“Borrowing” a Few Moments of Somebody Else’s Time

Help me understand. How can people who have cell phones that cost hundreds of dollars claim that they’re too broke to pay for the films they watch on those devices? How can people at any level of income justify watching pirated material?

My friend Michael Williams, an independent filmmaker based in Mississippi, is watching sales of his work suffer because pirates have put it on streaming sites. Michael is young, talented, and infectiously creative. Why is the electronic world so ambivalent about his well-being?

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24 Responses to “Borrowing” a Few Moments of Somebody Else’s Time

  1. Theresa Ho says:

    Laziness is one of the reason why people pirate movie. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to drive 30 minutes from my house, pay for an 11 dollar movie ticket, sit in a movie theater with a bunch of strangers, and not like the movie in the end. Another reason why people do it is money because going out to watch a movie averages out to be over 20 dollars if you go and buy snacks as well, not only that but time is at the essence. We have things to do and may not be able to spare over 2 hours to watch a movie.

  2. Liz Huynh says:

    The first reason for piracy, as many argued, is efficiency money-wise and time-wise. A study shows that people between the age of 18 and 29 are more likely to pirate with 29 percent of people in this age group compared to 19% in the general population. People in this age range are usually college students or graduate school students who have low income along with universities’ debt. Piracy is very cost efficient for a frugal lifestyle. However, another study showed that 29 percent of the people with an annual income above $120,000 pirate. These people utilize another form of efficiency: time. Movies and songs are usually not available as CDs for public purchase weeks after the theater release, and it takes a few more weeks after for it to be available to purchase online. Many would opt to pirate to enjoy the movie while they have free time. Piracy is also time efficient in that one can significantly reduce time spent going to the nearest Redbox or theater by accessing millions of free movies and songs from technology with WiFi at any time. Also, since the product is free, we can minimize the time selecting a movie or a song, because we won’t risk losing money over the bad product.
    Another benefit of enjoying free movies and songs, coming solely from an adolescence viewpoint, relates to society’s perception of appropriateness. The contents that today’s teenagers consider appropriate are significantly different from their parents. Many young adults are financially depended on their parents, so the student must notify their parents before spending money on entertainments. In a way, the free movies and songs represent young adults’ freedom.
    Furthermore, I believe that movies, songs, and literary works should be easily accessible and shareable because they are means of distributing knowledge. Having movies, songs, and books free will increase views because more people can afford it. These products show the audience many new points of views. Many movies are very informative and encourage empathy. Movies help the audiences relate to hardships that others go through or provide a new analysis of something common. Furthermore, making the movie free will increase the view of the products produced by beginning artists. Others will also feel inspired because they can relate to beginning artists easier than famous artists.
    Not just beneficial to the consumer, piracy can also be beneficial to the artist. By having their products available to a wide range of audience, the artist will receive more feedback, and if the product is appealing, the artist will gain popularity. The popularity will then open new opportunities for the young, aspiring artist.
    On the contrary, the wide availability of art may depreciate arts’ value because people won’t value the product as much when they get it free. Artists have to work for other producers instead of following their own ideas and path, which reduce diversity in arts. Furthermore, we have to consider the humanity point of view. Young artists usually pour all their passion into their products, and not many artists have the backings they need. Young artists, when releasing their products, only hope to generate enough profit for a living and continuing their passion. However, piracy dims any chance of profit, which worsens the young artists’ quality of life, eventually leading to the loss of passion. Popular names in Hollywood production also get affected by piracy. If a Hollywood producer spent billions of dollars to make a movie and then generated only half the amount of investment, would he or she continue to make new movies?
    I think that to balance out the interests of each side, consumers should opt for renting movies as often as they can. After watching a movie, even by pirating, consumers should purchase a copy of the movie if they enjoyed it to add to their personal library. Also, if consumers encounter a product of a beginning artist that they really liked, they should talk about the product to others with and encourage others to purchase a copy if they enjoyed it.

  3. Erin Davis says:

    If someone has enough money to buy an expensive smart phone they probably do have the money to buy what they watch on them. Or if they really are too broke to buy what they stream then they probably are in debt paying their cell phone bill because they saw a smart phone as a priority in life. But in most cases I feel that people might not realize the impact they make on someone’s career just by streaming it from a pirated website rather than buying it. Thinking about it if you’re just one person not buying it, then it’s not that big of a deal. But then that one person can add up quickly to a total number of people who watched it for free and illegally rather than just buying it in the first place. So I feel like people just don’t realize the impact they are having on others by not buying them.

