I'm sorry, but BitTorrent is still a den of thieves

I'm sorry, but BitTorrent is still a den of thieves

Summary:  On Tuesday, it was announced that BitTorrent's file-sharing system will be used by Warner Bros. to distribute films and TV shows starting sometime this summer.

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TOPICS: Legal
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bittorrent1.jpg 

On Tuesday, it was announced that BitTorrent's file-sharing system will be used by Warner Bros. to distribute films and TV shows starting sometime this summer.

There's two ways to look at this.

The far more benevolent view is that BitTorrent is a highly efficient technology for mass distribution of huge digital movie files. No argument there.

The far more skeptical view is that in hooking up with BitTorrent, Warner Bros. is trying to co-opt the more guilt-ridden among BitTorrent's user base by offering them a legal way to acquire content.

But how many of BitTorrent users will suddenly develop a conscience? 10? 15? 20 percent?

"BitTorrent's audiences are people who want free content and are willing to rip it off," Kontiki founder and former Netscape exec Mike Homer tells my colleague Greg Sandoval. "The file-sharing crowd is looking for illegal content. They haven't been very attractive to media producers."

And make no mistake about it. This is a legal way, but it is not of the best quality.

"One thing I think we can all agree on is that no one will choose to buy a Warners movie because of the DRM," Cory writes on BoingBoing. "No one wants DRM in their movies. No one wants a way to do less with their movies.

"Anyone who wants to get the movies without DRM can -- just get it from a P2P network," he adds. "So the presence of DRM can only serve to turn some potential customers -- people willing to pay, but not willing to have their computers taken over by invasive DRM rootkits and spyware -- into non-customers. 

"One thing I think we can all agree on is that no one will choose to buy a Warners movie because of the DRM," Cory writes on BoingBoing. "No one wants DRM in their movies. No one wants a way to do less with their movies.

"Anyone who wants to get the movies without DRM can -- just get it from a P2P network," he adds. "So the presence of DRM can only serve to turn some potential customers -- people willing to pay, but not willing to have their computers taken over by invasive DRM rootkits and spyware -- into non-customers.

So who is are these people that Cory calls non-customers and Mike calls rip off types? I decided to visit the comment field of some blogs that have featured news and views about this alliance. Here's just a few:

"Hmmmmmm not being funny but whom is going to pay for a movie when they can get it for free? they will most be be able to get it free from BitTorrent anyway, seams pointless to me."- Simon Betty on Engadget.

"...If they (the studios) won't allow us to buy the movie and use it any way we want (which i would prefer to do, its less time consuming).. ill just rent and rip it.. then i can do whatever I want with it. The industry must have geniuses working for them."-  Anonymous Coward on TechDirt.

"All your film are belong to us"- heavyw8t, also on TechDirt.

Yes, you are right, Anonymous Coward. The movie industry does have geniuses working for them. Folks who waited tables to put themselves through film school so they could work in movie production and editing. Actors who went into credit card debt to move to Hollywood so they could get discovered. Screenwriters who have lost spouses and significant others because they are on their 23rd treatment of a script they hope they can sell. Extras who have to figure out how they will make $200 last for the week when gasoline to get to the shoot costs $3.50 a gallon.

When you buy a DVD, you don't only support a couple hundred actors whose names you see on the marquee and in the tabloids. You support a working creative community of tens of thousands. All they ask is to be paid for their work. As you are. 

If the BitTorrent-Warner Bros. deal can bring a few of you illegal file-swappers into the legal income stream, I am all for it. But for the majority of Torrent users, this concept isn't going to work for them.  

 

Topic: Legal

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11 comments
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  • When your right, your right.

    The only workable solution is DRM. Yes, I agree, it will take time to reach a reasonable balance point between owner and user "rights", but that is to be expected. Hollywood will simply build a DRM (or use one) method the majority find acceptable (wallet voting) and the rest can come along or not.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • I almost agree with you..

      Almost.. Hoping for the content owners to play fair and sell us content that is not crippled after enough of us have NOT bought their crippled product and let us use it the way we like is naive..
      They will continue to cripple it.
      They will just blame the 'losses' on piracy..
      sigh
      birdofire9
    • YOU'RE

      This is not a difficult concept. The word your is a possesive. When I look at the axeless one's subject line, I want to ask "Your right what?". The word you are looking for is you're, the contraction for the words "you are". Sorry to get off topic, but this drives me crazy. If you want to be taken seriously, showing that you're literate is a good way to start.
      GrumpyOldMan
  • Missed the point completely

    Sorry Russell, but I think you've missed the point badly on this one.

    First, the folks complaining about this aren't "a den of thieves," in most cases -- but simply people who are making it clear that a limited version of the content has no value to them -- especially when there are alternatives.

    The fact that you buy into Hollywood's myth of supporting all those other people who worked so hard is unfortunate.

    I could just as easily talk about the folks who worked so hard and put so much effort into building up a buggy building business in the days of the horse and buggy. However, when automobiles came along, and those companies couldn't adapt and offer what customers wanted, those customers went elsewhere. Should we cry about all those people who lost their jobs because they couldn't adapt?

    Putting copy protection on these things HURTS the value of them, and that's what the market is telling them. It's not saying that there's a "den of thieves," but that the market doesn't value the product in the same way as the movie studios do. This is pretty straightforward. DRM means the movie can't be viewed in many ways (in this case, with Warner, that means you can't view it on a regular TV with a regular DVD player -- a huge loss in value).

    It also means that the buyer has no right to resell the content. They're charging the same price as a DVD, and yet the buyer of the DVD is implicitly paying more, knowing that at some later date they can extract value by selling it to someone else. So, again, a loss of value.

