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pirateFred von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, penned a recent editorial in The Wrap claiming that movie studios often have nobody but themselves to blame when it comes to movie piracy. Von Lohmann sums up his position with the following:

“Much of what Hollywood calls ‘piracy’ may actually be consumer demand going unmet by legitimate supply. . . It is Hollywood’s own stubborn unwillingness to give law-abiding customers what they want that drives many of them to search out unauthorized alternatives.”

Von Lohmann cites several examples to support his case, one of which involves a little scuffle you may have heard about between Redbox and Hollywood. Says von Lohmann:

“Instead of catering to customers who want an inexpensive, convenient way to watch new DVD releases at home, Hollywood wants to force them to wait. Three major motion picture studios have declared war on Redbox. . . The fight may be between Redbox and the studios, but the losers are consumers who may turn to unauthorized sources rather than wait patiently for movie studios to maximize their revenues.”

Insiders, have you ever turned to “unauthorized sources” to obtain content, delayed or otherwise? If so, do you consider yourself a movie pirate? Will Hollywood ever stop treating many of its best customers like criminals? Give us your opinion in the comments.

[via The Wrap]

20 Responses to “Attorney: DVD Renters and Buyers Aren’t Pirates”

  1. Visitor [Join Now]
    slidecage [visitor]

    LOL someone needs to dress up like a pirate and go buy movies at best buy or another place or even to rent them….

    ARRRRR im a pirate… wonder how fast they will call the cops thinking you escaped from someplace : )

  2. Visitor [Join Now]
    Vernon Dent [visitor]

    Sorry, there is no justification for thievery. von Lohmann foolishly believes piracy is based on value-added or elasticity issues.

    As an example, when lotteries became legal across the US, it did not end the numbers racket.

  3. Visitor [Join Now]
    Lindsay [visitor]

    Many of the people I know who “pirate” movies also OWN more movies than anyone else I know! So, I think that it is true that Hollywood is prosecuting it’s “best customers”.

    While I don’t think this is a justification for copying movies illegally, I do think it’s a natural progression when Hollywood won’t “cave” to the free market. Once the courts get involved, the free market tends to go out the window, and that won’t do anything but make this mess more complicated.

  4. Visitor [Join Now]
    Davis Freeberg [visitor]

    It’s not piracy, it’s civil disobedience. If it weren’t for Napster, iTunes wouldn’t even exist. When it comes to digital vide,o the studios are all dragging their feet. Consumers clearly want to watch movies online, but they have made it too expensive, restrictive and too long after the movies have been released. If getting people all worked up with big marketing campaigns and then refusing to offer a legitimate online solution drives them to piracy then they have no one but themselves to blame.

  5. Visitor [Join Now]
    BP [visitor]

    The issue is black and white…not gray.
    Stealing is stealing no matter what color you paint it or the spin you put on your argument. If someone wants to steal copyrighted material, that is their business and they must accept the consequences.

    I do agree however that the movie studios are shooting themselves in the foot here. Redbox is a huge success because the customer feels like they are getting a great deal and not being ripped off to line a rich man’s pockets.

  6. Visitor [Join Now]
    Davis Freeberg [visitor]

    History is filled with heroes who stole and killed to win hard earned freedoms. Were the early patriots wrong to “steal” tea and dump it in the Boston harbor? It may be black and white to you, but I’m glad that they were willing to fight for our freedoms.

    If the media gatekeepers refuse to provide a product, then consumers have a duty to make them see the errors of their ways. All revolutions include some form of civil disobedience and the digital revolution is no exception. Just because the studios have taken the property rights of artists with a pen doesn’t mean they haven’t stolen them from the public. For years consumers just had to take the abuse, but now we have the tools to liberate those rights. The harder the studios make it to watch movies online, the more it drives new recruits. You can brand it stealing if you want, but if they ignore this fact, it’s at their own peril.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      rb [visitor]

      Okay…So what you’re saying is for instance if the bank won’t give/provide me the low interest rate on a loan I feel is appropriate, then IT IS MY DUTY as a consumer to go rob the bank! :-) Gosh, our jails must be filled with an awful lot of DUTIFUL consumers!

