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It’s no longer really surprising when a big Hollywood movie leaks online. It’s going to happen eventually, there’s no preventing it. Does it really hurt the movie industry? I’m convinced it doesn’t, in fact there’s a pretty big mountain of evidence out there which proves it doesn’t; but if you’re the movie industry you think it does, and if you think it does then there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about combating it.
Here’s the right way. Leak the first thirty-six minutes of your movie on to torrent sites in pristine, high-quality. Not only will it make it much harder for people to find full copies of the movie, since you’re flooding the internet with this partial copy, but the high-resolution quality of those 36-minutes when compared with the inevitably lower quality versions of the full movie floating around by legitimate pirates, will help illustrate to would-be downloaders why they should probably go buy a movie ticket rather than sitting there at their computer like a bunch of losers watching secondhand cell phone footage of the rest of the film.
That’s exactly what seemed to be happening earlier this week when 36-minutes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was leaked. The only thing is, Warner Bros. insists they had nothing to do with it. Talking to Wired the studio dismissed accusations that they were behind the leak by saying, “This was not leaked by the studio, Harry Potter is the most successful franchise in film history,” in response to the notion that this was their way of advertising the movie.
I don’t buy it. Sure they don’t need the advertising, but as a way to discourage piracy this seems to me a brilliant move. If Warner Bros. wasn’t really behind it, then my question is: Why weren’t you? It’s a much better methodology than suing little old ladies. This is the right way to go about it. Leave that 36-minutes out there.
Besides, if it wasn’t Warner Bros. then who’s behind the leak? Reportedly this is a high-quality transfer, which means the picture’s too good to come from your average pirate. Everyone’s quick to point to screener recipients, but how many of those are there really? Awards voters get screeners, it’s true, but those are increasingly rare and it seems pretty unlikely they’d have sent many of those out for Deathly Hallows, at least not until later this month. But if it were pirated by someone with a screener copy, then why didn’t they pirate the whole thing? 36-minutes smells like Warner Bros. to me. If it was you Warner Bros, well done. Sit up and pay attention Hollywood, WB knows what’s up. If it isn’t you WB, well, then next time maybe it should be.