The aXXo files
January 2, 2009 3:16 AM   Subscribe

"If you already know his name, chances are you've been doing something illegal." The Independent on aXXo, the movie pirate king.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (107 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think I become a movie pirate myself - seems a good way to achieve some fame, glory and many fans on the intranets!
posted by homodigitalis at 3:52 AM on January 2, 2009


Truly a great man. Well trusted brand name. Not that I know anything at all about what he does, or where it can be found.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:54 AM on January 2, 2009 [9 favorites]


I'M SPARTACUS!! err, I mean, I'M aXXo!!!
posted by Trochanter at 4:21 AM on January 2, 2009


I love that dude.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:49 AM on January 2, 2009


So, how does one determine a real aXXo file from a fake one that may contain malware? Just for educational purposes, mind you.
posted by jadepearl at 5:04 AM on January 2, 2009


"If you already know his name, chances are you've been doing something illegal."

Tyler Durden?
posted by bwg at 5:06 AM on January 2, 2009


I prefer the scene rips myself. Groups like WRD, iAPULA, CoWRY, BiFOS and PosTX all seem to have much more interesting movies than aXXo's lame Hollywood crap.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:17 AM on January 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


aXXo's releases are solid.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:18 AM on January 2, 2009


That was a surprisingly good article on the subject.
posted by moonbiter at 5:22 AM on January 2, 2009


Metafilter : But what if those pirates are adding value to society in some way?...
posted by mannequito at 5:25 AM on January 2, 2009


People are always asking me if I know aXXo.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:31 AM on January 2, 2009


oh goddammit bwg
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:32 AM on January 2, 2009


Decent article, but in the last two paragraphs it throws out Digg and AintItCool as analogues to a pirate like aXXo.

WTF?
posted by bardic at 5:49 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, how does one determine a real aXXo file from a fake one that may contain malware? Just for

Since .avi files aren't executable, they can't really contain any malware. I suppose if you have file extensions turned off in windows, it might not be very clear (why is that the default?). According to this people have been putting up fake axxo downloads that require the user to go out and manually download some malware and run it. Obviously, that will cause some issues.
posted by delmoi at 5:51 AM on January 2, 2009


So, how does one determine a real aXXo file from a fake one that may contain malware?

Read the torrent comments.

Can we start with the fake aXXo facts now?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:05 AM on January 2, 2009


Hogge argues. "When you have six million people breaking the law, it's the law that needs changing, not the people."


So ... if two wrongs don't make a right, yet six million do ... where's the line?
posted by mannequito at 6:05 AM on January 2, 2009


If the two wrongs weren't wrong in the first place, then there is no line to worry about.
posted by moonbiter at 6:19 AM on January 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


A++++++++ Would Pirate Again!
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:33 AM on January 2, 2009


This article succinctly shows why the subject is interesting, provides background, *and* explains what BitTorrent is in simple enough terms that my mother would understand. It then goes on to provide dissenting views and present problems, discusses possible solutions for these problems, and draws parallels while explaing why the internet really is different for some things.

Fantastic article.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:44 AM on January 2, 2009 [13 favorites]


Apart from the last two sentences, natch.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:45 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can we start with the fake aXXo facts now?

aXXo once simultaneously encoded & uploaded My Fair Lady & Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with his left hand, while fighting of a horde of MPAA Ninjas with a broadsword in his right hand. Some attribute his victory to the Ninja's strict code-of-conduct, as they attacked single-file and fell at his feet one at a time.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:47 AM on January 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


FXG also has a good selection, if anyone is looking...
posted by Webbster at 7:10 AM on January 2, 2009


Yeah, the comparisons in the last few paragraphs are pretty damn weak. A commenter on Digg? I don't read the comments on Digg; I read the articles if anything. I know who Harry Knowles is, but AICN has never destroyed a movie's box office hopes.
posted by graventy at 7:11 AM on January 2, 2009


This post is worthless without a link to all 1,000 of his torrents.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:35 AM on January 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, if I WERE to pirate movies, which I DON'T, and I had my PC on a home theatre amp, which I DO, then I MIGHT be interested in researching those scene releases I only JUST heard of, since I have only heard RUMORS that this Axxo fellow doesn't only releases in 2 channel MP3, which I would have NO personal clue about.

Convincing?
posted by Samizdata at 7:35 AM on January 2, 2009


On the whole, well done. The article pointed out that BitTorrent can be used (and was initially intended for) legitimate purposes, discusses The Scene fairly clearly (including a clip of the history), and tosses in The Pirate's Dilemma, alongside the usual "Billions and Billions in lost revenue," making for a well-rounded write-up.

On the Pirate's Dilemma: I read it, hoping for some great insight into the world, but found more examples of what I already knew with some well-detailed history of various forms of piracy (the birth of Hollywood being a humorous parallel to the current claims from Hollywood). It's nice that Matt Mason's website is more than a bit of hype for the book, and continues some discussion of the ramifications of and alternate routes for dealing with piracey of various forms, though he toots his own horn (or reps his own cred, in more current terms) a bit much.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:38 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, wait...

explains David Price, head of piracy intelligence at the internet consultancy Envisional

Yup. Them pirates can be pretty smart.

Paycheck please.
posted by Samizdata at 7:38 AM on January 2, 2009


I prefer the scene rips myself. Groups like WRD, iAPULA, CoWRY, BiFOS and PosTX all seem to have much more interesting movies than aXXo's lame Hollywood crap.

