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MPAA Fights Pirates with Gentle Threats 537

Gillious writes "Wow! It seems the MPAA has learned from the RIAA's mistakes. It seems we aren't going to get mass-lawsuits for grandmothers and 12-year-old kids. I find this quote most interesting: 'The movie industry, he said, has to ask itself what the music industry should have asked years ago: 'Why do they want to steal from us?' The answer, he said, is simple: 'Because you won't sell them what they want.' The technologists say that what went wrong with the music industry can easily go wrong for movie companies, too.'"
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MPAA Fights Pirates with Gentle Threats

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  • man that's fast (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ejaw5 ( 570071 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @10:18AM (#7816948)
    The movie industry, by comparison, estimates that it has at least 18 months before high-speed Internet access and high-capacity hard drives make grabbing a movie almost as quick and easy as grabbing a song.

    Do they mean there will come a day when one can download a 700MB Linux iso in less than 5 minutes? If my math is correct that's a 2333.3 kbps download speed!
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @10:23AM (#7816965) Homepage Journal
    Jeff also says that he does not make his own trove of movies available to the world as readily. "I just watch them and delete them instead of leaving it out there," he said. "I don't leave the network on 24 hours a day the way I used to."

    But Davis, the former song trader, has changed his habits. He dusted off his turntable, bought a new needle and started haunting the bargain vinyl bins in junk shops, where he has discovered some treasures for a dollar a record.

    "I'm really very excited about it,'' he said, "because there isn't much new to buy out there, is there?"

    Jeff's being a leech here. This is the sort of attitude of users that's bad for P2P networks and even the internet. If you download files off P2P networks, you should consider it your moral duty to give back to the network too. If you don't want to give back to the network, don't download either.

    Davis, on the other hand, is on the right track. If you don't want to download music off P2P networks, and support the RIAA, go for old music/second hand CDs. IMHO, even if you buy from iTunes/etc in one breath and curse the RIAA and the shit it churns out in the next, you're being a hypocrite.

  • Re:man that's fast (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 27, 2003 @10:38AM (#7817006)
    In january I'm getting a 10 mbit (10000 kbps) line installed here at home. It's about 70$ a month here in Norway (not available everywhere yet) with no download/upload restrictions. That means 700MB downloaded in 9 minutes and 20 seconds.

    Also one company is starting to offer 100 mbit lines for private consumers in Sweden. Though with a 300GB/month download cap (!).

    So, the bandwidth that is needed is here already. At least in Scandinavia. :)

  • Two points: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by billsf ( 34378 ) <> on Saturday December 27, 2003 @10:49AM (#7817034) Homepage Journal
    They tried to use the DCMA and found out the law is as bankrupt as anyone suspected. They also learned that US law stops at the US boarder and that people mad enough can sue in US court for violation of US laws that apply to them as a US business.

    It should also be realised that unless you have some sort of Internet connection it can take days as opposed to a couple minutes to download a mpeg4 encoded CD of about 730MB. Even "less than" ADSL connections and cable connections can take several hours to days as opposed to minutes. For the time, the size of their product is on their side.
  • by Yorrike ( 322502 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @10:55AM (#7817058) Journal
    What I want is content providers like Cartoon Network to sell me single episodes, or entire series of TV shows over the web.

    I would be MORE than willing to part with a couple of bucks an episode if CT could let me download every Samurai Jack episode, or every ATHF episode in a format I can either watch on my PC, via my PC, or have the option to burn to a CD or DVD to watch with my DVD player.

    Hear that content providers? As Samurai Jack currently stands, I'm willing to give you $100 right here and now. But alas, you seemingly don't want my money.

  • by phatsharpie ( 674132 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @11:01AM (#7817081)
    I would love to be able to get access to old and out of print "cult" films. Like old and forgotten slasher films from the late 70's and early 80's. Most are no longer available on VHS, much less DVD!

    Same thing with music download. There are so many out of print remixes of songs that I wish I can get access to. Unfortunately, I've only seen them available on P2P networks and not on legal download sources like iTunes.

  • by hkmwbz ( 531650 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @11:08AM (#7817105) Journal
    From the story:
    "At the industry's urging, for example, California recently passed a law making it illegal to use a camcorder in a movie theater."
    I assume I'm not the only one who sees how disturbing and utterly useless this is?

    Why should the industry be able to push through nonsensical laws such as this? It is yet another defeat in the battle for the rights of the consumer.

