If you download movies, Sex and the City 2 is your fault.

We’ve all been there, cruising through youtube trying to check out the new Ke$ha Arcade Fire music video. You’ve finally found the appropriate thumbnail and click it, expecting to hear Win Butler’s angelic but tortured voice when BAM – “This video has been removed due to a copyright claim by…”. There is little in this world that causes me greater anger (only WSPA or Doctors Without Borders activists that prey on my white guilt from downtown street corners rank higher). Youtube works hard at keeping these recording and movie industry giants appeased, and who can blame them? I sure wouldn’t want a multi-million dollar lawsuit on my hands. Youtube is only the start of the internet’s never-ending battle with copyright.

Downloading music started out as a nerd’s domain, and before Napster came along the record companies believed that it was a passing phase and that piracy would disappear. When the record companies (and artists, like Dr. Dre, Gene Simmons and Lars Ulrich) got wind that more and more people were using Napster and getting music for free they immediately launched into a well-funded campaign not only to shut Napster down, but attempted to prosecute every person that downloaded so much as a byte of their music. It doesn’t stop with the music industry, the movie business is no better. Producers of the Oscar-winning movie The Hurt Locker intend to sue every single person that shared their movie online.

I’d like to come right out and say it, the movie industry and the music industry are two entirely different beasts. When it comes to movies, once someone has seen the movie, they aren’t likely to go see the movie in theatres. In the music industry however, many bands gain fans and ticket sales by releasing their music online – just look at how popular Myspace music has become. Even Facebook can’t brag about providing the same exposure. I spoke with a friend in the movie industry who is an outspoken critic of pirating movies. He claims that by pirating movies, production companies are less likely to take a chance on bankrolling an independent film with a new or original idea because if it appeals to a niche market, it’s more likely to be pirated. This leads the production companies to go with ‘safer’ movies (read: sequels, reboots and boardgame adaptations). While the notion of a magic 8-ball movie makes me want to squeeze all the vitreous gel from my eyes, I can understand how piracy is more of a hindrance to the movie industry than it is to the music industry.

What does it mean for me? Hell, I don’t know. If you download music and it turns out you really like it, make the effort to go see a show by that artist, buy their album, buy their t-shirt or a poster for that matter. If you download movies, do so knowing that you are partly responsible for this.

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