uglyYou’ve illegally watched something. Or played something. Or listened to something.

There was never a time when that was right but there was a time when it was understandable. Back in the early days the internet was still finding its way and in many instances there were no governing forces in place. Hell, I used to download ROMs of the video games I had on my consoles just so I could play them on my PC. There was a grace period but it expired a long time ago.

There’s really no way to justify piracy today. There is simply too much good work being lost because people are letting their laziness, greed, and lack of respect rule the day. In an age where the government is trying to use the internet as a weapon against privacy [though currently CISPA is dead] it’s staggering to see just how ruinous the piracy situation has gotten. In many ways it’s much more important than what the system is deeming most pressing of an issue. Especially with the direct relationship between piracy and economic downturn. If piracy were to disappear today, how many billions of dollars would return to the economy in just a year? Granted, many people who illegally download wouldn’t pay for the media they’re stealing if that was the only course of action but many others would. One of the people I know who steals media has enough disposable income to buy everything they download. With many it’s laziness or lack of respect for the industries whose livelihood depends on retail revenue.

If there’s a movie you want to see, it’s available in a myriad of formats at the click of a button. If there’s a television episode you want to watch, it’ll be available through legit means within the week or in some pay cable situations on the eve of the next season’s launch. With the sheer amount of available media out there the legal distractions could last the average consumer ten lifetimes. The same goes for music and video games, industries that are getting safer and safer and wide-release original content dwindling. It seems every video game in release is a sequel or continuation of a sports franchise. A lot of that can be attributed to lack of sales for the projects that eke through the system and aren’t rewarded by an audience that can’t be bothered to make a trip to the store to purchase them. People on forums all have firsthand experience about the games, movies, and music they’ve consumed and it’s telling how many there are compared to actual sales numbers.

Factor in the ‘creative accounting’ by the bean counters in the home offices already doing their part in keeping the creators from getting paid and you have a perfect storm of shit.

In the past couple of weeks there have been three very different and very telling instances that showcase that the epidemic of theft continues to seep deep into the wounds:

Iron Man 3 the third most pirated film last week (link).

Huh. It seems if they are able to track the most pirated movies and have a legitimate number then they’d be able to address the issue more directly. As a fledgling filmmaker and producer the issue of piracy obviously hits close to home. The film I worked on last, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was bumped from a January release to an August one and the film was available on torrents the entire period between the two. That’s probably due to test screenings and ambitious projectionists. And because the movie’s great!

Annoyingly we’re in a time when the quality of the image and the presentation is at an all time high yet people are experiencing these gigantic movies on their PC screen with an image often recorded on a shaky camcorder in a theater in Asia. I’m old enough to remember watching scrambled porn on my TV but even though it had its benefits it certainly affected my critique of the material.

This is telling and infuriating info from the article linked above:

“The leaked copy of Iron Man 3 appears to be a camcorded version, known for being of inferior quality to alternatives in piracy circles.

Despite being available on torrent sites for only a few days, the film starring Robert Downey Jr. still was more downloaded than The Host, Gangster Squad and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, among the other notable films on last week’s 10 most pirated films. Jack Reacher held its position as the most pirated film for the second consecutive week, ahead of its domestic home entertainment release date on May 7.”

Jack Reacher is a movie that narrowly missed a chance for a sequel. It was successful but not successful enough to warrant more entries in Lee Child’s series. It had a willing and enthused superstar, tons of material to mine from, and it had overcome the most important obstacles: It was good and somehow the 5’8 Cruise was effective as a character that’s a gargantuan ass-kicker in the books. If ten percent of the illegal downloaders paid for a ticket things would be different, and selfishly I’d like to have seen director Christopher McQuarrie legitimized for a job very well done.

It’s not surprising that Iron Man 3 is already a massively pirated film. It’s also not surprising that opportunistic assholes are exploiting the hard work of people who create products simply to entertain us. It just continues to get worse and it’s obvious that the penalties need to be higher and the safeguards need to be more prevalent. More tracking of individual prints to isolate trouble spots, more public and aggressive criminal charges on violators, and some sort of way to punish the end users who think they’re not doing anything wrong and feel free of reproach.

Game Developer Punishes Pirates (link).

This is creative. A small video game company has so been hamstrung by piracy that they intentionally put a cracked version out there with a software tweak in there to give pirates a taste of their own medicine. After the user plays the game a while on a cracked copy of their Game Dev Tycoon came all of a sudden their in-game character starts to get hit by diminishing sales of their product due to piracy.

“Greenheart Games, the company behind Game Dev Tycoon, decided to release a cracked version of the game as an experiment.

