...or not to feel guilty. That is my current quandry.
I spent years upon years working and railing against DVD piracy, helping develop the markers of what to look for on a visual inspection and identifying the accounts that were guilty of stealing. While doing all of this I still knew that there were others who were ripping the movies off the discs and building their own personal library or making copies from those rips and we could do nothing about it.
Now I sit here in my own stew and am trying to reconcile our actions. Our story starts long, long ago...
62 years ago the Walt Disney company released a little live action/animation combo film called "Song of the South". It was truly a well done film covering the story of an ex-slave, a white boy and the tales of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and the Tar Baby. A true Disney classic song 'Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah' was born of the movie (and I have a personal connection to one of the writers of that tune).
But it's been long out of print since it's last release in 1986 on VHS for it's 40th anniversary. I'm fairly certain that my parents have that VHS sitting in a closet somewhere but it's likely I won't have it for years to come. Many Disney fans, or just simply people who appreciate that particular film, have been rallying for it to come out on DVD for years. Everyone was hopeful for a 60th anniversary release, but it was not to be. I won't live to see a 100 year anniversary release, so it had better come out soon while I can still enjoy it.
For those who don't know, this movie deals with a little privileged white boy befriending 'the servants' and the freed slaves around his home. Uncle Remus, one of the ex-slaves, tells the boy all the stories. There seems to be some "sensitivity" issues around slavery and the depiction of these slaves who happily whistle and sing on their way to the fields. I can see where some groups would take issue with this and understand why Disney has not re-released it recently (they took a lot of flack in 1986 with the re-release and in 1990 when they opened Splash Mountain, which uses characters from the movie).
That said, there's this little thing called the internet and if you're lucky and there's enough bandwidth you can find and download almost anything. I bet you can see where this is going...
DH found a copy of this movie and downloaded it without telling me first. He brought me into his office the other night and asked if I could guess the movie. After one very wrong guess I stopped and started to cry. Happiness, people. Pure happiness and completely touched that he found and downloaded this movie. And a touch of guilt as well.
We've now downloaded it to a DVD in order to show it to the kids on our television, and I am practically speechless with happiness that I can share this priceless piece of film with my kids. On the other hand, I feel kinda guilty about it. This is a copyright protected piece of material. I won't be distributing it, but the fact that we got it in such a manner...
But there's no other way to get this material either. So I feel guilty and yet I don't. There are lots of things out there that aren't released in some manner that are out there on the internet in one form or another. But it's not like I bought a copy from someone in China or Taiwan (where piracy is mainstream) either.
So I sit in a quandry. This is an important film to be personally, a part of film history and a teaching lesson wrapped into one package. And yet, it's an internet download copied to a DVD, even though I will never ever loan it out and it will sit on my shelves forever.
So there you have it - my latest dirty little secret that I don't know what to do about. Do I continue to feel guilty, or let this little indiscretion slide because of the nature of what it is, the history around it and the fact that it will probably never see the light of day again as a mainstream release because of the subject matter?