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Piracy

The Futility of the Ongoing Piracy War 232

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-me-a-copy dept.
CowboyNeal writes: "It seems like the news on everyone's favorite most resilient BitTorrent site never ends, as we approach its ninth birthday in just a couple days. Google has even recently wiped TPB results from auto-complete searches. Last month Nick Bilton wrote a rather insightful piece in the NYT (also covered on Slashdot), about 'Why Internet Pirates Always Win.' Read on, as I examine not only why he's right, but how piracy could be further curbed already."

In Nick Bilton's article, he compares the battle of content owners versus pirates to a game of Whac-A-Mole, and concludes that "Sooner or later, the people who still believe they can hit the moles with their slow mallets might realize that their time would be better spent playing an entirely different game." Whether it's Apple's iTunes Music Store, or Valve's Steam gaming service, both retail services and the content providers that publish via those services, have been able to make some tidy profits off their content, even despite the presence of Megaupload, The Pirate Bay, Archie, Usenet, local dial-up BBSes, and any countless other number of ways that people have been pirating for years. Right now, the powers that be, the MPAA and the RIAA, are fighting the same losing war that has been fought for decades already. Indulge me for a moment, as I engage in CowboyNeal story time, and tell a nostalgic tale of a bygone era.

As a kid, I was lucky enough to have my own computer. While the idea of the Internet was long way off yet, those of us in the neighborhood did know everyone else in the neighborhood that owned a computer, because that was how we got software. It wasn't uncommon for any of us kids to throw a box of floppy disks into our backpacks and bike over to someone else's house to share software, so that we could get new games and other software. We didn't set out to do this to rob anyone, it was just how we got by. Growing up in the 1980s, my allowance was $1/week, which was low even by 1980s standards. The average price for a computer game was around $25 to $35 for a new release. Even while supplanting my allowance with whatever I earned from doing work around the neighborhood or picking up pop cans, it took a long time to save up for a game. So, I and most other kids did the only logical alternative: we pirated software. None of us even owned a modem yet in those days, but we all knew someone who knew someone who did, and eventually cracked games would make their way from the BBS scene into our hands, and give us new games without having to pay for them. What I should note here, before all of us kids look like greedy little thieves, is that when I did eventually save up my money, I would still inevitably spend it on the software that I wasn't able to get via pirating. I still remember saving up the money to purchase the original John Madden Football. It cost $32, and came with printed playbooks to help players choose their plays, and most relevant to this article, a decoder wheel which contained a plethora of codes, that needed to be entered before a game could start. It was essentially an early version of DRM, because while the decoder wheel wasn't immune to piracy, without either a photocopy of the innards of the wheel or the wheel itself, there would be no kickoff. While the rudimentary decoder-wheel-based DRM had been defeated, that cracked copy hadn't found its way to any of us in the neighborhood yet. This scenario could be repeated for any number of 8-bit computer games. So while still a pirate, I was still giving the computer software industry all of my money — what little there was of it.

Now, let's go back to the present, and address Nick Bilton's "different game." What the industry still hasn't realized after all these years is that there's not just pirates and legal purchasers. Even people who pirate the same piece of software may do so for vastly different reasons. A good share of them are like me as a kid, pirating because they simply cant afford to buy it legitimately. Then there's the anti-DRM crowd, who refuse to pay for anything that has any sort of DRM involved with it. There's also the "try-before-I-buy" folks who are willing to pay, but they're frugal with their money and don't want to buy something they'll regret later. Some people who pirate content do so simply because it's easier than paying for it. Last are the people who pirate just for the sake of pirating. This last group is the one that no law, no PR junket, and no DRM will ever stop. They will always "win," if winning means pirating. It's also key to understand that a single person can belong to one or more of these demographics, or invent their own reasons for whether they will pirate or not. Maybe someone pirates a game, then later decides he want to play it online or that he likes it and want to support it. Suddenly a pirate is now a paying customer.

Lode Runner came with 150 levels, but my pirated copy crashed after level 33. Eventually I bought my own copy so that I could see the rest of the game. Okay, honestly, I never saw all of Lode Runner, but I still got to play level 34 and onward. After a year of owning John Madden Football, Electronic Arts mailed me a disk with the next year's teams on it. They didn't continue that practice very long, and started releasing a new game ever year instead.

The industry can't ever truly win this war. The best they can hope for is to curb as much of it as they can. Services like iTMS and Steam are able to corral the people who just want easy access. Humble Indie Bundles and GOG.com work for people who want DRM-free games. But even these only address small pieces of the larger pie. As referenced in the NYT article, what about people who want to watch "Game of Thrones" without buying cable or some kind of DRM-laden copy of it? Piracy is their quickest, easiest path to watching it. While we've concluded that the industry won't ever win, until the industry overlords address their methods of content delivery and take into account why people pirate, they cant even hope to make a lasting impact against piracy.

