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New Litigation Targets 20,000 BitTorrent-Using Downloaders 949

Posted by timothy
from the making-a-list-checking-it-twice dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Hollywood Reporter reports that more than 20,000 individual movie torrent downloaders have been sued in the past few weeks in Washington, DC, federal court for copyright infringement, and another lawsuit targeting 30,000 more torrent downloaders on five more films is forthcoming in what could be a test run that opens up the floodgates to massive litigation against the millions of individuals who use BitTorrent to download movies. The US Copyright Group, a company owned by intellectual property lawyers, is using a new proprietary technology by German-based Guardaley IT that allows for real-time monitoring of movie downloads on torrents. According to Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer at the firm, the program captures IP addresses based on the time stamp that a download has occurred and then checks against a spreadsheet to make sure the downloading content is the copyright protected film and not a misnamed film or trailer. 'We're creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel,' says Jeffrey Weaver, another lawyer at the firm."
"The difference between the MPAA's past approach and the new one being offered by the US Copyright Group is that the MPAA took a less targeted approach going after a smaller sampling of infringers in a single suit for multiple films, to send a message. In contrast, the US Copyright Group is using the new monitoring technology to go after tens of thousands of infringers at a time on a contingency basis in hopes of coming up with the right cost-benefit incentive to pursue individual pirates."
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New Litigation Targets 20,000 BitTorrent-Using Downloaders

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  • They Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:05PM (#31679990)
    These types of lawyers give other types of lawyers an even worse name.

    And before you sue me for that statement I'm sure that there is some sort of 'fair use' or 'truth' defense, so phfffft!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:07PM (#31680028)

    "...and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel."

    The equivalent of a distribution channel where tens of thousands get movies for free, but then a randomly selected group has to pay a hundred times the cost of the movie in litigation fees.

    At least they're innovating...

  • by drDugan (219551) * on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:09PM (#31680048) Homepage

    If the only way to keep a business model working is to "open up the floodgates to massive litigation" then we should take a close look at why our society keeps those businesses afloat.

    Personally, I think the basic reason we built the amazing companies in the "entertainment industry" is that distribution used to be difficult, and it required a lot of capital to set up channels to get media to consumers. This is no longer true; & the other reason - funding the creation of great media - obviously does not create enough value to justify the business that many of these companies continue to sue to protect.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:15PM (#31680126)

    Shooting yourself in the foot, 20000 law suits at a time. Apparently the independents are not more down to earth than the MPAA, just less successful. Way to ruin a reputation.

  • by VocationalZero (1306233) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:15PM (#31680128) Journal
    Good thing enabling encryption only requires checking a single box.
  • by drsmithy (35869) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yhtimsrd.> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:16PM (#31680144)

    I'm still unclear on the business benefit to the MPAA companies that comes from suing their customer base.

    The objective is to scare all the people currently pirating into buying.

    I would have thought that would be pretty obvious.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TyFoN (12980) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:16PM (#31680150)

    What "good alternative" can I use to watch high-def movies stored on my home server via my networked media tank or laptop etc?
    As long as the pirates provide a better product than the studios, the customers will turn to the pirates.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:16PM (#31680156)

    Bullshit.
    Piracy costs nothing, the kids that do this were not going to buy those movies or games either way.

    As for good equivalents please tell me where I can buy DRM free videos. Even DVDs are not DRM free.

    I am not a pirate, I only break the law by using libdvdcss to watch my legally rented netflix dvds.

  • Re:They Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:18PM (#31680186)

    These types of lawyers give other types of lawyers an even worse name.

    Just like cops, bad the 99% ruin it for everyone.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:20PM (#31680212) Journal

    Piracy costs nothing, the kids that do this were not going to buy those movies or games either way.

    Is this why many of my friends parents ask them to burn a movie or tv show for them? You think 40-50 year olds with a job wouldn't had bought them otherwise?

  • by StrategicIrony (1183007) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:24PM (#31680272)

    The Devils advocate position is that by requiring customers to wait for arbitrary showtimes and having an arbitrary limited selection pretty significantly impedes the flow of copied materials.

    If I want to watch "Uncross the Stars" tonight, I don't have any way of doing that other than paying the movie companies (or downloading it).

    In fact, I would wager that said movie will never be aired on any sort of television station that many people have.

    So, while the concept of suing customers is unpalatable to me, as well as you, I disagree that it's "exactly the same thing" as a VCR.

  • by d_jedi (773213) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:25PM (#31680288)

    People who are illegally downloading and distributing their works are not a part of their customer base. You have to *buy* something to be a customer.

