This past week, a DVD quality copy of Expendables 3 leaked onto online pirate sites, weeks before its August 15 box office debut. Along with the news came the usual claims that filmmakers shouldn’t worry about pre-release piracy—it’s good promotion, says David Pierce at the Verge, and internet commenters offer scores of other rationalizations.

But over at the Technology Policy Institute Blog, researcher Michael W. Smith says the unauthorized pre-release copy will likely hurt box office revenues for the film. He and his colleagues studied the effect of pre-release movie piracy on box office revenue and found that, on average, it “results in a 19% reduction in box office revenue relative to what would have occurred if piracy were only available after the movie’s release.”

Smith’s study is the first peer-reviewed journal article to look at this particular form of piracy. It was recently accepted for publication in the Information Systems Research journal, but a pre-publication draft is available at SSRN.

The study casts doubts on claims that pre-release piracy has no impact on theatrical revenue or even has a beneficial effect by generating buzz. On the contrary, Smith finds that “pre-release piracy significantly reduces a movie’s expected box office revenue and that this impact is stronger earlier in a movie’s lifecycle than in later periods.”

Smith concludes the report by noting some of its limitations. It doesn’t look at the intensity of pre-release pirating, nor at the quality of the unauthorized copies, data which may provide additional insights. It also does not consider the effect of pre-release piracy on different types of films, nor does it examine the effects on revenue streams besides the box office, such as DVD sales.

These last two limitations are particularly worth further research. Most films—particularly indie and niche films—don’t ever screen in theaters, and even among those films that do, box office revenue is only a part of overall revenues.

While Smith’s study is the first peer-reviewed article to look specifically at pre-release piracy and its effects, it is not the first to look at the effects of other forms of piracy on films. In fact, in his article, Smith notes that eight peer-reviewed studies so far have looked at the effect of piracy on film sales, and, more significantly, seven of the eight studies have found “that piracy results in significant harm to motion picture sales.” A broader literature review – focusing not solely on films but on other types of works such as recorded music – found that “The vast majority of papers which have been published in peer-reviewed academic journals — papers spanning a variety of methods, time periods, and contexts — find that piracy causes a statistically significant decrease in sales.”

And yet some measure of file-sharing denialism persists. It, first, runs counter to common sense—yes, if people can get something for free they’ll buy less, and if people buy less of something, less of it will be produced. But it also, as seen above, is not supported by the overwhelming majority of empirical evidence.

In ‘The Expendables 3’ Torrent and the Techno-Utopian Delusion, Indiewire writer Sam Adams sees through this denialism, or, as he calls it, “sheer self-justifying delusion.” In doing so, he touches on a larger point.

Adams notes that some of the rationalization for downloading The Expendables 3 is based on the idea that it is not a movie but a show, one in which the experience of watching in the theater takes precedence (and thus justifies watching an illegitimate, lower-quality version). Because of this, he cautions:

And when you’re paying for the experience — not out of curiosity or as a way of supporting an ecosystem that allows the creation of new work — it only makes sense to sample the product beforehand. But in so doing, you’re pushing cinema in a direction where every movie has to be a show: Either it’s big and loud enough to make you feel like you’re missing out by watching it (legally or illegally) at home or it might as well not show up to play.

CNET’s Nick Statt raises similar concerns:

We often complain about “sequelitis” and the onslaught of low-quality, brainless action movies and series reboots, yet don’t ever seem to take responsibility for the fact that our collective unwillingness to pay for things that don’t have formulaic payout is what drives creative decision making.

In the current model, everything from “Boyhood” and “12 Years A Slave” to “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Gravity” are more harmed by systemic piracy because it devalues films as an art form. Risks are not rewarded when the only movie with a concrete return on its investment is a $200 million narrative train wreck about robot cars or a tongue-and-cheek ensemble action flick featuring Rocky, the former governor of California, and Han Solo.

I enjoy such films, as do millions of others. But it would be a shame if that was all we got to see. The ultimate point is that piracy has societal effects beyond any given film’s bottom line.