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The Futility of the Ongoing Piracy War

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  • by Loughla (2531696) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:30PM (#41336037)

    I've never actually thought about that before - that the MPAA and RIAA consider only two types of people - those that buy something because they want it, and those that pirate it because they don't want to pay for it.

    It's a false black-and-white that is, like most things, mostly made up of gray. This might be a dumb question, but have there been any "contact us" or any sort of "are you a pirate and why" surveys, that can be taken anonymously of course, put out by the content owners? If not, why not?

    • by na1led (1030470)
      That's because media can't be controlled like everything else. For example: You can't travel to Europe for free, just to see if you're going to like it, but you might watch a new movie release without paying for it, simply because you can.
    • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:51PM (#41336347)

      that the MPAA and RIAA consider only two types of people

      That's because they don't care *why.* All they care about is that they saw your IP in a bit torrent swarm, and now they can sue you for $150,000 according to the law. It doesn't matter if you intend to try and buy, or to backup a copy you bought legitimately, or to circumvent DRM. It doesn't matter if it was even you! It could have been a visitor, or a neighbor, or a hacker, or a spoofer. Doesn't matter to them. All they care about now it that they can subpoena your identity and send you an extortion letter, threatening to sue you for $150,000 if you don't give them $3000-$5000 (or I've seen as much as $10,000).

      And I mean, why should they care? Why would they ever care about turning you into a legitimate customer who purchases their goods for $30 - $60, when you can be a no good dirty pirate and they can shake you down for $3000? Piracy is much more profitable for them, thanks to our broken copyright legislation.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:14PM (#41336687)

        >>>And I mean, why should they care?

        They'll care when I bust-down the door with a semiautomatic and start tearing them open with bullets. I don't understand why a guy like Jamie Thomas, who is being raped with a million dollar fine he will never be able to payoff, is just sitting idle. If I were Jamie I'd already be breaking into the RIAA offices. If you're gonna be punished with a life sentence paying a fine, might as well make it for something worthwhile (murder). "From time to time the Tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants. Protest is its natural fertilizer." - Thomas Jefferson

        • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:56PM (#41337369)
          Yeah, I'm waiting for the day. They've targeted 300,000 people so far, and they hang over their head the potential that their life will be ruined if they don't pay up. It's only a matter of time before they go after someone who really has nothing left to lose, and their extortion attempt is the last straw.
        • by ultranova (717540)

          They'll care when I bust-down the door with a semiautomatic and start tearing them open with bullets.

          No, they won't. After all, you'll only kill servants. The IP barons of the 1% sit safely behind their fortresses and simply have their PR people use the incident to push for tighter gun control for peons.

          "From time to time the Tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants. Protest is its natural fertilizer." - Thomas Jefferson

          And just like Jefferson failed to end his own tyranny o

      • But why settle for $3000 when they can get $3030? The DRM still cost them a sale, no matter how you slice it. The suing-people-for-profit part of the business has no reason to interfere with the traditional sales part. Something still doesn't add up.

        • Let's say you sell a video game for $60. You don't put any DRM in it and 1000 people buy it. You make $60,000. Now let's say you put DRM in your video game, and 50% of the people who would have bought your game don't. Now you only make $30,000. But you set up a spy on bittorrent, and you record 30 addreses downloading your game, DRM free. You get a subpoena for those addresses and send settlement letters to those people for $3400. Let's say 30% of those people settle without a fight, netting you $60,000. Yo
          • by BronsCon (927697)

            Let's say 30% of those people settle without a fight, netting you $60,000. You're breaking even with just 9 people settling with you.

            No, you're not. The DRM wasn't free (even if you implement it yourself, yout time has value, right? and the validation servers aren't free).

            • You're completely missing the point: some copyright owners can generate revenue in the tens of millions of dollars by settling with only a few thousand people, which is only a fraction of your customer base and only a fraction of those actually pirating. The numbers presented above are very very generous, in that you can lose 500 customers (50% of your customer base), and as long as you settle with only 9 of them who go on to pirate your game instead (1.8% of lost customers) you're breaking even on revenue.
              • by BronsCon (927697)
                No, you're missing the point. If you're killing 1.8% of your customer base in each iteration (and let's assume 0.2% walk away when you sue one of their friends), there are two ways things can end up.

                The first is that you settle with the same number of people (9, in your example) from an ever-shrinking pool of customers and pirates, with each iteration. After 50 iterations, there's nobody left to sue.

