Fighting piracy with free films: Sony Pictures UK has uploaded "The Godfather," one of America's most beloved films, to YouTube.
The Motion Picture Association of America has been fighting for years to stop illegal film pirating, which it says is responsible for billions of dollars in lost sales annually. We've made the case that one way to stop piracy would be for film companies to lower the production costs of movies in order to lower theater ticket prices. Another solution is for film producers to strike deals with streaming services, thus earning themselves money while allowing computer users access to their films. Even if producers give their movies away for free, some people would see it and then buy copies on DVD or Blu-ray to keep.
Netflix already does the streaming thing wonderfully, which has forced YouTube to try its hand at offering features. Things were off to a so-so start for YouTube, but today comes possibly the greatest coup yet for the video site's feature-film streaming that's also a blow to movie pirates everywhere. As of only hours ago, Sony Pictures UK uploaded The Godfather, one of the most important movies in history, to YouTube, where you can now watch all three hours for free (you can also watch it here, as we've embedded it below).
It's certainly a counterintuitive way to fight piracy, but it's guaranteed to work better than blindly suing movie downloaders, who continue to maraud film releases despite the threats.
Update: YouTube has apparently pulled the account associated with this film for "impersonating another user." Emails to Sony Pictures for an explanation haven't been returned.