A Few Words About A few words about...™ Vendors, film piracy and national security

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 10, 2013.

  1. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

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    Mill Creek's Hitchcock set is a great example of a bootleg and has been selling for years. I recieved it as a gift from an uninformed relative a while back and actually attempted to view the films (not knowing it was a bootleg at that time). The transfers were unwatchable. As soon as I learned it was a bootleg while rwading an old RAH thread, I promptly took the set out to my chopping block and gave it the ax (literally).
     
  2. MichaelEl

    MichaelEl Stunt Coordinator

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    The theft analogy is a bit much, since these, uh, distributors, aren't exactly stealing film elements. In many cases, the DVD-Rs being sold come from old, poor quality video sources. It's also unlikely the studios will ever release these films on DVD, let alone Blu-Ray.

    The situation is akin to sharing ROMs copied from old coin-operated console games like PacMan. In case you're unaware, programmers wrote software emulators so these ROMs could be run on a PC. However, this happened long after these games were no longer being sold anywhere, not even for home consoles. The manufacturers clearly had no financial interest whatever in these ROMs, and in all likelhood, no one would ever have played these versions of these games again outside of a video game museum if computer hobbyists hadn't written emulators. Of course once people started sharing the ROMs online, suddenly it became a matter of theft to Atari and NIntendo.

    It seems to me a bit ridiculous to accuse people of theft when they make a mere copy of properties that "rights holders" have more or less discarded financially, whether you're taking about ROMs of console games or DVD transfers of films. This extreme view of property rights is symptomatic of the market fundamentalism that is driving the U.S. into the ground.
     
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  3. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    I have received a handful of bootlegs over the years from Amazon. It is really a terrible feeling all around. I despise the whole concept of ordering a new dvd, getting an obvious fakery of that title, and going through the mess of wasting my time sending them back to correct Amazon's error.

    What bothers me the most about this is how many consumers that get a non-legitimate title through Amazon, and do not realize they own a fake? The titles I got almost looked legit(Picture discs, professional looking case art). I'm thinking most folks don't know, or don't care enough to rectify the situation. Thus, the criminals laughing all the way to the bank.
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The problem, and the concept of "theft" is not in the copying for personal use, but rather, the copying for profit and resale.

    RAH
     
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  5. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    I'd never buy a DVD on eBay, but I've bought so many DVDs from Amazon Marketplace sellers over the past few years that this post sends up just a little bit of an alarm. I've never once suspected a single item of being a bootleg. I'm probably as careful as anyone can be when it comes to checking item descriptions and feedback and any other clues as to reliability of seller. That said, how does one even begin to tell if something's a bootleg?

    Oh -- my one known exception, which I, too, learned about here, is the early British Hitchcocks, and I destroyed whichever set it was that I had. (Just checked, and sure enough it was the Mill Creek.) I've replaced what titles I could with out-of-print Criterions (including laserdiscs) and that Lionsgate set which has REMARKABLY better copies than anything I'd seen before (imagine that!). So, the Master of Suspense is in good shape on these premises. Of course I want to think it's all in good shape, but, again, the question of how to know for sure.....
     
  6. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    The nice thing about Amazon is that they have a very liberal return policy. If the quality of the product isn't up to par, you get a refund no questions asked. If the quality is just as good, as it is with the Beatles mono box bootlegs that make up at least half the inventory out there (even with regular retailers), I really don't care. Let the studios worry about it. It's not my job to protect their interests.
     
  7. Ken Volok

    Ken Volok Stunt Coordinator

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    Speaking as a truly independent filmmaker it's myself and other artists like me who are the most hurt by these bootleggers. Once a title hits Asia all bets are off. One site logged over 10,000 pirated downloads of one of my films. Some people (usually those who illegally download) will say "well look at this way, at least people saw your work", to which I reply they surely won't mind if I move in rent-free; and they can watch my work all day long if they want.
     
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  8. Mark Edward Heuck

    Mark Edward Heuck Screenwriter

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    Echo Bridge has its origins in another budget label, Platinum Disc, and that outfit often put out titles to which their rights were often debatable - lots of squatting on titles whose original labels had gone out of business. They ultimately changed their name and began to concentrate on newer movies and their licensing deal with Miramax, but much like Mill Creek, they have some dubious releases they should have to answer for.
     
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    People who bootleg have no understanding, and would probably not agree to our taking their wallets, and removing half of what we find. There is no difference between stealing someone's copyrighted work and stealing a watch.RAH
     
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  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Hadn't even thought about CDs. Can you link to the bootlegs for identification?

