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Content Theft and the People Who Make the Movies
Author:  Jessica Garcia
Date:  08/25/2011

Imagine going to work for a full day but only receiving half a paycheck. That hardly seems fair, right? You put in the hours, you did your job – you deserve to receive your full paycheck. 

But for many people who work in motion pictures, the rampant theft of films, TV shows, and other creative content online means it doesn’t always work that way. 

Take 127 Hours, for example.  This film, an Academy Award nominee for Best Motion Picture of the Year and numerous other honors, was seen at least 9.4 million times at the box office around the world based on data from Rentrak Corporation and Box Office Mojo. But in 2011 alone, 127 Hours has been downloaded illegally 6.6 million times through BitTorrent and other key P2P applications, according to Peer Media Technologies.

The TV show Game of Thrones is another powerful example.  Game of Thrones was watched by 3.9 million people in the U.S. during its finale in June according to Nielsen Media Research – but illegally downloaded using BitTorrent and other P2P protocols 1.4 million times in the U.S. and 11 million times worldwide in 2011, Peer Media says.

Creating a film or television series requires a lot of time, money and labor. No creative work could reach completion without the collaboration of many people – including some you may not expect.  Truck drivers, caterers, dry cleaners, make-up artists, accountants, and so many more can all be part of keeping a production running effectively and making a great movie.

The film and television industry supports over 2 million American jobs, all dependent on movie and TV making, in ways big and small, to earn a living and support their families.  And often, most of the money that goes into paying those workers and helping them save for retirement comes not from the box office, but from what’s called the after market – sales of movies and TV shows online, on DVD, in syndication, and so on. 

So when someone downloads or streams a movie on an unauthorized site that pays nothing to the people who made the movie, instead of through a legitimate source, that means workers and their families end up with less. 

If the people who viewed 127 Hours or Game of Thrones by downloading illegally had watched in legitimate ways instead, just imagine what a difference that might have made.

When you think about content theft, consider this: every time you buy a theater ticket or DVD, or watch filmed entertainment from a legitimate, authorized source, you are helping to support more than 2 million workers involved in our industry.