On Saturday January 6th I told a friend to look out for the movie Django Unchained and to watch it when it comes to Singapore.
On Monday afternoon January 7th he messaged me to say that he has downloaded it free online and was watching it. He even commented that “the quality is very clear” and that “the movie is good, being a Tarantino movie.”
I have never downloaded a free movie or a free piece of music or a free book or software. As a creator of intellectual property myself, I believe that when people spend millions to make a movie, it is only right that we pay to watch it. I understand that Django Unchained cost US$100/- million to make and The Hobbit (by Peter Jackson) is said to have cost US$300/- million to produce.
When I was a young man starting out, my dad warned me that if he ever sees me wearing an imitation Rolex or anything like that he would break my arms. My dad is principled and he meant it and I am convinced he taught me well.
I have strayed in many other areas of my life and I am no self-righteous moral beacon but I have never downloaded any pirated stuff, purchased pirated movies or used counterfeit goods.
Downloading free movies, music, books, software or buying replica Rolexes or fake Louis Vuittons – to me it’s all stealing.
People who steal have a thousand and one reasons why it is ok to do so.
But to me it is wrong.
To me, my friend downloading and watching Dhango Unchained, is stealing pure and simple. I asked him “If you spend money and time to write a book would you like it if someone puts a copy online for the world to download, effectively robbing you of the royalty that you rightly deserve?”
Note also that when movie producers don’t make enough from ticket sales because people like my friend are all downloading and watching their movies illegally – and without paying a cent – the end result will be the existence of really crappy and badly-made, under-budget movies in the future.
Bottom line: There is simply no excuse for anyone to steal. There is no justification. Downloading a movie from a torrent site or a “movie sharing” site is the same thing as going into HMV and putting a DVD or a music CD under your shirt and walking out with it.
It is stealing and when is stealing ok? Not only is the act morally reprehensible, it’s downright illegal. You do not have permission to make and distribute or to download unauthorized copies of a movie you do not hold the copyright to.
And don’t get me started on being a role model for your children, etc.
If you’re thinking of downloading (or uploading) the latest movies by Quentin Tarantino or Peter Jackson, pause and ask yourself “Would I steal their wallets?” And if the answer is no, then please don’t steal their movies.