Pride and piracy
By Hans Pura
Last updated 01:05am (Mla time) 02/22/2007
I HAVE always known that buying pirated videodiscs is a crime. But because of the outrageous prices of movie tickets, buying bootleg copies of movies seems to have become socially acceptable. What used to be an embarrassing act is now being done by every Tom, Dick and Harry. Sometimes I see priests and even celebrities buying DVDs from the local dealer.
But who can blame them? Why spend P120 to watch a movie once when you can pay P50 to watch the same movie as many times as you want, at your convenience and in your own home? Why buy an original copy of a movie for P800 when you can buy an 8-in-1 DVD for P50?
We Filipinos are a pragmatic people. Many will say that the practical way to watch movies is through piracy. They seem to have a point. Why would a student like me buy original DVDs? I only get money by asking my parents and I'm surely not going to throw it away by buying overpriced products.
It's not surprising that the sales of original DVDs have dropped due to the proliferation of movie pirates. But what surprises me is that original DVD producers haven't done a thing to reverse the trend. If pirates can sell DVDs at affordable prices, can't the DVD producers do the same thing? If pirates can sell a DVD for P50, then I'm sure legitimate producers can also sell it at a price that is much lower than P800, considering that most movies make a lot of money.
Remember that infamous commercial, the one comparing stealing someone's things to buying pirated discs? The advertisement was meant to make you feel guilty. Its message was that the "legal" way to watch movies is going to the cinema.
Well, I have been doing just that for years already. I shell out a couple of hundred pesos a week just so I could watch current movies the "legal" way. I also make sure that I don't buy pirated DVDs of movies currently being shown in theaters.
But given the quality of movies being shown recently, I have been wondering whether to still watch movies in the theaters. Is it worthwhile to spend P100 to watch a non-substantial movie when I can just buy a DVD and give the difference to my church? It won't hurt the movie producers anyway since most bad movies make all the money.
I have been waiting for a certain movie musical ever since it started playing in the United States last Christmas. I wanted to watch it even more when it recently won the Golden Globe for best picture. It is the most-talked about movie in the United States and it still hasn't been shown here. But do you know that I can buy a clear copy of it anywhere where pirated DVDs are sold?
A large sum of money could have been earned by local theaters if only they had shown the movie before it was pirated. If I haven't bought a copy, it is not only because I'm supporting the movie but also because I love the movie industry. I am a movie enthusiast and movies are for me, the highest form of art. They are not just moving pictures but are also inspirations. I am not going to kill them by supporting pirates.
Stopping piracy is going to be tough. The entertainment industry must first convince the people to stop tolerating piracy. I know it looks impossible, but it can be done. They have started showing anti-piracy commercials but those efforts are futile. They should pursue the campaign by lowering the prices of movie tickets in theaters. Filipinos love to watch movies, but many have stopped going to the cinemas because it has become too costly. But if they can afford to watch movies again, then they will probably go to the theaters more often.
It would also help if Hollywood movies were brought to Manila faster. Nothing beats watching movies in a comfortable theater with a big screen.
But as soon as the entertainment industry is done with its job, the citizens should do the rest. We must never tolerate any form of piracy. We must work together to prevent the movie industry from dying.
Hans Pura, 17, is a senior at De La Salle Zobel.
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