It Was an Inside Job

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A fascinating new study on the “Analysis of Security Vulnerabilities in the Movie Production and Distribution Process” by AT&T researchers find that:

    Unauthorized copying of movies is a major concern for the motion picture industry. While unauthorized copies of movies have been distributed via portable physical media for some time, low-cost, high-bandwidth Internet connections and peer-to-peer file sharing networks provide highly efficient distribution media. Many movies are showing up on file sharing networks shortly after, and in some cases prior to, theatrical release. It has been argued that the availability of unauthorized copies directly affects theater attendance and DVD sales, and hence represents a major financial threat to the movie industry. Our research attempts to determine the source of unauthorized copies by studying the availability and characteristics of recent popular movies in file sharing networks. We developed a data set of 312 popular movies and located one or more samples of 183 of these movies on file sharing networks, for a total of 285 movie samples. 77% of these samples appear to have been leaked by industry insiders. Most of our samples appeared on file sharing networks prior to their official consumer DVD release date. Indeed, of the movies that had been released on DVD as of the time of our study, only 5% first appeared after their DVD release date on a web site that indexes file sharing networks, indicating that consumer DVD copying currently represents a relatively minor factor compared with insider leaks.

Yes, so certainly consumers should be forced to bear the inconvenience and value-reduction of copy-protected DVDs when 77% of the problem stems from insiders. No wonder the MPAA is so worked up about the screeners – they can’t trust their own people.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • jadester

    well DUH
    i am surprised it took them this long, and that they had to employ some other company to do it for them, to find this out.
    I would argue that filesharing of films does not make a significant cut in sales of dvds and cinema tickets though – all of the people i know who download films know the best way is to see them at the cinema. They also buy plenty of dvds (except of films they find are crap). maybe this is what the movies industry is *actually* scared of (i have a similar theory when it comes to pc games) – there’s so much crap out there that if the industry is to survive they need to sell plenty of the crap as well as the good stuff. With filesharing, people get to see whether a film is crap or not, and if it’s bad enough everyone will think it’s bad and not worth seeing at the cinema/buying on dvd.

  • Eric Olsen

    J, I agree that this isn’t a big problem, will not be a big problem until the technology improves quite a bit, and still won’t be a problem with theater attendance, but I can see it eventually cutting in to DVD and pay-per-view revenues at some point. DRM is still a stupid idea, though.