Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Don't Burn It, Buy It

DP showed up for his testing -- this week, I am administering New Mexico standards-based assessments to two fifth graders -- and he announced he had brought a movie for us to watch. He flipped a DVD onto my desk. It was Bedtime Stories, the Adam Sandler movie, which has not yet been released on disk.

As I was putting two and two together, DP said, "I'm thinking of selling movies, actually."

"You mean bootlegs."


Pause to rub my eyes. "Daniel, you know it's against the law."


"Do you know why it's against the law?"

He shrugged.

"Bootlegging is stealing," I said.

"I call it borrowing."

"You can call it anything you want. It's still robbery. Don't you think the artists deserve to get paid?"

"They got paid!"

"They didn't get paid for this." I wagged the DVD at him. "You stole this. And now you're talking about selling copies so you can make money off of their work! We're not watching this."

Sometimes, on this issue, one has to be a pain in the ass. I was in a movie recently that found an appreciative audience, and it wasn't long before you could download bootlegged versions from websites. Every download represents a rental or sale for which I would be entitled to a royalty. Not just me, but Matt the director, the producers who pulled their hair out and strained friendships trying to get the thing made, my friend Chris who stayed up nights building the sets and looking for locations, the crew who busted their butts in cramped conditions, and so on and so on. To get paid anything for our toil, we depend on people paying to see the movie.

The attitude strikes me that because of the ease of duplication, a great many people feel entitled to free content. They even bitch about the thirty-second ads that precede their free screenings of Jon Stewart or other favorite shows on the web, even though the advertisers are paying for them to watch the show for free.

What a bunch of spoiled brats. Could I be more plain?

Here is Hollywood writer Harlan Ellison, delivering a whammo tirade about copyright theft and piracy. The sound quality is not great, but if you can hang with it, he tells a very funny story and makes a number of important points.

Take THAT, Mr. and Mrs. "I'll burn you a copy!"

Seriously, folks. If you have that wonderful CD by Jars of Clay or The White Stripes or Garth Brooks or whatever you're into, and you think you're cousin would love a copy -- buy them one. Don't throw it into your computer and rip it, because you're ripping off an artist. If you think you like that artist, why would you pick their pocket?

This problem is not new. Even before we all became creative pirates, there was an idea in too many people's minds that artists should be happy to lay golden eggs for free. "Why don't you sing for us?" "Do a monologue for us!" "Could you write something up for the paper on that?" "Oh, we just figured you'd like the exposure." Right.

That's why Harlan is a great spokesman on the issue. How rarely do "creative types" respond to this attitude by saying, "Uh! How dare you?!" Harlan does. Here he is again, with much better sound quality...

Damn straight, baby.

1 comment:

quid said...

I've been a big Harlan Ellison fan. Nice to "see him in person". Issue's relevant, too.