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Don’t make me steal
February 4, 2011 12:05 AM   Subscribe

Don't Make Me Steal - a Digital Media Consumption Manifesto.
posted by Artw (107 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good idea, just last night I was struggling to skip all the adverts on a DVD and thinking "I should have just torrented this, it would have been quicker".
posted by Lanark at 12:25 AM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Gotta agree with the general sentiment, but some of those demands seem a little nutty.

That said, man do I loathe the "gotta buy the whole album to get track X" tactic some labels deploy. I'll generally buy some other track by the same artist, the pirate the hell out of the track I actually wanted. Go rationalization!
posted by dvorak_beats_qwerty at 12:25 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I don't like the terms of sale, I will feel entirely justified in just taking your shit instead.
posted by pracowity at 12:27 AM on February 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


That pricing section is pretty arbitrary. Basing price on a specific ratios of the price of seeing it in a theater is absolutely stupid. This will simply drive up theater prices. Saying that you can charge for product but not bandwidth completely ignores the cost of doing business. Do you think Steam or Amazon or Netflix doesn't charge for bandwidth? It's not a line item on a your bill but you're still paying for it. It's like saying I want to pay for food but not for trucking to the store but I still want to buy it at the store. Making impractical demands makes your cause appear ill conceived.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:31 AM on February 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


... you won't like me when I steal.
posted by Hicksu at 12:39 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


oooh oooh where will this go?
posted by headless at 12:42 AM on February 4, 2011


Naysayers! I'm a copyright hag and the criteria seem pretty reasonable to me. doctor-negative, I get your point, but this model would make it so the content providers would put bandwidth into their budget just like the cost of producing more physical DVD content, right?
posted by queensissy at 12:43 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


This seems more like a wishlist than a set of reasonable expectations. Having all movies ever, and being able to play them on all devices ever, are pretty big outs, which moviemakers not only might not wish to grant but have no ability to.
posted by zompist at 12:52 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I don't like the terms of sale, I will feel entirely justified in just taking your shit instead

I agree that the current situation isn't ideal, but their demands do read a little... entitled.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:54 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


This seems more like a wishlist than a set of reasonable expectations. Having all movies ever, and being able to play them on all devices ever, are pretty big outs, which moviemakers not only might not wish to grant but have no ability to.

I read it not as "if you don't give me all of these then I will pirate anything I like" but "I have myriad reasons for piracy. If you comply with all these conditions, I will have no good reasons to pirate, so I won't."

So if you can sell me an obscure 1950s movie, then I'll buy it off you. But if you haven't bothered making it available and I can only get it off the Internet from someone's video-tape-rip from public broadcast in the 1980s, then I'll download if off the Internet instead.

If I can buy a children's show and copy it to give to my kids who tend to leave DVDs lying around and scratch them, then great, I'll buy it. If you copy-protect the show it so I can't, then I'll go download it off the Internet instead.

If I want to get the Spanish-subtitled version of your movie for my Spanish-speaking mother, but you don't allow Spanish subtitles to be added to your content, and I can find a version with Spanish subtitles online, then I'll go download it off the Internet instead.

So, yeah, a considerable feeling of entitlement, but also a hardnosed practical deal. "You can't stop me infringing copyright with your stuff, but if you do these things, I won't bother, so you can make some money."

Morally right or wrong? See previous threads. Practical way forward? Yes.
posted by alasdair at 1:03 AM on February 4, 2011 [55 favorites]


Steal if you want. Dont justify it like you are entitled to it. Its a movie.
posted by kenaldo at 1:04 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just want to be able to watch the Bulls, the Bears, and occasionally the Pistons. For whatever reason, Chicago sports teams aren't a major draw globally (Detroit, I guess, I can understand). The legal methods of consuming NBA broadcasts in Japan include: waiting for the one live game a week shown on digital cable (usually Saturday or Sunday, blindly early, usually featuring either the Lakers, the Heat, or the Celtics and whatever team of minor importance they happen to be playing), or pay for the Japanese version of NBA League Pass, which means I get to watch one predetermined game a day, and I don't get to choose which team. So, yeah, I torrent. Being able to torrent means I've been able to keep my interest up to the level that when I'm home in March, I'll be attending a Bulls game, and more than likely buy some team merch.

Most television shows that I've enjoyed in the last five years aren't available in Japan, even to buy. Of course, if I were to buy them on my trip home, I'd have no way to play them while living in Japan, unless I also buy a DVD player. Most movies take between six months and two freaking years to reach the theaters, if at all. Unless it's a giant summer action movie, I can count on the one screen available (at $22 a pop) to be only slightly larger than my friend's tv.

Honestly, I agree with a good amount of these points, especially the subtitles/different languages thing. I mean, good god, Sony releases a good number of PS3 games fully bilingual, and all are region free. Sony. When Sony is less of an ogre than your company, it might be time to rethink your position.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:07 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


this model would make it so the content providers would put bandwidth into their budget just like the cost of producing more physical DVD content

It's more complicated than that I suspect. What is the impact on revenue of immediate global release as opposed to the traditional echelon approach? What would be the impact on revenues by offering on-line viewers 1/3 of the price of the theatre? Why should the on-line price be lower? The home price might be more since there is no popcorn revenue to subsidize the rental cost.

It would be interesting to map this manifesto onto the business model of the movie studio and see what the impact on them would be. Like that other famous manifesto, I suspect the impact on business would be somewhat rather negative.
posted by three blind mice at 1:08 AM on February 4, 2011


alasdair, thanks for parsing this better than I can. I've seen the entertainment industry waste so much time trying to make new media fit into the old model of doing things and it doesn't work. I really see this as "you can only make more money if you stop being so greedy" issue.
posted by queensissy at 1:11 AM on February 4, 2011


"If you can do this, or something very close to this, I'll happily give you a reasonable amount of money; if you can't, I'll get it another way, easily, and not because I want to 'cheat' you, but because someone else has done what you haven't seen fit to do." Seems pretty real-world to me.
posted by maxwelton at 2:37 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


"You can't stop me infringing copyright with your stuff, but if you do these things, I won't bother, so you can make some money."

But how honest is that? Won't bother? People who don't pay for their downloads today are not going to be satisfied with paying for them tomorrow. There is no bother at all in downloading a movie illegally. You go to a torrent site, click a movie title, pay nothing, and wait for the movie to download. No bother.
posted by pracowity at 2:48 AM on February 4, 2011


I don't know, the more convenient you make content delivery the more likely you are to a) turn a profit and b) make money off casual pirates.

I know that steam has caused me to completely stop pirating video games - it's much easier to just buy it, download it at high speed, and have it work straight up. If you provide a similar or better service than the pirates then it can stop all but the people who will download without paying no matter what, and nothing will stop them.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 3:09 AM on February 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


So I can install a bittorrent client (what?) and then use a torrent search site (assuming I can find one that isn't all spam) to download what is probably the movie, if it is the movie, not a strangely-subtitled or oddly-ripped-off-a-camcorder one, or something festooned with viruses. And then I probably have to find some weird codec off a Russian site to play it. Or install some weird Linux-based media player that hangs a lot.

Or I can go to iTunes, where I can find the movie easily and quickly, and pay a few bucks for what I actually do know is the movie. Downloads quick.

I know I am prepared to do this, because I do buy TV shows from iTunes. But I can't put the resulting copy-protected files on my Android tablet or the big computer in the room upstairs so I have to torrent them too. And since the price of the TV shows is really quite high - like, more than a DVD box set, and when I move computer I know I'll lose all the paid-for content - and I have to torrent it anyway, well, it's a bit of stretch to go waste my money buying the TV shows and never watching them, just to be good.

See? It's not an absolute position either way. It's a pragmatic business deal. Make the cost of the TV show a bit less than the DVD box set version, make the files able to be played on the different things my wife and I own, make it easy to get them, and I'll give you some cash. Otherwise I probably won't. I'm not a saint or a sinner, just a normal guy. We're the market. That's the pitch.
posted by alasdair at 3:13 AM on February 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


If one of the stars of the movie comes round to give me a back rub while I'm watching it I'll pay but they had better bring popcorn and drinks as well.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:31 AM on February 4, 2011


Actually the last DVD I bought has an unskippable ad before the title thanking me for supporting the movie industry... that's nice of them.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:31 AM on February 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


kenaldo : Steal if you want. Dont justify it like you are entitled to it. Its a movie.

