If I’d spent three years working on the latest Shrek or Toy Story movie only to find it up online and downloadable for free I’d be outraged. I’d be outraged because my next job as an animator depends not just on sales of Buzz Lightyear slippers and Donkey Happy Meals. And, of course, I’d be even more outraged if I was the studio owner who was in the hole to the tune of scores of millions of dollars and wanted to show the shareholders a return. Nicking these films is theft in the same way as the Brinks Mat bullion job or pilfering from the shelves at Oddbins is theft. But it’s a war that is lost and Viacom knows it. It has other battles to fight.
What’s also true is that snippets of ‘I like to move it’ sung by Sacha Baron Cohen in Madagascar and watched with wide-eyed wonder by my two year old on YouTube got him into such a bouncing frenzy that we had purchased the DVD within days. YouTube has its uses for film studios.
Quite apart from the morals of the argument, I think there’s something subtler amiss in the aesthetics of ‘something for nothing.’ Things are devalued if you don’t pay for them. They are disposable. You sling out that Primark shirt but not the Prada pants. A diamond is just a load of squashed carbon but their relative rarity, sparkle and a vigorous De Beers marketing campaign over many years have made them treasured. If you don’t pay a month’s salary for your girlfriend’s engagement ring, you’re a cheapskate.
In today's bulletin:
Banker bashing back on the menu at G8?
Sex, drugs - and pre-loaded credit cards
Editor's blog: why content creators shouldn't lose out
Never mind Oxbridge - go to Harrods
The Parent Project: What not to do when you're pregnant