I love the fact that even movie piracy release groups can have a cooler-than-thou culture of exclusiveness that can be used to indicates one's superiority.
posted by srboisvert at 7:45 AM on January 2, 2009 [11 favorites]


Can we start with the fake aXXo facts now?

aXXo once ripped a movie six months before it began shooting. I got nuthin'
posted by MikeMc at 7:46 AM on January 2, 2009


The Independent knows a thing or two about copyright protection, as you'll see if you click the "print" icon on that page. Holy moley.

Also:

Harry Knowles, a portly, 37-year-old film fanatic from Austin, Texas

That's what you get for operating independently from mainstream media outlets. The Independent drags your lard ass into a story about movie pirates for no reason.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:47 AM on January 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh.

aXXo once released a movie three weeks before the director's mother had even finished pre-production.
posted by Samizdata at 7:47 AM on January 2, 2009


This post is worthless without a link to all 1,000 of his torrents.
posted by MikeMc at 7:48 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I love the fact that even movie piracy release groups can have a cooler-than-thou culture of exclusiveness that can be used to indicates one's superiority."

Apparently the really cool people only use topsites. I imagine there are even more coolness/smugness layers to this onion, to the point that the method one uses to acquire movies is far more important than the movies themselves.
posted by aerotive at 7:54 AM on January 2, 2009


I, too, am aXXo!
posted by markkraft at 8:10 AM on January 2, 2009


I am aXXo. Not to be confused with KLAXXON.
posted by MikeMc at 8:19 AM on January 2, 2009


head of piracy intelligence

You know how they get so smart though, right?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:19 AM on January 2, 2009


Ummmmm, no.

I KNOW NAWZINK! I HEAR NAWZINK! I SEE NAWZINK!

(wanders off, trying desperately to look nonchalant, and failing miserably as usual)
posted by Samizdata at 8:22 AM on January 2, 2009


VCD Quality. For when you want to make sure that your pirated movie is good quality.

(Funny thing is that no aXXo releases are on there. I guess because he's never first?)
posted by smackfu at 8:24 AM on January 2, 2009


Or aXXo, not to be confused with Oxo or oXo!
posted by markkraft at 8:27 AM on January 2, 2009


The three Rrrrrrrrrrs.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:30 AM on January 2, 2009


One Canadian documentary film-maker, for example, is working on a film entitled Searching for aXXo.

I wonder how long before I can get an aXXo torrent of that?
posted by quin at 8:30 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love the fact that even movie piracy release groups can have a cooler-than-thou culture of exclusiveness that can be used to indicates one's superiority.

From what I remember about computer game cracking groups from the '80s and '90s, the cooler-than-thou culture of exclusiveness is kind of the point. That and the technical problem solving stuff which is the source of their superiority.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 8:32 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


The easier you make it for people to download, the more people do it," says Price, "and the less moral or ethical concerns they have about it.

To date, efforts to make downloading harder - by extending US copyright law into international police actions, by strafing the public with lawsuits, by crippling merchandise with DRM and regional encoding, poisoning it with rootkits, by attempting to smother new technology in the cradle - have eroded the moral claim copyright holders may once have held over crackers and release crews. They've played into the Robin Hood mythos set forth by their opponents.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:33 AM on January 2, 2009 [8 favorites]


So ... if two wrongs don't make a right, yet six million do ... where's the line?

I'm sorry that I can't tell you exactly. Will it be sufficient to say that wherever it is, it's somewhere far, far west of six million?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:36 AM on January 2, 2009


(starts writing open source app to smack goodnewsfortheinsane remotely)
posted by Samizdata at 8:43 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


From what I remember about computer game cracking groups from the '80s and '90s, the cooler-than-thou culture of exclusiveness is kind of the point

GCS FTW. I used to love that the crackers would add animated intros with credits and shoutouts to the games. Not that I ever had any games cracked by GCS or anyone else for that matter.
posted by MikeMc at 8:44 AM on January 2, 2009


I have it on good authority that aXXo and Banksy are one and the same.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:45 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I prefer the scene rips myself. Groups like WRD, iAPULA, CoWRY, BiFOS and PosTX all seem to have much more interesting movies than aXXo's lame Hollywood crap.

But I'd much rather support the interesting stuff by going out and seeing it or buying the dvd's and not have to throw my money away on the lame Hollywood crap.
posted by cazoo at 8:59 AM on January 2, 2009


So ... if two wrongs don't make a right, yet six million do ... where's the line?

I don't know, but according to Sarah Silverman, "Sixty million would be unforgivable."
posted by Sys Rq at 9:12 AM on January 2, 2009


aXXo is the Internet alias of a teenage individual.

It's so sad what teenagers do today. Back in my day, when I was a teenager, we used to sell drugs, we used to experiment with unusual forms of sexuality, we used to plot schemes to take over the adult universe - by force. But these kids today sit in front of their computers, downloading pirated movies for redistribution. It's so sad.

And it's unhealthy. I bet aXXo is a pudgy kid. So much time sitting in front of the computer does not lend itself to the type of healthy exercise that we had as teenagers; running away from police, shoplifting record albums, sneaking into bars, getting into fights.

The worst thing about copyright piracy is the effect it has on the physical health of our youngsters.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:17 AM on January 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


But I'd much rather support the interesting stuff by going out and seeing it or buying the dvd's and not have to throw my money away on the lame Hollywood crap.

Seeing it is kind of hard as very little new European/Asian stuff ever gets a screening in the provinces and most of the back catalogue never does.