In Copyright Extremophiles: Do Creative Industries Thrive or Just Survive in China’s High-Piracy Environment? 127 Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 469 (2014). published earlier this year, Eric Priest digs into some of these less obvious effects of piracy in more detail. The claim is sometimes made that maybe copyright—the legal foundation that provides exchange value for creative works—is irrelevant since creativity still exists in areas, such as China, where piracy runs rampant. Priest refutes this by comparing creators in high-piracy areas to biological organisms known as extremophiles.

Just as microorganisms have evolved to thrive in superheated deep-sea vents or highly acidic environments, so too can a subset of creative professionals find ways to monetize their works even in a high-piracy environment. The fact that some monetization models can work for some types of producers or artists in China does not mean that optimal or even near-optimal conditions exist for the development of flourishing, healthy, and stable creative industries. In short, poor copyright enforcement inflicts significant and persistent harms on China’s music and film industries. To invoke the extremophiles analogy, China’s inhospitable creative industry environment may support narrow strains of creative “life,” but with an effective regime of copyright norms and enforcement, China’s creative ecosystem could more closely resemble a lush, diverse rain-forest.

Priest’s research unpacks some of the more pernicious results that piracy has on China’s film and music industries. Along with undermining the ability of a professional class of creators to sustain their livelihoods, high piracy has made these industries “neither robust nor stable” and lead them to become “hyper-dependent on a single revenue stream” (box office for films and ringback tones for music). Priest concludes:

This lack of revenue stream diversity distorts and undermines the creative ecosystem in at least three ways. First, the scarcity of monetization options creates a winner-take-all market dominated by big producers. The paucity of other revenue sources seriously undermines financial support for smaller, independent producers.

Second, rampant piracy and concentration of revenue streams distorts market signals to producers. For example, film producers are incentivized to invest in a relatively narrow range of works that attract the audience whose tastes are most easily monetized – young, urban cinemagoers. Music producers likely are incentivized to produce music that will make the most marketable ringtones.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, reduced revenue stream diversity disproportionately exposes producers to the whims of peculiar markets and exploitation by gatekeeper or monopsonist intermediaries. China’s music industry proves an especially vivid example, as ringback tones gross more than $4 billion annually, but the mobile operators who control ringback tone distribution keep more than ninety-eight percent of that revenue for themselves. The meager two percent that goes to copyright owners amounts to ninety percent of those copyright owners’ total income from recorded music. So if ringtones lose their appeal with consumers, the recording industry will collapse. Without other viable revenue streams to leverage, musicians, producers, and record labels have little choice but to grin and bear it while a state telecommunications monopoly enjoys the great bulk of the rewards of their artistic efforts.

It seems difficult to make a more compelling case for copyright. How creators and the film industry responds to pre-release and other forms of piracy is a wholly separate topic, but the fact remains that any type of piracy has a significant negative effect on revenues as well as the stability and vitality of creative and cultural industries. If we want to maintain robust and independent creativity, we should not be so quick to treat copyright as expendable.

References   [ + ]

1. 27 Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 469 (2014).

8 Comments

  1. Piracy advocates have long argued that copying is not stealing. If that is true, copying is not a form of sharing either, it’s unlawful replication coupled with illegal distribution; a misuse of technology and a self-interested abuse of trust.

    Sharing anything requires less of it for the sharer, whether food or clothing, shelter or entertainment. To “share” requires an honorable sacrifice of self, the very basis of the good connotation of “to share.”

    Not so piracy; there is nothing honorable about making an unlawful copy while keeping the original for yourself. By the standard rules of classic economics this just unbalances supply and demand in favor of the consumer. Pirates may gain more respect for their utopian free-for-all agenda when they come to grips that they are not actually sharing at all, but distorting a classic supply and demand market through selfish and unlawful actions.

    • Gregory,
      “Sharing anything requires less of it for the sharer, whether food or clothing, shelter or entertainment. To ‘share’ requires an honorable sacrifice of self, the very basis of the good connotation of ‘to share.'”

      I don’t think that’s true. If I shared with you the good advice that we shouldn’t call infringement theft, I don’t end up with any less of the advice. (If I did, I’m sure I would’ve run out by now)

      Jefferson put this best: “If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.”

