That Thing Called Online Piracy

That thing called “didn’t they almost have it all”

A similar tale from a director friend: "A few days after the premiere of our first film, some reports had surfaced that digital pirates made their way to a copy and distributed it on sidewalks. It’s actually difficult to imagine how almost a year of hard work and sacrifices would just poof to nothing. The first course of action was of course to investigate. How could it be possible for someone to secure a copy of the film when it was not yet shown commercially? In our case, it was easy to deduct. The raw footage of the film were processed in a small production house in an upscale urban community. All the work needed to be accomplished was done in the same studio by the same team of three. I worked with them closely for three months and I fully trusted my post-production team. Needless to say, they were supposed to have been secured and could only be accessed by personal clearances. The next thing we did is to go around places where bootleg copies were said to have been hawked. Not one of the stalls or the immediate middlemen could confirm that a certain title had already been sold and purchased. The whole thing was indeed a hoax or a practical joke, whatever. It was not true at all. In any case, the whole scenario gave us enough paranoia to take extra care of our digital copies when it was finally shown in the theaters. We made sure that no piracy would ensue while the film was being projected on screen. It wasn’t that hard since there were only 7 cinemas to take care of. You’d say the film did not generate enough interest to warrant piracy, but I’d say until now people have been praying hard to get a copy, and the inquiry whether it’s going to be re-released has remained."

That thing called “that’s why it’s showing EVERYWHERE all of a sudden”

This week, news spread like wildfire that an independent film that is currently being shown in theaters has surfaced online. Since it has already been in theaters for almost two weeks, and is now officially the highest grossing independent Filipino film of all time, our first guess was the copies circulating online was sub-created using a lowly video camera. It is not. The copy is clearly ripped from the original DVD. Now, how is that possible? You can go back to the story posted above and compare the circumstances. Who could be liable? A few conspiracy theories come to mind but what happened is not just a theory but a real occurrence that as far as the producers are concerned - one that is hard to shake off.

The producer of the film, Bianca Balbuena expressed her frustrations on Facebook:

Meanwhile, actress Angelica Panganiban posted this on Twitter:

Here's the more interesting reaction yet:

And we can only relate to how she must have been feeling towards this sad turn. The film could have enjoyed more profit, especially since the film is sure gold for immediate DVD release, both locally and internationally. 

That thing called “pirates, who?”

Let’s admit what we can. We all have downloaded tv shows or movies on the internet one time or another. Mostly, because they are not locally available, or it is almost impossible to secure a copy legally. The thing about Filipino films, all sentiments included, the amount of difficulty cutting a distribution deal, from negotiations to staying alive in the theater, is no easy task, and definitely something you lose a lot of sleep over. If one just chooses to download and does not exert effort breaking their necks to see it in the theater or buy them in the record stores, it is not just plain stealing, but also killing an industry that struggles to survive. 

That thing called “what can be done?”

As I said, the first step is to investigate. How did this happen in the first place? There was clearly a breach, but the last thing one could do is to point fingers and assign blame. Since the cinema package has been circulated to over 100 exhibition venues, it is almost impossible to trace where the breach originated. Since it has already been posted online, the best way to get back to these “self-entitled” hacks is to report copyright infringement to the site (Google, Blogger, YouTube, Torrent Sites, Facebook, Twitter, etc). Keep an eye on and keep googling where else it could have been shared. While these do not guarantee 100% removal of the online file, it could at least reduce them.

During the Sony Pictures hacking fiasco, at least five films that had yet to be shown became available for download on torrent sites. Although, site managers heed to requests for links to be taken down, they have already been mirrored to other online storages. The idea is to remove the film from public sites that can be easily accessed and eventually reproduced.

We have seen Hollywood films survive having an early copy released online so all is not lost. For the Filipino viewing public: Please support Philippine cinema. Magbayad ka naman!

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  1. Anonymous2/19/2015

    Grabe lang yung nagpopost sa twitter at facebook na may picture pa ng pinirata nila.



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