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:26PM (#31680296)

    The objective is to scare all the people currently pirating into buying.

    I disagree. It is to scare all the people currently pirating into not pirating. These are not people who are looking to buy the movies so they will just go without.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:26PM (#31680300)

    I think this is what most don't understand. I am the type of pirate that does it for convenience. There is no other method of accessing movies that is as convenient as piracy, and I don't see anything coming in the near future that can come even close to allowing me to easily watch movies in multiple places in my home or on the road. With a downloaded .mkv, I can watch any movie I have on any TV in my home or on any computer in the world at the press of a button. I would love to see a viable legal alternative to my current setup, but it will never exist due to the luddites in charge of the movie companies.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:26PM (#31680304)
    "Widespread piracy is causing problems."

    Prove it. You may find this difficult to do, since movie studios routinely lie about operating at a loss:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting [wikipedia.org]
  • by mcsqueak (1043736) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:28PM (#31680326)
    Say your name is the one your Comcast account is under, but someone else such as a roommate is pirating movies. Who then is identified by the law firm as the pirate? I have always wondered this. I don't download pirated material due to it being a big hassle and worries about viruses, etc., but I have no control over what other people in my household do on their own machines.
  • Re:Good thing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:29PM (#31680338)

    Problems..........

    Like um..... causing some rich people to not make quite as much money as they might have.... maybe...

    Yeah... That's not a problem i can give a crap about really. Spin it all you want. It still comes down to greed. Ours and theirs.

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:29PM (#31680340)
    Also, they used to produce a quality product. Most of the dreck they spew forth isn't worth watching, let alone purchasing. How many bad remakes of originally mediocre films can Hollywood pump out? Too many, that's how many.
  • how? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:30PM (#31680370) Homepage

    Each of those soon to be 50,000 people is entitled to a jury trial. That's a LOT of resources tied up on this and for a long time. The logistics could get ugly. And this is supposedly just the test run that could open the floodgate?

    The courts will have a choice. Either shred any semblance of justice, reject this litigative spam, or devote itself exclusively to these suits and hope they get to the last of them before the revolution comes.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ish' in gap]> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:37PM (#31680488)

    It's the classic corporate-welfare strategy: you failed in the market, so get the government to force people to pay you.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LordNimon (85072) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:39PM (#31680504)
    What "good alternative" can I use to watch high-def movies stored on my home server via my networked media tank or laptop etc?

    Why is the parent modded insightful? If you want high-def movies on your home server, buy the Blu-ray disc and a Blu-ray player, and rip the movie to your server. Most people will say that this is completely legal, and even if some companies say it isn't, it's still conscionable and untraceable.
  • Re:They Suck (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:40PM (#31680516) Homepage

    ...except no one is "stealing" anything.

    That is just lying on your part as an attempt to create a bit of melodrama.

    Although even if we accept that idea that you want us all to swallow that
    BT downloads are the same as shoplifting, you are still left with the
    problem of grossly disproportionate "punishments" and an end result that
    looks like Sharia Law more than anything else.

  • by Skapare (16644) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:42PM (#31680548) Homepage

    Say your name is the one your Comcast account is under, but someone else such as a neighbor leeching on your wireless network ...

  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ajaxamander (646536) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:46PM (#31680580) Homepage
    You must not have watched it, then.
  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sam0737 (648914) <sam@chowch[ ]om ['i.c' in gap]> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:01PM (#31680756)

    Bullshit.
    Piracy costs nothing, the kids that do this were not going to buy those movies or games either way.

    But wait! If the kid found out the movie is crappy, it might prevent their moms, friends or relatives going to the cinema/buying DVD!

  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:11PM (#31680876)

    You pretty much can't in a digital format. maybe get movies on VHS and convert them to DVDs? Personally I do the following:

    • Step 1. Get Netflix account
    • Step 2. Get AnyDVD or equivilent
    • Step 3. Receive DVD From Netflix, rip DVD to hard drive
    • Step 4. Watch and enjoy whenever I feel like it.

    IMO, this is no different than if I use a DVR with a big hard drive to record every movie I like from HBO, Cinemax, etc. I can watch a DVR'd movie as many times as I like, and I can keep it until the HD crashes in the DVR. This speaks volumes to the ignorance of lawmakers on technical issues: recording digital content that comes down the wire = OK, but recording that same content off a plastic disc = BAD. WTF? So, if I bought the CD or DVD and it's sitting in in my closet while a digital copy resides on my network, according to the RIAA/MPAA that is not fair use. Really? Dan Glickman and Cary Sherman can kiss my pucker - Until and unless I upload the ripped copy to the internets I've done nothing wrong.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@ ... a - h u dson.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:32PM (#31681112) Journal

    You know, I'm getting sick of all the whiners too.