      “Not so piracy; there is nothing honorable about making an unlawful copy while keeping the original for yourself. ”

      Why not? I’d say that people who were living inside the Soviet Union and other countries with repressive censorship laws, who made samizdat copies of books, music, and other media were acting in an honorable manner. Whether that’s Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, or Irina Nistor translating western movies in the 80’s in Romania, it doesn’t seem especially dishonorable to make and distribute such unlawful copies. Even today, this practice continues in many corners of the world.

      “By the standard rules of classic economics this just unbalances supply and demand in favor of the consumer.”

      I didn’t realize that honor and decency hinge on obeying a particular set of economic principles. Who are you? Ayn Rand?

      • “Why not? I’d say that people who were living inside the Soviet Union and other countries with repressive censorship laws, who made samizdat copies of books, music, and other media were acting in an honorable manner. Whether that’s Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, or Irina Nistor translating western movies in the 80′s in Romania, it doesn’t seem especially dishonorable to make and distribute such unlawful copies. Even today, this practice continues in many corners of the world. ”

        This needs to be one of the leading arguments for copyright abolition. It doesn’t get mentioned enough.

        One of the consequences you have to accept if you believe in copyright is that you grant the copyright holder, whether that holder is the actual artist or not, the ability to deny works be translated into another language. NOTHING could be more anti-dialectical, isolationist and anti-free-trade than that. There are two books that hold similar mentalities by their followers, and that is the Bible and the Quran (former being in Hebrew, latter being in Arabic, upon pain of death and/or excommunication). Change only the book’s copyright status, and this story is about this very debate. We all know what sort of ill-effects can come from it. Right now, we have many Islamofascists claiming a copyright over the prophet Mohammad – any derivative, any unauthorised infringement, any blasphemy, any disfigurement, any piracy of any kind under any language at all, and you will be put under a Fatwa. Or, in the case of Salman Rushdie, any derivative whatsoever from the Quran. Because “all rights reserved” – all of your rights are reserved for the judgement of God. It is quite dangerous to humanity’s intellectual liberation from tyrants. The very first pirated, derivative work of mankind was by definition a blasphemous work.

        Ukrainians during the Second World War for example, contacted George Orwell for permission to make and translate copies of Animal Farm and 1984 and circulate them among the proletariat. I reckon that even if Orwell went crazy and said no (which he did not do), the Ukrainians were no less morally justified in making those copies. There are bigger things at stake than utopian property rights: the right to read of fables attacking other kinds of utopian property rights without any kind of friction. Stalin would have crushed any copy of Animal Farm and anyone even so much as breathing on a copy. He was to some extent one of mankind’s most effective deterrents against piracy.

        If it wasn’t for pirated literature circulating under the radar of the Soviet Union through the use of underground fax machines, the people living under that system would have never had the immortal imagery of Napoleon standing on two legs, would have never had the ability to have their own life, liberty and property to make derivative works from it, and snapping out of Communism would have been much harder. Democracy is up for export and in nearly all cases can only come from export – that is how it has always been. Again, it is no good saying in these circumstances “just choose another expression” – it is a cowardly change of subject and an evasion of moral responsibility.

        Saddam Hussein would put anyone to death for merely possessing a satellite dish, and you can guarantee such dishes would have had no way of reaching legal copies of the art many people were deprived of.

        And what do we see today? We see police raids conducted on websites that were making transcript subtitles for anime from Japan. These websites, and this is worth stressing, did NOT give away pirated copies of the anime itself, merely the translated scripts. Fucking text files. That was IT. And we all know why it was done: kill the bottleneck of translation and pirated anime becomes harder to identify with among pirates. In other words, an English speaker perfectly willing to pay artists on the other side of the world should not expect any real communication with that work if copyright says so, and should just suck up the xenophobic bridge burning. But we don’t have to worry about it – the anime culture lives on in the West precisely because of those willing to translate regardless of the hysterical nonsense, and demonstrates copyright’s utopian demands in the most Monty Python form there is. Anime conventions make tons of money from unauthorised derivative cosplays from ticket payers, and the fact that nobody ever brings this up speaks volumes about our ignorance of copyright’s futility.

