Wibu-Systems Blog

What The Avengers tell us about piracy protection.

Posted by John Browne on May 14, 2012 10:23:00 AM

An interesting article on torrentfreak caught my eye. They argue that the data shows that Disney's freakout over a camcopy of The Avengers hitting the torrent sites would kill boxoffice sales. Yet Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, et al are boffo boxoffice, smashing records like Thor's hammer smashing heads.

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The logic, according to torrentfreak, is that the camcopy doesn't kill sales because the experience of seeing the movie in the theater is so different than watching a camcopy downloaded via bittorrent. They argue that based on the DL numbers, even if all the 100,000 people in the US who downloaded the camcopy had bought a movie ticket that would only boost revenue .05%.

The Grateful Dead   Collage Poster C10314578I don't have any data on the lost sales (and frankly their math doesn't hold up to close scrutiny) but part of their logic is reasonable: camcopies are the theatrical equivalent to bootleg concert tapes. They are the domain of the fanboy, the collector, and the curious. Switching to music, who has the most bootleg tapes in the universe? Deadheads. And who went to the most Grateful Dead concerts? Yep, those same Deadheads.

Don't get me wrong, copying is copying. But Disney getting its tightywhities in a knot because of a camcopy? I bet if they had released TA in the US first instead of overseas the number of DLs for the camcopy would have been seriously lower. People need their fix.

So what has this got to do with piracy protection? Just that there's piracy and then there's piracy. Physical media can bring an extra dimension to entertainment that's not easily duplicated with software. Windows is Windows; Photoshop is Photoshop. A camcopy of TA is not the same as playing hookie sitting in an ice-cold movie studio on a hot day with a gallon of Dr. Pepper and a box of Jujubees looking at a 10 foot tall Hulk.

Any clown with a camcorder and a backpack can make a copy of The Avengers. But watching it will be a poor second to seeing the real deal. Software, on the other hand, needs piracy protection. Not just to protect the publisher (which is important), but to protect the consumer, too, and make sure that downloaded app isn't a trojan horse for some really nasty malware.

Topics: Anti-piracy, software piracy