Better to familiarize yourself with the stuff through pirate copies, and buy DVD's of the ones that you want to keep a decent copy of for your home theatre, than not to see any of it at all, IMO.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:21 AM on January 2, 2009


I bet aXXo is a pudgy kid

Well, as long as we are making unfounded assumptions, I'm going to choose to believe that aXXo is a six foot tall Valkyrie goddess who, when she is not a model for the newest Victoria's Secret catalog, is fighting crime, or working in dog rescue.

If you look at the facts, it just makes sense.
posted by quin at 9:28 AM on January 2, 2009 [14 favorites]


To date, efforts to make downloading harder - by extending US copyright law into international police actions, by strafing the public with lawsuits, by crippling merchandise with DRM and regional encoding, poisoning it with rootkits, by attempting to smother new technology in the cradle - have eroded the moral claim copyright holders may once have held over crackers and release crews. They've played into the Robin Hood mythos set forth by their opponents.

That kind of thing probably accounts for a lot of the "losses" the MPAA has incurred, too.

The thing about all this is that as far as movies being bootlegged in theatres, no one downloads CAM releases, because they are shit; torrents of festival screeners can only help the foreign and/or independent filmmakers, who get all kinds of free word-of-mouth buzz from people who would never have been able to see the film otherwise. Bam, bigger distribution deal, bam, more money for everyone. (See "Let the Right One In" as one recent example.) Big budget studio films might get the early-release torrent treatment, but the studio certainly won't lose money; they might (and I strongly emphasise the uncertainty of that word) make less than their projected profit, but as is the case with a lot of things movie-related, that's entirely the fault of the projectionist.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:29 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Six million "wrongs" are pointing to a shortcoming in the current distribution system. Maybe it's price, maybe it's ease of access. Maybe the draw of illegal goods is an added bonus.

smackfu, VCDQuality is a scene-info site, which lists scene-recognized rips. The Scene is based around distribution through Topsites, which are the largest, fastest and most connected FTP hubs. A group or ripper races to get their product to topsites before others, because only the first one counts. aXXo is not part of The Scene, and aXXo rips are probably available after Scene releases of movies (I think he/they re-brand or re-encode group rips, but that's just my guess).

The Scene is an internal system with limited access to FTP sites only, not simply because they're elitist folks, but also to protect what they have. If you are part of a strong group, you have access to anything and everything that other groups make available, because your group is part of that sharing system. But Scene people have friends outside The Scene, or want recognition by giving others access to the l33test stuff, so what was internal becomes external, getting spread to FTP dropsites (public FTPs used as temporary storage, popular pre-Bittorrent), IRC and P2P.

Scene groups and members want recognition, but will get caught if they have too much. The Scene used to be a LOT more open, if just in what they were doing. You can find old NFOs that list full FTP IPs for all the sites a group is on (that's another form of prestige - site access). There used to be a complete dupecheck which was publicly available, with a complete history search. Dupechecks list all valid and "nuked" releases, essentially listing all Scene activity. But then there were crack-downs, and groups got busted. So the dupecheck went private, yet someone copied screenshots to public places, and there were more busts. Now it's really private, and groups are cutting back on their personal announcements. DVD rips first had group logos stuck on the front, but that went away quickly. Rips are becoming more plain, some not mentioning the group beyond folder names, with the idea that most people just want the movie or the MP3s inside the folder, and the group will no longer associated with their illegal deed. Lots of movie-ripping groups have come and gone, as the article notes, though it seems others are more resilient.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:44 AM on January 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well, six million cars broken into wouldn't point to something wrong about locking them, or owning them, or even the price of transportation (necessarily). It might point to inadequate locks and alarms.

Ease =/ right.

However, that aXXo is a hellofa guy.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:47 AM on January 2, 2009


The thing about all this is that as far as movies being bootlegged in theatres, no one downloads CAM releases, because they are shit

Except perhaps telesyncs of hot movies. Better than cams worse than rips.
posted by MikeMc at 9:58 AM on January 2, 2009


R5 releases are pretty workable though. So I've heard.
posted by smackfu at 10:00 AM on January 2, 2009


I love the fact that even movie piracy release groups can have a cooler-than-thou culture of exclusiveness that can be used to indicates one's superiority.

Yeah, that always cracks me up, too. A friend of mine downloads tons of CBRs--scanned-in comic books collected in a PDF-like file--and occasionally he forwards a few select titles to me every week. Without fail, almost every issue contains a splash page announcing who did the scanning, why their scans are the best, and why you should only get scans from their crew. My friend tells me that the different scanning groups get in little message board gang wars and everything. Hilarious.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:21 AM on January 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Durn:
One of the most difficult things about discussing piracy is coming up with the right analogy. Pirating a movie is nothing like breaking into a car.

I'll take the "green" route: Piracy reduces waste!
posted by mike_bling at 10:22 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man! 'Scene groups' used to do difficult and useful stuff, like fit a 3-floppy game onto two floppies, remove defective protection, and disassemble code while creating 800-bob chip-music sine-scrolling intros.

Ripping a DVD and adding hideously tacky intros to them is, as was said in the day, lame.

Can't see a filmmaking renaissance fuelled by ripping DVDs happening anytime soon.
posted by davemee at 10:25 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


mike_bling: didn't actually say it was. You didn't address the ease =/ right statement, which was the point. We can talk about IP "theft" not involving a loss of goods to anyone as a separate issue, if you like, but I wasn't the one who raised the #-of-incidents = indication-of-rightful-lawfulness argument, which I think is a nonstarter.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:28 AM on January 2, 2009


Well, as long as we are making unfounded assumptions, I'm going to choose to believe that aXXo is a six foot tall Valkyrie goddess who, when she is not a model for the newest Victoria's Secret catalog, is fighting crime, or working in dog rescue.

