A pirated copy of J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8” has been leaked onto the web and the little watermark at the top right indicating who the DVD had belonged to reads: H. Stern, according to a report at Deadline.com.
Oh Howard, you little rascal.
Piracy is a serious, recurring problem for the movie business. In 2009, “The Movie Pirates” was the subject of a CBS investigative special on 60 Minutes. The report revealed a rather complex web of blackmarket tactics that involve stealing movie content from theaters or pre-release screeners and then re-packaging that content and selling it for profit, usually on the Web or in mass-produced DVDs that are often shipped out of the country. Judging by the 60 Minutes report, pirate gangs appear to be comprised of minority individuals from challenged socioeconomic backgrounds who fall into the trade desperate to make a buck.
Which makes it all the more unsettling that the “Super 8” leak can be identified as having come from Stern’s camp. Not that Stern should be judged too harshly: In all likelihood, Paramount Pictures sent Stern a pre-release screener to prepare him for potential interviews with “Super 8” talent, including writer/director J.J. Abrams, who is reportedly a friend of Stern’s. Who knows if, after Stern viewed the film, he loaned it to a staffer or two—and who knows who they lent it to, and so forth. According to Deadline.com’s Mike Fleming, who first reported the story over the weekend, an unintentional breach is the soundest theory.
For his part, according to a report at Entertainment Weekly, Stern took to his radio show this morning to deny responsibility, saying: “I hate to have my name associated with anything like this…I’m so paranoid about it that I literally watch [the movie], I put it back in my bag and I take it [back]. Nobody gets it. Nobody can see. I bring it right back … I don’t pass it around to anyone. Ever.”
Whether it’s an honest mystery or an honest mistake, it’s one more way to prove that in the digital age, even the most well protected possessions aren’t private.