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I tried to watch Game of Thrones legally in France, Here is what happened (medium.com/jdauphant)
105 points by judauphant on July 5, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 86 comments

It still baffles me that the media companies that so often complain, file lawsuits, and spend exorbitant amounts of money lobbying still cannot grasp the simple concept that people will pay for content that they can easily access. How can these people not realize they are fundamentally doing something wrong when you have a situation like the one in this article in which it would be quicker, easier, and a better experience to pirate the show in question than to watch it through the legal channels? Of course, pirating is illegal and wrong. However, maybe these giant media companies should spend their money on improving their platforms and making them more widely available instead of using said funds trying to convince lawmakers to create laws to prevent the very problem that their own business practices helped perpetuate.

It still baffles me -- yes, but you don't have a vote in this. Check http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2012/04/understa... this:

> But if your boss is a 70 year old billionaire who also owns a movie studio and listens to the MPAA, you don't get a vote. Speaking out against DRM was, as more than one editor told me over the past decade, potentially a career-limiting move.

Media companies are tied up in contracts designed for the TV/Movie age - spelling out distribution rights geographically and by channel (media). It may take a generation to get free of all that.

So, these media companies would love nothing more than to provide (or enable someone else to provide) a Steam-like worldwide un-region-locked reasonably priced streaming service that supports all my devices, lets me pick and choose audio tracks/encodings and subtitles, not force me to go through a network of partners or worry about who has a distribution deal with who--a service that just lets me pick a show/movie and watch it. But, the only reason they can't do this is "contracts"? We're not talking about the speed of light or the limits of thermodynamics. Contracts are written by humans, signed by humans, and enforced by humans. Surely if the humans running these companies really wanted to provide such a customer-focused product, they could today stop signing these "old media" contracts and work together to quickly unwind what's preventing them from competing with piracy. I don't buy the "but our hands are tied" story.

I live in Australia, where media distribution rights have been negotiated with a small range of distributors. When someone like Netflix shows up, there's not much they can show here without infringing on someone else's exclusive rights.

Each of the distributors is then tied into exclusive deals with TV stations, streaming services, etc.

It's the "exclusive" part of the rights that stops us from having nice things.

Oh, and Steam? un-region-locked? Hahahahhahahaahaha no

I agree, steam has some massively stupid region locks. For example, a friend wanted me to play the secret world recently. I could not download it from Japan, on steam, but could from the companies site.

I ended up logging into his steam to download the client, then launched from the directory to log into my account(due to their slow servers, steams being faster and more updated - go figure).

It's not as simple. Even if they decided today to provide such a service they would still have to wait for the old contracts to expire. The problem is that if let's say a polish TV station bought exclusive rights for the show in their country, the media company can't provide worldwide rights to anybody without breaking the polish contract.

> But, the only reason they can't do this is "contracts"?

You make it sound like the contracts aren't a real barrier. If they break their contracts, they could face millions, nay, billions in fines, fees, and settlements from being sued by everyone they had a contract with.

> they could today stop signing these "old media" contracts

They have. But contracts for broadcasting rights are usually 10 year deals. And up until recently (2010-ish) they were usually just automatically renewed. So you're looking at old media sticking around until 2020-ish. By then, most companies will have moved on from the old way of doing things completely.

Those contacts are worth millions of dollars in up-front, risk-free cash. Why would they give them up for pennies on the dollar?

They can't deal with existing outlets without signing contracts. And those existing old-boys want contracts with limits like regional exclusivity. So its either go all-streaming or all-traditional.

They've been making their money this way for decades, it would be difficult for them to turn around their systems. Also, they have a monopoly on the content, thats a barrier to the industries evolution.

> ..still cannot grasp the simple concept that people will pay for content that they can easily access

May be you will pay for it maybe some other will pay for it but it does not necessarily mean everyone or even most of them who want to watch will pay for it.

Of course media companies should improve their platform but that is a different issue.

I'll happily buy a season subscription. Stop forcing me into getting the channel subscription HBO.

Of all the DRMS out there, steam has done the best job at preventing piracy. Why? Not because it's secure, steam drm is pretty easy to get around. But because it's just so gosh darned convenient to use, and has so many extra features. Steam controller, steam community, steam workshop, and steam itself is a very good library organizer.

