by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 6th 2012 11:24am
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 20th 2012 11:59am
Streaming Rights On Whitney Houston Movie NOT Pulled In Order To 'Make Really A Large Amount Of Money On DVD Sales' [Updated]
from the profiting-off-of-death dept
Netflix rep: "Okay Dan, I just went and talked to my main supervisor as to why the movie had been pulled and the reason it was pulled was the production company pulled the streaming rights from us because all the publicity after Whitney Houston's passing there was an opportunity to make really a very large amount of money on the DVD sales of her movies. So they're going to pull all the streaming titles we have of Whitney Houston so they can make more money off the DVD sales of her movies."Now, watch the copyright holder complain that there's too much infringement of the movie as well...
Update: Apparently Netflix is denying the story though McDermott -- a long time reporter stands by the story. Netflix claims that the streaming rights to the movie went away last year when a licensing deal ended (and it is true that Netflix has lost some streaming rights in the last few months, though I have no idea if this is one of them). However, McDermott insists that he got the story from Netflix directly. As he told Andrew Couts at Digital Trends:
“I publish three newspapers and first started in news when I was news director at WLVA in 1987. I was aware of the sensitive nature of the story and was cautious and responsible,” McDermott told us via email. “The quote I printed is accurate. I cannot speak to whether the Netflix representative was telling me the truth but I asked him to verify what the Netflix users were saying (that it was pulled after her death) and the guy came back and said what he said. I tripled checked to get the quote accurate.I guess it's possible that Netflix is right, and there was confusion on the part of the supervisors...
“He said that he had checked with two supervisors and that the ‘main’ one told him why it had been pulled.
“Personally I believe that the kid told me what his supervisors said. I can’t imagine that they were pulled after her death in some bizarre coincidence.
“Also, it is important to note that Netflix is not the bad guy in this. Unless they lie now.”
Update 2: Indeed, it looks like my guess was correct. Netflix was right, and the supervisors of the customer service guy were wrong. Dan McDermott has admitted that the report the guy gave him appears to be wrong. He reported it correctly, but Netflix staffers gave him incorrect info. The movie was pulled from streaming back in January...
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 15th 2012 1:03pm
MPAA: Ripping DVDs Shouldn't Be Allowed Because It Takes Away Our Ability To Charge You Multiple Times For The Same Content
from the um,-wow dept
Effectively, the MPAA is arguing that there is no evidence that ripping a DVD itself is legal, and since anti-circumvention exemptions are only supposed to be for legal purposes, this exemption should not apply. Leaving aside the sheer ridiculousness of the fact that we need to apply for exemptions to make legal acts legal (I know, I know...), this is quite a statement by the MPAA. While it's true that there hasn't been an official ruling on the legality of ripping a DVD, the fact that CD ripping is considered legal seems to suggest that movie ripping is comparable.
But the bigger point is that the MPAA is arguing that because they offer limited, expensive and annoying ways for you to watch movies elsewhere, you shouldn't have the right to place shift on your own:
Copyright owners include with many DVD and Blu- Ray disc purchases digital copies of motion pictures that may be reproduced to mobile devices and computers pursuant to licenses. Blu-Ray disc purchasers can also take advantage of "Managed Copy" services that are scheduled to launch in the U.S. later this year. Movie distributors and technology companies are also making available services such as UltraViolet, which enables consumers to access motion pictures on a variety of devices through streaming and downloading. Many movies and television shows are also available online through services such as Comcast Xfinity, Hulu and Netflix, or websites operated by broadcasters or cable channels, which consumers can enjoy from any U.S. location with internet access. With all of these marketplace solutions to the alleged problem PK points to, it is unlikely that the presence of CSS on DVDs is going to have a substantial adverse impact on the ability of consumers to space shift in the coming three years.Notice that almost all of these "market solutions" mean you have to pay multiple times for the same content -- and they ignore the fact that these offerings are all very limited and may not have the content on the DVDs people have. Public Knowledge has a quick summary of how these "solutions" are not solutions at all:
The MPAA had two specific suggestions. First, consumers could re-purchase access to a subscription service such as Netflix of Hulu. They did not dwell on the fact that 1) this would require you to pay again to access a movie you already own; 2) these services require a high speed internet connection in order to work; 3) There is a reasonable chance that the movie you own is not available on any of those services at any given time; and 4) MPAA member studios regularly pull videos that were once available on those services off of those same services.When you think about it, this is really quite crazy. They're saying because they offer you an option to pay for a way too expensive, very limited option that might not really exist, you shouldn't have the right to rip your DVDs. This would be like the recording industry claiming you can no longer rip CDs because they offer a limited locked down selection of music in an online store. People would revolt at such a claim, and they should find the MPAA's ridiculous claims here equally as revolting.
