English: Kevin Spacey at the Eugene O'Neill Th...

Kevin Spacey at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Benefit 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many people visit India to seek spiritual enlightenment, but it looks like Kevin Spacey’s brush with the country has helped the popular actor to see the light when it comes to piracy.

Riding a wave of high interest in the Netflix original ‘House of Cards,’ Spacey is of course happy to meet and greet fans around the world. Unfortunately, Netflix hasn’t rolled out in the country yet, a dichotomy which caused the actor to reflect on the series’ suspicious success at the International Indian Film Academy Awards in Tampa over the weekend.

In attendance to support India’s wider appeal to the U.S. entertainment industry, Spacey couldn’t resist the opportunity to mention the theft of his own work. “Isn’t it funny that Netflix doesn’t exist there yet?” he observed, “which means that you’re stealing it.”

While such high-profile concern for anti-piracy efforts is always welcome, it’s a change of tack  from Spacey’s stance when discussing release strategies just last year. At the Edinburgh Film Festival in August he drew a distinct line between traditional TV and his own work with Netflix, loosely connecting staggered releases and more standard release ‘windows’ as a contributing factor to piracy.

Of course, it hurts much more when it’s the creator’s own work that is stolen simply because viewers don’t like the distribution model. House of Cards piracy is widespread in India but, by Mr. Spacey’s previous example, it would place much of the blame squarely on his choice to make the series exclusively for Netflix, a company with impressive growth, certainly, but which is still unavailable in many major markets. From his comments in Tampa, though, it sounds like he’s not at all impressed with the widespread illicit viewing of a series that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make.

Nor should he be. As copyright advocates have argued time and again, not liking the release strategy or simply being impatient isn’t a justification to steal the creative work of others. Popcorn Time recently tested that theory and was pulled down within days for one simple reason: it’s illegal.

Kevin Spacey's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Kevin Spacey’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you don’t like the price of a DVD in a store, you can’t simply take it to resolve the situation. Similarly, if you don’t like the fact that a series hasn’t been released in your region or in a format you prefer, the reasonable response is to call on the creator to make it available to you via a legitimate channel, not to take it for yourself.

It’s great that Kevin Spacey appears to have come around to this way of thinking – though unfortunate that House of Cards piracy is such a problem – and hopefully we see a more concerted effort from him and other of Hollywood’s leading lights to push for greater copyright protection in future.

 

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