Though the Blu-ray Star Wars release date is not scheduled until April 5, as reported by Amazon, a The Force Awakens torrent was uploaded to torrent sites on March 22, and over 250,000 copies are said to have been downloaded, as reported by Torrent Freak.
LucasFilm and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) are reported to have sent “tens of thousands” of requests to internet users to take down copyrighted material, as reported by Google. Despite efforts to quell the spread of pirated The Force Awakens copies, the film is described as being “widely available.”
Torrent sites, such as The Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrents, which have been described as eluding take down “campaigns of anti-piracy groups,” as reported by Yibada, while facilitating the open sharing of a great deal of media that lies within the public domain, would appear to allow for widespread rule-breaking as well.
That its final days were looming must have been apparent to Napster, a precursor of sorts to torrent applications like uTorrent, when Metallica first filed suit against the service in 2000, as reported by Ultimate Classic Rock. Three hundred thirty-five thousand fans’ usernames were said to have been presented by the band, with the request that they be blocked.
Torrents offer users the same functionality as Napter, the ability to both store and share files on a cloud, but in a decentralized manner. Several clients are available that can each create and transmit interchangeable torrents. Torrents provide all the building blocks that made Napster possible to everyone. Napster’s glaring weakness was the same element that its founder, Sean Parker, who was portrayed as being instrumental in Facebook’s start-up days in the film The Social Network, wanted to control. Torrents almost allow everyone to be their own Sean Parker and to run their own Napster that can share files with everyone else’s Napsters.
It is perhaps this decentralized nature that has allowed torrent sites to survive. The actual copyrighted material, such as the Blu-ray rip of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is never stored on servers owned by The Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrents: it is stored on a cloud of computers made-up of connected users.
Metallica has no place to take such a lawsuit as was presented in 2000 with torrent sites. Many have attempted to shut them down; however, the resilience of torrent sites to continue operating must earn the appreciation of even the most die-hard anti-piracy advocate.
Those considering illegally downloading copyrighted material may want to consider the case of Aaron Swartz, who was instrumental in the creation of Reddit and RSS, and took his own life after he was charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as reported by CNN. Swartz was found by the FBI to have illegally downloaded millions of pages of documents, valued at about $1.5 million, that had been stored with PACER servers.
Torrent Freak reports that though only about 250,000 pirated copies of Star Wars: The Force Awakens have been downloaded so far, “several millions” will likely be downloaded in the weeks to come.
Poor quality, cam versions of The Force Awakens are reported to have been available on the torrent sites since shortly after the film premiered in theaters in December, without attracting much attention. The available pirated Blu-ray version is reported to be the same quality that one would expect from a retail Blu-ray disk.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has grossed over $2 billion worldwide, as reported by The Numbers; currently, this amount translates to Episode VII ranking No. 3 in all-time highest grossing movies, behind Avatar and Titantic, which have grossed $2.8 billion and $2.2 billion respectively. It is estimated that The Force Awakens had a budget of near $200 million, as reported by IMDB, which puts the cost of the production in the range of the list of top 20 biggest-budget films ever made, as reported by IMDB.
The Force Awakens has been well-received by fans, earning an 8.4 out of 10 rating with close to 500,000 IMDB reviewers.
[Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]