Wikipedia gives a couple references to support the assertion that aXXo is a teenager. I'm sure most teenagers into copyright piracy are Valkyrie goddesses. At least, that's what they told me at 4chan.

And the average age at Metafilter is...
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:35 AM on January 2, 2009


I'm pretty sure that aXXo is an ex-Navy Seal, can bench-press a car, has a black belt in karate and is like a total chick magnet.
posted by ob at 10:47 AM on January 2, 2009


A six foot tall Valkyrie goddess arrives at the Mininova anniversary meetup:

"My name's aXXo."
"*The* aXXo!? Jesus..."
"What?"
"I just thought... you were a guy."
"Most guys do."
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:50 AM on January 2, 2009


I may be naive but this makes me want to smile, just like when the funny men in the pub offer me DVD-Rs of Four Christmases or Hancock. I've even mumbled drunkenly 'Not for me thanks but please, please keep undermining their business model'. As someone whose cultural tastes are esoteric and retro it all amuses me - I know that My Winnipeg or this weekend's BFI Re-release of Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia are unlikely to be imperilled by casual piracy. In fact, I think that the current Hollywood business model of heavily front-loaded financial risks, sequels and general dumbed down audience demeaning drivel could be harmed by aXXo et al. If it starts to cut into revenues they would have to go back to a model of making at lot more product to hit more audiences at lower cost per unit (thus lower risk). Imagine if the DVD/VoD sales of Spiderman 7 were hit massively by the aXXos of this world, it cost £200m to shoot and market but didnt bring in the punters as expected so home viewing figures were needed to make up the shortfall etc. The article suggests this is not the case, but I remember reading somewhere that early piracy of Soul Plane cut its box office take hard. Maybe this is baseless, but I can sleep soundly knowing that my favoured cinema culture is safe. You can't buy a DVD-R of anything in the Criterion, BFI, or Eureka ranges in a pub. If the people that curled out 'Bride Wars' are hurt at all by a humble, nameless Canadian teenager I can but cheer....
posted by The Salaryman at 10:53 AM on January 2, 2009


I love the fact that even movie piracy release groups can have a cooler-than-thou culture of exclusiveness that can be used to indicates one's superiority.

From what I remember about computer game cracking groups from the '80s and '90s, the cooler-than-thou culture of exclusiveness is kind of the point. That and the technical problem solving stuff which is the source of their superiority.


Yes, the scene pretty much wouldn't exist if bragging and one-upmanship didn't exist. Everything the scene has ever done, from ANSI art, to pirate games, to demos, to DVD rips have always more than anything else been about the drive to be the best.

The interesting thing to me is that the scene mentality has done a decent job of keeping it relatively pure. In areas where money is the driving force, usually one entity buys out everyone else, or drives them all out of business, or forms a oligopoly between the few strongest, all of which lead to less competition and lower quality. But the scene, which has always been little more than a collection of teenagers, has been putting in huge amounts of effort for very little gain while risking serious jail time for 20+ years. The scene might not be contributing much to society, but the fact that such a complicated and efficient organization of people can come together for nothing more than psychological rewards is an achievement itself.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:56 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


aXXo has nothing on the Chinese.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:59 AM on January 2, 2009


Since .avi files aren't executable, they can't really contain any malware.

Sorry, wrong. They can exploit a vulnerability in your AVI playback software and install malware that way.
posted by o0o0o at 11:01 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, wrong. They can exploit a vulnerability in your AVI playback software and install malware that way.

I haven't heard of any such vulns in ffmpeg or mplayer for quite some time.
posted by simoncion at 11:12 AM on January 2, 2009


Sorry, wrong. They can exploit a vulnerability in your AVI playback software and install malware that way.

Only if there is one, and if you're that paranoid you shouldn't even be on the internet in the first place because vulnerabilities show up in browsers all the time.
posted by delmoi at 11:20 AM on January 2, 2009


Thanks for the post! It's an interesting article for a mainstream daily newspaper to run.

The Scene is an interesting series (if somewhat tedious at times, just as I imagine actual ripping to be - the excitement of getting the pre-release DVD-screener! the boredom of actually ripping the thing...the thrill of being the first ripper to release it! the dullness of uploading the files...etc etc).
posted by goo at 11:25 AM on January 2, 2009


"...head of piracy intelligence"

You know how they get so smart though, right?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane


Indeed. It is intriguing to contemplate a double agent here.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:29 AM on January 2, 2009


aXXo: Baby, I been havin a tough night so treat me nice aight?

BritneySpears14: Aight.

aXXo: Slip out of those pants baby, yeah.

BritneySpears14: I slip out of my pants, just for you, aXXo.

aXXo: Oh yeah, aight. Aight, I put on my robe and wizard hat.

BritneySpears14: Oh, I like to play dress up.

axxo: Me too baby.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:29 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I know that My Winnipeg or this weekend's BFI Re-release of Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia are unlikely to be imperilled by casual piracy...You can't buy a DVD-R of anything in the Criterion, BFI, or Eureka ranges in a pub.

Er, no, but they're all available online. I'm not sure from your comment if you're arguing that these particular films/releases aren't available, or if their availability is detrimental to the studio's business model, but a good general rule is that if it comes out on DVD, it's available online (as all of the examples you give are).
posted by goo at 11:33 AM on January 2, 2009


Only if there is one, and if you're that paranoid ...

