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Major Studios Team Up to Fight Piracy ...

Old 11-08-07, 06:33 PM
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Major Studios Team Up to Fight Piracy ...

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Major studios team up to fight piracy in China
Written by Clifford Coonan
Thursday, 08 November 2007
Story Categories: Animation, China, DVD, Film, Hollywood In Asia, People, Piracy, Video home entertainment, Warner,

Warner Bros., Paramount and DreamWorks are teaming to battle piracy in China, the world's largest market for illegal DVDs.

Under the deal, unveiled Wednesday in Beijing, the trio will sell new international titles for $2.95 through the joint venture CAV Warner Home Entertainment, in some cases with a window of as little as two months after a movie's U.S. theatrical release.

Industry sources said other studios could join Warner's distribution network "within the next year or 18 months."

Deal is part of an effort to build a market for low-cost legitimate products in the potentially huge Chinese market. Some 3 billion discs were sold in China last year, and the market is worth some $2.5 billion, but only a tiny fraction of that was spent on legitimate DVDs, so the studios are keen to make their mark.

The first DVD rolled out was "Transformers," which is the biggest film in Chinese theaters this year and the second biggest of all time after "Titanic." Disc went out Nov. 1. "Shrek the Third" is next up, set for release Nov. 28.

"Warner has demonstrated that securing key retail outlets in China is necessary to supplant pirated content with legitimate product to fight piracy in the market," Paramount Home Entertainment prexy Dennis Maguire said at the news conference.

Next year's releases through Warner in China will include "Iron Man," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and "Bee Movie," he said.

DVDs released under the deal in China will have the earliest release and lowest price in any market in the world, making them attractive alternatives to lower-quality pirated products, said Philippe Cardon, prexy of Warner Home Video Intl.

"This agreement will have a big impact on the development of a legitimate DVD market. It further strengthens our value proposition to readily provide inexpensive, quality DVDs, which appeal to consumers who are used to purchasing cheap, pirated products," he said.

Warner launched the CAV Warner sales network in 2005 to fight piracy by selling bargain-priced DVDs and now has 20,000 outlets in 50 cities and has sold some 400 titles.

The outlets include international retailers such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour, plus Chinese state-owned bookstore chain Xinhua and many local retail outlets served by wholesalers, said Tony Vaughan, the Shanghai-based managing director of CAV Warner. Chinese versions of Amazon.com are another way forward.

"Our way of fighting piracy is to make sure the Chinese consumer gets the film before anyone else. Having two more Hollywood studios gives us much more critical mass," Vaughan said.

Beijing has increased penalties for product piracy and stepped up enforcement under foreign pressure. The U.S. government has complained about China's record on intellectual property rights to the World Trade Organization.

Pirates can get DVDs on the street within hours of a pic's release abroad and months before a legitimate DVD is available. They sell for as little as 68. The Motion Picture Assn. estimates that more than 90% of DVDs in China are pirated, costing Hollywood studios $244 million and Chinese studios $2.4 billion in lost potential B.O. in 2005.

Studios are thinking creatively of ways to beat the pirates. For example, many people want to buy legitimate children's DVDs to avoid tears when the disc doesn't work or doesn't include all the extra features. Specially packaged gift sets and box sets are also popular.

Studios have also learned to be quick on their feet. When a low-quality pirate version of "Happy Feet" hit the market, Warner Bros. brought out a legitimate version quickly to meet an obvious need. Warner is also working on establishing a legal download system.
Not sure if this is the correct forum but there it is ..

Anyway, just curious about thoughts on this. $3.00 - I have a feeling this is going to do very little. Will gains these studios make in sales offset the true mark ups they will be losing? What kind of quality can the consumer really expect?

I realize that these days with specials, Columbia House deals, etc., etc. ... if one is willing to hold out, one can get these films within close proximity to that $3.00 price point, but that is typically quite a lot longer than release day ... never mind the quickness with which these studio may intend to release to China. But I'm sure we R1'ers will continue to see premium prices! -- ok, I'll dump the selfish bit.

Lastly, if they tighten the release window in China between cinema and DVD releases, I wonder if this would have any impact on the current market. The rest of the world is what, 3-6 months? If the studios are popping these out in China weeks after a film ends its cinema run, will the import market pick up?

