How I became an internet pirate

If the entertainment industry actually provided legal avenues for timely movie distribution in countries other than the US, would piracy be a problem?

I interviewed the boss of the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) last week.

He told me that piracy is a far greater problem now than it ever was in the home taping days of my youth, because today's copies can be of excellent quality.

But how much of this problem is due to the entertainment industry itself?

Paul Brislen of the Telecom Users Association of New Zealand would often lament that the country is often kept waiting for the latest US movies and TV programs, and that the only way to watch some programs, at least within a sufficiently short period, is to download them unlawfully.

This was a factor in one of our networks launching FastFour, a collection of US programs that are aired over here within hours or days of their first appearance in the US.

Now, a mate and I wanted to watch a certain niche movie that was released last year, but which has seemingly never arrived on our shores, neither to television, the cinema, nor the DVD store.

I looked around online for it, and it appeared as though the DVD itself is only available in the US and Canada.

I looked on eBay, and the only copies of the movie I came across would only work in the US and Canada. iTunes wouldn't let me download it because of my New Zealand location. Netflix doesn't operate in New Zealand, either. Quickflix, which does actually operate in New Zealand, does not stock the film.

The only websites that might have been fully legitimate were outfits that I had never heard of, and I wasn't going to trust my credit card details with them. Furthermore, they tend to offer monthly subscriptions, which is costly when we just wanted to watch the one film.

I eventually found a website that allowed me to download the movie for free. As far as I know, I have picked up no viruses (thanks to Norton), but an irritating "" now seems to be my main search engine in place of Google.

We saw the movie last night, and, connected to the television, the picture quality was fine and so was the sound, thanks to using extra speakers.

Anyway, the delicious irony is that the movie we watched was a modern-day retelling of Atlas Shrugged from the libertarian Ayn Rand. You just might expect the producers of such a defence of free-market capitalism would be business-savvy enough to make it easier for their work to be purchased lawfully outside the US.

Now, part two of the movie has just hit the US theatres, and my mate and I are keen to watch that, too. We would like to watch it legally, somehow. But if they are to stamp out copyright abuses, big Hollywood and the entertainment industry must work together to ensure that they move with the times, and that their markets are satisfied or catered for, otherwise they have a problem that their own neglect has created for themselves.