Your original statement that it couldn't contain malware because it wasn't executable was incorrect and has nothing to do with your follow-on comment about paranoia.

I haven't heard of any such vulns in ffmpeg or mplayer for quite some time.

Although not "in the wild", ffmpeg had a known buffer overflow only 2 months ago. These things happen and will continue to happen for the foreseeable future.

All of that is just a derail, though. I was only trying to correct a fallacious statement regarding the ability of non-executable files to contain malware, which is a concept that leads people into a false sense of confidence.
posted by o0o0o at 11:37 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been doing something illegal, but had never heard of aXXo. Am I doing something wrong? TIA.
posted by Eideteker at 11:55 AM on January 2, 2009


davemee, my memories of these days were through game rips (audio and cut-scenes chopped out to save download time), and a friend of mine in High School who really got into the Demo Scene (the artistic, legit branch of the old Warez Scene). Oh, and the improved MP3 codec, which was a modified from the Fraunhofer IIS version. Oh, 1999, when hacking software meant something more than removing copy protection.

mike_bling - Matt Mason, in The Pirate's Dilemma and other articles, poses the notion that pirates flourish where traditional media distribution has failed. This is not about teaching someone the ways to carjack, this is providing software to download movies before they get to shelves. There is no breaking into someone else's vehicle, this is joining the queue to download and upload pieces. It is an activity done from home, but with others (those peers who share with you).

iTunes Store and Amazon's Video On Demand are something of the answer to torrents, but the release dates are another "issue," which is why Region 5 releases are made. But because western markets don't have the option to purchase DVDs that lack both the image post-processing and special features that are common on retail releases, R5 rips fill that gap. If you can either download the movie and have it in half a day (if speeds hold up), or own the movie for $5 right now by picking it up at some shop in town, I think more people would pick it up for $5.

In short, bootlegging videos is filling the demand for the basic movie at an earlier date, along with the want to "sample" something before paying $20. Movie theaters want to stay in business, and see early DVD release dates as competitors, so many big theater chains snubbed Bubble, which had theater, TV, DVD release all in one day (previously).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:08 PM on January 2, 2009


Eideteker, you're doing it wrong.


Or, you're doing the wrong illegal thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:09 PM on January 2, 2009


Ah, blast - that was not supposed to be a reply to mike_bling, but Durn Bronzefist.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:11 PM on January 2, 2009


The last two paragraphs are meant to imply that Knowles and the guy from DIGG are analogous to aXXo only in that their influence and fame seems to be the result of new opportunities (or modes of expression) made available by the internet. It does not claim that their respective activities are alike or analogous.

That's not such an odd claim to make.
posted by oddman at 12:31 PM on January 2, 2009


Well, I hope you noted my reply to mike_bling, filthy light thief.

And this seems to be a re-occuring problem on MeFi, and it shouldn't be, for a sharp group of people. Someone states an opinion without qualifiers. An analogy is drawn to show how the statement is not true in all instances. Others pipe up to show how the two things differ, as if this invalidates the argument. Analogies do not work by being the same in every way. That is not an analogy. Stretching them to the breaking point illustrates nothing useful.

In this case, to refute the idea that any sufficiently large number of infractions automatically indicates something wrong with the law, rather than possible (and possibly rectifiable) problems in enforcement, an analogy can be drawn to other cases where a large number of infractions might occur. That you want to argue that the nature of the act is different such that one of them should not be illegal, owing to issues of lack of harm, etc., is fine, but it is NOT the original argument being made.

But frankly, DRM is one of those issues that can't be rationally discussed on Metafilter. My test for that is when rational people advance arguments that they would themselves shoot down as flawed were it not their favoured position. Everybody knows what an analogy is, and it seems fine to make them in anything but about a dozen particular topics. Then it must be the SAME THING or you're crazy for suggesting it. Bah.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:51 PM on January 2, 2009


Also, the claim that Knowles and AICN have the power to make or break a film seems wildly overinflated. If this was ever true--which I doubt--the site hasn't had that sort of influence for years now.
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:11 PM on January 2, 2009


aXXo has nothing on the Chinese.

aXXo knows where the Chinese live.
posted by vbfg at 1:13 PM on January 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some of the things I download are things that I simply can not get in Japan. Let's say I shell out the cash for satellite tv, then shell out the hundreds of bucks for NBA League Pass in Japan. That entitles me to one game a day, with no control over which game it is. NFL games? Well, there might be, on a cable channel, one live game a week. Other games are tape-delayed, sometimes coming a week later. The existence of an internet based delivery system that could get me HD (oh, hell, even SD) versions of games on demand, for a sane price, keep me from downloading them illegally.

Other areas: if not for bt, I wouldn't have been able to watch the Wire. The second the series comes out with Japanese subtitles (for my wife, so she can watch it and get the added blessing of me shutting up about how great it is), I'll buy it, for the full, absurd Japanese prices ($30-40 for a new DVD, $45 and up for Blu-ray). The region encoding system has become a barrier that piracy can get you through. Legit access to viable media would, for many people, solve that. Subtitles are another issue. To a large extent, bt is the only way for me, in Japan, to watch Japanese movies, because I'm not fluent in the language. Only Ghibli movies are regularly released with English subs. If I want to watch Kurosawa in Japan, I need to download it, since the American copy I buy won't work on my Japanese DVD player. Region-free players are out there, but the movie industry claims they're illegal too (and shoddy, shoddy quality, usually breaking in a year or so).