        This contemptible practice even extends to the languages of Braille and Sign. We have seen the MPAA try so hard to insist they have a right to impose one language only on works even in spite of the condemnation, sabotaging treaties in the process.

        In South Korea, certain attacks were made on Korean translators for translating Western movies into Korean, including some police raids. There are people in North Korea who could use some intellectual healing by seeing Western content that might sneak past the DMZ, and realising that the West is not what their totalitarian regime makes it out to be, by UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS BEING FUCKING SAID. This is extremely important. Copyright is toxic in many more ways people realise.

        In Iran, the Mullahs and the thugs that defend them would put down any female in possession of pirated copies of “Lolita” – a book that may crucially help women to understand the sexual torture they endure in that country. Never mind copies of “Midnight’s Children” – a book that’s no doubt equally banned in Iran now (it didn’t used to be). One of the big reasons that frauds like the Ayatollah Khomeini could start lynch mobs against authors living in England was that he merely had to say “The Satanic Verses is blasphemous” and take advantage of the fact that most Iranians couldn’t read the book in the language it was presented to double-check that claim.

        And what is the rhetoric usually like from the copyright side of the debate, when civilisational questions like this are put forward?

        “Piracy is allied with the worst totalitarian regimes on this planet”, as said by one of the opening debaters at a recent conversation at Intelligence Squared recently. Don’t. Make. Me. Laugh. An Iranian reading pirated literature attacking the thugs of his regime is not ideologically aligned with that regime. I repeat. He is NOT. And I am extremely hostile towards any measures limiting his capability to engage in such pleasure.

        And we do damn-well get this all the time. Anti-piracy ads on DVDs in the UK claiming piracy funds and is allied with terrorism? Fuck off.

      • I don’t think that’s true. If I shared with you the good advice that we shouldn’t call infringement theft, I don’t end up with any less of the advice

        Are you sharing a counterfeit copy of your advice, like every digital file on the internet is a copy of the original work? No doubt.

  2. I don’t have to believe in copyright in order to fund creativity. I know the rationalisation from my side of the house is bullshit. “This is not the same as theft” deliberately obscures the claims of copyright advocates because what we are talking about here is taking something from artists without giving anything back in return – no wordplay can dodge that. “I wouldn’t pirate if it wasn’t so expensive – £20 for a DVD? Bullshit!” forgets the basic principle that an artist can charge whatever he damn well pleases to get what he feels is deserved, and it is no real excuse to deprive the artist of that choice. “It’s just so much easier to pirate instead of the 50 different hoops put up by HBO online” assumes ease is equal with morality. “Everybody does it” is an argument ad populum. “The labels are too rich” is an argument ad capitalum (I made that one up but you know what I mean). “I don’t have the money right now” is an argument for waiting for when you do have the money, not stealing. “I have the right to try before I buy” forgets that the pirate websites who benefit from that trying will never buy in any sense of the word. “It’s no different from borrowing a DVD from your friends” makes the assumption that those who borrow DVDs without giving anything back to the original artists are justified in doing so.

    If artists do not get funded there cannot be an industry. That is self-evident. But again, my funding of artists and my copyright abolition can be had both ways.

    Because I also believe this right to life, liberty and property extends to the rights of derivative artists as well: an artist right that copyright seems incapable of granting, since it insists it is robust enough to know originality when it sees it. “But there is such a stable industry as long as you get permission” is not good enough. If “permission” is needed the expression is not really free, and you only need to look at the way corporate publishers will crush any derivative dissent that portrays their stories and characters as corrupt/too rich etc to know what I mean. It is no good saying “just choose your own expression instead” – if the use of the very ingredients of your criticism are out of the question, the sting from the power of your message immediately becomes reduced which is not acceptable, because certain symbolism cannot be harnessed. One of the big things people forget about freedom of expression is that it is not just about the right of the speaker to speak, but HOW he speaks. If I could change one word in the First Amendment to encapsulate this, it would be the word “speech” to “expression”. An audience will not be able to hear any vivid and immortal dissent about, say, Mickey Mouse through metaphors and allegories and fables in the same way if that very character in question cannot be used. To say that you may as well just use characters that are “just over the line away from infringement” but still resemble the originals so that everyone knows what is being talked about seems to be flippant. Impact on the market is bound to be the same either way. You may as well just buy the online book and use Microsoft Word’s “Find and Replace” to swap all instances of “Slickey House” to “Mickey Mouse”, for goodness sake.

