3D Movies and Copyright Infringement: Missing the Point Once Again

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Yes, this another one of those posts where I complain about the entertainment industry. Actually, here I’m complaining about the industry mindset as conveyed by an intrepid China Daily reporter writing about the China release of James Cameron’s Avatar.

The recent flood of 3D movies has a lot of tongues wagging about the effect on piracy. Fair enough. New tech, a better movie theatre experience, maybe more folks will choose to go see the movie instead of downloading a pirated version.

But industry is once again looking in the wrong direction.

The recent blockbuster Avatar by James Cameron is one among a string of new movies to come out during a period now being called the “3D renaissance.” But has the 3D format cut down on the amount of movie piracy as Hollywood hopes? It doesn’t look like it.

“While Hollywood claims 3D movies will slow piracy, they are only partially right,” said Chris Chinnock, president of Insight Media, a US-based marketing research and consulting firm.

He said if pirates try to use a regular video camcorder to record 3D films, it would result in the images coming back in double. While this makes the process of filming movies inside the theatre much more difficult, those with knowledge of video equipment can get around the 3D deterrent, he said.

(. . .)

Chinnock’s assessment seems to hold true. More than a week before Avatar was set for its China release, copies of the blockbuster were shelved in pirated DVD shops throughout Beijing.

You see? It’s all about stopping Mr. Camcorder, furtively sitting in the back of the theatre in his trenchcoat. The fact that DVDs were available in Beijing shops (BTW, why does anyone still care about physical DVD sales???) is somehow evidence that the 3D phenomenon will not have much of an effect on piracy.

But so what? If the result is higher box office receipts, who cares about the digital piracy of 2D versions of the movie? Again, isn’t it possible that most of the folks who download those 2D versions wouldn’t be customers in the first place? How many of them would be prepared to pay RMB 150 to catch Avatar at the 3D IMAX theatre?

{sigh}

Industry should be quite happy that 3D movies are bringing more folks to the theatre and less worried about finding a solution to the digital infringement problem.

[NOTE: If anyone has actually gone to see Avatar, please comment or drop me a line. I’m wondering whether I should spend RMB 150 to see it!]

4 responses on “3D Movies and Copyright Infringement: Missing the Point Once Again

  1. idealist

    If you can seen it in an IMAX 3D experience, it’s probably worth the 150. A regular sized screen 3d Experience is probably worth 90RMB and I wouldn’t bother seeing it in 2d.

    I would not bother watching a pirated CAM version.. the technology isn’t there to faithfully reproduce it.

  2. Bill

    I saw the real 3D version. I wish I went to the IMAX version. Yes, it worths the price of admission. But I paid a bit less than 150 RMB. More like US$15

  3. Tony

    Does it actually look three dimensional?

    Every 3D movie I’ve ever watched did not look 3D. Instead it looked blurry through the glasses they give out and gave me a headache within 5 minutes.

    1. Stan Post author

      Let’s hope that tech has improved since the 50s.

      I just read about a new 3D television. No kidding. Only drawback is that you need to sit VERY far away from the screen for the effect to be right. I think the distance is more than the size of most folks’ living rooms.