The one company, in one way, that's gotten things right? Sony. I shit you not. The PSP is, and has always been, region free. I play American games on my wife's PSP. My PS3 plays American games, and several titles are fully bilingual. If your system is set to English, the game plays in English. This is a new developement, and while I don't know the real reason, I suspect the rampant mod-chipping of the PS2 had something to do with it. On the other hand, the Nintendo DS, which started out region free, just took a step back, and the DSi is region locked. Don't buy it. Tell these companies that, given the chance between region locked and region free, there's only one decent choice.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:48 PM on January 2, 2009


would,for a sane price, keep me from downloading them
posted by Ghidorah at 1:50 PM on January 2, 2009


"aXXo knows where the Chinese live."

...China?
posted by Eideteker at 1:57 PM on January 2, 2009


Durn: tl;dr - u r rong!

I jest. I tried to skim through the discussion, and missed important follow-ups or elaborations, because I wanted to throw something in that was timely. I think this might be the problem with other such occurrences - the desire to get your reply into the fray, when there might have not been a real fray to start. My apologies. My elaboration was probably just retelling old tales to the same crowd, but it seemed important at the moment.

Back to the point of car theft vs. downloading movies via torrents. I don't see the parallel as infraction to infraction, but as act of clearly understood law-breaking for personal gains vs. sampling/reviewing a product. The car thief is not taking the car for a test drive, they are taking the car to sell (parts/whole), or possibly commit further crimes. The person downloading a movie isn't going to sell copies on the playground, they're getting a preview. Granted, these are generalizations, which are casting the downloader in more favorable light that might be deserved. But then I side with the notion that most people will gladly pay for movies at some pricepoint when received at some time. Many prefer movies sooner than later, and for less money than DVDs first cost. Of course, DVDs go on sale after they have had their run in theaters, and DVDs may cost less on the week of first sale, but further decreases in price happen well after initial release. This BBC story mentions how the bootlegs and torrents are available before street date. To me, this means the street date is wrong - release the DVD sooner, and capture some more sales. Drop the fancy extras an sell the DVD 3 weeks after something hits theaters, and release the full thing a month later.

Re: A Thousand Baited Hooks and burnmp3s - the difference now being that there are distinctly different Scenes: the high-end software crackers still need m4d sk1llz to break the dongles and copy-protection on big-time packages (probably the same for game crackers), while CD and DVD rippers have all the tools and just need access before someone else. The skills are who you know, not what you can do. aXXo is an extension of that, but is shooting for public recognition. Back when Radium improved the major MP3 codec, those who were impressed were other crackers and people who cared about MP3 quality in the earlier days of MP3 distribution, probably not getting much general internet attention. For the last two years, aXXo has been a top torrent search term. Still not a public figure, but a public handle.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:22 PM on January 2, 2009


This BBC story mentions how the bootlegs and torrents are available before street date. To me, this means the street date is wrong - release the DVD sooner, and capture some more sales.

Nah, it means there's a leak from the DVD factory itself - beating the release is something to aim for, high prestige, even if there's no financial incentive (which there's not, for most rippers in the west - Chinese pub-DVDs notwithstanding (and are something else entirely)). Those inside contacts are treasured by ripping groups, because they get to be FRIST!!, even without financial incentive.
posted by goo at 2:43 PM on January 2, 2009


goo - I meant that the release dates deliver the end product to people later than they want. The general movie-watching public wants to see the new releases near release date. If someone's selling them as shoddy copies and the public is willing to pay for those, The Industry is missing out on selling some very basic DVDs at low prices.

If basic DVDs are on shelves sooner, I'd assume less people will download. There will still be Scene races to be the first group to rip something, but that means nothing to the public at large if the difference between shelves and Topsites is just a day or two.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:19 PM on January 2, 2009


Thanks for the update, filthy light thief (would that be... movie projector light?!).

I'm totally with the argument that downloads /= lost sales. But I think there are a few types of downloaders, not all of which fall into the "sampling" category:

1. Try before buy. There are lots of these. My, er, friend, is one of them. Of course the corollary is that if you try it and don't like it you don't buy it. Vendors and customers can have the argument about whether or not that's fair. A clearer issue though is that this cuts renters out of the loop, who were the traditional route to trying (for say, $5) before buying (for $15-$20+). Given a few factors only one of which is cost, my friend doesn't rent anymore, period, but even if he did, it's doubtful that he would follow through because of the availability of torrents.

2. DL and burn. So long as a sufficiently high quality torrent is to be had, these people never go buy the disc. They delete the ones they don't like and burn the ones they do. It's arguable that price is irrelevant so long as it's greater than free, but there's probably some (insanely cheap) price point at which they'd go for the purchased product if only to have the box it comes in. Music torrents somewhat fall into this category automatically, since people really only want the files, and there are seldom disc extras in the way of DVDs. Also, in terms of sticking in one's craw, CDs and DVDs reached the same price point some time ago (for all but new titles), which made CDs seem like an incredibly raw deal much earlier. And there's no incentive to steal like feeling cheated in the first place.

So I'm with you, but I think a lot of people over the last few years moved from group 1 to group 2, for a variety of reasons, mostly to do with upgraded equipment and familiarity with the process, as well as better torrents. So fewer samplers, those cutting into the rental biz, and more burners, those cutting into the sellers.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:03 PM on January 2, 2009


And 3. those who join netflix, add any and all DVDs they wish to see to their queue, and start duplicating like madmen. Get a disc, burn it to a copy and add the copy to their personal library for later retrieval, and return the netflix disc. Repeat until you have everything you'd ever want.