  7. Visitor [Join Now]
    undataka [visitor]

    Why buy when you can pirate,,, i have over 2,841 movies today

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      slidecage [visitor]

      i know my uncle has over 1000 if its illegal then why does best buy sell the item to override the chips.. i have no idea why he does it for cause he never watchs any of the tapes again…. if they want to stop it then they should drop the price of the movies…

      if they sold the movies for say 5 buck each they would sell more at 5 then they sell at 15… hell look at all of the people who was grabbing anything they could get their hands on at walmart black friday for 2 to 5 bucks

  8. Visitor [Join Now]
    MovieBuff [visitor]

    I have never down loaded a movie nor plan to. Before the Internet, people had to wait for a movie to come to the theater before they could watch it. I waited from 1983 to 1999 for the next Star Wars sequel, and by then I was able to take my son with me. It seems people are too impatient to wait for anything these days.

    As for this delay window, the movie industry has tried it before and it did not work on me. All that it did is delay WHEN I rented it. I even waited at the video store for the rental to go in the not so new release section for cheaper. A little patience allows me to rent and watch a lot more movies for my buck or even watch movies that I wouldn’t give a second thought but will rent for $1. This was long before Redbox came around so there goes that argument. When the local video store went from $1 rentals to $4 rentals to compete with Blockbuster, I went from renting 10 movies a week to ZERO. $10 X 52 weeks = $520. $0 x 52 = $0. Do the math. Higher prices means I rent less. Delayed releases mean I wait longer to spend my money. We live in an instant gratification society. People demand it now, then get it now, and they pay a lot more. If more people were patient like me, the studios’ little scam would not matter to any of us, and then they would be forced to listen to the consumer. If they do not want my money now, they can wait until it is affordable.

  9. Visitor [Join Now]
    Roman [visitor]

    To someone who says there is no grey, think of this. If my friend buys a movie and lets me borrow it to watch there’s nothing wrong. Even a stranger can let me borrow a movie and there wouldn’t be a problem. But if my friend were to buy a digital copy and send it to me to watch it is no longer legal to watch. Or is it? Is the legality of the right to watch the movie dependent on the media format (digital or hard copy), means of aquisition (internet or face to face), relationship with the the legal owner (stranger or friend), or length of time in your possession (deleted or kept indefinately)?

    Although I don’t out rightly condone downloading free movies from P2P and I know this is a rare example it is a breach of my freedom to tell me I can’t watch it if it’s given to me by a friend regardless of it’s format or time in my possession.

    I bought less movies before redbox. They now allow me to watch and decide whether I’ll purchase without a large investment beforehand. I think they are afraid, and rightfully so, that if they turn out crap people will be able to “preview” and not buy junk without feeling bad for spending a dollar to see it.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      rb [visitor]

      By ‘means of acquisition’ you should be referring to whether it was originally acquired by the lending person in a legal way OR in an illegal way. If I have a 10 carat diamond ring and give it to a friend to borrow, there will be no problem with my friend wearing and flashing the diamond all over the place. However, if I have stolen the diamond ring in the first place –it’s illegal to steal :-)—and my friend knows I obtained it illegally, then my friend will also be held accountable for participating in an illegal act should my friend accept/wear/flash the diamond ring all over town.

  10. Visitor [Join Now]
    msacras [visitor]

    I would never rent a movie at redbox and copy it to my harddrive so that I can watch it later. I believe that the studios have the right to set price for their product, but then are obliged to sell it at that price to whomever wants to buy.