    Putting it another way, “ownership of expression” cannot really be squared with freedom of expression. This mentality of permission justifies the shutting down of websites like deviantArt.com, and the entire closure of Japan’s doujinshi market in order to preserve the wishes of the minority who don’t agree with it. I will not accept that such a mentality is “siding with artists”. These people are JUST as “indie”, just as working class, and have every right to their fruits of labour, too. Copyright may only give indie original artists the scraps it can, but it gives indie derivative artists nothing.

    All I disagree with here is A) the means to which those artists get funded, B) the claim that the only way to make the market of creativity work is to sacrifice some expression in order to preserve others, the very definition of prior restraint, and C) that original artists and derivative artists must be treated unequally under the law.

    For example, if assurance contract economies (tickets, subscriptions, pre-orders, crowdfunding) were the norm instead of copyright since they can address the free-rider problem just as well, a “pre-release” leak would by definition be irrelevant, because the market will have been forced to pay beforehand to get the content anyway. Leaks would actually be less-likely with no copyright, because instead of keeping a watchful eye over thousands of copies at cinemas/retail stores before they are released you only need to watch over two or three, making NDAs more enforceable. And derivative artists would likewise be protected, and with no prior restraint to boot. Freedom of expression, the greatest “rain-forest” of all, best works for humanity when you let everybody speak their minds and how they choose to – history has shown this – so this idea that this is EXCEPT for when it comes to copyright where the OPPOSITE must be the case seems iffy. But assurance contracts gets the best of both worlds.

    By the way, China’s piracy is quite rampant in the same way that drug-cartels are rampant due to an unjust prohibition (it’s actually far less riskier to pirate from the other side of the planet and profit, than to profit from drug dealing), but you can bet anything that it won’t quite be so rampant with literature that criticises the Commu-Capitalist state, such as Animal Farm and 1984. Such infringement is stopped rather brutally. And this coming from a state where the population is too poor to have BitTorrent (or ANY internet access) yet still has 80% global piracy rates. Unfortunately, if you believe in copyright you have to believe that cracking down on this kind of piracy is justified. Same with literature dissent in Iran, Zimbabwe or any other authoritarian regime. So don’t believe any tripe along the lines of “piracy is allowed by totalitarian regimes” when the reverse is clearly more of a gruesome thought.

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  4. “Please elaborate how you think assurance contract economies would be a better gatekeeper of content intended for sale:”

    Well what better way to fight for your rights then demand your fair price up front? The best thing you can do to be assured your money will come in and not be cheated either through royalty babble or piracy is to have the profits in your hand before committing to your labour. File sharers and Kim Dotcoms have to pay up if they want entertainment and business, respectively. If we continue to put faith in a system of empty promises that has to undergo pain every time there is a technological boom, we’re just going to be left disappointed again and again, where artists ask for fairness and get scraps. And where derivative artists get nothing at all (remember, the pirates steal from derivative artists too).

    A gate is useless if you have no real-world ability to enforce it. I am one of those rare people who thought SOPA would have been rather harmless to the internet and would not have “broken” it (in fact the language of the title of the bill was a huge giveaway: laws are meant to be kept in perpetuity until voted out, so why is the very first word “Stop” in there, as if to imply that once the task of “stopping” is accomplished the law can somehow keep going?) and any damage it would have done would have been “intercepted” by the internet as such and “routed around”, as so immortally described – you could tell right away with this bill’s inability to touch China, translators across the planet, TOR, and proxies to circumvent blocks that it would have not made a dent on piracy. And the arguments “some enforcement is better than none” and “best to keep it to a minimum – we can’t get rid of it all” are rather naive. Kids can get around their high school firewall blocks with ease these days. Profit/advertising freezing clearly hasn’t worked against drug cartels and the corrupt banks that support them in this unjust war on drugs, so we should expect no less from piracy prohibition since the black market is a majority. We need to get real. The only way artists are going to get their fruits of labour in a world like this is through a “pay up or else” system like Kickstarter. Remember, as blogs like this always tend to put it, “pirate websites rely on creativity to survive”. If that is the case, they will know what is at stake and pledge to the artist, but only if they are not able to exploit the artist’s faith in copyright.

