Is illegal filesharing hurting the movie industry?

Is illegal filesharing hurting the movie industry?

We’ve heard about studies that “prove” that illegal file sharing is hurting CD sales. And we’ve heard about some stories to the contrary.

Whenever I go the movies, the theatres appear to be packed. Has anyone heard of studies that show that downloading is actually hurting box office revenue?

Other than studies funded by the MPAA, no.

I’d say yes, for very cynical reasons. Compare the turnout you got for, say, Star Wars Episode 2 with what would have happened if nobody had seen it early. It’s now public knowledge whether a film sucks out loud or not before it’s even in theaters. And since most films do suck out loud, you aren’t going to get people to shell out 7 bucks to go see them as often.

And it’s not just the people downloading the film. Whenever a new release is coming up, I’ll check out a few movie sites and get the general consensus from people who have seen it, even though I won’t download it myself. Same goes for new music, games, anything that can be readily pirated. Millions of average people have now seen and/or used the product first, and I can get their opinion on it.

My guess is it hurts the industry not from loss of ticket sales, but from loss of rentals.

A “friend of mine” often downloads movies instead of renting them.

I would like to see someone illustrate the mechanics of any ‘loss’ incurred. Pick say 2 or 3 roles, say, a stagehand, a secondary status actor, a writer, or whomever you wish and draw out the losses incurred due to filesharing by someone in such an occupation.

There’s a stronger argument for harm from illegal copying of movies than from music. A person who downloads music and finds something they like may be induced to purchase the album or more music on the same album of by the same artist through legal channels.

A person who downloads a movie and watches it has already seen the movie, and will have little further incentive to see it in a theater, rent it, or purchase it. In my experience “discovery” effects are much weaker for movies (i.e. finding a movie you like and as a direct result deciding to watch related movies) than for music, so it is difficult to see how the content creators won’t be hurt.

I can think of 2 scenarios:

  1. Actor/writer or someone gets royalties as payment for work (1st star wars was this way). If fewer copies are rented/sold due to file sharing, then that is less money for those people.

  2. To the extent that file sharing reduces income to the company, less will be spent on other movies (fewer movies made by that company) which will in turn employ fewer people to work on those movies.

Yes, to the same extent that VHS rentals ruined the movie business in the 80’s and 90’s.

I’d say the illegal downloading of movies hurts the film industry in the same way me punching Lennox Lewis in the arm hurts him–not very much at all.

I’m sure there is some harm done but in relation to the size and strength of the movie industry the ad campaigns against downloading probably cost the industry more than downloading itself.

[hijack]Also I wish no one had mentioned Star Wars II, George Lucas giveth and he taketh away. I often feel that this man is a very particular kind of evil in that he gave me a trilogy that I loved so much in years past and then destroyed it by making two very bad prequels.

Although Phantom Menace isn’t “bad” as a movie I feel it changed the “feel” of the series negatively.[/hijack]

It’s very hard to measure how much harm downloading does. For example I know a guy that downloaded and watched “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle.” He told me he would never shell out money to go see it in theaters or rent it but the commercials caught his attention to the point where he was willing to spend time downloading it.

So that’s someone that viewed the movie without paying for it, but the movie industry was never going to get his money from that movie under any circumstances.

Well, you could say the opposite in some cases: if you’ve downloaded a high quality MP3 version of an album and burned it to a CD-R, all you’d stand to get by buying the CD is a nicer looking disc and case. The liner notes don’t exactly provide lasting enjoyment.

If you’ve downloaded a movie and burned it to a DVD-R, you have a few more incentives to buy or rent the official DVD: (1) Better quality video. A lot of movies on the net were recorded with camcorders, and even DivX rips from DVDs aren’t always full resolution. (2) Extras. These simply don’t exist when the movie is still in theaters, and even DVD rips don’t usually include the special features (or subtitles, extra audio tracks and commentaries, etc.).

True for the most part. The discovery effect is limited because most movies aren’t really the work of a small, identifiable group of people. OTOH, if you like one movie by someone like the Coen Brothers or Wes Anderson, you’re likely to check out the others.