  4. Lane Hughes says:

    There are two reasons people pirate movies: convenience and cost. Pirating a movie takes a lot less effort than getting in the car and driving to the movie theater however many miles away, paying for a ticket, buying drinks, finding seats, etc. It’s also much less cost-wise, because of paying for a ticket, paying for gas to get to the theater, paying for food, etc. While it is most definitely illegal, there isn’t much anyone can do to stop it except report it or keep their movies safe, which seems to be extremely irksome for the film makers themselves.

  5. Erin Williams says:

    The cost of phones, laptops, and movie tickets are all high. While phones and laptops are more costly than movie tickets, people often choose to spend the extra money on the phones and laptops. Some people believe that they are saving money by not buying movie tickets and watching pirated movies. I agree with both sides but I think you could get more use out of a phone than a movie ticket.

  6. Sabrina Solomon says:

    I think the main reason we choose not to pay for films is that we want to see them more than once. DVD players have long gone out of style, and streaming sites (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime) cost so much per month. We don’t want to commit a certain amount of money per month to only have time to watch one or two films. So, pirating films is the go-to option because they are free and at the touch of our fingertips.

  7. Nique says:

    When people buy phones we’re paying for something that we will have forever or at least long periods of time. Phones gives us excess to multiple sources , social media, and communication compared to a movie just being short time entertainment. Whereas, going to see a movie we’re paying at about $10 for a movie that’s only about two hours long. When buying pirated movies we can keep them as long as we want and watch them in the comfort of our own homes. At home there is food in the kitchen which keeps from having to deal with crazy movie theater prices for snacks.

  8. Khytavia Fleming says:

    It’s all about saving money. Let’s be honest we’ve all watched a movie online for free when in actuality we were suppose to have been paid to watch that particular movie. As my mom would say, “Use your head for more than a coat hanger”, which means be smart about the way you go around doing things. If you can find that same thing for free without paying for it, that’s money kept in your pockets. Furthermore, everyone is cheap in their own way. No one in their right mind wants to pay hundreds of dollars for a phone, but there’s no other way around it. It’s not like there’s an ad everywhere one goes saying “FREE PHONE”. In my opinion, if I have to pay hundreds of dollars on a phone, I’m going to watch free movies on it too. What’s the purpose of going to the movie theater spending more money when I can just watch it on my several hundred dollar phone for free.

  9. Alexz Carpenter says:

    I think it all has to do with convenience. Although pirating movies is very wrong, it is super easy to find them online and view them. It isn’t easy to find a free phone to steal. Why wouldn’t someone want to save money and see a movie for free that they can view on their phone instead of paying for it? They already had to pay for a phone that costs hundreds of dollars, so spending money on a movie that is around 10 dollars seems unnecessary when it is at one’s fingertips on the internet. Since pirating is so easy to do, it is very hard to punish and stop people from pirating entertainment. I am not condoning pirating, but I can see why so many people do it. The only way to fix this is to hold people accountable and punish them for this act. Like I said earlier, it is hard to do that and find every single person who has committed this crime. Once a system or something can be created to do this I believe piracy can be controlled.

  10. Annanesya James says:

    Convenience is key. Technology today is a major crutch for humanity, for example phones, mainly because it provides convenience. Now we have thousands of resources at our fingertips– literally. Making the trip to a movie theater, no matter how close or far, is less convenient than simply finding movie on a smart device. It’s also a lot more cost effective, for that moment at least. On average, the American adult went to 5 movies last year. The cost of a movie ticket has come to $8.43 as of 2015, therefore watching movies legally would come to the cost of $42.15 per year if these statistics stay constant. $42.15 barley makes a dent in the cost of a $700.00 phone. Also, not much thought is put into how producers, like your dear friend Michael Williams, obtain their money. The way American pirates see it, they’re not causing any harm; just simply watching another video on YouTube.

  11. Samantha Anderson says:

    I think although it does partially have to do with the monetary aspect, it is also a convenience factor. In most cases, it is so much easier to simply look up a movie or tv show from the comforts of your own home instead of going out either to theaters, Redbox, etc. You can watch while working on other things at your own pace unlike movie theaters which cut out a major chunk of time that could be used more productively. For example, instead of me going to the movie the do my work. Also, in terms of buying the film, many people only want to watch most movies once and probably never again. Another personal hindrance that causes me to pirate movies and shows is the fact the MSMS wifi does not allow Netflix due to the slow router. In this case, I am paying to legally watch someone’s work but can not due to current circumstances. None of this is to say that piracy is ok, but it is not without, in my opinion, moderately good reason.

