So after yet another long hiatus, we’re back. There are at least a couple more write-ups planned for down the road (Geoff, Trin… email me). After that, I think I’m going to try something different to kind of spice things up and involve more of you cats at the same. But we’ll see. Feedback on the site in general has been a bit lax lately. Are you guys digging? Hating? Let us know, please!
Alright, enough chit-chat. Scott, take it away…
By Scott Roche (Capt. Eucalyptus)
Member since 7/23/01
According to wikipedia.org, bootlegging can refer to “(T)he illegal sale of many consumer products other than alcohol” and “Goods such as compact discs, DVDs and other Intellectual Property are considered to be ‘bootleg’ if they are replicated without permission of the copyright holder”. The bootlegging I want to talk about here has little or nothing to do with sales.
A co-worker came to me today and we started talking about movies. He said, “So you’re a big movie guy, huh?” I replied in the affirmative and he said that he was too and that he was a big Netflix user. I said that I used to use it but wasn’t able to really watch as much as I wanted to during that time and cancelled it. He said that he mainly used it to get movies and copy them. I wasn’t sure what to say to that. I mean here we are having a conversation and he admits to breaking federal copyright laws. Now granted it isn’t like he said, “Yeah I really like to eat babies with a dash of Tabasco.” But it got me to thinking. How many crimes (large or small) do we openly admit to committing with a sense of pride? “Well Betty, I really enjoyed driving thirty miles an hour over the limit. It was thrilling!” Some even defend it as a hobby. Would we do that with say… littering? “I don’t care what anyone says, emptying my ashtray on the Interstate is fun!” I don’t think so.
I know more than a few people who do both of these things on a regular basis when it comes to this practice and most of them are very blasé about it. They talk about the best players to use, what software is the quickest, what media works and what doesn’t. Add to that group the people who do this in quiet, afraid that the FBI will bust into their homes if the let so much as a peep escape their lips about their illicit hobby, and the numbers are pretty high. Now I am not going to stand here and tell you that this is going to bring down the whole industry or cause some key grip to lose his job. Discs keep selling and movie theaters are staying open (though there has apparently been quite a decline in ticket sales, I don’t think that’s related to bootlegging). So why are so many people doing this?
I have to ask this because I’m not part of either of the above groups so I don’t really understand the motivation. I have never downloaded a movie. A good part of that probably has to do with not having broadband I suppose, but these days getting your hands on an illegal copy is easy enough. A visit to ebay can get you anything you want but I’ve never bought a bootleg. Of course, with co-workers like mine, I could just ask Joe in the next cube and he’ll have it for me tomorrow. Now I can’t say that I haven’t watched a bootleg. Some guy saved me the price of renting Shrek 2 and Troy and I wanted to kiss him for it. The picture and sound quality sucked ass, but if the movies had been any good I’m certain that I would have purchased or rented those DVDs in a minute.
In fact, that’s a refrain I hear pretty often in discussions on this topic. “Well how do I know if it’s any good? If I download it and watch it or borrow my buddies bootleg or copy his disc, I can know whether it’s worth the money.” I guess you could do what the rest of us poor shlubs do and plunk down your beer vouchers and take your chances. If you can’t do that then I know of a website or two whose opinions can be trusted when it comes to such things. The weird thing in this particular case was that I’m sure he paid for these rip-off jobs. He couldn’t wait until they came out on DVD and didn’t want to go see it in the theater. It makes my head swim.
So why don’t I do it? Bootleg copy quality can be really sucky (see my experience with Shrek 2 above), but I know that isn’t always the case. There’s a healthy dose of that fear of the men in black jumpsuits crashing through my window, as unreasonable as that fear is. I know big brother isn’t really watching every move I make. They can’t track someone copying a rental (yet). So why don’t I bow to peer pressure? Part of it is that I can afford to rent movies when I want to see them at home and of course those of you that know me (or think you do) know that I’m a goody two-shoes, but it goes beyond both of those reasons.
I guess for me what it boils down to is a deep respect for how damn hard it is to put your nose to the grindstone and get the art done and out. When everything is plugged in just right and the juices are flowing it comes out slicker than greased owl shit. Then there are the other times, when the last thing you want to do is put fingers to keyboard because you know nothing good will come of it and instead you drink a bottle of cough syrup and walk through rush hour traffic. And if you’re lucky enough to survive the creative process, then you have to find someone to sell your baby. And if that happens, the last thing you want to have happen is for someone to take that creation that you and God knows how many other people have put untold hours into, make a copy of it, and let it sit unwatched on a shelf somewhere. I know that if I ever “make it”, then I would probably personally want to introduce that person to your favorite Cenobite and mine.
“But Scott,” you say “what about (insert movie title here)? It isn’t out on video/the director mutilated it and the originals haven’t been released/I don’t have a multi-region player.” My personal opinion on that is, if you can get your hands on a copy of it then fine, but do your level best to convince the world in the meantime that your favorite movie needs to come out on DVD, because you by God want to buy it. And when it does then make sure you do.