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Why Internet Pirates Always Win 360

An anonymous reader writes "Nick Bilton writes in the NY Times about how the fight against online piracy is 'like playing the world's largest game of Whac-A-Mole.' While this will come as no surprise to Slashdot readers, it's interesting to see how mainstream sources are starting to realize how pointless and ineffective the war on piracy actually is. Bilton writes, 'The copyright holders believe new laws will stop this type of piracy. But many others believe any laws will just push people to find creative new ways of getting the content they want. "There's a clearly established relationship between the legal availability of material online and copyright infringement; it's an inverse relationship," said Holmes Wilson, co-director of Fight for the Future, a nonprofit technology organization that is trying to stop new piracy laws from disrupting the Internet. "The most downloaded television shows on the Pirate Bay are the ones that are not legally available online." The hit HBO show Game of Thrones is a quintessential example of this. The show is sometimes downloaded illegally more times each week than it is watched on cable television. But even if HBO put the shows online, the price it could charge would still pale in comparison to the money it makes through cable operators. Mr. Wilson believes that the big media companies don't really want to solve the piracy problem.'"
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Why Internet Pirates Always Win

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:36AM (#40885547)

    I am a Netflix subscriber in UK, yet I get less than half of the content that a US subscriber gets, even though I pay the same. Even when I want to watch the content that is available to me, it is not always easy. For example, I commute to work and that is the best time for me to maybe catch up on a TV series or a film. Yet, there is no easy way for me to access the content that I am already paying for as part my subscription. Streaming doesn't work particularly well on the intermittent 3G connection I get while commuting, so ability to play offline is an absolute must. Yet I find that there is no way for me to do so short of buying the same DVDs that I are already included in my subscription.

    On the other hand, I could just pirate the content and it would work everywhere I need to play it without a hitch. So tell me again, how are you doing it right?

  • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @09:00AM (#40885681) Journal
    The pirate bay is accessible from any geographical zone. No legal provider is. Piracy is my only way to get the US-centric references on Slashdot and Reddit.

    Currently, only "piracy" (it used to be called sharing) venues understand what internet is : a transnational network designed to transmit information without geographical discrimination. There seems to be no legal venue who understood that feature. I want to be able to download a drm-less version of any French, English, Japanese version of any movie that is available. I'll pay for that, but I won't pay for something that is of lower quality than what piracy can provide. In particular, I'll refuse to pay for ads. I feel this is an unacceptable "fuck you" to have unskippable ads on a support you bought.

    There are lot of laws to change, but not the ones copyright lobbyists focus on. They have to make it easier to make deals for international distribution. Seriously, geographical distribution deals have no sense nowadays. If you want a meaningful frontier, separate rights of different linguistic version, but don't prevent me from getting stuff in original version at the same time that most slashdotters have them available.

  • Greed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SilenceBE ( 1439827 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @09:05AM (#40885709)
    The problems is that those media companies are extremely greedy.

    When people tend to say that the prices are high, you get the classic remark that a cost of zero is still more interesting then any price you would put onto a product. But I'm not that convinced. I'm sure there is a certain spot which you can convert people who download to paying customers.

    I have about > 90 blu ray movies and a lot of box sets, but I do have my share of "free" stuff. The difference is that the things that I have bought come from sales (5 a 10€) or are imported from the UK and are the prices that I'm willing to pay.

    The problem is that the "legal" way is just darn to expensive sometimes. For example I was searching for a particularly blu ray and they asked about 30 euro's for it (40 dollars) which I find way to high for 2 hours of entertainment. Then sorry I just rather take my sailboat and fish it out of the sea.

    Unfortunately something that I witnessed is that the entertainment industry also seen the light and while in the beginning they dropped all the languages and subtitles on the blu ray - you know the sales argument everything could fit onto the disc - it seems they know are putting less languages and subtitles on to the disc mainly to discourage import.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <> on Sunday August 05, 2012 @09:23AM (#40885795) Journal

    Before we had a handful of channels, and you could select which shows you wanted to watch from them. Then cable came out, and the variety increased, but so did the cost to the consumer, and so an increasing demand for a-la-carte channel selection came about. In some jurisdictions, recent changes have made true a-la-carte programming imminent.

