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The Long, Slow Decline of BitTorrent (2017) (plagiarismtoday.com)
399 points by uptown 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 532 comments



I can't read the article because the website is down. But I have something to say about torrenting movies.

Late last year, my old parents who don't speak English came to visit me for a couple of months in the US. I'm just a graduate student with a limited budget, and my mom is car sick so we couldn't go out every night. I didn't want them to waste time on Facebook after dinner until we went to bed, so I had to think of something to do. We would spend time watching classic movies together every night with the little projector I have. I would have to download the Vietnamese subtitles from subscene and play the pirated movies with VLC. Sometimes the timings were a bit off but VLC allowed me to fix it easily.

There was no streaming service offered at any price that allowed me to have native language subtitles with those movies. I'm very happy for the time we had together, it might have been the very last chance we had in our lives. I am very thankful because BitTorrent and VLC allowed me to do what would be otherwise impossible.


Torrenting for me has always been about convenience, not money. I recently wanted to watch a new show called A.P. Bio. It's free on NBC's website. But after struggling through one episode with lags and ads with no volume control, I gave up and just torrented the show.

Until they master such exotic technologies as "streaming video" and "volume control" they're going to keep driving people to torrenting. Netflix figured this out a decade ago, and I wonder how many people have ever "given up" on Netflix to go torrent a show? I can't imagine it's a lot.


The law/studio deals have to change. Netflix offers great movies and they lock it down to certain countries. For example I am big fan of Back To The Future. I can watch may favourite movie every month when I'm in UK but when I am in Poland then no luck. Same goes in other direction. While being in Poland I downloaded via Netflix National Lampoon Animal House to watch on plane. I watched half of it on plane then tried to watch rest in hotel and Netflix refused to play it because I was in UK. Funny thing is that when I switched to plane mode I could watch it. My question is what's the point? I as a person, am going in to agreement with Netflix that they will provide me movie. Nothing changes apart from my geographical location (I am paying the same amount of money, I am paying the same taxes, everything stays the same) and yet I can't watch the movie just because I am in different spot on the glob. I don't understand what is the profit for movie companies in narrowing down their own market.


I don't understand what is the profit for movie companies in narrowing down their own market.

The movie company sold the rights to show that movie in the UK to some other company instead of Netflix, probably for more money than Netflix offered them.

Also, you're paying a fixed monthly fee, and unless you're part of the small minority that travels a lot, you're not likely to drop Netflix over not being able to watch certain movies in foreign countries, hence they didn't lose anything.


Licensing a movie in such a way that it can be played in France but not Poland seems as ridiculous as licensing it such that it can be played in Pennsylvania but not Minnesota. When will this Stone Age practice go away?


Are you saying it shouldn’t be legal? Or that the business practice doesn’t make sense?

Let’s say you’re a French movie distributor. You know the French market, you know which movies will sell, you know how to market to French audiences. Because of this you can bid more on the rights to distribute movies in France than a global company that doesn’t have any specific knowledge about the French market (your return is likely to be higher and you’re liekely to have fewer failures). Same in the Czech, Romanian, etc markets.

But let’s say this movie conflicts with the release of some other movie you’re distributing so you want to hold it back for three weeks.

What’s your proposed solution? Tell the studio they can only sign deals with global distributors? Tell them to accept less money?


> What’s your proposed solution? Tell the studio they can only sign deals with global distributors? Tell them to accept less money?

Stop signing exclusive deals with regional distributors. If you're going to put something on Netflix, put it on Netflix world-wide. That doesn't mean you can't also put it on a streaming service based in France that concentrates on French language movies -- do both. Let them each pay you for non-exclusive global rights.

You get paid more per service for an exclusive deal, but you also get paid by fewer services. Which is increasingly looking like a bad deal as the many different services proliferate. Having a hundred buyers is more profitable than having only one buyer that pays ten times as much.

It's the same game they're playing with regional exclusivity to begin with -- get more buyers by dividing up the rights. Rights in one country aren't worth as much as rights world-wide but you can sell them to more people.

The difference is that regional exclusivity makes customers angry and non-exclusive licensing makes customers happy.


Distribution rights for huge back catalogs were sold to third party local to a given country/region distributors long ago. There's a lot of entropy there, and each has exclusivity to control distribution for the given region.

It's not that easy to work away from. Which is why Netflix has been paying more to create or co-create content (most Netflix content isn't world-wide exclusive it seems).


> Distribution rights for huge back catalogs were sold to third party local to a given country/region distributors long ago. There's a lot of entropy there, and each has exclusivity to control distribution for the given region.

Which is another reason not to use regional licensing going forward, and pass laws to disfavor it in general. It increases transaction costs -- then when Netflix or any of your hundred other buyers wants global rights to a particular film, they have to negotiate with a hundred regional distributors instead of just the original creator. The transaction costs go from "N" to "N times M" where N and M are both large. And transaction costs make otherwise profitable transactions either less profitable or not happen at all.


