I’ve blogged about downloading movies before, but I just read this article, which claims that over 25 million people have illegally downloaded a full-length movie, and I was moved once again to discuss the subject.
The study quoted in that article also claims that “a downloader typically has 16 full-length movies on his PC.” I find that very interesting, for many different reasons.
Judging from my post on torrents I’m sure you’ve figured out that at the very least, I know quite intimately how to illegally download movies. I’ll go a step further and just straight-out tell you I’ve pirated movies. I’ll go ahead and make another admission: I used to illegally download music, but I don’t anymore. Wanna know why I stopped? Because I can now download music online for a reasonable price legally. It’s that simple.
The RIAA (the Recording Industry Association of America) is still making it hard for online sites to easily provide users with downloadable music, forcing them to encode the songs with DRM (digital rights management), which makes it hard to burn the music to CDs. Despite that, downloadable music has become very popular. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and and people like the convenience of making their own compilation CDs.
If movie studios would simply provide users with the opportunity to easily download movies then I’m fairly certain we’d see the number of people pirating movies drop considerably. Yeah, I know that some places let you purchase movies online right now, but those movies are so crippled that you literally can’t do anything with them except watch them on your computer in a special program. No, let us pay for the movie, download it, and burn it to a DVD, and you’d see that illegal downloading statistic fall dramatically.
Those figures also illustrate quite clearly that millions of people just don’t think that pirating movies is that serious of a crime, if they consider it one at all. If that many people are blatantly ignoring a law then we clearly need to have a little pow-wow about the veracity of the law itself. I’m not saying we should ignore copyright laws, but something needs to be done legislatively. The article claims that ” 78 percent of those surveyed found that physically stealing a DVD from a store was a serious offense, but only 40 percent believed copying the movie digital also merited a serious offense.” Users are clearly distinguishing between tangible and intangible property, and that poses a big problem for movie studios. Since pirating became a problem several years ago, the studios have been very insistent at propagating the wholly illogical proposition that downloading a copy of a movie is the exact same as going into Best Buy and stuffing that same movie down your pants. Well, it’s not the same thing, and evidently I’m not the only one who believes that.
I like the fact that consumers are basically forcing the studios, and the laws, in this country to change their views of downloadable movies. Just remember, if it wasn’t for Napster then we’d never have gotten iTunes. Sometimes it takes an illegal mass movement to spur innovation. Just ask the twenty-first amendment.