Just to try to keep this conversation on track - "Copyright violation" does not equal "theft", either morally or legally. For starters, noncommercial copyright violation of the sort most people even could do before the internet counts as a civil offense, not a criminal one (despite the big scary - and intentionally deceptive - notice at the start of all your DVDs)... Though to some degree, Hollywood has filled that gap in with laws over whether or not you have the right to decrypt content you own (which you will never see in a spash screen on a DVD, because Joe Sixpack would go ballistic if he knew how few rights Hollywood actually wants him to have).

Bigger problem I see with the linked page - It seems very heavily geared toward movies. I can see it functional for music, as a side effect, but books? ebooks? Software? Classic video game ROMs under emulation? And then we have a grey area that really pisses me off, various municipal codes and industry regulations that you have a legal obligation to follow but they make you pay (and big $$$) just to get a copy of the rules.

Also agree with the seemingly arbitrary nature of the pricing - The TV one stuck out as particularly arbitrary to me, I'd actually place a much lower reasonable price on them than 1/3rd a movie.

And for those wondering about the unusually extensive coverage of languages and fansubs - The authors most likely count as anime fans, where you often see the "official" translations released as painfully bad, oft-Disnyfied, dubs; so many fans would rather listen to the original language with 3rd-party subtitles turned on.
posted by pla at 3:40 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know, the more convenient you make content delivery the more likely you are to a) turn a profit and b) make money off casual pirates.

I know that steam has caused me to completely stop pirating video games.


I feel the same way about music and Spotify. I can almost always find the music I want on Spotify, and start playing it instantly. Download it to my phone fairly quickly and listen wherever I want. Can get it for free (though not on my phone) if I want. It's quicker and easier and probably better than pirating.

(I had the opposite experience with Steam though: I failed the registration Captcha about 15 times on multiple occasions; there was no way to get help except to register, I tweeted them to complain and they ignored me, so I pirated the game...though a month or so later I tried Steam again and it did work).

Make it easy, make it relatively cheap, and many people will pay.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:44 AM on February 4, 2011


I just realized while buying a book that Amazon's done the same thing with the Kindle. It is literally about 3 clicks to buy a book, have it delivered instantly and it automatically goes to chapter 1, page 1 when I open it up. It's also 1/3 to 1/5 the prices of a hard copy (in Australia, anyway).

That's how you stop casual book piracy.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 3:52 AM on February 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


An analog media manifesto.
posted by larry_darrell at 3:58 AM on February 4, 2011


Living in Australia, where cultural products are always more expensive, later, more crippled and more censored (video games, anyway) than anywhere else with a functioning non-fundamentalist government, I always feel like a bit of a sucker when I don't pirate something.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:04 AM on February 4, 2011


I haven't watched free movies in months because I can pay for them now.

Thanks, NetFlix!
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:06 AM on February 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Amazon MP3 button on my phone has made it way too easy for me to buy music. A couple clicks and decent quality DRM free mp3s download directly to my phone for at most $7 an album. I bought at least 20 albums last year which is about 19 more than I had the previous year before I got the phone.
posted by octothorpe at 4:32 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tried to sign, but ironically the site doesn't support open internet standards. I can only "sign with" facebook or twitter, whatever that even means.
posted by DU at 5:03 AM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just to try to keep this conversation on track - "Copyright violation" does not equal "theft", either morally or legally.

Is it really fair to go all GRAR on somebody in the thread referring to it as stealing when the title of the friggin' manifesto we are talking about is "Don't Make Me Steal"? Seems like you're arguing with the wrong guy.

In any case you can call it what you want, don't dress up an impulse to get free shit as some kind of protest against the system. My local theater might be staffed by incompetent jerks but I wouldn't claim sneaking in to see a movie is a Nelson Mandela like quest for freedom and equality.
posted by Justinian at 5:06 AM on February 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Recently, I downloaded The Black Swan, legally, via iTunes. It was a long and complicated process and when I was done, it wouldn't play on my computer because it was HD (the move, but not the computer) so I tried to send it to my iPad. iTunes told me I had done so, but the iPad didn't have it. After several hours of this, I gave up and just torrented it.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:06 AM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Really, if the media companies don't take this sort of thing seriously, it's going to be a bumpy ride for them. The current French situation is interesting. Last year, the parliament caved in to the pressure of the music and movie corporations and passed a 3-strike law: private companies monitor P2P and send downloaders' IPs to a special governement body (HADOPI) who in turn sends warnings to the offenders. After 3 warnings, you can get your internet connection suspended, officially for failing to protect it.

So guess what happened after the law was passed?

The French largely stopped using BitTorrent (except those using VPNs) and moved massively to commercial foreign-based filesharing websites, which are now making a fortune with subscriptions. The move was so massive that it clogged some of the routes: one of the filesharing companies accused Orange (the main French ISP) of throttling traffic to its servers and used a popup warning to urge the legions of pissed off Orange suscribers to find another ISP. A cottage industry of commercial "dethrottlers" has sprung up. After a few months of Hadopi, 50% of French users - a voter base larger than any political party - are now not only actively downloading stuff (filesharing sites are easier to use than BitTorrent after all) but they are actually paying to get the content, which would be great except that none of that money goes to copyright holders and goes instead to shady companies.
posted by elgilito at 5:15 AM on February 4, 2011 [20 favorites]


I need to know about pirating academic articles. I'm not going to be enrolled in school forever, and that shit's expensive. Memail me if you got an invite.
posted by fuq at 5:33 AM on February 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


I would like all the media companies to agree that parents of small children are TOO FUCKING TIRED to pirate anything, and give me the option to skip all FBI warnings, advertisements, previews, and animated menus and go right to the damn movie. Because when I have a screaming, stomach-flu-ridden child who will only be soothed by some animation involving trucks, I do not want to wait the FIVE DAMN MINUTES it takes for your stupid DVD to get ready to play.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:34 AM on February 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


No-one can make you steal. You can choose to do so, but the resposibility remains with you, and you're still a thief.
posted by Paul Slade at 5:40 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know that steam has caused me to completely stop pirating video games
posted by fullerine at 5:48 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


MAKE YOUR WORK AVAILABLE TO ME ON MY TERMS OR I WILL JUST TAKE YOUR WORK IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW

Nope, sorry. Change the law, or change your habits, or deal with the fact that you're someone who doesn't care about an artist's right to make a living in the marketplace.

This manifesto is like that one episode of The Simpsons:

Homer: All right, pie. I'm going to start doing this...
[makes chomping motion]
Homer: -and if you get eaten, it's your own fault.
[He shuts his eyes, and moves toward the pie, making chomping motions, but hits his head on the stove hood]
Homer: OW! AH! Oh, my... oh, to hell with it.
[eats pie]
posted by andreaazure at 5:50 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Justinian : Is it really fair to go all GRAR on somebody in the thread referring to it as stealing when the title of the friggin' manifesto we are talking about is "Don't Make Me Steal"?

My apologies - I didn't mean that to sound caustic. Just a common misconception that makes an already fuzzy issue even less clear.


In any case you can call it what you want, don't dress up an impulse to get free shit as some kind of protest against the system.

Do you consider a right to know the laws that apply to you "an impulse to get free shit"? Do you consider the right to use 3rd party enhancements to otherwise-paid-for original content "some kind of protest against the system"?

Do you consider it a crime to rip the new BluRay movie you just bought for the kids because Disney has decided that you bought your TV one year too early and refuses to play at full quality thereupon?

Many of the issues included under "copyright violation" have NOTHING to do with "stealing", even tangentially. We simply want the right to use our property, paid for fair-n'-square, how we want.
posted by pla at 5:51 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you purchased it legally, format shift all you want. Don't then give those shifted copies away, because that is again in violation of the law. But if you buy a BRD and it won't play on your device, go ahead.

Right to Tinker is not the same as Right To Download. I'm a fan of tinkering with your stuff. It is your stuff (even if the most-extreme overprotective IP companies don't want it that way).

There is a reason why many, many companies sell a combo pack of a BRD, DVD and digital copy all in one box. They are beginning to get it.
posted by andreaazure at 6:03 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows McGee: "I would like all the media companies to agree that parents of small children are TOO FUCKING TIRED to pirate anything, and give me the option to skip all FBI warnings, advertisements, previews, and animated menus and go right to the damn movie. Because when I have a screaming, stomach-flu-ridden child who will only be soothed by some animation involving trucks, I do not want to wait the FIVE DAMN MINUTES it takes for your stupid DVD to get ready to play."

This has saved me hours of my life. (on PS2, hit square-square-triangle)
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:38 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


"No-one can make you steal. You can choose to do so, but the resposibility remains with you, and you're still a thief."

