Rainierland - Breaking Down Piracy

What is Piracy? Well, according to an online article on a news portal, it is an unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content over the grey market. This is of-course at a substantially lower price than the original price that the makers of a copyrighted content have placed for their movie/show. And, like most of the cyber related crimes, the internet has played a crucial role in spreading of these pirated contents. Not only online, offline sales of CDs and DVDs are on the rise since CD writers are dime a dozen.

What has been done to fight it? There are a bunch of laws in various countries around the world in place to avoid piracy. They are stringent in some countries while in others like in Central and South Asia, it does not get that level of attention. There are different types of piracy and sites like Rainierland is doing what it can to fight it. The types of piracy include but is not limited to video piracy, cable piracy, CD/DVD content piracy.

1. Video Piracy

Video piracy takes place when movie or show of an producer is produced in the form of a Video Casette, CD or DVDs. Or, uploading it online(Torrents).

2. Cable Piracy

Cable piracy is recording a particular TV show or series without the explicit permission of the network or channel authorities. This is also spread by uploading it on torrent sites.

3. CD/DVD Piracy

This happens when the Blu-ray or HD print of a movie is released and a movie-pirate buys one copy and decodes the content, spreading it through the means of the internet or offline direct sales of the content.

Most of the piracy exists because people are caught up in selective movie watching choices. For example, the 'Transformers' and 'Wolf of The Wall Street' released on the same day. You only have money to watch one and of course, watching giant robots fighting with each other on your laptop doesn't sound too appealing. Hence, you go to watch giant robots fight each other which is literally all the amount of story that the movie's got. You go home and watch the 'Wolf of Wall Street' online and find out that it's a really good movie. Most of the people don't realize what they are doing is hurting a lot of other people who were involved in the making of such a great film.

Trivia: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' only has a 18% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (one of the most trusted movie review sites online), while 'The Wolf of Wall Street' has a whopping 77% approval rating. It also got nominated for five different academy awards including The Oscars. It is clear that 'The Wolf of Wall Street' is the better film. However, box office collections show a different picture as Transformers was named the highest grossing film of 2014 by earning approx. one billion dollars. What title did the The Wolf of Wall Street get? It was the most pirated film of 2014 with over 30 million illegal downloads. It didn't even gross 117 million dollars giving the producers approximately $17 million after the production cost. Sweet, isn't that?

It has become more of a problem in the past decade or so. Especially, movie piracy. A study made in Columbia University showed that at least 45% of the Americans pirate movies actively and this figure jumps up to a bewildering 70% when you include the younger audience. This number is on the rise and more people are joining daily not really comprehending the real costs behind their actions. Piracy is a very dangerous past time and its effects are long lasting.

Where do the pirated movies come from?

There are several ways of pirating a movie as discussed earlier. The simplest of ways is to go to a movie theatre and recording it on a video cam and release it online as a CAM print. Many people still would download this print instead of going to the movie theatre, maybe due to poverty or maybe just plain and simple ignorance. These prints are called 'leaked' movies. There are pre-screenings of movies around a city before its opening night and if it's leaked online during this date, research shows that the box office collection would decrease by 19% approximately on an average. This is a serious issue. Many people are still defending the pre-releases since it provides a privilege to the privileged to boast amongst their peers of seeing a movie before some of the general public does. However, the stats have shown it to be doing quite the opposite.

Lesser known type of piracy is what people around the internet call 'digital hacking'. This is becoming more and more common as technology improves. This technique involves a person or a group hacking into a studio's computer and taking control over all the movies owned by that particular studio. Most recent of the examples is the Sony studio's hacking where they released movies like Annie and Fury. Annie hadn't even released when it was leaked online. Another example is of 'X- Men Origins: Wolverine' where the director's cut of the movie was released online before its worldwide release. This of-course decreases the success of a movie in the theatres more than the cam rips since this one's better quality.

There are other ways to pirate movies. One of the most common ways is to burn them on a DVD or CD. Since this is a very cost-effective means, any person can do it. All one has to do is buy a CD writer, find a source online to download movies from, write them to blank DVDs/CDs, and finally sell them to anyone willing to buy. Within a short period of time, the said person would make effortless money which should have gone rightfully to the studio or production house.

How does it effect people?



Almost everyone thinks that piracy is a minor issue and the studio always gets the money it has put into a project. They believe that if they watched that latest release of 'Deadpool' online, no one's getting hurt. But they are getting hurt, Francis! A research project conducted by Motion Pictures Association of America found out that it is costing $20.5 billion annually to the box office. Another study conducted in the USA show that a 10% decrease in piracy would give way to around 1.5 million jobs, $64 billion in taxes and $400 billion in economic growth. That number is of course from 2005. The chances are that there might be a much higher number available to be grabbed in today's date seeing the ever-growing popularity of the film industry.

