Reputation Matters Among File Sharers

from the it-still-matters dept

Slate has an interesting article about someone (or a group of folks) under the name aXXo who is the "biggest name" in BitTorrent and consistently offers up high quality movies on a variety of BitTorrent platforms. Apparently, when aXXo uploads something, it's likely to become one of the top BitTorrent downloads on various sites. Since I don't use BitTorrent (or any file sharing system), I wasn't aware of this, but find the situation to be quite interesting. The fact that reputation "matters" in the file sharing world, definitely seems like something that moviemakers can use to their advantage.

If you have a somewhat obscure movie, and want more people to see it, rather than just putting it up for download, you're probably better off getting a "trusted party" to put it up for you. As the article notes, even the obscure movies that aXXo uploads become top downloads, because people trust aXXo, and trust is a valuable quality -- even in unauthorized file sharing. In some ways, this is similar to the whole "mixtape" phenomenon, where DJs put out unauthorized mixtapes that often are, technically, copyright infringement. Yet, the top DJs are so valuable that many record labels actively push their songs on them, knowing that if they include a song on a mixtape, it increases the popularity (and marketability) of the musicians. You could easily see the same thing happening with movies and other content as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 6:06pm

    Would such a reputation be called "Web Cred" ?

     

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  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Nov 14th, 2008 @ 6:16pm

    Oh geez

    I can see it now: the MPAA uploads some decoy cruft under a similar name, then aXXo sues for trademark infringement....

    Shoot, I think I have my next story....

     

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  3.  
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    Midnight Voyager, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 6:32pm

    Um... generally speaking, people trust certain groups, because they're not going to be broken, virus-filled, or fake. They also usually have solid torrents. I'm not sure it'd be some kind of "get exposure free" card.

     

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  4.  
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    Santiago, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 6:33pm

    As a consistent pirate, i can tell you something.
    axxo, pukka, and the other BIG file sharers protect themselves from fake uploads by the mpaa or the riaa because people (usually) don't blindly download stuff off The Pirate Bay, but check the user's account to see if it's not an industry decoy or an adware troll who encodes videos in a "special" format that can only be seen with some specific player that conveniently installs all adware known to man.

    But axxo and the others don't enjoy any sort of "cred", since they are just peers in a p2p network, besides people only download films they already know and want to see (Quantum of Solace, anyone?), since downloading from an axxo account only guarantees high quality video and audio, not contents (Hellboy 2 was superbly encoded in DiVX with 112kbps MP3 audio, but the movie sucked anyway).

    So people wouldn't find "obscure" films from them in the first place. What they should do is advertise their movies by buying ad space on TPB to get exposure (and then again, maybe, maybe not, Adblock and all).

     

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  5.  
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    hegemon13, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 6:42pm

    Or...

    Release an official version, tagged as such, with superior quality. Most people, I think, would jump for the official version even above an aXX0 rip if it was not DRM'ed.

     

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  6.  
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    some old guy, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 6:44pm

    aXXo is a very emotional fellow...

    aXXo threw a hissy fit and "quit the scene" several times, each time eventually taking his torrents to another site. The reason he was leaving? The sites wouldn't ban people who used his name for things that weren't his release.

    ...wait... what? ya. he got pissed cause the pirate site woudln't enforce HIS RIGHTS over his name. This, from a guy who's only contribution was having a fast internet connection, and not doing a shitty job on rips. His quality really wasn't that great, and many of his rips were re-encodes.

    His stuff wasn't the best out there, but you were guaranteed that it wouldn't be crap.

    Since the guy himself was a flake and kept "quitting the scene" many people have taken to using his name as a label of quality. If something is a good rip, they slap the aXXo label on it.

    Of course, there are some people faithful to aXXo (like theres a reason to idolize him?) who call out these "fake aXXos" and flame the posters to death, but that's really silly.

    Last I heard from aXXo, was about a year ago on TPB, where he "quit the scene" because thepiratebay.org wouldn't takedown content that infringed on his name. He basically told tpb to take down any torrent that had aXXo in the name that wasn't posted under his account. TPB laughed at him, and noones heard from him since. (that I know of at least)

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 6:54pm

    Re: aXXo is a very emotional fellow...

    some old guy:

    You will be happier when you realize life is full of gray areas. No one deals in absolutes in reality.