The MPAA’s second suggestion was even less helpful. In their comments, they pointed to Warner Brothers’ DVD2Blu program. This program allows people to use their existing DVDs as a coupon towards the purchase of a handful of Warner Blu-Ray disks. They did not dwell on the fact that 1) this program is limited to Warner Brothers films; 2) the program is limited to 25 exchanges per household; 3) while some Blu-Ray disks include digital copies that can be moved to other devices, it is unclear how many of the disks in the DVD2Blu program include that option; 4) only 100 movies are included in the entire program; and 5) each exchange costs at least $4.95 plus shipping (which, for the record, is about as much as it would cost to buy the digital file from Amazon.).
If the MPAA stopped there, it would be crazy enough... but no, in the mind of Hollywood, they have to take it even further. They claim that because the ability to rip your DVD might take away their ability to keep charging you for the same content over and over again, that it goes against the purpose of copyright law. Seriously. They're actually claiming that their ridiculous "windows" are "new business models" that copyright law is designed to encourage:
In fact, granting PK’s proposed exemption would be directly counter to the purpose of this rulemaking. It would undermine emerging business models that increase access to creative works in precisely the manner Congress intended the DMCA to promote.But that's pure bullcrap. The business models in question do not "increase access." They increase the ways in which you can pay. If they want to increase access, they would let you rip your damn movie.
It is clear that access controls have increased consumers’ options with respect to motion pictures in digital formats. The Register should not interfere with that progress. Instead, she should endorse it.Up is down, black is white, day is night. Controls have increased consumer options? No freaking way. Controls have limited options... but have allowed the MPAA studios to set up tollbooths and charge people multiple times for content they legally had purchased the rights to.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 16th 2012 3:22am
from the let-'em-go dept
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:
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 15th 2011 8:44am
Warner Bros. Wants You To 'Buy' Movies Instead Of Rent... And By 'Buy' It Means Spend More To Still 'Rent'
from the that's-not-buying dept
Rob Pegoraro, in commenting on the article, notes that oddly, the article doesn't even mention DRM in talking about why people don't want to buy from the studios or the fact that it's still much more convenient to get the content by unauthorized means. But that concept still hasn't reached the brain trust at Warner Bros., who seems to insist that as long as you can access the movies you "bought" from anywhere, people will prefer that to file sharing. While it's great that they're at least trying to add benefits, to make it more valuable and worth paying for, the whole thing smacks of someone's father trying to "act cool" for his kids' friends. Warner Bros. still doesn't seem to understand why people like things like Netflix: the convenience. Everything about Ultraviolet sounds inconvenient, and that hardly makes anyone want to "buy."
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 1st 2011 8:32am
from the expect-more-like-this dept
The following day, L&M provided the police with all of the evidence that they were authorized to make those DVDs, and the police sergeant told L&M's owner that the DVDs could not be released because they were "pirated." From there, a bunch of press stories followed, with the police repeatedly telling the press that L&M was being investigated for such "piracy," even after the MPAA and the police realized that the DVDs were, in fact, authorized. Months later, however, the press was still quoting the police as saying that L&M was "under investigation" for "piracy."
Because of all of this, L&M claims that customers canceled jobs with L&M and past customers chose to find new partners. It also meant that other vendors who used to send "overflow" work to L&M no longer did so. It effectively dried up much of L&M's business.
If this all seems pretty horrifying, think of how much worse this kind of situation may be about to get. First off, just a few weeks ago, we noted that Governor Jerry Brown in California passed a law that would let law enforcement do more of these kinds of raids but they no longer need a warrant to do so. Yes, despite this massive failure on such a raid, the government now has even more authority to do these kinds of raids, and the MPAA can continue to get away with providing bogus information and effectively killing businesses.
Take it one step further: this is the reason why so many of us are so worried about the new E-PARASITE bill. The MPAA and other copyright holders have a dreadful history and reputation for being inaccurate when it comes to accusing others of infringement. Yet, under E-PARASITE, they get to kill sites dead, without any recourse, before anyone even looks to see if the copyright holder's claim is legit. Doesn't that seem the least bit problematic?
Now, as for the actual case at hand, for which you can read the full decision (pdf and embedded below), it involved the court tossing out a lawsuit by L&M against the MPAA over all of this, using California's anti-SLAPP laws. We're big fans of California's anti-SLAPP laws, and while we find the MPAA's conduct in this situation reprehensible, the ruling actually makes sense. The comments that were the most problematic to L&M in the newspaper reports were not, in fact, made by the MPAA but by the police. If anyone is responsible, it should be the police who made them.
L&M tries to place liability on the MPAA by claiming that the police and the MPAA had a "joint venture" going in these raids, but that isn't supported by the facts. This raid wasn't done at the request of the MPAA, and originally had nothing to do with copyright at all. So, we agree that blaming the MPAA for the comments in the press is improper, as it's misapplied third party liability. Of course, there does seem to be a bit of irony in the fact that the MPAA appears to be working overtime to increase third party liability by undermining the kinds of safe harbors that protect a party from being blamed for the speech of others. However, it's no surprise at all that the MPAA is -- yet again -- too clueless to recognize how its actions undermine its own legal protections elsewhere.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 27th 2011 10:28am
from the oh-come-on dept
Here's the thing, though. What's to stop a library from just buying an official version and lending it out? The whole thing is pretty silly anyway. Is Warner Bros. really thinking that if someone can't take out one of its movies from the library, that they'll really go buy the DVD from WB? Also, doesn't this seem like a form of price fixing?
In the end, though, it's unlikely to actually help. Slightly more enlightened studios, such as Paramount, actually tested such 28-delays and looked at the data, which said Netflix and Redbox don't cannibalize sales, and appear to "expand" the movie business. Too bad Warner Bros. hasn't seen that movie yet. Perhaps they're still waiting for the 28-day delay to pass.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 7th 2011 7:39pm
from the neat dept
The problem with that thinking is that it's only looking at the "market" for a single DVD, rather than the larger market of all of Netflix's DVDs, and the kind of demand patterns it would expect. The researchers looked at that, and noted that by letting people keep DVDs longer, it actually slows down the rate at which they take out new DVDs, which decreases the amount of DVDs Netflix needs. In other words, if there's a time limit, people would return DVDs faster, meaning that Netflix would have to send another one out faster. This problem becomes especially noticeable for "hot" movies, like new releases:
To understand how Netflix actually profits from uncertainty, it is helpful to imagine a handful of idealized Netflix customers, as Bassamboo and his colleagues do in their paper. The only thing all the customers have in common is that when a hot new movie comes out, they all want it. If Netflix imposed late fees on its customers, the company could be sure that every customer who wanted a particular new release would return their last-viewed movie, and automatically be sent that new release, within a narrow window of a few days.
Bassamboo and his colleagues discovered that for a hypothetical Netflix-like service with late fees, the company would have to stock as many copies of a new release as it has customers. Given that all those customers would probably only rent it once, the company would be hard-pressed to either remain profitable or offer a compelling subscription fee.
On the other hand, when Netflix allows customers to keep DVDs indefinitely, the point in time at which they return old discs and automatically request a hot new release is staggered. Some customers are going to return a disc the day a new release comes out, while others will take a few days or even weeks to return their last movie and request the new one. The longer customers wait to request that next disc, the more times Netflix can rent out individual copies of its new releases. It is this re-use of discs, or “multiplexing,” that makes the Netflix model possible.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 6th 2011 9:34am
from the fictional dept
Now, you may have seen an MPAA inforgraphic (pdf) that's been making the rounds for a couple weeks now. It's so chock full of debunked stats, they should throw themselves a party for how much falseness they can shove into a single graphic. Going through and debunking the various numbers yet again (most have already been debunked in the past) didn't seem worth it, but furdlog points us to a wonderful debunking on a movie review site, where someone actually does the math, and realizes that if the MPAA's numbers for "losses" are accurate, it means that your average downloader would be buying 200 more DVDs per year. Yeah, for the MPAA's numbers to make even a tiny bit of sense, downloaders would be buying new DVDs more than every other day.
So according to the MPAA, piracy cost them $58 billion last year, making movie piracy a bigger industry than the GDPs of 10 American states. To put it even starker perspective, look at it this way. The film industry gets about $10 billion from the box office, and about $30 billion from the after market of DVDs, streaming, etc. So they’re claiming that piracy costs them almost two-thirds of their business. At $10 per DVD, every household in the United States would be buying an additional 50 DVDs per year if they weren’t so busy downloading. The technical term for a statistic like that is “fictional.”And yet, the press and politicians still quote these numbers as accurate.
See, they also claim that 29 million adults have ever illegally downloaded a film. But since that’s only 13% of the adult population, it makes the figure even more absurd. By their own estimate, those adults in question would have on average purchased an additional 200 DVDs each year if only they were still on dial-up. The problem with these absurd figures pulled out of the air, is that even if they are an accurate measure of how many movies are being illegally downloaded, it is not a measure of loss. As has been argued countless times, a bunch of zeros and ones do not cost the industry a dime unless they actually represent something that would have been bought otherwise. Anyone think the average downloader would actually have bought 200 more DVDs? Hell, are there even 200 new DVDs released per year?
by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 18th 2011 7:36am
from the entitlement? dept
Not any more, apparently.
The RIAA has been pushing the state of California to pass a new law that would allow completely warrantless searches for law enforcement, allowing them to enter and search any CD or DVD manufacturing plant without either notice or a court order.
Yes, let's repeat that: the RIAA is pushing a law that would let law enforcement, without any oversight, without any probable cause, without any notice, enter and search any company premises that involves pressing CDs or DVDs, in order to assure that they're legal. Oh, and if said law enforcement discovers repeat violations, fines can be up to $250,000.
The RIAA claims that the 4th Amendment doesn't apply here because of all the recent attacks on the 4th Amendment by the courts:
The RIAA argued that courts had carved out 4th Amendment exceptions already. So far, it said, warrantless searches have been allowed at such businesses as automobile junkyards and repair shops, mines, gun and liquor stores, nursing homes, massage parlors, pawn shops and wholesale fish dealers.It gets worse. The RIAA's Marcus Cohen honestly makes this sound like it's no big deal:
The common trait, the trade group contended, was that the businesses were in "closely regulated" industries in which "the pervasiveness and regularity of the government's regulation reduces the owner's expectation of privacy in his business records."
"We're literally talking about walking into a plant, walking up to the line and ensuring that, indeed, the discs are in compliance," he said. "I don't think the scope of the search is something a regulator needs to be worried about."Oh really? And how about the RIAA member labels? How about, in exchange, they let some of us walk into their offices, take a look at their books and ensure that their royalty payments to artists are in compliance? I don't think the scope of such a review is anything to be worried about, right?
And, here's the crazy thing. Despite numerous legal experts saying that the bill is almost certainly unconstitutional, it sounds like it has a decent chance of passing. It's sponsored by California state Senator Alex Padilla and has already been approved by two separate committees, and will be heard on the Senate floor on Monday. If it passes there, it'll go to the Assembly. You can see the full text of the bill, SB 550 at that link, or embedded below.
It's really an astounding showing of the sense of entitlement of the RIAA that it feels that the 4th Amendment shouldn't apply. The RIAA and its member labels should be ashamed of themselves.