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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. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    One other thing I should note here - to my knowledge, my family does not receive anything for any movie made by my grandfather before 1960, so I'm not taking this position out of any pecuniary interest, as George Bernard Shaw would put it.
     
  2. MichaelEl

    MichaelEl Stunt Coordinator

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    It's likely most fans of such films will buy the MOD version rather than a bootleg because the quality of the MOD disc will be much better. However, there are still some films that are aren't available as a MOD disc, and in those cases, I don't see the problem if a fan pays some company that made a "bootleg" of an old laserdisc or VHS tape. For years, a DVD of THE SATAN BUG was unavailable from MGM, and the only real option most had to see a widescreen version of the film was to buy a DVD-R port of the laserdisc from one of the various websites that specialize in "cult" films. This wasn't costing MGM any money, since there was no longer a legitimate widescreen version for fans to buy. Are we really going to label the people who bought one of those discs a "thief" simply because they purchased a copy of copy of a product that MGM no longer even sold?

    Clearly I'm not advocating that people buy bootlegs of something like the LAWRENCE OF ARABIA Blu-Ray. Mr. Harris and others spent thousands of hours restoring that fllm and preparing it for a Blu-Ray release, and they deserve to be compensated for those efforts. There is no doubt that most fans of LoA feel the same way, and just as I did, they will purchase a legitimate copy of the disc. On the other hand, I can't see why we should condemn people for purchasing a copy of copy of a film when there is no legitimate DVD for them to buy.
     
  3. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Michael, if you want to purchase bootleg copies of movies which are studio holdouts, then go right ahead. I'm sure no one is going to prosecute you for doing so. However don't come here to seek validation for your actions or try to lobby that it's okay to do it, when the owners of HFT have made it very clear that HTF does not support piracy of any kind.
     
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  4. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I freely admit that I will search out stuff I want to see and sometimes it has taken a decade for me to get my hands on stuff. Sometimes certain films are in the hands of collectors who can be bigger jerks than studios.

    Last Halloween for the horror challenge here I came across dozens of made-for-TV films that were placed on Youtube. I have no idea who owns them. I don't know if they are public domain now (like some of the horror ones I know are PD) but the one thing I do know is that the studio or rights owner hasn't released them on VHS, LD, DVD, Blu and they're certainly not shown on television any more. Several of them were posted from one guy who just happened to tape them back in the 70s when they originally aired. To my knowledge, a handful of the titles were only shown this once so thankfully they were recorded as God knows where the prints and materials are.

    Now, if the studio hasn't bothered releasing this in 40 years and it apparently wasn't good enough to show on television a second time, there's really no excuse for the studio not to let it stay on Youtube. If they have zero interest in releasing something that isn't going to make them a profit then where's the line?

    There's a big difference between making IRON MAN 3 discs and putting them on Ebay. It's something else when there's a title that ten people might want to see and it's never been officially released. It's another thing when a popular Euro Cult title gets released but someone wants to track down a rarer version. Anchor Bay did a great job delivering DAWN OF THE DEAD but we can't expect them to release something that most fans aren't going to be interested in. Be it a German cut of the film, the 1983 drive-in version or whatever other item might be wanted by a small group of fans.

    The MOD programs have certainly helped the problem when it comes to classic movies. I don't know how many copies these things sell but I am curious is your Average Joe is going to pay $13-$20 for a title that he could possibly record from TCM. I'm sure studios wished VCRs and DVD recorders were never made (didn't they try to fight against them?). But even with the MOD, there are still going to be titles that aren't going to be touched because they have an even more limited appeal.