    RAH
     
  11. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    It's almost impossible to tell. It's just very slight differences in type in the booklets. The Beatles boxes, both stereo and mono were bootlegged heavilly. I would guess that at least half of them on the market are bootlegs. I bought the mono box at Amazon and I figured out that it's a bootleg, but unless you know exactly what to look for, you'd never know. The CDs are identical and the boxes look exactly the same. The bootlegs got into the distribution channel somehow, so even if you buy at a brick and mortar store, it still might be a boot.
     
  12. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    There is an important difference. A watch has value. It can be resold. When I steal your watch, it isn't because I want a watch, it's so I can sell it for cash at a pawn shop. Most of what the studios call copyright infringement involve purely non-tangible products. No actual monetary value.
     
  13. sidburyjr

    sidburyjr Second Unit

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    Based on looking at my credit card receipts, I can assure you that copyrighted material has monetary value.

    What I'm failing to understand is how a work can fall out of copyright and then get back in. And if I bought a DVD when a work was in PD, is that disk still a PD copy and if Amazon bought thousand copies when it was PD, can they sell them after the work on the disk came back under copyright?
     
  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    We disagree. Huge monetary value lost to the studios and copyright holders, who cannot sell what they own.

    RAH
     
  15. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I believe you're referring to the GATT Treaty, which equalized international copyrights, but taking away works previously in the public domain, and allowing owners to files NIEs, thereby regaining control of their works. This only applied to product that had fallen out of copyright under foreign ownership.

    The GATT Treaty is only a single part of the equation however, as a multitude of works that have always been fully copyright protected are also being bootlegged. Many seem to be coming from Korea. I've attempted to work with our State Dept and the Korean government, but little can be done, as the Korean government seems to be corrupt.

    RAH
     
  16. Persianimmortal

    Persianimmortal Screenwriter

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    This nonsense always angers me. Look up the concept of economic loss. The argument that physical property has inherent value, but intellectual property does not is extremely ignorant. Everything has a value. Intangible intellectual property has a value just the same as a watch, because it took human beings time and effort to create it, which has a cost. Human labor is just as finite as any physical raw material.

    If I invest a year of my life into writing a book, or filming a movie, or writing music, I forego earning an income from other work I could have done. I still have to pay all my own bills and other costs. So I have every right to earn whatever potential income arises from the sale of my work, down to the last possible penny. Pirates on the other hand have absolutely no legal or moral right to my work. I can price it as high or as low as I want, I can decide to release it (or not) in any way that I want, whenever I want. By virtue of being its creator, I have the right over a piece of work, not some parasite who didn't lift a finger to aid in its creation, took no risks, bore no costs, and yet feels entitled to obtain my work for free on their terms.

    Someone mentioned the example of video games and piracy. Since video games are entirely a digital product, they've been hit very hard by piracy. I wrote a lengthy article about it - google "PC piracy" and hit up the first result to read it. But the following is a nice example of exactly the type of scumbags pirates are: a few years ago, a package of 5 independent games was put on sale, with the proceeds going to charity. Importantly, you could name your own price for the bundle, paying as little as $1 for it if you wanted. Guess what, a large number of people still pirated the charity bundle. Throw out all the arguments about piracy primarily being about taking from large greedy companies, or because the prices are too high, or because of DRM.

    Piracy is just a manifestation of human greed, pure and simple. Under the anonymity of the Internet, and given no real chance of being caught or prosecuted, people freely obtain entertainment products because they can. And let's remember, all of these pirated products are luxuries, not necessities. I can understand stealing a loaf of bread because your family is hungry. But pirating a movie or TV show just because it's not at the price you want, or released when you want, or in the format you want? Selfish thoughtless greed, pure and simple.
     
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  17. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Beautifully crafted words. While there is seemingly little to stop those selling pirated goods in parking lots and other sub rosa situations, we can do something about purportedly legit stores, both b & m, as well as on line.
    I wonder how many people would be willing to stop dealing with criminally aligned sellers to make a point?
    Only problem is that sites such as HTF would have to be dealing with subjects other than home video, as it would be very difficult to find stores selling the discs one wants, that are not also selling illegal product.
    Can the point be made by ceasing to deal with a single vendor?
    Can sales be lowered at Amazon enough to be noticed, and force them to go legit?
    Somehow I doubt it.
    RAH
     
  18. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    RAH, are you willing to stop shopping at Amazon?
     
  19. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Mill Creek Entertainment puts out all the early Hitchcocks. If you go to their site and search "Hitchcock" you will find them all in print. How about we write to them and ask how they are able to distribute these titles for which they have no rights?
    content@millcreekent.com
    support@millcreekent.com
     
  20. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Aren't the Criterions bootlegs as well? Or is there some proof that Criterion licensed these legally?
     

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