Stealing is when you take something out of someone's possession. They no longer have it.

If I go to your house and slip some of your DVDs and CDs into my bag while you're in the loo, I'd be stealing.

I'm not saying it's ethical, just that copying something is not the same as stealing it.
posted by unwordy at 6:39 AM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I pirated a good bit in college, and am just now starting to try to move away from it. I have real problems with intellectual property law (especially in the US), but my ultimate position is that even under my ideal intellectual property system, a lot of the things I pirate would still be protected, so it's somewhat hypocritical of me to say that I'm some kind of conscientious objector to copyright.

That said, this manifesto really does hit on a lot of the reasons why I do pirate when I do. An illustrative example is the fact that, like many of the people above, the only video games I got without paying for in the last year were the System Shock series, which are virtually impossible to find legitimately. Everything else I buy from Steam or Good Old Games.

I think there are three real reasons for this. The first is the form-shifting and ease-of-use issue. A torrented movie is there when you want it, in whatever format you want it, it'll play on any computer, and there's no copy protection--I can put it on my netbook and watch it on a bus, get straight to the movie without the annoying advertisements, etc. But even though Steam is DRM'd, I can say almost exactly the same thing about my Steam games, which is a huge plus for me. When I go home for Christmas, all I have to do is log into my parent's computer, and suddenly I have access to a huge range of games that are (as far as I can tell, since Steam is pretty reliable) always going to be there.

The second is price. Movies and music may go on sale, but I have yet to see anything like the massive Steam or GOG sales that occur several times a year. The long tail of video games means that I can safely count on getting any major AAA game for less than $10 (for at least 10 hours of entertainment!) within about a year of release. If I knew that Dead Space 2 was always going to be $60, I'd be a lot more likely to pirate it.

The third can probably be described as attitude. The PC gaming industry abhors pirates, but it hasn't rolled out the massive lawsuits that the RIAA and MPAA have, and has been a lot more flexible in trying to make piracy-proof platforms that still entice people to pay legitimately. The exception to this has probably been the intrusive DRM of Ubisoft and EA, both of which have generated huge backlash in the games industry and been pretty unpopular even among people who would never think of pirating a game. Overall, the PC game industry treats me like a valued customer, not a potential pirate, and I respond in kind (there's also a kind of solidarity in the industry that seems like it's lacking in movies and music, but I'm not sure how you would emulate that or why it occurs.)

I try to be as honest as somebody who abets the amount of piracy that I do can be, but it'd be a whole lot easier if I didn't feel like not pirating material gave me an inferior product at an inflated price.
posted by Tubalcain at 6:42 AM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pirating may not be morally right, but mefi has changed my mind about whether or not it is "stealing." If I go into a bookstore and sit in one of their comfy chairs and read a magazine from their rack, and then return it in saleable condition, have I stolen?
posted by rtha at 6:47 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I pay millions to a lobbyist to convince them to write laws that make sure that countless works which would've been public property now are controlled by me, have I, morally speaking, stolen?
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:59 AM on February 4, 2011 [20 favorites]


No-one can make you steal. You can choose to do so, but the resposibility remains with you, and you're still a thief.

The point is that whatever your views on piracy, it's a objective fact that the current system results in a lot of people illegally downloading content, in the same way that if there was a way to safely travel at 500 MPH in a normal car and the speed limits were not changed, it would result in a lot of people illegally breaking the speed limit. The reality is that all of the content is out there, and it's literally impossible right now to enforce the sorts of laws that were created before it was trivially easy to make infinite copies of any given piece of music/film/written word/etc.

The media companies have business models that rely on media being a scarce resource, and they are trying to combat the fact that technology has made it less scarce by creating artificial scarcity in the form of limited availability, DRM, and legal protections against copying. But that's not enough, because right now at least it's just as easy if not easier to access illegitimate sources which are not artificially limited. And it's not just about getting free stuff, as has been pointed out above, when there is an easy way to pay for the same content a lot more people will do it, and if there is an illegal but costly way to get access to content people will pay for the illegal content.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:00 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


MAKE YOUR WORK AVAILABLE TO ME ON MY TERMS OR I WILL JUST TAKE YOUR WORK IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW

Nope, sorry. Change the law, or change your habits, or deal with the fact that you're someone who doesn't care about an artist's right to make a living in the marketplace.


I hear where you're coming from, but you're missing the entire point: Particularly for movies (and music in the Napster era), getting your content vie shady methods can be a easier proposition than getting it legally. Or have you even read people's comments? See, the thing is, it's not a matter of people wanting to partake in copyright infringement. With the advent of Pandora, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and various streaming services, you saw the the ease of accessing music legally help eliminate a lot of music infringement. That's what people are asking for with movies. Offer me legal, easy ways without DRM-encumbered shit, and we have no reason to pirate. But as long as pirating is easier than purchasing a movie off iTunes where it may or may not possibly play, what reason do I have to purchase it? And for better or for worse, legality is not the greatest contributing factor in people's purchasing decision.
posted by jmd82 at 7:00 AM on February 4, 2011


There is a reason why many, many companies sell a combo pack of a BRD, DVD and digital copy all in one box. They are beginning to get it.

No they aren't. if they were beginning to get it, I could download a movie and burn it to either blu-ray or DVD. As it is, they're just trying to make money off of their own restrictions.
posted by wayland at 7:07 AM on February 4, 2011


deal with the fact that you're someone who doesn't care about an artist's right to make a living in the marketplace.

I care a lot about artists' rights and ability to make a living in the marketplace. That's one of the reasons I wish publishers would stop doing dumb-ass things that discourage me from giving them my money. If I could buy DRM-free e-books for my Nook in the general case, I would. But in most cases, I can't, so the Nook gets public domain or otherwise freely distributed stuff; other stuff I take out of the library or buy paper copies of, frequently used or remaindered.

In the role-playing game publishing world, the standard for electronic distribution is unprotected PDFs. Those I've bought a bunch of, with more to come this month. (Sadly, they suck on my 6" Nook and I've been mostly printing them out.)
posted by Zed at 7:43 AM on February 4, 2011


And for those wondering about the unusually extensive coverage of languages and fansubs - The authors most likely count as anime fans, where you often see the "official" translations released as painfully bad, oft-Disnyfied, dubs; so many fans would rather listen to the original language with 3rd-party subtitles turned on.

This is an outright falsehood. Sub/Dub releases have been the norm since the advent of the DVD. There isn't a single commercial anime translation company in this day and age that does dub only releases. Maybe 4kids, but they no longer have the sole rights to One Piece or anything else. In fact, most of the industry no longer does dubs at all, allowing for faster turn arounds and less cost. It's gotten so bad that it caused a third party voice acting studio to make a (IMO rather whiney) rant about it. The only real companies doing dubs anymore are Bandai Entertainment and Funimation. In fact, for popular shows, you can get streamed simulcast episodes, subbed, for Netflix pricing.
posted by zabuni at 8:06 AM on February 4, 2011


To my mind, the reality of the situation is this: the media companies are going to need to implement something like this whether they want to or not, because right now, today, I can get any movie or TV show or song I want for free, often faster and easier than I can get the version I'd have to pay for.

It's absolutely trivially easy for me to do so as well. And I can often find old TV or movies that I can't actually access any other way than by way of file-sharing. In fact, the only thing that keeps me from wholeheartedly embracing this system is the fact that I'm not giving anything back to the creators, which I find completely unacceptable.

If they don't set up some sort of system by which people can give money back, they are going to find themselves increasingly dealing with system where the file sharing is so transparently easy that a lot of the users might not even realize that what they are doing is infringing copyright (hell, Vuze is already making this a reality).
posted by quin at 8:17 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


zabuni : This is an outright falsehood. Sub/Dub releases have been the norm since the advent of the DVD.

Pssst - Hey, kid... Some of us posting here on the blue predate DVDs. ;)


There isn't a single commercial anime translation company in this day and age that does dub only releases.

Tell that to my "commercial anime translation" DVD of Mononoke Hime, aka "Princess Mononoke" as released by Disney.

