Quantum of Solace -- now showing at a torrent site near you

James Bond: Quantum of Solace comes out here in Australia next week, but audiences in the UK have been the first to see it. And there are many pirates among them! Torrent sites already have the movie listed in various forms and file sizes, and the most popular torrent sites are showing tens of thousands of people trying to download it.

Will you be one of those people? From a personal point of view, any movie that's shot on a camcorder in a cinema isn't my cup of tea. I'd rather catch this one at the cinema and get a decent audio/visual experience out of it. But people obviously are downloading it, despite it being a CAM version. These are usually people who want to be the first on their block to see it, and to also brag to their friends that they already have it on DVD (after converting and burning it). There's nothing wrong with that (except for the whole legal issue), although people like that can be quite annoying.

Either way, it's the movie studios' fault that pirates are doing this — actually, they might do it anyway, but this is one reason for the piracy. All the studios have to do is release the movie at the same time around the world. It would build more excitement for the movie, and instead of being the first to download it, people would be bragging about being among the first to go to the cinema. It would also allow friends and relatives from across the world to talk about it via e-mail and IM without having to wait a few weeks, and of course, would reduce the chance of reading spoilers while browsing online forums.

I don't think the studios will actually lose money from the piracy of this film, because the people who are downloading the CAM versions are unlikely to have been willing to go and see it at the cinema anyway. If anything, it probably means more people will see the movie and potentially like it so much that they will want to see it in better quality. So they'll buy the DVD or Blu-ray — or download the aXXo copy when it gets unleashed on the torrent sites.

With the majority of the developed world hooked up to relatively fast broadband connections (including many of us here in Australia who can get speeds exceeding 10Mbps), you'd think it would be a good time for studios to toy with the idea of streaming movie premieres. But they'll have to rethink their licensing issues for that — as well as give up the glitz and glamour of the red carpet — and they probably think people won't be willing to pay for streaming a video to their laptop or home PC. They might be right, but why not at least try it. When Intel introduced its Viiv platform, online video was a big part of that, but as most of the content through the Viiv platform isn't available here in Australia, it kind of never got off the ground.

As more of us hook up our laptops and PCs to big screen TVs, the capability to watch streaming movies in the lounge room is there. The studios already release high quality trailers for us to stream, so why not just go the next step and offer the full movie in a high-enough resolution for a big-screen TV for a subscription or one-off fee? And if the studios store the data locally, the ISPs could subsidise it so that it wouldn't count towards our quotas. What better way to make use of 10Mbps+ broadband connections? It's a huge potential market for the studios, and it's not being tapped at all.

Anyway, we touched on streaming video a little in this post, and mentioned a couple of sites that are attempting to deliver video content over the Internet, but here are some ISP-specific links to streaming content, which give you an idea of how slim the pickings are for using your broadband connection for legitimate online video viewing.

Internode offers this site to its users, which doesn't count against their download quotas.

iiNet used to have more offerings, but currently only subsidises iView data and some soccer.

BigPond's offering is mostly snippet-based news, sport and movie trailers.

TPG has an IPTV service.

It's frustrating when colleagues around the world send links to cool new sites that offer legitimate online video, yet we can't view them here in Australia due to legal reasons. In this regard, we've gone from being the lucky country to the unlucky country.

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Elias Plastiras
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