    Even drug dealers value their name, their credibility among their peers. There are only two things a man really has in this life: his word and his name.

    Everything else can be taken away and while your word may be obscured by imitators, no one can truly take that away from you for it is yourself.

    So it doesn't surprise me at all that he would be upset about someone using what would appear to be his identity.

     

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  8.  
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    Peter, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 6:56pm

    Of course reputation matters.

    The situation is even more extreme in game sharing. Where scene groups like reloaded are more trusted than the actual game companies.

    People are more concerned with the junk EA will install on their computer than they are with what so called evil "pirates" of Reloaded will. Rightly so.

    The only question to me, is why wouldn't reputation be important? It seems obvious that it would.

     

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  9.  
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    Your Gawd and Master, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 8:35pm

    pir8

    I was involved in the warez scene back in the early 90's when I was given the task of securing ftp sites that we could use as drops for our couriers. Some of us had the rep to be consistent providers of quality warez, some of us had high bandwidth accounts that could distribute the warez to the different sites, and some of us used our hacking skills to find places where we could hide our booty.

    Each link in the chain had its own rep and if our group split or died off, we would be left to find new contacts. I don't know about now but back then it was very hard to find new groups, or for new groups to find people and the only way for those people to join a group was to build or already have an existing rep for their particular position.

    I almost miss those days because we used technologies that have barely been thought of since then, like FSP for instance. How many of you can tell me what it is and what its advantages were over any other technology of its kind? No cheating by googling, etc.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 10:42pm

    Re:

    in this case it would be more like bit torrent cred.

    and yeah, those file sharing sites/forums are more like communities, those when ppl like Axxo release something on the network usually there are certain guaranties:
    Mainly quality of file.
    and after a certain while you get used to there taste so you kind of know what type of movie your getting.

     

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  11.  
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    Matt (profile), Nov 14th, 2008 @ 11:03pm

    nothing special

    Axxo just happens to do a good job. Specifically his stuff is verified on piratebay and other sites. There are others in that same category, just look for the people with skulls on TPB (I think Loder is one too). They put in effort to have good cracks/rips/shares/whatever, so yes, we all recognize that. Also, people put in more effort to seed those shares, as well. I support and seed AXXO rips whenever I can.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 11:30pm

    Re: Oh geez

    Shoot, I think I have my next story....

    Your next story will be the MPAA uploading files with "aXX0" in the filename...

     

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  13.  
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    AC2, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 12:21am

    our next story will be the MPAA uploading files with "aXX0" in the filename...


    Well, that or MPAA subpoenas Techdirt for IP addresses of admitted file sharers who posted to thread.

     

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  14.  
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    anonymous, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 4:34am

    Looking at FXG/aXXo on torrent sides you can tell they transcode other scene releases. The timing is always after scene releases, they mislabel r5's and screeners as dvds. Those people have no standards at all.

     

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  15.  
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    simon, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 7:19am

    aXXo releases

    he got out releases as good DVD rips with excellent video/sound quality and they still are as reference for the quality/size as torrent release, but is not the only one there.

    but, as for DVD rip released movies he's an reference point as the EZTV group for TV Shows

    even if MPAA and other IP media groups don't quite agree he made available the movie "culture" to a far more large group, in a quality release as a good option to view a movie

    for releases details and active torrents, www.mininova.org/user/axxo

    disclaimer: i do not represent none of parties mentioned

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 9:56am

    Re: aXXo releases

    You do not represent none of the parties mentioned? So you're either aXXo or the MPAA?

    Tricky, tricky disclaimer. I'd say that makes you MPAA since aXXo would have been proud to share his identity...

     

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  17.  
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    Cat, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 10:15am

    Axxo isn't scene

    axxo takes scene release and reencodes them and then uploads them to the public masses. He has never done any real leg work but he does distract people so I hope he continues and the authorities waste time taking him down.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 10:25am

    This person sounds as if he is a real punk with nothing better to do than tilt at windmills to teach those big-bad content companies a lesson.

     

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  19.  
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    Cobaltqube, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 12:19pm

    Cred...