    Assurance contracts are more than just gates for the artists. They are PAYWALLS. Justified paywalls, that is. And ones where the artist can really put his foot down. This is crucial to understand because it relieves the artist of the burden of having to police the whole world for illegal copies – some in languages the artist will be unlikely even to be able to read – that copyright demands.

    “It seems here, leaks would be just as likely under your proposed economy. How is it possible to watch only over “two or three” instead of thousands of copies, when the Artist’s would have to build that Gatekeeping System themselves, wasting time / resources which could’ve instead been focused on creating. ”

    Would you rather have them waste more resources watching over thousands of copies and their handlers under copyright? Would you not prefer they’d not have to turn over their works to higher powers with shitty royalty rates in order to get such false promises of enforcement? If leakers end up leaking a legal copy without making pirated copies whatsoever, you wouldn’t even be able to resort to copyright mentality to get damages from the leaker in any case. It’d have to be an NDA.

    “Also, I suspect you and I would agree that our legal system itself is still like ancient Rome’s, or Babylon’s: Justice is still for sale.
    However, that doesn’t mean Copyright should be abolished, because it provides a ready-made Gatekeeping system…”

    I have not said this. Though I agree corruption is a problem: that’s easy to agree with. It has no relevance though. In fact I know that corruption will happen in a world with or without copyright.

    “…which Artists can leverage at least imperfectly, which is better than having no Gatekeeping system at all, and better than forcing the Artists to expend billions building their own Gatekeeping system from scratch themselves. Why force everyone to re-invent the wheel, or to use square wheels instead which go nowhere?”

    As I have said above, making a gate is to no avail if you cannot enforce the gate. In this case it is a “fence” as so often described here. We know how to fence off our property: cars, houses, what have you. But with copyright the absurdity becomes clear when you can’t even tell when theft of your property has occurred – cars go “missing” which easily indicates theft to the owner, copyrighted works do not – unless you keep a watchful eye over the entire planet and its corporations. Charles Dickens should NOT have to build ships and cross oceans to attempt the enforcing of his property – I don’t know why that story is told as some kind of heroic story about copyright when it gruesomely shows what you have to do to enforce such a horrible philosophy. In fact it is the equivalent of building a one-foot gate around yourself and insisting that you can and will be ABLE to police everybody on the planet surrounding you because they are INSIDE your land surrounded by the gate, not outside it. It is one of the hidden secrets of debates on how to enforce morality that a law is only as good as you CAN enforce it. And democracies do not exist because there are laws: laws exist because there are democracies.

    Make Mohammad come to the mountain instead of the other way around; and don’t make writers sail across the planet to catch every pirate on every corner – instead make them come to HIM. Demand on the spot “everybody pay up first and only then will I make what you want, it’s only fair”. And nobody will ever cheat that ultimatum in quite the same way. Kickstarter have no idea how revolutionary they really are right now – for original artists’ rights AND derivative artists’ rights. And as long as corporations – legal and pirate alike – know that their profits depend on the artists’ paywall like this, they will pay up. They will even COLLUDE to pay up, since they recognise that they are on the same boat. “Mutually Assured Destruction” is one way of putting it.

    Though I accept capitalism’s tendency to monopoly is still going to be a problem – I foresee Kickstarter becoming corrupt themselves, with probable “95% cuts” of hat share – that problem is ALWAYS going to be with is, and copyright is not your savior from it either.

    “Also, while I respect your obvious intellectual acumen, no “assurance contract economy” will ever work by itself, because you seem to presume people will honor those contracts.”