> Which is another reason not to use regional licensing going forward, and pass laws to disfavor it in general

I'm curious what your proposed legislation would be. Just outlaw exclusive licensing? Would you prohibit vertical integration between content producers and distributors or just force vertically integrated companies to license content to competing distributors?

How about a distributor that has an inherent market advantage and so can bid higher on the rights than other distributors? Would that be allowed? Or would you require producers to charge some lowest common denominator fee so that you can't create releases that are effectively exclusive?

I just can't imagine how you would ever effectively police this without taking away a lot of free market rights from participants.

BTW, just so it's clear, I fully support the current EU Digital Single Market rules that try to enforce the fact that you should be allowed to watch your content while you are traveling. I think that's much easier on all sides of the equation because you're not forcing anyone to make additional deals that they don't want to make (i.e. distributing content to other companies when they want it to be exclusive). I just think it's a big step from that to actually legislating away exclusive distribution deals.


> I'm curious what your proposed legislation would be.

A big thing would be to just discontinue legislative support for it. Get rid of any law preventing third parties from circumventing region locks, so that major companies can overtly thwart them.

Then you can get a "tell Netflix I'm in..." selector from your ISP or bank and the problem gets solved by the market itself.


Correct. I've used Netflix accounts in Canada, the US, Taiwan/HK, Japan, and the UK. They all have different content. But access the content is tied to the account's home region rather than your location (at least for the short term on trips).


yes, it shouldn't be legal. EU single market and all that.

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-4781_en.htm


The single market helps with physical media (e.g. DVDs) and the digital single market helps with electronic sell through (e.g. the Apple model where you buy a movie digitally and download it).

But there are still two big gaps

1. Even for physical or download to own media, you can still strike distribution exclusives and you can make them based on language. I can make a deal with a German distributor that they're the only ones that gets to distribute the German version of my movie. They can choose to delay the release of the German version for as long as they want. If you only speak German then you can't watch the movie even if the French, Italian, Spanish and Polish versions were released 6 months ago.

2. This really doesn't help with SVOD (e.g. Netflix-style) services. I can make exclusive deals with an SVOD provider in Germany and one in France. If the French provider decides they're going to hold back the release of the movie on their service then, sure, with the EU single digital market the German provider has to let you sign up, but now you're signing up for SVOD services all over the place.


When people in Poland earn as much as people in France, hence the local distributors can charge the same amount for a movie regardless of the country in which they are operating.


Telling people who have already licensed the movie in any territory that they must stop because $newlocale could resolve beautifully at $7 a showing for 5 in 4K VR, or that they need to go fund the footwork of censoring it for DPRK in 2018Q3 is evil. It's fine to let people seek a fine new venue available in locales they mean to not be seeing hurricanes in (but might.) New Search should get you. But not like 'Dear Farenheit 451' tyvm.


>The movie company sold the rights to show that movie in the UK to some other company instead of Netflix, probably for more money than Netflix offered them.

This is being actively addressed by the EU:

https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/copyright


Unlucky for this guy that wont help him after brexit.


While only a small minority might travel (across country borders) a lot in the US, I imagine in Europe it's a much higher proportion of the population that regularly travels to other countries.


There are regions where people commute daily over the border, and even more where people commute weekly.

e.g. I have a colleague who lives in Malmö (Sweden) and commutes daily to Copenhagen (Denmark). Lots of people travel into Luxembourg every day.

When I lived in the UK, the director's family lived on a pretty island in Spain, and he went every Friday for the weekend. Not exactly good for his CO₂ emissions, but people do this kind of thing.


Yay, cheap airlines. When I was interning at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories in the UK, I met a cleaner who was flying back to Poland for the weekend every other week, to attend university ("extramural" is the proper term, I think?). I was pretty shocked that one can afford this on a salary of a cleaner in a government facility.


Europe is small in comparison to US and in EU borders virtually do not exists exactly like between states in US. You can go and work in any country in EU if you are EU citizen without any permissions or special paper. Plus there is a lot of countries like Czech, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg and couple more which are so small/have so good highway system that from any place in that country you can cross the border in under 2 hours which is basically like driving from SF to Sacramento or from NYC to Philadelphia. The point is that a lot of people travels cross country in Europe, very often it's they daily commute.


In my case, my life is spent between France and China where Netflix is inexistant. I won't cancel the subscription since my family in France is using it, but it would be almost pointless to keep paying only for myself.

I don't understand this practice as well, when you are paying for a DVD or a VOD service which allow you to download the file, you can still watch it anywhere. Is it illegal to bring a DVD abroad? Why don't they give you the catalog you paid for in first place, everywhere, depending on your country's bank card? Then, no more need to setup a VPN blockade.

I feel these copyright companies often pick the most inconvenient option, even if it's costing them more in the end.


