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Share a Pre-Release Movie, Go to Jail
November 15, 2003
Thomas Mennecke
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Although pre-releases have occasionally sneaked onto the Internet for some time, typically the end user lacked the bandwidth to take advantage of these releases. However, as interest in Usenet, IRC and P2P networks has increased, as well as the proliferation of broadband, just about anyone can download a "pre-released" movie.

Basically, a pre-released movie is any film that makes its way online prior to its official theatrical release date. This can be done by several methods. Usually, its an inside job. For example, someone who has high security access will make a copy of the movie, and release it online. Another method involves the use of screeners. Screeners are released to film critics, advertisers and other interests, whose ethics may or may not comply with MPAA standards.

The situation really grabbed the MPAA's attention when Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones make it way online. While a day early may not have been the biggest deal, it was available over a week prior to its official release. George Lucas was not a happy camper.

This situation was followed up by the explosive events surrounding the prerelease of the "Hulk". Again, the Hulk appeared well in advanced of its scheduled release. Universal Studios took swift action, calling in the FBI to investigate. Universal had released the movie to an advertising firm, however employees has lent the film to their friends, who lent it to their friends....

So, instead of offering reasonable prices for movie tickets or producing better movies, the movie industry has thrown its support behind Senator Diane FeinStein (D-CA) and co-sponsor John Cornyn (R-TX).

"The Feinstein-Cornyn proposal would make illegal recording a federal felony, with a maximum punishment of five years in prison, an unspecified fine, or both. The maximum prison time increases to 10 years for a second offense."

"The bill also would make it easier to prosecute distributors of movies or songs, even before their official release, via peer-to-peer file-sharing programs. Similar to a previously introduced House bill, it would make it a federal felony to release just one such illegal copy, rather than the existing law's requirement of releasing 10 or more copies in a six-month period with a total retail value of more than $2,500."

The movie industry is in a unique situation. Its profits continue to soar as it remains relatively isolated from the potential threat of piracy. Unlike music, it is very difficult to reproduce the movie experience in ones home unless you're willing to spend $10,000. The movie industry doesn't have to add additional gimmicks to their product in order to encourage the public to attend. While some are distrustful of the movie industry, it has yet to suffer the wrath of hatred the music industry is now suffering.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Unauthorized Distribution :: Digital Piracy
Entertainment Industry :: MPAA

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