Movie PiratesWith no disrespect to the very serious issue of life-threatening, high-seas piracy off the coast of Somalia, movie studios have been dealing with their own version of piracy for many years now. True, no lives have been lost, but the economic costs have mounted into the billions, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, and no viable solution has been put forth to discourage individuals from illegally downloading and sharing movies, nor has any real progress been made to keep people from selling pirated DVDs on the streets and in shops. But what if studios rewarded people for not pirating movies?

According to This Blog Is Not Yet Rated, Twitter user Amanda Music wondered: "Ugh WHY IS ADVENTURELAND NOT ON TORRENTS YET?" The US distributor for Greg Mottola's Adventureland is Miramax Films, and they've been actively seeking out Tweets about the movie, as evidenced in their response to Amanda: "Cmon Amanda, don't do it. #adventureland #fbi." Amanda replied: "Okay I won't, JUST FOR YOU," prompting Miramax to respond: "Thanks Amanda. In return, I have a free Fandango card for 2 tix if you're interested in Adventureland. Just DM us for the code."

Score one for Miramax doing a good thing, but I don't recommend deluging them or any other studio with Tweets suggesting that you'll illegally download movies if you don't get a free ticket. What it points to, though, is that studios need to have greater incentives for people to get up from their computers and go to a theater.

As the recent Wolverine brouhaha showed, it's just too easy to find torrents nowadays. I think studio marketing focuses so much on the movie itself, that it ignores the communal experience of going out with your friends to have a good time. You don't get that staring at a muddy camcorder recording on your laptop in the solitude of your room, even if you have two or three buddies over to stare at it with you.

Movie marketing that reminds potential downloaders of the advantages of seeing movies in theaters could help battle piracy. My personal feeling is that many downloaders are simply curious about the movie, without any real interest in paying to see it in a theater, no matter how good it is. Others feel like they're "sticking it to the man," or that movie tickets are too expensive, or they no longer enjoy the moviegoing experience. And there's that small percentage that seeks to profit by selling pirated copies.

Studios could reward moviegoers with a discount on a purchase of that movie on DVD or Blu-ray, or maybe some kind of reward system that gives away a free ticket after submitting proof of purchase of a certain number of movies distributed by the studio, similar to what theater chains offer. I think Universal has offered a discount on movie tickets with the purchase of selected DVDs, and other studios have done this too.

What are your ideas for reducing illegal downloading and movie piracy? Do you think it's too big a problem to ever put a dent in it? Do you download movies and resent being called a criminal or a pirate?

[ via TorrentFreak ]