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Crime Movies

For-Profit, Illegal Movie Download Sites Threaten MPAA 387

Posted by kdawson
from the good-luck-shutting-those-down dept.
vossman77 writes that BitTorrent is no longer the MPAA's enemy number one. They are now more concerned about illicit, for-profit movie download sites. This reader adds, "Just a thought, but maybe if the studios offered a low-cost, for-profit, legitimate download site without DRM, they could receive the profits at the expense of the cyberlockers." "Movie fans downloading free pirated films are no longer Hollywood's worst nightmare, but that's only because of a newer menace: cheap, and equally illegal, subscription services. Foreign, often mob-run, businesses aggregate illegally obtained movies into 'cyberlockers.' Cyberlocker-based businesses operate from Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, Germany, Switzerland, and elsewhere. ... Hollywood movies are made available via illegal for-profit sites within days of theatrical release, while the advent of global releasing now allows the proliferation of individual titles into an array of language dubs within the first month of a theatrical debut. ... When movies are released on DVD and Blu-ray disc, the sites upgrade the quality of video offered from camcorded images to pristine digital copies. 'Sometimes these sites look better than the legitimate sites,' Huntsberry said. 'That's the irony.'"
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For-Profit, Illegal Movie Download Sites Threaten MPAA

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  • by Kitkoan (1719118) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:10PM (#32656806)
    I wonder, are sites like MegaVideo part of that list? I have a friend who told me about that they canceled their tv subscription and bought a MegaVideo subscription instead since they can watch even more and when they want. Wonder which sites are most likely to be a part of this list?
  • Crime Pays (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Torrents higher quality and are better than legal downloads and are more useful since they don't have DRM.

    Weed is better than alcohol because it doesn't leave you hung over.

    Amphetamine is better than caffine because it takes much less to keep you awake and focus. And it's better to take speed as needed than every single day as it is usually prescribed.

    The bottom line: the best things in life are illegal.

    • Re:Crime Pays (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mangu (126918) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:34PM (#32657122)

      You forgot: Hookers are better than wives because you only have to pay when you get laid.

    • by mopower70 (250015)

      Very simple solution then: buy the DVD then download the torrent. There is nothing inherently wrong, immoral or illegal about filesharing. There is a great deal wrong, immoral, and illegal about downloading something that someone deserves to be paid for and not paying them.

      And really? Amphetamine is better than caffeine? I mean, I'm all for legalization of marijuana, but if you're going to try and defend crystal meth as a safe alternative to coffee, please take your support some place else.

    • Amphetamine is better than caffine because it takes much less to keep you awake and focus.

      Worth mentioning though that it's often easier to find a trustworthy coffee maker than a trustworthy amphetamine dealer. Having said that, a questionable prescription to ritalin is probably just as safe if not safer than a Mr. Coffee.

  • as simple as that. i would like to see mpaa, riaa take on russia.
  • by flaming error (1041742) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:12PM (#32656836) Journal

    It used to be the **AA vs Jammie, now it looks like the **AA vs the Mafia. Fighting somebody their own size, playing by their same rules, is probably something they won't enjoy.

  • illegal sites "for profit" sites will always have an advantage of lower price compared to whatever MPAA is ready to give up in markup in their hypothetical "legal" sites.

    That and zillion of "free with ads that are not in the video itself" sites.

    That does not mean though that MPAA should not do those sites, because those "legit" sites have an advantage of their users not having their asses randomly fried.

  • by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:14PM (#32656862)
    This is what Hollywood should really be worried about. People downloading movies and music likely would never have bought those media if they hadn't had access to free versions of them. But these mob-run pay-sites are funneling money from customers to their illegal operations. Unfortunately the RIAA and MPAA seem to be more interested in punishing normal people than actual criminals.
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:14PM (#32656866) Homepage Journal
    From the summary: "Foreign, often mob-run, businesses aggregate illegally obtained movies into 'cyberlockers.'" In a way, that reminds me of the mainstream movie industry.
    • Foreign: Sony Pictures is a foreign (Japanese) business, as are the foreign companies that produce films to be distributed by MPAA affiliated distributors.
    • Mob-run: The mainstream Music And Film Industry Associations have been compared to the mob [mafiaa.org].
    • Cyberlockers: Netflix is a cyberlocker secured with a cyberlock backed by the DMCA.
    • Illegal: You'll see once Hollywood accounting methods [wikipedia.org] become better documented.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:16PM (#32656888) Journal
    In college, a friend of mine had found AllOfMP3.com and diligently purchased hundreds of dollars worth of songs. When albums are ~ ten cents and legit, why not? He had assumed that because technology was so wonderful, someone had finally figured out how to eliminate all the middle men in the process of making digital music. So I investigated and showed him where the servers he downloaded from were located (Russia and Germany) and then pointed out how their local laws allow them to do this without rewarding the artists in anyway. He stopped using it but, like the article said, claimed it was worth the extra money to get the real thing with correct track labels and a perceived level of legitimacy. Like, he saw himself as not at fault legally ... the seller is the one who should get punished.

