October 21, 2003

Insiders Fuel Internet Movie Piracy

The movie industry has long claimed that piracy on the Internet is largely the result of digital video cameras in movie theaters and copies of commercially available DVDs. As the argument goes, copies of recent movies obtained from video cameras are of poor quality and thus of little use to the discerning moviegoer. The industry further claims that lost sales due to pirated versions of commercially available DVDs are significantly impacting their profitability. The argument being circulated in legislative circles states that more must be done to protect the industry from unethical elements of the general public.

A recent study conducted at AT&T Research seems to cast movie piracy in a different light. The study found that high quality (e.g., DVD) copies of movies are showing up on file sharing networks shortly after, and in some cases prior to, theatrical release. In one of the more surprising results, 77% of these samples appear to have been leaked by industry insiders. Indeed, of the movies that had been released on DVD, only 5% first appeared after their DVD release date. This indicates that consumer DVD copying currently represents a relatively minor factor compared with insider leaks. The study concludes with a brief analysis of the movie production and distribution process and offers recommendations for reducing vulnerability to insider threats.

Posted by Patrick McDaniel at October 21, 2003 07:31 AM