                The second is that you settle with 1.8% (and lose 0.2% as collateral damage) in each iteration. It'll tak
                • No, you're missing the point. If you're killing 1.8% of your customer base in each iteration (and let's assume 0.2% walk away when you sue one of their friends), there are two ways things can end up.

                  Nowhere did I imply that. You're losing 1.8% of your pirate base. Or not, it doesn't matter if they keep pirating or not. Copyright holders have found a way to monetize pirates which is far more appealing that actually keeping them as customers. As long as you make something people want, you will have customers and you will have pirates. This is proven by the sheer magnitude of shitty movies, games, and music that still goes on to sell to millions of people despite DRM lockdown and shitty content, and is a

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:56PM (#41336415)

      have there been any "contact us" or any sort of "are you a pirate and why" surveys, that can be taken anonymously of course, put out by the content owners? If not, why not?

      Such a survey would be an admission that, in fact, some amount of blame can be assigned to the entertainment companies for their own difficulty in getting more people to pay them. It would say that they need to actually compete with downloading, rather than just hijack law enforcement agencies and bog down courts with lawsuits. So I would not hold out any hope for such a survey.

    • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:57PM (#41336419) Journal

      The #1 thing they forget to address is: people who can't even pay them due to region locks, etc. Their own control and attempt at release windows prevents a variety of global customers from even giving them their money.

    • by BronsCon (927697)
      Assuming that the only reason for piracy is unwillingness to pay (as the *AAs say), they're still ignoring a 3rd group; people who just don't care, don't buy, and don't pirate. They're lumping them in with the "lost sales" from piracy, to make the issue look worse than it actually is.

      That's not to say piracy-with-no-intent-to-purchase isn't a huge problem, but when you get caught inflating your statistics, people tend to stop paying as much attention to you. That's what the *AA's are really missing, here.
    • It's NOT "Piracy"!!! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday September 14, 2012 @03:55PM (#41339059)
      PLEASE, for Christ's sake, STOP doing the RIAA and MPAA's job for them! And Cowboy Neal, of all people, should know better too.

      Downloading (and in most cases uploading) is NOT piracy! It is merely civil copyright infringement!

      Copyright piracy is a VERY old legal term, and it means to make and distribute multiple copies for profit. Pirates don't share via P2P. It would defeat their whole purpose. Calling downloading "piracy" is not an example of "modern usage", it is just plain incorrect.

      Piracy is a crime, sometimes even a felony. Downloading is not a crime at all.

      "Big Content" wants you to think they are the same things, but they are not. Whenever you call downloading "piracy", you help them toward their evil ends.

      Stop.
  • The problem is that, the more you try to lock things down, the more new ideas are invented that spur new innovations, leading to more hacking. Bit_Torrent was invented because all the Warez Websites were getting shutdown.
    • The idea that we can just hack out new innovations is predicated on the existence of PCs and the Internet. Neither PCs nor the Internet are a given, and in fact, powerful people are working harder than ever to kill PCs and kill the Internet -- not just the MPAA, but also companies like Apple and Microsoft, the companies that were made possible by PCs.

      If your computer would only run pre-approved software, downloading your entertainment would be substantially harder. Yes, people will find jailbreaks, but
    • by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] [lynx.bc.ca]> on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:13PM (#41336675) Journal

      Bit_Torrent was invented because all the Warez Websites were getting shutdown.

      Uh... no.

      Bittorrent was invented because its inventor correctly noted that given the essentially almost entirely serial nature of existing data communications, coupled with the fact that many upstream network paths are often saturated with other data that they are simply relaying, which limits serial throughput, simultaneously downloading different parts of the same content in parallel from different locations, and thereby using multiple network paths instead of only one, would complete faster than downloading it all from a single location.

      Pirates quickly glommed onto this concept, and applied the protocol to distributing unauthorized copies of works because it was, in fact, so much faster than simply downloading it from a single source via ftp or conventional http.

      Bittorrent was not invented for the purpose of piracy. Not remotely.

      • by na1led (1030470)
        No, your wrong. The idea of breaking up files into multiple paths had already been invented before torrents. Tools like Edonkey or LimeWire could send files in pieces, but these services were getting shut down. If you have a central site where files can reside, they will go after that site. Bit_Torrent eliminated the need to centralize anything. All this was primarily designed to share files, legally or illegally.
        • by mark-t (151149)
          Bittorent was designed to be decentralized from the ground up, true, but it was designed this way so for the express purpose that it could distribute the network load it created across multiple network routes, which would thus more efficiently transfer data, and would have the desirable upshot of both reducing the network load placed on any single content provider, while, in general, often increasing data throughput at the recipient's end.

