The MPAA: Movie Cops on the Loose

Looks like the movie industry has been consuming too much of its own product: the studios think they're cops. Worse, they think they're rogue cops who've gone waaay off the reservation and still get to be the heroes. See, the MPAA -- as well as the RIAA, the recording industry group -- wants the right to legally lie to you, to anyone its own private investigators suspect of movie piracy, in order to catch you in the act. And we should trust the MPAA to be careful and honorable and honest in this endeavor because, well, it's always been so up-front about its other efforts on behalf of the studios, right? Like its ratings system. Oh, wait. As Kirby Dick showed us so entertainingly in This Film Is Not Yet Rated, the MPAA lies and deceives as a matter of course about its business, and has the interests of consumers as far from its collective mind as can be. Now, it's looking to cover its ass legally when it comes to matters -- like confronting movie pirates -- in which law enforcement might get involved.

It sounds like the plot of, well, a Hollywood thriller: Huge Multinational Corporations versus The Little Guy. The horror of it is rather buried in the calm business reportage of the Los Angeles Times article where I found this news, though fortunately, not so buried here is the prediction that the California state senate isn't likely to let the MPAA and RIAA get their way.

But it all really makes you want to take Hollywood aside and give it a smack. Are they kidding, wasting so much time and money on this? Instead of giving people what they want -- cheap, day-and-date DVDs of Hollywood films -- they're pouring effort into new formats, like Blu-ray and HD DVD, that are so unwanted that titles can sell as few as 880 copies a week and be considered bestsellers. How does this serve either consumers or the studios?

Look, theft of intellectual property is totally uncool. But the fact that movie piracy is so widespread means there's a demand there that the studios should be fulfilling. That's the only way to defeat the pirates: beat them at their own games.

Until Hollywood comes to its senses, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask for its gun and its badge. Go home and cool off, H-man.


MaryAnn Johanson

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Movie & TV Awards 2018