Looking at the story of Jerome Bixby’s “The Man from Earth” movie piracy might not be a threat to the movie industry, but a chance to promote and finance small-budget independent films. The producers of this movie approached internet piracy in a different way, as they “embraced internet piracy and thanked illegal downloaders for helping to spread the buzz about the movie” (Morozov, 2007). When Eric Wilkinson, the producer of the movie, found out that their movie was posted on a popular piracy blog called “Releaselog”, he did not do the most common thing, meaning to sue the downloaders, but “thanked the Releaselog community for piracy” because they were actually helping sales. (Morozov, 2007). Living in a world full of user-generated content, the downloaders gave the movie great ratings on IMDb (The Internet Movie Database) that resulted in ranking increase from 11.235th to 5th and furthermore ranked 1st in the categories independent and science fiction film (Morozov, 2007). Consequently sales increased as the movie got a great promotion. In addition to that, the producer posted a comment on Releaselog asking for voluntary donations for “The Man from Earth” resulting in additional generated money.
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Using “The Man from Earth” as an example, it becomes obvious that movie piracy actually inherits benefits for the movie industry as Jeanne Rose says in her article “Movie Piracy: What Seems Evil is Actually Beneficial to the Entertainment Business”. By gaining more web attention, people get informed about a movie they – under most circumstances – would have never heard of. People might use illegal copies of movies to check if the first minutes are interesting for them, to see the movie later in the cinema or on DVD (Rose, 2011). Additionally to that, parents might have a look at the content of the movie to see if it is appropriate for their children to see. Looking at the fact that a trip to the cinema with the whole family is expensive, it is a great thing for parents the check the movie beforehand. (Rose, 2011). One might say that instead of illegal downloading movies to check them for content you could simply watch the movie trailer, but facing the reality, trailers do often represent the movie in a more positive way then the actual movie is or hide specific scenes to keep the tension in the movie itself.
A new study about piracy created by a coalition of academic researches called “Social Science Research Counsel shows a different perspective on the situation than industry-sponsored studies usually do. In general piracy studies tell their readers that the movie industry is suffering because of decreasing sales, as many people simply download a movie instead of going to the cinema or buying/renting the DVD. Looking at the fact that these studies are financed from movie companies, it becomes pretty obvious that they will not tell about other reasons than piracy. The new and independent study gives a different perspective on the whole situation: Given the fact that people in general suffer from a bad economy, but also low prices on digital technology and high prices on media goods are the reason for decreased sales in the movie industry (Ernesto, 2011). Visiting the cinema with your family involves spending a lot of money. Imagine living in a low-economy country like South Africa, the price for a DVD in relation to the price in the US or Europe is five to ten times higher (Ernesto, 2011). Even though the movie industry spent huge amounts of money in anti-piracy education, the authors of the study could not find no significant stigma attached to piracy in any of the countries examined (Ernesto, 2011).
International movie fans often have a problem to supply themselves with the latest movies or TV shows in a legal way. Being a movie fan in some countries like Germany is very hard, as you have to wait a long time before you can actually see a movie in original tone in a legal way. Using Germany as an example, every movie shown in the cinema is translated and synchronized in the German language. This consequently leads to three different ways to see a movie in the original tone: Going in a different country to see the movie, wait for the DVD release – which is often 1 year after the initial release in the United States – or download the movie illegal. Facing these three ways it becomes obvious which way is the most common. Looking at legal online stores like iTunes it is illegal to create an US account as a European citizen to purchase your favorite TV show episodes legally.
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Looking at the situation from a different point of view shows that movie piracy may have benefits for the movie industry. Movie piracy in terms of small budget independent films is able to promote them due to user generated content websites like IMDb, which actually results in more sales. It is also helpful for people to have a better “first-look” on a movie to decide whether they want to spend their hard earned money on a movie or not. In addition to that people in many countries are excluded from seeing movies when they are originally released which results in unhappy cineastes. Combining these different ideas with the fact that most studies are movie