3 is not me, it's a friend of a friend. I don't really like movies that much.

As for those in category 2 or 3 no longer paying for their entertainment (including downloaders of music). An answer? Make the packaging something you can't replicate, and has some value of it's own. But I think that's also a lost point, given that some people will even sell all their vinyl and clearly state "copied it to MP3, I don't need them any more." The archivist in me gets teary eyed every time I find someone who has converted their music collection to MP3, AAC or something lossless, only to ditch the physical husk for some quick cash.

Will DRM or harsher penalities shift the tides? Highly doubtful. The means of piracy has changed the market, and the market needs to move with it, or battle uphill to retain some profits. There's always the chant "give us something worth paying for," but like you said, those in category 2 (or 3) don't really think it's worth that much, especially given the option of free. I'll leave that brainstorming up to others.

By the way, filthy light thief is my notion of photographers, though it's oddly fitting for this discussion at hand.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:21 PM on January 2, 2009


I haven't heard of any such vulns in ffmpeg or mplayer for quite some time.

cve.mitre.org has heard about a few.
posted by finite at 5:29 PM on January 2, 2009


Huh. I always thought aXXo was a group. I mean, what?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 5:53 PM on January 2, 2009


So, some guy re-tags a scene rip as his own and 'releases' it onto p2p. Bravo.
posted by starscream at 6:11 PM on January 2, 2009


starscream, think of it this way, some guy re-tags a scene rip that may, or may not be all that easy for us lamerz out there to get, makes sure the quality is up to pretty high (for bittorrent) standards, and then releases it under his name. It's a well recognized name, and when you download an aXXo torrent, you know you'll get good quality. He, or it, they, she, whatever, make the whole thing a hell of a lot easier. If, unfortunately, my enjoyment of one of his torrents has a pimply faced geek seething with rage that I know aXXo's handle, but not his, well, too freaking bad. It's a handle. It's not like I know either person/group.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:34 PM on January 2, 2009


PlanetMaster yo!
posted by Senator at 6:47 PM on January 2, 2009


I am aXXo.
posted by phrits at 7:07 PM on January 2, 2009


Here we go again, the myth of public enemy number one, from the MPAA and RIAA point of view of course.

One thing that "piracy" has made increasingly evident is that copying is quite unexpensive these days, as it's all done with electronics at a cost of few cents for a gigabyte or less. Now that's hugely dissonant with the market price of an audio cd or a dvd/brd video, in the $5-$30 range or more, while the actual unitary mass reproduction cost is 2-3 dollars or less per copy.

This is an huge consumer surplus being privatized and directed in the pockets of few companies and individuals.

The usual argument is that all these revenues make the living of an undisclosed (allegedly large) number of individuals, not just the usual few CEOs and multimillion dollar stars and their agents, but also writers, producers and a little seen mass of non-celebrities behind the scenes, finally reaching the dvd store clerk as well, "blessed" by being given the opportunity of not being yet another burger flipper.

What's even less evident is the revenue distribution is such that few people take the most of those revenues, while the greater portion take crumbs. An handful of people, maybe numbered in the few thousands, became the new rich or affluent, at the expense of those who think that paying $10-15 for a cd is paying a good price. Of course, nobody has been forcing anybody to buy or pay anything, which is ok in my book.

Yet when the little people discovered that, alas, copying has become extremely unexpensive, they figured they could take themselves an huge discount, no harm being done because they are not actually stealing anything from anybody, the distorted by propaganda equation of copying=stealing=murder=boat piracy notwithstanding.

I can imagine a livid Jack Valentining still spinning in his grave, as he can't reconcile himself with the fact that the genie is out of the bottle and little could be done to save the good old business model he helped keeping alive. Yes Jack, more and more people know that copyright legislation has been abused to protected the interest of fews, with laughable extensions of 70 plus years to protect the god given rights of the heirs of the heirs of the creator of mickey the mouse.

Equally laughable is the pretense of protecting good, educational books or content from not being published because of their production and distribution costs. While this may have been true in a not distant past, it is no longer the case and anyhow the greater portion (in terms of value) of goods being protected with copyright these days is of questionable intellectual and educational value. Unless, of course, one believes that overthought soaps and gangsta rap is what is elevating the masses from ignorance these days (god I miss Happy Days before Fonzie jumped the shark).

One of today problems is diverting the revenue stream, the greater portion of it, to those who actually conceive and write/act/play the content while cutting as many middleman as possible, or cutting their revenue down to reasonable utility levels. All of this while keeping the flexibility that comes with being able to pick and choose and change mind in a few days.

Yet is seems that piracy , used as an excuse, has been valuable for those who managed to push legislations that makse the users of contemporary media (internet, blank dvds an cds) pay some kind of a "copyright tax". The argument is that, as evil pirates are able to break protections sooner or later, then the consumers must pay a tax for the privilege of using blank media of some type. You know you guilty, so shut up and pay the extra dimes or else.

Even worse, attempts to hijack the control of copying machines (personal computers et al) have been and still are being made. The argument is that by embedding special circuitry into your PC you will be "enabled to" watch/hear some protected content, protected from viruses and whatnot, while still being able to watch any unprotected content without restrictions. Yet what such circutry may do is also preventing you from copying such content, sometimes even your own, while often not allowing for a backup copy.

All of this while missing the main point: an handful of hardcore enthusiasts will always exploit the fact they know how to take advantage of the advancements of technology and always will.

