Avatar’s a BitTorrent Hit, But Fox Plays Down Piracy ‘Threat’

Avatar is doing great at the box office so it will come as no surprise that it is also very popular on BitTorrent. However, rather than the usual overreaction to piracy, Fox is playing down the leak and saying it will have a much smaller effect on profits. In the meantime, a lesser-known release blog is thrust into the spotlight.

Set on a moon under siege by humans determined to exploit its resources, the new sci-fi extravaganza ‘Avatar’ from Titanic director James Cameron is the most hotly anticipated film of the year. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that some people want to try and download an illicit copy from the Internet.

Just before the official US release, that became possible. There appears to be several releases of the movie online, although some appear to originate from the same TS (Telesync) copy, although without downloading and watching them all, that is very hard to verify from the screenshots currently available.

Normally an Internet leak of a movie, particularly one the size of Avatar, leads to furious statements from the studios. Indeed, when a movie is leaked before it hits US theaters, as was the case with productions such as Star Wars Episode III, Wolverine and now Avatar, the FBI usually gets called in. This time things seem a little different.

This weekend a press release began to circulate which quotes Eden Wright, a Fox representative, saying that due to the movie’s availability in 3D at the cinema, “piracy will play a much smaller role in stealing profits from [Avatar] due to the technological hurdles it imposes.”

It’s difficult to disagree with Wright. James Cameron has gone to extraordinary lengths to produce this 3D movie and seeing a blurred copy acquired from the Internet will just ruin the whole experience – people who are prepared to pay will want to see it properly.

Indeed, the figures seem supportive. Avatar pulled in more than $3.5 at its midnight launch with 3D viewings accounting for 85% of the gross. On Friday it took $27 million, with 3D accounting for 58% of the gross.

However, there are always those that either don’t have the money or easily succumb to the temptation. These people have been feverishly hitting BitTorrent and according to data collected by TorrentFreak, thus far Avatar has clocked up around 500,000 downloads in just two days.

The press release mentioned earlier also put a lesser-known blog firmly in the spotlight. “James Cameron’s Avatar first appeared on a blog GetTheNew.com,” it read, going on to say that such sites “…now account for as much as 20% of online piracy.”

While the release states that the site is a source of information, those unfamiliar with how Internet piracy works could be forgiven for thinking that somehow GetTheNew was responsible for the leak, but that’s not true.

GetTheNew, which opened just this September, told TorrentFreak that while they may have been the first site to publish the name of the pirate release (which incidentally leaked to P2P first, an increasing phenomenon), any Google searches the site provided would have come up blank since the movie had not hit public torrent sites yet. All GetTheNew had published at the time was a review of the movie and links to the relevant pages on IMDB.

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