This Is How We Watch Movies Now: 95% Of Oscars Films Already Online

36 films have been nominated for this year's Academy Awards. And, as of writing, just two of those haven't been leaked in DVD quality online, most whilst they're still in theatres. Whether you think piracy is a libertarian dream or criminal theft, it's clear that this is how things work now.

You might not think the leaks are a big deal. After all, copies of films that are sent to Oscars judges have been spreading online for over a decade. And whilst that's true, the extent of this year's piracy efforts, combined with other leaks this year, make this something of a watershed moment for piracy.

TorrentFreak has called this year's level of leaking "unprecedented"; the MPAA would probably call it a "disaster". Big-name, in-theatre movies like the latest Hobbit have been torrented well over a million times, and almost all the other nominees are available online and popular.

It's obviously a problem that the MPAA is trying to address, unsuccessfully. To crack down on screeners, the MPAA adds watermarks, which works about as well as any other anti-piracy mechanism (i.e. like trying to part the Red Sea with a damp paper towel). Sure, one or two leaks have been traced back to the individuals, but the pirates are fighting back: this year's Hobbit leak was technologically sanitised by the group responsible for sharing it.

On a wider scale, targeting the pirate sites isn't working either. You'll notice that this year's leakfest came a couple months after The Pirate Bay unceremoniously got the boot from the internet. Big lawsuits don't work. Scary letters to the torrenters don't work. In fact, there's only one thing that consistently reduces piracy: changing the broken way movie theatres distribute C O N T E N T.

If you need any more evidence that the current system is totally screwed, 2015 Oscar Nominee Leviathan provides a pretty damn good example. After the film was leaked online alongside the rest of its cohort, the team behind Leviathan decided to solicit donations. After all, studies have shown that pirates don't mind paying for films — in fact, they spend more than your average law-abiding Joe on movies.

Subscription streaming sites seem the most obvious solution. Consistently, when legal, simple, affordable services like Netflix and Spotify are introduced to new markets, piracy drops dramatically. Movie piracy in Norway dropped by half after the introduction of Netflix. It'd take a lot of letters and lawsuits to get the same kind of decline.

This doesn't mean, of course, that Netflix is the Holy Grail of TV and everything would be better as a Netflix show starring Kevin Spacey. Streaming services like Netflix and Spotify come with their own set of problems: compensation, for one, and the introduction of a whole different kind of piracy, for the other.

Whatever model we end up with, though, change is clearly necessary. The old movie theatre, DVD, streaming cycle (and staggered geographical release) clearly isn't helping anyone, something that even Leviathan producer Alexander Rodnyansky agrees with. We don't watch movies like we used to — we watch them as soon as possible, with the smallest amount of hassle. Unless movie theatres want to make torrent sites their major distribution channel (and hey, why not!), they're going to need to work this out. And preferably before the next season of Game of Thrones.

Image via Shutterstock


Comments

    One of the better articles I've read for a while .
    I wish the powers that be would visit Giz occasionally just to get an alternative view instead of their usual knee-jerk responses that aren't working and at times, embarrassing

    Nice article - only let down slightly by the sentence in second last paragraph "the introduction of a whole different kind of piracy" which links off to circumventing geo-blocks via VPN. Being a legal 'grey area' I would hesitate to call this a kind of 'piracy' (even though that's clearly what the MPAA wants to do obviously). I mean c'mon, just because Fairfax are now officially in the 'streaming business' don't tell me you're going to get all anti-anti-geoblocking on us ;)

    Last edited 19/01/15 10:12 am

    The change we need is a society where individuals have a sense of right and wrong, rather than being totally self-obsessed and doing whatever works for them and to hell with everyone else. Pirating only works because some arseholes are happy to steal the livelyhoods of hard-working people who have just as much right to earn a living as anyone else. Yes, it's a temptation and sometimes it is very hard to resist but anyone with an ounce of moral fibre will have no problem doing what is right.

    Fortunately, the majority of us still prefer to support the people who make the things that give us such great pleasure, as evidenced by the full cinema at the screening of Birdman I went to yesterday. The rest of you are just leeches, relying on those good people to pay your way for you. Without them, there would be no money to make any more films or TV shows and we'd be left with nothing but The Block, My Kitchen Rules and Big Fat Loser. Because those shows are how TV networks fight piracy - they are really cheap to make, they rate their socks off and are basically pirate-proof.

      Doing the right thing is all well and good, except that in this case, this is simply a manufactured morality created (and bought!) to enforce a means to secure increased profits in a system that is quickly becoming dated and incapable of understanding the reality of the situation. The days of the old system are numbered and outdated models will cease to work in today's fast-paced world, yet they continue fighting against the tide, throwing more money at governments and lawmakers and enforcers to make prosecution easier, and inventing invasive and inflexible content and media security instead of conducting and/or accepting the results of market research which clearly states the truth of the matter.
      Piracy is rampant is because it is the way people are increasingly choosing to get their content, whether you accept it and like it or not. It is faster, more convenient, and often conducive to a far more enjoyable experience.

      Furthermore, your assertions that only 'good people' go to the cinemas is laughable. As mentioned in the article, many self-confessed pirates do support the industry by 'legally' buying their content in addition to or as a result of sourcing 'illegal' copies, and also sometimes going to the movies as well, and sometimes even repeatedly!
      I'd even go as far as to place a large wager on the fact that many of your fellow virtuous and saintly moviegoers probably also have large collections of pirated content at home.
      Truth is, some people have far more comfortable and better media setups at home, so why should they be forced to go out to a cinema to partake in an experience of lesser quality? I know I would much prefer to have the option of paying a reasonable premium to watch new content at home rather than have to deal with huge crowds, exorbitant snack prices, and uncomfortable seating.

      So go ahead and sit up there on your lofty pedestal, put your hands over your ears and continue to ignore the fact that it is crumbling beneath you along with the old content-delivery models you so proudly support.

    " pirates don’t mind paying for films"

    Exactly. Ask a pirate to show you their movie collection and chances are they'll lead you to a bookshelf in their lounge room filled with hundreds of Blu-rays and/or DVDs. Sure they've probably got a mini-server with terabytes of illegally downloaded films, but most likely many of those films are also featured on that bookshelf.

    Streaming services like Netflix are great, but until a service comes to market offering all our favourite shows regardless of who has licensing rights for what show, this won't be the thing to stop piracy.

    Last edited 19/01/15 1:13 pm

    Thank you for the level headed article Chris. Good read, and good message.

    "Whether you think piracy is a libertarian dream..."

    A libertarian doesn't condone theft. In fact, it goes against the very principle. A libertarian stands for freedom, so long as enjoying those freedoms does not harm or impose on somebody else's freedom. Theft does that.

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