The great masses, on the other hand, would be more than happy with paying relatively few bucks for the convenience of real time streaming to their PCs or televion sets of whatever content they choose to view, without having to mess with PCs and Tivo and whatnot. They will also pay extra for well prepared extra content on their favorite subjects. Of course there will always be people that will try to save a penny or two, but those are unlikely to just give away for free all their content to somebody else (taking a customer away), save for a few ideologically driven people who just want to fight the system, that will cease to be a menace once the system stops mass exploitation.
posted by elpapacito at 7:36 PM on January 2, 2009


Huh, not familiar with the netflix-burn crowd, but that makes sense.

The great masses, on the other hand, would be more than happy with paying relatively few bucks for the convenience of real time streaming to their PCs or televion sets of whatever content they choose to view, without having to mess with PCs and Tivo and whatnot.

The demographics of the great masses are changing, and the proportion to whom torrenting is a trivial exercise is constantly growing.

I agree with those above who said it all comes down to it being easy, cheap, and (relatively) high quality. People are lazy, but you have to reach the point where your target group has more money than time. Good luck with that.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:02 PM on January 2, 2009


Christ, what an aXXo.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:29 AM on January 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


but you have to reach the point where your target group has more money than time. Good luck with that.

Yes torrenting is trivial enough, yet it's relatively low speed compared to direct stream or multicast, not entirely reliable and not constant. Imagine being a video junkie and having access to a well organized and maintained stash of almost any video ever made by an hollywood studio or what have you. A few clicks and the video is streaming to your tv. A few extra bucks and you can have a copy streamed to your hd, or even better a discounted access should you choose to watch it again, without the cost of maintaning a backup or having to trust that john doe will not turn off his pc cutting you off from the data needed to finish the torrent.

Wouldn't that be better than torrent?

Of course, it has to been seen working to be believed.
posted by elpapacito at 5:25 AM on January 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


What's better for .avi distribution than torrents? Sneakernet.

Last time I ripped a DVD it took about 25 min to actually do (plus about an extra half-hour of stuffing about with configs, but that time would go down to zero very quickly), and the technology has probably advanced since then. So assuming each rip, from DVD to .avi file, takes about 15 min, and I dedicated a laptop computer to doing it, and swapped DVDs in and out all day every day while I did other stuff, I could probably get about 20-50 done per day. Each file takes up about 750MB, and copying a 1TB USB disk is just an overnight unattended job.

Even if one only did a dozen or so disks a day, a very respectable DVD collection could be converted in a couple of months, to be copied and swapped around.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:33 AM on January 3, 2009


I wonder if eventually we will evolve backwards to where we were in the Middle Ages, so far as major artists and their works are concerned. For example, lets say a musical prodigy arises, the best pianist in five hundred years. Instead of making a CD for chump change, he hires himself out entirely to a wealthy benefactor. Nobody else gets to hear his music, there are no recordings made, high quality or otherwise. The artist lives a life of wealth, his family is set, his children can afford the finest colleges. The wealthy benefactor, he has something nobody else anywhere has (very important to a segment of the wealthy).

There is no piracy, because there is nothing to be copied. The would-be pirates are left sitting outside the castle in the cold. The rich benefit (perhaps they would trade performances among themselves), and the artists benefit. The rest of humanity, well, they'd be the ones missing out, culturally speaking, and there'd be nothing they could do about it. As a wise man named Paul Atreides once said, and I paraphrase I'm sure, "He who can destroy a thing has the ultimate power over that thing." Until a performance is recorded, the artist has that ultimate power. If they ever organize (doubtful, but who knows), they could easily stamp out mass piracy by going back to the benefactor-gets-it-all (and nobody else gets any) model.
posted by jamstigator at 10:17 AM on January 3, 2009


jamstigator: Instead of making a CD for chump change, he hires himself out entirely to a wealthy benefactor. Nobody else gets to hear his music, there are no recordings made, high quality or otherwise.

Except when the servants get together for a drink and trade cellphone recordings of cool stuff they heard while waiting on their plump masters.

Music is now an ingrained cultural commodity, unlike its place in the Middle Ages as I imagine it. Your vision of confined circulation sounds pretty implausible, irrespective of whichever new business models prop up music in the future.
posted by Gyan at 11:11 AM on January 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


aXXo is the .avi hero. DIVX is cool, but with alt.binaries.hdtv.x264 and a PS3 you never have to think about entering a movie theater again.

HD caps of films which aren't available in Blu-Ray, such as Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Glengarry Glen Ross, and (ahem) Cool As Ice are especially nice.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:25 AM on January 3, 2009


...you never have to think about entering a movie theater again.

Uh, given that the example piece was an adaptation of an ABBA musical, I may never think of watching a movie again, pirated or no.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:39 PM on January 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Instead of making a CD for chump change, he hires himself out entirely to a wealthy benefactor.

I seem to remember that the home electronics industry is bigger than the music/movie industries. So my theory is that even if piracy made the "traditional" music and movie industries unprofitable you would have someone making stuff so that they could sell ipods and home theatre systems. Or you would have Coca-cola releasing the latest Beyonce album, or whatever. Add to that the stuff made for TV and supported by advertising, like it currently is, and the music made by your local band because they love playing. There will be a different group of people making a big pile of money out of it perhaps, but there will still be a big pile of money.

As for aXXo, my mate tells me he does shitty, low-bitrate, 700Mb rips with no 5.1 sound as if we're all still on dial-up, but I wouldn't know anything about that.
posted by markr at 1:59 PM on January 4, 2009


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