There have been plenty of artists inside and outside the system recognizing that, yeah, it sucks to not get paid for every copy of your work, but on the bright side, at least people are watching/listening/reading. Hit
book Go The F**k to Sleep
built buzz with unpaid copies
roaming the internet. A former WB record exec claims "File sharing leads to more sales
." Canadian rap star Drake leaking tracks
all over the internet to get fans listening and talking. Why? Because the more people you can expose to your art, the better. But if you ask Hollywood about file sharing you get the alphabet in response: SOPA, PIPA, E-PARASITE, TPP, ACTA. Piracy is killing the motion picture industry, full stop.
Contrast that with this statement from Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap
, who works in a country where piracy is omnipresent, rather than just an over-inflated set of numbers to wave at easily impressed Congressmen:
While chatting about his experiences in Kanpur, where he's spent some part of his life while he was studying for the IIT entrance test, the topic veers to the menace of piracy in Indian cinema. But surprisingly, Anurag is one of the few filmmakers who feel that piracy is justified. "Main aaj jo kuch hoon, piracy ki wajah se hi hoon. It was through pirated versions of my movies that people got to see my work," he says and goes on to elaborate, "I feel that cinema is something that should reach the maximum number of people. If the audience does not get to see affordable cinema, it will turn to cheaper, pirated entertainment."
Unlike the hysteria we're used to, often conflated with knockoff fire extinguishers
and child pornography
, Anurag views piracy as more than simply a necessary evil, but an actual necessity. That is, if your aim is to have your work seen by as many people as possible. Obviously, if your aim instead is to do everything in your power to make sure that every set of eyeballs that come in contact with your work have paid upfront, then you'll take a much dimmer view of file sharing.
Anurag's not done yet, either:
"If we want to see a successful Hollywood today, often we have to take the help of piracy because it's not necessary that that film is legally available in your city. That's why filmmakers need to understand that their work should reach more and more people, because today cinema is not all about entertainment. In fact, I feel that we filmmakers should use cinema as a tool to make a strong impact on society. And if people are watching such meaningful cinema through piracy, I believe it only helps to deliver the filmmaker's message to the masses."
All very good points. First and foremost: sometimes you don't have a legal option because of licensing issues, regional blocking
, "you people are all pirates
," GEMA wants its cut
, etc. But beyond the logistics is the fact that if you're an artist and you want to have an impact on people, it behooves you to get your creations in front of as many people as possible.
Here's a filmmaker working in a country where piracy is an absolute given, so much so that the government has taken some very surprising steps
in an effort to curb it, including blocking file lockers and video sites at the ISP level. And yet, despite massive infringement, all he sees is the upside. He's doing this for a living and yet he's not loudly wondering where his boom mike operator will get his next meal or saying something asinine about a future full of cat videos, all the while attempting to recast record box office receipts
as the Fifth Horseman of the Creative Apocalypse.
And before you write off Kashyap as just some dude you've never heard of from somewhere else, here's a brief recap of his work
(via the Wiki):
As a filmmaker, he is known for Black Friday (2004), a controversial and award-winning Hindi film about the 1993 Bombay bombings, followed by No Smoking (2007), Dev D (2009) Gulaal (2009) That Girl in Yellow Boots (2011) and Gangs of Wasseypur (2012).
As a screenwriter, he wrote the scripts for the Filmfare Award-winning Satya (1998) and the Academy Award-nominated Canadian film Water (2005).
In 1999, Kashyap won the Best Screenplay award for Satya at the Star Screen Awards. The next year, his short film Last Train to Mahakali won the Special Jury Award at the same awards. His feature film debut Black Friday won the Grand Jury Prize at the 3rd Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (2005), and was a nominee for the "Golden Leopard" (Best Film) at the 57th Locarno International Film Festival (2004).
He was listed on the The DNA power list: Top 50 influentials, a list of 50 most influential Indians in 2011. Kashyap currently serves on the board of Mumbai-based NGO, Aangan Trust, which helps protect vulnerable children around India.
It seems that those who value their own work as art over commerce are the ones who see how file sharing can pay dividends in the long run. Those who tend to view their work as a P&L sheet can only see the negative. You don't have to like or condone piracy to see the possible upside. Kashyap almost seems to view it as a distribution system that reaches places he can't, free of charge. Hollywood, however, seems to be too busy playing the victim to draw that same conclusion.