    For one, this won't help prevent movie piracy at all. TeleSync releases are not generally recorded in crowded movie theaters. Instead, they use empty theaters and plug the camera directly into the sound source. If they didn't, you would hear all kinds of weird noises and heads moving in front of the screen, etc.

    This law is not only completely useless in that it won't help battle piracy at all, it proves that corporate interests are pushed with blatant disregard of consumer rights and basic knowledge about these things.

  • by smallfeet ( 609452 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @11:14AM (#7817134) Journal
    This is a great point. I would love to have access to older movies and TV shows on-line. No way they should/could sell these at $17 a clip, but at $5 or under I would give them my business.

    Its the older "classics" like Starwars or City Lights that would pose a problem. Too good to sell cheap, to old to sell dear.

  • by TheRealStyro ( 233246 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @11:29AM (#7817210) Homepage
    Here is one answer that the mpaa needs to get to work on immediately - internet distribution of movies and tv shows. Offer the people what we want - low cost entertainment. Strike while the iron is somewhat hot, even if the net speed isn't quite there yet. Offer content at lowest and highest quality initially, then fill in mid-range qualities as demand warrants. Have movies available as they hit retail dvd markets, and have a show suggestion/voting system setup so people can suggest what they want and others can vote for the show (this could dictate priority internally).

    Offer the content at different price-points for quality - a movie available in divx at two or three qualities (or simply VCD and SVCD qualities) with pricing relative to quality and available at one or two bit-rates able to burn onto dvd. Like with iTunes, the content would be protected by licensing and drm. Also like iTunes, the drm and licensing should be as invisible as possible. A cd/dvd burning app would be integrated to support licensed burns of cd/dvd downloads (allowing maybe five burns as dvd burning is still kind of 'iffy').Streaming content would be available only in addition to downloadable versions, and at a significant price drop.

    The drm should be as invisible as possible, while still protecting content. A burned dvd bought from the service might have the purchaser id mixed into the data (not impossible to defeat (recode), but the casual copier might not know-how/want to defeat). Same idea with s/vcd content. A divx content might also include this, but with one additional twist - low cost distribution. People (clients) could share the content amongst themselves. A client acquiring the content from another source could enable it to play at maybe 60% the cost of a download. The drm should be dynamic/random format/encryption so even if one form is cracked you don't lose everything. Anyone cracking the drm and/or illegally distributing the content would be punished harshly.
  • Re:Waaaahhhhhhh.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @11:45AM (#7817279) Homepage
    Or perhaps he's a college-educated, 60-hour-a-week working South American in a country like Uruguay, Peru or Argentina. My own (Peruvian) relatives earn about $800 a month doing work that would get paid about 10 times that in the US (lawyers, doctors, financial professionals). For paying for housing and food and even internet access, that's all well and good, because the costs are relative. For things like consumer electronics, DVD's and CD's, videogames and the like, those are even more expensive in real terms than in the US, and are essentially true luxury items. If I were them, I would be almost exclusively watching movies I downloaded online. Those goods were priced for US markets.
  • by yoshi_mon ( 172895 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @11:53AM (#7817310)
    My brother in law always gets me BestBuy gift cards for the holidays. So since my bd is around this time of year to I normally end up with a couple of them. While shopping around I was going though the DVD section and saw all sorts of great deals. DVDs for ~15 USD and many even closer to ~11 USD. While some did get a little more costly they were all very reasonable for what they gave. A movie, which was produced at a rather high cost on average, some bonus material that is always fun to have, and lastly the knowladge that even though the silly DSS is there the quality of both the sound and picture will be quite good.

    Then I was looking around in the music area and the prices were at least +5 to +10 dollars on average higher than the DVDs! And some of the albums that they were selling for clost to 20 USD were quite old. Many had to actually come on 2 CDs due to the size. Also, while for the majority of the CDs I saw there was no real protection on them, the quality could be kind of iffy depending on the metholigy they used to make it. (AAD, ADD, DDD. Thanks for not telling us anymore!)

    So, after a bit of thought I game up with a few generalizations. I can buy a DVD with more content, the knowladge that this movie at some point had a lot of cash sunk into it (At least as much as it would take to record an album.), more than likely some extra stuff, and on average a better price. The only bad part is the DSS and the region but whatever. They are pretty trival to overcome if you care that much.