Well.. region codes (do those still exist?) certainly make (made?) it difficult to watch DVD's from abroad on many players.


Unless for some odd reason your going to buy a Sony or Panasonic DVD player then most DVD players work for all regions, infact if I went to the local supermarket in Thailand I think I would struggle to find a DVD player that still embraced region restrictions. Don't forget the gold plated HDMI cables


The Digital Single Market should improve the situation in the European Union.

Start from https://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market/digital_en – I've read something about them solving (or aiming to solve) exactly the situation you describe.


Netflix isn't locking it down, the company they are buying the media from is locking it down.


Netflix is enforcing it. They do the actual technical action of blocking access.


They are required to per the licensing deal they made with the content owner.


This always reads like an excuse. They don't have to enforce it as strictly. Content owners don't specify the exact technical details Netflix has to deploy. If the deal says "no access for users outside country x", Netflix could just ask the user from which country they are from. Then, depending on the answer either show it or not.

On another note, some companies like this. Take Valve with Steam. They are definitly in a position to dictate "no region lock bullshit", yet they still make them available. Because it means more money.


You're free to think that, and possibly some less important companies could get away with it.

However, in reality, the content owners really aren't that dumb and incompetent. There are very punishing legal implications to breaking the contracts, especially your relationship with others. And the content owners don't just do nothing; there's quite detailed questions and requirements they give when you renew their content, and they very often discover things they want to change after.

It's obviously a problematic enough relationship that netflix doesn't want to be a part of it anymore. More power to them; I wish this could be done for all industries as easily/well.


>You're free to think that, and possibly some less important companies could get away with it.

In the EU most people have identity documents... and enough services that provide identity verification. The said verification is mandatory in some industries like online gambling.

There is no intrinsic hurdle to remove the retarded IP block. Using VPN to bypass it is just yet another step away but again, why bother with VPN when I can get it via torrent?


That doesn't matter. The studio doesn't care that you live in country X. They just care that it's being viewed in country Y. I disagree with this practice as well, but I doubt even a company like Netflix has the clout to negotiate better terms.


> but I doubt even a company like Netflix has the clout to negotiate better terms.

I think they might be getting there - they've shown they can generate their own content that people want to watch and that they're a "destination" site - both pretty big sticks to wield at the next relicensing discussion.

(Imagine trying to explain to your investors that your next 10 years of films won't be on Netflix...)


I don't really think they're getting there. Stuff like Disney planning to pull most of their content off Netflix in favor of their own streaming service they're going to release makes me wonder how strong Netflix really is. I feel like studios could all develop their own walled gardens, avoid giving Netflix a cut, and do quite well.


That’s just the EU though, no such service exists on the US side. Also again these restrictions are put in place by the content owners, not netflix. It is very feasible to remove said checks but the content owners want them in place for their reasons. One can argue all day about how inconvenient this is but until they make more money without the geographic restrictions they will remain in place.


The OP complains about not being able to see movies within the EU (Poland/UK), hence my reply.


> They don't have to enforce it as strictly. Content owners don't specify the exact technical details

The deal can include whatever the content owners want it to include. And the content owners want it to include strict enforcement.

They can specify the specific technical details of enforcement, if they want. That's a legal contract, and one that they have a financial incentive to offer. Or they can specify an acceptable level of enforcement failures, or they can specify financial penalties for insufficient enforcement, or they can specify Netflix carries liability for infringement that it allows.

Or they could leave Netflix to do as they will, but threaten to pull their content or to sue Netflix for contributory negligence or whatever if Netflix doesn't comply. The fact of the matter is, the content owners have leverage and Netflix is not (yet?) in a position where they can blow off such concerns. Netflix is trying to get into that position, by creating its own content, but right now the majority of their content is dependent on other parties finding Netflix an acceptable content partner.


As a side effect, btw, you can't watch Netflix if you habitually use a VPN (as they block proxies).


> if you habitually use a VPN

depends on the VPN...

if you mean 'commercial vpn service', then probably yes.

if you mean 'routing it through some other machine you own', 'your access to <xyzpq network>' then probably no..

vpn != commercial vpn service


I was running my own Netflix VPN service (admittedly on a low cost VPS), and was blocked within a day when Netflix introduced their new policy.


Try from a residential IP block; off a simple raspberry at home for example.


Yeah, they are blocking most VPS providers. You'll need an obscure VPS host or a residential IP


Surely because they have to if they want to continue to have access to content.


Yeah but what would you expect Netflix to do? Just illegally stream it anyway? They'd get in trouble...


You can use playon cloud [0] which is an online dvr service for sites like Netflix, Hulu, etc. They appear to be legal which is good.

  [0] https://www.playon.tv/cloud


PlayOn desktop works pretty well too. That plus Plex is way more convenient when travelling internationally and in places with poor network access.


Do you really watch the same movie every month?