          That, plain and simple, is what motivated the creation of Bittorren

          • by na1led (1030470)
            BS!. P2P File Sharing was the main reason for Bit Torrents. Everyone was tired of paying fees for services like RapidShare, or having their stuff deleted/banned. And places like LimeWire had been taken down or severely crippled. The fact that torrents distribute data more efficient was a just a side affect of the technology.
      • Your point AND...
        .

        BT became a way for JoesSmallSite.com to dole out millions of copies of his Fabulous Bouncing Babies video without putting himself and his baby in the poor house.

  • Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:33PM (#41336081)

    Most piracy doesn't happen online. Most of it happens in physical trades with people; Head over for a LAN party, leave the 'download' drives connected so people can swap stuff. Someone expresses an interest in another's favorite TV series... out come the disposable flash drives. Everyone has a laptop these days -- visiting a friend's house is a common occurrance, as is file trading. More piracy happens on those channels than online. People still loan each other their DVDs and blurays too (and rip them).

    The analog hole will never be plugged, because it wears sneakers and goes through your fridge looking for a beer.

    • Re:Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jiteo (964572) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:49PM (#41336323)
      I would really like to see a source for this. While I'm sure there's piracy happening offline, I find it very hard to believe that that's where the majority of piracy is happening.
      • Considering that at my house last weekend there were over 28 terabytes of transfers done between 9 people..... I'm going to say he's fairly accurate.

      • I would really like to see a source for this. While I'm sure there's piracy happening offline, I find it very hard to believe that that's where the majority of piracy is happening.

        It'll be the same source that tells you most people smoke pot in their houses, not in front of the police station. Comeon buddy, look around: People are scared. The internet is increasingly under surveillance and the news is full of people going to jail and getting hundred thousand dollar fines for file sharing. Drug dealers get off easier, and the average person has noticed this by now. That doesn't mean the behavior stops, it means the behavior moves to places not under surveillance. And since this is how

    • Re:Piracy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Hatta (162192) on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:42PM (#41337107) Journal

      The analog hole will never be plugged

      Until secure boot is mandatory, and your OS refuses to play any file that hasn't been blessed by the MAFIAA. We're heading to a post general purpose computing world, where common computers are appliances which heavily restrict what one can do with them.

    • by euxneks (516538)

      The analog hole will never be plugged, because it wears sneakers and goes through your fridge looking for a beer.

      Queue the sexual innuendo and/or constipation jokes...

    • Most piracy doesn't happen online. Most of it happens in physical trades with people; Head over for a LAN party, leave the 'download' drives connected so people can swap stuff. Someone expresses an interest in another's favorite TV series... out come the disposable flash drives. Everyone has a laptop these days -- visiting a friend's house is a common occurrance, as is file trading. More piracy happens on those channels than online. People still loan each other their DVDs and blurays too (and rip them).

      The analog hole will never be plugged, because it wears sneakers and goes through your fridge looking for a beer.

      This is not even illegal in many European countries (is it in the US?). It goes under fair use to share stuff with friends / family -- this was also true for tapes, CDs, etc. It's a whole different story if you make money from it, and if you do it with random people on large scales.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:34PM (#41336093)

    People that pirate:

    1. Don't ever intend to buy the software. Even if you gave them $1000 bucks they wouldn't bother buying Photoshop CS Infinite edition.
    2. Often just want to hoard the software, or get it for their broke friends. "Cool look what I have!"
    3. The numbers of people that pirate are based on shoddy statistics that are designed to inflate the problem.
    4. I've yet to read a study that shows that people with the absence of pirating sites will convert to actual customers.
    5. Ironically some people that pirate may in the long run buy the software anyway. This goes against #1, but "in the long run" means years later when they have money.

    • by na1led (1030470)
      Not entirely true. How many paying customers do you think Diablo 3 or WoW would have if people could hack it for free?
      • Considering that the vast majority of the sales were within the first week for D3 and over the past months the people playing has dropped precipitously because it's loot structure is crap for an ARPG what with the RMAH, I'm going with not nearly as many as you think.

    • by six025 (714064)

      4. I've yet to read a study that shows that people with the absence of pirating sites will convert to actual customers

      In fact this scenario was described in TFS (summary) ;-)

      I have only anecdotal evidence to back this up, but yes some people do pay for software if they cannot find a working crack. This has been proven to me by interacting with one such customer of the company I work for while providing remote software support.

      We do employ a relatively unobtrusive copy protection method for our demo software, and watermarking for licensed copies. Every few months when the copy protection of the cracked demo version kicks

    • by harl (84412)
      Number 2 is a major factor. One of the largest I think.

      Every baby pirate goes through a phase where they download everything they can because well they can.

