There is no such thing as ‘noble’ piracy

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Most of us think of the period of time we’re just getting away from as the holiday season, but for fans of piracy the stretch between late November and early January has another name: Screener season.

Every year, without fail, studios and PR agencies around Hollywood mail hundreds of physical screeners to critics and industry professionals around the globe for end of the year award consideration. They do this because many groups, including those who vote for the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, refuse to go to a theater to see every individual release in contention. It’s a necessary evil from a marketing standpoint, and every year this process results in dozens of films being made available online far in advance of their planned digital release.

This year has been a little different. Where nearly a dozen titles were made available through torrent sites in the days before Christmas 2015 there were next to no pirated screeners to be found when Santa Claus visited a chimney near you last week. The reason for this, or at least the one we’ve been provided, seems to be that pirates have started to realize the damage their ‘work’ can cause.

A message posted last week from from Hive-CM8, the infamous group behind many screeners leaks in the past, on their HDcam rip the new film Assassin’s Creed reads:

“Yes, still here and kicking, we had to have a break for some time. Bet you are waiting for screeners, yep why not? We were definitely not in the mood to make the same mistakes as last year with screeners before Christmas or cinema release date.”

The original message can be viewed below:

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The ‘mistake’ Hive seems to be referring to is how the leak of an unreleased film that cost millions to produce can hurt how much money they film inevitably makes, which in turn makes those in power work harder than ever to bring Hive members to justice. In other words, they do not want to upset Hollywood by leaking things before they are released, but they do want to continue leaking high quality copies of films that are still in theaters.

Let’s be real: The mistake Hive members are making is the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials. This group of anonymous leakers is no more ‘noble’ than a common criminal. Piracy is bad for films, plain and simple. If they really wanted to make a positive difference the members of Hive would dissolve their group and find more productive hobbies. 

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.