Posts Tagged ‘ Piracy ’

Is Piracy Responsible For The Failings Of Expendables 3?

expendables

Prior to its cinematic release, The Expendables 3 was discovered to have been leaked online. The high quality screener copy of the film was quickly snapped up by hungry pirates all over the world, ready for their fix of blood, violence and quippy one-liners. Lionsgate, the distribution company, immediately reacted by demanding sites be taken down and the torrent removed. But, as with all things on the internet, once it is online it is staying there and the screener is still available to many internationally.

Huge torrent sites, such as Kick Ass, have removed the film entirely from their sites fearing more vigorous attacks from Lionsgate through the courts. The company has seen the film underachieve at the box office, and the current consensus is that this is due to piracy. The matter of financial gain versus quality art is more apparent than ever in the modern industry, and regardless of personal feelings towards the act of piracy it is becoming a more and more heavily debated social topic. Are the pirates ruining the film industry? Or is the greed of the Hollywood system destroying film? All films require profit to be a success in the eyes of the production company, and many of the lower budget films released do not have the financial backing to stand up to the economic consequences of piracy. The Expendables 3 may be a big budget, Hollywood picture filled to the rafters with A-Listers, but that does not mean piracy will not negatively effect the future of the much loved action franchise. Further, if Lionsgate, who have the financial means to attack the sites, and are able to do so, then legally they are within their right. More so, being more powerful in terms of financial backing they have a responsibility to do so to protect themselves and smaller budget films and companies. But is piracy to blame for a fall in the film’s box office success? Or is piracy merely a scapegoat for the failings of a bad movie? Our critics review is available to read here. Continue reading

Sherlock Tells Us Exactly What The Government Thinks Of Its People

On Wednesday 29th February, Junior Minister Sean Sherlock signed into law a controversial statutory instrument which reinforces Irish copyright laws. The ‘Irish SOPA’ legislation, as it had been dubbed, was the source of much criticism and debate over the past number of weeks, the main concern being the possibility for limiting freedom on the internet. Now it will be possible for copyright holders to seek court injunctions companies such as ISP’s or indeed social networks whose servers are hosting copyrighted content.

Despite public outcry which included an online petition which garnered over 80,000 signatures, Junior Minister Sherlock ignored the wishes of the people and signed the statute into law anyway. What is worrying about this, disregarding for a moment the implications for our control and freedom on the internet, is the government’s ability to sign into law pieces of legislation without having to place it in front of either the Dáil or the Irish people. Many will not know much about the tool used in this case, the statutory instrument, probably because it is often used behind closed doors. But, in fact SI’s are used quite regularly, all that is needed to bring them into effect is a minister’s signature on the dotted line. The Oireachtas has delegated power in many different areas – County Councils, for example, or any of the various bodies in existence today. Ministers too have been given powers by the Oireachtas. Another recent statutory instrument involved speed limits, as then transport minister, Martin Cullen, signed into law an SI which set the ordinary speed limit at 80kph. Last year alone 740 SI’s became law, ranging from taxi regulations to financial sanctions on Libya and restrictions on the sale of missiles to North Korea.

Already, Minister Sherlock has shown he is really out of his depth. The backpedaling has already begun as he proclaimed that a new public consultation launched after the passing of the new law could lead to further legislation which could supersede his own, but only, he threatened, if “everybody calls off the dogs.” There is no real pressing need for such legislation, at a time when a focus on economic matters is much more important. This particular legislation appears to have been rushed through, with the only ones seemingly consulted being the music industry in Ireland, or at any rate, the executives rather than the musicians themselves. Predictably, Irish internet users and advocates on online freedom were ignored. This issue is far too big and the implications of getting it wrong are far too severe for one junior minister, who appears to know little about the way the internet works, to be spearheading this legislation. The horse should have been put before the cart, and the public consultation launched before the legislation. A fair and balanced debate, one in which the opinions besides those of the music industry are listened to and considered without bias.

The music industry is simply crying wolf once more. How many times before have they opposed a new medium, calling for moderation in the face of impending doom? Wasn’t the introduction of cassette tapes supposed to kill music, with people savagely copying songs from the radio without sparing a though for the poor executive forced to drive a BMW instead of a Mercedes? VHS tapes were also decried as the devil, Jack Valenti of the MPAA describing the “savagery and the ravages of this machine.” Aside from such excessive reactions to new technology, their actions don’t really help their case at all. Underhanded efforts are often used to force through legislation. Despite the open efforts of companies like Google and Facebook, the Motion Picture Association of America instead resorted to a form of blackmail, threatening that politicians who supported the removal of the SOPA bill from Congress faced losing campaign contributions. Much of their actions against pirating are also counter-productive and just downright annoying. Short films or ads which appeal to the viewer’s better nature, or try to frighten them into lawfulness are always attached to DVDs or shown at the beginning of films in the cinema, at which point the person has already forked out money to watch the production.

Illegal downloading is the inevitable black market that opens up to fill a need previously ignored. But record companies don’t want to drop prices to entice back their lost customers. They simply want to keep incredibly high charges, (from which only a small amount actually reaches the artist who makes the music, by the way) and then complain about how the internet is killing them. Internet piracy isn’t legal, and I don’t advocate it as a legitimate alternative. But in truth, piracy isn’t killing the industry; the industry is killing the industry. In their drive to squeeze out as much profit as possible they are alienating their customer base who, in the face of excessive pricing and quite frankly, often poor quality music or films, are exploring other avenues.

For as long as democracy reigns, the music and film industry is fighting a losing battle. People who are tired of stupid prices and even worse behaviour will vote with their wallet and their actions. Internet piracy and illegal downloads are only going from strength to strength, despite the skewed figures and the odd website takedown by the MPAA. Even if you don’t download or think the internet shouldn’t be as free you can be opposed to government’s legislating without or despite the wishes of the people and on the behalf of companies and associations who care little for their customers or the artists they supposedly support. They have everything going against them. The outcry against such moves has been deafening. If there’s enough of them, the people always win.