Local Cinemas Deserve Our Support

Bootlegging of movies may be at an all time high. 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.

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The industry faces some true hurdles in stopping bootlegging, in part because it can be done so easily; simply sneaking a camera into a movie theater. Each cam, the common phrase for such a bootlegged movie, only earns one ticket profit for theaters while multiple people are able to view it. Smaller and smaller cameras, like those in mobile phones, are making older bootleg-fighting tactics like banning bags from theaters futile. Night vision technology has been employed by some theaters in an attempt to catch bootleggers in the act of recording a film. Other cams are made from the projectionist booth itself, recorded by actual employees of the movie theater. This can offer advantages, such as unobstructed views, modified frame rates and improved audio which can be connected directly from the monitor output.

More easily obtained are rips and screeners. The ripping of DVDs is the use of software to extract a copy from officially licensed media-a rip. This is a quick means of reproducing a movie and the quality tends to be high. A screener (SCR) is an advance copy from studios which are used for production or promotional purposes and usually lacking finishing touches, generally "rough cuts" never meant for public viewing. 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. A Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) decision to address the problem has been to issue strictly binding contracts to strengthen privacy and attempt to limit advance copies. A leak to the public earned one offender a $150,000 fine for each title leaked.

Aside from monetary concerns, the creators behind a film often express that their creativity is being diminished by bootleggers. The quality does tend to be lessened in these releases, in packaging if not image or sound quality. Of course, finding a title for sale on the streets before the movie has even been released to theaters. It should go without saying, but some people need it to be said: the absolute best way to experience the highest quality film is in a local cinema.

Motivations to bootleg movies are more than just financially centered. When a title has a moratorium placed on its release, it limits the amount of time or the quantity during which it can be sold. This is a superficial means of invoking supply and demand economics which can drive sales. Removing the titles from store shelves for years at a time creates a vacuum which bootleggers are happy to fill. In a similar manner, limited run releases and movies that have yet to be released may lead can also attract the attention of bootleggers.

We all need to pitch in to stop these activities that are harming New Hampshire movie theatres. Residents of New Hampshire are urged to report bootlegging to 1-800-NO COPYS (1-800-662-6797).