Enough Numbers Already. How does it affect me?!

This would directly affect you if you're a cinema lover. Pirating movies online would mean that the studio earns less. This in turn would result into the studio spending less on the sequel of a franchise. Or, would not spend at all on movies like 'Twelve Years A Slave' since it has a lesser chance of performing well in the cinema hall. In some cases, piracy directly effects the sequel of a film. The 'Kick-Ass' movie series is one of the biggest examples in this scene. Despite being the most pirated movie of 2013, it did poorly in the Box Office and hence, was not able to catch up in the financial sector in the second movie. And, they never did make a third one. Do you still think watching that one movie online is not going to hurt anyone?

And, new movies that aren't franchises yet. What about them?

They do not need to worry about a thing. In fact, it is the independent film makers that suffer the most due to piracy. Many new ideas are buried down under a rock somewhere because the previous one did not do well in the Box Office. Due to such cases, many big studios are not willing to loan money to independent film makers with revolutionary ideas or concepts. When the term 'independent film makers' is brought into the picture, many people picture someone in their 20's with an Associate Degree in theatres. While these are independent film makers, the one's mentioned here are the ones who make Oscar nominated films and to do so take up huge amount of loans all around. It also means that big studios stop investing in these kinds of movies. Examples are 'The Theory of Everything' and 'Birdman', both of which won an Oscar last to last year.

Looking at the bigger picture.

Piracy not only affects the studios and film makers, it also affects the general public. The tax revenue from the industry is quite substantial to economic growth, not to mention the number of job increases that this would bring about. Non-piracy means more money to the studios and film makers which in turn means that more movies giving employment opportunities to several actors, electricians, make-up artists, voice artists, etc. More jobs and more tax? Isn't that what Donald Trump promised? There's something to think about.

Is it really stealing?

Yes. That's the one word answer. There are many people out there who would argue it is not illegal as they are not technically stealing anything. Even though they are not stealing anything physically, the content they are stealing is copyrighted meaning it's the theft of an intellectual property. The reason that you cannot hold it in your hands doesn't mean that it's not theft. It is equivalent to stealing a movie from a DVD store. Just because the outwards appearance of the movie doesn't look like the one you get in a DVD store, doesn't mean that you're not stealing what's inside. Nobody has the right to steal the property of a particular studio just as nobody has the right to steal dollar bills from a JP Morgan Chase bank. Whatever people have to say, you do not have the right to watch a movie without having to pay for it first. The studio owns that property. If you really love movies, you would pay for it and watch.

Breaking it Down:

Going back to the example of 'Wolf of Wall Street', let's do some math based calculations. This movie had over 30 million downloads illegally worldwide. In 2014, cost of an average movie ticket was $8. The movie theatre gets more of a cut, the more a movie is out in it. Hence, it gets more and more as the movie runs for more number of days. Let's assume for the sake of simplicity that it is evenly split 50-50 for now. Therefore, approximately 12 million dollars were robbed of the movie studio (Paramount Pictures). This is just considering only one person watched a copy of the illegally downloaded movie. As discussed earlier, it is possible that copies of the movie must have been made on blank DVDs and CDs distributed among peers. These numbers would have helped the film crew, studio and actors immensely to make more such Oscar nominated movies. However, those 30 million people did not look into this fact. Are you one of them?

How can we stop this?

Like charity, the answer to this very question is that it begins at home. Do not pirate a movie. You might ask yourself that 'A lot of other people are doing it. Why should I pay for something that is available for free?'. Well, the answer is another question simply. 'A lot of other people are robbing banks all around the world. Would you too?' Please do not be tempted into stealing an intellectual property. It is ten times worse than stealing a candy from a baby. Okay, not really. But, you get the picture. Don't you? Even streaming the movies online is illegal if it was not approved by the studio who made it. If you're not willing to put your hands in your pocket for your entertainment, please refrain from watching it. Information is free; however, entertainment is not!

Despite the efforts from law enforcement agencies all around the world, piracy is on the rise more than any other time at this time. This because it was not born from any law enforcing agency. Piracy is something that was born of the people and this would die by the people. Everyone has to contribute accordingly to make any significant change to the anti-piracy campaign. Stop piracy, spread smiles! Let us know what you think of the piracy world and also share with us a few ideas on running an anti-piracy campaign. We would love to hear from you.