No way. For all of the people I know, going to the movies is as much for the experience of having a night out, the huge screen and loud sound (and rumble seats!), the masses of junk food, and the arcade games after, as it is for the movie itself. As long as movies retain the “theatre experience”, they will continue be in demand. Replicating most of that at home is way too expensive for most people.

Downloading movies is still a big pain in the ass and often involves long searches, low quality images, bad ripping, wierd codecs, corrupt files, missing second halfs and other annoyances. It can take many hours of work just to get a movie of unpredicable quality. Most dedicated downloaders I know have given up and gotten a Netflix account, which cost very little and does away with all the problems. It’s worth twenty bucks a month to almost every movie watcher to have a painless, fast way to get all the movies you could ever need.

And as long as they keep up with special features, DVDs will always be much much better than rips. We can live without liner notes, but surround sound, trailers, commentary, and deleted scenes really add to the value of a DVD. And theaters are always going to be a special experience, although IMHO they are pricing themselves out of the “family entertainment” market.

I doubt it hurts the movie industry at all, but that doesn’t make it right.

If you are downloading a movie, you’re viewing art that the artist did not give you permission to see. It would be like finding your poetry notebook on google searches after you decided to show it to a few of your friends.

All of the arguments about movie ticket sales being seriously hurt by downloading seems like a bunch of horseplop though.

The artist doesn’t give or withhold permission for anything. Artists don’t have anything to do with distribution unless they own their own label/film company et cetera.

I say No, because of all my experiences, the pirate would never have bought the thing if he/she couldn’t get it illegally. I also doubt it hurts ticket sales much, either - the ticket costs do that well enough. It’d probably cost me a little under $20 to take my girlfriend out for a night at the movies. Well, I’d rather spend $20 on a nice dinner and an evening in.

Besides, some movies require a big screen. Some require being there on opening day. They’ll get my $20 then.

Also, I don’t consider someone who doesn’t purchase a product to be a cut in the sales. I’m really tired of industries looking at the volume of piracy and calling it a loss. Lost sales != loss. If I spend $10 on a cake at the bakery and drop it a step out of the door, that’s a loss; if I leave the bakery without buying the cake, they can’t claim that they’ve suffered a loss of $10.

An interesting niche here is anime. For the most part, the anime industry here is built upon illegal roots; lots of anime came here first via VHS copies that were subtitled and distributed for cost. The interesting thing here is that the industry would never have gotten started without the bootlegging; in essence, the sharing had a net positive effect.

Now that the anime industry is starting to grow, bootlegging is in an awkward state. Most new shows won’t make it here, so it’s up to the bootleggers to spread it around; however, ocassionally a bootlegged show will get licensed. This leaves the bootleggers in an awkward state: the best option is to, of course, stop distribution at once… however, the industry is known for butchering the imports and/or taking their sweet time distributing.

Not everything is in the video sales; there’s intangible but incredible value in branding and identity, and of course merchandise (which is much harder to bootleg). So, it could be argued that filesharing can have a net benefit in this case.

You seem to forget that now, a large part of the profits made come from the sales of DVDs.

I wonder how downloading movies takes away revinue from other sources.

Example, I (might) know some people who used to DL movies, but also know that if that was not available they would not pay to see them, they would rather spend money (and time) elsewhere. Perhaps going out to dinner, perhaps buying a computer game.


VHS rentals were
a) a new revenue stream for the industry, and
b) Of sufficiently poor quality that there remained a clear reason for seeing the movie in the cinema.

This situation is different in that downloads are of comparable quality to the products whose market they are allegedly cannibalising (rentals), and generally are available considerably in advance of the rental release date (often even ahead of the theatre release date in secondary markets). And, of course, the industry gets no money for them, unlike video rentals.

I think he might have meant VHS taping (of broadcasts), but I may be wrong.

Anyway, what are “rumble seats”?

Oh, I work at Blockbuster; I know all that. I thought we were talking about piracy and whatnot. You know, that trailer they show before the movies that has that whiny little bastard of a stuntman begging you pwetty pwease not to pirat emovies.
As for films that are available for rental, see even sven’s post. It’s usually not worth it.
And Blockbuster certainly isn’t suffering, hell no. So it’s not even a question.