    Some time ago I went thru a PM session or 5 with aXXo asking about how he encoded and getting tips from someone who obviously knew how to do it right.. Like any artist he is good at what he does and just doesn't want his name dragged thru the techdirt (pun intended) and you NEED to respect that.

    Recently there is a newcomer on the scene called KlaXXon who in my opinion used his specifically spelled name to piggyback on people looking for a good quality aXXo release.

    This pissed me off as a DL'er and my name wasn't even the one being hijacked so to speak.. I can respect aXXo's position and stand on his side of this issue because if you work hard to build a trusted name for yourself here in this community you should be able to protect it too.. TPB should have worked with him and not ignored his wishes, especially looking at what he has accomplished thus far.

    Just my 2 cents and not that this matters much but I have been online longer then most and know how important an online moniker/handle and it's reputation matters in this community..

    Ok so I guess that I am up to 7 cents now.. I will stop here and see what the rest of you have to say..

    Cobaltqube.

     

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  20.  
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    Rekrul, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 2:38pm

    aXXo's releases always have a ton of people sharing them, so they're easy to download. However if you read any of the blog sites devoted to "scene" releases, most people seem to hate "him". Mostly they call him a thief because they say that he re-encodes scene releases. I've downloaded a few of his releases and they weren't bad, but they weren't the highest quality DVDRips I've ever seen either.

     

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  21.  
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    Mae, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 3:23pm

    Pirate Bay prides itself one one thing:

    Not listening to anyone's wishes. They don't care what the MPAA, the RIAA, the governments of the world, and even their own users think. They are there to enable filesharing of all kinds, not to protect one users prestige in a community of would-be-lawbreakers.

    I have the utmost respect for aXXo, he does great work in relatively little time. But as far as making demands to TBP? He had to know he was going to get laughed at.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 10:23pm

    lol aXXo is a dumb re-encoder that has access to anyhthing. He's been scenebanned for it so now he goes around torrents sites releasing other people's stuff.

    I hope he goes to jail for stealing other people's work lol!

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2008 @ 10:25pm

    aXXo is what makes the scene bad .. too much public exposure because of idiots like himm. It used to be private, now it's an open club where anyh idiot can join.

    Sad.

     

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  24.  
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    Nobody cares about 90s, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 12:11am

    Re: pir8

    You asshat, stop living in the past. Nobody cares about FSP or your little warez club. You got outsourced by bittorrent. Now, stfu and gimme my Big Mac and fries.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 1:45am

    Torrents are hated by the scene and are seen as cochroaches. aXXo is just a bigger roach. Same result when stepped on.

     

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  26.  
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    doublebackslash, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 1:50am

    proof

    You know...
    It seems that if someone wanted to become a really recognized figure in the community they would have a public key out there and sign their descriptions (if not files) with it.

    That way their reputation could remain intact, no matter what, and people could trust the source if they checked out.

    Either that or I've just been around to long and become a bit to jaded =P

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 6:37am

    Re: Oh geez

    nope - they will upload using a name similar then after it is downloaded they will sue everyone that got it.

    ENTRAPMENT!

    Fuck the MPAA,

    Not 1 cent!

     

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  28.  
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    Paul, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 9:44am

    Tough Concept?

    Is this such a tough concept to grasp? people love being appreciated for their works/efforts, even if they are not being praised directly. "Brand Recognition" occurs in everything.

    When I see a post by Mike Masnick, I know I am going to read some uninformed drivel and I'll be able to squeeze out a mini rant.

     

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  29.  
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    Rekrul, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 11:53am

    lol aXXo is a dumb re-encoder that has access to anyhthing. He's been scenebanned for it so now he goes around torrents sites releasing other people's stuff.

    I hear that said a lot, but what proof do they have? How do they know that he's re-encoding their rips?

    I hope he goes to jail for stealing other people's work lol!

    How can it be "stealing" when he's just making copies? (if he is) Are you agreeing with the media corporations that copyright infringement is "stealing"? If so, does that mean that you want the scene groups locked up for "stealing" as well?

    aXXo is what makes the scene bad .. too much public exposure because of idiots like himm. It used to be private, now it's an open club where anyh idiot can join.

