Jason Kottke makes fun of George Lucas for citing piracy as the main reason he released the Star Wars DVDs early, quoting lots of business stats. But Kottke’s not exactly telling the whole story, if you ask me.
Yes, DVD sales have gone up. But Lucas isn’t concerned with whether DVD sales have gone up generally – just his sales of Star Wars DVDs. Which will appeal to geeks, and computer-savvy people. Exactly the kind of people who would take the time and effort to rip a DVD, stick it online and patiently wait for it to spool itself around the Internet – plus the added bonus that there’s the general perception that Lucasfilm is exactly one of those money-making companies that doesn’t need all that extra revenue.
However, the people who’d buy, say, Shrek II or Wimbledon will not generally be computer-savvy nerds, but people who just want a good film to watch again and again on DVD. The kind of people who are not blind to the sheer inconvenience it takes to watch a film on a PC.
Plus, any self-respecting film fan is going to buy DVDs just for the extras, plus the hope that some of their mone goes to independent film-makers to fund future great films.
So, I can’t blame Lucas for being scared of pirates. Or other producers of mass-market action-orientated entertainment which specifically appeals to computer-savvy people. Like The Matrix…