Granted, Gaiman's script for the English dub really does shine as a gem amidst a mountain of dross; That said, it still misses the vocal subtleties you just can't get without listening to the original, as well as the inevitable "cultural translation" inherent in the process, for example translating just about any supernatural creature as some variety of "demon" or "god".
posted by pla at 8:25 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have region 2 DVDs that I have to figure out how to rip so my region 1 parents can watch them. Why not buy the region 1? Actually, I did, and then returned it to the store because an entire episode of the series had been cut for the region 1.
posted by jb at 8:36 AM on February 4, 2011


pla - your version doesn't have subtitles? Mine does. Sometimes they even have two sets - one based one the English dub- script (for the hard of hearing) and another based on the Japanese script -- which matters, as in several Miyasaki films, the English dub-script added a lot of dialogue not in the original (to fill in silence, explain things).
posted by jb at 8:42 AM on February 4, 2011


How to download an audio book from the Cleveland* Library (spoiler: it ends with a torrent)

* Or really, most libraries. OverDrive is a f'ng PITA. (Not to mention terrible tiny selection of ebooks.)
posted by epersonae at 8:44 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing content creators seem predisposed to underestimate is the extent to which sales of content items are driven by (or at least influenced by) considerations other than the content itself.

Split customers for a particular content item into two groups:
- Group C, who really really really want that particular content
- Group X, who only want that content as means toward some end, and could likely accomplish the same end via other means not involving that content

Group C is easy to get: they're "true fans" and all that.

Group X is easy to get by example: this is someone who bought and read the Da Vinci Code b/c coworkers are all talking about it, or b/c he was stuck in an airport, needed a quick read, and picked the book up due to its notoriety, and so on.

Note that in Group X the specific content is of secondary importance: there are many other ways someone could find to participate in such conversations (eg: reading reviews and plot outlines, or reading books on related subjects, or by talking about the hype around the book, etc.), and similarly there are many many ways to kill time in an airport, and some other book, or other media item, or non-media-item (like talking to people) could've worked just as easily.

Content creators seem to informally assume the bulk of their customers are in group C, which if true would means that at the end of the day issues like digital format annoyances and so forth aren't a big deal: as long as the customer ultimately gets the content then they'll be happy.

My humble suggestion to content creators is to ponder the following: what if 50% of your customers are in group X? what if 80% are? what if 90% are? what about 95%? How would that change your distribution approaches? Would that change the way you interpret people who say things like "I'd like to buy this work legally, but I can't, so I pirated it"?
posted by hoople at 8:44 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Issues with content providers have become more and more of a problem for me lately. I have a Nook, and there have been four or five books that I was more than willing to pay for but that were unavailable for--but available on Kindle, or Sony (which works on Nooks, but the formatting is all wrong and, gah, it's a pain). For what it's worth, the only ebook I've ever pirated was one that has long since gone out of print and isn't available digitally on any platform, but it's frustrating. I want to give these publishers and authors money! What the heck!

What's more, we have a big fancy TV to which you can directly stream netflix, hulu, and a bunch of other online services. We pay for Comcast OnDemand. I'm willing to watch commercials. I'm already forking out quite a bit to be able to time-shift viewing. But my husband and I wanted to watch (and laugh at) the V premiere, because we heard on io9 that it was funny a day after it aired. But it wasn't available OnDemand. Or Hulu. Or on abc.com. I have already paid a ton of money to content providers, am willing to watch advertising, and am relatively willing to jump through hoops to watch content. But if the options are to either wait until a DVD boxset is released for an exorbitant price, or spend 10 minutes on demonoid pirating? Um. Yeah. Sorry, ABC, but V just isn't that worth it to me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:01 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pssst - Hey, kid... Some of us posting here on the blue predate DVDs. ;)

I remember the bad (or good, depending on your viewpoint) ol days, I just thought that your view on it wasn't representative of the modern American anime landscape. Granted, rampant piracy has had a lot to do with that, and mostly for the better. Prices have hit the floor, legal streaming sites now simulcast, all because something had to compete against fansubs.

And my copy of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are both sub/dub. I think Disney stopped releasing only dubs after that.
posted by zabuni at 9:02 AM on February 4, 2011


I thought the emergence of large torrent sites pretty much killed the need for people to have giant external hard drives full of ripped content. "Look," they'd say, "I'm not all that interested in this content, but I might be in the future, and who knows if I'll have access to it again?" So they'd fill drives with ripped movies or albums just to have. These were the large scale piratical boogeymen that sent the content distributors into a tizzy.

Now, one can be reasonably assured that a given piece of content will not disappear from the internet. There is no need to fill up some drive of stuff you might not use - the amount of hassle is just not worth it. It is easier to just reach out and grab what you're interested in when you're interested in it, even if it costs something. For most people, that means iTunes or Amazon or their chosen eBook vendor.

So wouldn't it be in the distributor's best interest to make their downloadable content as easy to grab as possible?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:05 AM on February 4, 2011


Case in point - the amount of iTunes tracks that mysteriously appear on my iPhone after me and Captain Morgan hang out for a bit. If your distribution method is simple enough that a drunk dude can successfully achieve his minute-old wish to hear Sunglasses at Night by simply flailing at some buttons, you're doing it right.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:09 AM on February 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


"Nope, sorry. Change the law, or change your habits, or deal with the fact that you're someone who doesn't care about an artist's right to make a living in the marketplace."

Bullshit. I'm someone who does care very much about artists making a living — and that's not a right, your specious assertion to the contrary.

But how about this — it's your content. You change the law or change your delivery systems or deal with the fact that you don't want to make money, you don't want to support artists, and that you'd rather push your impractical bullshit on other people than actually come to any compromise.

It's obnoxious crap like this that makes me say, Fuck it, I'll just download it. It's obnoxious crap like that which led to eight unskippable minutes of ads and warnings when I paid to take District Nine out from a Redbox instead of downloading it.

You have to understand that you no longer have the sole power to dictate how I consume content or how your work is distributed. Sorry. I'll play the world's smallest violin for you. And every time you assert that you do have that power, that this power is somehow both moral and just, and that your general exploitation of both customers and content creators is the only option, I'll reply, Fuck you, I'll just download it.

Because I can. You cannot stop me. You can attempt to convince me that I shouldn't, and some of those arguments are valid and important. But every time you glibly assert some bullshit about how it's your way or the highway, I'll ignore you and download something for free that will work better than the product you want money for.

God, it's like listening to '60s anti-drug propaganda.

Stop being stupid belligerent assholes and I'll buy your stuff. Keep being belligerent assholes and I'll just download it. It's not hard.
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 AM on February 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Where's the part about the artists' compensation?
posted by tybeet at 10:04 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My apologies - I didn't mean that to sound caustic. Just a common misconception that makes an already fuzzy issue even less clear.

Hmm. It isn't a misconception at all really, just a position you disagree with. Laypeople (or lawyers) arguing about the ethics of illegally acquiring content aren't bound by the terms chosen by the law.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 10:26 AM on February 4, 2011


I have gladly, gladly paid for the following once they made it easy for me:

- Music: thank you iTunes, and occasionally Amazon. I would love to have a monthly flat fee subscription service in the US, and I would pay the shit out of that, but with few exceptions (some karaoke versions, and the "album only" songs -- omg, thank you for the idea dvorak_beats_qwerty -- and some stuff that's just not on iTunes yet) it's really easy for me to get the music I want, and quickly.

It can be annoying when I want to do something with a track, like put it in a video or an audio-editing program or something, but it's easy enough to convert to AAC in iTunes to strip the copy-protection stuff. And it's annoying there's only a set amount of computers you can share the stuff on, but the upper limit is more than enough for me and a lot of people, at least. It's not perfect, and I'd rather there weren't any protection; I really think that they'd make more money without it. But iTunes is, I think, because of its flaws, actually a good example of how much more willing people are to pay for things as long as you take some steps to make it easier on them and give them some flexibility.

And I really hope it encourages less filler junk tracks on albums; when people aren't buying a whole CD but individual tracks, there's some incentive not to make crappy-sounding tracks. I've noticed lately that some of the bigger artists have a higher ratio of good songs that are singles, but I don't know if that's the reason or I've just gravitated toward them because of it.

The only other thing I wish iTunes did was let you preview the entirety of a song once, like iLike, because some previews really aren't enough to know if I'll like something.

- Movies and TV: Netflix is amazing. Their streaming service is amazing, and when it's HD it looks better than a DVD and nearly as good as a blu-ray, and we have a 1080p projector where crappy quality really stands out. I wish it had more movies, and I especially wish it had more TV shows streaming, but that's only when I want something specific; as it is, they have so much stuff I could probably never watch everything that interests me, especially the documentaries which are usually streaming.

Hulu is great when it has what you want. I just use the free service and it's usually not hard to find time to watch an episode before it gets pushed off; I think it's a nice middle ground for having some leeway about when you want to watch something, but not owning it. I don't mind the ads for the free version, it doesn't seem like asking a lot and I don't expect them. I love when they give the option to watch an extra long ad at the beginning instead of a handful during the episode.