    Sure opened my eyes to the problem of global and local laws surrounding copyright that over reaching blankets like ACTA have tried to address. Basically people see file sharers being sued but they don't see these users being sued. So you get on newsbin or something where a service takes a small fee from you and basically makes itself the target for the lawsuit. You aren't buying a license for the media, you're buying insurance in case the RIAA/MPAA come down on the service you're using. If they do, you lose only the fractions of the cost you put in and the site owner takes the fall. That's raw capitalism for you!
    • by thue (121682) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:45PM (#32657274) Homepage

      As I understand it, AllOfMP3 was offering to send money back to the artists, as required under the Russian broadcasting law it was operating under. Hence it should not be a surprise that the servers were in Russia. It is not clear that buying music from AllOfMP3 was amoral or illegal, IMO.

      It was just RIAA which was refusing to accept the money, because RIAA though they were entitled to more money.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Shikaku (1129753)

        It was just RIAA which was refusing to accept the money

        ARE THEY RETARDED!?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        As I understand it, AllOfMP3 was offering to send money back to the artists, as required under the Russian broadcasting law it was operating under. Hence it should not be a surprise that the servers were in Russia. It is not clear that buying music from AllOfMP3 was amoral or illegal, IMO.

        AllOfMP3 maintained that it can operate under existing Russian laws that are intended to cover radio broadcasts, which was always a rather dubious assertion. The fact that you don't see AllOfMP3 online anymore shows that its legality was, at best, not crystal clear.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:19PM (#32656934)

    If you are a subscriber to:

    Sorny.com
    UniblersalStudios.com
    Fox.com

    You are probably getting ripped off by the mob.

  • Nobody's going to pay for a movie obtained from a camcorder in a movie theater.

    They might for DVD quality, but then there's no incentive to get the movie early, since the DVD-quality copy isn't going to be available until months later.

    Now, if the movie is DVD quality and "released within days" of theatrical release, then Hollywood has their own problem they need to sort out. It's not the "pirates" getting the new movie out there.

    Someone on the inside is letting the DVD-quality copy out early. But the

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Daniel_Staal (609844)

      Having grown up overseas, in countries where the 'official' release was likely to never happen at all...

      You seriously under-estimate the quality possible with a camcorder in movie theater. Sure, some were dim, unsteady, and with people walking in front of them. Others were absolutely pristine, and in full VHS quality. (DVDs weren't common yet. I assume they could get near-DVD quality these days if they want.) It was often hard to tell if a movie was legit or not.

      (Of course, these were the movies rented

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:26PM (#32657022) Journal
    People who are willing to pay money for an illegal download would obviously pay at least something for a legal download. Some people probably believe these are genuine sites.

    Now, I'm pretty neutral about people downloading movies for free. I don't think it does a lot of harm although the sense of entitlement a lot of downloaders have irritates me. These guys on the other hand, are directly profiting from someone else's work. Sure, the MPAA could compete pretty well if they dind't have to make the damn films in the first place.

    This is exactly the sort of thing copyright law was intended to prevent. It's a system that has worked reasonably well for quite some time. I'm surprised there's so much sympathy for criminals.
    • This is exactly the sort of thing copyright law was intended to prevent. It's a system that has worked reasonably well for quite some time.

      This attitude here is how we got where we are today. Copyright law was intended to promote culture by creating a temporary artificial monopoly as an incentive to create new things, which would, after a short and reasonable time, become the property of the public. Notice how that term is no longer short and reasonable and how the only works newer than the 1920s to enter into public domain have been only done so by specific requests of the authors (and rarely, at that) and you'll notice exactly how the system is broken. Now, I'm not here to root for the pirates (though I'd be lying if I said I didn't root for them at least somewhat in general), but it's clear that the copyright owners refusing to adapt are a far larger problem than the pirates.