    It doesn't even have to be limited appeal. Silent film fans can't even get GREED, THE BIG PARADE and THE WIND after all these years. Some might not have LD players and some might not be able to afford overpriced legit items. Thankfully there's TCM for these titles but there are hundreds (if not thousands) of silent titles that remain unreleased because of not only a limited market but because there's so much work to be done on them. Not to mention if the prints are good enough to view you've still got many that have no music scores, which is just going to be MORE money to an item that isn't going to make its money back. Studios, and I'm sure especially Warner, are willing to lose money on "important" titles. Perhaps GONE WITH THE WIND and VERTIGO are worth losing money on because titles like these will always be viewed by film buffs. Something unknown silent or early sound picture won't get the same treatment and shouldn't really. Heck, we can't even get Clara Bow titles released and she does have a cult following.


    http://thelatarniaforums.yuku.com/forums/19/Nightmare-USA

    The above forum is a great place to hear about some of the smaller guys like Shout, Code Red, Grindhouse Releasing, Scorpion and Vinegar Syndrome. If people read around they can see countless examples were people think they own the rights to something but then it turns out paperwork got screwed up in 1982 and the rights ended up in some foreign big shot who died and his kids have no idea that they own the title. There are examples of low budget movies where the lab owns the print (ala Ed Wood's NIGHT OF THE GHOULS) and wants $10,000 to release it and then you have to pay the director another $5,000. $15,000 on a title that a hundred might be interested in just isn't going to happen.

    "Stealing" is a strong word and especially when the people who own something have no desire to do anything with it. Perhaps one day we'll get to the point where every movie is available but to me this is just not going to happen. I'm sure theater owners aren't happy when people sneak in food or drinks. I'm sure they're not happy when people buy a ticket to a 2D film and take their own glasses into the 3D version to avoid the extra charge. I do wonder what Warner thinks about my stepdaughter working at an AMC theater where she gets her friends in for free. I wonder if Warner objects to her being allowed to take 17 of her classmates into a screening of THE GREAT GATSBY for free. The studio didn't make a dime. The theater doesn't care about not charging for a ticket as long as they buy something. Every theater I know lets their employees bring friends and family for free. Is this not taking away from the studio and its weekend gross? To me this here would be much bigger than an unknown 70s made-for-TV flick showing up on Youtube.

    And Hollywood, if you really want to stop your major issue of "new" movies getting passed around, quit sending screenings to everyone in the business who just passes them to their friends and then they start making the rounds.

    Back on topic, you mentioned Corman. He's actually got a Youtube channel starting later in the year where some rare titles are going to be shown for $5 a month. We can hope others will follow through and I honestly think streaming is going to make some of this much easier. There's no physical cost and I think this will certainly take care of many titles but not all of them. I just think people, no matter what side of the coin they're on, need to realize that there's a difference between someone with a videocamera recording IRON MAN 3 and some film buff who wants to see every Loretta Young movie that she appeared in.
     
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  5. MichaelEl

    MichaelEl Stunt Coordinator

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    You're saying that people who post to this forum can use words like "thief" and "film piracy" in their descriptions of grey market activities, but that no one can dissent against such descriptions? Apparently the defense of market fundamentalism is so weak that it must include a ban on freedom of speech.
     
  6. FrancisP

    FrancisP Screenwriter

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    There are certain properties that have no commercial value even with MOD programs. They will not be released on home video. The only way to get them would be through collector to collector purchases. There are cases where it is justifiable. Even in some cases where political censorship is reponsible for a non release. If a studio refuses to release something then they can't complain about piracy. They have lost nothing.
     
  7. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Good point Francis. Thank God someone had the guts not to listen to the court and use common sense when it came time to burn all the prints of NOSFERATU. I'm sure some would have been lining up to throw the match.
     
  8. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I'm sorry if the term feels too strong, but stealing is exactly what happens when someone takes a copyrighted movie that a studio or producer paid to create, makes a bootleg copy of it and then posts it for download or sells it on a street corner on a burned DVD. If it's a movie from the 20s through the 50s and the studio hasn't released it, it may not be a matter of the studio simply refusing. They may have lost the rights to it or they may not think there's a demand to justify a bigger release. Which is why the MOD program has been a help, and why the smaller labels have been a bigger help in rescuing many titles you wouldn't think would get out there. Again, if people just take illicit copies and distribute them everywhere, then the studio's interest in trying to put out a legit release of say, a Clara Bow movie, is that much lower. Granted most of the stealing happens with the new movies, where someone goes into a movie theater and camcorders The Avengers, or even gets a copy of an output of a digital file of the movie. And the people who download those new movies aren't interested in getting an unreleased cult favorite - they just want to get the new Hangover movie without having to pay for it. And that really is stealing.

