Filmmakers Fake Piracy Threat to Boost Sales

In a desperate cry for media attention, the filmmakers behind the flopped Danish movie Winnie & Karina have accused Piratgruppen of stealing their film. In two libelous press releases they fabricated a piracy threat from the local group of copyright critics, hoping to draw attention to the upcoming DVD-release.

As a mediocre filmmaker or musician there is little to fear from piracy. If people don’t want to pay for your content then they are not very likely to pirate it either. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to benefit from piracy.

Two years ago we reported on a case where an intentional leak was used as a promotional tool. When the band BuckCherry found out that their latest single had leaked on BitTorrent, they issued a press release instead of trying to get the torrents offline.

In the press release they reported how devastated they were that the single was up for grabs. However, it all turned out to be staged event as we later found out that the person who uploaded the torrent had the same IP-address as the band’s manager.

BuckCherry’s failed PR-campaign was pretty low, but Danish filmmakers have taken this particular promotional technique quite a bit further by blaming a third party for the leak. A few days ago the makers (Regner Grasten Film) of the film Winnie & Karina issued a press release in which they accused the Danish copyright reform group Piratgruppen of stealing the master DVD.

“Until now there has been no ransom demands, but Regner Grasten Film is willing to do all it can to avoid the film being made available for free online,” they wrote in the press release.

The film in question was a big flop in theaters but through the faked piracy threat they hoped to get some attention for the upcoming DVD-release. The press release was ignored by the media though, so they had to release another one a few days later.

In this new press release they went even further by claiming that Piratgruppen was threatening to leak the film on YouTube that evening. Again, the media didn’t pick it up and eventually the filmmakers came clean by stating that the whole story was made up.

In an email to Piratgruppen the studio’s boss Regner Grasten admits that he was desperate because of the bad reviews and disappointing ticket sales. Accusing Piratgruppen of breaking into their premises and stealing the master film was just a joke, Grasten explained in the email.

Piratgruppen couldn’t really see the humor in being accused of a serious crime and called it a “pathetic little media stunt”.

In the end the filmmakers got a bittersweet result, since although the Danish media finally picked up the story, their failure was exposed.

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