Fighting Movie Piracy: The Smart Way

In our pre-apocalyptic days of fear and anarchy, where every pimply teenager equipped with $300 of CompUSA hardware and a broadband connection can contribute to sap the very foundations of our cherished capitalistic society, different people have different ways of fighting “intellectual property theft”.

For the RIAA, which is obviously not reticent about jailing half the 12-29 population in the US and abroad, it has meant hiring a lot of lawyers and turning to court settlement fines instead of record sales, as a source for profit. So much so that they are now being sued under the RICO Act (originally tailored to fight more traditional forms of organized crime and racketeering, but still seems pretty fitting in this case).

The MPAA is slowly coming up to speed in terms of random scare tactics and other useless gesticulations, but in the meantime, they have settled on whining and moaning the usual corporate way, with a touching chorus on their huge profit loss. At this rate, they might even *gasp* have to stop shelling out millions of bucks to semi-articulate actors so they can show their familiar face, bleached teeth, cancerous tan, silicon implants and overall incapacity to convey the slightest human emotion with an ounce of conviction. Come to think of it, they might consider diverting an extra amount of that cash toward hiring real screenwriters to replace the brain hemorrhaging hollywood hacks who come up with such mind-blowing ideas as “Glitter, Maria Carey: the real Story” or “Bring it on: a no holds barred immersion into the fierce world of professional baton-twirling competition”… yea maybe they will (hope is cheaper than most food and you can live on it for a while)…

All in all, the way these people dealt with the unavoidable evolution of technology mostly revolved around raiding kids bedroom and showering Capitol Hill with lobbying money in order to get inept, unconstitutional, protectionist texts voted into laws.

And then, there’s French director Jan Kounen and actor Vincent Cassel, who, in order to thwart the intense trafficking likely to arise around their soon-to-open new movie, decided to release it themselves on P2P networks.

Well, not the real thing, of course: just a very convincing fake file. The actual movie titles would start rolling for a few minutes and suddenly cut into a recording of the two men, explaining with a good-natured smile to the pirate-that-be, how their movie would be much more enjoyable with the nice crispy photography and surround sound of a theater, instead of the usual crappy quality you get with internet telesync rips. The rest of the file cleverly consisting of looped promotional materials (“behind the scenes” footage etc).

How not to be seduced by this smart and funny way to fight for your bread and butter: rather than sue everything in sight, try to appeal to people’s intelligence and expose your case with rational arguments.

Well, this approach does postulate that your intended audience is not essentially composed of gregarious dim-witted simpletons, something that might be hard to establish with regards to your average Hollywood movie…

Filed under: Movies