      Even after that phase wears off so many things are downloaded that never get unpacked. Since the opportunity cost is almost zero why not down load something that you think you might maybe like. There's no downside to downloading it and never touching it.
  • Ah this took me back to pirating ZX Spectrum games at school in the 1980s. We bought software too, lots of it, but shared it out amongst ourselves. A utility called "The Key" was able to copy games initially but then the makers got smarter and started customising their loaders, but by then, armed with my "Complete ZX Spectrum ROM Disassembly" I was still able to stay ahead of the curve. We also defeated the lightly coloured code sheets of tiny symbols by a simple divide-and-conquer strategy. Cutting the cod
  • by carrier lost (222597) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:35PM (#41336115) Homepage

    ...the people who still believe they can hit the moles with their slow mallets might realize that their time would be better spent playing an entirely different game.

    A fictional account [botaday.com] of "an entirely different game"

  • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:37PM (#41336147)
    The premise of the article is that content owners want to stop piracy. This, I would argue, is not always correct, as US copyright law allows some copyright holders to collect more money from content infringers than they would ever make from legitimately selling their product without any copyright infringement. Take a look at the RIAA and the porn industry. The porn industry alone has sued over 300,000 individuals for downloading porn over bittorrent, and has sued each for $150,000. They settle about 30%-50% of the cases for an average of $3,400. That's $300 - $500 million from suing infringers. How much do you think they make selling copies of their films at $30 a pop, or a subscription to a website for $15 a month? The RIAA just got a judgement for $200,000 reaffirmed, and you can bet they're going to hold that over the head of anyone they send a settlement offer to. Don't want to pay $200,000 like this lady? Settle now for the low low price of $5000, more than you'll spend in you're entire life on legitimately purchased CDs.

    Seriously, this is just the beginning. The music industry is stepping back in the game [wordpress.com] after years of dormancy, following the road the porn industry has paved with their nation-wide network of copyright litigation.

    Oh, and I forgot the best part: by their own estimate, at least 30% of the people they sue are not actual infringers. But they'll be glad to take your ass to court for $150,000 per infringement and potentially ruin your life based on shoddy, untested, unverified, unregulated, unlicensed "forensic" IP evidence.

    So no, this is not about "The industry winning and stopping copyright infringement." This is about their ability to monetize infringement through the judicial system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Your post is a good summary, but there are a few things I'd like to clarify.

      The bittorrent infringers have not been sued for $150k each. In fact, some of the copyright trolls have NOT SERVED A SINGLE John Doe despite filing 50+ lawsuits. These suits are filed against tens or hundeds - sometimes more than a thousand - Doe defendants. Once the DOE identify is known, settlement demands are made for $2k to $5k depending on the specific circumstances; $3400 is an oft-cited number because Prenda Law, one of th

      • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:37PM (#41337033)

        The bittorrent infringers have not been sued for $150k each.

        True, but that doesn't really matter. It's the mere fact that they could be sued for that much is enough to make settling for $3,400 seem reasonable. That and attorney's fees + time of fighting a lawsuit. But if the law were sane, and you could only sue an infringer for say treble damages, copyright holders would only be able to sue for $100 at most. Of course, their side of the argument is going to be "Actual damages are incalculable because the file sharer influenced not only one sale but every other share in the future forever," which in my opinion is complete bullshit.

    • Don't want to pay $200,000 like this lady? Settle now for the low low price of $5000

      I have often wondered if they created theses cases as examples.
      Here is how it could work:
      Hire someone to get sued.
      Have then put up a terrible defense, ignore good advise. Do anything to lose, and lose big.
      Get a huge settlement.

      Use the settlement, as an example to get others to settle. (AKA: Profit)

      Sorry if I got any terminology wrong, IANAL (Obviously).

  • I pay for cable, and even then still download most of my shows. Why ? I want the original content. I don't want the translated content, dubbed by people who can't express emotions with their voices if their lives depended on it. Yes, I understand that most people can barely speak 1 language, let alone that of another country, so they need dubbed content. And they are too slow to read subtitles, which are an acceptable alternative as far as I'm concerned. But my cable (well, satellite, really) provider techn

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      I guess you mean anime dubs. After watching the english versions on TV I've tried watching the original Japanese and guess what? I don't find them to be any better. Sometimes worse. (Example: The Japanese version of FF10's Tidus sounds completely wrong for a scrawny guy like the character.)

      And good point about the dual audio. Digital TV was supposed to be better than Analog because of the picture, but also the ability to send multiple languages. Unfortunately the feature is almost-never used. For ex

      • by morcego (260031)

        Actually, no. I mean regular TV shows. You see, I live in Brazil, so they will get someone who they will pay like $500 to dub a performance by an actor how is getting payed $250000.

