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Copy This: Hollywood's Costs Are Relative

April 04, 2002

"Hollywood Embraces Big-Brother Tactics" (Opinion, March 31) is right on the button. But one further point about the attitude of the entertainment industry came out in a story that ran on Jan. 6, "CDs That Block Copying May Herald a Revolution." A spokesman for Sony was quoted as saying: "Unless you recover your costs, there's no way you can make a new motion picture. It's as simple as that."

No, it is not as simple as that. The cost of making films is up to the makers, who bid up the budgets according to how much they think they can squeeze out of the public.

If no one would pay Julia Roberts $20 million per picture, would she be happy with $1 million? $100,000? Of course.

In all the talk about preventing digital copying, people forget that it is technically impossible to prevent analog copying. One generation of an analog copy reduces the quality hardly at all, and then digital copies can be made ad infinitum. Equipment makers would have to be compelled by law to fit their machines to a (futile) copy-protection scheme. Can we really afford to trample over civil liberties in that way?

Rory Johnston

Hollywood

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