    On the other hand I can buy a CD that is old tech, for typically more money, of questionable quality sometimes, but with no real protection to speak of.

    Now maybe each respective orgnization can do a survay of what is right and wrong about each diffrent model and figure out how exist without continueally pissing people off but of the two I choose the lesser evil, the MPAA, as being able to survive. The RIAA is wayyyyy to far behind in the game to even come close to pulling their heads out of the sand.
  • Re:price (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KyolFrilander ( 730272 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @12:00PM (#7817331)
    And what always gets me, and I mean _always_ gets me is that I'm more than willing to pop the $20-ish on a DVD that I'll watch maybe twice, but spending $15 on a CD that I'll listen to a million times seems spendy. This isn't a flame at you - it's actually something that I've noticed about myself, and I can't explain it.
  • by svanstrom ( 734343 ) <> on Saturday December 27, 2003 @12:16PM (#7817389) Homepage
    You shouldnt have to pay 5 per episode, thats ridiculous.

    I'd rather have the option to pay $5 per episode, than to not have the option to legally get these episodes.

    First we might have to pay $5, but then there'll be other sources competing with lower prices... and sooner or later the prices might drop to $3 (esp. if they don't have to pay for all the bandwidth); and a cpl of years later we might be paying $29.99 for a complete 20-something episodes season.

    BUT - I would pay a small additional monthly fee to my ISP to allow access to the BitTorrent/p2p ports so I can download all the episodes I want when they come out.

    I sure hope you mean that that "a small additional monthly fee" for "all the episodes I want" is per series; otherwise it's just impossible to distribute that money fairly.
    Not that I think such a deal would be possible, it'd be too complicated for the ISPs to deal with, and smaller ISPs wouldn't have the manpower to deal with it.

    This really does seem like the best way for the artists to get a guaranteed royalty payment without it intefering with anything.

    No, far from it, the best for them today would be to sell DVDs/VCDs; allowing people to subscribe to their series. One DVD/VCD per week/month arriving in your mailbox.

    That would be best as it avoids most technical problems related to allowing people to download the material, and it allows them to use established forms of accepting money.

    You already pay extra to get the movie channels on your cable/sat box, so how much more difficult could it be for them?

    Technically, not hard at all, but actually doing it would be hell... a lot of suits involved, a lot of standards-related fighting, a lot of money invested in this or that way of doing things, a lot of lawyers writing a lot of documents... it'd take forever to get it going...
  • Re:man that's fast (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theefer ( 467185 ) * on Saturday December 27, 2003 @12:31PM (#7817434) Homepage

    If my math is correct that's a 2333.3 kbps download speed!

    There are many countries where this is a reality right at this moment... South Korea, Japan and Sweden are three that I can think of...

    In Switzerland, they just upgraded the 512kbps cable connection to 2000kbps and they reduced the price you had to pay for it ! In other words, you have a connection that is 4 times faster than before and you pay less. Sounds a fair bargain to me.

    So yes, this is reality in more countries than one might first think.
  • Huh? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 27, 2003 @12:35PM (#7817453) has Blade Runner Director's Cut for $14.99. They also have Basic Instinct Collector's Edition (though it's out of stock at the moment). Hell, my Best Buy has these DVDs. So what is your situation that prevents you from obtaining these movies, if you don't mind my asking? You must either live somewhere that these online stores are unwilling to ship to, have neither a credit card nor checking account (nearly impossible), or something that I've not thought of. I'm so curious!

    I agree with you on out of print or unavailable region encodings for movies. I also agree with you on forced previews. I myself have never come across them, but I have heard of people who have. I can live through the 5 second FBI warning, though.
  • Re:Waaaahhhhhhh.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @01:02PM (#7817543)

    And this is one of the big issues region encoding was *supposed* to address. If it worked, your relatives could buy DVDs for 1/10th the US price, as the studio still makes a profit at that level. Region encoding would prevent people from importing cheap copies to the US, and everyone's happy. Sort of, anyway.

    Well, sort of. The intent was to segment the market so that the studios could sell at multiple pricepoints, because they wouldn't otherwise sell to the third world at all. This isn't the whole reason, else USA, Europe, and Japan would be one region. The additional thing they can do is segment release dates, so they sell the DVD here while showing the movie there, then gouge the Japanese for $50 to buy it.

    The problem is that, should you have a DVD that the owner only wishes to sell in one region, then you have to get a second or a third player, rather than just paying for the disc. Thankfully, most DVD players in the civilised world are region switchable, so all you need to worry about is PAL-NTSC conversion.

