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HBO Says Game of Thrones Piracy Is "a Compliment" 447

An anonymous reader writes "HBO programming president Michael Lombardo not only says that illegal downloading of Game of Thrones isn't hurting the show, but goes so far as to say it's 'a compliment' and worries about the image quality of pirated copies"
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HBO Says Game of Thrones Piracy Is "a Compliment"

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  • No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phizi0n ( 1237812 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:03PM (#43325181)

    Finally a suit that understands piracy HELPS more than it hurts, especially when the legal means of consuming the content is limited to few regions of the world.

  • Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:05PM (#43325191)

    I'd sign up for HBO if there was a way to do so without paying my cable provider an obscene amount of money for Flip This Nanny and Douchebags Live Together 14 as well.

    Maybe I'll mail them a donation.

  • HBO Gets it Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:05PM (#43325195)
    And we should reward them. This is EXACTLY what we want content producers to say. Let's buy the shit out of their DVD's, and publicize the series even more. Let's support companies that take the right stance.
  • by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:09PM (#43325227)
    We should also, in a friendly way, urge them to have their content delivery more closely match the spirit of their PR. If they are OK with piracy that's great! Are they still issuing complaints? Fans would LOVE more ways to pay for their content. Are there viable means for them to make it more available? Fans want the series to make a ton of money, so it continues (and we get more tasty battle sequences). How much more revenue could they secure if they made it easier to purchase? (Relevant []).
  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:15PM (#43325261) Homepage Journal

    The question is whether more piracy would help the show more. He presumably would like somebody to actually pay for what appears to be a fairly expensive show to produce. A little piracy is free advertising; universal piracy kills the bottom line.

    So he may well decide that the current amount of piracy is a boon, but would continue to suppress pirates to the full extent of his ability and the law, to keep it from being any bigger than it is. He could easily eliminate piracy by seeding the torrents himself, and telling everybody that it was OK to take it from there. But I doubt that even this "enlightened" suit will do that, nor would he if he were permitted to.

    I suppose he might try to depend on subscriptions from people who decided they wanted to get it via HBO's regular distribution channels anyway, though it seems unlikely.

  • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:15PM (#43325263)

    I was thinking the same. Full digital subscription? Yes, sir. Subscription linked to some shitty cable TV one? Nope.

  • by dubbreak ( 623656 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:17PM (#43325269)

    How much more revenue could they secure if they made it easier to purchase? (Relevant []).

    Exactly. If he's concerned about image quality, then why not offer downloads that are up to his standards at a price that's so good it's easier to pay it and get a guaranteed good DL.

    Heck, run their own private (pay for) torrent site and they can avoid some bandwidth costs. Or free official torrents with an advert or two at the begining (which they should get some revenue off or).

    There are ways to monetize free viewers. I stream a few shows from the comedy network (Workaholics mainly, since they have the latest episodes) an I don't mind the ad interruptions.

  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:20PM (#43325295) Homepage

    Finally a Slashdotter that understands piracy both helps and also hurts, especially when the legal means of consuming the content covers most of the intended market.

  • And he is right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:22PM (#43325303)

    The difference is that some people actually look at the facts first, like this guy. He is not the first to notice that with a good product aimed at a target audience that can pay does not suffer from unauthorized noncommercial (!) copying, but profits.

    The typical attitude is the greed-inspired "This is ours! They are stealing!", reinforced by stupidity. The fact of the matter is that "copyright" is an artificial construct. The only thing that is an actual natural right is to be identified as the creator of a work. Copyright was introduced in England, because commercial piracy, perpetrated by printers and publishers lead to the actual creator of works not making money anymore. As to whether creators of works should be compensated at all, the time-honored answer is that if the audience liked it, some of them will give. And that has to be enough. It was for countless centuries. Turns out that in the Internet age, it is even easier to find people that are willing to pay for works of art when not forced to. And there are (by now pretty strong) indicators that not forcing people to pay actually increases total revenue for works of good quality. There are also indicators that works of bad quality suffer, and that is the real beef of the copyright fascists: They have gotten so used to be able to force bad quality on people and have them pay-before-consume (an entirely unnatural model for entertainment) that they want to keep that despicable model at all cost.

  • Re:No shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:28PM (#43325339)

    If there were a way to pay fair market value for a DRM-free recording (meaning: one where I can go mplayer GOT-S1E01.mkv and have it work) of the show, then fewer people would pirate it.

    People pirate it because the only way to watch it legally is to subscribe to HBO. Their business model induces the piracy.

