As PiracyData’s chart below shows, four out of the 10 most pirated movies cannot be purchased legally online. Out of the remaining six movies, three are available for full-priced purchase, but not for rent. None of the top 10 movies can be watched through subscription streaming services such as Netflix.
On its face, it looks like a missed opportunity for the movie industry. Viewers may feel pushed toward piracy when they can’t purchase or at least rent the movies they want to watch.
But it’s also worth noting the release timing of these movies. Every single movie on the list came out this year, but is no longer showing in major theaters. With the exception of three films, most of these movies are now in an awkward stage where you can buy them on DVD, but cannot rent them online.
DVD sales are plummeting. People are growing accustomed to pressing a button and streaming a movie instantly. The idea of withholding new movies from digital rental just to juice DVD sales looks increasingly antiquated as people move beyond the optical disc. For disposable films that people only want to watch once, a mandatory $15 or $20 purchase is undesirable as well.
Of course, there are exceptions. People do have rental options for The Lone Ranger, After Earth, and This is the End, yet they remain popular to download on BitTorrent. Unscrupulous freeloaders do exist, and are not going away. But when the only legal options are DVD or mandatory purchase, it’s no surprise that potential paying customers will turn to piracy instead.
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Jared Newman has been helping folks make sense of technology for over a decade, writing for PCWorld, TechHive, and elsewhere. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for straightforward tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for saving money on TV service.