    People have described the Internet as a large public library where anyone can read anything they like. And there's some truth to that idea. But I tend to see it as a large public square, wherein you can find many gathering points. There are libraries. And there are bookstores. And music stores. And video stores. And there are also back alleys where people try to sell or trade illicit copies of the items you can find in the various stores. Just because someone can walk down that alley and pick up that burned DVD doesn't mean that they should do so.

    I would also wonder about the comparison to theater employees letting their relatives and friends in for free. In a purely technical sense, they probably should not do that - although I would think that there is a comp policy at theaters. When I worked in live theater, anyone working on the show would have a few comps that would allow our friends and family to come in for free. With movies, the theater owner has obtained the right to exhibit the movie, and turns over half the receipts to the studio. If we were to extend the metaphor, if everyone could get into the movie theater for free and watch all the latest movies (and even the classic ones), why would anyone pay to do so? And in that scenario, why would a studio spend the money to make that movie?

    There's a basic principle at work here. I stand by that principle as it's my livelihood. If nobody pays for the shows I work on, then they don't make those shows and I don't work. Movies aren't free, much as we might wish otherwise. Bootlegging movies, classic or cult or brand new, has never been about preserving something for posterity. It's been about people wanting to have them regardless of the source. The issue here is that not every source is a legitimate one.
     
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  9. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Good points Kevin but I will ask one more question. If a film doesn't get a legit release then it's best that it's never viewed again?
     
  10. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    Yes.
     
  11. FrancisP

    FrancisP Screenwriter

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    That is a ridiculous answer. If the studio chooses not to exercise their rights then they are making a choice especially with a property that has no commercial value even with MOD. You may want to see it buried sight unseen but I do not.
     
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  12. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I don't believe that it's a matter of the movie being buried "sight unseen". In many of these cases, collectors do have copies. In most cases, some video release was in fact done - whether that be on videotape or laserdisc or whatever. Over many, many years of VHS releases, a lot of these things did make their way out. And again, there are the collectors - not to mention the places where movies have been preserved by various institutions.

    It's an interesting choice to say that the principled position is "it's better that a movie never be viewed again" when the option that's being presented is the idea of someone stealing it and downloading it. I'm not saying that I would like to see movies buried forever. I'm saying that it's not okay to take copyrighted work and just distribute it without any regard to the people who created it.
     
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  13. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    Film bootlegging is in the same category as borrowing internet pics without referencing the source.I have photographer friends who shoot family and, well, "family making" pictures...anyway. Most of them find "borrowed" pictures 10 times a week. The usual place is Tumblr. If I find a picture I'd like for my stash/board, I'll ask.So everybody has a choice. Obtain what you watch legally or illegally. I'm just reminded of the fiasco a few years back when a guy "charged admission" for a movie in a city park(selling hot dogs/popcorn) with a movie he borrowed from the library.
     
  14. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    Wow, this is deep, in so many ways. I love Amazon. I never buy from other sources on Amazon, just the big A itself. I have never received anything that was a bootleg. Having been to MANY Trek and sci-fi cons, i know what a bootleg looks like. Mostly crap.

    Oh, and i have my Trek pictures up because i love classic Star Trek. I have used the same pics/shot of the Enterprise here fro the last 10 years, and when you guys see it, you should know , hey that is RickER posting! Nothing slimy and underhanded about that. I do not want a pic of ME up there. That could be used, against me!

    Why dont you guys pick on facebook, plenty of pics being shared/stolen over there all the time!
     
