The internet is a wonderful tool, and if used as such gives the user the ability to retrieve and view a limitless amount of data. This also includes films, television shows and music. There is a problem that has been tearing and dividing both internet users and producers of film, television and music now for years, and I for one was a contributor to the problem.
Torrent downloads are raging across the internet, with sites such as Piratebay, Isohunt, Sumo Torrent and so many more. These sites give the users a place to be able to upload and share data with other users around the world. The problem is that the sites are allowing the users to publish copyright-infringed material on their sites for the users to download.
I was caught up in the trend in 2010 and downloaded approximately 100 or more motion pictures. I would place them on my media box that was hooked up to the television to watch. I was constantly stating to myself that the corporations that are making the product were simply charging way too much money for them to be viewed in either a theater, or on DVD.
Some of the people that are placing the films on the torrent site, it seems, are actually employees of the company responsible for digitizing the films for the creation of DVDs. The films being placed online were perfect digital copies of films that were not to be released on DVD for months.
I felt that with so many other people out there downloading and viewing the films, it was only fair that I did so as well. I was finding films that were digital copies, and not the “cam” films where someone snuck a video camera into the theater and filmed, then placed online (more on this in a sec). These films were amazing, and I found that I was able to download so many films. I was watching these films almost daily on my television.
I hate the cam films though. These are films that have been blatantly recorded by a video camera in the theater, and often times also features the people sitting in front of the camera, moving, talking, and going to the concession stand. These people that record these films are to me complete scum. They have taken the ability to view a film, and recorded it in the theater to share with others, which to me is the same as trying on a diamond bracelet at a store, then walking out the front door with it.
Now I know this makes me a bit of a hypocrite. I do not condone camera-recorded films, but applaud the pre-release of films on the torrent sites. Well, the truth is, I used to.
January 7th of 2011 was an eye opener for me. I had always thought that it would be almost impossible to be caught downloading films from these torrent sites, as most of the films I was downloading were being hosted by tens of thousands of other people. How would a company be able to single out every single person downloading and uploading the film when there were so many?
Well, like I said, on January 7th, my 40th birthday, I opened my mail box and extracted the three birthday cards that were held within, along with another envelope. I enjoyed reading the cards immensely, yet when I opened the legal envelope that accompanied them, my mouth hit the floor and my heart skipped a few beats.
The letterhead was that of a lawyer firm, representing Constantine films, and was a legal document explaining that Constantine films was taking me to court to sue me for the copyright infringement of one of their films.
Attached to the documents was another form, showing a list of the films they had been tracking on the torrent sites that they held the legal rights to. Also listed was a count of how many computers were hosting the film they had captured me downloading. Stating that a similar document had been sent to all of them through the appropriate legal firms in their representative countries.
There was an IP address which was highlighted: mine. There was yet another document with my IP address also attached and a more in-depth view into my activity while I was downloading the film. There was a total time of 114 minutes of upload time, which coincidentally is the same amount of time it took to download. When someone downloads a film through a torrent site, they are also simultaneously uploading the portions they have already downloaded to other users which are downloading the same data.
It turns out that the studios that make the films are completely aware that people are stealing them online and have begun an anti-piracy campaign themselves. These studios have in their possession lists of people that actually download the torrents themselves, along with all the IP addresses of those that are sharing them. They then turn all of the addresses over to their lawyers for legal action.
I was, unfortunately, caught, and had to face up to a €10,000.00 (+/- $13,000.00) fine for it, depending on how the company decided to pursue me. I ended up only having to pay Constantine films €1,000.00 (+/- $1,300) for damages. I have since become an avid believer in iTunes to watch, rent and buy my music, films, and television shows.
I have also had, since then, the understanding that torrent sites do promote the piracy of private material owned by individuals. No matter what they state, torrent sites are as liable for any fees that are being brought upon the people downloading. I believe that the sites should need to match, one for one, each dollar that has been paid because they have been allowing the material to be hosted. I also believe that torrent sites should be held accountable for all material that is hosted on their sites.
A simple look around in the search bar on any torrent site will turn up music, movies, television shows, books, comic books and more pornography than you ever wanted or cared to know about. If you believe it or not, the downloading or the sharing of any of this material hurts the companies that are doing what it is they can to continually bring you entertaining and up-to-date material. The sharing of these is robbing the makers, artists, writers, producers and so many more people of the money they need in order to continue to produce for their fans, us.
I totally agree with the fine I needed to pay, and believe it was deserved.
What do you think?
Editor’s note: Piracy is a hot topic of debate. For those who try to make money delivering art in the form of film, television, or music, it’s understandable that they would want to be paid for the procurement of said media. For those who want to enjoy film, television, or music, it’s sometimes easier and cheaper to download it for free, especially with how readily available things can be on the internet. On a personal note, I’m torn. I have the opposite experience of Lance; I used to be hardcore against piracy, that was until I moved to Saudi Arabia for a year and the only way I could get certain films, television shows or albums was to download them off the internet. If I ended up liking something, I bought it legitimately. If I didn’t, then I didn’t feel guilty for not supporting something that shouldn’t have been made in the first place, in my opinion.
Film, television and music as forms of art are so hard to rate. Everybody has to pay the same amount for it, and one guy’s dollar counts as much as the next. It’s hard to express an opinion on something once you’ve already put your literal two cents in; you can’t ask for your money back from the studios to express your distaste. With the internet allowing everyone to put their figurative two cents in, it seems that less people take the advice of critics and try to form opinions of movies themselves. If the marketing and the trailer get you interested enough to pay for the movie up front in the theatre, then job well done. But if you could watch a movie for free, and if you enjoy it buy the DVD/Blu-ray, that seems like a fair system to me. Of course there are people out there who would take it for granted and never pay a dime even for something they like, but really that’s already happening. It’s an unfair world. Times are changing, media is more readily available. Games and now even books are available as digital downloads. Studios and other media companies need to figure out how to use technology to their advantage instead of wasting so much time bullying their own customers.
Now, as Lance asked, what do you think?