The game retails for $7.99 (£6.83) and was released yesterday (April 28th 2013).

Within 24 hours of release, the company had sold 214 copies of the game.

Using a unique tracking code in the pirated version of the game, the company was able to work out that the game had been downloaded illegally at least 3104 times.”

They sold 214 and 3104 were illegally downloaded. That is an epidemic, folks. It’s a brilliant way to address the issue at ground zero for a developer. You always want to give people the benefit of the doubt. Many folks have come of age in the middle of this era. It doesn’t excuse them but if their eyes are opened in the right way they could be an ambassador for getting more folks to curtail the activity. Many others just take and take and couldn’t care less about the way they’re affecting the lives of people who sacrificed their time and money-earning time at that to provide something to distract the users from the real world for a while.

This is even more proof how aloof and ignorant many illegal downloaders are:

“However, perhaps the best part of this story isn’t the genius anti-piracy measure that the game includes. Oh no. That honour goes to the pirates themselves.

Taking to the developers’ forums and other online sites, they began posting about the game crippling bug. Many assumed it was a bug in the game that had been missed.

As Klug points out, only the pirated version of the game includes the bug.

Examples of the posts include pirates asking if it’s possible to “research DRM or something” to cut down the impact of piracy.

Another example said “Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me!”

Klug said: “As a gamer I laughed out loud: the irony!

“However, as the developer, who spent over a year creating this game and hasn’t drawn a salary yet, I wanted to cry.

“Surely, for most of these players, the 8 dollars wouldn’t hurt them but it makes a huge difference to our future!”, he added.”

Stunning stuff. And scary. It’s like the problem site owners face from people who block the ads on their free sites. Believe me, I know their pain there. A year from now there’s a very good chance this site won’t be in service anymore due to the constant struggle to stay afloat in a world of so many unappreciative freeloaders. Follow the trail of anything you love and along the way you’re going to see plenty of places where the little things can mean the difference between success and failure.

American diplomat begs Australians to halt Game of Thrones piracy (link).

Game of Thrones is amazing. It’s also the main reason many people subscribe to HBO. It’s also one of the most pirated shows on television due largely in part to the steep cost of having the network coupled with the yearlong delay of a home video release. Australia has come under fire due to the massive uptick in illegal downloads, to the point where a politician in the states took the fight directly to them:

“Bleich described the large-scale piracy of Game of Thrones as an “epic theft by online viewers around the world” and said that fans of the show had no excuse for illegally streaming it because “stealing is stealing.” HBO programing president Michael Lombardo has previously said that he sees the widespread piracy of Game of Thrones as a “compliment” that has actually helped the company sell more DVDs.”

I cannot believe someone at the network would say something so stupid. You give people who illegally download an inch and they’ll take an acre. There’s no way to know how many DVDs of Game of Thrones would have sold if they was only available through purchase or HBO subscription but it certainly isn’t a good thing to give any credit to the crooks.

The cost of the toll to watch Game of Thrones is simple. Buy the DVD, watch the show on TV. Pretty cut and dry.

Imagine what games and albums and shows and films we’re missing out on because they didn’t earn a second chance or weren’t greenlit because a previous attempt was hampered by lack of legit sales. It’s crazy. And considering how many people reading this have aspirations to write, direct, or at least be consumers of this material it should be obvious that it’s not just the networks, studios, and publishing houses who are getting robbed.

We all are.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010) 99 min

A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend discovers creatures in her new home who want to claim her as one of their own.

08.26.2011 (USA)
  • Troy Nixey
  • Guillermo del Toro
  • Matthew Robbins
  • and 1 more credit
  • Bruce Gleeson
  • Eddie Ritchard
  • Garry McDonald
  • Bailee Madison
  • Carolyn Shakespeare-Allen
  • Horror
  • Thriller
Watch or buy now

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark on IMDb

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Tony Stark uses his ingenuity to fight those who destroyed his private world and soon goes up against his most powerful enemy yet: the Mandarin.

05.03.2013 (USA)
  • Shane Black
  • Drew Pearce
  • Shane Black
  • Robert Downey Jr.
  • Guy Pearce
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Paul Bettany
  • Rebecca Hall
  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Sci-Fi
Watch or buy now

Iron Man 3 on IMDb

Game of Thrones (2011) 60 min

Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros.

04.17.2011 (USA)
  • Lena Headey
  • Peter Dinklage
  • Maisie Williams
  • Michelle Fairley
  • Emilia Clarke
  • Adventure
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
Watch or buy now

Game of Thrones on IMDb