Monday, October 4, 2010

Not All Pirates Are Bad

Mattelart’s article on Audio-Visual Piracy placed me in a time warp and brought me back to Greece. This past year I spent 14 months teaching abroad, 10 of them being in Greece. I was also a dorm mom for the high schoolers, so I got to know the kids pretty well. Let’s travel back to late May. I’m having a conversation with my boss about how excited she is for the May 27th Premier of Sex and the City 2. She even boasts that this is the same day that it’s released in America—“THAT is how important Greece is”. One of my Bulgarian students, who will always take the opportunity to take a jab at Greece, pips up: “well if you wanted to watch it, you just should have asked. I downloaded in last week. Here you can have it” as she fumbles through her backpack looking for her jump-drive.

Now, in this topic about Audio-Visual Piracy, let’s allow McChensey to chime in with some statistics: US film firms generate 50-60% of their revenue outside of the country and US music firms generate 70% of their revenue out of the country. That’s a heaping amount. Now, I fully understand the dangers and consequences of illegal downloads, for the industries and consumers alike. But Mattelart has a point that it isn’t all that bad. Piracy creates a demand for more production. The more a product is circulated, the more it, or things like it, are demanded. Now how does this help the film industry if something is being circulated that was never purchased to begin with?

Here’s my take on it. I correlate the effects of piracy to the way that I do my Christmas shopping. When I go Christmas shopping, I don’t go with a list, but I do go with the notion of knowing what I will not deem appropriate for all those who have made it onto my stingy list of present receivers. Now, here’s how it relates to the film industry. If piracy prompts demand, that’s a good thing. Consumers of movies rarely have a wish list of movies that they want created, but once they see something advertised, they know that it’s the perfect fit. I know that the details are a bit loose, but it helped comfort me in knowing that there could indeed be some positive affects to me students’ downloading behavior.

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