Piracy is one of the most serious problems facing the film industry in the current age. Within the industry, piracy involves the illegal recording of movies in the theaters using camcorders, phones or any other recording device, and the illegal distribution of the recorded content. The problem affects various players in the industry, the producers, directors, writers, and actors among other stakeholders who invest in the production process hoping to reap the benefits. Given the financial cost of the problem, it is necessary to devise some solutions to allow the stakeholders to benefit from their efforts. Among the solutions are preventing the illegal recording by barring such people from accessing the theater or banning the entry of individuals with camcorders or any other recording device. Another measure is using stiff legal consequences, including jail term and fine for those found guilty of the offense.
Piracy is one of the most serious problems affecting the film industry today. While some people work very hard to create movies, others are waiting to pirate them, making it hard for the owners to benefit from their hard work. Piracy is defined as the unlawful recording and distributing of unauthorized content. The most common form of piracy is unlawful camera recording, which involve recording of the original films in the theaters without the consent of the creator. The entertainment industry loses billions of dollars every year due to the effects of piracy (Safner, 2013b). The pirated copies are normally sold at a lower price or streamed free on the internet; hence, leading to loss of business for the legitimate creators of the original content. In fact, prohibited movie streaming has become very easy, thanks to the Internet. The practice is causing loss of revenue for the producers, directors, writers, actors, and other stakeholders who invest millions of dollars in producing the film and earn a living in the process.
Illegal copies of the films are distributed in the United States and overseas. Although it is illegal, the law has not succeeded in curbing the problem of piracy in the country, with the copies being evident throughout the country, and mostly in the urban parts, including the streets of Miami and New York. However, the copies are not only distributed in the country, but in the entire world (Veitch & Constantiou, 2012). While piracy is evil, the distribution of the illegal copies of the film is malicious and affects the film industry at large. Based on the online streaming sites such as JetStream and others, the pirated films can find their way out of the country to the overseas audience. People out of the country can stream and even download and sell copies of the film. In fact, pirated movies are making up a huge part of the movie industry outside the United States.
Causes of Piracy
The problem of pirating starts with the unlawful camera recording. The highest percentage of pirating, a little over 90% are from individuals who can capture the films using camcorders in theaters. In the process, those involved in pirating can access prohibited footages. People are able to enter the theaters with recording equipment, in some cases due to lack of or inadequate security within the theater. Another cause of piracy is the ease with which forbidden distribution is possible (Safner, 2013a). The simple fact that the pirated films can be easily distributed to the audience is a motivator for those who pirate. Those who record the film can immediately upload them on the internet, reaching hundreds of audience in a matter of minutes.
Effects on Industry
Lack of Movie Protection
The movie industry lacks effective protection, which is the reason behind the increase in the problem of piracy. While there are regulations designed to address the problem, they remain inadequate in dealing with the problem. One of the laws that enacted towards this end is the No Electronic Theft, or NET Act (Phau et al., 2014). In fact, the act is passed with the aim of combating piracy and distribution of the pirated content on the internet. Lack of adequate implementation of the regulations highlights the lack of seriousness in protecting the movie industry from pirating.
Piracy is causing the entertainment industry billions of dollars every year. A good example of such a loss is the pirating of Straight Outta Compton, which is one of the recent movies that have lost billions. The producers and other stakeholders in the production process invest money with the hope of making profits out of the sales of the movies. Normally, it is cheaper for the user to buy the low-priced pirated movie than the original one, leading to little or no profit at all for the producers.
Prevention of Illegal Recording
The most effective solution to the problem is making it difficult for the illegal recorders to access a copy of the film (Lobato, 2012). Such can be achieved in two main ways, making the original movie hard to copy or barring the illegal recorders from pirating the film. Piracy through recording can be prevented by inserting artifacts into the original film during the digital phase as well as by altering the movie itself. In such a case, it becomes difficult for the recorders to capture the film and distribute it online or otherwise.