That doesn't have anything to do with it. Many folks don't - but their children are likely to do so. People watch the same shows every month, depending on their viewing habits. People research movies and shows at different times than they watch them, only to find out they can't actually watch it when they get to the other country. And it sucks.


Movies no but I often watch comedy series like a "re run". Just turn it on when I am doing stuff in the kitchen to have Friends running in the background so I don't have to pay full attention to it.

This is also not the full story. Recently I was watching one TV series on Netflix and when I was in the middle of the season Netlfilx informed me that by the end of January they will remove it because of copyright deal (they could stream it only for certain period of time in Poland). Of course that series is still available in UK.


This is how Steam basically single handily defeated video game pirating. Newell himself is on record saying that piracy is an issue of not making something accessible enough, and he was obviously right. People will pay for convenience. We are no longer in the age of, "I want to watch/listen/play something, lets drive to the store". If the platform they use sucks, it will have the same problem. Last pirating site I was apart of that had a game library, you would see games on shittier platforms pirated more often.


Convenience, sure, but don't forget that games on Steam are often deeply discounted compared with off-the-shelf prices. PC games (at least in Australia) are often $60 - $90 on the shelves. Many of these games can be had on Steam for $20 or less, and sometimes for only a few dollars in a bundle or on sale.


Steam also sells games very cheaply in Russia specifically to compete with piracy.

(For reference: the launch price for all AAA releases is 2000 RUB (~35 USD), while the same games on consoles often go up to ~$60 and even beyond. Especially on the Switch: Zelda is ~$80!)

People here kinda grew up with the idea that paying money for non-physical things is just ridiculous. And still many people only pay money for multiplayer games that rely on official servers.

Steam offers the multiplayer AND good launch prices AND sales with huge discounts AND a very convenient interface for downloading and launching games… so tons of PC gamers did get sucked into it :D


An $80 packaged game on a shelf probably nets the developer the same profit as a $20 digital version of the same game delivered via Steam. Packaging, distribution and retail markup are a big chunk of the price.


As an aside to this, I find it astonishing that you even still see packaged games on the shelf. The last couple of games I bought from a retailer were just a carboard box, a dvd sleeve inside and a business card with a download link on it inside that... No need to pay a markup for literally nothing.


funnily enough, sometimes the cardboard box is cheaper than buying the digital download.

I assume a motivations of it are a) to have presence next to console games and b) gift-giving? If there were at least the basic versions of the games on the disc, you could add c) people with slow internet to the equation, but that seems less and less common.


Around here (Central Europe), it’s ALWAYS the case. Steam has Europe-wide pricing, local stores’ normal prices are often 40% lower on launch day.


Not so much at release. Big titles at release will match, more or less, their store counterparts in cost. The discrepency only appears after some time, when Steam pushes for discounts to older titles to maintain sales whereas the store simply just keeps the price at more or less the same level until it's dumped into a bargain bin.

This is part of why the grey market for keys has surged here - when Steam and the stores are both about the same amount for a new release, the only cheaper avenue is to exploit the real vs perceived forex difference, and (moreso) the fact that grey market key stores don't price in our consumer protection laws (and in turn, the buyer doesn't get any of those protections).


It's more expensive to put a game on a retail shelf for many reasons, not just the retailers cut. Steam also takes a cut. For retail you have to manufacture, you have to distribute (world wide), you have to maintain an inventory, you have to get packaging ratings and comply with retail rules. It only makes sense to do for the titles you have the most confidence in. Which tends to be the premium ones.


Yes, price is certainly part of accessibility. To sell to a customer, you need to provide a product they want at a price they are prepared to pay.

This is why I predict that the $10 per month unlimited video streaming services will work, and the $10 per month unlimited music streaming services will fail. I don't think enough people are prepared to pay that price for unlimited music.


And you can also get redeem codes from secondary markets so there's always a way to get a deal.


I don't use Steam, but I also haven't pirated a game in a very long time. I basically only play free to play games nowadays. You can install Starcraft 2, Heroes of the Storm, World of Tanks, Guild Wars 2, Paladins and few other games and play for months if not years without paying anything.


When I started pirating things regularly many years ago, I'll admit that some of it was just the fun of having such a huge library of content available for free, combined with my "f* the RIAA/MPAA" attitude.

I mostly grew out of that phase, and began pirating things mostly to discover new obscure content. What.cd was amazing for music discovery, and I definitely went to a handful of concerts and bought a handful of CDs of bands I almost certainly never would have discovered without what.cd. Same goes for old and indie films.

These days I do very little pirating. I'll occasionally pirate a TV show or film that I can't find on the handful of VOD services I or my friends subscribe to. Say what you will about the bad aspects of the modern media ecosystem: DRM, "stream instead of own," fragmentation, etc. But, at least for me, the industry has done a decent job of competing with piracy on convenience.


> But, at least for me, the industry has done a decent job of competing with piracy on convenience.

