I was rather surprised to read of someone trying to film a movie in Soweto during this week with the intention of selling pirate copies on DVD. The surprise was not so much at someone filming it, but the news that people are still purchasing these discs at the side of the road.
This is not going to be a defence of the film industry. Far from it, with their weird strategy of not releasing films or broadcasting TV shows worldwide at the same time and their reluctance to use new technology to give customers what they want they have, quite frankly, created and perpetuated the market for piracy. It's rather more surprising that a market exists for these discs still.
In the world of "uncapped" (but still slow) internet, I would have thought those who wanted unofficial releases of films would simply download them at home, or at the least know someone (who may also know someone) that does download them. I have no idea how much these pirated discs cost, but unless they are something like R5 a shot then surely people would be better off downloading them themselves or giving a memory stick to a friend?
My own experience of these pirate discs are that the novelty factor wears off. Oh sure there are some "good pirates" if that is not an oxymoron, but for the most part the ones I have seen have bad sound, a dodgy picture and often have parts of the film missing. I rather just wait for the proper DVD to turn up - not for reasons of it being "the right thing to do", but purely for the better, if you will proper, quality.
Even then, I have learnt to be very cautious in buying films, stopping to ask myself "how much of a rush am I in to see the movie?". Why? because I have bought things like Jock Of The Bushveld (awful), Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (brilliant) and The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (very good) at R150 on release, only to see the price drop to R50 about two months later. Whereas I can understand why this odd pricing game drives many to pirate copies at the start, for me it just says "no film is that urgent", wait a couple of months and watch a proper copy of the film at a price presumably not all that much higher than what these pirates sell it for.
Cases of piracy go back to before the 1600s, when bootleg copies of texts were produced. I am not, then, going to be as stupid as to say "piracy should be stopped" as there is no chance of that happening. I just don't get why people still buy these poor quality pirate discs when, if that is what they really want, they could probably get the same thing with either the equipment in their house or via a friend or colleague with the same set up.
If the industry really wants to limit the pirate market, then they should make films and television shows available worldwide at the same time, make the disc prices reasonable at the start and offer legal downloads. They do not do this, thus they do not give their customer base what they want and yet still have the audacity to cry when people seek it out. Their mantra is still you wouldn't steal a car, so don't steal a movie. True, perhaps, but I bet everyone reading this would actually download a car if they could.
Until such time as iTunes and Netflix (or similar) are available here without one having to create a fake American address the pirate market is never going to be reduced. If people are prepared to pay for these pirate discs then surely they are prepared to pay for the "proper" copy at a similar price, if only it was available at the same time as the pirate copies. It would be great if anyone from the film, television or music industries took their head out of the sand long enough to notice this.
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