    But today, many people have very busy lives, and are often too busy to watch more than perhaps a handful of TV shows each week. It's far from unheard of for people to simply "cut the cord" and do without television entirely, simply because there are not enough programs on the available networks to justify the expense.

    I think, therefore, the time is ripe that we need to move even beyond a-la-carte channel selection, and instead directly to a concept of subscribing to individual television programs - where you can choose exactly which programs you want streamed to your PVR, to be watched at your convenience anytime after they are broadcast (or during, of course). Why should a person pay the full price of having HBO available to them 24 hours a day, for example, if they are only ever interested in watching a single program on that station? Obviously, for anything more than a handful of shows on a given network, it would likely become more economical to simply subscribe to the entire station, but in an age where it's not very uncommon to find people who've cut off their cable entirely, simply because they found they were only watching TV a couple of hours each week, I think that this kind of model is going to make a lot of sense.

    This would also have the upshot of giving tv show producers a clearer picture of just how many people are actually watching a given television show, basedon subscription figures. Instead of only monitoring which tv stations particular homes that are part of the Nielson group are tuned to at various times throughout the day, and deducing which TV programs that they are watching or recording, and then extrapolating that to deduce what the greater population is watching, they could instead know directly which programs that a potentially much larger demographic watch.

    This wouldn't completely eliminate the need for things like the Nielson group, though... which would be capable of monitoring what time of day people are actually watching their televisions... information that would doubtless be of great value to both content creators and advertisers.

    Just my 2c. Er... nickel. I understand Canada is getting rid of its penny within the year.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @09:30AM (#40885821) Homepage

    They can't really be THAT stupid after all this can they? Sure, the bottom feeders with their trolling and settlements are feeding furiously and all. But if the cable companies realize they need to give it away for free to stay in business, then the MPAA also must know what they need to do to remain relevant and in business... or that they can't.

    Call me conspiracy theory nut, but I see this as a pretext to criminalizing and penalizing free speech on the internet. "Of course we never hear from AnonymousX or AnonymousY any more... they downloaded music and video and got busted..." Yeah... that's what happened I'm sure.

    We *ALL* do it and if a few of us doesn't it's because they are idiots. When it becomes criminal to do what everyone does, then everyone becomes a criminal. See where this is going? "Felony filesharing!! You can't vote!! You can't work!! You can't live a decent life like the rest of us superior beings... go back and work for your slave wages under our justification."

  • Re:drugs also (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @09:31AM (#40885825)
    Only when supply is limited and transport and distribution is perilous.

    There is a finite (albeit large) supply of drugs at any given time and the transport and distribution is expensive and the penalties are severe. By contrast, since data is copyable, there is an unlimited supply, and while there are some perils in distribution in the form of law firms attempting to find the most egregious pirates, the average software pirate is unlikely to face peril even if known.
  • Touched on Briefly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kr1ll1n ( 579971 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @10:03AM (#40885969)

    While touched on only briefly in TFA, I believe the core of the issue is that casual pirates do want to buy content. They are just not given the ability to do so.

    Game of Thrones is the perfect example of newer content that fits this mold, but their is much older content, and more of it, that does as well.
    I went scouring Netflix, iTunes, and other sources of digital distribution for the following, and came up empty handed;

    Heavy Metal - []
    Wizards - []
    Gandahar (AKA Light Years) - []
    Better Off Dead - []
    The Point - []
    Transformers - []

    We're A Happy Family (A Tribute to the Ramones) - []

    TV Shows:
    Perversions of Science - []
    Family Dog - []
    Ren & Stimpy (60% Available) - []
    Spicy City - []
    Tracy Ullman Show - []
    Eerie, Indiana - []
    Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension - []
    Amazing Stories - []
    Northern Exposure - []
    Aeon Flux - []

    A lot of the items listed above are now considered part of American pop culture, and yet, I, as well as many others, have no means to obtain them in any format that I can readily view. I could purchase the physical media, and rip, and then stream to another device I have to buy just to show or listen to them, but that is besides the point. We have systems in place that provide some rudimentary protection to media conglomerates and provide us some content ownership (iTunes).