It has, but the fragmentation that you mentioned is starting to seriously erode this progress. If the situation worsens on this front, I can definitely see a resurgence of piracy, again because of convenience.


That’s true. I should also say that I watch a lot less content than I did in college and before, so that’s another big contributing factor.


Agreed.. I'm paying for Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu... I'm not paying for another service at this point. Not to mention UK content I can't get at any price. I also pay for a seedbox in another country to avoid local issues.


The convenience factor is already catered to by illegal streaming sites mentioned in the article.

Anecdotally, out of the people I know, only two still pirate, but a lot use illegal streaming sites.


what.cd was amazing. Sad that it was shut down :(


Much has been written about it, but I agree that it feels like a “burning of the library of Alexandria” moment.


I miss napster for that... I bought so many CDs when Napster was around (the original), that I bought in the many years since.


I have a wireless audio configuration which introduces 200ms latency. This is usually unnoticeable because I watch almost all my video through mpv, which lets me set a 200ms delay on the video to compensate. I can't play Netflix titles through mpv, and as far as I've been able to tell, the Netflix player doesn't have an AV sync setting.

My setup is idiosyncratic, and I wouldn't expect Netflix to build in every feature of power-user video players like mpv and vlc. As long as Netflix uses DRM, their service will be inadequate for some small segment of the population, and that segment will pirate their content, because their DRM has done nothing to stop their content appearing on torrent sites within hours of its release.


> My setup is idiosyncratic

No, it makes sense. You want to play videos in a video player. Until those services let you choose your video player, i will remain sceptic.



This works on the old silverlight player, not on the modern HTML5 EME-based player. I've been able to find some hidden keybindings that work, but those only display information. Let me know if you know how it can be done.


My tv can do this. And I think my Apple TV can also.


should have bought a digital monster cable instead..

would have had just as much utility and impressive shinyness without the latency..


I think you might be joking. In case you're not, get back to me when they release a wireless digital monster cable.


> Netflix figured this out a decade ago, and I wonder how many people have ever "given up" on Netflix to go torrent a show? I can't imagine it's a lot.

I did as Netflix had continuous problems with keeping high quality stream at all times. Playing local file I have guaranteed HQ content without stops to buffer more data. Even with 250 Mb/s connection (measured using Netflix's own fast.com).


Although, now you can download Netflix (and Amazon) shows for later viewing. (I only do that for travel though. Even with a fairly modest Internet connection, I rarely have issues.)


> Although, now you can download Netflix (and Amazon) shows for later viewing.

Incredible, that this is worth mentioning. But here we are (no offense to parent, it's just funny that downloading a movie is a feature).

Think about how incredibly less complex Netflix's tech stack would be, if it's just a big fat file server offering all shows or seeding torrents.


I don't see download option on my TV running Android. Is this only for PC? On the other hand video files work seamlessly (there is MX Player for Android TV).

Sure, there is extra hassle for getting them in the first place but Netflix still has small library for my family (e.g. has Frozen but not Tangled).


It's only for films or shows produced or distributed by Netflix. The download option doesn't include shows/films that they license.


at least some of the documentaries from PBS and BBC are downloadable as well.


That's not true, we've downloaded plenty of children's shows for the kids to watch on the train that aren't produced/distributed by Netflix (eg. Octonauts).


Ah. Hadn't noticed that. Most of what I watch on those services, especially when traveling, is their original content so I hadn't noticed it wasn't for everything.


It’s probably only on mobile devices.


> But after struggling through one episode with lags and ads with no volume control, I gave up and just torrented the show.

It amazes me how actively hostile most of the TV networks are towards viewers. It's very obvious that we're the product and the advertisers are the customer. If the NBC app crashes in the middle of a show you're forced to re-watch all of the ads from the beginning. If an advertisement doesn't load for any reason, there's no timeout or error handling, you're just done watching that show until you kill and restart the app (and re-watch all the ads again).


I've been around some TV news people. They can't imagine why we aren't glued to our sets because they told us to come at 6pm and 10pm. They think they teased a good story earlier in the day. They think they are being so generous to let us watch something when we want to. It is already a huge leap to break the schedule and play on demand.

Yes, someday they will realize most people under 45 don't watch TV news. That someday will come when their current viewers die. The stations will be lost -they already "tried" streaming. Who wants to bet that they will desperately add more advertisements to any stream they can.


They're not specifically hostile, it's more the industry - like many others - selects True Believers who cannot understand the outsider/consumer point of view.

And yes - ultimately it's about ad sales.


I second GP's problem with subtitles and availability. For me torrenting always been about media I cannot get in the way I want - their release is delayed in the country I stay in, or it's only available dubbed or it doesn't have the subtitles I need (e.g. to watch Japanese, Spanish, French or Italian speaking films for me or anything other than Japanese for my Japanese wife).

