Piracy Gets An Upgrade
As a past member of FACT and someone with strong if controversial views on DVD piracy and releasing schedules, I’ve been amazed by recent changes in stolen movies and books. My own novels are being pirated all over the place, printed pirate books now look better than the real thing (they’re often on better paper), but it’s in movies that the biggest upgrade has occurred.
Gone are the crummy shot-in-the-stalls videos of yore. Stores in Eastern Europe are openly selling immaculate pin-sharp copies of features not yet released in the UK. I recently persuaded someone to show me the copies of ‘Green Lantern’ he had on display (sale price: £2) to find them astoundingly clear and viewable, in widescreen.
Most piracy occurs in the US, right at the heart of the Hollywood film-making process. I find it unbelievable that no-one can plug up the gaps in the delivery chain. What will happen when the HD process is successfully pirated? We’ll see the market flooded with virtually perfect copies.
Right now, the market is in freefall because consumers are confused by HD, 3D, Blu-Ray, Region-Free, NTSC and PAL. Shops have sold copies of 3D Blu-Ray films to punters who think they can load them into 2D HD players. Few seem to realise that you need a new TV AND Blu-Ray player, and most likely a new amplifier, to run all of this, plus special glasses that don’t come as standard. It’s damned complicated.
My view is that there’s only one way to beat piracy. All the anti-piracy commercials in the world won’t stop people from thinking that only fat cats get skimmed, but there is a simple if unpalatable solution – release each film on all formats simultaneously. If a book can appear on an eReader or in a store or online at the same time, why not a film? It’s only distributor greed that prevents this from happening.