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Lean mean streaming machines

photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Taylor Wood, Granite Hills High School

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I know why you’re here. You read the headline and you’re checking to see if the NSA or the internet police is on your tail. Face it, we’ve all done it. According to a Variety article, the rate at which movies are illegally streamed via the internet, also known as “pirating,” has increased tremendously this summer versus last year.

So, to answer your question, yes and no. Yes, the sharing of content for profit without consent of the distributer is illegal and is hurting the film business, but no, there is no way to pinpoint and punish each and every consumer of pirated movies. No need to flee the country just yet.

Websites such as Putlocker profit from sharing content that isn’t theirs by hiding a barrage of ads on their sites. Sure, you don’t pay to see Terminator: Genisys because you were too wary to see it in theaters, but if you click the wrong play button, three extra tabs appear that sends you rushing for the exit button.

Nevertheless, you find the right one, and there’s a CGI version of our former governor on your screen. What you may not know, however, is that these sites profit every time you click on the wrong spot. It’s similar to the banner ads that you see on the tops and sides of web pages. Every time someone clicks, whether they buy the product or not, the site where you were in the first place profits.

There’s not really a good way to identify the people that run such “rings” as Forbes writer Nelson Granados calls it, as if the product was an illegal drug. Recently, one of the sites, called “MovieTube,” was sued by the U.S. Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Granados writes that “The complaint had to be filed against non-specific defendants (John and Jane Does and XYZ Corporations) because many MovieTube pirate sites operate under proxy registration surrogates, which makes it difficult to identify them.”

Right after the suit was filed, the people at MovieTube chose to remove all of their content.
In a world where there are 115 legal movie providers in the U.S. and there is still demand for pirating films, who’s to blame them. Out of 115 there are still selections that consumers want and can’t access on legal and inexpensive services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon.

While this mode of entertainment is easy and accessible (I Googled High School Musical 3 just last week, and a link to a pirating site was the fourth choice on the page), it’s hurting those who put hard work into the films themselves. Since streaming movies doesn’t cost the consumer anything, the money that would’ve gone to a costume designer, a makeup artist, or even a box office employee is never made.

This is especially a problem for independent films, which are produced and distributed outside of the major film studio system (such as Paramount or Warner Brothers). Their entire existence relies on investors or the pockets of the filmmakers themselves, and they aren’t receiving as much revenue as they could because of pirating.

No one’s going to get you in trouble for watching Titanic online because it was taken off of Netflix in August; however if you make a habit of it, or the business of pirating gets any bigger, you’ll be doing more harm than good.

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