        Back in the 80s, before we had cable here in Brazil, everything was pretty much dubbed. But it was much less content, and mostly broadcast by the main TV station (Globo). So we would get the good Brazilian actors dubbing, and even if it was weird (I don't enjoy translations, ever), it was very much watchable. These days ? Ugh.

    • by sjames (1099)

      An interesting (to me anyway) legal question there is why is there such a difference? If a show comes on cable and I record it, that's perfectly legal. If my power blinks and I miss the 1st 5 minutes, I might download the torrent and suddenly it's many thousands in liability? Even if the show will re-run next week and I just didn't want to wait? How can that be just?

      • by porges (58715)

        Interestingly, this is one of the few places where the industry has responded to consumer demand in a reasonable way: that's exactly what cable systems' On Demand services are good for, catching up with a current cable show you just barely missed. Typically you'll have to wait until "the next day", meaning midnight -- but note that HBO Go, for instance, puts shows up the minute the broadcast slot is over (GOT goes up at 10 after a 9:00 broadcast).

        (Substitute over-the-air for cable and your point is valid,

  • you can get blu ray rips of movies weeks before blu ray street date. it's not 16 year old teenie ninjas breaking into high security factories stealing this stuff to post it on BT. the content owners "leak" their content. or they don't put enough protection into the system to ensure that it doesn't leak

    • by na1led (1030470)
      No. These movies are released to retailers and other places weeks before they are allowed to sell them. All it takes is 1 employee to sneak the video online.
    • by cdrudge (68377)

      The distribution channel is the one that leaks it. Believe it or not, the DVDs and BluRays aren't pressed the night before they are launched. In a past life I worked at Blockbuster. At the time we were still entirely VHS tapes. We would receive a shipment of movies either for rental or for purchase in some cases a month or two before they were to be released. Often it was 1-2 weeks prior.

      All those movies that we received came from some distribution center. And those came from a distributor. And those

  • by LinuxGrrl (123916) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:47PM (#41336295) Homepage

    ... The type who really would buy the content but it simply isn't available for purchase on any media in their territory, and probably won't be for a long time.

    It's tough being a My Little Pony fan in the UK. :-) A more common example would be the Game Of Thrones example already best explained by the Oatmeal comic.

    • I live just below you and I have the same problem. There's no way to get some MLPFiM DVD set that I can purchase in my area. And even so, I'd like the original voices instead of the HORRIBLE local dubs, our local translation is shamefully amateur and the voices make my ears bleed. I resort to piracy which is also the only way to hear the original voices, which are great.
      (Srsly they made Pinkie sound like a 50-60yo lady here, it's sooo wrong)

  • Try before the buy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:49PM (#41336321)

    >>> There's also the "try-before-I-buy" folks who are willing to pay, but they're frugal with their money and don't want to buy something they'll regret later.

    Hello.
    There's also the group that thinks this is wrong, and have no objection to manufacturers refusing to take back crappy CD or DVD purchases. I don't like that group. (Even lowly candybar makers offer a return policy if the customer is dissatisfied.)

  • Who still uses TPB? I mean it's been a horrible resource as far back as I can remember. There's 5 different torrent sites that Google does return (since I've seen the results regularly) which are superior. Magnet links alone simplify locating torrents.

  • He frames the definition of "win" incorrectly. If "win" means "possible to get media for free in some capacity" then yes, the pirates will always "win". But I'd argue a better definition is "easy for a non-technical person to conveniently access high-quality copyrighted media free of charge with no legal risk." If we use that definition then I don't think it's a given that the pirates will always win. Enforcement efforts have the potential to make it less easy (harder to find sites, sites frequently dis
  • >The industry can't ever truly win this war

    That's never the purpose of law enforcement. Purpose of law enforcement is to minimize to a reasonable level.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:17PM (#41336717)

      That's never the purpose of law enforcement. Purpose of law enforcement is to minimize to a reasonable level.

      No, the purpose of law, and by extension law enforcement, is to improve society. Lifelong copyrights have not improved our society, and in fact, the current system protects entertainers who have given up on even trying to be original -- they keep making bad-to-mediocre remakes of old movies and condensing great stories into awful movies. Music is the same formula applied until people are sick of it. Video game makers attack our computers. Why are we enforcing laws that protect these people?

      • by poity (465672)

        improve society

        Minimizing crime to a reasonable level IS improving society. So your comment on that is not a rebuttal, but a banal restatement.

        lifelong copyrights

        I don't know why this is even part of the conversation. If you go on TPB or any other torrent site, you will be hard pressed to find anyone seeking old material whose only protection is lifelong copyright. The majority of copyright infringement is on the latest releases, so your argument against lifelong copyright, while sensible and appropriate in a general discussion on copyright

        • Minimizing crime to a reasonable level IS improving society

          That depends on the definition of the word "crime." Society is benefited when murder rates are kept low by law enforcement; society is not benefited in any way when college students are bankrupted for downloading their music.