I'm looking forward to trying iTunes and Amazon for buying specific shows I can't get elsewhere, rather than torrenting them. I'll admit I have some pause about that, though, because by the time you buy the season as it happens in real time, you could have bought the full season blu-ray after-the-fact. I wouldn't mind paying like, $0.50 to $1 per episode if it expired in a week or something, or paying $5 to access the whole season as it unfolds and having it expire a year later or something; I'd never want to torrent then. Amazon charges too much for this feature when they offer it; $2 an episode for 24 hours ends up cumulatively costing nearly as much as the season DVD and is barely cheaper than owning it on iTunes, and even compared to physical rentals that's really high for a single episode of a show. I'm more than willing to pay less for temporary ownership as long as it's considerably less, and it seems like they'd get more money that way in the end. If I spend $5-$10 on digital copies I'll still buy the season blu-ray. If I spend $35 on digital copies, fuck no I'm not going to buy the season blu-ray, even if I really want it -- $70 for a season of a show is ridiculous. In practice I end up not buying any digital copies, so they get $35 out of me instead of $45.

My husband and I do buy blu-rays for movies we really like, and I appreciate how quickly the price falls. But OH MY GOD, they should NOT put ads on them, ESPECIALLY ones you can't skip no matter how many fancy PS3 controller tricks you know; watching a movie I own shouldn't feel like unlocking a hidden Mortal Kombat fight mode. When we stick a blu-ray in and it immediately goes to the menu, we feel this stupid rush of gratitude.

I have to say I'm liking the upsurge I'm seeing in those three-pack deals where you buy a movie and get the DVD, blu-ray, and digital copy for a decent price. Eventually the DVD will become superfluous, and honestly the blu-ray might too, but I think they've got the right idea there.

- Games: Steam. I love Steam so much. Granted, I never actually pirated games, but Steam has made me buy a lot more of them, especially since they have INCREDIBLE deals. I've paid $4 to buy games I would have never paid for otherwise, and those games are really good. I've re-bought games that I bought elsewhere just because they were $3 and I wanted the Steam versions for convenience, or to be able to play on another OS. Speaking of which, SteamPlay -- paying for access to both Mac and Windows versions -- is awesome, especially given how many people own both or don't want to be locked into one version if they change later. I wish it had more Mac versions, but that's mostly not their fault. (OFFER THE MAC VERSION OF BIOSHOCK 1 THOUGH WAAAAAH)

And honestly, the convenience of Steam is just great. I MUCH prefer not having to mess with discs and keep track of registration codes. Rationally I know that one day Steam could go under and maybe I wouldn't have access to any of my stuff anymore, but given that a video game usually stays in my system for a year or more tops, and that I pay much less for them on Steam with their specials than I would have otherwise, I'm not very bothered by that. I'm sympathetic to the complaint, but ultimately I think it's been proven that quite a lot of people are willing to make that trade for greater convenience and better prices. You want permanent, failsafe ownership then you pay a bit more for the permanent copy and take all the downsides that come with it.

I've also liked the Playstation Network; there are some incredible games on there, they're not too expensive, and a lot of them will play on the PS3 and the PSP.

- Books and audiobooks: I finally got a Kindle and I'm in love with it. I've never pirated a book but I went to more pains to get them from the library or BookMooch, and now I'm practically addicted to digital copies. I'm willing to spend $10 on a book and not have a solid copy; I've come to dislike physical copies of books with rare exceptions -- and this coming from someone who hand-binds books from scratch as a hobby -- just because it's much less comfortable to have to hold a book open if you want to read in a lot of positions. Now I can comfortably read standing on my head if I feel like it, though in practice I actually just lie on my side without my arms being weird about it. I also like how easy it is to highlight stuff and export it, being able to look stuff up with a dictionary without totally interrupting the reading experience, and how easy it is to search and navigate (which I had expected to be a downside, actually). I like being able to control the font size and spacing, and I like being able to dog-ear pages without feeling like I'm damaging anything.

But there are still some real issues here. It gives me some pause that they can just revoke stuff on a whim, but they at least give you a refund when they do and they don't do it often, so that's not enough to keep me from buying a book if I really want it. Ideally, they just wouldn't do that, though.

The DRM sucks, but Amazon has at least released a Kindle book viewer for damn near everything, so I haven't yet run up against this problem in real life. But the e-reader wars have yet to resolve in such a way that's all that great for the consumer, besides pushing the prices of the actual devices lower, because they're so unfriendly to each other's formats. The big problem with the Kindle is that most library e-books are a protected Adobe ePub format, and it doesn't read that because ePub is what the Nook uses. (And I hate the Nook's interface.) If I want to check out a book from the library, I have to jump through some shady hoops to strip the protection from the ebook and convert it for Kindle. Surely nobody wants that, because once you do you can theoretically keep it forever, and then you're basically stealing from the library on top of everything else. The e-library supporters like OverDrive could just try harder to offer Kindle formats, but really the whole format thing is just stupid. I've read forum posts from people who had a Nook and then switched to Kindle, only to find they couldn't read all the books they'd bought on their Nook; what kind of incentive is that to win customers from the other side? You're basically telling them they get to pick their side once, and you're giving them up as lost if they don't pick you the first time. It seems to me if they want to ensure people buy ebooks from them and not someone else, then they should make their device the best it can be and make sure their prices are good, not put these frustrating restrictions on the books. No one in their right mind wants to pay for two copies of the same eBook, and they shouldn't have to; it punishes them for trying to do the right thing. As a result, these people have to download DRM-stripping software, which is exactly the sort of thing no one wants them to do and just shows how stupid the whole thing is.

The other thing that sucks is having to buy digital copies of books if you already own the physical copy. I don't know what to do about that, because how can you prove you own the physical copy and prove you won't give it away, but it makes me sorely tempted to download pirated versions of stuff I already own. I'm slowly building a book scanner so I can stay on the side of light, but scanning one book and checking it for errors is time-consuming, and pulling the hardware and software together is fairly expensive. I've tried cheaper methods discussed there and they take too much time and are too error-prone to be something I'd reasonably do for multiple books. Thankfully book scanning itself inherently interests me, and I'm the kind of person who's willing to sit there and error check stuff as long as the OCR isn't god-awful, but it's not something most people want to do. The problem is ultimately this: while most people are probably willing to pay about $10 for a book they don't own, that's a lot to pay for a book you already own in another format -- and plenty of ebooks are much more expensive than $10. There's a couple books I'd be willing to pay $5 to have a digital copy of, but most books I'd only pay $1 to have a digital copy of, and I'm not sure there's anything that can be done about that. Maybe that's one part of book piracy you can't easily stop, but at least if you make the rest of it easy and relatively cheap, you'll have less people pirating books they don't have any legitimate copy of; if a large portion of book piraters are people who have already paid you for it in another form, it's not as bad for a publisher.

I usually check audiobooks out from the library, but a friend uses Audible and I'm tempted to use it myself once I've exhausted all the libraries in LA. It's a very good deal and the credits system is cool; physical copies of audiobooks are absurdly expensive. And Audible has a great preview mode that's very long so you can know if you're going to be able to stand the reader or not. The DRM is annoying if you have multiple devices, though, and I'm not sure how I feel about that; I think the max is five, so between my laptop, my phone, and my iPod, all of which I actually use, that's three right there, and if I want to share with my husband -- which I could do with a physical copy quite easily -- we'll hit the limit fast. But there's enough there to interest me, if I went through audiobooks faster than I do.


Ultimately, the idea that people are willing to pay if you make things cheaper, flexible, and more convenient is the reason all these things are as successful as they are -- and also the reason some of them aren't more successful when they could be, because they're lagging in important ways. I haven't illegally downloaded something in a year or two largely because things have headed in that direction, and once you're used to paying for stuff you don't feel so cavalier about pirating it. And I've bought more things I wouldn't have bought otherwise. Where things have lagged, though, I've also simply refrained from buying some things I would have been willing to buy otherwise and I've definitely felt tempted to get pirated versions just because the official versions have been such a pain in the ass. I think most of these industries would see a lot more money overall if they loosened their restrictions and lowered their prices, no matter how counterintuitive that might seem, and I only hope that the lagging industries get their act together soon. I don't think people are nearly as stingy as they fear, it only seemed that way because for a long time that was the only way to get stuff you wanted in a format you wanted, or without stuff you didn't want like ads or shitty album tracks.
posted by Nattie at 10:35 AM on February 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hmm. It isn't a misconception at all really, just a position you disagree with.

Well, 'misconception' in that the word 'theft' literally does not mean what is being described here. Words mean things. It helps the discussion tremendously when people start using the actual words that mean the things they are talking about, instead of just shorthand conflating the subject with a different, easier-to-understand-in-broad-strokes topic... you know, LIKE THE NAZIS DID.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:35 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where have all the music pirates gone?

Last year saw the number of music files on p2p sites fall to about 3% of the total amount of items being shared. That's number of items, not size or bandwidth. In this study, the Glee cast album counts the same as the Glee episode torrent. As Ars mentions you can check this out yourself, by going over to Pirate Bay and looking at the top 100 torrents. Music sharing is in the single precentage digits of current "piracy".

Leaving aside porn, the majority of items being shared are video. A few years ago, this would have been reversed, but not in 2010. Video, movies and TV, are the "problem" now.

It's hard not to draw the line between the rise of iTunes and Amazon offering DRM free music files. Easy to buy and find, authoritative high quality copies, low restrictions on end-user rights: that's the recipe that's killing music sharing for almost everyone.

The lesson to me is that you can compete with free. I think the book people have it near to right, for example. Maybe not so surprisingly, Amazon, on of the key players in the music market, is the market leader there. Like stubbon puppies, the movie/TV people will probably just need their noses rubbed in shitty sales and rampant theft for a few years before they smarten up. Hopefully it won't take them 15 years like it took the music industry.
posted by bonehead at 10:40 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who cares what it means "literally"? That only matters if you're in court.

Ever been accused of stealing someone's idea? Steal somebody's thunder? Steal a base? People use words like "theft" and "stealing" in talking about IP. They are only "wrong" in the sense that there's no deprivation (except the producer is, of course, deprived of whatever price they would have negotiated for. Legal technicians and prescriptivists might not like it, but that's really irrelevant.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 10:41 AM on February 4, 2011


Where have all the music pirates gone?

Of course, that only includes public BT trackers. Says nothing about private trackers, rapidshare/megaupload, usenet, megavideo, and the likes.
posted by tybeet at 10:43 AM on February 4, 2011


>>> [It's a common misconception that copyright infringement is stealing.]

>> Hmm. It isn't a misconception at all really, just a position you disagree with.

> Well, 'misconception' in that the word 'theft' literally does not mean what is being described here.


I can't tell if I'm about to help this derail or make it massively worse, so, here's hoping.

I think "copyright infringement is stealing" is a lot like "abortion is murder." It could be true or it could be false depending on your definition of the words. It's definitely legally false. But the more important point is that it's completely unhelpful in a conversation between two sides who disagree. It just stops the conversation from going anywhere useful. So we should avoid using it in threads where it matters.

Which this isn't one of. Carry on.
posted by jhc at 10:49 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]



I think "copyright infringement is stealing" is a lot like "abortion is murder." It could be true or it could be false depending on your definition of the words. It's definitely legally false. But the more important point is that it's completely unhelpful in a conversation between two sides who disagree. It just stops the conversation from going anywhere useful. So we should avoid using it in threads where it matters.

In a thread partially about the morality of piracy, a comment pre-emptively attempted to moderate the thread by claiming that piracy is not "morally stealing", a notion that's definitely up for debate and definitely not off topic. But I'll give it up...
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 10:56 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just realized that I had a bunch of iTunes songs that I downloaded from their store in their format and years later I torrented the same songs because I'm frequently switching OSes and often reinstall OSes and Apple's product stopped working. The lesson I've learned from this is that if I really want music I should pirate it.
posted by fuq at 11:01 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm finding myself less and less prone to downloading music for free. I've never done it with movies (mostly because I feel no need to outright own most movies, so NetFlix and on demand cable offerings suit me just fine.)

The main reason for my willingness to purchase music online is that Amazon, before iTunes, was offering good quality MP3s without DRM for a price I considered reasonable. I always told myself that the DRM-free decent bitrate MP3 version of an album would be fine for < $10. That's been my very short list of demands since the heyday of Napster. Now that it's been fulfilled, I find myself only stealing music to sample it (though, MP3 blogs mitigate that a bunch) and purchasing what I like.

I'm even starting to consider the idea of treating music like I treat movies. Buy the occasional album I really like, stream everything else with something like rdio. I don't mind trading (legally restricted) ownership for being able to listen to whatever I want whenever I want. Especially since I'll easily spend triple the $120/yr subscription fee on music purchases.

Someone upthread said that the list creator sounds entitled. I agree with that. It seems to me that since the dawn of popular p2p file sharing apps people have been coming up with myriad reasons to download music for free. It also seems like they keep moving the goal posts. The content companies put me in the end zone a while ago with their digital sales offerings. I honestly can't find any justification for freely downloading music or movie content for my purposes anymore. (However, my needs for movie/tv content are different than people who tend to keep media like that in personal collections, so YMMV.)

Books, however, are another story. I buy books for the Kindle and strip the DRM, because, let's face it, that's still ridiculous.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:06 AM on February 4, 2011


For all the arguments back and forth about these issues... a guy I know pretty much nailed the essence of these issues when he compared the efforts against filesharing to Prohibition.

Remember when "bootleg" referred to alcohol not music?

You might or might not think alcohol / filesharing is bad and immoral and should be discouraged. But the fact remains that many people, maybe most people, don't feel it's some terrible evil thing that is the scourge of society. In fact, since we're all raised to believe that sharing our stuff is a good thing, and we should let out siblings play with our toys, lend our books to our friends and our tools to our neighbours, well people mostly feel like they're being generous not doing something bad when they share stuff. Any stuff, physical or digital.

You may or may not agree with them, but the point here is: Remember Prohibition. What you in your wisdom think may not count for a heck of a lot against what the culture at large thinks, and is not the basis for an effective strategy.

I don't know what the answers are to reconciling creative people getting paid with people's instincts about sharing and fair use, but copyright fundamentalism is a war that can't be won.
posted by philipy at 11:08 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Remember when "bootleg" referred to alcohol not music?

I'm confused about the part where bootleggers were giving away their product for free. When did that happen?
posted by eyeballkid at 11:17 AM on February 4, 2011


"I honestly can't find any justification for freely downloading music or movie content for my purposes anymore."

The single most frequent one I come up against is that the music I want to buy is not legally available for any sort of reasonable price — e.g. generally tied up in rarity vinyl markets where I'm not going to pay $1000 to find out if the Dutch psych single I'm curious about is good, but I have no problem downloading it from someone's bootleg rip.

Likewise, there are plenty of movies or television shows that I'd like to see that aren't commercially available, sometimes due to my country, sometimes due to conflicts over rights, sometimes due to corporate reputations (I have no problem with downloading deleted Warner Bros. cartoons, and the only commercial sales I've seen for a lot of them are pretty clearly bootlegged already) or personality conflicts (I've been looking for Craig Kilborn Daily Show episodes for a while — good luck finding those legitimately).

As far as feeling entitled goes, the presumption that this content is created purely by heroic creatives is a modernist myth; these works belong to the public and the content industry (in general) is allowed to have exclusive control as a sop in order to produce more works of higher quality. That money is exchanged is a necessary evil, not something to be celebrated, and creating something doesn't mean that the creator owns it forever. If it did, there'd be no prior work on which to build.
posted by klangklangston at 11:30 AM on February 4, 2011


That is absolutely, far and away, the worst title for they could possibly have come up with for that manifesto.

It doesn't matter how reasonable or how accurate a reflection of the current media purchaser's outlook the demands may be, the title reduces all that to a wife-beating husband's pathetic excuse for smacking his wife around: "You know I hate to do this, babe, but how many times do I have to tell you?!"
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 11:35 AM on February 4, 2011


I'm confused about the part where bootleggers were giving away their product for free. When did that happen?

And do you think the fact that a lot of people are giving stuff away for free makes copyright fundamentlism more likely to succeed than Prohibition?

Actually if you want to think about the analogy a little bit more deeply, maybe you'll see some parallels. There are a ton of people making a little bit of brew for their friends / swapping files with people they kinda know. There are people who are profiting on a small or a large scale, either via ads, or charging for downloads, or charging for services that host downloads. And the fact that this is all underground makes it ripe for hard core criminals to carve themselves profitable pieces of the pie too.

Prohibition, the War on Drugs, and this are not going to work.

You might get all worked up because you want it to be otherwise, but it's not going to go that way. So if you happen to think Drugs are a Bad Thing or Filesharing is a Bad Thing, you need a better plan to deal with the issue than go down the corner and round up a few dealers who will just be replaced the next day by another set of guys.
posted by philipy at 11:42 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bioshock 1 is available on the App store for Mac, but at $40 (in Canada) that seems a bit ridiculous for its age.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:43 AM on February 4, 2011


I'm confused about the part where bootleggers were giving away their product for free.

One of the reasons I hate this ongoing discussion and typically bail out from it quickly is that reproduction of digital content is fundamentially different from reproduction of physical things. But at every turn, someone tries to make analogies to physical things. And every single damn one breaks down, and breaks down fast, and then we get bogged down with arguing about the degree to which the analogy was inadequate.

All the analogies are broken. It's different.
posted by Zed at 12:00 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


klangklangston - In all of the situations you've cited, I'd also go with the free download. But those are rare exceptions. As for creation and the common culture, I also agree.

philipy - You might get all worked up because you want it to be otherwise, but it's not going to go that way. So if you happen to think Drugs are a Bad Thing or Filesharing is a Bad Thing, you need a better plan to deal with the issue than go down the corner and round up a few dealers who will just be replaced the next day by another set of guys.

Wow. Whole lot of assumptions there. First, I'm not worked up about filesharing. I don't give a fuck, actually. What you do with yourself is your thing. I tend to believe that content should be paid for because I understand that it's not created in a vacuum. Musicians, movie makers, video game developers, all of these people invest time and money in the production of their product. I have no problem compensating them for it. Again, I could care fuck all what you do.

Second, your analogy about the War on Drugs and Prohibition both doesn't really jibe with the issue of copyright infringement. In the cases of drugs and bootlegging, the producer is making money for each piece of product. We are still talking about a simple case of production and consumption. Someone makes something and you buy it.

When you've got a still/brewery/couple of plants in your garage and you're sharing it out with friends, that's no different that you creating a piece of video and uploading it to YouTube or recording some music and putting it up on MuFi. In both cases, you are the creator and decisions about the distribution of your product are up to you. This is not true with file sharing. In the case of filesharing, the creator has no control at all. When it comes to music and movies, unlike drugs and alcohol, we are moving away from the existence of a physical product to charge for. So what we have is information that can be easily distributed. And, knowing that, I choose to pay for that information understanding that my payment is instrumental in its creation, the necessary evil as klangklangston referred to it (though, I hardly consider it evil, in most cases I consider it fair.) I don't know what the solution is for everyone else, but mine makes sense to me. If you think that you need a set of laws to help you to understand this, that's your deal. I understand it fine.

On preview: What Zed said.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:24 PM on February 4, 2011


Where have all the music pirates gone? Last year saw the number of music files on p2p sites fall to about 3% of the total amount of items being shared.

I'm almost certain that's a function of increasing bandwidth and storage and hosting space. Music files are so small plenty of sites can just offer them for direct download. I can't remember the last time I was curious about a song or an artist and was unable to find a particular track available for direct download.

Also, YouTube.
posted by straight at 12:35 PM on February 4, 2011


r_nebblesworthII : In a thread partially about the morality of piracy, a comment pre-emptively attempted to moderate the thread by claiming that piracy is not "morally stealing", a notion that's definitely up for debate and definitely not off topic.

No, I said "Copyright violation" does not equal "theft". I phrased it like that intentionally, to avoid misunderstanding. I apparently failed, but didn't mean to stifle debate on the subject, only to prevent that one all-too-common conflation.

For the legal side of things, "theft" has its own special meaning entirely separate from copyright infringement. Proponents of strong IP law would like us to consider them the same, but It Just Ain't True, George.

For the moral side, I gave several examples of entirely kosher "copyright violations" - Interoperability as the most commonly occurring. I feel comfortable saying that few people would consider ripping a BRD so you can play it on a "non-compliant" device in any way immoral; Yet doing so makes you an outright felon* under the DMCA for circumventing the access control mechanism inherent in the format.


straight : I'm almost certain that's a function of increasing bandwidth and storage and hosting space. Music files are so small plenty of sites can just offer them for direct download. I can't remember the last time I was curious about a song or an artist and was unable to find a particular track available for direct download.

For me, Amazon offering DRM-free music purchases effectively ended my motivation to download music I didn't own. Almost anything I want to listen to, I can go to Amazon and instantly download a song or album in a format I can use anytime, anyplace, and via any music playing device I want.

I won't try to justify what unauthorized downloading I do engage in, but suffice it to say that when getting it legit takes less effort than finding a bootleg, people won't bother with the bootleg.


* Note that although the 2006 and 2010 reviews allowed some very narrow interoperability exemptions (most notably, educational use, phone unlocking, and video games on obsolete forms of media), you'd better know how to crack the encryption yourself, because writing software that allows others to act on those exemptions remains firmly in the realm of the non-exempt
posted by pla at 12:50 PM on February 4, 2011


"Nope, sorry. Change the law, or change your habits, or deal with the fact that you're someone who doesn't care about an artist's right to make a living in the marketplace."

Artists don't have a 'right' to have the masses pay their rent just because they released a few records or whatever. If they can't find a business model that works then they should shut up and get the fuck out of the way so the rest of us can. I'm so fucking tired of entitled artists.
posted by Jairus at 1:01 PM on February 4, 2011


Music files are so small plenty of sites can just offer them for direct download.

That's an interesting point, but I don't think it explains the numbers. The differences are too big.

Direct-download file-hosting sites have size limits big enough for half-hours of video at present, and for a full hour on some sites now. Yet still, video is shared ten or more times more frequently than music files.

Taking another look at the data, there are also more comic books on p2p shares than music files, The average 23-page .cbr is about 15 to 20 MB, small enough to be downloaded too. Considering further that the music industry is (very roughly) ten times larger than comic books (annual revenues), it seems that the piracy problem for comics is also something like ten times worse than it is for music.

So, it does seem to me like piracy in the music sector is less than other, similar entertainment industries. Music seems to be getting much better handle on unauthorized copying than TV, movies or comic book publishers.
posted by bonehead at 1:07 PM on February 4, 2011


Artists don't have a 'right' to have the masses pay their rent just because they released a few records or whatever. If they can't find a business model that works then they should shut up and get the fuck out of the way so the rest of us can. I'm so fucking tired of entitled artists.
posted by Jairus at 2:01 PM on February 4 [+] [!]


Feel free to give patronage to those you feel aren't acting entitled, then.

I don't particularly enjoy my work propping up someone else's business model.

Artists don't have the right to have their rent paid because they released several records. Releasing records that someone might pay for? Now then, yes, they probably do deserve the right to sell their artwork in the marketplace. And more than "deserve," they "have" that right because of copyright in the federal law and in court precedent.

No where in here did I say that all games must be released above a certain price point. Let someone undercut me on price. Feel free! But allow me to make the mistake of selling my product and service for too much money.
posted by andreaazure at 1:12 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Artists don't have the right to have their rent paid because they released several records. Releasing records that someone might pay for? Now then, yes, they probably do deserve the right to sell their artwork in the marketplace. And more than "deserve," they "have" that right because of copyright in the federal law and in court precedent.

No where in here did I say that all games must be released above a certain price point. Let someone undercut me on price. Feel free! But allow me to make the mistake of selling my product and service for too much money.


I don't think anyone is suggesting artists not be allowed to sell their art for whatever they want to. I think, however, that artists shouldn't be so outraged if the market doesn't think their art is worth what they think it's worth.
posted by Jairus at 1:17 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"And more than "deserve," they "have" that right because of copyright in the federal law and in court precedent."

That's not how rights work, actually. And copy rights are pretty well separate from general rights theory.

Further, I break federal law every time I get high. Or when I make a mixtape. So defaulting to law in order to support a moral case is inane. Just because you feel something strongly or because something is in your interest, doesn't make your argument compelling.
posted by klangklangston at 1:27 PM on February 4, 2011


Just because you feel something strongly or because something is in your interest, doesn't make your argument compelling.

"Give me ownership of your work any way I demand, at any time, for any cost, or else" is not really a smart way to deal with people who have the law on their side, whether they should or not.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:05 PM on February 4, 2011


Every time I see the word "business model" near words like "artists" or "musicians," I immediately re-envision said artist as an Underpants Gnome. The business model (which is never specified) is Step "2) ???" in that translation.

The profit never comes. The Masnick Markov for Maslow Generator pukes out something like infinite goods tangible identify scarcity service meet the artist's underwear for to pay studio time electrical bill food pellet tour HOPE and that's about it.

If we want to talk about entitlement, I think we could start for the people who want someone else's something, for nothing.
posted by adipocere at 2:41 PM on February 4, 2011


At least s/he admits it's stealing. I won't tell you not to do it, but don't use some bullshit euphemism to justify your theft. "It's SHARING." Or my other favorite: "It's okay because copyright is outdated and doesn't keep up with the times."
posted by CarlRossi at 3:09 PM on February 4, 2011


Yes, it's stealing in exactly the same way that your car has been stolen if someone made an exact duplicate of it overnight while it was sitting unused in your driveway.
posted by Jairus at 3:21 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


""Give me ownership of your work any way I demand, at any time, for any cost, or else" is not really a smart way to deal with people who have the law on their side, whether they should or not."

I know that you're congenitally unable to read arguments you disagree with without rephrasing them to say something completely wrong, but two things are worth noting here: The law has virtually no power to stop any piracy that I want to do, and that acknowledging that to be the practical reality is a much better start for real world conversation than inane appeals to legal authority.

So, yeah, actually, it's a pretty rational point of view once you realize that the power has shifted dramatically from being solely in the hands of the distributors and now consumers have a lot more power in dictating the terms of their consumption.

Likewise, I think EULA's are generally bullshit and will ignore them gleefully as often as possible.

Laws are artificial. They exist to serve the public good. When they don't serve the public good, breaking them isn't per se immoral.
posted by klangklangston at 3:27 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"If we want to talk about entitlement, I think we could start for the people who want someone else's something, for nothing."

Dude, we already went over that trope. Please do keep up.
posted by klangklangston at 3:28 PM on February 4, 2011


I know that you're congenitally unable to read arguments you disagree with without rephrasing them to say something completely wrong

I'm quoting the site, and not unfairly: it really is a "do X, Y, and Z, or else" argument that they are presenting. You might give it another read.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:33 PM on February 4, 2011


Dude, we already went over that trope.

I don't think talking about "that trope" is really a refutation of the point that complaining about being "so fucking tired of entitled artists" demonstrates a dizzying lack of self-awareness.
posted by neuromodulator at 4:10 PM on February 4, 2011


I don't think talking about "that trope" is really a refutation of the point that complaining about being "so fucking tired of entitled artists" demonstrates a dizzying lack of self-awareness.

You can download my CDs for free, so I don't know what you're on about.
posted by Jairus at 4:14 PM on February 4, 2011


it really is a "do X, Y, and Z, or else" argument

I don't think that's an all together fair reading. To me, it read more like 'Please do these things. If you were to do these things, I wouldn't do what you call stealing, because you would be offering a reasonably priced product that meets my needs, rather than a product that does not, or can not, meet any kind of needs that most rational people would hold.'

I'd really, really like to be able to watch Bulls games, as I said above. Let's say, in a fantasy land, said games were made available to me, for a reasonable price (say, the same price as the League Pass in America). I'd pay that without blinking. If it is impossible for me to get the content that I would like to view from the distributor of that content, then there is a flaw in the distribution. If, as there is now, there is a framework set up to freely access that content, I'll do it, just like many, many other people. Give me a reasonable way to pay for a decently put together package of content, and I'll do it, again, just like many, many other people would. Which is the point. You're reading it as a demand, I'm reading it as a wishlist of people telling a seller that they'd like to buy their content, but not in the horribly restricted, arbitrary, and outright punishing way in which it's being sold.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:40 PM on February 4, 2011


I'm both a consumer and producer. I've written and published books, and as such I'm baffled and offended by statements that artists are entitled because they'd like to pay rent (i.e. live). Of course writing is a business and there's no guarantee that any business will succeed, but it's not an entitlement to expect that those who do patronize the business will pay something for it.

And as an author, I'd really like to make my work available in every format possible, but it's a huge hassle. My books use Unicode, for instance, and Kindle doesn't support it. The point is, for movies (the focus of the manifesto) creators can be assumed to have the resources of corporations, but that's not true of all fields.

As a consumer, I love Steam too-- as well as bookstores and libraries. So I definitely agree that distributors can create a system attractive and easy enough to make consumers happy to pay for content.
posted by zompist at 5:41 PM on February 4, 2011


Yet still, video is shared ten or more times more frequently than music files...it seems that the piracy problem for comics is also something like ten times worse than it is for music.

So, it does seem to me like piracy in the music sector is less than other, similar entertainment industries.


Or maybe we're seeing a falling off point like we did with CDs. Most people who wanted to download the entire back catalog of the Beatles or Miles Davis or the complete works of J.S. Bach have already done so. The only thing left to download is the occasional new release that catches someone's fancy.

But speaking just for myself, I have so much music I probably wouldn't notice if I didn't buy or download anything new this year. I've watched all the movies I've got, read all the comic books I have, but I haven't come close to listening to all the music I've got.

Also, on YouTube, you can listen to almost any song in the world as instantly as you can type the name. There's nothing quite like that for movies or comic books yet, so that's probably taking a bite out of the traditional sources of music piracy.
posted by straight at 1:24 AM on February 5, 2011


See this for example.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:17 AM on February 5, 2011


You know, the other day I had to pay extra to watch Green Hornet in 3-D, since the theater didn't have any other version. Halfway through the film I realized that there was absolutely nothing in the film meriting the 3-D glasses. Just another bullshit reason from the cinema to jack up prices.

Piracy may be one of the great evils of our age but corporate price gouging is just as bad, if not worse, if only because it affects more people. I don't remember the last time I bought popcorn at movie theater because I don't want to pay 300-400% mark up on regular prices (plus it usually is crappier).

Every time I see one of those anti-piracy promos claiming how evil it is to not pay for movies or whatever, I chuckle bitterly because I know it'll be a cold day in hell before I see a promo decrying how much the film/music/whatever industry overcharges for its product.
posted by Schwartz_User at 10:18 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


How much do music artists earn online?
posted by rtha at 10:48 AM on February 5, 2011


It's interesting that Spotify makes musicians practically nothing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 PM on February 5, 2011


For what it's worth, I'm living in China, where I'd never have access to most movies if it weren't for bootlegs. Add to that things like games and music, and we're in for a bad time. I mean, these guys barely allow paypal over here, I can't even transfer money into my American bank account without it taking a month, and so many random things are blocked and censored that I wouldn't be able to really enjoy modern media from the English-speaking world unless I pirated it.
posted by saysthis at 10:21 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought I saw somewhere that the chart that rtha posted had been refuted. No idea where though.

Sad thing about Spotify - they aren't making any money either, they're actually losing quite a lot - it's all going to the labels. Which implies that either the labels aren't passing it on, or the Spotify model just doesn't generate enough money, full stop.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:21 AM on February 6, 2011


No, I said "Copyright violation" does not equal "theft". I phrased it like that intentionally, to avoid misunderstanding. I apparently failed, but didn't mean to stifle debate on the subject, only to prevent that one all-too-common conflation.

No, just to be clear, you said this:

"Copyright violation" does not equal "theft", either morally or legally. (my emphasis)

Of course you're right about the 'legally'. And of course copyright violation does equal theft, morally speaking, for lots of people. They might be "wrong" in the sense that you disagree with that position, but they aren't wrong in the sense of being mistaken (i.e. thinking the sun orbits the earth or that evolution is a myth), that's my point.

I mean look, OJ was found not guilty, legally, of the crime of "murder", but people say all the time "OJ murdered his ex-wife and her boyfriend". Are they wrong?
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:27 AM on February 6, 2011


Sad thing about Spotify

Were it only that Spotify's lessons suggest manifesto writers should call for the same level of fair treatment for artists and creators, as for consumers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:46 PM on February 6, 2011


Here's my manifesto: don't be a jerk. DRM-ing your publications, hamstringing your paying customers in their legitimate private use of them is being a jerk. Pirating commercially available copyrighted material is being a jerk -- just go without it if the publisher is being a jerk, and spend your time and attention as well as your money on content whose publishers aren't jerks.
posted by Zed at 11:27 AM on February 7, 2011


r_nebblesworthII : Of course you're right about the 'legally'. And of course copyright violation does equal theft, morally speaking, for lots of people.

Oh-kay... Now go back and re-read my list of what I consider entirely moral reasons to violate copyright. Which of those, specifically, do you object to?

Knowing the (copyrighted) laws?
3rd party noncommercial enhancements (fansubs)?
Interoperability (converting DVDs you own to PSP-format)?
Persistence (The right to not needlessly upgrade your entire media library every ten years)?
posted by pla at 5:41 PM on February 8, 2011


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