By Ben Thomson, Staff Writer
Last year, I decided to buy the film Oldboy directed by Park Chan-wook. Remarkably, the film is one of many that isn’t available to stream or purchase on any platform in the U.S. Since I wanted to support Chan-wook, I opted to purchase the Blu-ray. Upon its arrival, I quickly discovered that I was not able to watch the film on my Blu-ray Player because it was region locked.
Region locking is the act of restricting a DVD’s ability to be played on any device manufactured outside of the region (an arbitrary collection of countries) it was produced in. It’s a practice done to prevent products from being bought at a lower price and to slow down piracy.
Well, needless to say, I torrented a copy of Oldboy for myself.
Many of us know that, in the grand scheme of things, internet piracy (the act of illegally downloading copyrighted material) is not an unforgivable crime. At the very least, it’s not nearly worthy of the five-year prison sentence pirates face if caught in the U.S.
But in the current digital hell we find ourselves in today, piracy has proven itself to be the only reliable means of accessing art. The fact of the matter is, pirates have consistently provided a better, easier way to find whatever we want, whenever we want.
It seems like the film industry goes out of its way to make their product as inconvenient to own as possible. The dirty little secret is you can’t buy anything digitally. Everything available on iTunes is there for consumers to license, not purchase. Theoretically, a movie studio can tell Apple to remove any movie, song, etc. from your library whenever they please. Amazon, too. In fact, every digital media store operates under this model.
Even streaming services operate that way. Ever wonder why your favorite movies and TV shows leave Netflix? You may pay to use their product, but you don’t own it. And more often than not, you’re paying for an inferior version of their product.
Many technical sacrifices are made to bring movies to streaming. In order for movies to be streamed optimally, the picture and sound quality is compressed to a small, manageable size to not overload the servers. But, this results in a lower picture and sound quality. The two best bets for quality viewing are piracy or physical media.
The biggest argument against piracy is how it financially impacts distributors. If you’re not paying for their product, they’re not making any money and eventually won’t be able to make any more of said product.
However, we live in a capitalist society and need to play by the capitalist rulebook. And in the game of capitalism, the service offering the more desirable product outlasts their inferior competitor. If studios want to make it this difficult to access a worse version of their product, then it’s a pirate’s life for me.
By the way, Transmission is my go-to torrenting client.