    Thinking about the scene, I'm reminded of the story of how to catch monkeys; Make a hole in a stump just big enough for their hand to pass through and then put some food inside. The monkey will reach in, grab the food but be unable to withdraw their clenched fist through the hole. Even when the monkey sees you coming, it's not smart enough to drop the food so that it can get its hand out of the hole.

    The scene groups put their name on every release. They include an NFO file bragging about their release. They set up web sites to track scene releases. Then they complain that P2P users are bringing too much attention to them. They're not smart enough to figure out that if their group's name wasn't plastered over everything they release, the authorities wouldn't even know there was a group in the first place.

    Of course if they didn't put their name on it, they couldn't brag about being "first", which is all they care about. It's like a scene from a comedy where all the characters notice a single item that they all want and then they all make a mad dash for it, elbowing and tripping each other in a desparate attempt to get to the item first, with the winner taunting the others.

    Back in the days of the C64, I used to occasionally crack games with simple copy protection. I also used to use my Super Snapshot cartridge to "snapshot" small games. I would then upload them to local BBS's. I put my name on them, but I didn't brag about being first, I just wanted the users to know who had uploaded each one so that if there was a problem, they could contact me. In those days, the big obesssion was "0-Day Warez". In at least one case, I left the date off my upload just to piss off people who cared more about when a game was released, than the quality of it.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 2:49pm

    In Other News

    The sky is blue.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 5:31pm

    It's easy to know who he/they re-encoded from. Simply look at the source using proper software and you can see a whole lot of useful information. Not to mention lots of groups watermark their releases, even though it's "not allowed"...

    Stealing from a theif is still stealing.. but using other people's work as your own is just plain sad.

    Why do they "brag"? Reputation matters, remember?

    Of course, the scene is not what it used to be and good groups are slowly leaving to make way for new idiots... but hey, that's the world we live in. Idiots will eventually rule the world (wait.. I think they already do, dont they?)...

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 5:33pm

    Oh.. and I completely agree with you about the quality over quantity, but again new groups prefer having lots of shit out than having little quality stuff out... sad, really.

     

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  33.  
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    Anon2MPAA, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:11am

    As i live in a country where most films and especially TV shows can take over a year to be released in through "legal" channels and then only on Standard Definition DVDs (although HDTVs are readily available) torrents are the norm for my personal vieweng pleasure especially the newer high def mkv files. Reputation of the uploader not only plays a part in the quality of the file but also the speed at which it is seeded. I have always thought that there is a very powerful distribution system available to the industry, and a viable business plan shouldnt be too hard to implement. If there were legal channels through which i could purchase HD versions of films i want to see i would buy them.
    On another note, the system of seeds and peers could also be a neat way for the IP holders to monitor the popularity of their property....

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 4:11am

    Re:

    Which is exactly why real release groups will never use torrents.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 4:59am

    Re:

    Riiiiiiight... and we should believe you because...? Who the hell are you anyway to make such statements while hiding behind an AC tag?

    "I hope he goes to jail for stealing other people's work lol!"

    Now wouldn't that be something? (S)he (supposedly) 'steals' from thieves, and (s)he's the only one gonna land in jail?

    Frankly, I'm tired of morons and their idiotic comments...

     

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  36.  
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    Liam Potter, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 6:13am

    meh, scene releases > p2p releases

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:17am

    Question, if the "scene" people don't want their work on bittorrent, why release at all? Isn't it pretty much a given that all movies/shows/music will end up on BT now anyway? So why get so upset?

    Oh yeah, to be a "scenester". Morons.

     

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  38.  
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    Charlie, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:27am

    aXXo is ok by me

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:56pm

    Re:

    Really? And of course, you assume that the person 'stealing' from the scene would be an ignorant hick who didn't know that and wouldn't know how to use software to strip out all the meta-tags and other identifying info.?

    A recode in any case would destroy most of the unique identifying info., so I'd be interested in knowing about the "proper software" you're talking about...

    All these morons who go on and on about the almighty 'scene' and how it's being degraded by the ignorant unwashed masses fail to realise one simple thing - that the end user simply doesn't give a damn where the goods originally came from, whether from the scene or ripped by aXXo. All they care about are certain characteristics like decent quality, size, compatibility etc. Most are non-technical and wouldn't know the difference between a codec and a donkey's posterior. All they want is something that Just Works (TM), and aXXo's stuff does. Maybe it's just a case of sour grapes on the part of the 'scene'?

    In any case, those who enjoy pirated goods are not gonna stop downloading if any of the 'superstar uploaders' like aXXo etc. disappear for good one fine day. There are many to take his place and it's become a self-sustaining economy of sorts now.

    If you really enjoy higher quality rips than what aXXo provides, you probably also know the sources for that as well. So why the blazes would you go bitching on and on and on ad infinitum about how someone's a second-hand 'thief' who's 'stolen' from a first-hand one (a hilarious concept BTW!) Get what you want and be happy and just shut the hell up, simple. Live and let live.

    Oh, and if you're so concerned about the risk factor increasing manifold with thousands more downloading, consider this - the risk is probably less since you'll just be an insignificant blip in the massive pirate universe. And if that doesn't satisfy you, you're always free to go back to sharing physical copies between friends rather than use the internet. No one's forcing you online now, are they, and don't presume you have any more ownership rights online over stolen data compared to your friendly neighbourhood village idiot. The Internet's a great leveller, so just deal with it or get off our lawns (and don't ya forget to take your dog's poop with you too!) :)

     

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  40.  
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    chris (profile), Nov 18th, 2008 @ 3:40pm

    it's called "whuffie"

    reputation as a bankable commodity is called whuffie in cory doctorow's novel "down and out in the magic kingdom":
    http://craphound.com/down/download.php

    aXXo wants his whuffie. TPB isn't going to give it to him because they don't do anything that they are told. that's fine too. TPB provides one service, aXXo provides another.

    there is a HUGE difference between trademark infringement and copyright infringement.

    trademark infringement is claiming to be someone that you are not... like identity theft.

    reputation (based on identity) is a scarce good. it's tough to build up and easy to lose. if someone takes it from you, it's tough to replace. sometimes it's easier to start over with a new identity, but it still takes lots of time.

    you could do away with copyright completely and still have trademark (or reputation) kept more or less intact. there is more on the subject here:
    http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/against.htm

    no one thinks for a second that a "the dark knight" xvid released by aXXo was made by aXXo. but aXXo shares, and wants the credit for sharing, not the movie.

    if i was able to share like aXXo, or provide a service like TPB, i'd want to get some recognition too.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 10:57am

    For sure! You download from whom you've downloaded before because you know you'll be able to play it, you'll get a known level of quality, it won't be spam. it won't be a trojan, etc.

     

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  42.  
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    Jenny, Jan 26th, 2009 @ 2:47am

    Re: aXXo is a very emotional fellow...

    aXXo's not emotional.

    C'mon, we see it everywhere.

    In blogs, people says "this is my upload, you can use it, but give the proper credits".

    People who makes fanmade album covers says the same thing: give me the credits!

    If you going to use an article written by other person, you have to give the credits (many don't).

    Even you would be upset if you worked hard on something and zillions of people started spamming what YOU had done as if it was THEIR work.

    Or if they used YOUR hardly-built reputation to make THEIR work famous.

    Even in real life. Imagine a music composer. He makes the lyrics, he makes the beat, he makes the arrangement... It turns out be a great song and then someone come, steal it and says: I am the the composer!! Ain't great??

    Or you. In your work. Whatever you do. You do something really good. Someone come, steal your work and tell your boss you did nothing but sleep. He gets the fame, the money, the glory and you get furious...

    I do support axxo. And many others, but it's aXXo who7s being discussed here, heh!

     

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  43.  
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    Jenny, Jan 26th, 2009 @ 2:59am

    Re:

    You are saying aXXo is this and that...

    Then tell what's your account with the stuff you've made...

    Tell what software to use to discover if he really stole from other releases...

    I didn't know such software existed and I'm not ashamed to say so.

    But instead of talking talking and talking... Show some proofs, tell what you've done, what he did, how to do...

    Geez.

     

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  44.  
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    S1c, Sep 23rd, 2009 @ 2:51am

    aXXo

    Axxo is a legend!!! His work is always 100% good...
    Where you get that his work is bad quality is bull****..

    AxxO 4 LiFe

     

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