    Someone makes a movie and *gasp* wants to make money from it. You have several choices:

    Pay full price and watch it in the theatre soon after release

    Wait for it to come to the cheaper screens

    Wait a bit longer for it to come to DVD/Blu-ray

    Wait still longer for it to come to TV

    If you're not happy with any of the options, then do without. Find something else. There's more to life than movies and music, and you don't have an inherent right to just take stuff any more than I have an inherent right to "borrow" anything from you without asking first. If you stopped pirating crap tomorrow your world isn't going to end - you'll just have to find something constructive to fill your time with - like interacting with people.

  • Re:They Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by victorhooi (830021) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:32PM (#31681120)
    heya,

    Well, actually, stealing usually involves depriving somebody of property. So something like shoplifting is "stealing".

    What's actually happening here is copyright infringement, they're just throwing around the stealing word to try and make it sound melodromatic.

    See, that's where I take issue at those stupid anti-piracy videos they force us to watch at the cinemas. I watch a lot of movies - I probably hit the cinemas around once a week. Basically, I watch everything that comes out. I've racked up so many Greater Union Cinebuzz points, I could watch a month of free movies. But still, I'm forced to watch idiotic advertisements that try to equate copyright infringement with breaking into a car, or stealing a handbag? And a whole bunch of other ads for restaurants, cleaning services, and cinemas advertising. Come on...I paid money to see this damn movie, so I shouldn't have to sit there watching ads - it wastes my time, and it's actually annoying how inaccurate and farcial their propaganda is. And my friends that pirate movies (or heck, I've downloaded movies before, to be honest) - guess what, no long ads, no stupid inaccurate propaganda at the beginning.

    And don't get me started on buying DVDs. There's these stupid long ads I have to sit through telling me how bad piracy is. I bought your stupid friggin DVD, ok, so yes, I'm bloody supporting you. Then there's all this ridiculousness with new budget DVDs not having subtitles - I'm hearing impaired, how bloody hard is it to put stupid English subtitles on your film? That's half the reason I like to buy DVDs. Instead, other people who download the MKV get a nice film experience, with no unskippable ads, they can watch it on anything they like, and guess what - some nice fellow transcripted subtitles for that "pirated" movie. I mean...seriously...the frigging pirates get a better experience than me, who just forked out $30 for your stupid DVD. Cheers, Victor

  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:35PM (#31681144) Homepage Journal

    People who are illegally downloading and distributing their works are not a part of their customer base. You have to *buy* something to be a customer.

    The people I know who download the most are the ones with the biggest DVD collections. They sample by downloading, and buy what they like.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:36PM (#31681150)

    Or wait until the copyright expires.
    Not possible, copyrights will get longer again next time mickey mouse comes up.

    I pay for my media, but the reality is copyright no longer serves society as it was supposed too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:36PM (#31681152)

    Exactly, there isn't even anything out right now (or in the recent past) that I would consider worthy of stealing, let along purchasing, I find myself searching through old dvds and vhs just to find something that's actually worth watching these days.

    I think people are probably pirating this stuff out of habit almost, hoping to find something worth their time.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:38PM (#31681176)

    Indie films are by and large not indie films anymore.

    Every major studio now has an indie branch. Plus 90% of everything is and has always been crap.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zencyde (850968) <Zencyde@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:40PM (#31681214)
    I really wish people would stop treating IP like actual property. It's not. Actual property has the problem of scarcity. You can't take IP. You can make copies of it, for sure. You can use it without an appropriate license. But the correlation drawn between stealing and copyright infringement is simply invalid.
  • Re:They Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:41PM (#31681228) Homepage

    When I download Firefox I'm taking something that isn't mine (I've never contributed code to it) without paying for it. I'm I stealing?

    "Taking $something" implies that someone is deprived of $something. I don't "take" Firefox, I download a copy. The fact that Mozilla gives me permission to copy it is irrelevant to this issue.

    But I'll quote the US Supreme Court:

    interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright: ... 'an infringer of the copyright.' ...

            The infringer invades a statutorily defined province guaranteed to the copyright holder alone. But he does not assume physical control over the copyright; nor does he wholly deprive its owner of its use. While one may colloquially link infringement with some general notion of wrongful appropriation, infringement plainly implicates a more complex set of property interests than does run-of-the-mill theft, conversion, or fraud.
            --Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207, pp. 217-218

    Now tell me the Supreme Court is just lying to create justification for stealing.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RTFA (697910) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:42PM (#31681238)
    yes, but a 100$ fine is fairly different than a 100K$ or more lawsuit -- from which you may get ruined. And which is more dangerous: downloading a movie or passing on a red light?
  • Re:Good thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rayban (13436) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:45PM (#31681264) Homepage

    Your analogy between "borrowing something without asking first" and copyright infringement doesn't hold water. There's a big difference between borrowing your Ferrari and making a molecule by molecule copy of it that doesn't deprive you of your car.

