Fear of Movie Piracy Delays Theater Releases

The movie industry leaves no stone unturned in its quest to eliminate movie piracy, particularly illegal camcording in theaters. Unfortunately, it's the public that has to deal with the negative consequences. In some parts of the world, it means that you'll have to wait a few extra weeks or months before a movie premieres.

Movie theaters nowadays are becoming more secure than some airports. Employees are equipped with night-vision goggles and instructed to closely monitor movie goers. Metal detectors are installed, the public has to hand over all recording devices and in some instances even their candy. Despite all these efforts, desperately poor-quality camcorded films that are hardly worth watching still leak onto the Internet – so more has to be done.

Quite common by now are the watermarking techniques used by the studios to track down the origin of cams. Through these watermarks the theaters where the movies are recorded can be identified, and every now and then an arrest is made. Recent technological advances even make it possible to get a fairly accurate estimation of the location of the camcorder equipment using audio watermarks. These audio watermarks have not been implemented yet since they require a lot of extra paperwork in order to work well.

In a recent blog post John August, the director of hit movie The Nines, discusses some of the anti-piracy tools the movie studios are using to decrease or deter camcording in theaters. August himself has a fairly balanced view on illegal downloading. In a previous interview with TorrentFreak he said that he wouldn’t think bad of people who downloaded his movie using BitTorrent. In talks with other studio insiders, however, he discovered something that made our jaws drop.

We’ve mentioned many times before that when a movie hits the theater, or a DVD or TV show debuts in one country before it does in another, this is a major incentive for people to turn to BitTorrent. People don’t like waiting for something that other people already have, especially if the solution to that is just a few clicks away. However, instead of putting time and effort into making their content premiere globally, the studios are purposely delaying movie releases in some countries because a lot of cam releases originate there.

So, instead of working towards solving the problem, the studios are actually encouraging piracy by restricting access to millions of potential customers. Like many others, August himself acknowledges that delayed premiere dates in some locations might actually encourage people to pirate movies and TV-shows.

Instead of adding restrictions and thereby alienating their customers, the movie and TV studios should focus on dropping the release windows for their content. It may have been possible to keep people and countries apart pre-Internet, but not any more. People worldwide are closer together today than ever before – and only getting closer.

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