UPDATE april/2014: The CYPHR file encryption software is now freeware! Get your free copy and license @ provost-intel.org/CYPHR
Edit: quick link for those only interested in the CYPHR software: http://www.provost-intel.org/cyphr
Piracy and the theft of copyrighted (film-) materials is ever increasing and the perpetrators are getting more advanced and even more brutal by the day.
The times of people smuggling their video camera into a cinema to share their shaky images with friends has long gone by.
Pirated movies, bootleg DVDs/BluRays and even illegal movie theater-viewings(!) have become almost a commodity.
Let’s not forget that only a small fraction of all “pirates” do their work for the “common good” in order to raise their streetcred in the PirateBay-like communities.
THIS IS ABOUT MONEY AND NOTHING ELSE. Of course…
Bootleg DVDs and Blurays are sold, but also produced in large quantities by – sometimes – advanced production facilities. New cinema releases are shown on subscription sites.
This is for us, as film makers and copyright owners, a tough thing to deal with, but what i find most disturbing are the inventive ways of illegally acquiring the footage that seems to become more harsh and – indeed – brutal!
If you Google on the subject, you’ll find some cases of footage theft, but i know from trusted sources in my network that most cases are hold silent.
Digital cinema (DCP = Digital Cinema Package) should have made things difficult for criminals to copy movies. That’s indeed true, but it has made them more inventive and look for other ways BEFORE the footage get’s to the cinema in it’s DCP form. And that hasn’t made things better….
Here is a short and definitely incomplete list of practices i found, with some comments – prepare for some shocks…:
- using a mobile phone or video camera to film a movie at the local cinema
- This method is the least favorite among serious criminals – we want HD copies, not shaky images.
- using a Telecine device
- a small device, with sprockets and a CCD sensor, that is clamped on the physical film strip, on the projector. Only applicable if the movie is projected from celluloid. The perpetrator needs to have access to the projection room – AND HERE COMES THE LEAK NUMBER ONE: the projectionist
- illegal copying of footage and masters at the premises of post production houses, by post production personnel
- this happens more and more often and is easy to do by the people that are trusted and have access. The people who involve in this are the ones you’d probably suspect the least and are well paid to do so..!
- illegal copying of footage and masters at the premises of post production houses BY FORCE
- believe it or not: breaking and entering, armed robbery and even extortion seem to belong to the possibilities in order to acquire footage and masters
- there are known cases of footage transmitted digitally between producers and post production facilities AND HAVE BEEN INTERCEPTED
- there are known cases of required ransom for footage illegally acquired
- footage stolen on-set, at production houses and private premises
- either physical or digital: backup devices and digital media are easy to copy or steal, specially by trusted people…
- movie previews are stolen from film festival offices
- AND HERE IS LEAK NUMBER TWO: film festival offices and personnel! Who runs these operations? Who has access to our materials? We seldom know…
- Preview DVDs and Blurays are easily copied, or even intercepted before they even reach the festival’d office. THIS IS THE WEAKEST LINK!
OK, let’s be honest, i don’t expect hooded villains to raid my house soon, BUT i want to take all the precautions available to me and my budget.
At Marvels Film we have to a certain protocol for the handling, back-up and protection of footage – of course – but alarmed by the issues pictured above, we have taken some extra measures, which include:
- Packing and encrypting all footage, dailies & masters that are to be backed up or sent to other facilities or people
- we have made a modest investment in this great software tool: Provost CYPHR available from www.provost-intel.org/cyphr
- CYPHR let’s you add artwork, images, footage of all kinds, documents and even applications to a “.cy” file that can only be opened and browsed by the recipient if they have the correct password.
- these Cyphr “.cy” files can be safely transmitted through unsafe media such as the internet (email / ftp) or on a harddisk or stick
- anyone, who i fully trust, that needs our CYPHR file can call for the password
- a great product for a great price and IT WORKS! Absolutely un-crackable and absolutely useless in the wrong hands. The user interface is very simple, but don’t let that first impression deceive you.
- Handling of all backups on set or at our premises is always done accompanied by either Patrick, Roland or me myself and i – if we have a break, it’s done in visibility range of the backup laptop
- DCPs and other finished products of our work are only sent to theaters and broadcasters (specially including film festivals) in an encrypted fashion, also using the Provost CYPHR software
- Always DEMAND that all media is to be returned or destroyed. We have a contract with clear statements of liability that needs to be signed by the recipient. Do it! Have it signed! I know, for indie producers it can be embarrassing to request this – specially at impressive facilities – but never forget that you PAY these people and that they are in principle not to be trusted. That is the cruel truth…
I realize that even major production houses are having trouble with these issues and are ever looking for solutions to end piracy.
IMHO, trying to stop people at home to download movies from the Pirate Bay is not the way. Trying to prevent it from showing up at the Pirate Bay is also our responsibility.