          Let's put it this way: it was once a crime for two men to dance together in the state of New York. How was society benefited by the enforcement of that law? I would argue that copyright law, in the age of widespread PC and Internet availability, is equally worthless and counter

          • by poity (465672)

            If you read OP's post, he says that eradication of crime was not the goal, but rather management of crime levels. This, in the context of our present article, means he obviously believes that eradication of piracy is not the goal of IP holders -- as is presume by many in these comments, but rather management of piracy levels. You responded to him in a oblique manner that sidestepped his point entirely.

            On the issue of life long copyright, and its relevance to our discussion, I still stand by my initial post.

            • by poity (465672)

              I meant to say "Being against exceedingly long copyright terms and being against copyright itself are two separate positions."

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      if they wanted money they would move to a model like Valve. I am surprised shareholders have not gotten angry at them mismanaging resources on Customers that are never going to buy and not making the money they could.
  • by iceaxe (18903) on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:04PM (#41336555) Journal

    This is what happens when you have a large industry selling a product that has no measurable value. In the heyday of the recording industry, the companies manufacturing vinyl discs provided both a valuable physical product and the means of distribution. Same with moving pictures. Technology has now eliminated the value of both the physical medium and correspondingly the distribution of said medium. It will take time for the entrenched industry to fully adapt or die.

    Commercial software had the problem of artificial scarcity almost from its beginning.

    There is still all of the original value of the artistry and engineering to create the works of art and technology. However, monetizing the distribution of that valuable work may not always be as profitable as monopolizing distribution was in the past. So it goes.

    Live music performance, the pleasure of viewing a film on a giant screen with great sound and comfort and that bathtub of popcorn, and similar experience based value are still worth paying for, for many people.

    It's been interesting, watching this change over my lifetime. I expect many interesting twists and turns in the future, too.

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      The real scarcity is that of the creator's time and creativity whether it is music, movies or software. The problem is that once that first copy is made the rest are easy.

      The idea of pricing it assuming millions will be sold worked before everyone got the idea that they should be able to have it for free because copy number 2 was cheap to make. This would work in a patronage environment where some rich old white male instructed people what to make and paid them to get it the way he wanted it - and then le

  • Anything from which infinite copies can be made, instantly, and basically for free by anyone has no monetary value. The "pirates" realize this and are paying fair market value, which is zilch. The only way to convince them otherwise is with the threat of violence.
  • by jd659 (2730387) on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:11PM (#41336639)
    The humanity evolved and developed because we shared knowledge. Initially it was "you have a fire, let me borrow it", or "you figured how to make something better, let me take it and improve upon it". Until recently, the act of sharing was considered to be something good: "I enjoyed this book, please have it", "you need to move your lawn, feel free to borrow my mover". That has started to changed after large corporations started guarding their profits and came up with a loophole that essentially removes any ownership from the people. We don't own books, we only lease them; we cannot play music as we wish, improve on it or reproduce it without obliging to some stiff laws that came into play just recently to serve the interests of large corporations. Now the free thinkers who take an existing idea and make it better are being vilified. In fact, many things (and more are appearing) cannot even be taken apart without breaking some laws, they cannot be resold, they cannot be used creatively for something else. The fact that the piracy will not be defeated will be a minor point compared to majority embracing the notion that "doing something creative is bad and illegal, let's not do it."
    • by cpghost (719344)

      In fact, many things (and more are appearing) cannot even be taken apart without breaking some laws (...)

      So what? Just because some sordid law forbids something doesn't mean it can't and shouldn't be done! Just look at all the laws that the Catholic Church imposed on Europe in the Dark Middle Ages. Do they still exist today? No. Why not? Because Enlightenment happened, and people started thinking: "That's a silly law. Let's ignore it." In a couple of decades, our children and their children will look back

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      I like your ideas. I suggest the following to implement them on a wider basis:

      1. Eliminate all corporations and anything larger than a five-employee partership. If it can't be done by five people and some robots, it doesn't need doing.
      2. Eliminate all forms of currency and any sort of "money". If you can't get by with barter, forget it. Money was a mistake when it was invented thousands of years ago and it is time to fix that mistake.
      3. From step 1 a lot of people will have time on their hands for a while - but
  • I've got no problem with the concept of people doing bad things -- illegal or otherwise. Whether you steal a candy bar, graffiti a mailbox, or get a game without paying for it, these are all minor things that don't kill anyone. But whether or not the law as written or the law as enforced can or do count your actions as illegal, they most definitely aren't ethical by any consideration.