    If we want to discuss laws in regards to piracy, we need to consider copyright laws vs. public domain. We need an established law that states that a content owner must prove that they are making available the content they own for purchase in ALL available markets, shops, and storefronts. If a 5 year gap occurs where this is not happening (and 5 years seems like a fair time frame), then the content should become public domain.

    I will also note that historical items of American culture are being withheld from America by copyright protection. The most notable example of this is the "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. []

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @10:07AM (#40885989) Journal

    American companies ignore you guys. In both directions. We don't get to see stuff from the old continent unless it's either rebranded, or old and made by a government grant to nigh amateurs. Before netflix, it was only the first option, even...

    Surely, in a continent of 700 million people, you have media companies of comparable technical capability.

  • by Abreu ( 173023 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @11:24AM (#40886321)

    I am a Netflix subscriber in UK, yet I get less than half of the content that a US subscriber gets...

    You are lucky to get half of US Content. Here in Mexico, Netlix started out almost a year ago and for a monthly fee of $100pesos (about $7.40 dollars) we only get old movies and tv series, all of them dubbed (nothing earlier than 2 years old).

    But oh boy, we have the entire Televisa catalog for free! Thousands of telenovelas from the eighties and nineties! (Yuck)

  • Re:Math. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sixsixtysix ( 1110135 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @11:52AM (#40886487)
    it's not that we are cheap. it's that we want what we pay for. my example:
    i started watching White Collar on netflix last year. netflix had seasons 1 & 2. after i was done, i realized that season 3 was already halfway done airing. there was no way to watch the first couple of episodes, and i have a subscription to comcast (95% of its offerings). "i'll wait it out", i said to myself. low and behold it's now 2012. i see a commercial for season 4 coming to tv in a few months. "great! that means season 3 should be available, so i can catch up in time". nope. i even had a subscription to hulu plus this time. so here i was forking over money to 3 different subscription services and not 1 will give me what i want. hulu's website eventually got season 3, in low bitrate, website only streaming. (side note: these idiot companies can't even realize that streaming == streaming. they have to have different licensing for computer and phones/consoles/other devices. that is fucking retarded.) anyway, i found they were also streaming from in slightly better quality. i did cancel my hulu plus, because they weren't giving me what i wanted. after watching about half of the episodes on the website, i stumbled across them in the comcast hd on demand folder and finished them up in the quality i have been paying for. what did learn? i'm paying way too much for way too little. next time, i am going to just torrent the stuff. after all, i am already paying for them, so why the fuck not. i'm surely not going to pay dvd prices for itunes' drm shit that i can't lend/sell/etc when i am done. if they are going to remove what i can do with the stuff, they are going to have to be a lot cheaper that $1.99/episode. it's not even a matter of convenience anymore with the ubiquity of the internet these days.
  • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @12:05PM (#40886587) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about your cable company, but in my area Comcast still operates under a variant of an agreement with the local government that's nearly forty years old and gives it the monopoly over the cable franchise here. So it's not like they're unregulated beasts; it's just regulatory capture. That's a different - and more difficult - problem, because sometimes the solution to regulatory capture is to take the regulating power away from the government. (And yes, sometimes the solution is to accept the regulatory capture and move on. Electrical rates are usually a good example of this.)
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @12:33PM (#40886799) Homepage

    > - i shouldn't be limited to what device i watch it on

    There is nothing "entitled" about this idea. It's a simple extension of Anti-Trust. It's the same kind of idea that got movie studios divested of their theatres.

    YOU nicely encapsulate the jackass mentality that erodes sympathy for Big Content among the population at large.

    YOU have no right to artistic megalomania. In fact you have no rights at all. You have a temporary statutory right that exists only to suit the public at large.

    We're not "entitled". We're the customer.

    Piracy is really a big fat red herring. Piracy is not the problem. Me ignoring you is the problem.

    It's not 1979 anymore. I don't need HBO to distract me anymore. Some people might be motivated enough to pirate but that's not the real problem. The real problem is that the alternative are legion.

    Most of us simply aren't bothering.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @01:41PM (#40887299)

    Wow no sense of humor. To make things worse, you are using DEA's death in the line of duty as an attempt to score some political points within a geek forum. I'd think it would have been more appropriate to talk about how the current administration seems to be kowtowing to the MPAA/RIAA.

