James Cameron: Innovation, not litigation, is the answer to piracy

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James Cameron: Innovation, not litigation, is the answer to piracy

Fri Mar 26, 2010 @ 01:39PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

James_Cameron_lr01_540x359It wasn't quite as juicy as calling Glen Beck a "fucking asshole," but director James Cameron made some interesting comments Thursday at the 2010 CTIA wireless conference.

He claimed that "Avatar" was the most pirated film in history and asked the audience to imagine what the $2.6 billion-grossing film would have made had that not been the case. 

(We're not sure where Cameron is getting his stats, but as of a few weeks ago, the film wasn't even the most pirated film nominated for best picture at the Oscars. That dubious honor goes to...

"District 9.") 

Cameron also said he believes innovation trumps piracy and pointed to the music industry as having failed to learn that lesson. "The music industry saw it coming, they tried to stop it, and they got rolled over," he said. "Then they started suing everybody. And now it is what it is."

The director says he has tried with each of his films to innovate to get moviegoers into theaters. We'd agree with him on that point. But perhaps the real piracy test will occur when "Avatar" is released on DVD and digital channels next month. Previously, we laid out the arguments why "Avatar" might be immune from piracy, at least from a theatrical release perspective, but 3D films may not rescue the home entertainment market, at least not until 3D televisions start rolling out to the masses. The initial "Avatar" release is in standard 2D, which might encourage pirates to sample it online and wait to buy the 3D version when it is released, likely next year.

Cameron seems to be optimistic about home and mobile platforms and is endorsing the FCC's National Broadband Plan. For the director's sake, let's hope he's right, because Cameron likes making money. Asked if he was disappointed about failing to win the best picture Oscar, Cameron responded: "If I had to choose between the trophy and the $2.6 billion, I'd choose the $2.6 billion."

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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