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Hollywood doesn’t like pirates. The movie industry continues to use the full firepower of its impressively financed and outfitted armada to sink skull and crossbones banner-flying sites sailing through the dark waters of the internet; sites which it claimed as recently as January of last year to be responsible for costing the U.S. economy $200–250 billion per year and for killing 750,000 American jobs.
Though the Government Accountability Office has since reported those numbers to be bogus, no one can deny that internet pirates are plundering at least some of the movie business’ potential earnings. That’s why the Motion Picture Association of America was hopeful in November over the prospect of President Obama’s re-election helping it make progress in its war on pirates.
But Portland, Oregon — home to Minecraft: The Story of Mojang documentary maker 2 Player Productions — is most certainly not Hollywood. Still, one approach studio founders Pawl Owens, Paul Levering and Asif Siddiky have taken to promoting their film about original Minecraft creator Mojang is unorthodox to say the least.
They pirated it.
Following the Kickstarter-backed documentary’s debut on Xbox Live in December, the filmmakers ripped a copy of Minecraft: The Story of Mojang and uploaded it to the popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay. Pointing to the reality that their film was destined to end up shared on torrent sites regardless, 2 Player scuttled its own ship, reports the Penny Arcade Report.
“Torrents and piracy are a way of life and it probably won’t be going anywhere anytime soon,” reads 2 Player’s explanation of the move on its torrent listing page. “There are many people that want to punish you for that, but we have a more realistic outlook on things.”
The indie movie studio encourages pirates to go ahead and watch the movie. Of course, they also implore them to spend $8 on the digital download on the movie’s official website or drop $20 on the DVD at Fan Gamer. They’re not requiring anyone to purchase their work, though, and the DRM-free nature of the for-pay download could entice the DRM-averse crowd that tends to populate torrent websites.
“We knew going into it that the film was going to be pirated like crazy,” 2 Player Productions’ Paul Levering told the Penny Arcade Report. “We thought that it made more sense to meet that head-on instead of pretending that it wasn’t going to happen.”
Levering went on to explain that the decision to preemptively pirate Minecraft: The Story of Mojang is paying off. His email box is reportedly inundated with correspondences from pirates who claim to have paid for his movie after taking advantage of 2 Player’s allowing them to steal it.
The pirated version has a watermark, some scrolling text and a a larger-than-necessary size. Levering called these “slight distractions,” and added that he’s not “all that bummed out that we made the experience a little less great for people who decide they don’t want to pay for the movie.”
Who can blame him?