NBC Universal Funded Study Shows, Yet Again, How Infringement Is Hollywood's Own Damn Fault

from the been-through-this-already dept

While we already discussed the MPAA's questionable new study trying to pin the blame for infringement on Google, MPAA member NBC Universal has released its "Digital Piracy Universe" study as well. This study was done by NetNames, the company formerly known as Envisional, which basically released a very similar study two and a half years ago. Matt Schruers, over at CCIA, does a nice job explaining some of the more questionable aspects of the methodology. However, we'd like to focus on something a bit more basic: the study's own numbers don't seem to support what NBC Universal seems to think it does. More specifically, as we noted with the last study, the results actually suggest piracy is Hollywood's own damn fault. This isn't just our interpretation either. The guy who wrote both studies, David Price, basically said the same thing right before SOPA died (he argued that the bills were a bad idea).

Once again, it's not difficult to see why the problem is Hollywood's with one simple chart:
Basically, in the US, where Netflix has come up with a model that many people find to be reasonably priced and convenient enough, the rate of things like BitTorrent usage falls in comparison. Getting beyond just protocols, if we look specifically at "streaming" we see the same basic thing:
In the report, Price explains that the YouTube content is predominantly non-infringing. So the vast majority of streaming is legitimate, not infringing. And that's what happens when you have services like Netflix and YouTube that are focused on providing what consumers want in a convenient package.

It seems that a reasonable take away from this report is that rather than worrying about piracy, these companies should be focusing on getting more authorized content available in a more convenient fashion.

Elsewhere, the report highlights how focusing on the "infringement" part, rather than the "providing better authorized offerings," is a silly game to play. It talks about the closure of MegaVideo, a leading player in streaming video, as a part of the Megaupload seizure. While shutting Megaupload had a ripple effect among cyberlockers, it looks like streaming video just continued to grow and grow. In fact, the report notes that people seem able to adapt pretty quickly when their preferred source disappears. Of course, anyone who's been watching the space since the closure of Napster should already know that:
Video streaming, both as a legitimate and illegitimate practice, is simple to engage with and deeply embedded in typical user routine. Video streaming bandwidth consumption of all kinds has exploded over the last few years, increasing by over 170% between 2010 and 2012 in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Infringement through video streaming has increased even more dramatically: the amount of bandwidth devoted to infringing video streaming has grown by more than 470% over the same period, despite the loss of well-known hosts such as MegaVideo.

This demonstrates clearly how quickly online piracy can react to system events such as site closures or seizures. User behaviour is modified, often in moments, shifting from locations or arenas impacted by events to others that offer a comparable spread of infringing content via a similar or different consumption model. The practise of piracy itself morphs to altered circumstances, with use of video streaming and bittorrent escalating as direct download cyberlockers fell away.
So, uh, a study sponsored by NBC Universal more or less admits that the company should focus on doing more to make authorized content available, and that focusing on shutting down sites it considers rogue sites is unlikely to have significant long-term impact. Now, will NBC Universal actually follow what the data suggests?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Violynne (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 11:42am

    NBC Universal is owned by Comcast, who has recently started sending out "strike notices" to its "customers".

    Maybe the report should first be sent to the CEO of Comcast, so they'd stop accusing paying customers of "infringing" (which reminds me, doesn't the cable bill payment mean infringing is impossible?).

    Until this happens, I don't see any changes forthcoming.

    Especially when billions are at stake.

    This message brought to you by the DVD: Own It Today!

     

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  2.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    Re:

    I thought Comcast was owned by NBC Universal?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    there's no way that this study could possibly be right! you ask Hollywood (and the associated industries). they'll tell you!
    it's everyone else fault, they have done nothing to cause this failing. i mean, they hold back releasing new things on disk, they have selective release (countries at different times, never all at the same time, they have each disk riddled with DRM, they charge far more than any disk could possibly be worth, there are too few of their own download sites, the speed is too slow, there is no format shifting allowed, you want it in more than one format, buy it multiple times. now, please, how could any one or combination of these possibly cause failure?

     

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  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    Just go with that, while claiming that you support copyright and don't encourage piracy. Your technique is simply to repeat fraud over and over.

    Where Pirate Mike uses the cachet of an Ivy League economics degree to make facile excuses for common theft.