  • Every month I see some twit post an ad in the computers-and-tech section of my local Craigslist branch, advertising a disk drive or Flash media pre-loaded with hundreds or thousands of movies or MP3s, and in every instance the asking price is far more than the value of the media itself. Those people, too, are profiting from it; whether they are vacationing members of one of these shady foreign cartels I can't say.

  • Its funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by future assassin (639396) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:28PM (#32657054) Homepage
    when the criminals can give you better customer service then the legit manufacturer/vendor. If the MPAA/RIAA always bitch about how every download is a lost sale image how much they would be racking in if a new movie was available for $2-5 for digital download. You would be stupid to download it illegally when you can get a brand new release for the price of a coffee. Oh lost the file in a crash oh well its only $2 to download it again. At that point I wouldn't even bother hitting the the pawn shops few days after new releases to get them for $3 when I can save time by buying it at home and let it download. Now give the user tons of payment options even pre paid cards for people who can't set up paypal or credit cards and you're brought your business int the 21st century. Its amazing what you can achieve when you work for the customer.
    • Re:Its funny (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tibit (1762298) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:56PM (#32658170)

      It's funny that it was the exact situation in Eastern Europe in the late 80s and early 90s. I remember it quite vividly. Suppose you wanted an up-to-date copy of Visual C++ and Windows DDK right around the time when Windows 95 came out. Good luck buying it from official channels -- you were quoted delivery times of months, and overheads in multiples of US prices. IOW: no legitimate way to get it in time allotted for your project. Going to the local pirate, you could get it in an afternoon.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:28PM (#32657056) Journal
    Back when I used to play games online, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was "If someone plays a dirty trick on you, don't get mad, remember it and use it on someone else the next time!". Like TFA says: If they offered an inexpensive, legal, DRM-free service, they'd put the pirates out of business.
  • by bm_luethke (253362) <luethkeb&comcast,net> on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:31PM (#32657086)

    My uncle has a VERY large collection of movies he gets from one of those places. For whatever fee it is he pays per month he can get up to 10 a month and then a fee for everyone after that. They are fairly decent quality (cost more for the HD versions). He thinks it is legal since he is paying for it, the website is professional looking, and the cost/access rules are what he expects for a legit company.

    Indeed, he was lamenting to me a few weeks ago about not being able to find a blue-ray player that also plays his DIVX's. He commented that as easy as it is to get them off the internet and as fast as they come out he didn't understand why all the players just didn't mostly move to that format. I, once again, explained that it was illegal and few companies are going to be going about making your illegal downloads work easier. He looked blankly at me and said "Oh" - it was about the 50'th time I've tried to explain it. It is amusing that he refuses any of the ones I download for free but will happily pay someone else for the same thing so "He knows he is legal". If something were to happen and he end up ripped off (I suspect that if they are getting ready to be shut down many would be all over some credit fraud) or something happen and him go to court he would be one of the ones perputally confused that such a nice company dd it too him. I suspect that letters would be written to movie studios and no amount of being told "It is *illegal*" will ever sink in to most.

    Really, with as many people that *do* use them the MPAA ought to just bite the bullet and enter that market - were it legal I woud most likely pay the fee (I'm not about to give someplace pirating anything credit card or bank account numbers even if I were willing to pay for something I could get for free). My uncle (and those others I know that use these services) still go to the movies just as often, the MPAA is just missing out on the profit he is sending to an operation in another country that may or may not be legal there.

    For myself *this* is the type of piracy they ought to go after. I have no sympathy whatsoever for selling copyrighted information that you do not have permission to do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wvmarle (1070040)

      Interesting story, and I do have to support your uncle in it.

      We know better - we know the RIAA and MPAA and their peers do not offer download services. And thus that any download services must be illegal. But only for that roundabout reason we know that.

      When you walk down to the video store in your local mall, and you buy a DVD there. What do you expect, legal or not? I would expect it's a legal copy, the real thing. Will you ever question it? I don't think so. The same for buying food stuffs: you buy lun

  • Just a thought (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KharmaWidow (1504025)

    You guys have to stop expecting free media! Sheesh. Have you ever watched a movie's entire credits? Its like a small city put that together. Cheap and DRM free is not going to happen if that small city is going to eat and dress their children. Media pirates are not Robin Hoods. Robin Hood only stole which was *wrongly* taken. All these people who make want is a liveable wage. Not eevry one involved is a mega star or executive.

    The economy needs money to be exchanged, to flow. As long as you refuse to pay for

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      So how do they show them on tv?
      I can get them cheap and basically DRM free in the stores. Is target selling pirated DVDs?