    You're fabricating shades of grey just for fun. Still, throughout every shade, I don't want to be the guy who worked hard

  • by jest3r (458429) on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:26PM (#41336863)

    I don't typically watch much television but enjoy Game of Thrones.

    To watch Game of Thrones legally ON MY Television HBO and Rogers (the local cable company) make me do the following:

    1. Subscribe to the local cable company (most channels I don't want)
    2. Upgrade to HD and get the HD PVR box (now paying for more channels I don't want)
    3. Get the upgrade to HBO / TMN (paying for even more channels I don't want)
    4. Wait once a week for the show to air (annoying)
    5. Record it on the PVR so I can fast forward through commercials (even more annoying and at which point I'm not even watching it is real-time anyways)

    All of the above costs well lover $100 per month (on a 1-year contract) in the Toronto area through Rogers. Just to watch one series !!!

    Or the alternative:

    1. Go online a few hours after the show airs, download to USB stick, plug into television and watch.

    No wonder people "pirate" television!!!!

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      All of the above costs well lover $100 per month...

      Or ...

      Yep. Most people are grown-up enough to understand that paying for stuff they like means the producer can produce more of that stuff for them.

      Given this, why is there no legal/reasonable way to pay for just the content we want...?

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Or the alternative:

      1. Go online a few hours after the show airs, download to USB stick, plug into television and watch.

      Or wait a few months for GoT to be on DVD/Blu-Ray, or if you don't mind it, iTunes. At least for season 2, as season 1 is already out on DVD/Blu-Ray and on iTunes (in Canada).

      Is a few months wait really that bothersome? Or is there some sort of "status" to be had by watching the show when it airs rather than waiting a few months for the box set?

      Hell, I bet half the people who pirate it had

  • It can be won (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:31PM (#41336935)

    Here is how Mr. "smartass" aaaaaaargh! tells the industry for free how to win the war against piracy for computer games (but similar things work in other sectors):

    1.) Make a good, innovative game with procedurally generated levels and content (= extremely high replay value)

    2.) If you're totally afraidthat people might actually like your game too much because of the first step, still do it, but charge for the next version of the game engine (e.g. people have to pay for better graphics and optimizations)

    3.) Include useful and/or creative items in the box like a complete booklet, collectors items, etc. Heck, even including a whole set of high-quality game controllers is not unheard of...

    4.) Do not rip off consumers, make the pricing fair and reasonable. Don't let them pay extra for point 3 (no collectors box, no deluxe edition! One edition for all.)

    5.) Good customer service and realease modding/hacking tools for your games.

    6.) Ignore the pirates.

    Revenue and sustainable business development are ensured, until you're bought by EA games who will fuck up your studio.

  • quit watching their shows, quit buying the DVD's, Blu-Ray's, quit going to their movies.l The ONLY thing the copyright holders/media companies understand is $$$$$$$. I disconnected my cable TV with Charter years ago. I have only gone to ONE movie in the theaters in the last 5 years (and that was only for an outing with friends). I haven't purchased a CD/DVD in years, I have refused to upgrade to Blu-Ray - unnecessary. All the DVD's I do own are good enough. I don't need to see the inside of a persons sweat

    • by Jiro (131519)

      If you vote with your wallet and don't see their movies, they then go to the government and say "see, our profits are down, it must be piracy" and use that as a further excuse for further crackdowns, DRM, etc.

      It's not a solution.

  • With big enough hammers, you can whack a lot of moles. But also a lot of customers. Big media isnt helping to get sympathy hurting the ones that are willing to pay them refusing to sell (because they are at the wrong place), adding DRM that denies fair use, and adding a lot of unskippable "do not pirate" messages. That is something that goes straight to the legal, (still) willing to pay users, and in good part is absent to the ones that pirate it.

    Instead of keep punishing everyone, accept that in digital c

  • Coming from a business/accounting background, my immediate thoughts when Napster popped up and piracy hit mainstream was "adapt or die".

    It was just bloody obvious, at least to anyone with marketing and business strategy textbooks in front of them. Literally basic textbook stuff.

    When the market moves, adapt to it. No point fighting as you'll only lose, and anyway your purpose is to serve your market as well you can. I'm not going to condone piracy/copyright infringement/whatever, but it's just not business t

  • The "entirely different game" that the content industries seem to be playing is lobbying politicians into passing extremely restrictive legislation, and unfortunately, I think the evidence shows that this is a game they can win, at least in terms of getting the legislation passed. Yes, SOPA was tabled after a large outcry, but agreements like the TPP, ACTA, and so on and so forth continue to be pushed forward by governments with direct support from all those intellectual property and content industry groups

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