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Pirating Movies: Victimless or Not?

December 1, 2015

 

Ever watch a film and right before the film starts you see a message saying “Piracy is not a victimless crime”? There is always a warning for the consumer to know that piracy is illegal and harmful! When you download a movie, let's say one of the Star War movies, you are ruining the multi-trillion dollar franchise. No seriously? Let's be real. Piracy happens, and is it victimless? When you focus on movie franchises who are milking the cow to death and recieve excessive amount of money for it, then who is the victim? Morally, illegal downloading can hurt independent films, or even in the music world, artists who are not making enough money. However, the laws of piracy becomes ridiculous when corporations or owner's of big franchises are willing to sue and prosecute people for uploading or downloading films. Yes, the argument comes up that it is against the law to illegally download movies, but consider that just purchasing movies is not the only source of the revenue for these film. Add many factors to certain that have toys deals, book deals, clothing deals, even TV shows, add to the total revenue for the movie franchise. I may clarify, if you truly like the movies you should movie support any way you can, but sometimes you have to chose between buying food or watching a movie. So for everyone who makes movies, wouldn't it better to have more people watch the movie then to never watch it at all? All this talk is based more on personal beliefs, but the real issue is how money obsessed the world has become. Piracy has become more about protecting money rather than protecting the hard efforts of the work. To further look into how piracy is a victimless crime, let's focus on a popular movie franchise Star Wars. Thanks to the website Stats Brain, they give perfect rundown on the numbers. First let's look at box office sales for all 6 movies, the amount is 4.34 billion dollars. Now let's consider other methods to make money, toy sales with three companies sells over 12 billion units, then book sales are over 1.8 million dollars, and video games sales are 3.4 billion dollars. Let's not forget about licensing, which is 825 million dollars, and the merchandise profits at 975 million dollars. In total, the Star Wars franchise has made 28 trillion dollar, and will make more since a new movie is coming out. With 28 trillion dollars being made is the people who benefit from the profit really suffering if pirating the films happens? Yes, there is pirating laws, but with profits so high, there is no harm. Although one idea to consider how there is no damage to pirating Star Wars films is how keen Star Wars owners want to ensure that the films are not pirated. For example, it took until April 2015 for people to be allowed to download Star Wars films from Google Play and the Apple Store. Even the punishments make sense to whatever the Star Wars franchise is trying to protect. For example, taken from Bloomberg, 8 people were arrested in 2005 for uploading the Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith before releasing. One man, Marc Hoaglin, pleaded guilty for uploading the film and was sentenced to probation. They are so keen on securing that the films are pirated, but piracy is not damaging the money being made. Information from Torreant Freak says that all 6 movies has been downloaded 1,500 to 3,500 times a day. Important to add that the Star Wars films are the most pirated films. If you assume that the films has been downloaded 3,500 times in one day, and assume the films are sold around $20, that would mean 70,000 dollars of profit is lost. That is less than 1 percent of the profit made from everything else. So is it really the sake of art that these people are trying to protect? I would have to disagree if the answer was yes. A highly successful franchise such as Star Wars is more concerned with monetary value than artistic. The movies themselves are starting to lose interest and value, but still the marketing groups know how to sell the product well. I understand the hard efforts of everyone who went into making all the films, but look at the success–the box offices tickets alone made so much money. If you have the money, then consider buying the product. However, know that piracy is not hurting the industry. The London School of Economics and Political Science did a policy briefing that the digital age is not hurting the entertainment industry. The report claims that Motion Picture Association of America statement that piracy is harmful to the movie industry, films produced in Hollywood made record-breaking box office profit of $35 billion dollars in 2012. Even if piracy is against the law, consider what exactly the warnings mean when they say piracy is not a victimless crime.

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