Another digital piracy story today, this time underpinned by a rather strange commercial decision taken by the rights holder Marvel. Marvel took the decision to release Avengers: Endgame in China two days before the US release. It says that it did this to combat rampant piracy in the region. Previously Hollywood blockbusters have premiered in the US first, and by the time the China release rolls around, many potential viewers had already seen the film and did not attend cinemas. That has led to surprisingly low cinema turnout in a country of 1.3 billion people.
This time the release was in China first, and it is estimated that in the first day alone Chinese cinemas took $90m in ticket sales. While that is obviously impressive, what is more impressive is the speed with which a pirate version of the film was uploaded. Only an hour after the first showing ended, digital piracy news agency TorrentFreak found a single Chinese "seed" offering the blockbuster at a painfully slow download speed.
TorrentFreak did download the torrent and reported that it was indeed the new Avengers film, but that it was low quality, covered in watermarks, and viewers could be heard coughing and eating in the background. However, since that leak, a further (higher quality) torrent has been found online and has now been seeded and downloaded thousands of times.
As we reported yesterday, a simultaneous worldwide release does not always obviate the risk of digital piracy, but it certainly stops camcorder piracy (which is a rampant problem in India in particular as reported here) in its tracks.
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