...or at this stage of the game, is this news a moot point considering the download and HD markets?
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Old 11-08-07, 06:55 PM
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$3.00 releases and they come out right after the movie is out of theatres? I wish the U.S. had a piracy problem.
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Old 11-08-07, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by PopcornTreeCt
I wish the U.S. had a piracy problem.
Right, because it doesn't.
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Old 11-08-07, 10:08 PM
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Ohhh...I thought they were teaming up to fight overpaid execs...
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Old 11-08-07, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Seantn
Right, because it doesn't.
Depends on how you define problem. I would say compared to most countries the piracy here is very small.
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Old 11-08-07, 11:52 PM
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What's wrong with pirates???? Aaaaarrrggggggg!!!!!

Anyway, I think it's time to start bringing my video camera to the movies more often.
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Old 11-09-07, 05:48 AM
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You will never be able to find legit retail copies of top flight movies like Transformers on sale in this country for $3. The only thing you will find at that price are bargain basement junk and public domain titles.

True, if you join a video club, obligating yourself to buy other titles, you can get a handful of titles at low prices and then you still have to pay shipping. Or you can buy used.

The studios are sending a terrible message to the public (what little public that is aware of this). It's saying that crime pays, just like a store "fighting" shoplifting by lowering its prices in the hopes people won't steal any more.

The way you limit cheap quality bootlegs is to put pressure on the Chinese government to do something about it, not by rewarding the patrons of low quality bootlegs by giving them prime merchandise at sub-bargain-basement prices.
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Old 11-09-07, 06:38 AM
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Phew. For a moment, I thought they had come up with a yet another ham-handed copy protection scheme that does more harm to consumers than pirates.
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Old 11-09-07, 07:43 AM
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Amazon, eBay and Half's servers will crash due to all the extra listings.
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Old 11-09-07, 09:46 AM
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Everyone will want a region free DVD player.

Later

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Old 11-09-07, 10:26 AM
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I would not be surprised if these DVDs are non-anamorphic, have burned-in subtitles, and have no features (obviously). Still, the "official" DVDs are a good 3 to 10 times higher in price than what a pirated DVD costs on the streets.
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Old 11-09-07, 11:43 AM
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So let me get this straight. The movie studios are going to sell new release dvds for $3 to china and still make a profit on them and all the while they will continue to sell them to the american buyers for $15 each? Can someone explain to me why this makes sense? The China bootlegs will still come into this country and still sell for cheap prices at flea markets and ebay, what good is this going to do for Americans?
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Old 11-09-07, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Silverscreenvid
You will never be able to find legit retail copies of top flight movies like Transformers on sale in this country for $3.
I have at pawn shops.
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Old 11-09-07, 02:09 PM
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The problem in the U.S. is that in the inner city is where you can buy a dvd of a movie that is in theaters for $10. It used to be crappy quality but have improved in the last few years. I saw one of 2007 HALLOWEEN were it was in widescreen, but had a disclaimer thru out the movie. The pirate market seems to be supported from low-income people who would not go pay to see a movie for $7 a person. The studios should sell dvds in full-screen with no chapter search or extras for $5 on the day a movie opens. This would put out the pirates and would not hurt your average movie goer from going to see the movie or waiting to buy the widescreen dvd.
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Old 11-09-07, 03:33 PM
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I have at pawn shops.
yeah no kidding

i get dvd's all the time for $2-5 at pawn shops.

you can find some amazing deals.
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Old 11-09-07, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Mister Peepers
I have at pawn shops.

I said legitimate retail copies. I also said you could buy them used.

I've bought used at pawn shops, second hand stores or on ebay for bargain prices. And in those cases, you pay your money and you take your chances.

And even there, it's usually months after release before you can find a prime title like Transformers at a price like $3.
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Old 11-09-07, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Silverscreenvid

The studios are sending a terrible message to the public (what little public that is aware of this). It's saying that crime pays, just like a store "fighting" shoplifting by lowering its prices in the hopes people won't steal any more.
What?

It's exactly how you fight piracy, you compete. There's no teaching morals in the marketplace, it's every man for himself.

