computer. Why am I being so brazen about admitting my piratic intentions (is piratic even a word?)? Because I intend to give Serenity every dollar it is humanly possible to give. Let me provide a step by step breakdown of how this works:
1) I already paid in excess of $60 to own the box set of Firefly.
2) I paid $24.00 for me and two friends to go see Serenity the Motion Picture
3) Find and download Serenity the moment I can find it online
4) I currently pay about $60 a month in Dish and Premium TV fees. Serenity will be available for pay per view or on HBO or somesuch within 60 days.
5) When the DVD comes out, I will buy at least one copy - 2 if there is anyone I know who needs one.
6) When the special collectors Box Set with additional nurnies comes out, I will damn well buy that one too.
So, why did I bother to pirate the marginal copy of the film while Serenity was still in theaters? Because I want it now. I want the DVD now, but that's not available. And unless a pirate copy becomes available with all the little extras that we have grown to expect from our DVD's, I'll still want the DVD (frankly, even if such a pirate copy were available, I'd still get the DVD legally - it'll be $14.99 for crying out loud). So the bottom line is - for me, the pirate copy is a stop gap until the cheap, high-quality original becomes available.
Now I tell you this because I don't think that my habits are any different form other DVD and movie enthusiasts. I don't believe that anyone views a pirate copy of a film as a substitute for the actual DVD and CERTAINLY not a substitute for seeing a film in theaters (bad films are another matter entirely). DVD's are so cheap now that piracy is only a threat to films in areas where the DVD prices are kept artificially high. In the US, piracy is a way for the major studios to convince us that dwindling box office takes are due to factors other than crappy movies and inflated ticket prices.
Ask yourself this. If ticket prices are $15.00 in Los Angeles and if DVD sales prices for the same move are $13.99, what is the average consumer going to do when deciding between the two methods of seeing any given film? Rent or own? Hmm... The simple fact is that since DVD's have become so affordable, piracy hasn't been a credible threat to American film production for years. When the studios went looking for the force driving away ticket sales at the box office, they neglected to include their very own DVD's in the equation. Also, the dirty secret in the music industry is that albums traded illegally as mp3's sell better than those successfully kept off of the net.
Add to this little scenario the FACT that each copy of intellectual property illegally distributed does not represent a lost sale. It has been a proven fact that most pirated movies were obtained by people unwilling to buy the property in the first place. Put another way, when faced with a choice of either buying the property or not owning any copy at all, most pirates choose not to own any copy at all. This choice is usually made because the pirate in question cannot afford the copy and hence has chosen to pirate the media, q.e.d...
Further, most people who pursue pirate copies either already own at least one copy of the item in question (most mp3's I download are from albums I already own) or pay into a distribution source which makes the item in question already available (I downloaded the three Lord Of The Rings movies yet with dish, I was already paying to get all three movies into my home morning, noon and night).
So, the question becomes, what harm is piracy doing - REALLY? Well, piracy on a large scale is a threat. Piracy on a large scale typically doesn't affect US sales, as DVD's here are so inexpensive and available so quickly. Most large scale piracy happens off-shore and floods markets in the Far East and Asia. Piracy does short-circuit distribution and head-off markets where a distributor would like to delay a release. Piracy can also ruin the fun of a surprise as we experienced with Return of the Sith and Harry Potter.
But more than this, piracy is trying to tell the film industry that there is no harm in releasing a product all at once. There is no evidence that the simultaneous release to Theaters, DVD and pay movie channels would change the way people view their films. Quite to the contrary, evidence is mounting that more money could be made by releasing a film on all media simultaneously.
The moral is, I'm afraid, piracy is wrong and illegal. It is NOT the profit drain that the entertainment industry would have us believe - as a degree holder in economics I can tell you that assertion holds no logical merit whatsoever. Yet the manufacturers of intellectual property reserve the right to distribute or withhold their property in any manner they see fit. It is their right.
Still, when piracy is a prevalent as it is, the manufacturers need to sit up and take notice. This media is INTENDED FOR US. When the media is offered for consumption, WE BUY IT. So when they hold to outmoded retail models because they are either to old or two frightened to change, THEY DO SO AT THEIR OWN PERIL.
So kids, don't pirate movies - it's wrong...and Hollywood, get that stick out of your ass and sell us your movies - it's profitable.
as usual, I've said too much...