Where I come from around half the marriages are between people of different nationalities and a significant percentage of those between people of different languages. Even when people are fluent in a language, subtitles still allow a much more comfortable viewing (and also learning a language better). This is something that all those US-centric services just don't get. Netflix is improving with its own content, anyone else is far behind.


Netflix is improving in some locales, but remains a shitshow elsewhere (experimentally: countries with under 40M population). E.g. there are German and Polish subtitles for everything; there are almost none for Czech. They do things like providing them for only season 1, but not the rest, or don’t bother even with their own high-profile shows. Slovak viewers can choose between Slovak, Polish and Ukrainian subs, but not Czech - even though the entire country fluently understands Czech, an extremely closely related language. Netflix doesn’t care. Or have even nominally-useful support.

If the Netflix app allowed side loading my own subtitles, it’d be fine. But of course it doesn’t and won’t.

So guess what I do when I finish Narcos season 1 and discover lack of subtitles in season 2. Or when a show available on Netflix doesn’t have any (and I want to watch it with my spouse who can’t read English subs quickly enough).


Interesting. I don't think I have ever come across anything that didn't have Danish subtitles. The same goes for the other Nordic languages that for some reason are available on Danish Netflix.


Same. I have the budget for it, just there is no legit service that will give me the movies I want to watch. I have zero interest in the latest fast & furry or marvel movie. I'm rather: pull the filmography of Robert Duvall and let's watch the movies I haven't seen already. Easy to do on bittorrent, impossible on any streaming service. The only alternative is buying DVDs and Blurays on amazon which I also do, but that requires some patience/planning ahead which I'm not good at, and then I have to rip them on another machine, it's just not convenient.


This might sound like a dumb question, but have you checked Youtube much? Their catalog of "pay to stream" movies is (to me) surprisingly good. Definitely not just the recent blockbusters... they've got all sorts of older and less well know stuff. Just for shits and giggles I pulled up the Robert Duvall filmography just now and check and found even the oldest and lesser known ones on Youtube, most for around $3-4 to watch.

Strangely enough, since discovering this aspect of Youtube, that has become my goto site for most movies, and definitely helped cut down on my pirating activity.


Thanks for the tip. Will look into it.


It's free on NBC's website. But after struggling through one episode with lags and ads with no volume control, I gave up and just torrented the show.

I had a similar experience last year trying to watch "The Orville" using the Fox Now app. First they place restrictions so that you can only watch the 4 most recent episodes.

And then the Android app itself was horribly slow and crashy. The interactive ads were annoying, but I could have lived with it if everything else had worked smoothly.

I'm so lazy these days that if it isn't already available on Netflix, I won't bother watching it. There's enough stuff on there that I can just watch something else. I'm also cycling through some Stanford physics lectures by Leonard Susskind, which satisfies my desires for intellectual simulation right now.


I was about to argue that Netflix is still not viable for Linux users but then I googled it and apparently Netflix now works out of the box in Google Chrome.

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/watch-netflix-natively-linux-e...

Does that include Chromium though? I think probably not. I will give it a try in Chromium but if that doesn't work then I will not be able to use Netflix still.


Netflix also works in Firefox on Linux since almost a year or so.


It should work with Chromium, IIRC, however you'd need to install the Widevine DRM plugin to make it work. It's available in the non-free section of most-distributions, being closed-source and all...


Yeah, I've been happily using Netflix on Linux for years. (As well as on an Android tablet and a Roku box for my projector.) Like many others, I'm entirely happy to pay money for content; my torrenting was about convenience.

I'll still torrent when I buy a movie on DVD, because it's way easier to download than to rip it myself.


I've been fairly happy with it on Linux, but it still drives me crazy that despite paying for a 4k plan, the best I can view in my browser is 720p. I'm guessing it's a piracy prevention mechanism, but I'm not sure there's much value in this as it's released in 4k on torrent sites within an hour of the release.


You can happily use Netflix on Linux, but not in 1080p. :(


Cannot agree more. It's only convenience for me as well. An mp4/mkv file has no ads, doesn't care about my browser version and will play perfectly on the plane or in any country. Ah, and I can have it in any language available with any subtitles. Sorry, but all that proprietary crap out there can't beat that.


You made me curious about the show, so I went to the NBC page.

It says: "Sorry, this video is not available from your location."


Oh, God no!

I like to watch the first episode of a new show to see if I'll like it. But this is one show I deeply, I say again deeply regret watching. I'll never get those 22 minutes of my life back.

The show is cringeworthy. It's one of the un-funniest sitcoms (can they call it that?) I've ever seen. It's that bad.

Everything has a price, but I wouldn't watch another episode unless they paid me $100. And if the second episode was as bad as the first, they would need to keep doubling that payment for each additional episode.


I've been tagged for torrenting things which were broadcast over the air. The way I saw it, there was no way to get the show on my device and on my schedule, and the content provider was actually getting someone watching their program--with ads intact--for no additional effort or expense on their part. Financially, they won. They didn't see it that way :)


Financially they lost. They can’t sell advertising based on the number of people who pirate the show. Yeah, the advertisers made out (assuming you didn’t skip the ads) but the content producer did not.