    • by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:09PM (#32657584)

      Cheap and DRM free is not going to happen if that small city is going to eat and dress their children

      I'm not sure I want to be paying them if they plan on using it to eat their children!! ;)

    • Re:Just a thought (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpecBear (769433) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:15PM (#32657656)

      Cheap and DRM free is not going to happen if that small city is going to eat and dress their children.

      DRM isn't going to keep those children from going hungry and naked. DRM did nothing to keep these cyberlockers from being set up. DRM isn't keeping movies off of any of the P2P networks. Nobody who pirates a film is affected by DRM because pirates distribute DRM-free versions of the media.

      DRM isn't about preventing pirates from getting media for free. It's already proven to be an abysmal failure at that. It's about controlling what honest people can do with the media after they've purchased it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DeadPixels (1391907)

      Just a thought, but maybe if the studios offered a low-cost, for-profit, legitimate download site without DRM, they could receive the profits at the expense of the cyberlockers.

      The problem with this: Why would the MPAA ever want to do that when they can still get away with charging ten times as much for DRM'd movies and just sue anyone who dissents into bankruptcy? They need incentive to change, and if it takes cyberlockers and other people getting paid to do it, then maybe they'll finally get their act together.

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:36PM (#32657150) Journal

    'Sometimes these sites look better than the legitimate sites,' Huntsberry said. 'That's the irony.'

    He’s so close to an epiphany that it’s almost painful.

    Everything about them is better. Except, perhaps, the quality of the picture, but personally I won’t tolerate a really terrible picture anyway. I’ll just wait.

    The lack of DRM is better. The lack of involuntary filler content (previews and menus and such) is better. The convenience of being able to fairly quickly get any full-length feature film and watch it in the privacy of your home is better. The price, of course, can’t be beat. And apparently in some cases the websites even look better than their legal counterparts. Admittedly, being illegal is worse, but only if you get caught.

    To beat piracy, they’re going to have to make the legal offering better. That’s all there is to it. Apple was very successful with iTunes (well, once they got beyond the notion that 1 song from an 8-song album should cost 1/8 as much as the album). It appears that a lot of people think iTunes is better than illegally downloading.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ekhben (628371)

      They need to stop selling a product and start selling a service.

      The product, a digital file, has no value. It costs nothing to make. Therefore, if you attempt to compete by selling your zero-cost item for less money than the other guy, you're in a race towards free. If the other guy has no production costs of offset, you lose. And there's no extra value you can add to a digital file that can't also be copied for nothing.

      The service, distributing digital files, has value. The act of aggregating, rec

  • by spamuell (1208984) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:43PM (#32657246)
    The article is hosted at movies.yahoo.com, and in turn their source is the CEO of Paramount. Is there any reason to believe that these are used nearly as widely as either claim?

    This just seems like PR to try to influence people to view those involved in illegal downloading as serious criminals.
  • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:43PM (#32657254)
    Who would give their credit card number to a site of questionable legality? I suppose you could give a one time use CC number, but wouldn't you be in constant worry that the site might forget to pay off its local officials, get raided, and have said local officials sell all the records to the MPAA/RIAA?
  • Better bribes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:50PM (#32657318)
    All they have to do is give better bribes to the FSB and the MPAA can get all the customer records from the Russian company. In fact that might be the business model:
    1. Sell unauthorized copies of movies (Profit)
    2. Get your website blocked everywhere
    3. Sell your customer information the the MPAA (Profit)
    4. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
  • Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by qoncept (599709) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:52PM (#32657358) Homepage

    This reader adds, "Just a thought, but maybe if the studios offered a low-cost, for-profit, legitimate download site without DRM, they could receive the profits at the expense of the cyberlockers."

    Does anyone else feel the same way about such business model suggestions? "They know best because they're n that position" certainly isn't foolproof logic, but they definitely spend a lot more time and money and have a more realistic understanding of what impact pricing and distribution methods will have on revenue than know-nothings that always seem to recommend business practices that are in their best interest.

  • nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:34PM (#32657874) Homepage

    Just a thought, but maybe if the studios offered a low-cost, for-profit, legitimate download site without DRM, they could receive the profits at the expense of the cyberlockers

    Nope. The illegitimate sites can always undercut the studios, as they don't have the expense of actually making the movies.

  • by mykos (1627575) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:42PM (#32658764)
    Single mothers, poor college students, and elderly gentlemen are not proper targets. People ACTUALLY making money off piracy are the right targets, and they have no moral leg to stand on.

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