  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:29PM (#43325349)

    Not everybody has access to HBO in the first place.

  • Re:No shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:37PM (#43325387)

    The moral answer is that if you like the show, pay for it. Buy the DVD or buy a subscription. Piracy is only wrong if you use it only to avoid paying a reasonable price for a product.

  • by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:45PM (#43325427) Journal

    They are showing the full S2 on of the free trail of HBO today on HBO2.

    What URL can I get this free trial at?

  • by SighKoPath ( 956085 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:50PM (#43325455)
    That's still giving money to a cable provider for a ton of shit that I'll never watch. No thanks.
  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:01PM (#43325525)

    People pirate it because the only way to watch it legally is to subscribe to HBO. Their business model induces the piracy.

    Their business model induces piracy about as much as a woman's clothing induces rape. Pirate the show if you want (clearly the harm is much lower/almost non-existant) but don't pretend it's the content owner's fault you did it.

  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:10PM (#43325585)

    People won't wait, even if you might. This is a fact. Any suggested alternative to piracy must account for that.

  • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jetra ( 2622687 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:14PM (#43325619)
    Wouldn't HBO profit better as a standalone channel purchase than a 6 or 12 moth subscription? If we have to pay a few cents per channel, a lot more people would be willing to drop the sports channels which come standard so as to buy HBO and Showtime.
  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:16PM (#43325627)

    Their business model induces the piracy.

    No, people who want to have some entertainment on their own terms, without paying for it, "induce" the piracy. No, they don't even "induce," they simply "commit" it. They can't be troubled to wait for a DVD or to grab it through Amazon, etc. No... they have to have it RIGHT NOW, because they are entitled to being entertained by the work of other people who spend millions of dollars.

    Induce. Oh, please.

    Yeah, yeah. And people who wear overpriced basketball shoes in the wrong part of down are inducing other people to shoot them in the head to take them, too. Is this inductive reasoning you're using, here?

    HBO is asking for it, man! Did you see that short skirt that HBO was wearing?

  • Re:No shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:32PM (#43325751)

    Their business model induces the piracy.

    No, people who want to have some entertainment on their own terms, without paying for it, "induce" the piracy. No, they don't even "induce," they simply "commit" it. They can't be troubled to wait for a DVD or to grab it through Amazon, etc. No... they have to have it RIGHT NOW, because they are entitled to being entertained by the work of other people who spend millions of dollars.

    You completely miss the point... There is a demand with no legal supply. Thus piracy.

    However, since they aren't trying to compete with that market, it doesn't matter to them.

    When it eventually does come out on DVD or Blu-ray, many of those pirates end up buying it. The people who already subscribe to HBO generally do not buy it because their cable providers have on-demand viewing of most of the episodes around the same time as the DVD comes out.

    HBO is smart. This way they can sign 'exclusive' deals with cable providers. Yet, due to the piracy, their advertising still reaches other markets those exclusive deals don't permit them to do business in. Then, when those exclusive deals expire and they can release the DVDs, their sales are much higher than any program with much less piracy.

  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:34PM (#43325759)

    I think you're mixing up observed cause and effect with morality. If you go walking through a bad neighbourhood displaying wealth you might well get attacked whereas if you had kept a lower profile, you wouldn't have. That doesn't make the attacker's actions morally defensible, but it is something that is likely to happen.

    If you take an attractive and seductively dressed woman and dump her into the yard in a male prison during exercise time, she's more likely to get raped than under other circumstances. That doesn't mean the rape is okay or that the prisoners aren't guilty, just that it's more likely to happen. I think the woman would be quite reasonable to put some blame on you for contributing to her rape in that case. Inducing it, if you will.

    Heavily advertising a TV show then not allowing people to watch it by legal means is very likely to increase the rate of piracy. You can argue about whether piracy is morally defensible under those circumstances but your moral arguments have nothing to do about whether or not it's likely to happen. If HBO is creating circumstances under which their show is more likely to be pirated then they are inducing it.

  • Re:No shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:35PM (#43325771)

    If I assume that by "privacy" you meant "piracy," then no, I do not believe it to be a right, and that it because (at least in the US) copyright infringement is currently illegal. However, if you were to ask me if I believe that 'creators' are entitled to government-enforced monopolies over ideas and the ability to control the data stored on your equipment, then no, I do not believe anyone is entitled to any such thing.