This was their choice. They could have simply made it available for streaming during or after the show was broadcast, adverts and all. It isn't like most folks I know sit there and watch adverts on "regular" channels anyway. They can offer an ad-free service for a charge. When they don't offer such things on a fairly broad (global) scale, I don't see how they can be surprised when folks watch it illegally. And I seriously don't understand why the courts aren't asking the providers to do such things.


I don’t really disagree with you, but my point was that the original assertion that they made out because the OP pirated the content is false.


I also had major issues trying to stream A.P. Bio on NBC's streaming website. I wanted to see the new show with Glenn Howerton.

The video was really laggy, skipped dialog due to lag jitters, and served up 15 minutes of ads for 22 minutes of content.

Ended up not watching the show because of NBC site not working right.


Yes, lag is one thing, but the NBC website was literally skipping dialogue. After missing three jokes in a row I gave up.


> Until they master such exotic technologies as "streaming video" and "volume control" they're going to keep driving people to torrenting.

They won't master. They focus on monetization before they got the basics in place. Case in point MSNBC. Unbelievable where in the world the page is loading scripts from and phoning home to. Add weak streaming and of course the experience is brittle and virtually unusable. If MSNBC wants to share information with serious partners they may do that but the cheap way they let everyone add a tracker is embarrassing.


This. Me and my lady enjoy watching [some abysmal show that I won’t admit to] which is currently broadcast on one of the Australian networks. I don’t own a TV receiver, so everything is streamed.

Their site is so pitifully bad I refuse to use it. I tried, I really did. But when the ads break and you’re forced to reload the stream, only to be put back to the start, with no ability to skip forward? Sorry, no.

I wait a day and torrent the show with the ads removed. And I don’t feel the tiniest bit bad about it.


Torrenting for me was because there was no other way. When I lived in Australia the internet was so bad and there was no access to Netflix, Hulu or anything. Once I moved to singapore I instantly went from adsl2+ giving me 1.8mbit to 1gbit giving me 800mbit average. And I could sign up for Netflix and Hulu.

The last time I used BitTorrent must be 6-7 years ago now.


Plenty people still give up on Netflix to torrent. Especially when Netflix doesn't carry all that much content in some countries.

I wanted to watch Lord of the Rings the other day, and to my surprise they pulled it from the available content in my country.


I've attempted to pay for some shows and movies but after a while I've become sick of drm, slow downloads or crappy streaming. It is simply more convenient to just get it from a high quality source.


I'd like to know the ratio of "legitimate" viewers to pirates for Netflix and major network shows. Does the quality and convenience of the Netflix player reduce piracy?


Certainly worked for Steam. Totally revitalized PC gaming. The hassle of downloading games, applying constant cracks, and what not. Now you pay $5 for a humble bundle full of steam games.


I suspect it used to back when Netflix was more of an archive of "classics" and less supplier of their own content.

Also, it depends a bit on where in the world you lived. Netflix for the most part was a US phenomena, and even as it spread elsewhere the library offered often lagged what was found in the US. So people would use proxies and similar to access the US library from abroad.


Ah yeah good point about region. In this case we'd have to look at just US viewers of Netflix Originals. The entire dataset would be interesting though.


small anecdote: when spotify vecame available in my region (Lithuania), I instantly became paid subscriber because it was really convenient. And my colleagues did the same - it’s just simpler to use Spotify with its was library instead of wasting time in torrent sites looking for some new music. Same applies for me with netflix.


After Steam took off I did the same, it's much more convenient than piracy.

The only exception I make is when software has overbearing DRM in place. I will not hand over money for a tainted product when I can get better for nothing.

With video media I'm largely covered with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video but there is still plenty of content I'm missing. Instead of doing the right thing many networks are rolling their own half arsed subscription streaming services. Nobody in their right mind is going to stay subbed to the likes of CBS All Access when the only thing half worth watching is Star Trek Discovery, I've seen many people ditching their sub now that the season is over.


In my experience it is. Streaming apps come integrated into all kinds of devices, giving a plug and play experience close to the old fashioned way. It's not much, but don't forget to consider trust at that. Why risk shady piracy when a convenient app is built right into your $device.

Whether that reduces piracy or rather the legal enforcement which pushes torrents into the shadows of its former self does not hinge on the quality of the delivery.


I would subscribe to a torrenting plan anyday. i don't even care if it's like $30/mo. Just give me access to high quality content in a legal fashion.


On my case it's the same, I torrent shows I can watch for free on Amazon Prime because for some reason their DRM never plays properly.


There is a Google Chrome extension[1], which allows you to do this. It basically replaces the site's player with its own and you can even search for subtitles from within the player itself.

1. https://www.google.co.in/url?q=https://chrome.google.com/web...