  15. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor
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    All licenses between film distributors and movie Theatres have a clause that allows for a certain % of passes verses paid admission. If the number of passes is higher than the agreed % then the exhibitor is liable for what the film rental would have been.
     
  16. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member

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    I guess this is as good a place as any to ask:

    Do others here have the WB Blu-ray of The Getaway, purchased from legitimate dealers on these shores but with menus in what I think is KOREAN?

    Case copy and disc label are normal, indicating alternate tracks or subtitles of Spanish, French, etc. But those are not to be found. Everything plays in English just fine, but the entire menu structure is in Korean, so you have to navigate by trial and error.

    Mine came from Walmart several months ago, and there are many comments on Amazon indicating the ones shipping from there are just like it.

    This is Warner Bros, and my first thought was that it resulted from one mother of a packaging error, But is there any way that it could be a result of something bad in the chain? I haven't written to them yet, but I'll be doing so.
     
  17. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Lead Actor

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    That's right. I'm in a place called Home Theater Forum. My profile pic, and quote slot can be used to express a couple of my favorite films(Housekeeping/Nosferatu). Trying to lump us in with thieves that sell illegal merchandise for profit is absurd.
     
  18. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member

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    (Oh lordy. I wrote a note to Warner Bros via their web site, and the "submit" button is doing NOTHING.)
     
  19. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    But what good is it if collectors have copies if they can't do anything with it? If I wanted a copy of a Clara Bow movie then I'm going to have to get it illegally from another collector. After all, even if he just makes me a copy out of the kindness of his heart and no money is exchanged, it's still illegal. If he posts it on Youtube for people to view for free, it's still illegal by those in this thread.

    I'm really sorry but I would question some of the people in this thread as not being real film buffs (I'm not saying this at you Kevin). For anyone to say that a movie shouldn't be seen because of a studio not being able to make money off of it is just an insult to anyone who loves film history and the many forgotten people who helped make the format what it is today. I feel sorry for some in this thread who feel it's best that Clara Bow just be forgotten because Fox and Paramount have no desire to do anything with their silent films. I feel sorry for any future film buffs who are going to come up against people who probably just like "A" list items and have no idea how many films are out there and are unable to be viewed. Fan of Boris Karloff? Enjoy your FRANKENSTEIN and TARGETS. Just forget about the 70+ other films that are in a vault and not getting released. Like Spencer Tracy? Sorry kids but good old Fox, who people do nothing but complain about their MOD releases, won't release his films. And we're just bringing up legendary actors/actresses. What about the thousands of people who were forgotten a week after their movies were released into theaters? I'm sorry but I respect film history way too much just to say these films and people should just be forgotten or kept in a vault for future film lovers.

    Someone can correct me if I'm wrong but weren't studios against VCRs because they didn't want people recording their films off of television? Didn't the studios want us to have to buy the videos that we watched? Also, isn't there a reason for regional locks in the U.S.? I was interviewed in USA Today back when the Apex Region Free player became a big thing back in the day and in the article there were claims from the studio that it was illegal to break/hack/remove a regional lock because of the various rights issues.
     
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  20. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    Whenever this subject comes up in a thread at HTF, and it has enough times to not warrant a new one each time someone decides it's their mission to save the world, statements are made from both sides that are so black and white and with such added posturing, there is no room for discussing real life. I suspect there are many people who read this thread that don't dare post their thoughts about the subject for fear of being excessively intimidated and chastised by those few who seek to reign superior, morally or otherwise, over the rest of us. The fact is that despite all the holier than thou fire and brimstone declarations on this subject, from Robert Harris and others, the real world is not so conveniently defined.

    I despise people telling me what I should think and do and then trying to delineate my every move based on their own subjective subscriptions and interpretations for how things should be.

    And just for the record, it's none of my business and it's only my opinion, but I don't believe for a minute that Robert Harris will stop shopping at Amazon. :P
     

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