Ahoy Mateys!

Aug 30, 2008

Posted by: John Admin


I’d like to talk today about a comment one of my readers made to my last blog:

“the movie is now so close to completion (despite setbacks) that it’s almost certainly going to be leaked before its theatrical release. This wouldn’t be such a big deal, but I can imagine now that we have to wait so long, some people might be more lax in protecting the movie content. I just think this is going to ruin a lot for us fans.” – Selina

Yes, piracy. I’m not talking about those guys with eye patches and wooden legs. No, I’m referring to your average Joe, sitting at home on his computer, downloading content without providing proper compensation. Its something that we are probably all guilty of at one time or another. I can remember when I was in high school and programs like Napster first made an appearance. At the time, most people didn’t see anything wrong with this. There was very little public understanding that downloading music in this way was illegal.

That being said, at the time, the majority of the public was restricted to dial-up connections, which made downloading music and other digital files very slow. But as broadband internet connections became common place, people were suddenly able to download entire movies, huge programs, and entire albums in no time.

As we know, this had a dramatic impact on record labels and movie studios. Their revenue loss was huge, and they began to take action. Through education (as well as prosecution) they took the initiative to let the public know that what they were doing was illegal and would not be tolerated. Today, we have numerous outlets for downloading music and movies legally online. However, we have even more resources to download this content illegally, without providing any compensation whatsoever to the creators.

When The Dark Knight was released, Warner Brothers said they considered the film a success because it took more than 24 hours after release for the film to appear online. Yes, that’s right. By the next day, The Dark Knight was available for illegal download all over the net, and this was considered a success.

The reality is, most films find their way to net even before their theatrical releases. Once the film has been released, the amount of places it can be found illegally increases exponentially. This is a rapidly growing problem, one which is extremely difficult to combat. In reality, the responsibility resides with us, the consumers.

With the delay of The Half-Blood Prince it is likely we will see unsanctioned content available online before the film is released theatrically. Certainly, Warner Brothers will do everything in their power to minimize this. Studios take piracy very seriously. I remember going to an early preview of a film once (several months before it was to be released) and on entering the theater we were searched and required to leave our cellphones outside. During the screening, armed security guards patrolled the theater wearing night vision goggles. These practices are not uncommon when screening a film early.

So what is the point of all of this? Just this, do you part. If you come across unsanctioned content for Harry Potter (or any film for that matter), not only should you resist the urge to look, but you should report it! I think perhaps I’m preaching to the choir a bit with this fandom. Most of us are stout supporters of Ms. Rowling and would never do anything to impinge on her rights. But we are also human, and we all get tempted. What’s more, we all have friends who are not nearly as devout as us. I’m certain each of you can name at least one person you know who is constantly downloading movies and music illegally. Make an effort to talk to this person, explain to them that what they are doing is wrong, and that it is causing widespread harm (not only to the studios, but to all the artists out there).

I truly hope that Warner Brothers is able to keep Half-Blood Prince under wraps until its scheduled release. But if I come across any pirated materials in the months to come, I for one will be doing my part to put a stop to it. I hope that you all do the same.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.