  • Re:They Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blackraven14250 (902843) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:46PM (#31681290)
    You're getting paid content for free; don't argue that point. The difference between shoplifting and illegal downloads is that the seller doesn't lose the opportunity to sell the content as would happen if you shoplifted a CD. The penalty should reflect this, but don't get it twisted and think you deserve the content.
  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peipas (809350) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:47PM (#31681310)

    I would love to see a viable legal alternative to my current setup

    It's more than that, though, because your current setup in many cases should be legal.

    How many dollars have been stolen from consumers by way of the politicians that have been bought to extend copyright on works that should have entered the public domain decades ago (copyright is supposed to be for the public benefit, which is why their government enacted it), and how does this compare to the money the industry claims is being stolen now? I think they may owe us a perpetually growing chunk of change, in fact.

    And as a preemptive strike against the pedantic counterpoint, let's assume for these purposes that yes, selling somebody the Brooklyn Bridge is stealing from them.

  • Re:They Suck (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mellon (7048) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:53PM (#31681398) Homepage

    What you are saying is that you don't agree with what the law says. I don't either. But the way to fix that is to fix the law, not to argue with trolls who think copying is the same thing as stealing.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:00PM (#31681450)

    Even if they do buy films, they will go for the used option. These are clearly price conscious folks.

    Another baseless and naive assertion. I download movies and TV shows for the convenience. I frequently buy box sets, collector's editions, etc at full retail price.

  • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:01PM (#31681462)

    Hmm, you know, the RIAA uses that same logic, but there were a couple of studies that showed the opposite: people who downloaded music spent more money on music (either discs, concerts or other products) than people who didn't download music. I wonder if the same holds for movies? I kind of suspect it does. If indeed it does, not only would the studios be attacking their customers, but attacking their best customers. If I were them, I would have wanted to test that one before launching the lawsuits.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WCVanHorne (897068) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:07PM (#31681546)
    I'm going to "me too" this. I would love there to be a legal alternative to buy non-drm files instead of purchasing the bloody physical media. I'd pay a decent amount to download a high quality torrent. The value to me is having a trusted source with a beautiful 10GB encode from the original. I'd easily pay $5 per movie, perhaps $10 for that. As far as I'm concerened the MPAA should set this up and watch their distribution cost plummet. Heck they could stick to torrents and have the customers help distribute. For TV the same thing goes. I'd download ones with commercials even if they posted them at the same time as they go to air. I'd probably even pay a modest subscription. Basically until they offer something like this they have no business going after "pirates" since their other option are so crappy. Once they do, all the power to them.
  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:08PM (#31681554)

    So then you are an idiot. Identity Theft is just a way for a bank who was scammed to make it your problem.

    The fact that people are ok with this I cannot understand.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:10PM (#31681570) Homepage
    "take what is not yours."

    Good thing I'm not taking anything.
  • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:12PM (#31681590)
    Excellent point. If you download a movie and it turns out you really like it (not likely anyway) then is a 700 MB lossy version riddled with artifacts, poor sound quality and a lack of subtitles going to be enough? I'd wager that you're going to go out there and buy the DVD or Blu-Ray. Dear Hollywood: Produce something worth buying and we will gladly buy it. Produce crap and you will see people sampling, laughing (unless it's a comedy) and quickly deleting.
  • by Animaether (411575) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:18PM (#31681642) Journal

    Just to add to parent - think also distribution rights.

    They get $nnK or more from a broadcaster in order to broadcast a given production to a given audience.

    They do not get that $nnK from .

    Similarly.. just because, say, FOX broadcasted a production and paid for it, doesn't mean that TNT, NBC, ABC, etc. can then broadcast it for $0 based on the argument that people could have watched it for free on FOX before -anyway-.

    That said, there's also a big distinction between the parent's post and this... his is about downloaders, this is essentially about uploaders.
    It's the uploaders that they should chase, not the downloaders. In the case of bittorrent it tends to be that downloaders are automatically uploaders as well. Lo and behold, the actual case linked to (the PDF) states this as what the rub seems to be:

    The Plaintiff is informed and believes that each Defendant, without the permission or consent of the Plaintiff, has used, and continues to use, an online media distribution system to distribute to the public, including by making available for distribution to others, the Copyrighted Motion Picture.

