The movie industry is fighting a battle far more complicated than it ever thought it would have to face from bootlegging. It has been estimated that movie bootlegging costs over $900 million and the loss of 23,000 jobs annually in New York state. Combined with DVD piracy, internet leaks and the resulting losses in production, the state can lose over $3 billion in a year.
A lot of movies have traditionally been bootlegged by an individual camcording a new movie in a theater and then producing DVD copies of the film for sale by street vendors. This costs the industry money because each cam, the resulting bootleg, only earns the price of one ticket while many are able to view the movie. Many theaters have restricted customers from bringing in baggy clothes or large bags in an attempt to thwart bootleggers, but small cameras are easier to sneak in. Ushers are now being equipped with night vision goggles to better catch bootleggers in the act of making cams. However, some movies are being bootlegged by those employees of the theater with access to the projectionist booth. An employee with this access can garner a recording with a more centered-hence higher quality-video image and audio tracks that can be lifted directly from the player.
Other means—more common these days—of bootlegging include rips and screeners, which typically create better quality reproductions. Rips are typically recordings made from officially licensed media, such as DVDs, through the use of hardware and/or software. This is a quick means of reproducing a movie and the quality tends to be high. When studios and production companies release advance copies of a movie which ends up being copied, this is called a screener (SCR). A great deal of money can be lost to SCRs when they are leaked online as movie studios often decide to amend or even cancel the production. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has endeavored to stop this practice by drafting contracts with harsh penalties for leaks. A leak to the public earned one offender a $150,000 fine for each title leaked.
Viewers themselves are being robbed of seeing the full creative vision that is ruined by a lesser quality production, according to the MPAA. It is in this way that those looking to stop bootleggers often find counterfeit versions. Another way to determine if an item is a bootleg is if it has not even been released in theaters yet. Make no mistake, even with all the advances in viewing technology, very few home experiences can outdo those found at your local movie theatre.
Bootleggers operate for different reasons and not necessarily always interested in making a profit. For example, some are seeking to counter moratoriums placed on titles by movie studios like Disney which limits official sales. This tends to raise the demand and limit the supply in a superficial manner which can add to profits for the company involved. This can create a certain amount of animosity toward the studio and result in people trying to find any copy-bootleg or not-of the affected title. Titles which are out of print or have never been released also are likely to draw the attention of bootleggers.
We all need to pitch in to stop these activities that are harming movie theaters. Residents of New Hampshire are asked to contact 1-800-NO COPYS (1-800-662-6797) if they observe acts of bootlegging.