Even Thieves Are Ignoring DVDs And CDs As Worthless

from the let-'em-go dept

It’s been kind of funny to see that the various “public service announcement” videos that have been created and/or used by the government lately (see here and here for example) show people selling counterfeit DVDs on the street. There’s a reason for this, of course. The one study that suggests any kind of link between movie infringement and organized crime/terrorism was based on some really out-of-date reports of connections between… counterfeit street vendors. But that was all from over a decade ago. Of course, as we noted many, many years ago, there’s no significant business in selling counterfeit DVDs and CDs any more, because of competition from free file sharing sites.

In fact, it’s gotten so bad that a new report shows that burglars in the UK are basically ignoring DVDs and CDs these days, as there’s just not enough ROI on grabbing your dated movie collection. The Economist article linked above includes this handy dandy graphic to show you the trend over the past few years:

So can we stop trying to link reports of online file sharing to street sales of physical DVDs and CDs already?

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Comments on “Even Thieves Are Ignoring DVDs And CDs As Worthless”

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Violated (profile) says:


I don’t think the logic quite matches up here.

We can certainly thank piracy for bringing movies on to DVD much faster but not for the price. The real drop in DVD prices comes from DVD used sales on sites like Amazon and eBay. The fact is a DVD movie only has a few months of life before many former buyers then decide to sell on at a lower than new price rate. These used but like new sales affect the new sales and it is all competition that forces down the new DVD price. All the result of an open market and it is all about used DVD market saturation.

Now CD sales are a whole different case when CDs these days are nearly obsolete and people certainly have easier options if they want to load their MP3 player. You can certainly blame piracy for the move to digit music files but this was just market progression and may have happened anyway in a different form.

So there is indeed not much value in wanting to steal DVDs and CDs and the best opportunity for a thief is to go with newly released titles.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Markets

So the market changed and they aren’t adapting… where have I heard that before…

This is the same group who claimed the VCR would destroy them and managed to turn hunks of plastic with flimsy tape in them into collectors items. Buy it now before it goes back into the vault!!!!! Pay a premium for the super duper secret absolutely final recut of the movie (until we find something else to change)!!!

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Markets

I’ve seen even crap B movies have multiple versions released.
Uncut, Directors cut, Uncut Directors Dog Cut, etc…

I never got that into the Star Wars or Blade Runner movies, it was nice they offered more content… but after a while the super duper etc etc etc newest version of new promotions get stupid.

But then with Star Wars the only thing the fans really want, is the original theatrical cut of the movies not retouched, remastered, redigitized and they can’t have it. If only they have the fortitude to stop buying SW stuff until they get the message across.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Markets

Yeah, fair enough, but there’s not many that get multiple recuts years after release unless there’s real demand (Metropolis or Del Toro’s cut of Mimic, for example). Most of the multiple releases tend to be where they’re trying to bleed extra revenue out of a recent release or remake.

Even so, this is another area where they’ve shot themselves in the foot. Most movie fans I know got tired of the endless double dipping – if there’s a single disc or barebones edition when a film is first released, we’ll just wait for the proper version later on down the line. If something’s been cut for a PG-13 or R rating, we’ll just wait for the “unrated” version. If there isn’t one, the price of the crappy version will have significantly dropped anyway.

As for Star Wars, that’s where I am myself. I already own 3 VHS versions of the first trilogy (original, original widescreen and the first special edition) and one DVD version. I’m not spending another penny until Lucas decides to offer me the version I grew up with, not whatever his current fantasy “if only I had digital at the time” version is.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Markets

Yep, I’m aware of those, but I was under the impression that the image/sound quality was significantly lower than the special editions? Either way, I might check them out but there’s something about supporting the special editions makes me uncomfortable unless I can find a cheap 2nd hand copy 😉 Not a major priority in my life right now, however, so I can bear to wait and see.

“You can find them on Netflix”

Sadly, the industry decides I’m on the wrong patch of dirt to do that, and I have enough other content to be consuming for the foreseeable future anyway. Thanks for the tips, anyway.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Markets

You can certainly blame piracy for the move to digit music files but this was just market progression and may have happened anyway in a different form.

Actually you are right that it is technological progression that has caused the change in both cases. Piracy only enters the equation because the price has not been dropped in line with marginal production cost – but it is the fall in that cost that underlies the change.