  • by Brobock ( 226116 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:36PM (#43325779) Homepage

    Here in Sweden, I pay a TV tax. This tax goes to paying for state owned TV channels. They broadcast Game of Thrones without commercials. There are no advertisers being hurt, and my TV tax goes to paying HBO for the syndication rights. The issue is I do not like seeing the subtitles that are burned in. I also like my show at the highest resolution with surround sound.

    So is it piracy when I download it rather than watching it directly from syndication?

  • by Shark ( 78448 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:37PM (#43325793)

    But is it immoral for you to take a (very detailed, for the sake of analogy) picture of someone else's car and build your own similar car at your own cost?

    The media industry's problem is the same problem the car industry would have if everyone could afford a car-sized star-trek style replicator that runs on 100W of electrical power.

    The question is, if such a replicator existed, would you make it illegal for the sake of the car industry? If people used it to produce their own food, would you have that device banned for the sake of farmers? Content distribution, as an industry, is growing obsolete.

    If carriage makers had the same kind of lobbying power as the media industry, you wouldn't be on the computer reading this right now, you'd be tending to your horses.

  • Re:No shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SScorpio ( 595836 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @03:06PM (#43325993)

    Yup, you get to wait a year from when it's aired for subscribers.

    With many people cutting the cord, subscribing to HBO isn't an option, thankfully it looks like they are open to the idea of allowing a digital only subscription to access HBO-Go.

    Your options are currently:
    1) Subscribe to cable and HBO and watch on Live TV, HBO OnDemand, DVR, or online via HBO-Go
    2) Wait a year for the Blu-Ray and DVD boxset
    3) Click the torrent for the new episode posted 5-10 minutes after it finishes airing, and wait 10-15 minutes for the download and play it on any hardware you have.

    It might not be legit, but you aren't really giving the consumer choices, having it available on Amazon Instant Video where you purchase each episode or the full season and have a one to two week delay would be reasonable. But waiting for a whole year when illegal option is available all that time?

    This same practice hurt the movie industry where a movie would come out and then be available in its country of origin on DVD before it heads across the global for release in theaters. Or PC games released 8 months later due to translation/localization. What happens when the global release is within a few weeks of one another? There is less piracy as people can get their fix.

  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @04:05PM (#43326259)

    Actually, he does. An analogy is a matching inference or relation, not an equivalency.

    "day : light :: night : dark" doesn't mean day == night.

    Doesn't matter what the illegal activity is, when the person committing it blames the victim it's wrong. Using a hyperbole [] to make the analogy is a common rhetorical device. Obviously there is no equivalent harm, that's why I said so IN MY POST. Sigh.

  • Re:No shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @04:16PM (#43326293)

    But what if the actual market for your show is much larger than the intended market? HBO is missing out on profit by not making their content easier to purchase worldwide.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @04:57PM (#43326537)

    I don't have a problem with paying for the DVDs or the subscription fee to the channel that gives me what I want. What I have a problem with is getting what I want.

    What I want should be easy to do, from a technical point of view: Watch the show in its original makeup. Sadly, it's near impossible to get that here. Because, you see, everything gets dubbed here. Everything. There's a whole industry built around dubbing foreign shows. And considering just how many movies are made domestically, I'd dare say it's bigger than the "real" movie industry. The big problem around it now is that they seem to lump every actor too bad for actual acting and every writer too stupid to actually come up with scripts into it. What this results in is ATROCIOUS dubbing. Scripts the butcher every joke or simply make no sense whatsoever. And wooden voice acting that can actually make you think Keanu Reeves isn't such a bad actor because EVERYONE is about as expressive as he is. Not to mention this unspeakable urge to translate EVERYTHING, which leads to some rather ... odd situations until you finally get to see the original and why something "works". You don't even want to know what they did to "Soft Kitty" from the Big Bang Theory...

    It's also a given that this dubbing takes time. To give you an idea, just recently the 11th Doctor reincarnated.

    So, long story short, I want to watch the shows undubbed. But that's apparently some kind of sacrilege. I must be the heretic for wanting to bypass the "local culture" or something like that. There is exactly NO channel whatsoever, not even one I could subscribe to for extra money, that would present those shows in their original making. So my best bet right now are DVDs, even though I'll have to order them abroad since it's surprisingly hard to find undubbed DVDs or at least some with an original track. Though for some bizarre reason, the sound quality of the original track is by default inferior to the dubbed one.

    So take a wild guess why torrents are so popular around this area.

    Just give people what they want! Most people I know would gladly pay good money for a simple, undubbed version of a show, just broadcast the same content you broadcast in the US and we're very happy.

