Posted in: Legal, DRM, Piracy & IP, News, Peer to Peer, Video Distribution, Video Sharing & Video Clips by Dave Parrack on July 29, 2008

The Dark Knight PosterThe new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, has been the biggest film release of the year so far by a mile. Warner Bros. has claimed victory in fighting off Piracy during the release of the movie, despite taunting from the torrent site, The Pirate Bay.

Pirate versions of the movie began appearing on The Pirate Bay a few days after the film was publicly released. However, this short piracy free period is apparently very important for the film’s distributor, Warner Bros. With the film being exceptionally popular it is no wonder it was a big target for pirates.

38 Hours = Victory?

It was approximately 38 hours after the film went on general release that The Dark Knight torrent was first spotted on various BitTorrent sites on the Internet. Once it was out, there was little that Warner could do about it, with the film spreading like a virus across the Web.

38 hours may not seem like much, but in this generation of digital distribution, hours are as important as days used to be for the old-school bootleggers on street corners.

Six Month Anti-Piracy Measures

The film was always guaranteed to be a hit, but studio executives knew that an early leak of the film to online sources could prevent the record-breaking opening weekend that ended up becoming a reality.

So Warner Bros. devoted six months to an unprecedented anti-piracy strategy. A chain of custody was created between post-production and release which meant that the people who had a copy of the film at any one time were tracked.

Shipping and delivery schedules were staggered, and spot checks were carried out both domestically and overseas to ensure illegal copying of the film wasn’t taking place in cinemas.

Pirate Supply Chain

Darcy Antonellis, president of Warner’s distribution and technical operations told the LA Times:

“One of the reasons why it’s so important to try to protect the first weekend is that it prevents the pirate supply chain from starting,”

“A day or two becomes really, really significant. You’ve delayed disc manufacturing that then delays distribution, which then delays those discs from ending up on street corners for sale.”

Even after the film was released, Warner Bros. carried on the fight, with a team scanning peer-to-peer networks looking for the first crack in the digital dam.

Necessity for Movie Studios

As we know, The Pirate Bay made full use of the film finally leaking, by taunting the movie studios and the MPAA. But the studio itself probably sees the 38 hours its property survived untarnished as a victory, especially given many films leak before even being released.

These sorts of anti-piracy measures are only going to increase in complexity and harshness, as the studios can’t afford to have their big summer releases leaked on to the Web before the film is even released.

That said a lot of the feedback about the pirate version of The Dark Knight is that people watch the pirated version after they have seen the genuine movie in the cinema. They simply want to watch the movie again at home and don’t want to wait for the DVD release. So the impact of low quality copies appearing online could have a less significant impact than the movie industry expects.

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