    They are honoured just fine. When millions simultaneously put money in a hat 12 times per year when their pay cheques come in in order to get a monthly broadcast of internet service from ISPs or cable from broadcast companies, that’s a brilliant example of a stable assurance contract working just fine. And I can name many others. Tickets for gigs is a “hat”. Pre-orders for games (GTA V getting all its production costs back JUST on pre-orders, bearing in mind that was the most expensive game ever made) is a “hat”. And all refundable upon a breakdown of delivery. You can probably think of some yourself. Pretty damn good for evidence that isn’t anecdotal, wouldn’t you say?

    “i.e. the State itself has increasingly been oppressing religions expression.” “…none of your secular law solutions will work, except in Utopia.”

    I don’t quite know what this has to do with the discussion, you seem to be going off-topic. But I would say that the only way a religious person will ever get real freedom of expression with relation to his religious beliefs is through a secular society. The contrary – one religion holding superiority over another by fusing with the state – will repress religious expression that contradicts the religion in power. And heaven is the most original and most delusional of all the utopian ideas that have ever been preached on Earth. Who wishes to be condemned to eternity to witness the torture of innocents from the damned from above I do not know. Or will it be so heavenly that my memory will be stripped of such thoughts? Either such dream is a nightmare.

  5. Sifu FingerUke Yung

    I think movie sales are declining because the overall quality of movies have declined over the years.
    In the past there were more quality films. In today’s market, there are big budget blockbuster movies and really, really bad movies.
    The low budget, high quality films in the past got a chance, when the Big Budget film was sold out.
    When there is only one good movie to see, and the rest are terrible, there is less incentive to go to the movies compared to the past.

    In addition, the movie industry has released enough bad movies, with increasing ticket prices, that people don’t find it a special experience.
    For those with s a nice home screen, full surround sound audio, and comfortable seating at home…
    I think they would prefer viewing in the comfort of their own home.

    The movie theatre doesn’t have the same unique and memorable experience that it once had.
    Movie theatres as they currently exist in the USA are going to be irrelevant soon.
    Asia has really started to create a luxury dinner and movie service. Waiters and dining for people at the movie.

    Going to the movies, feels like going to the airport these days. The lines, overpriced food, bad service, and unnecessary security that is so rude and annoying, and mostly useless.
    It’s seems like more of a hassle, than a night out of fun. You also don’t know who are going to be seated with, that could change your whole experience.

    In the past, the real old-school movie pirates… The really bold ones would sneak into the movies outright, and the less bold ones, buy a ticket and sneak into the rest of the movies. I know I’m sounding old, but back in the day kids would skip school, go to the mall, buy one movie ticket, and stay at the theaters all day watching every movie.

    Kids just don’t do that anymore. It’s not worth their time to sneak in, or try to watch more than 1 movie, because they’d rather sit in school because it is more entertaining than the movies out there these days. I found school to be a form of slow torture…
    Also, if a DVD quality of the film leaked, it had to be leaked from someone with an official screener.
    The leak is coming from within the movie industry.

    They should focus on improving internal security, not wasting time checking with their peers studying why they keep losing money.
    The studies should focus on how to increase sales, and create a unique experience for movie-goers that customers want to come back again for.

    In a way, the movie theater industry has had the worst customer service in the world. Well for all those years of getting away with high prices and terrible customer service. That was a terrible movie! I want my money back! …. If you can’t give refund the money, then I’ll download every movie until I get full time and value back for the defective product (crappy movie) I paid to watch.

    • The leak is coming from within the movie industry.

      I agree with that. Absolutely, some young one does it out of anarchy, kicks, whatever.

      But then, the apparatus of the Internet itself furthers countless and instant counterfeit copies of the leak with each view, download (which is also a copy), etc. It’s not like the days when “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” was leaked by a camera in a cinema, dubbed to video and everyone communicated with each other through message boards, emails, et al. to “damned if they don’t” get a taped copy mailed to one’s physical address just to see a low quality version so that they don’t have to go through the diffiult task of working, buying a ticket, and going to the theater.

      Today, I argue that China is not the problem. The United States is the number 1 counterfeiter of goods and services, financially facilitated by the American credit card companies, the American PayPal, the American non-enforcing government and court system, and the American business media channels willfully keeping it off air since 2007.

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