  • Re:No shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TrekkieGod ( 627867 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @05:30PM (#43326681) Homepage Journal

    No, people who want to have some entertainment on their own terms, without paying for it, "induce" the piracy. No, they don't even "induce," they simply "commit" it. They can't be troubled to wait for a DVD or to grab it through Amazon, etc. No... they have to have it RIGHT NOW, because they are entitled to being entertained by the work of other people who spend millions of dollars.

    That may be true, but if you're trying to have a successful business plan, do you really think it's a good idea to have one which depends on changing human nature?

    Maybe you don't think these people are "entitled to being entertained by the work of other people who spend millions of dollars." It doesn't really matter does it? They think they are, and they have the means to achieve their goals, whether you like it or not. So you have one of two choices...spend lots of money trying to make it more difficult for these guys to get what they want, or give them most of what they want, lowering the number of people who choose to go the pirating route. As long as you gain more by doing the latter than you spend by doing the former, that's the way you should go. Simple cost-benefit analysis.

    HBO is asking for it, man! Did you see that short skirt that HBO was wearing?

    Did you really just compare copyright infringement to rape?

    If you must use a human sexual behavior as an analogy, it's more like dealing with teenage sexual activity. You can argue they shouldn't be engaging in it, and you're probably correct in that they're not ready. That said, if you tell them that abstinence is the way to go, you're fighting against human nature, and you're going to fail. Instead, if you teach them the concepts behind safe sex, you let them have what you want and you minimize the dangers of pregnancy of STDs. There will still be those who will engage in unsafe sex, and there will always be those guys who will pirate no matter what because what they want is the free part. However, you haven't proposed an alternate solution that does a better job.

  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrontius ( 654879 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @05:53PM (#43326791)
    I waited.
    Then I forgot Game of Thrones,
    Forgot it got made.

    Now, thus reminded,
    I discovered my life,
    it has not suffered

    for lacking this show,
    and I doubt I'll watch this show,
    until, for five bucks,

    I can get seasons
    in Wal-Mart's $5 DVD bin.
    They have a problem.

    Without the lure of
    Instant gratification,
    They've already lost.
  • Re:No shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chrontius ( 654879 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @05:59PM (#43326821)
    Adequate internet: $20/month
    Adequate cable: $100/month
    Unwillingly unemployed or underemployed: 27,000,000.

    Decide if you, collectively, want to bitch about people on unemployment paying $100 or more a month for cable, or bitch about crybabies who have chosen to cut the cord. Complaining about both is hypocricy.
  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FuzzNugget ( 2840687 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @06:11PM (#43326875)

    How about, we all just accept that:

    * A little piracy helps more than it hurts and is a generally nothing more than free advertising
    * Making content easy-to-use, open/DRM-free, accessible and reasonably priced deters piracy better than does antagonizing your own fans through legal bullying ("you'll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar")
    * Despite your best efforts, a negligible and inconsequential number of people are going to be freeloaders no matter what. These are people who are either unable to obtain it through "legitimate" means because it's (1) not made available to them, they (2) can't afford it, are (3) simply cheap or are (4) naive.

    There are some sub-points on that third item:

    (1) Unavailabliy: there is no excuse for this. These people are paying customers except that you won't take their money, so they turn to the only possible alternative. If it's unavailable to certain users becuase of their location, that's your own damn fault for keeping everything locked up in bullshit legal entanglements. There is clearly a market and reaching that market is a trivial expense in 2013.
    (2) Can't afford it: don't write these people off. They are in the market, just not yet. These are the same college students that use cracked copies of Photoshop, but who will later be purchasing it at the full ridiculous price from Adobe.
    (3) Just cheap: OK, you probably won't deter these people because they can't be detered. They don't care and it's not worth persuing them and becoming universally despised as a result.
    (4) Naive: they just don't know how these things actually work, they just assume that it's all on the up-and-up and that a computer is just a glorified stereo and VCR. And why wouldn't they? Radio's free, OTA TV is free, YouTube is free... the way to attract them is not to send letters threatening to riun their lives over 24 songs. You tell them, "look, here's the improved level of service and quality we can provide you for a reasonable price."

    In essence, it's a matter of balance and legal bullying is the wrong way to go about tipping the scale when it's too heavy on the side you don't like. It sounds like /maybe/ they're just starting to get the slightest, subtle twinge of this realization.

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @06:28PM (#43326965)

    Talk about total false equivalence. First not only are they completely different kinds of acts, rape has a real victim, piracy does not, but indeed the business model can very well induce piracy.

