Weekly News Roundup (4 January 2015)

Welcome to the first WNR for 2015, an abridged version since, well, I don’t think anyone’s in a mood to read (or to write) an essay length article, not this early in the year anyway. Hope your NYE celebrations were awesome, or at the very least, you managed to get a sensible good night’s sleep to get energized for the new year.

So let’s take a look at some of the stories doing the rounds for the last week of 2014 (and the first week of 2015), some of which I may cover in more detail during the next week.

Guardians of the Galaxy

A super hit at the cinemas and on Blu-ray, but not that popular for pirates …

So it’s the end of the year, and as is customary, there are a lot of “top 10”, “best of” and “year in review” type of stories. The top 10 most pirated films for the year, for example, can be found out in this article courtesy of piracy tracking firm Excipio. Surprisingly, at least for me, was the fact that ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ was the year’s most pirated movie, not ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (the top box office earner for 2014), which wasn’t even on the top 20 list. One explanation is that movies like ‘Guardians’ and the new Hunger Games movie, ‘Mockingjay’ were released too late in the year to climb on the list, but movies like ‘The Lego Movie’ (4th on the box office charts) also didn’t make the top 20.

In fact, the most pirated movie released in 2014 was ‘RoboCop’ (3rd on the piracy charts, although it includes the original, and much more superior version, in the numbers) – this is a movie that was 54th on the box office charts, a flop by most standards. The piracy charts also include the 8th placed ‘The Legend of Hercules’ (107th on the box office charts), another flop that somehow beat out top movies like ‘300: Rise of an Empire’ (even if this much worse of the two Hercules films this year was available online for 2 month more than the 300 sequel, released in March).

It seems to me that pirates are very selective in what they download, and it has nothing to do with how they select which movies to watch at the cinemas, or to purchase on Blu-ray and DVD. A point that has already been made recently.

Game of Thrones: Season 4

… while popular TV shows, especially those that aren’t easy to access, *are* popular with pirates

The same may not be exactly true for TV downloads, with the top 10 list compiled by TorrentFreak matching well with the popularity/critical acclaim of said show. Though if you dig into the figures, you’ll find that many of the shows are being pirated more outside of the US, or in areas that do not have as easy/cheap/fast access to the latest episodes. Access is much less of a problem for movies (perhaps more so for certain movies that don’t get wider, or long releases, such as flops, hence the piracy), and when access is the main problem, piracy will usually follow popularity trends. Solve the access problem, then people will pay (like they do for hits like ‘Guardians’), and only pirate those that they deem unworthy of their patronage, or movies that aren’t easily available to view at the cinemas, or on Blu-ray/DVD.

Fibre Optics Cable

Fiber broadband … the MPAA’s next “public enemy number one”

But instead of focusing on the access problem, and solving that by having better and more viable options, particularly taking advantage of new technology like fiber broadband (4K cinema quality movie streaming, anyone?), Hollywood instead lets their fear rule and instantly adopts a over-cautious approach to new innovations in technology. That they’re now fighting against Google Fiber, instead of trying to find new ways to sell content to those on these super-duper fast broadband connections, just goes to show why they keep on losing to tech companies when it comes to innovation. Especially when they use dubious methods to come up with dubious conclusions about said new technology (including the fact that studios would lose $1 billion dollars a year more due to fiber, based on the assumption that 31% of the entire population of Kansas City, including little children, grandparents, those that don’t use a computer, are pirates).

Every change can be seen as an opportunity, or an impending disaster, and I just wish the creative industry, for once, looks on the bright side of things. Stop being so focused on sending DMCA takedowns, or throwing tantrums if you don’t get your way on things, and start confronting change and saying to yourselves “how can I make the best of this”, and maybe, just maybe, things will work out for the best.

So movie studios, please make this your New Year’s resolution, and I think you’ll find this will be a win-win for everyone!

That’s it for the first WNR for 2015. Hope you have a great year!


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