    As for the commenter above who claims that DRM is the "only" way for the industry to work, that's provably false. It is *one* way for the industry to make money, but hardly the only way. And, given how DRM lowers the value of the market, many would argue that it's not even a very good way.

    In the movie business, it's already very much a service business: the service of the movie going experience. If theater owners woke up and realized that, then the industry would improve the theater going experience and cater to people who want to see a movie on the big screen, with the top notch sound system. Unfortunately, the theater owners still think they're just selling content.

    As for the DVD business or the download business, the industry should focus on access, extras and convenience. Convenience, obviously is a big one. If you can buy the official movie, without bogus limitations, and at a reasonable price, many people will go for it. Most people aren't "thieves" and would gladly pay what they feel the product is worth.

    However, it's not hard to come up with hooks to keep people honest, without limiting them. Instead of locking them up, why not offer special benefits to those who buy the official version -- such as early access to additional content, such as behind the scenes footage. Or, discounts on tickets to sequels or other movies from the same studio. There are plenty of ways to keep people buying.

    Instead, the industry treats EVERYONE like a criminal, and posts like your perpetuate that myth. It's really disappointing, and I would have expected a much better analysis out of you.
    mmasnick
    • Excellent post mmasnick. I agree 100%

      (nt)
      StevoCJ
    • Hear! Hear! (NT)

      .
      P. Douglas
    • Yes indeed: Why buy Warner's download when you can buy a DVD?

      As I understand it, the download is more or less the same price as the DVD anyway. So you buy the DVD instead, rip it using your "fair use rights" under Copyright Law and not only do you have a file to play on [b]any[/b] of your own PCs, but also a nice shiny disk to put in your DVD player too.

      Warner must be insane to think anyone would use this download service.
      Zogg
  • Don't like the game? Change it!

    I keep advocating the Streaming Paradigm (along with the WiMAX Steamroller), and one of its major benefits is making content CONVENIENT - and THAT is what people will pay for! Click-click on a web portal and watch a movie OR use BitTorrent, wait an indeterminate time, use local disk space, get variable quality (including forgeries), maintain a database of titles, manage backups. Most (lazy) Americans would GLADLY pay a modest fee to avoid all of that work!
    Roger Ramjet
  • not so fast...

    So the crux of your argument seems to be that the little guys in the movie business deserve to be paid. No argument.
    But maybe - rather than me having to give up fair use rights and purchase the same content over and over in different formats to be able to watch the same movie on my various devices - just maybe Julia Roberts could be paid $19 mil rather than 20, and the executives could drive BMWs rather than Ferarris. That extra million could pay a lot of extras quite nicely.
    And as for the actor scrimping to make it big... that's a personal choice. If he makes it, he'll be making millions off us, the general public, the little people. If not, maybe he wasn't much of an actor and why should I feel guilty he didn't make it in the career of his choice? I never got to be rock star either, instead I got a real job and moved on with life.
    The industry is going to have to accept streamed or downloaded content. But they can't realistically expect consumers to surrender all their rights to DRM in the process.
    The disconnect is that content companies have all developed the idea that they are ENTITLED to the maximum possible theoretical profit rather than being content to make very good profits based on realworld use of their product. Perhaps if they shifted from screwing the consumer to servicing the consumer they would find their profits increasing. You attract a lot more bees with honey than vinegar.
    Stealing movies off the internet is piracy. But the den of theives is centered in California, not middle america.
    shraven
  • It's just a protocol

    BitTorrent is a protocol, just like HTTP and FTP and SMTP and POP3. Why are you unilaterally accusing users of a particular protocol of doing something you don't agree with -- while seeming to imply that if you use HTTP and FTP (we all do that!) are all on the up and up?

    It's not about the protocol, it's how you use it.

    How about an article in which you accuse everyone of HTTP (that's another buzzword, too, right?) of doing something distasteful. I bet you'd get a lot of people upset because you judged them by their appearance.

    That's what you're doing here. And it's unacceptable.
    buran
  • Who's to feel sorry?

    Wait, why should the people downloading get blamed for the actors and artist not getting paid? Don't the executives of a studio still have triple digit incomes(atleast)? So if the artists movie or record gets circulated on a torrent site and they don't get money because of it, the studio heads still make money. It's not like the whole system which suffers...only the lower level people who actually do the work. If the executives really cared, they could at least take a paycut when things are going south for the studio. I mean, if you're head of the studio and making over a million a year, would it really be that bad to take a $50k paycut to help a actor retain his job? Or that $50k could help an "extra" buy gas for another few days, or allot the screenwriter some marriage counseling. Artists and supporting crew are delusional if they feel torrent users are causing them to not get paid. They should look at their paychecks and then their bosses paychecks and see if they notice a trend.

    As a sidenote, a lot of critics think we(the torrent users) just want to steal because it's fun or we want something for nothing. Well it's not fun, but it's better than paying $11 to see a movie or $25 to buy a CD. We're not all rich and can afford to spend $1 per song when we want to hear a whole album consisting of 20 songs(itunes). Most of us don't really care where we get it from as long as it's free. We just have some resentment to giving our money to people who have more than us, such as studio executives and big name celebrities. Do I really need to give $11 to Tom Cruise's crazy ass?(he might know the history of pyschology, but he needs to learn the history of narcissism) No, and i don't want to see some studio executive with a fleet of Bentleys and Benz' telling me that i'm taking money away from the writers and stagehands. The system is just like Communism, if we want to take it down, the lower level people end up suffering first. We don't want to topple the industry, but it's really unfair and the executives are using the torrent users as scapegoats.
    actius