Another way of preventing pirating is making it impossible to record the film by banning the entry into the theater with a camcorder, phone, or any other recording device. Therefore, it becomes impossible for anyone with the intention of recording to achieve his or her objective. Such systems as PirateEye can be used in the studios and by cinema workers in detecting and preventing entry of persons with recording devices. Implementation of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its related anti-piracy rules can work in restricting pirates (Frazier, 2013). Banning entry into the theaters of those intending to record the movies can also work effectively in curbing piracy. Preventing the opportunity to record the films can be done using security personnel to prevent the entry of unauthorized persons into the theater. Promising reward to individuals who catch pirates is a motivator for the studio staff to try and detect anyone with the intention of recording and distributing a film.
Pirating of films is illegal, and there are legal ramifications for violating the law. Using the NET Act and the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is possible for those involved in pirating to be arrested and sentenced. Those found guilty of performing the illegal recording and distribution of the movies can face the legal consequences (Wikström, 2013). Among the sentences that should be given to such individuals is jail sentence depending on the extent of their crimes. Besides the jail sentence, another legal consequence is fine on those found guilty of the act. One of the effects of pirating is economic in nature, leading to the loss of billions for the affected individuals and companies (Danaher & Waldfogel, 2012). Thus, one of the consequences for those found guilty should be a heavy fine according to the nature of the crime. Such consequences will discourage pirating based on the associated costs as weighed against the benefit they get from pirating the films.
Given the continued seriousness and the effect of the problem of piracy, it is necessary to find out the reasons why it has continued unabated. The reality is that, while there are laws preventing the illegal recording and distribution of the movies, the problem has continued and the law is not doing much to address it (Iordanova & Cunningham, 2012). One of the areas that should be further researched is the enforcement of laws relating to pirating, the reasons the regulations are not effective, and what can be done to make them more effective.
Another area that should be more researched is the streaming of illegal movies online and how this can be curbed. Evidently, the main motivator for the illegal recording of movies is the ease with which they can be streamed online. Thus, there should be greater focus on the ways of discouraging such illegal actions, including coming up with effective measures to curb illegal actions that occur online (Lodderhose, 2014). If the current laws are not highly effective, then research should be carried out on the changes that can be made to make them more effective in addressing the problem.
Piracy within the film industry is a serious problem and one with serious effects on the entertainment industry. There are various stakeholder groups that are affected by the problem, including the producers, directors, writers, and the actors. The reason for the effect is that they invest a lot of money in the hope of making profits, which the pirates deny them. There are two possible solutions, which include preventing pirating from taking place and making the pirates to face the legal consequences for their actions. Laws and policies develop as a way of controlling actions and behavior. Thus, it is necessary to implement changes in the current laws and their implementation processes to be able to deal with the problem of piracy successfully.
Danaher, B., & Waldfogel, J. (2012). Reel piracy: The effect of online film piracy on international box office sales. Available at SSRN 1986299.
Frazier, G. (2013). Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.
Iordanova, D., & Cunningham, S. (2012). Digital disruption: Cinema moves on-line. St Andrews film studies.
Lobato, R. (2012). A sideways view of the film economy in an age of digital piracy. Necsus. European Journal of Media Studies, 1(1), 85-97.
Lodderhose, D. (2014). Movie Piracy: Threat to the Future of Films Intensifies. The Guardian.
Phau, I., Lim, A., Liang, J., & Lwin, M. (2014). Engaging in digital piracy of movies: a theory of planned behaviour approach. Internet Research, 24(2), 246-266.
Safner, R. (2013a). America’s Most Wanted Movies: The Effect of the Top Pirated Movies on Box Office Revenues.
Safner, R. (2013b). Steal This Film, Get Taken Down? A New Dataset on DMCA Takedowns and Movie Piracy.
Veitch, R. W. D., & Constantiou, I. D. (2012). User Decisions in a (partly) Digital World: Comparing Digital Piracy to Legal Alternatives for film and Music. In ECIS (p. 174).
Wikström, P. (2013). The music industry: Music in the cloud. Polity.