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Is Hollywood Encouraging Piracy?

Posted by: , 13:04 AEST, Thu August 23, 2012

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Tech journalist David Pogue says Hollywood is still reeling from the death of traditional DVD rentals, and their fear of the Internet is driving them to encourage movie piracy by putting up too many hurdles for online rentals
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Prominent tech journalist David Pogue thinks that Hollywood is actually encouraging movie piracy by putting up artificial hurdles for people who actually want to pay for stuff.

Writing an opinion piece for Scientific American, the award winning writer, journalist and TV show host says the impending death of DVD, and the rise of the Internet, has scared Hollywood so much that it's doing exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.

With DVD sales and rentals down, and brick and mortar stores like Blockbusters going out of business, the obvious next step for Hollywood is to embrace instant streaming because streaming, in Pogue's words, "offers instant gratification: no waiting, no driving - plus great portability: you can watch on gadgets too small for a DVD drive, like phones, tablets and superthin laptops."

But that's not what Hollywood is doing. "It seems intent on leaving money on the table," writes Pogue, as he explains the various restrictions Hollywood have tried to impose on people's now preferred way to get their movie fix.

Most online rentals are only for 24 hours - not long enough says Pogue, especially when Blockbusters used to offer 3 day new release rentals.

Then there are release windows, on paper, designed to maximize profits for movie studios, "a long-established obligation that makes each movie available, say, first to hotels, then to pay-per-view systems, then to HBO and, only after that, to you for online rental."

And the seemingly arbitrary exclusion of certain titles from online rental or streaming has Pogue confused as well. "Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, A Beautiful Mind, Bridget Jones's Diary, Saving Private Ryan, Meet the Fockers, and so on, are not available to rent from the major online distributors ... Obviously somebody, somewhere, objects to releasing the rights."

And all of this, according to Pogue, drives people to piracy. "And if you don't make your product available legally, guess what? The people will get it illegally," added Pogue, "Of the 10 most pirated movies of 2011, guess how many of them are available to rent online, as I write this in midsummer 2012? Zero. That's right: Hollywood is actually encouraging the very practice they claim to be fighting (with new laws, for example)."

Pogue urges Hollywood to rethink its strategy, and drop DRM like the music industry has, adopt a fairer pricing model, and embrace Internet services like Hulu. "Make your wares available legally, cleanly and at a fair price - and only the outliers will resort to piracy. And you can keep making money," Pogue concludes.


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