    Let me give you an example: I discovered some little French cartoons called Minuscule. It is some funny anthropomorphic 3D rendered insects overlaid on live photography extremely well. I found it charming, and knew my mother would be delighted. That it was French in origin matters not at all as there is no speech, just sound effects. The rights were owned by Disney, by the way.

    So I set out to buy her a DVD for Christmas. It was not for sale, DVD or download, anywhere in the US or Canada. Apparently it has never been redone in NTSC format, it was PAL only. Not a problem, I have the video software necessary to do such a remaster. So I found it in France on their site. No English anywhere, the whole site was in French. With the help of Google, I translate it and give it my info. It is going to be stupid expensive to get, like 10 Euro from the DVD but then 20 Euro to ship it. Fine, I'm ok with that, mom will love it.

    I hit checkout and the first English ever pops up, it says basically "We are not allowed to sell this to your country."

    So fuck them, I pirated it. I went out of my way to buy a copy, far more than was reasonable, and still got shut down. They had decided this "wasn't for the US market" and I wasn't allowed to have it.

    That is what people are talking about. Now Game of Thrones is a somewhat lesser case, but still. To watch it, online or not, you have to have an HBO subscription. To have an HBO subscription you have to have cable TV, and a pretty expensive package at that. The minimum here is $60/month before taxes to get the package needed to have HBO, which is then an additional fee. That's a lot of damn money.

    What if someone does not need or want (and maybe can't afford) cable TV, but would be willing to pay for an HBO subscription, or be willing to pay to get episodes of the show? Nope, sorry, they won't do that. You shell out a ton for cable or you go to hell.

    So it is very realistic to talk about that pushing people to pirate. Compare that to, say, South Park. Here when an episode launches on TV, you can view it free (with ads) online. You can also buy the episodes ala carte at Amazon, or get everything but the most current season as part of a Netflix subscription. They make it very easy to watch it, even if you do not wish to have a cable plan that includes Comedy Central.

    Some people pirate things just because they can, or because they won't pay for anything. However others pirate because getting it legit is very expensive, or perhaps flat out impossible legally.

    You also can't really argue any harm when someone pirates something that they could not buy otherwise. There isn't even any theoretical harm: They could not spend money on it, so there isn't even a theoretical loss.

  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elashish14 ( 1302231 ) <> on Sunday March 31, 2013 @07:40PM (#43327297)

    Yes, but the one invariant is that copyright harms everyone else, with no help to be found. It's responsible for the repeated attempts at crippling the internet, gives us fundamentally broken technologies like DRM, wastes millions of dollars in the legal system, leads to obscenely non-constitutional laws and statutory penalties, thoroughly subverts the democratic process, and serves as the driving factor in several terrible economic/trade policies. In short, it completely sinks legitimate users as well as innocent bystanders, while the jury is out on whether it even serves any real purpose for the proprietors (and it really doesn't appear to at all, once you lose the farcical notion that each pirated copied is one (or hundreds, in the case of Jammie Rasset-Thomas) of lost sales).

    We really need to reconsider our copyright policies. This world can't afford to be held back just because America chooses to sell itself out to moneyed interests.

  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Monday April 01, 2013 @12:31AM (#43328489)

    Copyrights (and patents) harm everyone except those monied interests you mention at the end of your post.

    I could stop right there, with that observation, but there's more to be added.

    These tax schemes with shell corporations in Ireland and the Cayman Islands only work because "client" corporations in America pay the shell corporations all of their profit. The mechanism they use to justify any number and every number they wish to use? Royalties. Copyright and patent royalties. The tax fraud being perpetuated relies on the ability to pay a bogus "licensing fee" to the shell corporation. This number is anything the perpetrator wants it to be, "negotiated" on the spot to whatever is most convenient to enable the fraud. And it's legal.

    Any significant blow to copyright or patents runs the risk of ruining the game, hence copyright and patents must be protected and extended at all costs, population and culture be damned.

    Not to put too fine a point on it but... "Follow the money."

  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Monday April 01, 2013 @12:33AM (#43328497)

    ...especially when the legal means of consuming the content covers most of the intended market.

    ...after the two/three/four years that it often takes for a top-notch show to reach my country in the first place.


    Dearest HBO, I'd like to buy Game Of Thrones but you leave no option open to me as an Australian.

    So I end up pirating. It's not that I'm trying to rip HBO off, it's that HBO wont shut up and take my money.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard