How Hollywood Should Really Combat Piracy

By David Outten, Production Editor

Hollywood is really angry about pirates. They see piracy as a major cause of financial woes. In an effort to combat piracy, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is giving millions of dollars to Republicans, Democrats, and lobbyists to promote legislation that could cripple the Internet.

The real problem Hollywood faces is immorality. When people are willing to purchase or download pirated media, Hollywood misses out on its cut of any money given to the pirates.

When you pay for a Hollywood DVD, it’s not unusual to be forced to watch a commercial about how immoral pirating is. This message is too little, too late.

In an interview with Charlie Rose about the making of TOY STORY, Steve Jobs said, “We’re about putting stories into the culture. . . . Our heroes are Disney. Look at what they’ve done. We’ve all got young children and our kids watch these Disney films. They learn a lot from these Disney films — about good and evil, about right and wrong.”

The time to instill respect for elders — and for intellectual property rights — is not in a commercial at the start of a DVD. It’s in the script of every movie and television program you make.

If you want children to grow up to pay for your product, you need to play your part in promoting solid moral values. Most children spend far more time with Hollywood’s products than they do with their parents, their schools and their churches combined. If we’re raising a nation of media thieves, Hollywood deserves a share of the blame.

An article published in 2004 by the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders states, “The increased prevalence and seriousness of antisocial behavior displayed by today’s youths have become serious concerns for parents, educators and community members. Antisocial behavior has a developmental course that starts with minor offenses in preschool (e.g., whining, teasing, noncompliance) and develops into major offenses (e.g., vandalism, stealing, assault, homicide) in older children and adolescents.”

Studios know that one of the keys to attracting child audiences is to portray children being rebellious and enjoying it. In many children’s movies and shows, adults are dumb, and children are smart. This may attract young audiences, but it also helps create pirates. The movie executive telling children that piracy is wrong is just another “dumb” adult to rebel against. Why pay for something you and your friends can get for free being rebellious?

To win a war on piracy, you cannot restrict your moral instruction to opposing theft. The child who the media is teaching to be vulgar will more likely be the child who steals Hollywood’s products. The child encouraged to reject their parent’s Christian beliefs will also reject their parents respect for intellectual property rights.

A Parents Television Council study found that the use of profanity on primetime broadcast entertainment programming increased 69.3 percent from 2005 to 2010. The impact will be felt both in the quality of life in everyone’s homes, but also in the amount of future piracy. You cannot promote one form of nasty behavior without getting more nasty behavior of other kinds as well.

A 2008 Barna Research study found that 64 percent of adults under 25 use profanity in public while only 19 percent of those over 25 do. The ratios for getting drunk, looking at pornography, and lying are similar. While the study didn’t look at piracy, do you think the ratio will be a lot different?

The idea that vulgarity, rebellion, free sex, and graphic violence makes good entertainment is ludicrous. What doesn’t make society — and home life — more civil should not be considered good entertainment.

As Steve Jobs pointed out, movies can promote what’s right or what’s wrong. If Hollywood wants people to do what’s right in acquiring entertainment, it should do what’s right in producing it.

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