The best way to combat piracy is to offer a better service, which I have yet to see. It's always a tremendous pain in the ass, and gives subpar results compared to piracy. Take, for instance, rick and morty. To watch it, I have to sign into an account, link that account to my ISP/provider, and then I get to watch my videos online. Except it barely works. It took forever to get my ISP to authorize it, and the first time they messed it up. After that, online had subpar quality, and would for whatever reason, cut out randomly/not let me login. Compare this to a pirate site/torrent, where it's just one-click, watch in full resolution.

Also, Steam has its sales, which have done a huge amount to raise goodwill and provide price-sensitive customers with the choice of waiting in the belief that games will eventually be discounted to trivial prices.

I thought that Rick and Morty was free on Adult Swim's website? That's where I ended up watching at least the first season (that might have changed).

However, from the same creator, there was Dan Harmon's Community. Season 6 was funded by Yahoo, and they put it up on Yahoo Screen. For free! Great! Except they had big issues with buffering, and region locked the show to America. In the end that whole operation was shut down.

Some Rick and Morty episodes are available for free, but not all. I think they shuffle them around so if you have patience you can eventually watch them all that way.

Very good library organizer? Are we using the same Steam? Ok, you can add categories, but you have to do it manually. You can't even see genre tags or anything about the game unless you open the Store Page. Which for some games (when it's ultimate edition or whatever) doesn't even work.

That's not too mention that something like twice per week (again today) there is an update which blocks opening the damn steam client. Why can't they update it in the background?

Agreed, but I've gotten so many games through humble bundles and steam sales that I've had to find an alternative to browse my library.



Also, Steam was one of the first solutions to properly take care about the chore of updating your game, like modern package managers / app stores do.

Before that (and because most games shipped / still ship without an auto-updater, for good reason), you had to do it yourself by checking for each game's website (or specialized websites offering some centralization), download and launch a patch executable.

And before fast internet access allowed convenient download of those multi-MB patches (looong on 56k), gaming paper magazines distributed them on CDs (then DVDs) :) . Not so good old times, frankly.

Gabe Newell (director of Valve, Steam) on piracy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLC_zZ5fqFk

subtitles usage has been a bit problematic for me too. i'm hearing impaired and my mothers tongue is german; i can read english almost as well as german, but spoken language is and always will be a problem (i get parts of it but not everything, even in german). my friends all prefer OV, so when i watch movies with them, i usually want english audio and english subtitles, because the dialogue and subtitles indeed differ A LOT between different languages (e.g. they use different numbers, the audio track says it's 2.2 miles away, while the subtitles say it's 1.8 kilometers away, which is incredibly distracting and immersion-breaking). if i remember correctly, german audio tracks and german subtitles of english movies also differ regularly (my guess is that they're translated independently).

the problem with netflix in a german speaking country: they indeed offered original language audio tracks, but subtitles were often german only, which made the experience unbearable (my guess is that, as always, international licensing is to blame). either we turned off the subtitles, which hurt the experience for me, or watched the movie in german with german subtitles, which hurt the experience for them (and for me).

afaik netflix improved this a lot in recent times - there are a lot more english subtitles available. other than that piracy is the only option for an enjoyable movie experience with guests.

I stopped using both Netflix and Amazon Prime here in Germany because of the messed up subtitles. I do not speak German so I used to opt for the OV versions but whenever there were non-English dialogues in the video (Spanish in Mad Men, Morzart in the jungle, better call Saul... Etc) the subtitles would be in German, which for me meant not understanding anything that was being said!

It's frustrating. Here I am willing to actually give them money so that I get essentially what I could with popcorn time!

Here in Italy Netflix there are a lot of english subtitles available—except when they are really needed: I watched Misfits in english without subtitles and it took a lot to start to understand what they say.

I subscribe to HBO but pirate their shows because the only player available to me is their web player and it chops, lags and has my 2015 Macbook Pros fans blaring at full speed. This on a 250 mbit connection on Chrome.

I morally justify it by still paying my subscription every month and not seeding the torrents.

Their site is unresponsive bizarre ways I haven't seen anywhere else online.

Have you tried it in Safari? Chrome may be your bigger problem.

In Croatia, you can only get HBO via a select few ISPs (like ~half of them). If you’re at a different ISP, you’re out of luck. I actually bothered a friend who is at a “compatible ISP” to subscribe to the HBO packet and share their HBO GO password with me; I was ready to pay my friend to watch Game of Thrones! (They told my friend that you have to sign a contract for 12/24 months and I didn’t want to put my friend through that whole process, so I went “Fuck it” and started downloading the episodes via torrent.)

I tried HBO, I tried!

When a business fails to cater to a market that wants its media, and said market can have its needs met by piracy, does it become ethically OK to pirate?

Lets not talk about ethics in the context of copyright. 95 years after the authors death. laws done by lobbyists against any common sense. No cost-benefit analyses. No safe guards against abuse.

A few month ago, a court decided it was legal to send copyright extortion letters to people. The hours after the sentence was done, more letters were immediately sent out with more unverifiable claims, and the court website went down from all the victims asking what the heck the court did.

I current pay a tax (Sweden) for a additional permission of private copying. The idea was that people should be able to do a backup of media they legally own, and be able to transfer media between different places like the car, the home and so on. DRM however prevent this, but the law is still there, allowing something for which technology has made impossible. Worse, the lobbist created a exception so that the permission doesn't even trigger if there is DRM. I am only allowed to copy non-DRM media, but the artist get paid regardless if they publish on DRM media or not.

Is it ethical to demand payment for something for which is then not delivered? Is it ethical to ignore a unethical monopoly? Is it moral to respect unjust laws? Is it moral to break unjust laws?

> Lets not talk about ethics in the context of copyright. 95 years after the authors death. laws done by lobbyists against any common sense. No cost-benefit analyses. No safe guards against abuse.

The content in question is new. Ethics definitely play a role. For the record, I tend to be on the side of "if you can't buy it legally, get it illegally", but if there is any ethical role for copyright it is visible here.

If we were to create a moral acceptable copyright law, then new content would be the staring point. That discussion has not started yet, and the pirate party movement who were one of the early starter for a copyright reform has had problems competing against the more popular political issues such as banking crisis and refugee crisis.

Asking people to respect copyright law in current environment is a thought sell. The publishers for GoT are part of those who are currently corrupting and stealing, so from a ethical stand point I have little sympathy saved for them. One could argue that two wrongs don't make it ethical, but then I would argue that respect can't be demanded, only earned. The argument of the article and the lack of a fair product also points toward a lack of mutual respect.

Had this been a self-published indi movie, things would likely look a bit different.

The problem with drawing ethical lines is, nobody is ever going to be able to really agree where that line should lie. Exactly how nice does a media company's offerings have to be? Exactly which circumstances justify piracy?

The right way to think about this is that each person has their own ethical line that they will or won't cross in certain circumstances, and companies can and should encourage, through market offerings, them to stay on the commerce-friendly side of their line.

If prices are too high, offer a lower-end product. If people are complaining about nags, offer a higher-end one. And so on until you've got so few people on the destructive side that the people on the commerce-friendly side do the work of bringing them in line.

Of course, this means making your business responsive to the market and not just profits, and that's exceedingly difficult for the media conglomerates. Piracy is the big stick we all have to force them to play ball with us.

Ultimately, there's no right or wrong, just competing interests. It's bringing them all in line with each other that's the goal, not hammering out some grand idea of justice that's going to change every time the market changes.

I think most people who ethically accept piracy would feel different if there weren't amoral, faceless content corporations between them and the actual creators.

It's a convoluted argument to justify piracy as being absolutely wrong when the end result of paying for content is perpetuating a system where someone else decides what you can and can't watch (and then attempts to wring every drop of revenue from you for the privilege).

> Exactly how nice does a media company's offerings have to be?

Under capitalism, if the distribution company is not the best provider of their service, then they deserve to be pushed out of the market. So the answer to how good their offering has to be is: Better than the pirates'

If there were more effective market competition, the answer would be "another private legal entity". Which would be optimal. Unfortunately due to regulatory capture (at least here in the US) the only real pressure to innovate at modern speeds* is piracy.

* Two words: Cable boxes. In 2016. (And as someone who worked on back end cable apps briefly, it's not like better alternatives don't exist. The service providers just don't care enough to make them better)

But piracy doesn't function within capitalism; it breaks the rules of the system.

That's rather like saying that if your democratically elected officials is not doing things that are in your best interest, they deserve to be pushed out by a man with a gun.

The thing about politics and economics is that they build the effects of people breaking the rules right into their calculations. Econ has concepts like breakage, politics has straight-up watched thousands of political orders get upended by various people with various goals including "because fuck you, that's why". And they've quietly worked out ways to correct such perversions and keep everything reasonably smooth.

Nothing breaks the rules of either because failure is built right into the system, the stakes are too high to allow such systems to remain brittle. Capitalism is bigger than individuals, firms, collections of firms, entire industries, groups of industries trying to coerce the system. People once thought OPEC could bring down the global order. Never happened. People thought the very existence of nuclear weapons put humanity on a clear path to annihilation. Also didn't happen, but it was hairy for awhile.

Just because a system is built to withstand certain rule-breakage doesn't mean that those things are part of the system. Cars come with airbags and seatbelts, but driving into a concrete bollard is not recommended by the manufacturer or the DMV.

Economies aren't cars, they're made of people. A person can respond intelligently to something breaking his economy, a car can't, it can only respond according to the way it was designed.

That's not true. The actual rules of capitalism are the laws of nature. Everything else operates within the system and is subject to the various forces. The government is not some impartial 'referee', it is just another player, albeit one with a monopoly on violence which it licenses to other players from time to time.

Surely you don't accept all existing government laws and processes as valid components of capitalism. Civil asset forfeiture? Institutionalized racism? Bans on gay marriage? Bans on medical marijuana? Bailouts?

Ethical? Maybe, maybe not. Should we do it? Absolutely yes. As long as it's easier to pirate Game of Thrones than it is to watch it legally, I would say we have a duty to send the message to HBO et al that they need to change their business model. Nobody's going to change shit if we sit back and suffer through their horrible distribution channels and just raise our little voices in protest without actually doing anything.

Convenient that getting entertainment free becomes a responsible, ethical choice. How nice. Consider the media company counts a pirate (who they can't see) the same as somebody that doesn't watch the show. So just not watching has the same effect? And may be a wee bit more ethical.

It's a moot point, since a large group of people either consider it ethical or they are not bothered by it being unethical.

Companies then have two choices:

- Trying to enforce the laws that make piracy illegal, which has time and again proven completely ineffective.

- Trying to make legal access painless and more convenient than the alternative, possibly adding value in itself, which has proven successful (Spotify, Steam, Netflix), at least to an extent.

It is a difficult problem (it has been since decades) but I don't think putting in terms of ethics does much to solve it...

What we really need is a service that allows us to pay for pirated content and then sneakily distributes the money back to the people who deserve it.

You can always pirate the episode to see it in a timely manner in good conditions and then buy the bluray when it is available

> does it become ethically OK to pirate?

This is a problem that everyone should answer for themself.

Assuming you consider obeying copyrights to be ethical, then whenever copyright expires.

A copyright is the legal ability to say when and how the media will be shared.

If you want the media, and the copyright owner fails to cater to you and says "f--- off", that's them exercising that right.

It's not like "media" is some universal human right, at least according to the legal system.

If obeying copyrights is not required to be ethical, then right now.

I think the ability to transfer information from one consenting party to another is closer to a fundamental human right than the ability of content creators to control how copies of their content are distributed.

Depends on your definition of `ethically`.



Honestly, you know what? This is fine.

The insistence of US media companies to continue geographically restricting content in an effort to make a few extra bucks has done more to kill US cultural imperialism than decades of "home grown" efforts. As a concrete example, in the past few years there has been an explosion of GoT-style dramas in Turkey (which they've even begun exporting to neighbors in the region).

Perhaps not surprisingly, this season GoT was available same-day on Turkish cable, with either dubbed or original voice tracks.

Do you have any recommendations for Turkish shows? I'd be interested in seeing them.

Probably the most popular of the historical-fiction variety are "Muhteşem Yüzyıl" and its spin-off "Muhteşem Yüzyıl: Kösem". "Behzat Ç." is a pretty good police drama. The one that really sort of kicked off the modern renaissance of Turkish dramas, though, is "Aşk-ı Memnu", which is a modernized take on a famous 19th century Turkish novel. Many of the actors from that series went on to star in later Turkish dramas.

(Note: Just so you know what to expect, Turkish dramas are sort of a cross between their US counterparts and Spanish Telenovelas. There is some action, but much more emphasis on interpersonal conflicts...and more than a few very long, overly dramatic shots backed with suspenseful music.)

Similar in Germany. Its gotten better, but most streaming services only offered the German dubbed version or hardcoded subtitles.

Is it any wonder that streaming sites are all the rage?

I've never had a problem with Netflix in Germany. All the productions I've watched so far have had the original language (usually English) available, no burned-in subs. Exception would be transcriptions of on-screen text (like the text messages in Sherlock), but that's because they don't provide separate video tracks for English and German. I'm okay with that.

Of course Netflix doesn't have the new HBO shows - but that's a different issue.

Netflix has by far the best technical characteristics of all subscription services available in Germany (I've tried them all.) Unfortunately its library is laughable.

Oh please, can we stop it already? Yes, it's not as big as the US library. Yes, many TV shows only have the first couple of seasons available with several missing. But there's a lot of content rotation, with plenty of new stuff to watch. I haven't run out yet. You can get an overview what they added recently at http://germany.netflixable.com/

If you're going there to watch something specific, you might have a bad time. If you're going there to discover stuff to watch and have a good time, it's pretty good.

Complete list: http://germany.netflixable.com/2016/06/complete-alphabetical...

Yes, I mean "Before Netflix".

See, the situation has improved. We're getting there, slowly. With an emphasis on slowly ;)

I know the problem, it's the same in Poland - a lot of content has Polish subtitles baked-in and it's incredibly frustrating.

I have a story like this:

My parents have a semi-expensive digital cable package that includes streaming from a computer. They use it to watch old episodes of their shows from the major networks.

One day, they brought a laptop to the next-door neighbors to watch an old episode. The streaming service wouldn't stream because it wasn't on their home network!

So they have a mobile streaming service that only works from their network, defeating the entire purpose of mobile streaming.

Let's put it from a capitalist point of view: Piracy is the market's way of saying, “your business model is broken and you should be out of business”. Funny that the ones wailing the loudest about piracy are also the greatest capitalists. But for their greed and double standards, they should be the first ones to understand the message.

This year they offered the season on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video as a season pass for €34,99 for the HD version. They released the episodes on tuesday morning, about 24hrs after the airing time in the US ...

This was a good step forward from last year, where they released the season pass episodes 2 weeks after the airing in the US

He's given them too much of his time... Subscribe to some carrier? service to watch something? lol, back to torrents.

Or you could use self hosted VPN to get around restrictions due to lines in the sand.. IF you're feeling generous

And then they complain about pirates pfffshh... If I need to make extraordinary effort to get your thing at a reasonable price, you might as well stay at home.

use popcorn-time and be happy

I could but it's not legal :(

I understand your experiment is try watch the series without broke the law. But some laws are plain stupid and a law forbidding people from use a free streaming service is not only stupid but oppressing. Do yourself a favor contract a good vpn, watch whatever show you want and enjoy freedom :)

"If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so." - Thomas Jefferson

Following that maxim comes with the implicit privilege of taking the consequences. Depending on your local jurisdiction, it's very possible that breaking the law to watch a decent but hardly worldshattering TV drama involves more risk than it's worth.


Mitigating the risk doesn't eliminate it. Take your own chance, of course - but don't think you're not taking any chance at all.

How about VPN + regular HBO?

It will work but, it’s a violation of terms and condition of HBO now. So it's not legal :(

> (a) You must reside within the fifty states of the United States of America (“U.S.”), the District of Columbia, and certain US territories (collectively, the “Service Area”) and have reached the age of 18, or the age of legal majority in your state or territory of residence;

Source: https://www.hbonow.com/terms

Against the terms of service != not legal. I would argue that if you paid for the content no one in Germany could charge you with anything.

Are your sure ?

Here is an example for California : https://www.eff.org/fr/deeplinks/2010/07/court-violating-ter... > the court also found that bypassing technical or code-based barriers intended to limit access to or uses of a website may violate California's computer crime law.

If you have more informations about that, I am interested

In US, sure. But agreements like EULA have been proven completely meaningless courts in different EU countries - you can break them all you like, it's definitely not illegal. The company might stop doing business with you, but you absolutely haven't broken any laws.

It says "legally" right there in the title. I'm assuming this also takes into account EULAs and the like, that would forbid consuming the content while situated in another country.

Can be a problem if you don't have a US billing address or if your VPN gets banned, depending on exactly which service's DRM/geo-locking you're trying to circumvent.

It's pretty trivial for providers to blacklist known proxy/VPN endpoints. Netflix started doing it this year. Does HBO not enforce it?

That's not legal and violates their license, so if you're okay with that then just pirating the show would be simpler.

It's ironically becoming almost more complicated to get legal content than just pirating it.

That still counts as piracy. Using a satelite card from another country also counts as piracy.

Good point! I think that HBO is trying to prevent this kind of practice though.

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