Movies Taking a Page From Music Piracy Handbook

Now that the Oscars are in the books, and off the red carpet, some in Washington are beginning to ponder the future of movies.
Robert Atkinson, who heads the Washington-based think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, talked recently about the threat to the movies from piracy. With movies, music and even e-books available online for free with one illegal computer click, Atkinson said the implications for Hollywood’s bottom line – and our entertainment pleasure — are enormous.
“If we see the spread of piracy to movies, the way we have seen it to music, in both developed and developing nations, the result is likely to be significant changes in the American movie industry,” he said. “American movies will start to resemble European movies in the sense that the amazing, and expensive, special effects … are likely to diminish,” he said.

“So instead of a great Tom Cruise action blockbuster, we are more likely to see more ‘Sideways.’”

To protect the big budgets that produce the big movies, officials at the Motion Picture Assn. of America are launching a program to send warning letters to consumers who download films illegally. Patterned after a similar program by the Record Industry of America Assn., the idea is to compel consumers to act legally and pay a modest fee for their online movies.

“If it looks like we’re trying to stop people from getting material on their sites, it’s not compatible with this new generation of users,” MPAA Chief Dan Glickman said recently. “We have to affirmatively give them the option to find things out there reasonably priced.”