Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Big Brother is watching... and Tweeting

Picture the scene. You don't want to shell out for a pricey trip to the movies, but you've got your eye on a film that you really want to see. So you fire up the interweb to see if your can find a BitTorrent site to download it. Unfortunately, the basic search engine function is too complicated, so you go to Twitter instead and post a tweet about the film you're looking for. The next thing you know, you receive a reply begging you to think again... from the studio.

That's what happened to a woman known only as Amanda, who thought her tweet would only reach her group of friends. She was looking for the movie Adventureland, only to receive a message from the film's distributor Miramax. It read "Cmon Amanda, don't do it." Which, let's face it, is about the friendliest anti-piracy warning ever. Amanda, surprised by the warm (if scarily specific) nature of this message, replied "Okay, I won't - just for you." The outcome? Miramax got in touch and offered her a free ticket to see the movie.

I've written about big companies' approach to piracy before, and how clueless they can be. Here's a nice example of one that gets it right. Instead of treating Amanda like a threat to national security, they gave her a friendly warning and then actually rewarded her for her change of heart. But I'm still creeped out by the fact that big companies seem to pay people to sit watching Twitter (and I imagine all the other social networking sites) looking for chatter about potential piracy. So goodbye personal freedoms, and hello to the occasional free movie ticket.

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