The Avengers vs. Internet Piracy

I’m not sure if admitting this is a good idea, but I torrent things. I like to watch a lot of television shows, and so The Pirate Bay has become a very frequented location for me, so I can download the latest episode of Game of Thrones, or House, or something else that appeals to me.

More often than not, if I really enjoy a show, I’ll go out and buy the box set. When it finally gets released. Three years later, because I live in the UK, and most of the shows I watch are American. Apart from now having to deal with The Pirate Bay being blocked by most British ISPs, I’ve also had to deal with people talking about how piracy is destroying the movie/music/whatever industry, and we should stop. I’m not going to talk about why piracy should or shouldn’t stop. But I am going to talk about the recent news that The Avengers Assemble (or whatever it’s called) has broken all previous opening weekend records with $200 million or thereabouts.

I’m going to address the issue that is apparently so surprising – in this day and age where people can download anything they want from the internet, how are movies still breaking records like this? The short answer is that people want to go and see movies in high-definition, big screen cinemas. It just doesn’t always work like that.

I’m being dragged to see The Avengers film tomorrow, despite my lack of interest in it, or the Marvel Universe in general. I haven’t seen Thor or Captain America, and the Iron Man films were not rated highly by me. My friends have this kind of power over me.

This is because most of my friends do not torrent things when they want to watch them. Which is obviously great for everybody. And so do a lot of other people… Not torrent things, I mean. So thank goodness there are still people who are willing to pay for their entertainment, right?

Wrong. Despite my lack of interest in The Avengers, I know for a fact that there are many many many people out there who won’t torrent it because they’d rather see it in the cinema. It doesn’t happen a lot any more, but there is the chance that the copy you download will be poor quality, filmed at the back of the theater, or something else to make it a bad viewing experience. But this isn’t why pirates are still happy to go to the cinema. Which we/they are.

It’s just better. I’m looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, and several other films being released this year, and I know off the bat that there is no way I’ll ruin them by downloading them off the internet. It’s not that I care about the studios or directors (which I do, but they’re not my driving force). It’s because I want the first time I watch these films to be incredible. I want them to be special. Like losing my Dark Knight Rises virginity. It has to be absolutely awesome, because I know that the films are going to be absolutely awesome. I’m not going to spoil it by watching it on my small laptop screen in a questionable quality.

Torrent Freak, a website that reports news on torrents and the impact on various industries, has attributed The Avengers’ success to the fact that despite 100,000 Americans torrenting the film, it only brought their earnings down by 0.5%. Yes, it’s true that pirates can’t bring down a film like this, and everybody is stupid for being so surprised, but there’s also no way of knowing that these pirates didn’t also pay for a cinema ticket as well as downloading the film.

I probably can’t speak for everybody who torrents films, but I am absolutely positive that if a film is deserving enough of my money, it will get it. There’s literally no way that piracy will destroy the movie industry.

Pirates care about films. Which you might argue against, but look at it this way. Pirates love films so much that they want to watch them whenever they want, even if it’s still only in cinemas. That’s commitment. Torrent on, pirates, torrent on.

  1. Anonymous said:

    Tom I agree with everything you say. Not that many years ago, before Itunes and the ability to buy just the song you want for a small but reasonable fee, one had to pay out a lot for filler songs, or as I call them, rubbish. It use to gall me watching a band being interviewed proudly admitting they wrote and recorded a whole album in one night, while pissed or stoned, or both. For the one decent song we had to pay top dollar. Itunes changed all that, but not before much objection from the music moguls. Movie studios spew out countless ‘B’ grade films with the public paying again top dollar to mostly endure and suffer cliche ridden trash. The torrent industry was borne out of frustration with hollywood suits and their mediocre garbage. I live and work in a non english speaking country so to watch english TV shows I turned to the internet and torrents. Strangely if I lived in the UK I could watch any BBC TV show on the official BBC website and catch up, but not if, like I do, live outside the country. Like you, if I like a particular show I will buy it whenever I go back to my ancestral motherland. It’s like taking a car for a test drive. If I like the experience I’ll buy. If I don’t, the studio can have it back, and perhaps they will do better next time.

    • Anonymous said:

      Sorry, it’s from kilvo777

    • Good comment! The industry can’t expect to churn out a considerable amount of rubbish only to be mad when people decide they don’t want to pay for it. The test drive comparison is spot on.

      As for TV shows, I personally think it’s far less incriminating to torrent them. So many networks now have on demand services, meaning that they can be watched online for free whenever the viewer wants. This, in essence, is no different to torrenting episodes. So it’s fine.

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