Published: August 23, 2012
How many of you remember a long time ago when software companies tried all sorts of schemes to prevent piracy?
There were key disks you had to periodically insert into your computer. There were access codes, and there was copy protection. Eventually, all of the schemes were cracked, but the supposed downfall of software companies never happened.
Years later, we saw the same kind of thing with music and television, and now we’re seeing the same kind of thing with pirated movies. The more studios try to protect their movies, the more money they lose.
Now, I have to say, I’m a studio man.
People who steal copyrighted material should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But I’ve come to realize that perhaps the studios, by the way they release movies, are actually encouraging piracy.
The folks at The Walt Disney Co., for example, have this habit of releasing classic movies for a short period of time, then putting them back in the vault. Other classics are sitting on a shelf somewhere, some tied up in all sorts of contractual problems; others are not available because content is not politically correct.
But somehow, bootleg copies always seem to get out, and when they do, the underground distribution system goes to work, and the studios end up losing money.
In fact, statistics show the studios lose more money from bootleg copies of supposedly “unavailable” movies than from illegally made copies of movies that are already available.
The bottom line here is that Hollywood is actually encouraging the very behavior they are trying to fight: by keeping movies unavailable, for whatever the reason.
The music industry and television all found ways to accommodate the new technologies to make their products more available. Hollywood needs to follow their example.