    I believe that the studios legitimately own the content, but once they accept payment for delivering that content to a user, the user can legitimately reformat the content according to their desire to display it on their ipod, on their computer or their tv. In other words, I believe the studio’s attempt to force consumers to buy a separate copy for their tv than for their ipod is unjustified legally, ethically and morally. They do NOT own copyright for format, only for content. Thus, making copies for your own use of content that you legitimately paid for is completely justified.

    The studios claim that they are losing a sale everytime somebody downloads illegal content is ludicrous. I’m willing to bet that most downloaders wouldn’t pay for most of the crap they download if it were only available through retail outlets. Furthermore, I’ll bet that people are watching (paying for) movies at redbox kiosks that they never would have rented at Blockbuster or Hollywood video prices – increasing sales for a lot of the crap that comes out of hollywood today.

  11. Visitor [Join Now]
    Roman [visitor]

    “By ‘means of acquisition’ you should be referring to whether it was originally acquired by the lending person in a legal way OR in an illegal way.”

    In every instance of my examples I clearly referred to legally owning or purchasing a copy of the movie so there’s do debate there. I agree with your statement on borrowing stolen goods.

    I do however find fault with how they are essentially selling you the right to watch the movie and not the right to own it. If it was truly yours to own you wouldn’t be required to purchase different formats of the same media. If there is a moral and legal issue in how you come to watch the movie should there not also be the same over your right of ownership of that same media?

    No one questions you lending a friend your “legally purchased” copy of a movie. If you rented a movie and took it to a friends house no one would think twice. If you purchased a digital copy and put it on a flash drive and let a friend borrow it, have you crossed a line? Assume he didn’t save a copy for himself and returned your flash drive, is that considered within your rights as the owner of the media? If you have a 3 night rental and you watch it the first night and let a friend borrow it the second have you broken the law?

    Hollywood is trying to scrape up every last dime they can before having to confront the change that is inevitable and currently passing them by.

    I some how find it odd that there have always been bootleggers out there essentially picking the pockets of Hollywood, being prosecuted when caught but never sought out to be abrogated. But the moment someone finds a “Legal” way to distribute their media for less than their perceived market value it is an all out effort to seek an destroy.

  12. Visitor [Join Now]
    elmer [visitor]

    I saw the DVD Shootem UP in the $5.00 bin @ Wally-mart. Now is selling it for $5.00 or Red box renting it 10 times (After they bought 100 of them at wholesale prices) making more or less for the producers and royalties for the actors?

  13. Visitor [Join Now]
    HAJI THE PIRATE [visitor]

    since redbox/moviecube whatever u wanna call it came out i have done nothing but rent more movies more often and save tons of money doing so. why would i pay 50 or more dollars to see crap ina theatre when i can wait 2 months and see it on redbox for a buck. here locally redbox has even put the dollar theatres out of business. why u ask? because i can pop my own popcorn x 3 bags for a buck rent the movie for a nother buck and sit in my house naked if i choose to watch it. thanks redbox for saving me 48 bucks a movie.i can honestly say i have rented over 300 movies from redbox and saved myself 1200 bucks and still get to sit around naked. woot for rebox and ghollywoods rich wannabe bastards can go f them selves for all i care

  14. Visitor [Join Now]
    pj [visitor]

    I would never think of buying a bootleg or copying a movie – that would be denying Will Ferrell his $20 million per movie. I mean really the man needs it. It’s like the health insurance reform psa that Will Ferrell did – ‘save the insurance executives’.

    And just like all these Hollywood stars keep telling me – nobody needs that much money. And so in the spirit of all that they tell me – why should I care about them making money.

    If I’m entitled to free health care, I’ll entitled to free or low cost entertainment – because the US Constitution says “promote the general welfare” and movies make me feel better.

    Make sense – not really – but then again I’m just thinking like the poor folks aka Will Ferrell, Michael Moore and Jim Carrey.

    But seriously there is no doubt Redbox cuts down on bootleg movie purchases.
    New movie at Walmart: $20’ish
    Rental at Redbox: $1
    High Quality Bootleg from the street of any city: $5.