Evil Pirates: Movie Industry Tops $30 Billion Box Office Record

Opinion

The movie industry certainly had something to celebrate when it announced 2010's box office revenues. For the first time in history box office grosses worldwide have surpassed the magic $30 billion mark and revenues are up 8 percent compared to 2009. But it's not all positive news. Despite their achievements, in a surreal plot twist the MPAA is still calling for tougher legislation and strict enforcement to deal with the ever-looming piracy ghost.

pirateThe MPAA has made it very clear that hundreds of thousands of jobs are under threat and the economy is losing billions due to piracy. Illegal downloads, they say, are slowly killing their creative industry.

However, in a time where nearly every MPAA press release deals with piracy concerns, box office revenues are booming worldwide. The MPAA has just announced that in 2010 yet another record was broken at the box office. In the US and Canada last year’s record of $10.6 billion was equalled, while worldwide grosses swelled to a massive $31.8 billion.

“It was a strong year at the movies in 2010. Despite a weak economy, shifting business models, and the ongoing impact of digital theft, we had another record year at the global box office driven by growth outside the U.S. and Canada,” MPAA President Bob Pisano said, commenting on the record-breaking revenues worldwide.

“The continued theft of movies online will have a sustained adverse impact on movie attendance in the coming years,” Pisano added somewhat predictably. “It’s impossible to compete with free.”

Oh really? That last statement, although catchy, makes absolutely no sense in this context.

Does the MPAA chief truly believe that a shaky camcorded version of a movie is somehow depriving movie theaters of visitors? Are there millions of people who prefer watching a low quality camcorded version of a movie over a theater visit simply because they can save a few bucks?

Pisano is comparing apples and oranges here – and he and his buddies have nearly 32 billion reasons in their back pocket to prove it.

It would be the same as saying that a fan of band X won’t go to a concert because he can download a bootleg copy on the Internet instead. Movie piracy is hardly a threat (or competition) to movie theater attendances. If anything holds people back from spending a few dollars on a movie it’s probably the insane security measures that have been implemented in recent years.

Still, the MPAA is confident that piracy is affecting box office revenues, so it will therefore continue to push for new legislation and enforcement tools.

“We will continue to work with our industry partners to fight for common sense ways, through legislative, enforcement and legal avenues, to vigilantly protect the creativity at the heart of our industry from theft,” Pisano says.

One of the focuses of the MPAA has been to reduce camcording in movie theaters, but one has to question whether the investments that are made in this area are worth it. Do movie theater employees really have to be equipped with night vision goggles? Are metal detectors, emotion recognition and advanced audio watermarks really needed to pinpoint pirates?

It is almost as if the MPAA and other anti-piracy outfits continue this “piracy theater” just to guarantee and justify their jobs and those of their comrades. Make no mistake, anti-piracy is big business. There are dozens of anti-piracy outfits, copyright protection vendors and lobby groups that each earn millions of dollars merely because of this supposed piracy threat.

Something to think about.

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