  12. August Andre says:

    Some people with phones who claim to be broke are. In today’s society phones are a necessity so that students can check their twenty emails a day, contact their parents, and order food from Domino’s. My point being that phones are more useful than just for entertainment however big of a factor that may be. Being able to afford a phone doesn’t necessarily mean someone can afford something else. For example, let’s say I have $1000 and a phone costs that exact amount. I now have an expensive phone but have no money left to spend on leisure such as going to the movie theater.

    It is hard to justify watching pirated movies when you analyze your actions as theft. The problem today is that people don’t think of watching movies online as stealing. Consumers are more focused on the practicality of the matter. You can watch movies for free, in bed, whenever you want, and as many times as you would like to. In part, the average person (that watches pirated films) is not concerning themselves with Michael’s well-being. Many people pirate movies without knowledge of the morality of the matter or its negative effects on people’s lives.

  13. Sara Scott says:

    Of course piracy’s bad and extremely harmful and a form of theft. I disagree with it but I see how it’s so popular. As said by every other commenter, why pay for a film when you can find it so easily for free online? Unfortunately, our legal system is a long distance behind technology. Though it’s illegal, I’ve seen films pirated countless times, but I’ve never seen any punishment. I’m not condoning it by explaining how easy it is, but instead attempting to point out the fatal flaw in pirating, in that the only way to end it is to more carefully control what is published on the internet and end pirating websites. It’s of course a very serious and selfish crime, but the only way to end it is to actually enforce the laws banning it.

  14. Alex Jones says:

    It’s hard to get a free cell phone, but it’s easy to get digital material. This is one reason why almost everything digital can be pirated. It’s extremely easy to copy a movie because all it takes is copy and pasting an mp3 file and sending it over email or something of that nature. We can’t copy and paste a complicated electronic like a cell phone… yet. Maybe one day we’ll be able to 3d print or something of the like complicated electronics. Then piracy will be an even moreso prevalent crime, and many people will do it because they’ll be able to easier. Why steal a physical thing when you can just as easily steal digital things 10000x easier. My IQ is atleast 20 points lower after drinking flouridated water.

  15. Sophia Pepper says:

    One of the many reasons some people could believe that watching pirated films are acceptable are that they simply don’t see it as a true theft. For all that film is indeed a work of art, truly perhaps on of the most comprehensive realms of the art world, many people of my generation simply don’t view it as something to be treated with the same respect we would treat a painting, or even a digital photograph of a painting. We grew up with these fanciful moving pictures surrounding us, caring more about the people acting in them than what they were portraying, surrounded by advertisements for toothpaste or chips with a higher budget than we could ever really expect to make in our lifetime. With all of these around us, movies were never really shown as an art form, despite directors and actors being considered artists.

  16. Tija J. says:

    I think its many reasons why today’s people would buy a phone over a movie tickets is because they are aware that movies are somewhere out there free. People will go to wits end to find a free movie rather than paying for one. Personally, I sometimes don’t blame them. The cost movies nowadays are a bit pricey. (I watch most of my movies at the movie theater though) The question now is “spend $900 on a phone or $9 on a movie ticket?” While most Americans would gladly spend hundreds of dollars on the new iPhone, they realize that watching movies isn’t the only thing that can be done on the iPhone. At a movie theater you can only watch movies, but on a cellular device, you can do so much more. I’m not saying that that behavior is right, but that is what’s being done.

  17. Reagan Conner says:

    In this society, spending hundreds of dollars on a smartphone is something almost everyone does. Many feel smartphones are a necessity. Since most people have access to the internet and television from the smartphone in their pocket, more streaming options become available every day. While many people pay the monthly subscription to Netflix, it offers more TV shows than movies. In addition, it also doesn’t offer newly released movies or TV episodes. People feel the need to get the immediate satisfaction of knowing what is happening in their beloved TV shows and to know about the movie that everyone is raving about. One could simply google “watch ____ now” and there will be multiple search results that stream the content they wish to see. They don’t have to pay for it and they can watch it from their bed on their own time. Many often don’t realize how these actions affect those who make a living off of this content. Many also just don’t care.

  18. Ashley Nguyen says:

    The cost of a ticket is absolutely outrageous, but so are the prices of our phones and laptops. When we pay for the ticket, we can only watch one movie, but when we buy our phones we have the option to watch movies, play games, etc. I see both sides clearly, but i feel that we can get more use out of a phone, than a ticket.