    I'm not sure how they would go after -downloaders- anyway; they would have to either offer the data themselves, or supervise a third party that does so. If they themselves are essentially distributing it, or a third party is doing so for them, then clearly it's not an unlawful distribution - so anybody who downloads it should be in the clear regardless of any downloading laws.
    ( IANAL, so maybe the above common sense goes out the window in the courts )

  • Re:Good thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Modern Demagogue (975016) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:29PM (#31681778)
    Not only is there a problem with a causal chain of action (all they can do is probably hold the ISP account holder responsible, but I am not sure that is law or precedent), but they misrepresent what BitTorrent does.

    They claim that if you are a member of a swarm which is tied to a copyrighted work, then you must be distributing a portion of this copyrighted work, which is not true. Unless they download a piece from you, they have no way of verifying that you "made available" a copyrighted work for download, or that you in fact committed the crime of distributing a portion of a copyrighted work. As far as I can tell, they do not attempt to download a piece from each individual they are suing; if they do, then it gets interesting, but the way the law suit is worded, it looks like they are doing some pretty serious hand waiving at establishing the basics; all they seem to really do, is establish that X IP address was a member of Y swarm at Z time, and then claim that is prima facie evidence of copyright infringement, which is not the case...
  • Re:Good thing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:41PM (#31681894)

    I agree. Equilibrium was awesome. Some people thought it was a Matrix rip-off, but I thought it was much better than the Matrix because it had better actors and better fight scenes. I'll admit that the story was a bit flimsy, but so was the story in the Matrix.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by toleraen (831634) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:45PM (#31681942)
    Probably want to know if they actually spent a dime on their products in the first place too.
  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:46PM (#31681944)

    I think this is what most don't understand. I am the type of pirate that does it for convenience. There is no other method of accessing movies that is as convenient as piracy, and I don't see anything coming in the near future that can come even close to allowing me to easily watch movies in multiple places in my home or on the road. With a downloaded .mkv, I can watch any movie I have on any TV in my home or on any computer in the world at the press of a button. I would love to see a viable legal alternative to my current setup, but it will never exist due to the luddites in charge of the movie companies.

    I really, really, really hate the itunes interface in general but the online version of the store for the ipod touch is actually a good thing. The only two shows I watch on the pod are olbermann and maddow and the feeds are almost automatic. They only post the last aired episode but with a click I can download them to the pod. No fees, possibly one commercial, very sweet. I assume the for-pay stuff like Daily Show and Colbert would be just as slick but they're usually charging too much for this. Movie rentals are $4 and many movies are listed for "purchase" at DVD prices. I'm sorry, if you're not giving me physical media then why should I pay physical media prices? If DVD kiosks in the supermarket rent movies for $1, why should the electronic version that's even cheaper cost as much as renting from blockbuster?

    The tech is already here to make buying more convenient than piracy. The issue is that they're charging too much and doing too many dickish things.

    I actually like the idea of being able to vote with my dollars. Direct measurement of consumption is far more accurate than Neilsen's. Treat a season like shareware, Doom I'm thinking. The first third is free. You pay for access to the second third. If it's a good show, you'll want to pay. But make the price reasonable. I see DVD's of full seasons going for $20 some places. Keep the price down low enough so that it's an impulse purchase and we'll do it. Just look at the app store. Dollar apps? shit, that's cheaper than an appetizer. Yeah, I'll try it. If it sucks, no big deal. Price it at $10, now I'm skeptical and likely won't give it a spin.

  • Re:They Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:49PM (#31681962)

    Sure they're stealing. They are taking something that is not theirs without paying for it. That's stealing, plain and simple. You may not like to look at it that way because they don't "take" anything that is a "physical" item, but it's stealing nonetheless. You are the one lying as an attempt to create justification for stealing.

    If downloading is "stealing," then jaywalking is "rape of traffic."

    Words -- especially legal terms -- have meaning. You don't get to make up new meanings to suit your own purposes.

