So this story isn't about me. Me, I wouldn't pirate movies. It's wrong, it's stealing, and it can result in all kinds of fines from nasty governmental agencies who frown upon such things. So take this article as theoretical rather than practical. The individual in this article is purely fictional, names have been changed to protect the innocent and any expression of what constitutes a good movie vs a bad movie is made using empirical data collected over years of reading reviews and seeing god-awful-effing movies.
What is pirating, really
So. Generally accepted convention: if you download something that you didn't pay for, you've pirated it. That's how those nasty agencies look at it, and generally speaking that's what folks like me think of it as...though really the part that gets people into the BIGGEST trouble is resharing what they've already downloaded - however let's put that aside for the moment.. This has all been true since media began - remember the FBI warnings at the beginning of videos? Yep, same rules apply here...but in some cases, haven't I actually paid for what I'm pirating?
OK, so pirating is stealing, right?
Yep, that's how the movie studios define it...but stick with my train of thinking here and why it's not black and white, in my mind...and why, if anything, a little bit of pirating could actually "even the score" with the big studios.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show makes pirating okay
Yep, that's what I'm saying. The Sweet Transvestite from Transexual Transylvania (uh HUH) is what makes pirating ok, and why I think the movie studios need to lighten the hell up. Now I know, it's a pretty wild and odd thing to say, but stay with me here.
So the Rocky Horror Picture Show came out in 1975. I saw it for the first time quite a bit later, having been born in 77, I probably didn't see it before the very early 90s. I fell in love with it and promptly starting seeing it in the theaters every chance I got. I also bought it on VHS. Prior to that my folks had a copy of it on beta (yes, they had a betamax player, one of the only families in the history of the world to do so I'd guess). A few years later i bought it on laserdisc and a few years after that I bought it on DVD. Then I bought the 35th anniversary edition on DVD. I also eventually bought it on bluray which, through the years, got lost in the shuffle somehow. So we're talking 5 copies of this one movie that I've owned to keep up with changing times/technology. I never asked Richard O'Brien or the movie studio to refund me for all those copies I'd purchased (I won't even go INTO the number of formats and versions of the audio alone that I've owned). But really, at this point, should I have to buy it AGAIN? Haven't I already forked over my hard earned dollars for the right to watch the movie?
What the big guys say....
So talk to the government and they'll say that no. I do not have the right to own that movie. I lost my copy, so I need to buy another one. Over the years I've spent LITERALLY hundreds of dollars supporting the production, both in theater and at home, but the right remains to FINE me if I dont go out and buy another copy.
Of course, being the law abiding citizen that I am, that's precisely what I'll do...but theoretically, I find it pretty justifiable that others might go an alternate route.
The Limited Edition Scam
Yep, that's right, I'm calling it out. I buy a movie and, sure as shit, a few weeks later a new "limited edition" version comes out. It contains an hour of unreleased content, some behind the scenes stuff, some bloopers and the like. It costs twice what the one I just bought does, And you know what? If it's a movie I love, I mean really LOVE, I'm going to run out and get it again because...well...BLOOPERS!
Let's not forget all those pieces of crap that we watched...
While I applaud movie studios that take a risk, and maybe crank out a movie that isn't "main stream", I can't even COUNT how many times I've seen movies that were so goddamned awful that you could tell the movie studio just didn't give a crap. How many "Hey, we got a big name for the lead, so lets crank out any ol' piece of shit" movies have I seen over the years? I've honestly lost count. These movies took not only my money, but time out of my life that I'll never get back. In some cases they were so awful that they took little bits of my soul with them (Ishtar comes to mind). We're talking about movies that were so horrendous that I feel that I was stolen from - yet I have no recourse. I'm not getting my money back for seeing some piece of garbage and while it's not a movie I would ever buy or want to pirate, it's a movie that was shown to me that I want to un-see. You know, pretty much any of these (taste notwithstanding, a couple of these aren't THAT bad): http://www.imdb.com/chart/bottom
I guess my point here is that we, as consumers, really don't have much opportunity to fire back at the movie studios who have bilked us for YEARS - between bumping up movie prices (I remember 4 dollar movies...now, if its in 3D, I can expect to pay 15), releasing 8 different versions of the same movie and, cranking out HORRIBLE star vehicles and of course, the great format wars (I won't even go into the now worthless HD DVD attachment for my xbox or the media that I bought to go with it).
Now of course, there's the other kind of pirate - the guy that doesn't go to the movies or buy favorites, but rather just downloads everything. He has a collection of cam videos of new releases, is likely socially awkward, and more than likely can speak at least 3 programming languages fluently. This guy I'm not talking about.
What do y'all think? Should there be an allowance for good, loyal, movie buying people to be permitted to "download" movies? Should it at least be taken into consideration? Should my proof that I saw both Leonard 6 and From Justin to Kelly in the theater give me the right to fire one back at the movie studio responsible? More: if the movie studios can nail pirates for downloading flicks, should we be able to nail them for cranking out absolute clunkers? Shouldn't my buying a movie give me the right to always watch it, as opposed to the right to own the actual physical piece of media the movie is on?
Of course, to reiterate, this is all theoretical - I would never condone pirating as it's clearly wrong. My movie collection at home is entirely legit. I do not visit the pirate bay, I have not liked them on facebook, and I do not use their mirror sites when they're down. I never had a demonoid account, and I do not run a cottage industry of download/convert/import so that I can enjoy movies on my theoretical apple TV.