  19. Indu Nandula says:

    On average, a typical ticket costs $8.12. Let’s say a person goes to 10 movies in a year. This amounts to approximately $81.20 per year. Or, if you want to go the other route and buy DVDs, the average cost per DVD equals about $15.00, with an added cost of a DVD player, which usually costs upwards of $80 for one of decent quality. That said, movies are becoming less and less available to many patrons. Subscriptions to streaming services annually cost many people about $96.00. With the technology available in this day and age, why spend so much on a purchasing the means of seeing a movie when you can just stream it for free on a device you already own? This is the logic of many people. When an individual comes across a means to achieve their goals for free, despite the risks, they are likely to take it. This is especially true regarding pirated websites. Movies can be found on such sites for free, which seems like a jackpot for the viewer, but what many people don’t know is that these websites pose serious threats to the entertainment industry. If this continues, the entertainment industry could end up not having enough profit to make new movies, resulting in dissatisfaction on both ends of the table.

  20. Piracy has been a concern since the idea of making money through the internet arose. Why would I pay $1.99 for an app on my expensive phone when I could get it for free? It is not because of the factor of instantaneous access when an app is considered because I could just buy the app from the App Store and get access to it within seconds. The reason most people decide to pirate is due to the “cheapness” of people, often the people who pirate are the people who are better off and can afford to pay for the app. If a person’s financial income can not support a $1.99 app then firstly, why do they have a smartphone and why can they not use an older generation phone and spend the money they saved on valuable items such as food or clothing? Piracy is a growing field and websites are only getting more and more prominent. If I was asked to name a pirating website that contains millions of dollars worth of material on there, I could instantly name one due to the growing awareness and the acceptingness of the entire act by the people who do not get affected by it. Although it may not hurt a writer such as J.K. Rowling, it sure will affect young, independent filmmakers such as Micheal Williams.

  21. Richie Andersen says:

    Piracy is a crime and in no way does this statement defend the use of piracy.
    As our world advances technologically, we are more and more used to having services provided to us instantaneously. This is known as instant gratification. But as a result of internet users being used to this, we find that “web surfers” have become increasingly insensitive to property rights and the weight that comes with it. The internet itself conveys a care-free place where anybody can get anything. Piracy has only improved that idea in the sense of obtaining whatever one so desires. In this era, people aren’t really worried about having money to purchase films and shows, but people nowadays think “why spend money when I can find it online for free?” To be quite frank, the internet is ruthless and merciless when it comes to the property of others. Only with a serious crackdown of piracy can this problem be reduced and the property of talented individuals become safe once again.

  22. Zion Hargro says:

    My cell phone costs $349. The average costs for a movie at the movie theatre is about, more or less than, $10. Why not watch a movie on a website FOR FREE on my expensive phone that I can go back to whenever I feel like it than pay to watch it in theatres? Sadly, that totally ruins the profit the actors, actresses, directors, produces, etc. make. In our generation with social networks like YouTube Reddit that allow us to watch movies and television shows for no price at all, and even with Netflix and Hulu where you can watch a selection of movies and televisions shows for around $10 a month. This payment is preferred by even the poorest of people because we can get what we want right then at that moment.

  23. The platforms are emerging fast; therefore, piracy has continued to increased. Technology is evolving more and more around cell-phones, so anyone that has a cell phone could possibly be declared independent by technological standards. As the cell-phone becomes more prevalent, it is easier for pirates to stream because everyone has to take a glimpse on their phone.

    The way people buy phones that causes thousands of dollars really grinds my gears; actually, the phone companies make you buy a new one by not allowing certain updates on past phones. For example, the iPhone 5s was a hit thing, but when the iPhone 6 and 6s hit the shelves, everyone complained about their phone messing up, forcing people to by the expensive iPhone 6. The people behind these technologies are forcing us to be corrupted and pay large sums of money for a phone.

  24. Kaelon McNeece says:

    We live in a world of instant gratification. With social media continuing to climb and platforms such as YouTube and Reddit giving users immediate entertainment for no price, people start to expect the same from the film industry. Society starts to expect the entertainment they desire immediately and cheap, and if they can’t get it, they can sometimes resort to other methods. For this reason, digital piracy is rampant not only in the film industry but in TV and the gaming markets as well. The blatant ignorance of law and the well being of content creators is what is currently tearing down developers, more significantly smaller, independent developers. Unfortunately, if the public focus remains on immediate entertainment and not on praising and support creators of brilliant content, piracy will only become more of an issue in the world’s digital age.

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