  • DRM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:51PM (#31681992)
    Once a studio commits to DRM, it is a part of the package. What they are doing (the studios) is taking a candy (game) and wrapping it up with a layer of used toilet paper (obtrusive DRM). Word gets out about the used toilet paper packaging, and the studio heads are wondering why fewer people are buying their candy. "The candy is great!" they scream. (It probably is. But, it doesn't matter, because YOU WRAPPED IT UP IN USED TOILET PAPER.) The studios are free to "protect" their investments as they see fit -- however, at the same time, we are free to "NOT BUY IT" if we don't like the product, including the packaging/(non)delivery method. That being said, there is an entire generation which has effectively ignored the DMCA, and the companies think that people will suddenly change their behavior to be more "moral" now that they've driven their desires into legislation. We already went through this many years ago. It was called prohibition back then. Millions of people ignored it and alcohol still abounded. Now, millions of people ignore the DMCA, and pirated software still abounds. Not content, they are now working on ACTA, as well. We already know how the story ends, but we unfortunately have to live through it until those in charge realise they've made a mistake.
  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:52PM (#31682006)

    That is why I go into stores and steal the actual DVD's. Much less punishment if I get caught and it is actual theft.

  • Re:I wonder... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:26PM (#31682338)

    ... if the morons would just release the movies on BitTorrent THEMSELVES and add in advertising, the vast majority of people would not bother to even remove the ads... they'd just watch them... especially if it was in with the 'extra content'.

    how dumb are these schmucks???

  • Re:Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arose (644256) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:41PM (#31682508)
    It's perfectly possible to both think that copyright, as it stands, is out of whack and not pirate...
  • Re:Good thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Artifakt (700173) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:43PM (#31682518)

    The point is, someone pretending to be you may or may not be harming you. If someone gave your name after pulling a little child from the path of a runaway bus, have they hurt you? Someone who defrauds a bank harms the bank. If they did that fraud by pretending to be you they still harm the bank, but the bank passes the costs on to you, calls it identity theft instead of fraud, and doesn't have to deal with the consequences of being tricked by a fraudster themselves (or at least, doesn't have to deal with as many of them.). Being able to label some acts of fraud as identity theft and pass the consequences on, even when the bank makes basic mistakes that make fraud easy, means the bank doesn't have to exercise normal caution or train their employees to reasonable standards.
          It's a phrase like 'age discrimination'. Many people still discriminate against some race or other, or against some other groups, but there really are not a lot of people who hate middle aged or older people. There are very, very few who think the average 40 year old is senile, feeble, or likely to die before the get trained enough to work. People in hiring discriminate against older employees frequently, but it's mostly because of insurance cost issues, not because there's the sort of widespread hate for older people that there was for, say Blacks in Selma Alabama, the first day one tried to sit at a lunch counter. 'Age discrimination' is a lie, a phrase designed to cloak that the real problem is essentially entirely fixed around current insurance company practices and not because of stereotyping or other normal causes of prejudice. 'Identity theft' is a lie in much the same way.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Endo13 (1000782) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:53PM (#31682608)

    The fact that you'd even consider comparing identity theft with copyright infringement shows how out-of-touch you are with reality. On the one hand, we have someone getting their whole life fucked over, possibly to the point that it may be impossible for them to ever get a decent job again. (Do you know how fucked you can be if someone messes with your medical history via identity theft? You should read up on it. It's very enlightening.) On the other hand, we have someone maybe possibly losing as much as a whopping 1-5% of profit on some idea they put down on paper (or whatever) and tried to sell.

    Gee, I wonder which situation I'd rather be in.

  • Re:They Suck (Score:2, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip DOT paradis AT palegray DOT net> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @12:00AM (#31682646) Homepage Journal
    Your analogy fails miserably. Please try to come up with one that actually fits the context of this discussion. Additionally, I'd like to note that you've managed to bring privacy and defamation strawmen into the discussion, which is worse than disingenuous; it's downright idiotic. How about attempting to address the specific case I cited?
  • Re:They Suck (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Duradin (1261418) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @01:03AM (#31683076)

    Watching /.ers try with one hand deny the very existence of intellectual property while with the other hand they fervently defend it is rather entertaining.

  • April Fool's Joke (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LonghornXtreme (954562) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @01:11AM (#31683112)

    Come on. Who the hell would torrent the movies in TFA anyways?

    My guess, this is one REALLY elaborate April Fool's joke.

  • Re:They Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @01:21AM (#31683198) Journal

    I didn't say it isn't copyright infringement. I said it's stealing.

    Even if you don't see the two as mutually exclusive, both I and the Supreme Court disagree with you as to it being stealing. Read the first bloody sentence and you'll see what I mean.

    Are you more interested in justifying stealing via quibbles over legal terminology,

    This isn't about justifying it.

    Look, if someone had their pocket picked, and they started whining about being raped, we'd rightly correct them on their terminology -- frankly, it's an insult to the real rape victims to claim that pickpocketing is rape. That's not "justifying" it in the least, and we can still say that pickpocketing is wrong without also saying it's "rape".

    The difference between theft and copyright infringement is significant, and it's not just about legal definitions.

    are you interested in stating your opinion on whether it's right or wrong to do such a thing?