Originally Posted by Silverscreenvid
The way you limit cheap quality bootlegs is to put pressure on the Chinese government to do something about it, not by rewarding the patrons of low quality bootlegs by giving them prime merchandise at sub-bargain-basement prices.
I'm reminded of the RIAA's draconian lawsuits against little kids and grandmothers, where they sue them thousands of dollars for downloading songs. What does it teach? That the RIAA is a bunch of jerks and you need to make sure they can't find your download sites.



There are people that just don't care if their bootleg comes from a shakycam and has tops of peoples' heads showing, they just want a cheap movie, and this means the studio will get some of that money instead of the pirates.
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Old 11-10-07, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by milo bloom
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There are people that just don't care if their bootleg comes from a shakycam and has tops of peoples' heads showing, they just want a cheap movie, and this means the studio will get some of that money instead of the pirates.

If the people who are selling the bootlegs find themselves spending a few years in a Chinese prison as a result, they may start to care a bit.
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Old 11-10-07, 10:58 AM
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Well, I say good for the studios for getting smart. (Hopefully, they'll realize that they need to do the same thing everywhere in the world.) I don't know if they can ever defeat the bootleggers of China but this is their best shot. All this anti-copy crud they've been focused on is simply a waste of invested dollars for them as it will always be circumvented by the bootlegging pros. And I hope the record labels take note and begin to realize they need to lower the cost of CDs and downloads too.
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Old 11-10-07, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Silverscreenvid
If the people who are selling the bootlegs find themselves spending a few years in a Chinese prison as a result, they may start to care a bit.
Not so much. There are lots of poor people in China for whom the risk of a few years in prison is a good trade-off for the opportunity to make 10x to 100x their yearly income otherwise.

Anyway, I wanted to mention that some studios have already been doing exactly this in the Russian market. Fully legit, low-cost, no-frills R5 discs with either burned-in/non-disableable subs or russian-only soundtracks have been made widely available there for well over a year now. Presumably the tactic is working if they are now extending it to China too.
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Old 11-10-07, 12:16 PM
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Even if I don't like the idea of pirates being rewarded I'm glad the studios are wising up a bit and trying a new approach. I'm not sure how much of an impact it will have, pirates could just as easily start selling their bootlegs for cheaper than $3 to counter the studios, but it's obvious that something needs to be done differently here.
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Old 11-10-07, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Silverscreenvid
If the people who are selling the bootlegs find themselves spending a few years in a Chinese prison as a result, they may start to care a bit.
Jah-Wren made a good point, but I also wanted to point out this is the same tactic our dear US government uses in it's war on drugs and we see how well that's turned out, now haven't we?

The idea of a possible punishment just doesn't affect people. They simply need to have a different thought process in regards to what copyright law means to the common consumer.
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Old 11-10-07, 01:24 PM
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Won't this just cause DVD Rips to end up on the internet even closer to a film's release and just make piracy worse?
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Old 11-10-07, 02:10 PM
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See, this is frustrating to someone like me who doesn't own a single burned DVD in my entire collection; of which I typically pay $25+ per title.

Whats basically happening here is the studios are admitting that even at $3 per disc, there's still money to be made for them. Not to mention they're essentially 'rewarding' that region's piracy by offering out films exceptionally quick and at rock-bottom prices. It's a pretty big slap in the face to me, and most people on this forum, I would think.

If ever I needed a reason to embrace piracy, I now have it. If we all started buying into pirated DVDs and the like, studios locally would also pull their greedy heads out of their asses and stop trying to rip us off with their usual 1000% markup.

We're essentially being screwed, swindled and punished for being law-abiding.
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Old 11-10-07, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Swahili
If we all started buying into pirated DVDs and the like, studios locally would also pull their greedy heads out of their asses and stop trying to rip us off with their usual 1000% markup.

We're essentially being screwed, swindled and punished for being law-abiding.
The studios own the movie. That means that they have the right to determine for how much they will sell it for, whether it's marking it up 1%, 100%, 1000% or whatever. How much did Picasso "mark up" his paintings when he sold them for? After all, the cost of the paint and canvas was only a few dollars.

No one has to have a movie or an album. It's not like a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk. If you think the movie costs too much, don't buy it. If enough people refuse to buy it, the cost will come down.

Everyone involved in the creative process loses on bootlegs: the studios, the performers, the writers, the directors.
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