Thursday, May 20, 2010

UN-recommended

Back in January, I recommended the Hurt Locker as a good movie to see (if you like war flicks).  The big news recently is that the director believes that people "stole" from him by downloading the movie, and plans to actually sue these people for their illicit downloads.

I'm no fan of piracy.  My personal philosophy is that I pay for something, or I find legitimately free alternatives (like OpenOffice or Google Docs).  Especially as a software developer, I believe that you should not get something for nothing.  But I'm also not likely to pay for the same thing twice - why should I have to re-buy the DVD when I have the VHS?  Why re-buy the e-book when I have the hardcover?  Big Content has this view that we should have to pay over and over for the same stuff due to their planned obsolescence.  You are not 'entitled' to get money for your product, just like we aren't 'entitled' to get your product for free.

But I digress.  Back on topic - I can't see how this action will help Voltage Pictures in the long run.  Suing their customer base - people we can reasonably assume are interested in their product - can only hurt them.  There's no guarentee that the people who watched this online would have been paying customers.  There's no guarantee that the people they're suing are the ones that actually downloaded the movie.

Now, the Hurt Locker is only a single-viewing flick for sure.  Once you've watched it once, you probably won't care to see it in a theater or buy the DVD even though it's a really good flick.  So I do have to concede the point that they probably lost some money from piracy.  However, go after the sites and products that allow piracy to happen, not after your own customers.  It's just bad business.

I've not downloaded the movie, nor do I intend to - in fact, I watched the Hurt Locker for the full price of umpteen-bazillian-dollars at a local theater on an evening out with a buddy.  The problem for Voltage Pictures is that this lawsuit alienates their customer base - even the ones who did nothing wrong.  I'm much less likely to watch another of their flicks now when I know that they're employing these tactics against regular folks.

The way to stop piracy is at the source, not by extorting people.  The irony of the situation is that the producers of the movie are being sued themselves for having 'stole' the story from the life of a soldier.