    I'm not sure I believe in absolute rights and wrongs. Take the above pickpocketing example -- is pickpocketing always wrong? A child living on the streets might have no other source of income, or might have a "pimp" who will beat him if he doesn't do it. It might be that the pickpocket is a security expert hired by the victim. It might be that the pickpocket needs ransom money to save his family. It might be that the pickpocket is a spy, and has legitimate reasons for needing information stored in the victim's wallet...

    So moving back to copyright infringement. In general, I don't like it. However, putting it in the context of copyright infringement shows it to be a relatively small offense, much smaller than pickpocketing. Let me make this even clearer: I run Linux. My options for HD video are basically:

    • Buy a Blu-Ray player and rent or buy physical disks.
    • Stick to DVDs (also physical), and break copyright law every time I play (or rip) them.
    • Use an authorized Windows, only on authorized output devices, heavy DRM all the way, and I get something like Netflix WatchNow.
    • YouTube.
    • BitTorrent.

    The issue here is that no one is providing the product that I actually want, legitimately. Even something like Netflix WatchNow -- what if I want to download something at a higher quality than I can stream, leave it downloading all day so I can watch a 2 hour movie in the evening?

    So pretty much the only realistic options are ripping DVDs myself (violates the DMCA) or downloading via BitTorrent (violates copyright law), and BitTorrent is going to give me a superior product -- I don't have to leave the house, and it'll be higher quality (HD) than I'd get with a rented DVD.

    Now, is it wrong?

    That's a harder question. There are some DVDs I go out of my way to buy, because I feel it's wrong for me to continue to watch the rips I downloaded without paying. DVD is, after all, not that encumbered, since it's been so brutally cracked. I also do tend to buy content I like when it's available as a DRM-free download, and I'll even tolerate a reasonable amount of DRM (I like Steam) on video games.

    But in many cases, the option simply isn't there. I want to support Firefly, but where can I buy a 1080p version of it that I can play on my Linux laptop? I can't, so the choice isn't between buying and torrenting, it's between torrenting or simply not watching it.

    I don't know that I could say it's right, but I could certainly say that at that point, it's not even as bad as jaywalking.

    Would you be okay with someone lifting GPL licensed code, changing it for their own purposes, and then selling the code without disclosing the source?

    That depends.

    First, you're begging the question. "Lifting" here is a synonym for "stealing".

    In general, no. However, I also don't think copyright law should be so ludicrously long, and I think that definitely any software older t

  • Re:They Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Al Dimond (792444) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @01:28AM (#31683254) Journal

    Please stop being obtuse.

    Something can be wrong and illegal without it being stealing. Copyright infringement is clearly illegal. I think most typical cases of copyright infringement (i.e. P2P piracy) are morally wrong, though I find nothing wrong with some things that people are sued or threatened for (i.e. quoting Joyce), and I think copyright terms should be short and fixed from date of publication. I don't agree with all Slashdotters on these things and that's why we argue.

    I wouldn't, of course, "be OK with" someone distributing GPL-licensed code against the terms of its license, but I also wouldn't call it stealing. It's something different.

    If you can't make the distinction between one and the other you can't have a rational discussion of copyright.

  • by Burz (138833) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @01:30AM (#31683274) Journal

    How long until we have BitTorrent with TOR and encryption built in?

    TOR wasn't designed to handle large P2P transfers. The only anonymous network I've seen that is robustly handling torrent traffic is I2P. [i2p2.de] One you install it and set the proxy on your browser, just go to tracker2.postman.i2p to see what is on the most popular tracker.

    The I2P software is open source and comes with anonymized email, bittorrent and http software built in. Other programs either written for or adapted to I2P are available, such as Tahoe-LAFS file system and iMule. I2P just recently got a new plugin architecture to make it easy to distribute new apps to interested users, and they could use some coding talent on the many ideas bouncing around on the main forum site.

    It seems that I2P aims to be very TOR-like in terms of internal routing and anonymizing capability (they call it "garlic routing"), but in a mostly darknet fashion. This means that the trackers, torrents and web sites you visit through I2P will be 'inside' the anon network. However, there are 'gift' gateways to regular www as well as to freenet and TOR. Another difference with TOR is that all running I2P 'clients' are also routers and route at least a minimal amount of traffic for the network (this increases anonymity because there is no built-in "exit node" capability). Yet another difference is that the I2P network is supposed to be less centralized, though I'm not intimate with the code and can't say for sure.

  • by slew (2918) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @02:27AM (#31683602)

    Local municipalities have been playing a similar scam for awhile.