    Anyway since you did bring it up and you act like Obama authorized the killing of the agent and all investigations of organized crime weapon smuggling are completely safe. I'd like to point out that DEA agents have a dangerous job and we should be thankful that we have people who are willing to endanger themselves to keep the rest of us safe. Sometime miscalculations will be made and people get killed. We need to learn to differentiate the difference between authorizing the program at large, and making decisions out in the field. Time magazine did a very interesting article on the subject, you can google it.

    The problem I have with your assertion is that I haven't seen any evidence that another president would have done anything differently. Fast & Furious was started under the Bush administration. This fact doesn't absolve Obama since he reauthorized it but it does show that both party administrations would have continued the program. Obama has the misfortune of (1) a major fuck up happening during his watch and (2) an opposing political party looking to manufacture any scandal possible to discredit his presidency.

    Instead of focusing like a laser asking "what if" and pretending that another president would do something different, how about looking at both candidates and asking "who's the better choice overall". The republicans appear to be afraid of this comparison. Which is unfortunate, since I remember a time when a candidate won the election by a landslide with a platform of change and hope. Now we have both candidates campaigning on fear, uncertainty and doubt.

    It's bad enough the presidential election is a contest between the lesser of two evils. Don't add false dichotomies to the election rhetoric.

    Anyway I find it sad that Obama's opponents are focusing so much on an operation that resulted in a death of one DEA agent. I guess they want to distract us from a previous republican administration decision that killed and maimed thousands of US soldiers, and resulted in large amounts of currency and weapons to be unaccounted for in a hostile country. Sadly the current operations aren't the first time.

    While we are on the subject of the supposed outrage from the right, here's some food for thought. The most revered republican president (Reagan) sold weapons to the enemy of the state (Iran) and then tried to cover it up. They were using the proceeds to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. In their attempt to cover up their shenanigans, they shredded countless documents and lied to congress. The central figure of the scandal (Oliver North) was herald as a hero for carrying out the plan and sacrificing his military career to cover it up. The whole scandal landed him a job at Fox news.

    My final point being beware of taking one political party's bullshit as gospel.

  • that simple fact alone makes it pretty addictive, psychopharmacologically. see: methamphetamine

    i don't know why it is so important to you to belittle cocaine's power, but you are obviously wrong

    perhaps you enjoy coca leaf tea, or munching on coca leaves with lime. in such aboriginal use scenarios, cocaine is ok, because it is weak, no worse than coffee. but modern technology has intervened. in most of the world, tea or leaf with lime is not the way it is consumed: it is concentrated and taken in crack or powder or paste form, sniffed or smoked, giving a strong rush and feelings of invincibility and alertness. the addictiveness profile is strong and large in this use scenario

    these are pretty objective statements of mine, but go ahead and call me part of a blind political backlash if it suits you. but it seems you are the one with some sort of agenda or prejudice on cocaine, as your opinion on it's addictive strength is clearly and objectively wrong

    the USA weathered a crack epidemic in the 80s and 90s which devastated communities. cocaine continues to devastate argentina, uruguay, and brazil as "paco": []

    you should educate yourself about how powerful cocaine is. your current opinion wrongly dismisses the obvious power of a highly addictive substance

  • Re:drugs also (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:11PM (#40888893)

    I don't know about this. For the bigger artists, yes, that seems to have been the deal; the record companies basically take all the money from album sales because of their usurious interest-rate "advances", so artists really don't make much money on those, and make real money doing tours.

    However, for independent artists, the math is probably very different. Remember, if you're a big band like The Rolling Stones, everyone knows who you are because of decades of promotion and album sales, so when you play a concert, thousands of people line up to buy tickets. If you're some little local band, no one's going to pay a dime to see your concert; at best, some local restaurant will pay you $250 to play a gig there one evening. Divided 4 or 5 ways among the band members, that's not exactly a lot of money. However, many times, local performers will sell their own CDs after the performance for $10 or $15. It's cheap these days to have your own CD professionally made in quantities of 1000 or so, and it's not that hard to do the recording yourself with a PC and get decent results; you don't need some ridiculously expensive recording studio like you did decades ago, and even if you do want to go that route for better quality, it's possible to rent time at studios. So these small-time artists probably make most of their money selling their own independently-produced CDs.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers