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Leechers gone wild
March 5, 2012 10:40 AM   Subscribe

The set of groups that rip, encode, and disseminate pirated materials on the internet, known as The Scene, recently revised their encoding standards of SD television to switch from the video codec Xvid AVI to x264 MP4. A few recipients of pirated material had a few carefully worded comments about this new decision. Most of the aggression stems from the fact that some consumer DVD players included XviD compatibility and cannot be upgraded to play x264 files.
posted by wcfields (180 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
As someone who does have TV episodes on his computer, and as someone who has applications to stream them to his XBox to watch them on his TV, and as someone who is incredibly frustrated when the file format isn't compatible and doesn't work and has synch issues, let me be the first to say holy mother of fuck you goddamn entitled whiny shitlords I cannot fucking believe you are bitching that the shit you are stealing isn't working on your devices properly Jesus Christ we truly do not fucking deserve freedom.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:50 AM on March 5, 2012 [99 favorites]


"This stolen VHS tape won't play in my Betamax!"
posted by brand-gnu at 10:53 AM on March 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


The WWW. Broadcasting the random angry mashings of some strange folk since 1995.
posted by i_cola at 10:53 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Favorite line:

"Somewhere along the line a consumer appeared who not only wants everything super quickly and for free, but also believes that the same should be offered with Class A service. "

Umm, yes, guy writing article about people on the internet. That line is commonly known as 1998.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:53 AM on March 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


DVDs go bad after so much time anyway. I always found it made more sense to watch video with VLC.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:55 AM on March 5, 2012


Bittorrenters are widely hated by scene people anyhow.
posted by jaduncan at 10:55 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The ones who threaten to take their "business" elsewhere are my favourites.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:56 AM on March 5, 2012 [18 favorites]


Also, all my Android devices can play mp4 in hardware, but I need a battery-hogging software player like mxplayer to watch AVIs. MP4 is the future.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:57 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would have gone with "Leechers gonna leech" for the title.
posted by OmieWise at 10:58 AM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


The last line is probably right -- especially outside the first world, DivX/XviD-compatible DVD players are $20.00 at the local market, while dedicated "media players" suitable for connection to a TV set are quite expensive if they're available at all.


In the US at least I think most people have TVs with HD input and devices like the XBox or PS/3, or they can watch on their computers -- knocking something together for this purpose is relatively easy and affordable. What we're really seeing here is an economic dividing line, maybe one on a global level, between our techie expectations and the world where CRT televisions and knock-off DVD players are the norm.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:01 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not an economic dividing line, it's merely a question of time. Why do you think all of these cheap players exist to support XViD/DivX? Because there's a metric shit-tonne of material around for it. They didn't spring up out of nowhere, they were created because people wanted to watch the material that was around at the time.

I give it three weeks before the same cheap players support H.264/MP4...
posted by benzo8 at 11:03 AM on March 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's easy to laugh, but. Most people using torrents are trying to avoid the bottom half of this graph like the plague in favor of the top. To then be dumped back down below, only worse, is very frustrating.

That said, I'd just look for a new encoding. Or don't play it on your DVD player. You can hook a computer and terabyte drive to your TV pretty easily and get a lot more features besides. According to some friends of mine.
posted by DU at 11:04 AM on March 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


I just love that these release groups have official published standards that have been signed like treaties and everything. Like they're the ISO of bootlegged shit, or something.

"Hey, that thing you illegally released? It's not standards compliant to what we illegally release!"
posted by gkhan at 11:05 AM on March 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Wow. Those release rules are incredibly detailed. I love how they clearly spell out error rates and % differences, and then go on to define how to calculate percent differences (hint: (original-new) / original).

The use of "1px" also tickles me pink.
posted by Phredward at 11:06 AM on March 5, 2012


That said, I'd just look for a new encoding. Or don't play it on your DVD player.

OR BUY IT MAYBE
posted by incessant at 11:06 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Harvey Kilobit: "The last line is probably right -- especially outside the first world, DivX/XviD-compatible DVD players are $20.00 at the local market, while dedicated "media players" suitable for connection to a TV set are quite expensive if they're available at all.

In the US at least I think most people have TVs with HD input and devices like the XBox or PS/3, or they can watch on their computers -- knocking something together for this purpose is relatively easy and affordable. What we're really seeing here is an economic dividing line, maybe one on a global level, between our techie expectations and the world where CRT televisions and knock-off DVD players are the norm.
"

My understanding is that virtually all new things these days include MP4 compatibility. I have a friend who frequently goes to Sub-Saharan West Africa (Mali, Nigeria, Chad) and has found that the most common cellphones are some no-name cheap Chinese thing that can play MP4s natively.

It really isn't a third-world dividing line, it's really a "Seriously? You get this shit for free and you're complaining. Teenagers in Africa can play this shit on their phones."
posted by wcfields at 11:06 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]




I DEMAND A REFUND
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 11:07 AM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's pretty sad when pirates have higher standards of quality than the clowns that engineer the shithouse DVD releases.
posted by Talez at 11:08 AM on March 5, 2012 [37 favorites]


Yeah, I've been waiting for this day for years. Xvid AVIs are useless crap on 90% of devices, including all Apple iPods prior to the iPhone / iPod Touch (and maybe even on those? I'm sure it sucks the battery to do software decoding), which alone must comprise orders of magnitude more devices than a few old piece-of-shit Chinese DVD players with DivX playback built in.

What's kinda unfortunate is that they waited this long, and have basically skipped over MPEG-4 ASP, which would have been the obvious choice somewhere around ... oh, about 10 years ago.

But good on them for finally dumping Xvid.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:11 AM on March 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Psst...

I know a guy who will sell you whole seasons of television shows that will be compatible with your DVD player for the relatively low price of $20 per season (plus some advertisements at the beginning of the disk).

(or you could, you know, pay for the convenience of pirating movies with 10 seconds of independent planning on how to actually get that FREE MOVIE to your TV.)
posted by muddgirl at 11:11 AM on March 5, 2012


Interlaced video sources must be deinterlaced with a smart deinterlacer - such as Yadif.

Really? I know playback on digital media looks better if deinterlaced, but I thought you lose information forever when you deinterlace. Seems like deinterlacing is something that, ideally, should be handled on the destination side.
posted by crapmatic at 11:13 AM on March 5, 2012


People were probably pissed off when VCD format for movies died off in favor of XviD rips. New standard replaces old standard, not exactly a big surprise.

Bittorrenters are widely hated by scene people anyhow.

Also scene releases are not the only or primary source of TV rips on BitTorrent. Most of the big TV torrent trackers have their own cappers and release standards.

I just love that these release groups have official published standards that have been signed like treaties and everything. Like they're the ISO of bootlegged shit, or something.

"Hey, that thing you illegally released? It's not standards compliant to what we illegally release!"


The main reason they have these standards is that the entire scene system is basically a big race. When a TV show airs or a movie gets released or whatever, the group that rips and releases it first gets the bragging rights. If they are too slow and another group releases a copy first, they lose and their release gets rejected or "nuked" as a duplicate or "dupe." The encoding standards ensure that the fastest group releasing the content is also releasing the content at a high quality, otherwise a very fast group with terrible encoding settings could put out really low quality releases and better releases would get marked as dupes. So instead when a group releases a poor quality or otherwise flawed release, it gets nuked and other groups (or the same group) are free to release a new fixed version.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:13 AM on March 5, 2012 [19 favorites]


OR BUY IT MAYBE

Click my link to see why I never buy. Multiply the amount of hassle in the lower part of it by the number of children waiting to watch the movie (divided by the age of the youngest child).
posted by DU at 11:18 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


What's kinda unfortunate is that they waited this long, and have basically skipped over MPEG-4 ASP, which would have been the obvious choice somewhere around ... oh, about 10 years ago.

I don't know how to break this to you but XviD is an implementation of MPEG-4 ASP. They just typically stuff it into an AVI container.
posted by Talez at 11:19 AM on March 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


From the standards of SD television link, under audio they say that "FFMPEG is banned". Does anyone know what they might have against it? Is it a quality thing?
posted by theyexpectresults at 11:19 AM on March 5, 2012


theyexpectresults: "From the standards of SD television link, under audio they say that "FFMPEG is banned". Does anyone know what they might have against it? Is it a quality thing?"

From Reddit:
freakastone said:
It uses libfaac for AAC encoding, which is of lesser quality.
posted by wcfields at 11:22 AM on March 5, 2012


From the standards of SD television link, under audio they say that "FFMPEG is banned". Does anyone know what they might have against it? Is it a quality thing?

It's only audio and it's because FFMPEG's LC AAC encoder is garbage.
posted by Talez at 11:22 AM on March 5, 2012


Thanks a lot. For some (mad) reason I kind of thought they might favour free encoding software, but I can see how inconsistent that is.
posted by theyexpectresults at 11:24 AM on March 5, 2012


Oh and another reason not to buy is that I don't want to lose or scratch up my DVDs. Just stick them on a hard drive. But ripping a DVD to a video file seems to be nearly impossible for the non-PhD-level pirate. (I tried to rip a DVD that I own the other day and spent hours and hours trying to get it right.) If I can let someone else do it, I'm happy.

In fact, I'd even be willing to pay for this service. MPAA ARE YOU LISTENING?
posted by DU at 11:26 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoops, forgot to make my other point: A person of a certain ethical level, might decide to buy a DVD and then download the torrent that they actually use (to avoid ads, to keep a clean copy as backup, etc). It would be even more frustrating then to find that you couldn't watch the rip on your DVD player when you had "paid for" it.
posted by DU at 11:27 AM on March 5, 2012


XQUZYPHYR: I cannot fucking believe you are bitching that the shit you are stealing isn't working on your devices properly

Hey, um, guys? This is TV. You know, the free stuff? Comes in over the air? It's hard to "steal" stuff they're giving away anyway.

Using online rips isn't much different than setting up a DVR, it's much cheaper, and it's usually higher quality. These scene groups have been, in essence, nice enough to be a remote DVR for tons of people, and they're moving to a format that's less useful for people that really depend on the service, those too poor to afford a DVR.

You can get those little players for like $25, less than a month of Internet, if you shop carefully. A computer that can handle H.264 well is a lot more expensive, and typically quite a bit harder to hook up to a TV.

The Raspberry Pi might be just the thing, but it'll be a few years before those things are ubiquitous.
posted by Malor at 11:28 AM on March 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Sorry, the MPAA is currently examining a graph titled "PROJECTED VHS SALES 2012-2020."
posted by griphus at 11:28 AM on March 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Remember, studios won't release movies and TV shows as non-DRMed video, because then people would download them illegally.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:31 AM on March 5, 2012 [87 favorites]


Remember, studios won't release movies and TV shows as non-DRMed video, because then people would download them illegally.

broke my house favoriting this SO HARD
posted by DU at 11:32 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, um, guys? This is TV. You know, the free stuff? Comes in over the air? It's hard to "steal" stuff they're giving away anyway.

The problem is downloads neither include commercials or are counted in TV ratings.

That being said I've pirated a lot less since arriving to the US. Netflix and Hulu make it much easier. Back in Australia? We'd pirate everything since TV took months to arrive if at all. 30 Rock got half a season ran on Tuesday nights at 11:30pm. The Office lasted four weeks on Ten. If I didn't pirate I'd be watching nothing but repeats of 90s sitcoms.

HBO and Showtime can go suck my left nut. Here's my credit card! I'll pay for your service in addition to Netflix and Hulu but for the love of god let me buy it without requiring a cable sub because I don't have one.
posted by Talez at 11:34 AM on March 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Peter Sarsgaard was unavailable for comment.
posted by hypersloth at 11:34 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


In general, the benefit of deinterlacing before recompression is higher compression efficiency.

In this particular case, the preferred sources they mention are in HD resoultion, and then downscaled for release. You definitely want to deinterlace before scaling, otherwise you could end up with something like this nonsense.
posted by helicomatic at 11:35 AM on March 5, 2012


broke my house favoriting this SO HARD

Do...do you need a place to stay?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:36 AM on March 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


Where is the NetFlix comparable for subtitled Anime? I would pay THIS MUCH for hot and cold streaming Anime without shitty dubbing.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:38 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The problem is downloads neither include commercials or are counted in TV ratings.

Neither do DVR recordings.
posted by Malor at 11:38 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


My TV has a USB port which can theoretically be used to watch video.
In practice, though, the formats* it supports are so wacky it can't be used for anything other than a jpg slideshow.


* .ts and mpeg2 are about it. Though it can handle the h.264 output from random panasonic cameras, though I've never managed to make ffmpeg or mencoder to output anything that matches it.
posted by madajb at 11:38 AM on March 5, 2012


And I think you know what I mean by hot.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:38 AM on March 5, 2012


Seanmpuckett: That would be CrunchyRoll, a former piracy site that went legit and now hosts a crapton of streaming TV series, mostly first-run stuff that's still airing in Japan. Anime News Network hosts a bunch of shows too, mainly provided by US licensors (but with subtitles!).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:40 AM on March 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


also broke my   key
posted by DU at 11:40 AM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Where is the NetFlix comparable for subtitled Anime? I would pay THIS MUCH for hot and cold streaming Anime without shitty dubbing.

Crunchyroll.
posted by Talez at 11:41 AM on March 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's sort of interesting that, if you take the time to really dig into the piracy scene, releases can become a craft product, similar to beer or cheese, but for a/v hobbyists.

I mean, once you've sampled crystal-clear, high-quality, obsessively-vetted media releases, it can be hard to go back to the stuff you have to pay for. This is more noticeable for obscure releases, of course, where the resulting DVD sets or whatever can be and frequently are worse quality than the stuff The Scene manages to coax out of TV.

For instance, I'm particularly sensitive to audio desync. More than once, I've stopped watching something official with a bad desync, only to late find out the release of same from The Scene was propered with hand-tweaked audio syncing. It's hard to pay for those little details; it has to be some media geeks underground hobby to get right, seemingly.
posted by gilrain at 11:42 AM on March 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


HBO and Showtime can go suck my left nut. Here's my credit card! I'll pay for your service in addition to Netflix and Hulu but for the love of god let me buy it without requiring a cable sub because I don't have one.

I'd be willing to pay for HBO since I have cable already (for the internets) but I can't get HBO without getting the PremiumPlusExtendedMegaChoice bundle for an extra $45/month.
I don't know whose fault this is, but it's almost like they don't actually _want_ my money.
posted by madajb at 11:42 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure that this is really the right place for people to become indignant about the fact that some people pirate movies and TV shows. People do it for a variety of reasons, and "I can, but don't want to pay for this" doesn't strike me as a particularly common one any more.

Personally, I've torrented a few things I legitimately own because their original media became damaged, unplayable, or incompatible.

Many people also use it to acquire media that's out of print or not easily obtainable in one's home country (still probably illegal, but much more of a grey area as far as ethics are concerned).

This move is notable to me personally, because I'd assumed that the entire world had transitioned to h.264/AVC quite some time ago. I can say without hyperbole that it's the closest thing that we've ever had to a universal video codec, and that's pretty cool.

The fact that the warez scene had lagged behind this curve strikes me as being exceedingly odd, as well as the revelation that "The Scene" is organized enough to create and enforce these kinds of standards, but is susceptible to the influence of people who own DVD players that can play xVID but not h.264 (which has got to be a really, really, ridiculously small demographic).

It's also amusing to see that the warez scene has better quality and consistency standards than many of the "legitimate" distribution channels. I don't have a list handy, but the Warez community has, on more than a few occasions, found legitimate source material that did not meet the quality standards of a Warez rip, which caused a weird argument as to how to treat rips of already-bad source media. A few years ago, there were a bunch of retail CDs that were mastered from lossy MP3s. Ouch.
posted by schmod at 11:46 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh FFS, they still require releases be packed as RAR files. Have they never learned, compressing a highly compressed file (like x24 video) does almost nothing? At best, you save about .5% so you spend a lot of time decompressing a file and getting a file the same size. It does not save transmission time either. All this does is double the disk space required to open the file, and waste a lot of time uncompressing it.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:46 AM on March 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


I just love the idea of a bunch of pirates getting together for a conference. Like at the Mariott across from the convention center, you know the one. And then going through the tediousness of bringing a meeting to order. Of course, pecking order has to be worked out, I imagine some groups have more clout than other groups.

Then the discussion of arcane technical considerations regarding encoding specifications and release format. Everyone has their favorite encoder and system I'm sure. But half the arguments are probably being made by nitwits who really don't know the technical details.

Meanwhile, the undercover FBI, Interpol and other intelligence agents are fighting competing desires to capture everything they can on one hand and snooze off on the other. Eventually they'll write up their own reports to management, which will hilariously take an arcane meeting on specifications into an unexpected place. "Once individual "scenesters" have proved themselves as good encoders, they are offered access to 0-day Rap type music."

Who needs the MPAA? Just let the release scene succumb to institutional bureaucracy and bloat.
posted by formless at 11:47 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Crunchyroll

[click] ... Fuck me!
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:48 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that this is really the right place for people to become indignant about the fact that some people pirate movies and TV shows.

I think it IS the right place for people to become indignant about the fact that some people pirate movies and TV shows, and also complain that the widely-used format for the pirated movie or TV show does not work on their DVD player.

Which is what I'm indignant about.
posted by muddgirl at 11:49 AM on March 5, 2012


Oh FFS, they still require releases be packed as RAR files.

I think that's for ease of separating the file up into chunks to deliver over usenet.
posted by griphus at 11:49 AM on March 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


charlie: It also encourages bad pirating habits. If I'm downloading an illegal file from someone I've never met, I at least want to see that I am in fact downloading the file, and not a RAR which will hopefully not molest my computer when I unzip it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:50 AM on March 5, 2012


gkhan: "I just love that these release groups have official published standards that have been signed like treaties and everything. Like they're the ISO of bootlegged shit, or something.

"Hey, that thing you illegally released? It's not standards compliant to what we illegally release!"
"

Psst - hey kid - I've got this 64 kbps mp3 that i ripped from my old cassette from the 80s of a song I recorded off the AM Radio. Check it out.
posted by symbioid at 11:51 AM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Harvey Kilobit: What we're really seeing here is an economic dividing line, maybe one on a global level, between our techie expectations and the world where CRT televisions and knock-off DVD players are the norm.

I've walked into homes in the third world with a better home media setup than what I have at home. Prices really start to come down when you have easy access to grey market electronics that are sold without tariff or taxes. I still have a grey market Nokia phone that I bought for about 10 USD where the first world and non-grey market price was closer to 300 USD.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:51 AM on March 5, 2012


Oh FFS, they still require releases be packed as RAR files.

If you take a look at the guidelines, they're using RAR without compression, which turns RAR into a file splitter capable of error correction with exceptionally good cross platform support.
posted by helicomatic at 11:51 AM on March 5, 2012 [34 favorites]


I think that's for ease of separating the file up into chunks to deliver over usenet.

And because RAR has legendary error recovery using rev volumes which is great for things like shitty retention times.
posted by Talez at 11:52 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Doesn't it also have something to do with Usenet? Or maybe CRC checks? Or am I just making that up?
posted by yaymukund at 11:54 AM on March 5, 2012


MetaFilter Everything, Everywhere, Forever: Half the arguments are probably being made by nitwits who really don't know the technical details.
posted by griphus at 11:54 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I at least want to see that I am in fact downloading the file, and not a RAR which will hopefully not molest my computer when I unzip it.

The guidelines also state that releases have to include SFV files, which include hashes of each rar file, insuring that they are what they say they are. This doesn't, of course, apply to people who may repackage these files and put them on torrent trackers, because users of said trackers don't like split files.
posted by helicomatic at 11:55 AM on March 5, 2012


Yeah, RAR files are more easily split. Plus they have error detection built-in. You can do both those functions with PAR2 files, but I've found the join code in the checkers I've tried to be a bit squirrelly. RAR always does it perfectly, but PAR2 file joins aren't that trustworthy. PAR2 + RAR is nearly always perfection, even when your sources aren't very good.

Disk space is cheap, bandwidth is (relatively) expensive. It hurts a lot more to download it twice than to temporarily take 2x the space on a drive.
posted by Malor at 11:56 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


And because RAR has legendary error recovery using rev volumes which is great for things like shitty retention times.

Where is this scene, usenet? Bittorrent has built in error correction.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:56 AM on March 5, 2012


Excellent. My Roku runs x264 mp4 natively. I always have to convert the damned xvids.

There are also Crunchyroll and Anime Network channels on Roku.
posted by zarq at 11:57 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just love the idea of a bunch of pirates getting together for a conference. Like at the Mariott across from the convention center, you know the one. And then going through the tediousness of bringing a meeting to order. Of course, pecking order has to be worked out, I imagine some groups have more clout than other groups.

Welcome to the New Day Co-Op.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:59 AM on March 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


I used to run the digital media infrastructure for a major television studio and I can tell you for a fact that these standards are higher than what is used internally in the industry. The packaging requirements for all the third party distributors are not this detailed or specific for the various use cases.

The amount of side-conversion, up-conversion, de-interlace problems, cadence issues, and "film looking" is truly a mess.

Kudos to the Scene folks on an excellent standard and good example of industry coordination.
posted by Argyle at 12:00 PM on March 5, 2012 [25 favorites]


Man, I hate piracy. As a consumer, I mean. I want to buy stuff: I support the producers, and when I can use iTunes especially I get it quickly and easily. I don't even have to remember my credit card details.

But when the DVDs I have bought don't play because they've been degraded for DRM, or the TV show I want to buy isn't available in my country - not on iTunes, not as a DVD - well, I'll pirate stuff. And sometimes it's harder than purchasing it. Not always, mind.

But really, I'd quite like to buy stuff. NBC! Hey, NBC! You know COMMUNITY? Great show. But I can't get Season Two on iTunes. I can't buy the DVD, because you've not done a European DVD. So I can't watch it for money. Here! Thirty bucks! Actually, I LOVED Season 1. Forty bucks! Take it! Give me COMMUNITY! Hmmm. Okay, fifty bucks, final offer!

No?

Okay then. Bittorrent will have the whole season for me by about Thursday, hypothetically and I don't get to pay you anything. COME ON. Sort it out.
posted by alasdair at 12:00 PM on March 5, 2012 [26 favorites]


For all you DRM saints , I want to go on the record saying that I download video torrents because I am cheap. I mean, when the studios are producing movies like "In Time" they should be fucking ecstatic that I even watched it at all. I should be demanding payment for spending 90 minutes of my time on that drek. So at least we're somewhat even in that I didn't pay for it.
posted by GuyZero at 12:01 PM on March 5, 2012


That being said I've pirated a lot less since arriving to the US. Netflix and Hulu make it much easier

About the only stuff I still download is tv episodes that are on Hulu but which have been flagged as "web only," so I can't watch it on my Roku or TiVo device.

I'm not really sure what problem they (think) they're solving. I COULD hook my macbook up to my tv to watch that output and when 10.8 release it'll mirror to an AppleTV. But I figure if it's going to be a pain in the ass and I'm morally in the right as a Hulu Plus subscriber (plus grod knows how many other things I support with my cable fees) I may as well avoid cable hell.
posted by phearlez at 12:01 PM on March 5, 2012


I wish they'd reinstate that RAR file chunks must be at 1.44MB. How the hell do they expect to get those 5-10MB files onto a floppy?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:01 PM on March 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Where is this scene, usenet?

Actually, yes.
posted by Zozo at 12:05 PM on March 5, 2012


I wish they'd reinstate that RAR file chunks must be at 1.44MB.

"Yes, sir, how can I help you?"

"Do you carry floppy disks?"

"We may still have some, sir. How many do you need?"

"Hmm, I want to download the latest episode of Fringe. Um... you have a thousand back there?"
posted by Malor at 12:06 PM on March 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


As a casual reader of Scenenotice.org, I frequently get a laugh out of the immense amount of inter-group drama and butthurt within the scene. Then I see the Youtube-comments-level regurgitations of the bittorrent faithful and I begin to think the scene has a point in trying to exclude bittorrent users...
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:07 PM on March 5, 2012


Boardwalk Empire S02E13: PLEASE INSERT DISK #732/1000 (00:43:50 - 00:47:00)
posted by griphus at 12:08 PM on March 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


DU: "You can hook a computer and terabyte drive to your TV pretty easily and get a lot more features besides."

Easily? Only if you have the right hardware. When your tv is not wireless compatible, doesn't have a USB or hdmi port, and your computer's audio ports aren't compatible with your television's, it can all get very complicated.

It was easier for me to buy a roku box to attach to our 18 year old trinitron (that runs beautifully, even if it does weigh a ton) and use a USB stick to transfer video files back and forth. Plex Media server does have a Roku channel, but it's terribly unreliable.
posted by zarq at 12:08 PM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Usenet isn't scene approved either. Pretty sure private ftps + pre channels complete with courier races are still the modi. This was faintly ridiculous twenty years ago. Now it's almost fetishistic.
posted by Ictus at 12:10 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where is this scene, usenet?

Mostly FTP and IRC, I've heard. Split files are required so that mirrors can start pulling down a release as soon as the first segment is uploaded.
posted by skymt at 12:10 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why do these guys still use Usenet anyway? I mean, it's not like Usenet is really something that just sits in the 'background' of the internet. You still have servers, the RIAA can still go after them, and they have. So why don't they move onto something else? Private trackers or whatever?

Then again, I guess if it works it works. If you have special software for dealing with chopped up RAR files, I guess it would be fine.
Okay then. Bittorrent will have the whole season for me by about Thursday, hypothetically and I don't get to pay you anything. COME ON. Sort it out.
They can make more money this way. Sure, okay, they delay community until the series is off the air, that's going to hurt the producers of the show. but they still have a huge back catalog they can sell instead. Maybe they get a bigger percentage of older stuff? Or they can renegotiate deals and release things that make them the most money.

And there's artificial scarcity. Release something for a limited time, then put it back in the "Disney Vault". You can charge a premium, because your forcing people to choose weather to get it right now.

All that customer screwing stuff they can't do as effectively is why they really hate piracy. Rather then keep people waiting and build up hype, the diehard fans will just go pirate it if you try to screw the customer too hard. They have to release it in a reasonable time frame, at a reasonable price, or choose not to make any money at all.

Easily? Only if you have the right hardware. When your tv is not wireless compatible, doesn't have a USB or hdmi port, and your computer's audio ports aren't compatible with your television's, it can all get very complicated.

It was easier for me to buy a roku box to attach to our 18 year old trinitron (that runs beautifully, even if it does weigh a ton) and use a USB stick to transfer video files back and forth. Plex Media server does have a Roku channel, but it's terribly unreliable.
Or you could just ditch the TV and use your computer.
posted by delmoi at 12:12 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Malor - and even then a DVR isn't necessarily a solution - I'm in the US and watch a number of foreign shows that aren't available here, and never will be. Yes, Doctor Who or Merlin will eventually be shown here or sold on R1 DVDs, but Whos' Been Sleeping In My House? and Masterchef New Zealand won't. It isn't a question of being patient or paying a fair price; they just aren't going to become available.

DU - amen, I have close to $1000 worth of every Babylon 5 DVD ever released, and the first thing I did was download AVIs so I don't have to hunt down which disc what episode is on, and then sit through a dozen unskippable warnings and lengthy menu animations to get to it.

As far as the line of "just watch on a computer instead of DivX DVD player" goes, that's what I do anyway. But my older non-tech-savvy relatives that don't understand the difference between a video DVD and a data file know they can play "those DVDs you have" on "that DVD player you gave me" without having to have another device, juggle another remote, learn a new interface - they just want the magic to happen and are past the point of learning new tricks. Yes, it would be better for both of us if they had a Roku-type unit with a USB port for flash drives, but ain't gonna happen (especially not with something that has a minuscule credit-card style remote with buttons too small for them to see even with reading glasses).

Also, a question - Even with the right plugins, VirtualDub gives fits on MP4s due to x264's incompatibilities with AVI (I haven't tried with these new TV rips but my experience is that SD MP4s from YouTube work but HD MP4s from YouTube do not; presumably the x264 encoding is the difference). Are there any good free options that support these natively? I ask because I sometimes make fan vids as a hobby (interesting that YouTube only TOS's the good ones and leaves the crappy ones alone, but I digress), and having AVIs is a great time-saver because I can skim through and clip out the few seconds I want here and there, instead of having to rip entire episodes from DVD (after that season is released).
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 12:15 PM on March 5, 2012


charlie don't surf: Have they never learned, compressing a highly compressed file (like x24 video) does almost nothing?

They have. The guidelines state: "RAR compression must not be used". So RAR is just a convenient standardized container to them.
posted by zsazsa at 12:20 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: " Or you could just ditch the TV and use your computer."

Obviously. However, DU claimed that connecting a computer and terabyte drive to a television was easy. My point is that it may not be, depending on the hardware involved.
posted by zarq at 12:20 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or you could just ditch the TV and use your computer.

Remind me to decline any invitation to movie night at your house.

(Conversely, if you have a computer monitor the size of a nice TV, remind me to invite myself over early and often.)
posted by griphus at 12:20 PM on March 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


If I want to watch something, I use a legal method whenever possible. If they don't want me to see it legally and easy, they'll lose me as a viewer. Example: I'm a fan of 30 Rock, but since they switched to web only on Hulu, I've missed the last six episodes.

Also, comments like this, from GuyZero? For all you DRM saints , I want to go on the record saying that I download video torrents because I am cheap. I mean, when the studios are producing movies like "In Time" they should be fucking ecstatic that I even watched it at all. I should be demanding payment for spending 90 minutes of my time on that drek. So at least we're somewhat even in that I didn't pay for it.

Stop watching shit you don't want to watch.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 12:28 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why do these guys still use Usenet anyway?

Mostly, they don't.
posted by Malor at 12:29 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or you could just ditch the TV and use your computer.

Remind me to decline any invitation to movie night at your house.


Movie LAN party night!
posted by burnmp3s at 12:31 PM on March 5, 2012


Or you could just ditch the TV and use your computer.

Remind me to decline any invitation to movie night at your house.

(Conversely, if you have a computer monitor the size of a nice TV, remind me to invite myself over early and often.)


computer->HDMI cable->TV?
posted by juv3nal at 12:34 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


computer -> projector
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:40 PM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


bong -> wall
posted by griphus at 12:42 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this something I'd need to own a television or apple tv or xbox or other crapy restrictive enslave the consumerist masses device to understand?
I'm with by XQUZYPHYR here, re-encode and re-seed your own content you twits. Go Scene!
posted by jeffburdges at 12:42 PM on March 5, 2012


bong -> wall

Dude you should know to put spoiler tags by now. I haven't caught up on this season yet!
posted by mannequito at 12:44 PM on March 5, 2012


As far as the line of "just watch on a computer instead of DivX DVD player" goes, that's what I do anyway. But my older non-tech-savvy relatives that don't understand the difference between a video DVD and a data file know they can play "those DVDs you have" on "that DVD player you gave me" without having to have another device, juggle another remote, learn a new interface - they just want the magic to happen and are past the point of learning new tricks. Yes, it would be better for both of us if they had a Roku-type unit with a USB port for flash drives, but ain't gonna happen (especially not with something that has a minuscule credit-card style remote with buttons too small for them to see even with reading glasses).

My point is that, if you are getting pirated files and putting them on a DVD, your workflow is already beyond the complexity of just buying a DVD. If you still want to get those DivX DVDs, you have to add a step where you convert from the current format to an older format. That's it. You're still downloading the file. You're still burning it.

Pirating files is going to be more technically challenging than legally paying for them. You have to inconvenience yourself one way or another, either by paying and sitting through commercials, or by learning new technologies. It is ridiculous for people who are already going through the inconvenience of burning pirated AVI files to a DVD to complain that they now have to convert them first.
posted by muddgirl at 12:55 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


We don't have to go to sub-Saharan Africa to find a cultural split in the technology used to consume media, we can see it right here in this MetaFilter thread.

There are a lot of people who think it's normal to only watch this stuff on a laptop or iPhone, as part of the same activity as reading Facebook or looking at YouTube videos. Then there are those for whom TV is something people do in a different room of the house, gathered around a picture tube, sitting on couches or big comfy chairs.

The former group would only have a "TV" as a second computer monitor, an HDMI flat-screen or a USB projector; the latter group hooks up dedicated DVD players for their rented discs or downloaded video files. The Roku box is an attempt to get the TV-in-the-living-room cohort a little closer to the benefits of the only-my-computer side.

I've been a computer geek for decades, but I'm solidly in the camp where a television is a separate device in a separate room for a separate kind of activity. Many of my friends who are 15 years younger than me don't have that concept at all -- they have no plans to buy a TV set and the attendant "home theater" gear, because that's what your laptop is for.

I'm not sure this is what the hippies meant when they shouted "kill your TV!" however...
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:08 PM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


your workflow is already beyond the complexity of just buying a DVD

Yes, but the point is not "easier than a DVD". The point is "available now". I can watch the latest season of, say, Justified, right now, instead of having to wait until a few weeks before the next season starts.

I'm impressed that there are that many people using DVD players with xvid compatibility.
posted by graventy at 1:09 PM on March 5, 2012


juv3nal: " computer->HDMI cable->TV?"

Assumes one has a computer with an HDMI graphics card/port.
And a tv with an HDMI port.
Or even an HD tv.
Or even a digital tv....
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm impressed that there are that many people using DVD playerswith xvid compatibility.

When we moved 1.5y ago I put the dvd player in the basement and it's collecting dust next to the bin where my DVDs go after I buy them and rip them. (I like commentaries & not being format/device locked)
posted by phearlez at 1:18 PM on March 5, 2012


...and it's still available 'now' for various functions of now. That hasn't changed.


Assumes one has a computer with an HDMI graphics card/port.
And a tv with an HDMI port.
Or even an HD tv.
Or even a digital tv....


...and torrenting/Usenetting files at all assumes one has a computer.
Connected to the internet.
With a relatively decent connection speed (I once tried to Usenet on my grandpa's 52 kbps modem... once).

Converting them to DVD assumes that one has:
A dvd write drive
A dvd burner and software
A dvd player
A television with a coax connection.
posted by muddgirl at 1:20 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


And watching the content assumes one has eyes...
posted by entropicamericana at 1:24 PM on March 5, 2012


Computer -> S-Video -> TV works, too...
posted by mikelieman at 1:25 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


mikelieman: "Computer -> S-Video -> TV works, too..."

No audio though. Or at least, one would need a separate cable adapter or extra equipment for it. Bet the quality would suffer, too.

In my case, (what I was describing above) the graphics card was a 4 year old ATI Radeon Sapphire, with double dvi ports. The tv was an 18 year old tube trinitron. It had a coax port. It may have had an s-vid port, I'm not sure. I wound up plugging the roku into the dvd burner's component ports, which plugs into the tv through the coax.

As I said, it becomes complicated when you are working with older hardware. Obviously it's not insurmountable. But it's also not plug and play, so to speak.
posted by zarq at 1:32 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: "Converting them to DVD assumes that one has:
A dvd write drive
A dvd burner and software
A dvd player
A television with a coax connection.
"

The original comment from DU was that plugging a computer and terabyte drive into a tv was easy. To repeat, it's only easy if you have accommodating hardware
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


zarq: "dvd burner's component ports,"

Sorry. Meant DVD player. :)
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on March 5, 2012


The original comment from DU was that plugging a computer and terabyte drive into a tv was easy. To repeat, it's only easy if you have accommodating hardware

...and my overall point is that torrenting/Usenetting files and burning them to DVD is only easy if you already have a relatively huge amount of hardware, software, and technical knowledge.

To complain, then, that you have to accommodate some new hardware, software, or technical knowledge to continue to utilize a free source of copyrighted material is the very definition of whiny.
posted by muddgirl at 1:37 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: " To complain, then, that you have to accommodate some new hardware, software, or technical knowledge to continue to utilize a free source of copyrighted material is the very definition of whiny."

I was merely explaining why DU's assumption was inaccurate. Not complaining about the situation.
posted by zarq at 1:48 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Harvey Kilobit: "The last line is probably right -- especially outside the first world, DivX/XviD-compatible DVD players are $20.00 at the local market, while dedicated "media players" suitable for connection to a TV set are quite expensive if they're available at all."

Missed this, did you?
posted by wierdo at 1:48 PM on March 5, 2012


I was merely explaining why DU's assumption was inaccurate.

I didn't mean to use 'you' to refer to any Mefite - I think there's really two conversations happening at cross-purposes.

(1) Torrenting/Usenetting is complicated
(2) Within the realm of torrenting/Usenetting, dealing with one kind of common encoding is no more difficult that dealing with another kind of common encoding - it all depends on set-up.

DU and I seem to be engaging in the second conversation.
posted by muddgirl at 1:49 PM on March 5, 2012


muddgirl: " DU and I seem to be engaging in the second conversation."

This is actually a third conversational thread.

DU made a specific comment: "You can hook a computer and terabyte drive to your TV pretty easily and get a lot more features besides. According to some friends of mine."

...which is precisely what I first quoted, responded to and have been discussing.
posted by zarq at 1:57 PM on March 5, 2012


I think you're mistaken. DU clearly made that comment about a culture which is already torrenting/Usenetting pirated files. The part you didn't quote:
That said, I'd just look for a new encoding. Or don't play it on your DVD player.
posted by muddgirl at 2:01 PM on March 5, 2012


Within the realm of torrenting/Usenetting, dealing with one kind of common encoding is no more difficult that dealing with another kind of common encoding - it all depends on set-up.

It's less an issue of the encodings being different and more an issue with moving from an older established encoding to a newer more recently established encoding. It's like if YouTube decided to drop Flash support today and switched to HTML5 video only. Most people would have some way to upgrade their browser to still be able to watch their free cat videos, but plenty of people would be angry about it and Google would be dumb to do it if they cared about not pissing off a bunch of their users. The scene on the other hand does not really care about people being pissed off at them for putting out content in a higher quality format, which is part of the reason that their standards tend to be higher than whatever the status quo is for that type of content on the Internet in general.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:01 PM on March 5, 2012


burnmp3s: "People were probably pissed off when VCD format for movies died off in favor of XviD rips"

I was happy for SVCD (my shitty DVD player played them). I was not happy for Xvid initially. Then I realized I could buy a used Xbox from a friend for $100 (which is what DVD players went for at the time), load XBMC on it, and not have to worry about formats or DVD burning ever again. Or at least until I got an HDTV and wanted to watch HD content other than the 2 HD over the air stations or 6 HD channels my cable company carried at the time.

Zozo: "Where is this scene, usenet?

Actually, yes.
"

FTP sites and IRC, not usenet. Usenet is a second generation source. BT is usually third generation, or at least was back when I used it for downloading illicit content.
posted by wierdo at 2:09 PM on March 5, 2012


It's like if YouTube decided to drop Flash support today and switched to HTML5 video only.

I'll be in my bunk.
posted by phearlez at 2:15 PM on March 5, 2012


Assumes one has a computer with an HDMI graphics card/port.
And a tv with an HDMI port.
Or even an HD tv.
Or even a digital tv....


Point taken, but there's got to be a widget that'll convert vga out to component (or even composite) if that's all you got to work with. You'd have to deal with sound separately, but then you'd have to do that with "a computer monitor the size of a nice TV" too.
posted by juv3nal at 2:15 PM on March 5, 2012


BT is usually third generation, or at least was back when I used it for downloading illicit content.

It varies widely. Some public trackers are mostly just people uploading completely random content, some of which might be old scene releases they got from somewhere else. On the other end of the spectrum some private trackers only have scene content, and have pre times (the time between when the content is officially released by the release group and when it appears on the site) of under a minute. The big scene content trackers have their own race to see who gets their scene content up the fastest, and generally in order to have a chance of winning that race they need a very fast method of getting the content directly from one of the scene topsites where it is uploaded directly by the scene groups.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:16 PM on March 5, 2012


Muddgirl, I took a portion of his comment and branched it off into a separate topic of conversation.
posted by zarq at 2:18 PM on March 5, 2012


FTP sites and IRC, not usenet. Usenet is a second generation source. BT is usually third generation, or at least was back when I used it for downloading illicit content.

Yup, and there's a heirarchy of torrent trackers as well, so *most* BT (at least for Scene releases) is something like fifth generation.

Or so I hear...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:20 PM on March 5, 2012


Apparently I heard it from burnMP3s.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:20 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This illustrates the deepening abyss between the general population, who want its entertainment NOW IN ALL CAPS, and the content producers, who insist on shipping wax rolls by steamboat.

While pirates are holding seminars on the pros and cons of Xvid vs x264, I'm looking right now at a 100% legal, well-known on-line shop that sells downloadable movies and it's just... awesome. They sell Drive for 14 € and there's absolutely 0 product information. No file format, no file size, no codecs, no image size, no detail on the version available (languages, subtitles), no indication of DRM or other limitations, nothing. They provide less information about their movies than does the crummiest, trojan-infested warez blog. You give them your credit card and pray that you won't get an animated GIF.
posted by elgilito at 2:25 PM on March 5, 2012 [23 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: Apparently I heard it from burnMP3s.

Well, most Mefi comments are something like fifth generation, so yours is still ahead of the game, here.
posted by gilrain at 2:26 PM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Western Digital Media Player. Most amazing device ever. Can't imagine my life without it.

I was wondering why MP4 files were showing up. Now I know!
posted by monkeymike at 2:37 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


And just a bit of background for why private FTP sites are the distribution model for the scene groups: They've (as a "scene") been doing this a long, long time. FTP sites basically replaced BBSes for file storage/transfer and IRC replaced the communication aspect of the BBSes. For those of us not in major cities, the olden days presented the problem of long distance charges. Given that you'd have to dial up and spend a good while browsing through the list of new releases even before starting a download, which would then take an hour or more to complete, there was a strong incentive to figure out how to make "free" long distance calls. (which was not very hard at the time if you were even slightly devious)

Getting leech access to a good BBS was also an interesting challenge. Much like today's public BT trackers, most "open" BBSes that carried warez were very hit and miss as far as breadth of catalog, whereas a scene BBS would have essentially every PC game, application, or operating system released within whatever retention time they could afford. It wasn't exactly a cheap hobby, what with hard drives, memory, and (fast) modems being super-expensive and the MRC on all the phone lines a big BBS would have.
posted by wierdo at 2:41 PM on March 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I know a guy who will sell you whole seasons of television shows that will be compatible with your DVD player for the relatively low price of $20 per season (plus some advertisements at the beginning of the disk).

(or you could, you know, pay for the convenience of pirating movies with 10 seconds of independent planning on how to actually get that FREE MOVIE to your TV.)


That's fine, if that store will sell to you. I have, and will continue to, when I have the option, thrown money at the NBA. Attended games, bought licensed merch. At the legal best, I can pay several hundred dollars a year for one game a night between two teams I might very well dislike. The choice of games isn't up to me. Also, I need to watch the game when they broadcast it, or shell out several hundred more dollars for a recorder for the tv (which is locked all to hell, not allowing me to upload content to its hdd) to watch it when I have time.

Or I can download it roughly two hours after it's finished, and format it to watch on my phone or my PS3, to watch when I have time. Same thing for shows like GoT, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Deadwood, or any of a dozen shows I'd love to see, but cannot legally purchase where I live. If they do become available, it will likely be years later (How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family only just started here). And if I want to watch a Japanese film with English subs? They don't sell that here.

Honestly, I'm thrilled about the switch. Switching everything so I can watch it on my phone or ps3 is a pain.

And seriously, can anyone explain why mkv exists? Screw avi, xvid, and divx, mkv is a pain to deal with. Sadly, it's the flavor of pain that my bulls games come in.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:49 PM on March 5, 2012


MKV exists because you can have one self-contained file that allows the user to switch between multiple audio and subtitle tracks. You can rip a DVD or blu-ray with English, Spanish and French audio, two commentaries and subtitles for all of them (and a Swedish translation!) and let users switch between any combination of them at will.

That said, I have no idea what would possess someone to release basketball games in it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:53 PM on March 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I never owned a DVD player, just went straight from VCRs to a computer. It's difficult to hook up a desktop to an older 90s TV, but still doable through s-video if you have an older video card.

The problem with things like the X-box and Western Digital Media Player is they give you a limited range of options as to output. With an HTPC I can (and do) use lots of filters and tricks to try and squeeze the best sound and picture out of my system. Oddly enough, this is most necessary when watching a regular DVD. Some DVDs have excellent sound detail but are far too loud, so they have to be massaged to avoid clipping, while others are murky and faint and have to be goosed a little. Scene releases never seemed to need much adjustment, so they were certainly easier to watch.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:55 PM on March 5, 2012


This is TV. You know, the free stuff? Comes in over the air? It's hard to "steal" stuff they're giving away anyway.

Its not free. Every time you buy something advertised on say, Fox or Rush Limbaugh you are supporting Fox and Rush.

They are not 'free' - you get to pay.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:40 PM on March 5, 2012


Stop watching shit you don't want to watch.

I remain optimistic about Hollywood movies in spite of a lot of evidence that they stink. That is, it's hard to determine what I've wasted 90 minutes until after they're up.

But more to the point, I simply don't give a shit. Fixing Hollywood's problems ain't my job.
posted by GuyZero at 3:48 PM on March 5, 2012


CyberSlug Labs: "Also, a question - Even with the right plugins, VirtualDub gives fits on MP4s due to x264's incompatibilities with AVI (I haven't tried with these new TV rips but my experience is that SD MP4s from YouTube work but HD MP4s from YouTube do not; presumably the x264 encoding is the difference). Are there any good free options that support these natively?"

You'd have to try for yourself as I'm not 100% sure this is what did the trick, but I can open H.264 files from my camera in Virtualdub and I've got x264vfw installed. I've also got a QuickTime plugin for VDub, not sure where I found it. It seems to open both .MOV and .MP4 containers. If you think you need it I'll send it to you.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:03 PM on March 5, 2012


Fixing Hollywood's problems ain't my job.

Well said. It's been a fascinating journey, as technology munches through Hollywood business models like an unattended labrador retriever through a 10 kilo bag of dog food. In that vein, it's like watching the consumer electronics industry consume the photography market. Technology companies are interested in selling kit; they're not too fussed about where the content originates. Unless your Sony, and your content arm puts your consumer electronics arm nearly out of business by hobbling it with standards like ATRAC.

There have been some tremendous comments here, from the flowchart of a downloaded file versus a purchased DVD, to the comment that the pirate community produces better results than the professional industry.

One thing to remember as well in terms of the format switch-over is that there is a silent majority that is completely in favour of the switch-over. The only ones causing problems is a vocal minority that for whatever reason feels that hacker content should be serving the market. You go to the hacker mountain, the hacker mountain does not come to you.

It's actully fascinating to really consider the mentality of groups like LOL and eztv -- and The Pirate Bay by extension. At their core essance, all this groups do is illustrate the gap between technological capability and commercial business models. Hacker culture is illustrating that technology can provide very high-quality, near-immediate distribution via a large network of consumer-grade broadband connections. Thus, the technology for wide-spreed media dissemination exists.

Hollywood lags behind, trying to protect margins and IP control, and in the meantime alienating customers. It's also interesting that the video game companies have figured out how to leverage technology in their business models so much better than Hollywood. The PlayStation network goes down, and there's an open outcry from video-gamers worldwide. Video games figured out that if you make the offer attractive enough (social gaming), people will happily buy the disc, and then pay you a service fee for accessing your network.

If Hollywood -- god forbid -- sold bittorrent files that drew of a pre-seeded Akamai network, for near-instant delivery for a reasonable price, they would replicate the iTunes store. But they're missing their value proposition. They think their value proposition is in distribution, but it's actully in production. Distribution used to be more profitable because it was more difficult. Shipping reels, all of that. Then, in less than a decade, the electronics industry and telecommunications industry ATE distribution like that fat labrador previously mentioned. It's a lot like the Sixth Sense. The only one who doesn't know Hollywood's business model is dead is Hollywood.

A good friend of mine is an avid consumer of These Kinds Of Things. He makes a few points one wishes the studios -- or at least their investors -- would listen to:

1) He lives here in London and can get a HDTV quality version of an American TV show 30 minutes after it airs in the US. Why would he wait days, weeks, months for it to wind it's way through the licensing network?

2) Films and music are amongst the only products that operate at one price level. "Why are you going to charge me the same amount to see a gem as you are a loaf?" he is fond of saying. That one really got me thinking. You pay the same amount of money to see "Hugo" as you do "The Sitter", when one is obviously superior to the other.

3) Video game price-points seem to have remained constant for a long time, yet the video game manufacturers have continually added features and created secondary offerings that sees them racking in the money. The price to see a film in the theatre have skyrocketed, whilst the price of DVD media has remained constant despite the fact that scale has exploded.

Now, I'm not a genius, but when you look at all those taken together, it does not make business sense. Hence the reason that perhaps being a lawyer is the third most profitable job in Hollywood after actresses and directors.

But back to the original point, all the hackers are doing is showing what technology can do. As is often mentioned in the hacker community "if your business model is suing your customer, you have a serious problem with your business model."

What I find most interesting about this is how well-organised the hacker community is, based on the article. They're a functioning subculture, that has made a large standards shift, unprompted by any external entity other than the availability of the technology.
posted by nickrussell at 4:31 PM on March 5, 2012 [25 favorites]


I'd like to learn more about this stuff for purely academic purposes. If anyone feels like helping a guy out with links or tutorials or whatever, I'd greatly appreciate it.

And I say "purely academic purposes" because my connection to the net is a paltry 1.5Mbps DSL line and that won't be changing anytime soon. One day, however, I intend to have a big fat pipe, and that knowledge will come in handy then. email in profile

Many thanks!!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 4:37 PM on March 5, 2012


Boardwalk Empire S02E13: PLEASE INSERT DISK #732/1000 (00:43:50 - 00:47:00)

Oh, dear, it wouldn't even be that. It would be:

Boardwalk Empire S02E13: PLEASE INSERT DISK #732/1000 (00:43:50 - 00:43:54)

And that's rounded up.
posted by alexei at 4:44 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, there's a green warrior argument to this as well. In 2009, Intel released a study indicating that a digital CD download produces less than 1/6th the carbon as a retail-purchased CD.

Thus, these faceless communities of hackers are able to distribute content:
1) Of equal or higher quality
2) On faster timeframes
3) At a substantially better price point
4) With magnitudes less environmental impact

What counter-argument can there be? These guys are to Hollywood what Henry Ford was to horses.
posted by nickrussell at 4:51 PM on March 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I find it highly ironic that those bitching about the format conversion aren't just availing themselves of one of the free-to-download easy-to-use programs for transcoding from MP4 to AVI or whatever the heck format they want to use.

Then again, a lot of people I would consider "non-techies" that I know have a BitTorrent client installed and know how to use it...
posted by mrbill at 6:10 PM on March 5, 2012


It's a lot like the Sixth Sense.

Hey, watch the spoilers!
posted by Zozo at 6:22 PM on March 5, 2012


But more to the point, I simply don't give a shit. Fixing Hollywood's problems ain't my job.

I'm pretty sure you could determine that the poorly-reviewed Justin Timberlake Science Fiction Adventure wasn't worth your time. You could, instead, choose to find a movie that was worth your time and pay to support creative endeavors like that.

Or you could be yet another thief, giving the people whose films you don't even like a data-point to use for things like SOPA and ACTA.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:36 PM on March 5, 2012


It will be so much easier to tack on conspiracy charges with the existence of these collaborative written standards. Now instead of charging you for just the ones you ripped yourself they can tie you to all of them.
posted by humanfont at 6:43 PM on March 5, 2012


Oh and another reason not to buy is that I don't want to lose or scratch up my DVDs. Just stick them on a hard drive. But ripping a DVD to a video file seems to be nearly impossible for the non-PhD-level pirate. (I tried to rip a DVD that I own the other day and spent hours and hours trying to get it right.) If I can let someone else do it, I'm happy.

In fact, I'd even be willing to pay for this service. MPAA ARE YOU LISTENING?


Google MakeMKV. Free, simple, painless, automated.
posted by gd779 at 7:03 PM on March 5, 2012


Boardwalk Empire S02E13: PLEASE INSERT DISK #732/1000 (00:43:50 - 00:47:00)

Oh jeez, would you guys not do that? You are giving me flashbacks. Back around 1980 I had a job where one of my duties was the weekly backup of our Corvus 20Mb hard drive (yes, 20 Megabyte) to Apple II 160k single sided floppies. I recall it took like 120 disks. It took half a day. No, there was no such thing as incremental backups for this system.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:43 PM on March 5, 2012


griphus: "Or you could just ditch the TV and use your computer.

Remind me to decline any invitation to movie night at your house.

(Conversely, if you have a computer monitor the size of a nice TV, remind me to invite myself over early and often.)
"

31 inch Sony Bravia okay?
posted by Samizdata at 8:02 PM on March 5, 2012


VGA connection, BTW.

Oh, does anyone have a friend that could recommend a good digital video to DVD converter that works on Windows (unlike DeeVeeDee) and ISN'T Nero Vision?
posted by Samizdata at 8:11 PM on March 5, 2012


Or you could be yet another thief, giving the people whose films you don't even like a data-point to use for things like SOPA and ACTA.


Oh, IF ONLY my copying would actually deprive Hollywood of their content.

I would use my newfound superpower for good. I promise.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:12 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Samizdata, is DVD Flick what you're looking for?
posted by Jimbob at 8:14 PM on March 5, 2012


Or you could be yet another thief

I know the difference between theft and copyright violation.

I also know what an economic utility curve looks like and why having 2 million illegal downloads does not equal an economic loss of 2M times the retail price of a shrink-wrapped DVD.

I'm also very familiar with what sales channel conflict is - I see movies in theaters, on pay-per-view services, I subscribe to cable TV and, last but not least, I sometimes download movies. Let me assure you that no one has lost a cent of revenue from my downloading activities.

When producers are beholden to distribution channels unfortunately people will sometimes want to get content outside of those channels. The trouble is that the cost of creating a distribution channel has fallen to near zero. The cost of producing content has, if anything, gone up. These are awkward transitional times. But like I said, it's not my job to find work for steam-shovel operators, switchboard operators or buggy-whip salesmen.

Also: sometimes I jaywalk, sometimes I drive faster than the posted speed limit and I once made a right turn at a red light in the province of Quebec. I'm public enemy #1.
posted by GuyZero at 8:35 PM on March 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, here's another version of that as a slippery-slope:

if I see a movie in a theater, it's about, say, $12. The distributor gets most of that.

If I watch a movie on TV the movie distributor gets maybe a few cents from me personally. Let's be generous and say it's $1.

So it's cool when I take away the first $11 of a distributor's revenue, but giving up the last $1 is so much worse?
posted by GuyZero at 8:40 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


You are very good at justifying not paying for things, GuyZero. I will give you that much.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 9:24 PM on March 5, 2012


beaucoupkevin: "You are very good at justifying not paying for things, GuyZero. I will give you that much"

Really? I would say you aren't very good at justifying your own argument.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:54 PM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


You are very good at justifying not paying for things, GuyZero. I will give you that much.


If you're going to post again, I'll need to see five bucks.

I know it doesn't make any sense, but I've got a business model that depends on it, and I can tell you're not a damn dirty thief.

Or are you?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:00 PM on March 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


My argument is that if you don't pay for the media you consume in one way or another (even if it's ad revenue or a monthly streaming subscription fee,) you eventually won't have media to consume in one way or another. Yes, the studios should be more aggressive about pursuing alternate methods of distribution. No, that doesn't justify downloading a movie just because you want to see it right now.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:23 PM on March 5, 2012


I hope you are paying ChurchHatesTucker his $5 soon or eventually we won't have his posts to read anymore. Yeah, he could just post for free but that doesn't mean that you can stiff him just because you want to post right now.
posted by patrick54 at 10:35 PM on March 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


beaucoupkevin: "My argument is that if you don't pay for the media you consume in one way or another (even if it's ad revenue or a monthly streaming subscription fee,) you eventually won't have media to consume in one way or another. Yes, the studios should be more aggressive about pursuing alternate methods of distribution. No, that doesn't justify downloading a movie just because you want to see it right now."

Au contraire, mon frere! Artists happily make art for the love of it. I'm currently offering a full-length album to download for free, and I'm internationally famous.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:41 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I have been offering comics free online to my readers for over four years. I'm happy to do so. I also offer print editions that allow them to support my imprint. There are some spaces in which the free model works well, but a self-released album or comic book is not a major motion picture or television production requiring thousands of man-hours.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:52 PM on March 5, 2012


beaucoupkevin, it's not an either/or situation though. The problem is that the movie industry continues to cling to an irrational model to support the products requiring those man-hours. I'd gladly pay for access to the content that I want, but I can't even do that. I can't buy the DVD in the States and bring it back to Japan because of region encoding. I can't get the domestic content I want here because there are no subtitles. If the movie/tv/record industry would accept that there are people who exist in other countries, or even other situations than their image of the consumer, there would be many, many more consumers of their product.

Or perhaps, there would have been. Their product model has been so discouraging, so difficult to consume for so long that a great many of people who torrent or otherwise copy have gotten used to it. Convincing people to start paying again is going to take a lot of hard work, and they'll have to actually be releasing a product, and a format, that people actually feel they can't get elsewhere.

As it stands, they seem to want to ban the 'elsewhere' component and return to the 'here's what we make, and you'll buy it and like it' model that worked for them prior to the internet. How is it that people can be surrounded by the internet, dependant on it for daily life/work whatever, but not realize how it works? Or what it could actually be used for?

The Louis C.K. thing gave me some hope. He offered something people wanted, and made it easy for them to purchase it, and it was wildly successful. It would be nice if people were paying attention to that.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:08 PM on March 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


One thing I kind of forgot: strangely, the most forward looking company at the moment seems to actually be Sony. Starting with their PSP, their UMD discs (proprietary though they were) were region free. Blu-ray disc region coding has been greatly (if not completely) relaxed, allowing owners of PS3s to purchase games from other countries. In many cases, games are released natively with dozens of language options. In the cases where games are locked to one language, it is relatively easy to get the game from another region. PS3 users can easily create PS3 store accounts in other regions as well, allowing players access to content intended for different areas. All that, and a box that allows you to plug in a memory stick and watch AVI, WMV, Vob, TS, and MP4 files up to 1080p.

It's not perfect, and they've got all sorts of sneaky evil (Cinavia being one example), but it's remarkably close to what I'd like.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:32 PM on March 5, 2012


My argument is that if you don't pay for the media you consume in one way or another (even if it's ad revenue or a monthly streaming subscription fee,) you eventually won't have media to consume in one way or another.

IT WAS ME! I COPIED THAT FLOPPY! I KILLED VIDEO GAMES IN 1988! I'M SO SORRY!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:45 PM on March 5, 2012 [6 favorites]



The biggest complainers are actually from those trying to use a device, to do something it was not meant to do. Ie, the people who insist on using a 360, or ps3, and thinking it is a networked media player. It is not, no, stop talking, it is not. Yes, the PS3 can play blurays. But it is not a media player.

Really, you should have a networked media player already, be it one of the Sigma devices, NMT clones (popcornhour, HDX, etc), Dune, or countless others, some under $100. Or a HTPC, maybe running xbmc.

Changing to x264/mp4 increases compatibility, the avi format is dreadful.

But, anyway, I'm just pissing against the wind :)
posted by lundman at 4:41 AM on March 6, 2012


The 360 and PS3 can natively pull AVI and MP4 files off their own hard drives, an attached storage device or your home network and play them, so they kind of are networked media players. They're not the best networked media players ever, but they have that functionality installed by the manufacturer.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:51 AM on March 6, 2012


My argument is that if you don't pay for the media you consume in one way or another (even if it's ad revenue or a monthly streaming subscription fee,) you eventually won't have media to consume in one way or another.

Nonsense. That's the same fallacy that suggest I can solve hunger in Africa if I just buy the right kind of fair trade coffee. As consumers, our individual actions are meaningless.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:03 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is so much good free media why would I pirate?
posted by humanfont at 5:05 AM on March 6, 2012


My argument is that if you don't pay for the media you consume in one way or another (even if it's ad revenue or a monthly streaming subscription fee,) you eventually won't have media to consume in one way or another.

WAIT. You mean you have an actionable plan that could SHUTDOWN the cradle-to-grave hyper-consumerist propaganda machine?!? And you've been keeping it to yourself this whole time?!

See also: posted by Skwirl at 5:58 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lundman, I'm trying to grasp what you're saying, but, well, no. My ps3 is on my network. I can easily access files on my NAS and stream them over said network. I can, and have, put numerous files on the hard drive that play back when I want to watch them. I've even got a torne, which adds DVR functionality to it (though sadly, due to the even more absurd nature of copyright in Japan, is limited to recording from terrestrial digital, not cable or satellite). I'm not seeing where the playstation fails your test of purity. The only problems I see with it are the limited codecs available, and the fat32 induced 4gig limit on files.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:47 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nonsense. That's the same fallacy that suggest I can solve hunger in Africa if I just buy the right kind of fair trade coffee. As consumers, our individual actions are meaningless.

what

The argument bears no relation to fair trade arguments, except insofar as money is being spent (or not) in both cases. I'd like to hear the counter argument to the notion that if people stop paying for Hollywood movies (or network TV shows) Hollywood movies will cease to be made. Note that this is not the same thing as saying that movies will disappear, although it's pretty hard to imagine big epics being made if everyone watches for free. (If indie stuff is so great, why does anyone care what the Scene does?)

The snark in response to this very reasonable suggestion makes me think that there is no argument except for the wish that it be so.
posted by OmieWise at 6:55 AM on March 6, 2012


I think the argument is that if people stop paying for Hollywood movies or network TV in the current distribution system, then there are two options that production companies have: go out of business en masse or change the current distribution system. Probably they will end up trying the second and not the first.

Torrenting (which I will use for the whole constellation of piracy) is pretty easy, pretty realiable, and very fast. (And, of course, free.) Whether or not it is legal and whether or not it is ethical, it exists and it's unlikely to stop. It might change, we might go from torrents to some new standard, but it's not going to entirely disappear.

A lot of people mention that they would be happy to pay for the same shows if it were not much harder, not that much more expensive, and -- crucially -- not less fast. (By fast I mean time after release, not time to download.) The iTunes model suggests that this has a chance of working. The current model is evidently not working.
posted by jeather at 7:23 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Au contraire, mon frere! Artists happily make art for the love of it. I'm currently offering a full-length album to download for free, and I'm internationally famous.

And I just clicked the link, had a listen (like!) and shared via Facebook so I, and maybe a few others will chip in a few beer vouchers. Last media I paid for (outside of my cable/broadband/mobile phone bill)? Louis CK @ The Beacon direct from him.

I, and many others will happily pay for stuff and support artists we like. The ones that are circumventing the kludgy distribution & licensing networks we have in place are the ones with a bright future.

I'll get my non-UK, English language TV the day after it is broadcast how I please and you can call me all the names under the sun if it makes you feel warm & fuzzy.
posted by i_cola at 7:24 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the argument is that if people stop paying for Hollywood movies or network TV in the current distribution system, then there are two options that production companies have: go out of business en masse or change the current distribution system. Probably they will end up trying the second and not the first.

Well, that's one argument. I think there's another one that is a bit more handwavey than that, which seems to suggest that the content will always be there, even if no one pays for it. Even the Louis CK thing, which was great and all, but let's face it, is nothing at all like what it takes to actually put out a feature film, is strangely disconfirming because it's so far from something that cost a ton of money and time to produce.

I'm by no means a pessimist when it comes to independently produced stuff. For many years I didn't have a single major label music release in my large record collection. But this discussion about the Scene is a discussion about major label content.
posted by OmieWise at 7:38 AM on March 6, 2012


"Oh FFS, they still require releases be packed as RAR files. Have they never learned, compressing a highly compressed file (like x24 video) does almost nothing? At best, you save about .5% so you spend a lot of time decompressing a file and getting a file the same size."

Actually, you can set things up so that you can play RARs straight from your video player without having to decompress first. Here is one of several ways available to do it, for example.
posted by markkraft at 8:27 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, um, guys? This is TV. You know, the free stuff? Comes in over the air? It's hard to "steal" stuff they're giving away anyway.


A lot of downloaders in the UK are downloading a) US shows that we don't get here (Community, Parks and Rec, Friday Night Lights etc.) b) US shows we do get but for which one would have to pay for a satellite package to see. I bet the reverse is true across the Atlantic - there's a reason why there are a couple of very popular UK-specific private sites.

I would happily pay to use something like Hulu if they opened it up to UK subscribers. I don't have Sky Atlantic, so I can't see Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, 30 Rock etc. unless I buy a box set, because I don't have dominion over what TV services we're hooked up to where I live and a subscription is probably the cost of a box set per month. I don't know what Hulu costs, but if it were, say, £10 a month to stream all the US shows I like watching plus some I haven't seen yet, I'd be all over it. There's stuff youse lot all talk about that we never got over here, and while I wouldn't want to fork out £40 on a Region 1 box-set of The LArry Sanders Show on the off-chance I might like it, I would happily use a site with archive content.
posted by mippy at 9:47 AM on March 6, 2012


Also: the amount of people I know who don't have a TV license - not as in illegally using TV, but don't actually watch broadcast TV - or who don't have a TV at all but watch streaming media, is surprisingly large. It's becoming second-nature to watch television on your computer, so I doubt this will stop piracy all that much.
posted by mippy at 9:48 AM on March 6, 2012


I mean, once you've sampled crystal-clear, high-quality, obsessively-vetted media releases, it can be hard to go back to the stuff you have to pay for.

See also: music rights. Northern Exposure I don't think even got a release over here because of this.
posted by mippy at 9:50 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was a teenager in the late '80s, I would buy cassettes and VHSs, go to the library, a friends, record off of TV or radio, go to a video store, etc... and copy entire works free of charge, oftentimes sharing them with others. I especially liked British music and programs. We had cable at about $25 a month for a couple major channels like HBO, which meant I had a lot of things easily available I could record. The cable companies had lots of free content too, from basic cable to the local channels.

I would even join CD or video clubs through the mail which were overseen by the major companies, and get my x albums or movies for free... or perhaps the price of one item... with no need to buy again ever. And I didn't buy again, and cancelled my subscriptions ASAP. (How did they pay the artists, btw?)

Back then, it would take two hours to get a movie, maybe 20 minutes to copy an album on tape (I had a 2x speed recorder), and I was generally pretty satisfied with the quality and the experience. I was either watching or listening to something most of the day.

Everybody else did the same thing, and nobody called anyone a thief or a pirate, or inferred that they were cheap or hurting others for doing so. Sharing was widespread. Only people who tried to profit off of other people's work ever got raided or sued for it.

I don't have premium cable anymore. I can't really justify paying damn near $100 after taxes in this economy for a decent cable package that will contain those channels I want, because that's not how the cable companies want to sell it to me. I could literally go to the bargain bins and buy DVDs with as much content of higher quality and value to me. Cable has become a money sinkhole, in part because every media source -- from an exponentially growing number of "basic cable" channels to the local channels -- all want to put their hands in my pocket, while huge media networks leverage their properties to extort as much money as possible from them, because they know they can hold consumers for ransom, who will blame their cable companies if they don't have the shows and channels that they want. As such, they force bundles on consumers that they would rather not buy, in order to get access to the one or two stations -- or programs -- that they actually want to see.

Nowadays, I regularly buy large hard drives, and download things online... often from sites I am invited to by friends. I especially like British music and programs, though I have branched out to Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc. I'm busier, and consume less media than I used to as a teen... but I do have quite an extensive collection of torrents, music, etc., many of it things I have had/watched/owned in the past. (We probably have about 2000+ legit albums, 300+ movies, etc. It's just easier/better for me to download things directly, rather than digitizing what I've already got.)

Today, I find it takes me about two hours to download something of movie length, maybe 10-20 minutes to copy an album, and I am generally pretty satisfied with the quality and the experience. I consume somewhat less media, both free and paid, but my behavior as a consumer really hasn't changed that much. Everybody else does the same thing, pretty much... but now we're all considered thieves and pirates... or just plain cheap and hurtful to the artists, even when we try to do what we can to support them.

Really, the big difference isn't with me or my ethics. The big difference lies with the big companies.

There used to be a general understanding... a premium was charged for every VHS tape and cassette, which went to the industry companies, who sent some of that money along to the artists. There has been talk in the past about doing the same thing with digital media, so that when you buy a hard drive, for example, some of that money would be passed on to the MPAA/RIAA... but nowadays, they don't want there to be an understanding, even if it would be more profitable for them. They want consumers to capitulate to their will. Entirely so. We must fit their business model. They don't want to have to change.

Frankly, their stance is as firm, unrealistic, and outdated as the Catholic church's position on contraception. Is it surprising that I, as a consumer, feel more than a little bit angry about it?!
posted by markkraft at 9:57 AM on March 6, 2012


There has been talk in the past about doing the same thing with digital media, so that when you buy a hard drive, for example, some of that money would be passed on to the MPAA/RIAA...

...but this would be unfair to those who buy one for non-piracy related reasons. I was thinking of getting myself a new one for my photos, for example. I own the copyright on these, not the MPAA.
posted by mippy at 10:16 AM on March 6, 2012


"...but this would be unfair to those who buy one for non-piracy related reasons."

Perhaps, but you would get the legal right to copy whatever you wanted to copy on it.

Similar arguments could've been made -- and probably were -- regarding those who wanted to use cassettes and vhs tapes for similar, non-copying related uses. They lost out, perhaps... but society as a whole benefited greatly.
posted by markkraft at 10:25 AM on March 6, 2012


The only people who are going to benefit from the MPAA/RIAA getting kickbacks on technology sales are the people who run the MPAA/RIAA. Unless they've got non-ridiculous statistics about how much piracy is actually costing them -- and "every album downloaded is a lost sale" is horseshit -- it'd be little different than giving protection money to the mob.
posted by griphus at 10:29 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


They had a blank media tax in Canada for many years and that last I heard they never paid a single cent that was collected to any artists. It just accumulated in some bank account for some tiny industry association.
posted by GuyZero at 11:04 AM on March 6, 2012


"it'd be little different than giving protection money to the mob."

There are really just two good choices here...

1> Pay the mob protection money, so that you can go about your business.

In this case, that should mean that whatever deal is reached, electronics and software companies would be free to develop products to their specs, as opposed to RIAA/MPAA specs, and businesses being able to develop business models that work for them. There's a ton of innovation and business growth that isn't happening, because of the industry. I would still argue that this is / can be the best, most equitable outcome. A thousand flowers should be allowed to bloom.

2> We should all get together and stop paying the mob protection money, even if it means that some of us get kneecapped.

The problem with option 2 is, we live under option 3, where some of us are cowards and hypocrites, and the rest of us live in fear. Not good.

Option 1 is, IMO, the only good, realistic option. It's also the one that is being flatly ignored.
posted by markkraft at 11:10 AM on March 6, 2012


Everybody else did the same thing, and nobody called anyone a thief or a pirate, or inferred that they were cheap or hurting others for doing so.

I suppose you're technically correct given the Boston Strangler was neither a thief or a pirate but this statement is truly laughable given the media industry's resistance and propaganda campaigns against recordable media like VCRs and compact cassettes.
posted by Talez at 11:14 AM on March 6, 2012


Can we get back to talking about how neat it is that there's an ISO standard for pirated video?
posted by dunkadunc at 11:15 AM on March 6, 2012


a premium was charged for every VHS tape and cassette, which went to the industry companies, who sent some of that money along to the artists

This was never widely the case in the US, despite the RIAA's lobbying efforts. The law you're referring to was called the "Audio Home Recording Act" or AHRA. This was one of the RIAA's first legislative victories, in the chain that later brought us the DMCA (and more recently almost brought us ACTA).*

The AHRA was basically responsible for killing DAT and MiniDisc in the US, but it never had much of an effect beyond that. It only applied to recording devices principally sold for recording music -- CD recorders sold as data recorders for computers were never covered, to the RIAA's chagrin. The result was that AHRA-compliant recorders, which required special AHRA-compliant, taxed media, and enforced the equally-stupid SCMS copy protection scheme, never sold well. Unless you were a complete moron, you could just buy a "data" recorder, hook it up to a computer, and copy CDs to your heart's content -- the only people harmed by the AHRA were garage musicians who had to pay inflated prices for "consumer" recording gear and expensive "Digital Audio Recordable" blanks, or save up for "professional" gear that wasn't covered.

The death knell of the whole stupid scheme was RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia, when the courts said that the AHRA was never intended to apply to music stored on hard drives, and that MP3 players like the Rio and iPod were not covered.

Tellingly, the vast majority of the money raised by the tax on "consumer" media never made it to artists and songwriters -- the putative beneficiaries of the legislation in the first place -- but were funneled to record companies. It's worth keeping this in mind any time the RIAA or MPAA starts whining about those poor artists who are getting harmed by piracy: the one time they had a chance to chip in, they screwed the artists far more roughly than any pirate could ever hope to do.

* And in the future, I predict that people will look back on the AHRA as a sort of "Plot to Kill Hitler" moment, when we could have saved ourselves a lot of pain had we just slain the beast then and there. Alas...
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:22 AM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


"They had a blank media tax in Canada for many years and that last I heard they never paid a single cent that was collected to any artists."

They have paid out $$ from the Canadian blank media tax
. Just not very effectively. Artists got about 5/6ths of the money paid out, while around 1/6th went to the industry org, its lawyers, etc.

The thing is, if you look similar payouts on artist royalty schemes in the US, they're about as effective... which is to say, yes, they're not all that effective, with a disproportionate amount of $$ going to the top performers. But at least the extortion is paid, even if the piper might not always be.

It's business as usual for everyone else, which is arguably the most valuable aspect of the deal.
posted by markkraft at 11:28 AM on March 6, 2012


if you look similar payouts on artist royalty schemes in the US, they're about as effective

They're actually way worse down here.

In the US, only 2.7% of AHRA tax proceeds went to "Non-featured Instrumentalists and Vocalists" -- those would be the small-time musicians that are always featured so prominently in arguments for taxes and strong IP laws -- while record labels claimed 38.4%, and big-time "featured artists" got 25.6%.

It was never more than a way for a few fat cats to get a bit fatter, while also crippling some technologies that they were afraid of.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:53 AM on March 6, 2012


I'd like to hear the counter argument to the notion that if people stop paying for Hollywood movies (or network TV shows) Hollywood movies will cease to be made. Note that this is not the same thing as saying that movies will disappear, although it's pretty hard to imagine big epics being made if everyone watches for free. (If indie stuff is so great, why does anyone care what the Scene does?)

One thing to keep in mind is that just because someone has access to free content doesn't mean they will never pay for content. For example, on YouTube I can listen to pretty much any song that I could buy on iTunes or in a music store in real life. If I wanted to I could very easily capture the audio from the YouTube streams and have a free digital copy. Or I could very easily never spend another cent on music and just use YouTube whenever I want to listen to something. But I still buy music. The fact that people can get illegal free content in addition to the content they pay for does not automatically mean that they are going to become total freeloaders and kill the industry by never buying anything. If there are ways for people to easily spend money on entertainment, people are going to do it, and no amount of free content is going to change that.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:10 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, does anyone have a friend that could recommend a good digital video to DVD converter that works on Windows (unlike DeeVeeDee) and ISN'T Nero Vision?

Try AVStoDVD.
posted by gd779 at 8:22 PM on March 6, 2012


One thing to keep in mind is that just because someone has access to free content doesn't mean they will never pay for content.

Yes, I completely agree. But I find this to be a bit wishy washy when it comes to the more hardcore among those who download. What I actually think is happening is the cost is getting shifted to people who, for whatever reason, don't want to download things for free.
posted by OmieWise at 5:11 AM on March 7, 2012


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