    1. Create a local municipal police force
    2. Post artificially low speed limit signs and irrational parking meter zones and enforce it vigorously
    3. ???
    4. Profit
    5. Become addicted on the enforcement revenues, and do more of #2

  • Re:Good thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kevinbr (689680) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:38AM (#31684048)

    I agree, I live in France and I can watch Movies over the Internet via Orange, and I do. I pay 2.99, or 3.99 for the abiitity to watch ONE time. However I only get 24 hours. My partner usually falls asleep at the halfway point so she never usually get the times to watch the rest.

    I don't want HD, or blueray or other crap definitions. I use piratebay because I can download a film in 40 minutes and watch it that night in bed, and my partner can rewatch it some other time.

    I would pay 5 Euros a download for a 1 gig sized version. But no one wants to sell to me, because copyright is A MONOPOLY in distribution. There is no incentive for the distributers to reacts to changing market conditions.

    I WILL NOT BUY DVD's anymore. I do not buy CD's anymore.

    Cinema? Yes I reluctantly go. I saw Avatar in non 3D. 10 Euros a ticket, 40 euros for the family.

    People defending copyright have no idea on the intention of copyright. They have no idea the abusive monopolistic position of copyrights holders.

    Their distribution model sucks and is overpriced.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:48AM (#31684128)

    [..]massive scale[..]as the piracy being committed by the torrent users has never been even remotely legal[..]

    The thing with legality is, those with the most money get to define it.

    The time when the people shared beliefs what's right and what's wrong with lawmakers is over. More and more people no longer belief in laws made by a corrupt system. "illegal" and "immoral" have drifted so far apart that they are often on two different sides of the scale.

    As far as your "massive scale" is concerned, I call nonsense on that. Almost all of those 50k people have done it for private use only; hardly a massive scale. Plus the more people you sue, the more overlap you get and the scale gets even smaller.

    The prohibition comparison from others is quite fitting. If so many people ignore a law that has been bought with money and favours, the law is wrong.

  • Re:They Suck (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nagrom (1233532) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:06AM (#31684630)
    I simply cannot understand those anti-piracy adverts on the front of legitimate movie experiences. Who do they think they're targetting? From what I can tell, most people that illegally download movies (or any other media) themselves tend to pirate more or less everything they watch and will never see the ads. And of course the ultimate irony is that I have a poor experience at the cinema much more often than I do occasionally watching a copy of something from a friend, because some assholes are talking in the next row or there are issues with the sound or whatever. I still go because usually the experience - the one bit of anti-piracy propoganda that's actually on the money - is superior but patronising me before every movie I watch is not the way to keep my custom. Though frankly, the pointless pedantry over stealing vs shoplifting is tiresome. Yes, they're technically and legally distinct but it makes no practical difference and is such a weak argument that it undermines other more legitimate points when it's so often repeated.
  • Re:They Suck (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SilentMobius (10171) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:47AM (#31684888)

    No its fine.

    Theft: The act of depriving another...
    Theft of property: ... of their property
    Theft of service: ... of their time

    Copyright Infringement _removes nothing_ is is simply a breach of the covenant of copyright that many governments have established, it was established, in part, because the rules of theft _made no sense_ when applied to a body of work that could be duplicated with minimal effort.

    It is different and it is not theft/stealing/piracy in anything but inaccurate colloquial parlance.

    That _does not_ mean you get free reign to ignore it the same way that speeding is also not theft, but it can still get you fined and/or get your licence removed _when proven in a court of law_

  • Re:They Suck (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:05AM (#31685746)

    This Slashdot-promoted definition is wrong, and out of control. The counterexample is theft of labor, or in other words the service industry. If someone charges money to provide a service, say, mowing your lawn, and then you don't pay them for that service, that is theft, as defined by law. Here is your citation. When committing the crime of theft of labor, you have not deprived anyone of physical property, yet you have committed theft.

    Wrong. You have deprived them of time (definitely physical) and energy used in doing the labor (also definitely physical). So you have taken something physical away from them that they now no longer have, hence theft.

  • Re:Good thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ostracus (1354233) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:36AM (#31686000) Journal

    "I really wish people would stop treating IP like actual property. It's not. Actual property has the problem of scarcity."

    I addressed this in a non-Slashdot forum. The original is scarce. This forum is open to debating that fact. The question that needs to be addressed regardless of if one believes IP to be property or not is how to take that unique original and distribute it to the most while propagating the conditions that allowed the original to be created in the first place? Right now mass piracy only addresses the copying and distribution and leaves the rest at best to vague hand-waving and empty promises.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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