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Re: Markets

The other problem can be seen here…

Just for this one movie “War Horse” you can see that some countries have to wait up to 3 month after the US release to see this at their cinema. People wanting to watch this movie have two choices, either to wait a few months, or to download immediately the copy on TPB and other sites.

This is hardly a hard choice for them. Subtitles optional.

iiiears says:

Re: Markets

and now that many T.V.s and Blu-ray players are connected to the Internet expect “special” features to be “offered” to expand the “experience” and stop second hand sale or transfer.

Anyone noticed Cinavia yet? Uh-huh. your expensive 1st gen player will choke on a disk purchased in 2012.
Please buy another.
Thank You for your continued support Sincerely, Sony

Rikuo (profile) says:

This reminds me.
A couple of weeks ago, here in Ireland, I was watching a program on TV that was all about uncovering illicit market traders. The first half of the program concentrated on counterfeit cigarettes, which are more dangerous than legit cigarettes given their contents.
Then the program shifted focus to counterfeit DVDs. Yes, counterfeit DVDs do exist, but surely not in the amounts that the program said. I remember they threw out the number of ?40 million a year (no sources, just threw it out) .Then they brought in two guys, one was a guy hidden by shadow but according to the information on screen, he was supposed to be the head of FACT (Federation against Copyright Theft…how do you steal copyright again?). If the guy is head of this group…a simple google search can find out his identity!
The second person to appear was…dun dun dun…a Sales Exec from Sony! He said that sales of DVDs were down…and somehow this translated into counterfeit DVDs being the problem? Never mind that the Sony guy didn’t cite his numbers for sales being down, just said it.
If a guy from Disney had turned up, it would have been more BS. The store I work in, over the Xmas period, had the Lion King, 1 DVD version, on the shelf for ?20, which is a price point we usually use for new releases. Perhaps the high prices and lack of content (as I said, 1 disc, nothing extra) are other factors.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Mind you this has nothing to do with us pushing the release date so far into the future that you forgot you were interested.
This has nothing to do with it being available on demand video on some systems before the release.
This has nothing to do with the 45 minutes of force filler on the disc reminding people who paid them not to steal from them.
This has nothing to do with people getting bored of waiting and finding alternate sources for the content, not the “right” thing to do but seriously they rush to get the R5 discs onto the market to beat the counterfeiters, they release stripped down well priced discs… and 4 months later we might see the R1 disc all polished and filled with stuff no one cares about.

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The copyright side lie so much that it would not surprise me if they hired the stall that got busted.

Markets do have a big counterfeit problem these days due to a vast replica array from China. You want your fake designer handbag or shoes then you know where to shop. Things got so productive there that factories have started up in the UK where the employees are not aware they assemble fakes.

One entire market even got closed when even after a Police raid they simply restocked their stalls and were back in business within the hour.

China cares little for copyright, trademarks and patents so if they spot a sweet profit area then they go for it. Not many would aim for counterfeit CDs and DVDs though when it is a lot of work for little profit.

Louis Smith says:

Remember the facts about facts.

1) If the facts don’t support the theory, they must be disposed of.
2) Marketing campaigns have NEVER needed actual facts. Are there actual facts behind “lather rinse repeat” or was it just the most successful marketing ploy ever to double sales?
3) Once money and politics are involved, then facts are anathema.
So, please … quit using facts – they just get in the way of a good story.

Dr. Evil says:

steal this disc - for the children

but some are still stolen, so there is still a market (just check out ANY pawn shop)
The MAFIAA insists the market is bigger when there are no ‘pirated’ versions out there. therefore, eliminating file sharing creates a market for lower priced used CD/DVD and (this is important) bootleg CD/DVD. MAFIAA insists that bootleg is used to finance a variety of ills from job loss to the financing of terrorism. Therefore: file sharing reduces job loss and terrorism financing. It also eliminates crime because you do not have to steal the plastic disc your desired content is on.
you are returned to your regular station….

btrussell (profile) says:

Re: playing devil's advocate

People don’t want discs or tapes anymore.

Used to be every house you went in had towers and bookshelves full of tapes and discs. Now, if they even still have them, they are stored in a closet are the basement somewhere. You do not see them in the open anymore because they are in the way.

I’ve a few full boxes of tapes myself I plan on getting rid of very soon.

For most of them, I’d rather have my $20 back, for that reason, I quit buying some time ago.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: playing devil's advocate

Not file sharing, per se, but the shift to digital overall and the way this has shifted customers’ requirements and expecations.

10 years ago, I might have been OK with buying a CD even if I didn’t like half the tracks on it because that’s what I was used to buying. Now, a CD at the same price seems like a rip-off because I can pick and choose the tracks I want to digitise and then never use the CD again. Due to this, the full package isn’t worth as much because I can buy the songs I actually want for less than the second hand CD, so the value of the CD also drops.

The same thing has started to happen to DVDs as people realise that they never did watch those DVD they paid full whack for more than once, or never watch the extras and now the movies are on TV for free anyway. Most people just don’t feel the need to own a copy of every movie, especially in areas where Netflix,et al are available. So, I can buy a legal copy of many new releases for 1/3 or 1/4 of their original price less than 6 months down the line. Why would a second hand copy hold any more value?

If only those industries would realise that DRM, region coding and other additional restrictions won’t do a damn thing to change these realities, nor will lying to pass draconian laws…

Ninja (profile) says:

Mass storage?

I saw this trend last time I went to buy my computer stuff. You usually see several guys selling software, music and the likes on the streets. Now they have the covers exposed but when you buy it they offer discounts if you use your usb stick or even your phone. Last console I bought CAME with an external HDD with shitloads of games (threw half of them away already). They have CDs with selections of mp3, not single albums anymore.

I don’t support direct sales of copyrighted content but they are a good thermometer of how stuff is working nowadays.

In time: the store I buy my computer stuff is legal, collects the taxes, gives proper warranty, receipts and so on 😉

Violated (profile) says:

Re: You wouldn't download a car

3D printers are on the rise when you can now buy one between $1000 and $2000. In a few years time they should be below $500 and then every home can get one.

The future world is all sharing with copyright and patents largely ignored. You can print out (in plastic) anything you want if you have the right files.

Home models can of course only print small items like lego bricks and coat hangers up to a small vase but it is only a matter of time before entire cars can be download and printed on commercial versions.

If someone stole your car then it would not be too much hassle to print out another but they should still be printing out their own.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: You wouldn't download a car

In a few years time they should be below $500 and then every home can get one.

Maybe nitpicking, but there are plenty of homes even in the US where a $500 item would be completely out of reach.

Home models can of course only print small items like lego bricks and coat hangers up to a small vase but it is only a matter of time before entire cars can be download and printed on commercial versions.

I doubt you could ever just print a car. It’s thousands of interconnected moving parts. Even if each part could be printed (are strong enough materials such as metals or carbon fiber amenable to printing?), they would still have to be assembled.

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You wouldn't download a car

Well yes every home that is not living in poverty but then they would have friends or family with 3D printers.

Can’t print a car? Here is one we printed earlier…

Only one part of this car could not be printed but people are working hard on having fully printable cars with easy assembly. It seems only a matter of time before full cars can be done. Then the best 3D printers can print with plastic, metal, water, wood and much more.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You wouldn't download a car

Can’t print a car? Here is one we printed earlier…

According to the video description, they printed the car body. Which is awesome, but not the same thing as printing a car. I can’t really find specifics on the chassis and powertrain since everyone is basically just writing “OMG printed car!” but as far as I can tell it’s a steel tube frame made by conventional means, and a standard gas-electric hybrid drive.

However, if you have a reference describing how they printed the engine, the suspension, the brakes, etc. I would love to see it. All they talk about in the video is the body, and if they could print fuel injectors and batteries I would think they would have mentioned that. I know I would have.

What’s really cool about it (besides the efficiency) is that in theory you could buy the running chassis, and then download and print a body of your choice. Or more likely, since that would still require some pretty significant assembly, the dealer could print and install the body.

Michael says:

Technomage is right. This article could be construed to show a link between pirated CDs/DVDs and online piracy. But I digress…

Violated, I don’t believe that CDs are obselete; I just think that there hasn’t been much new good music, that major labels price gouge on a medium which they promised long ago would fall in price as the years went by. Well, it hasn’t. I never understood why anyone would pay full price for an mp3 song when it’s clearly lesser quality. A high-quality, 16-bit, 320kbps mp3 pales in comparison to a 16-bit, 1,440kbps wav (CD) file — the former truncates its so that there’s less clarity and presence in the high & low-end. Funny enough, vinyls are still capable of higher quality audio reproduction than CDs, although obviously they aren’t mastered as loud, which is good.

The music industry is in a funk right now because they charge too much for bad music. Right now, technology allows us to record in 24/32-bit, 96,000/192,000KHz. Obviously such high-resolution audio would require much more data than your typical CD audio, so they could use the DVD format or something similar. But even still… all the technology in the world doesn’t make any difference if the music isn’t worth buying.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Your last paragraph does bring up a question that I’ve wanted answered for years: why isn’t there an Audio DVD format? The Audio CD format has been around for decades and can be played in any machine that can read a CD…along comes DVD and you would think with higher storage capacity, there would be an Audio DVD that one could listen to on a DVD version of a Sony Walkman. Yes, such a technology would be obsolete now, what with flash-based memory, but in the interim…why was there never an Audio DVD released?

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The “bad music” meme is a tired old argument. Music is no worse or better than one year ago, 10 years ago or 50 years ago. New artists continue to breakthrough and the Internet provides a new tool for those artists that don’t have contracts with record companies.

CDs are obsolete, at least in first-world countries. My kids don’t ask me to take them to Best Buy, Walmart or a record store to buy a CD. They ask me to buy their music via iTunes. It’s only a matter of time before the major retailers stop selling CDs. Even the DVD/Blu-ray sections are getting smaller.

High-resolution audio is a niche market at best. The vast majority of music listeners are not going to benefit from high-resolution audio when listening to the music through a pair of ear buds.

Anonymous Coward says:

Way to twist the facts, CDs and DVDs are not being stolen as much, for the obvious reason that fewer people have them, because more and more people are pirates.

Fewer thefts proves there have been fewer sales and we all know that unit sales are down due to piracy.

The increase in theft of equipment is because the thieves know where the music, movies, games etc are, they are on the pirates hard drives and ipods etc.

Increasing theft of hardware is nothing whatsoever to do with easily transportable high resale value nature of modern consumer electronics.

Obviously the pro strong ip view above is bs, but nonetheless I think you are making too much of the low value of dvds and cds to thieves, people genuinely do have fewer now and the high value of electronics makes them the much more attractive theft proposition.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“So you don’t think that a pocketable ?200 ipod would count as high value, especially as compared to the equivalent value in cd’s or dvd’s?”

Well, it depends on the assumptions you make about the resale value of the iPod, and the value of the media around it. The iPod may be more portable, but if someone has a stash of new games and Blu rays around it, you’d be wrong. If it’s a 5+ year old iPod classic next to copies of new release games, you’d be wrong.

“What exactly do you think you are disagreeing with, I am curious?”

First of all, you seem to be saying that a PC having an ?80 1Tb drive inside it makes it more valuable than original media. The fact is that apart from storage media, which is very cheap, there’s no inherent difference between a home media setup built around discs and those built around digital media (which may or may not include pirated material).

Secondly, you seem to be making all sorts of random, baseless assumptions designed to further a preferred narrative (that piracy is solely responsible for the lower value of physical media compared to the past). The value of that iPod is usually unchanged by the number of songs on it.

If your point was that people are more likely to spend money on big TVs, home cinema systems and custom gaming rigs, and these are worth more than physical media in today’s climate, I’d agree with you and that would fit the data above. Ditto with the idea that iPods and laptops are more prevalent and they’re easier to nick and sell than shelves of media. The moment you start whining about piracy and assuming that’s the only factor, you lose me with your bullshit. Sorry – unless you have data to back up your assertions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I was going to comment similarly: it’s not so much to do with DVDs vs. digital downloads as it is to do with the equipment being stolen. When a computer is burgled from your home it’s probably unlikely that what’s *on* the computer is the objective, it’s the computer itself, the machine, that is valuable enough to carry off.

The fact that the burglar left all your DVDs does show that they aren’t worth that particular criminal’s physical effort.

Sandy says:

A Big Huge Distraction

Why does this all just seem like a big huge pointless distraction? Yes I agree piracy is an issue, I agree its diluted the entertainment industry. I gave up a long time ago on pirated mp3’s and movies because of quality. Personally I love Rhapsody and Netflix. So really I never buy either a dvd or cd because of that period.

This is all a huge distraction though from what is really stealing jobs, and that is corporations. Lets band those darn providers sharing mp3’s because that’s what is making America bad??? Who buys this smoke anyways? If you want to make America great stop shipping jobs off to India, China, or whomever is cheaper. Get us better affordable education, more affordable healthcare and then watch the people buy more.

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