    So what is Mike's position on piracy? -- Here, try to guess!
    http://www.techdirt.com/blog/innovation/articles/20120810/02111919983/entrepreneurs-vcs-tell -white-house-to-focus-innovation-rather-than-ip-enforcement.shtml#c986

    Reality versus Mike: Technorati ranks Techdirt below 6000.
    http://technorati.com/blogs/www.techdirt.com
    So why does Mike claim "a consistent Technorati Technology Top 100 rating"?
    http://www.techdirt.com/about.php

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 1:35pm

    Pirates clearly practice Jeet Kune Do. If Hollywood wants to survive it better spend some more time at the local dojo and change condiments. Cause this weak sauce just ain't cutting it!

    “Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

    Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
    ― Bruce Lee

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    The horizontal lines are the most coherent thing in your comments now.

     

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  7.  
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    James Burkhardt (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    Wait....by pointing out that the study suggests that piracy is reduced (thats the goal right?) by offering content via convenient low cost services (the best of which appear to be third party services with multiple studio's content), we are supporting piracy?

    The study shows that attacking 'rouge websites' has little to no effect on piracy, while getting content into the hands of the consumer via convenient low cost services does. So how does recommending that studios take the option which has been shown to have a detrimental effect on piracy support more piracy?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    Hey, hey now. Report. Move on. Stop feeding the troll.
    Like my mom always said "Starve a Troll, if you can't kill it with fire."

     

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  9.  
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    Jay (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 1:56pm

    Facepalm

    I continue to be amazed at what these people are complaining about. The last time that anyone looked at NBC, their CEO was comfortably making millions while trying to control the streaming market with their inferior products. Want to know why people like Youtube? Convenience, ease of use, and a built in audience.

    Wanna know why I've never done anything with Verizon? It really isn't appealing. The sites are confusing, and everyone is more interested in making money than making things available.

    I've since moved on from Hulu or anything else. If it isn't on Youtube, I don't watch. I haven't watched movies or listened to RIAA music in a long time. I basically focus on game music like OCRemix or independent content producers with no affiliation with the big labels. So that means that my time is used with other people along with my own content.

    Now which one am I going to use in my Youtube postings? Sure as certain not MPAA or RIAA labels. I use the stuff that has the most relevance with me. As it stands, the music and movies from recent times are locked up by copyright. But games? I can play those and put them up on Youtube (mostly) with very few issues and invest in things that matter to me: games and music.

    So from the time of Napster to now, the labels have had a chance to maintain their relevance to cultural happenings. Maybe others have had a go with the annoyance of a DMCA takedown but as it stands, I have better things to do than deal with the entitlements of a company that just wants to shut down its competition instead of compete.

     

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    hobo, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re:

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    Why they even need studies to get this information is beyond me. Just go out onto the street and find anybody between the ages of 15-35 and ask them, chances are they file share.

     

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  12.  
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    S. T. Stone, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    I know I shouldn't feed the trolls.

    But I’ve had a rough day and at this point I couldn’t give a damn.

    Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    A.) Copying is not theft.

    B.) Hollywood causes people to pirate content by not offering said content at reasonable rates in a reasonable timeframe in a reasonably convenient (for consumers) manner. Netflix proves that offering a wide swath of content at a reasonable price and making said offering convenient for the consumer can convert people into legal-content-buying (or -subscribing in this case) customers.

    claiming that you support copyright and don't encourage piracy

    I’ve seen Mr. Masnick rail against specific troublesome aspects of copyright, but I’ve never seen him outright call for the abolishment of copyright as a whole.

    I’ve also never seen him encourage anyone here to pirate content of any kind.

    Your technique is simply to repeat fraud over and over.

    Well, you seem to think it works for you…

    Pirate Mike uses the cachet of an Ivy League economics degree to make facile excuses for common theft.

    No, Mr. Masnick uses his degree and the knowledge he’s gained from years of studying this particular field of interest to suggest that the major media conglomerates make their own problems by catering to their own interests instead of catering to the consumer’s interests. His suggestions in no way condone or ‘excuse’ piracy.

    what is Mike's position on piracy?

    Seems simple enough to me: ‘It's not okay because I don't think it's okay.’

