As Moore noted, one of the countries that has the least amount of piracy is Japan. "There is a very low social acceptability in Japan for stealing copyrighted work -- you just don't see movies showing up online right away there," he said. So with that in mind, Paramount is holding back the release of "Iron Man 2" in Japan for several weeks, having little fear about the country being swamped with bootleg copies of the film.An interesting theory, one that seems to be uncritically accepted over at The Marmot's Hole, which also highlighted the article.
However, when it comes to Korea, it's a different story. "For better or worse, there are certain countries -- notably like Korea -- where it's culturally acceptable to download movies online pretty much right away," said Moore. "By the third week of a movie's release, you're starting to see a large part of the audience who will start consuming the film online. It's why Korea has almost no home video business anymore."
So Paramount knew it couldn't afford to wait. It released "Iron Man 2" in Korea this weekend -- and is hoping for the best.
An interesting theory except that it may not be true. Or at least it's misleading.
I'm sitting right next to "M," a fellow public health student who hails from Kansai, to whom I asked, "Do people in Japan download movies illegally?" To which she answered, "Yeah, a lot of them do," and then she told me about sharing services like Cabos. That the movies may not pop up there immediately may have less to do with "social unacceptability" of viewing illegal downloads than the drive to be the first to get it online.
Given the often months-long lag between the US release and the Japanese release, a lack of publicity in Japan for a given film may also dampen demand for it to be seen online: You're not going to look for something which you don't know exists.
In fact, "M" and I had been discussing just a few weeks ago not why Korea gets movies so quickly, but why Japan gets them so late, often long after their North American, Korean, or European release dates. There's your question.
I also am a little disinclined to believe the boo-hooing of media companies that make grand claims of losses supposedly over piracy. A loss as they define it is full ticket or rental price for a movie viewed illegally. To me, a loss is the money they would have earned in a venue the movie would have been watched if the illegal download did not exist.
Those are a very different set of numbers. For starters, when something is "free," people experiment by viewing things they would not necessarily plop down money for. I have a legitimate Netflix membership that allows me to view many of their movies on line, and I'll tell you I "try out" far more movies than I would have if I had to pay for each one or can get them for free but have to wait to receive them by mail. People might also "re-view" something they had paid to see, or even check out something ahead of time that they plan to see.
Furthermore, the movie-going experience in Korea is incompatible with downloads, legal or otherwise. People in Korea are avid cinema-goers who like to watch movies for dating purposes or as group activities, and it's doubtful that that can be replaced by downloading. So the notion that they have to get the movie out quickly before the pirates take over is, well, highly suspect. As with many things involving Korea, I think we're looking at a facile interpretation for something that requires a far more complex explanation.