Wondering where find your favorite films online?
Mourning the loss of your favorite free (pirate) movie site? Movie2k.to has been offline now for several days and the reasons aren’t entirely clear. There are still ways to watch movies online for free and the International Design Times has compiled a list of those sites here. Of course, unlike Movie2k these are sites that offer a legit (legal) way to watch movies.
Reading some of the reactions to reports of Movie2k’s shutdown on TorrentFreak it’s clear that some feel entitled to watch whatever they want, when they want, for free. I wonder if they apply that same attitude when it comes to their own work. Do they tell their boss not to bother giving them a paycheck because heck, they should work for free right? Somehow I doubt it.
At any rate I found this comment particularly amusing:
Free movies are possible. Ever heard of commissioning or sponsorship? This is how great works were done before the copyright monopoly came along. Wealthy benefactors wanted works created for them with which they could then share to boost their popularity. Some would profit, some were just nice people with too much money.
Aside from getting it wrong (try reading some cinema history) I’m not sure about you, but I wouldn’t want to depend on 21st century billionaires from Google, Facebook, etc. to determine what’s available for us to watch. Certainly the tech titans are free to create and share content as they see fit, and perhaps that would be preferable to today’s environment where they often use the content of others–often without permission–to fuel their growth. I fear, however, that such a scenario would simply lead to more generic content, driven by Google analytics rather than creative initiative.
The growth of American cinema was, and always has been, driven by business interests. Early on the studios implemented monopolistic practices to protect and grow their investments. It wasn’t until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1948 in U.S. v Paramount Pictures case that the studios’ control of all aspects of the movie production process from creation to distribution (vertical integration) was in fact an oligopoly, and a violation of anti-trust laws.
The court decision was the beginning of the end of the Hollywood studio system and changed the business of making and distributing movies. The decision, coupled with the introduction of television, paved the way for a more “independent” and creatively diverse cinema to emerge. Do we really want a return to the day when only the most powerful–those who can afford to underwrite a multi-million dollar movie production–determine what we watch? I don’t think so.
Those who think we can sustain a diversity of cinematic voices by demanding that they be “free” to watch are naive. Most films worth watching won’t be free to create. While we’re certainly moving into an era where mechanisms for securing production funds are evolving (i.e. crowd-source funding) we must encourage an environment where filmmakers can determine–for themselves–the best way to disseminate their creative work. Demanding a distribution framework where all content must be offered free of charge would inevitably undermine the both the quality and variety of films available.
Understanding and appreciating the historical context for cinema’s evolution over the past century provides a useful paradigm as to the possibilities for shaping film’s future. In the meantime, for those who would like to explore current cinematic offerings, here’s another source to find films online: Wheretowatch.org. Happy viewing!