    Technorati ranks Techdirt below 6000

    Across the overall ratings of all sites covered by Technorati, not the Technology section. (Though, in fairness to you, I checked and Techdirt doesn't show up in even the top 200 in said section. I’ll assume that the about page hasn’t had an update in a while until proven otherwise.)

    Now do everyone a favor and go die in a fire, you miserable mouthbreathing malcontent.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 2:22pm

    Now, will NBC Universal actually follow what the data suggests?
    Corporate executives admit that they were wrong and fix their mistakes? Impossible. They're going to double down and go for broke, because bankrupting your company is preferable to admitting you aren't always right.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    Like I said in another post, the movie and music industries glorify every criminal act under the sun, then get mad when people "steal" their products.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 3:02pm

    Basically, in the US, where Netflix has come up with a model that many people find to be reasonably priced and convenient enough, the rate of things like BitTorrent usage falls in comparison


    So why isn't Netflix available outside the US exactly?

    The implication here seems to be that it's NBC Universal's fault that Netflix isn't available in, say, Austria (it very well may be, I'm just pulling a country out of the air). Is there any basis for that claim? Is it a region restriction thing? Although, I don't see why Austrians wouldn't want to watch Austrian shows and movies, so I don't see why region restrictions would be such a big deal.

    Or is it just that the rest of the world only wants to watch American and British TV? Surely that can't be the case.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    Well, at least they're not blurred...

     

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  17.  
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    TaCktiX (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 3:24pm

    Re:

    Quite simply the costs to license similar amounts of content in those countries well exceeds the revenue directly gainable in those countries from bringing in Netflix. If they weren't, Netflix has the capital to move in with no trouble at all.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 3:28pm

    Re:

    The point isn't that Netflix specifically needs to go global and give everyone American and British TV shows.

    It's that networks and TV series creators, which includes the NBC network, need to increase the access channels to their content if they want to fight piracy effectively.

    Netflix is an example, not the be-all-end-all solution for everything.

     

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  19.  
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    cpt kangarooski, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    I believe you'll find that those are supposed to be vertical lines.

     

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  20.  
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    Keroberos (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 4:10pm

    Re: Re: Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    Don't even hit report. Hitting report is still giving him attention and feeds his ego. Just scroll right on by. If nobody replied to or reported his comments, he'd get bored and go bug someone else.

     

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  21.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 5:30pm

    Re:

    No wonder they get along so well with politicians, they both have identical mindsets.

     

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  22.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 7:25pm

    A short story

    I was talking to a friend of mine a few days ago on Skype. We were talking about a game, I don't even remember the game, but I remember the conversation. He was talking about torrenting it so he could play it. I responded "Why? Why would you waste the time pirating the game when it's $10 on Steam?"

    I didn't say it because piracy is illegal. I didn't say it because he should support the developer. I said it for the exclusive reason that it's just easier to get it from Steam.

    I can get whatever music I want from Google Music for $10 per month. I can get whatever game I want from Steam, usually for far less then elsewhere. I can watch Youtube videos for hours a day. Why is there no good place to go to get any TV shows or Movies instantly?

    Netflix isn't even good for that any more. We started a "Chronno's Movie Club" kinda as a joke. I had to go threw 20 movies before one showed up on Netflix streaming.

     

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  23.  
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    mhab, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 7:36pm

    Re:

    its not available outside the US because of the Copyright Issues... the stupidity of it all is agonizing

     

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  24.  
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    JMT (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 7:41pm

    Re: Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    "Just go with that, while claiming that you support copyright and don't encourage piracy."

    Can you please point to the words used by Techdirt to actually encourage piracy? No, you can't, because you're a liar.

    Explaining why something happens is not encouragement, as anybody with a mental age of ten or over can understand. Particularly when the proven way to reduce piracy is described in the same damn sentence!

    "Your technique is simply to repeat fraud over and over."

    There's a truly stunning level of hypocrisy in those ten words...

     

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  25.  
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    techflaws (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 10:04pm

    Re: Re:

    And why is that?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 11:53pm

    Re: Re:

    It should probably be noted that it is available in the UK (has been for a very long time) and we are not part of the US (I know there was that film claiming the UK was the 51st state but this was in fact a false claim).

     

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  27.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 1:01am

    Re:

    "So why isn't Netflix available outside the US exactly?"

    Licensing, mainly.

    "The implication here seems to be that it's NBC Universal's fault that Netflix isn't available in, say, Austria"

    Not solely, but yes. NBC Universal already has licensed content to Netflix for North America and some other territories. It has the power to licence the same content to other countries, but it does not. There's a variety of reasons for this, but it's usually down to them trying to get more money for that region, or them having pre-existing deals with local providers that don't allow them to licence to Netflix.

    In other words, Netflix is largely OK with people paying subscriptions wherever they are offered in the world and change location whenever you wish (if you travel to the UK for a week from the US, the content simply changes to what's licensed locally - you're not asked to buy a new subscription for the local market). It's not Netflix's fault if you then travel to Spain and you're told that it's not available in that region.

    "Is it a region restriction thing?"

    Yes. The entertainment industry thrived on a business model that spilt people up into regions and treated them differently. At the time, due largely to the technology at that time, this made perfect sense. Now it's an anachronism that only serves to offer inferior and/or more expensive content to one country to another. Piracy, VPNs, etc. allows that artificial difference to be overridden, hence their popularity.

    Netflix has made a huge effort to licence content in as many countries as possible, but they are not able to service everyone - the same can be seen with Spotify. Even iTunes had a huge battle to get offered in as many countries as they now are. The power is in the hands of the licence holders.

    "Or is it just that the rest of the world only wants to watch American and British TV? Surely that can't be the case."

    "Only"? No. But it does make up a huge amount of the content watched, especially with movies. I suspect that any attempt to offer, say, the Austrian market a version of Netflix with only local content and none of the international content already offered elsewhere would flop, or at least generate a huge amount of bad press. The international nature of the internet means that most people are familiar with Netflix even in countries where it doesn't yet exist. In other words, such a version of Netflix would be deemed vastly inferior, even if it has all the popular local shows.

     

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  28.  
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    Landro, Sep 19th, 2013 @ 1:12am

    Netflix is now available in the Netherlands. That's very nice and it's even nicer that they have Dexter because I like that show. 8 Euro/month is a nice price too.

    I'll still be using the torrents to see the next show (series finale of season 8) because Netflix only has the first 6 Dexter seasons. That's pretty much still the biggest problem. Copyright owners telling services like Nexflix what they can and can't offer to their customers. That's also why you don't see any HBO shows on nextflix. Not even older ones like Band of Brothers.

    Filesharing still has the most complete selection of what people want to watch and that's why it's still difficult for companies like Netflix and Spottify to compete with filesharing.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2013 @ 2:29am

    Re:

    It may be difficult but they do an extremely good job of competing based on the figures in the article.

     

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  30.  
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    Ninja (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 4:00am

    Now, will NBC Universal actually follow what the data suggests?

    No, it'll do the opposite. And whine at the Govt for more draconian laws. Still, it's amusing to see them shooting themselves in the feet.

     

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  31.  
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    David Muir (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 5:17am

    Re: Netflix

    As has been stated, Netflix is just an example, an illustration of how more convenience and better access can reduce piracy.

    But in Canada, where Netflix is actually available, the selection is so hobbled by regional restrictions that, for me, it wasn't even worth subscribing. The selection was terrible about one year ago when I tried it; the service and selection may have improved since then, but I haven't heard such a thing.

    Also, rumors are that the ISPs were de-prioritizing Netflix traffic. As the big ISPs in Canada are both content producers and traditional broadcasters/cablecasters, they view Netflix as a competitor.

    So I'd love to see the numbers for Canada, but my guess is that Netflix might show up as a counter-example. Thus, such a study would be held up to "disprove" the US experience when in fact it bolsters the underlying point: better access and convenience really do combat piracy more effectively than enforcement.

     

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  32.  
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    anonymouse, Sep 19th, 2013 @ 6:45am

    Re:

    Sharing stuff you have purchased is not illegal....if i buy a dvd i can even legally resell it or just gove it away.
    The only difference with sharing online is that one person can share the same thing with the 450 million that download content every day.

    Sharing is not Illegal and the sooner the courts make this clear to the copyright maffia the sooner we can get them to develop systems that compete with torrenting.

    The fact that the only reason the majority share online with others is that there is no way to get the same content through any other means online.This has always been the case and this story is just highlighting a truth we all know.
    I just wish the argument was more about the courts clarifying that sharing files online is legal and get the copyright moguls to do something for their wages for a change.

     

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  33.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re:

    I just wish the argument was more about the courts clarifying that sharing files online is legal and get the copyright moguls to do something for their wages for a change.

    File sharing is not legal. This isn't a matter for clarification, it's quite clear. Nobody has ever gotten anywhere going to court and saying yes, I shared all those files but that isn't copyright infringement. Because it's clearly copyright infringement.

     

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    nasch (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 7:33am

    Protocols

    Why are they mixing protocols with web sites? Netflix and Youtube aren't delivered over HTTP? Hulu is a protocol? Seriously?

     

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  35.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 7:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "File sharing is not legal."

    Wrong. File sharing is perfectly legal. Unless you're sharing files that haven't been authorised for sharing by the copyright holder, in which case it's infringement.

    The act of file sharing alone is 100% within the law if you're sharing something that's been authorised for that activity (be it a Linux ISO, a public domain movie or CC licensed music).

    "Nobody has ever gotten anywhere going to court and saying yes, I shared all those files but that isn't copyright infringement."

    Usually because even the MPAA aren't stupid enough to try dragging someone in front of a court for sharing their own content or a copy of Night Of The Living Dead. They at least manage to have some infringing content as part of their evidence even if they can't work out what they authorised or not (see: Viacom vs YouTube).

     

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  36.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    File sharing is perfectly legal. Unless you're sharing files that haven't been authorised for sharing by the copyright holder, in which case it's infringement.

    I thought that went without saying - I hope it's blindingly obvious that if it's authorized by the copyright holder then it's not infringement.

     

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  37.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I shouldn't go without saying, ever. The *AAs are constantly conflating file sharing with infringement and as a result are attacking all legitimate file sharing.

    We should be careful to make this distinction clear at all times. It's not obvious to most people who don't engage in file sharing.

     

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    solidyote (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hollywood causes people to steal, eh?

    Well, actually I like the fact that people report it, since it gets hidden, with an over 100% success ratio, like it never existed in the first place. Just like it was meant to be ! Its just like having a browser addon that filters out advertising, except that it would filter even more bs if it could hide ootb's ad hominems, tu quoques, etc..

    I can keep scrolling down without having some guy coming out of the blue and telling me I suck because I read techdirt, or have an interest about making the world a better place.. All while using every single fallacies that exists as arguments.

    Or complain about some weird fictional pirate character, I never heard of, named pirate mike.. Someone's been reading too many pirate of the Caribbean coloring books, while inhaling his sharpies I think..

     

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    JMT (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I thought that went without saying..."

    Unfortunately not. The demonisation of BitTorent and file lockers by copyright maximalists is proof of that. These are both perfectly legal methods of sharing files, whether or not the actual files are authorised to be shared or not.

     

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    TaCktiX (profile), Sep 19th, 2013 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    NBC Universal is a greedy money-grubbing corporation that is worthy of nothing other than our universal disdain.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Sep 20th, 2013 @ 2:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, it would be nice if it did, but that's half the battle here - the language keeps getting used to skew the debate.

    I know you've been around here long enough to understand that we're just talking about unauthorised file sharing, but leaving off the "unauthorised" part falls into the hands of those who want to pretend that a file transfer protocol is itself infringing or that a service provider should be liable for the actions of its users.

    I think that those of us who understand reality would do well to distinguish the two, press the difference between infringement and theft, and all the other semantic games people try to play to get emotional reactions out of those who don't understand the reality of the argument.

     

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    techflaws (profile), Sep 20th, 2013 @ 4:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You know that was a rhetorical question, right?

     

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    nasch (profile), Sep 20th, 2013 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You know that was a rhetorical question, right?

    Is that a rhetorical question?

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2013 @ 7:13am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Sep 18th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    Not only that but Hollywood is further trying to combat piracy by only making crappy movies not worth watching! It's all part of their master plan…

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    wallow-T, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 5:06pm

    Pirate Nation

    My takeaway from the NBC study was this:

    "Worldwide, 432.0m unique internet users explicitly sought infringing content during January 2013."

    That puts Pirate Nation's population between India and USA for the third largest population in the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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