Music has Spotify, MySpace and iTunes, but what does film have? I’m talking about instant access to films in the style of music. At the moment a film is released at the cinema, then a few months later on DVD, with some films occasionally being released as a download on sites such as LOVEFiLM and iTunes. But these are usually big budget films. And if you can’t wait the four or so months until the DVD release, what do you do? You turn to The Pirate Bay.
Or at least you did. The Pirate Bay is still up and running, though this may not last with the founders currently serving jail time. So the industry appears to have won, but this probably won’t stop the hundreds of other torrent sites from continuing. It also won’t stop people downloading illegally. As students, we seem to justify our downloading habit as acceptable because we’re usually broke. If the industry were to change and make legal downloads available to buy and rent, it may have an impact on the way we get hold of films and programmes in the future.
The simultaneous release is what is being touted as the practical way to defeat illegal downloads. Mum and Dad, recently made by Nottingham filmmakers, became the first film to truly embrace multiple format releases. Michael Winterbottom did it with his film The Road to Guantanamo which was simultaneously released at cinemas, on DVD and online. Samantha Morton is doing something roughly similar with her film, The Unloved, which is being aired on Channel 4 this month, before being released at cinemas to generate a wider audience (as a part of Channel 4’s ‘Britain’s Forgotten Children’ Season). iTunes does have the facility to enable customers to download TV programmes and films, but they’re usually far too pricey and with a limited selection. If you can’t get to your local cinema, or it isn’t showing that little arthouse film you’re dying to see, it makes sense to be able to download it from the Internet. This system certainly helps smaller independent films, but whether it can work for the big film studios is still unknown.