  • 30-60 minutes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @01:12PM (#7817585)
    Off of usenet or another machine on my ISP, less than 30 minutes. Less time, in fact, than most people spent downloading an album during the Napster years. And we all know how unsuccessful that was, because people only want "instant gratification" :)
  • Re:price (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Robber Baron ( 112304 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @01:24PM (#7817639) Homepage
    What, you can't afford a DVD, but you can afford a computer and broadband internet access?

    Seriously, the relatively low price of a DVD, coupled the hassle of finding a quality rip of a movie I want to see and the nuisance of waiting hours (or days) to DL the rip is one of the reasons I continue to prefer buying DVDs and watch movies in theaters. I've had plenty of opportunities to DL ROTK, but I'd still rather see it in the theater first and buy the DVD later. Keep the quality of the product up, and that won't change..a lesson the recording industry still hasn't learned. Dling movies is still just a curiousity, not a preferred method of aquisition.
  • nuke region codes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 27, 2003 @01:38PM (#7817685)
    My main reason for downloading is simple: I often want to watch some movie in its original (read english) language.
    I could either try and order it from some US webstore, pay almost the double price because of delivery costs and customs and crack my DVD to view it.
    Or I could download it over night.
    Hm. What to do?

    Just get rid of that region code bullshit and make US dvds easier available in good old europe. I promise I'll buy a lot of them then legally...
  • Re:price (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 27, 2003 @01:39PM (#7817687)
    Perhaps he's posting from his job? Or a public library? Or his parents house? Or his college/high school?

    DVD price == minimum_wage * 4

    That look about right to you?
  • by Dai_Quat ( 619059 ) <brcwrght&earthlink,net> on Saturday December 27, 2003 @01:54PM (#7817745)
    Paragon, I had a conversation once with one person who believed your solution was the answer, and one who did not. The person who did not had the perfect rebuttal, and I agree with it, so I'll share it here. "That solution, a world without privacy, was what we had millions of years ago. It ceased being an option socially the moment that humans (or proto-humans) figured out that sex is what led to having babies." You're coming up against millions of years of social hard-wiring, Paragon. It just won't happen. Even chimps have sex in secret sometimes, so the alpha-male doesn't drive the female from the troop.
  • Re:man that's fast (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 27, 2003 @02:10PM (#7817815)
    In Sweden? Dude, I'm moving there fast; heard it was also a sort of socialist nirvana where education is free?

    I mean, really, no sarcasm intended; Sweden sounds kickass to me. I've also been looking at this university, Chalmers; any idea how hard or easy it is to get into it?

  • by mrogers ( 85392 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @03:09PM (#7818042)
    I was recently shopping for an ADSL connection in the UK, and only one of the service agreements I looked at contained any mention of banned services or bandwidth consumption. That was for a special low-rate "no peer to peer" package, and the same company offered an unrestricted package for a higher price. It looks like broadband providers in the UK are starting to recognize that file sharing is the killer app for broadband, and many customers won't sign up for a service that restricts peer-to-peer downloading.

    Of course, you can still find yourself with a high contention ratio that limits the usefulness of your connection for large downloads. I think it's only a matter of time before we see a P2P network that implements its own transport layer on top of UDP or raw sockets, avoiding TCP congestion control and allowing file sharers to squeeze more bandwidth out of their connections at their neighbours' expense.

  • Re:Camcorder Law (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nurgled ( 63197 ) on Saturday December 27, 2003 @03:28PM (#7818120)

    Stelios Haji-Ioannou [] opened a cinema [] (aka movie theater) in Milton Keynes, England which offered movies at very low prices by forcing customers to book in advance online. This cuts down the staffing costs. They also, initially at least, didn't sell refreshments and food and encouraged customers to bring their own food purchased elsewhere.

    The movie industry saw this and, noticing what Stelios had done to the airline industry with his previous company EasyJet, refused to supply the EasyCinema with the latest releases to prevent them from creating a precedent forcing a decrease in prices at other cinemas.

    EasyCinema is still around, which perhaps takes some clout of of my post, but it just serves to demonstrate that the movie industry is able to hurt cinemas which don't play along with their rules without requiring laws. EasyCinema still, to my knowledge, does not get movies on their day of official release, but I don't live in Milton Keynes so I don't pay that much attention! :)

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein