Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why I steal movies ... even ones I'm in

That's the provocative header on a piece British actor, writer and director Peter Serafinowicz wrote recently for Gizmodo. Serafinowicz frankly admits that he downloads movies illegally, despite the fact he earns his living from DVDs, movies and books. It's one I struggle with, as well. I've downloaded music that I already own on cassette, vinyl or CD, rather than digitize my original copies, because it's easier and I've already paid for it once. Next post will be about how the music industry is reacting to the fact very little physical media is being sold any more.

Which is another point raised by Serafinowicz: physical media is disappearing, in favour of downloads and digitized media.

Serafinowicz rationalizes that torrents are too geeky and hard to use for the average Web user for illegal downloads to gain real traction. I disagree: you might have to be a tiny bit tech-savvy to download a torrent app and VLC or another media player ... but it's not rocket science.

His most valid point is that even though he downloads illegally, when given the opportunity to download legally, at a fair price, from iTunes, he will - largely for the same reasons I've cited:

- better quality video and
- it's a good thing to have pirates promoting your work and getting it in front of new eyeballs, to grow your fan base.

The music industry didn't get that and paid for it dearly, as artists found out they could promote their own work on YouTube, cut out the studio as a middleman and keep all the profits, and learned how to give away free samples to reel people in and make them want to buy the collection.

It's a lesson TV might be starting to learn (as evidenced by the growing number of shows that can simply be downloaded from network websites) and one Hollywood has yet to learn.

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