That is really cool. Seems like there is an extension for everything. Thank you.


This is a major issue with streaming services. Netflix usually doesn't offer even English subtitles to an English-speaking movie if you're in a non-English speaking country! At least with DVDs you could rip it and add subtitles yourself if needed.


> Netflix usually doesn't offer even English subtitles to an English-speaking movie if you're in a non-English speaking country!

Sadly, this has nothing to do with streaming and everything to do with rightsholders (aka "Hollywood").

The rights on the subtitles are held by the company that makes them, are then sold to the company that distributes the movie, which are then resold to regional distributors, separately from the rights to show the movie. This means that if you want to show, say Transformers, you have to negotiate with one company to show the picture, another company to license the sound, and yet another company for each set of subtitles.

It just isn't worth the effort in most cases to negotiate the Transformers English titles in France, for example.

Movie industry licensing and asset packaging are stuck in a time when you had to move physical reels of tape and film around, and still haven't caught up to digital technology.


> Movie industry licensing and asset packaging are stuck in a time

Relevant quote: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair

Until they see disruption or increased profits, I don't expect they'll change. I expect them to actually be disrupted before seeing it coming.


It's already happening. Netflix and Amazon have both got into the content-production game, and one of their stated reasons is that when they make their own content they don't have to deal with region-specific licensing issues.


I don't see how English subtitles for an English movie can even be copyrighted... they're definitely not a work of art, not transformative, just a plain old transcript.


I could see an argument made that the placement of the subtitles in an arrangement for ease of reading, without blocking key visual information, placed such that a viewer can identify which subtitle is spoken by which character, timed such that jokes are not given away prematurely, has a creative aspect in order to make sure that all such constraints are met when creating subtitles.

It isn't a good argument, but I could see it being made.


Subtitles are literally just the scripted dialogue in textual form, so the copyright would belong to the studio (having purchased the script from the screenwriter).

Translated subtitles would be copyrighted by the translator under a derivative license from the studio owning the film.

Subtitles of the type you suggest don't currently exist as standalone products; the level of detail and information you are describing would require the subtitles to be part of the film itself (see e.g., Atomic Blonde or John Wick for good examples).


ASS subtitle format is rich enough to encapsulate this. You see it in anime subs. They're distributed with the product, but it's a separate stream in the MKV.


Well, yeah, the script of the movie is copyrighted.


The copyright of the movie script & audio track extends to the subtitles. It's not an independent work of art, but it's part of one - and the copyright holder certainly can licence you only part of their work or only certain forms of their work, and they've chosen to grant you one transformation and not another.


I guess all that licensing explains why airlines so rarely have English captioning for English-speaking movies. Which really sucks for the deaf and hearing-impaired.


Like the enduser cares about whos fault it is. Netflix could at least allow the loading of custom subtitles.


Nah. Netflix has been enormously disciplined about preventing feature bloat, and I really admire them for it. When this problem gets high enough on their list to solve, I'd much rather they did it right (buying the rights or doing their own subtitles) than some sort of half-assed thing that 90% of humanity won't be able to get to work.


It is very easy actually. Drag and Drop the subtitle onto the screen. MPC-HC and VLC do this. I would safely assume that Netflix could achieve such simplicity too. And even if it's for 10% of the users, people with hearing problems are more in percentage.


There's a lot more to it than that though, especially if you're targeting normal people and not the HN crowd. What if the subtitles are delayed? What if there are problems with the encoding and there are question marks all over the place? All of this is very solvable, but you can't just say "it's very easy actually, just drag and drop".


I can, because it is. Normal people can do that too. I would argue that VLC is mass-compatible.

Since using your own subtitle file, Netflix just doesn't have to do anything besides displaying them. Finding the correct subtitle is the users job, not Netflix. After all this would be called "use your own subtitle here" and I think Netflix can handle Unicode. Not everything has to be spoonfed for the dumbest user alive. Also, I don't think there is a reliable way to detect delays in the subtitle, especially if it's in a different language then the audio track. If you have a reference subtitle track, this might work, comparing time of first appearance. Any subsequent offset might be due to 25/23,976 which could be detected, but again, this is not Netflix's problem.


To me, whenever I hear someone (seems to have died down) about abundance/scarcity economics, that's exactly is exactly what I think of.

Everyone could have access to all movies/songs/books ever written with every subtitle file, dvd-only extra and whatnot they want. Could in the sense that it already exists and the marginal cost of delivering it to people is 0.

All that dealmaking, liscencing and such that you are describing... They're not strictly necessary. At least, they are not required to deliver the "goods." They are required in order to get revenue. Revenue requires pricing which requires exclusion, scarcity.

Not giving everyone everything is wasteful.


This means that if you want to show, say Transformers, you have to negotiate with one company to show the picture, another company to license the sound, and yet another company for each set of subtitles.

Sound is part of the film license in the US and Europe. This includes music and songs within the film. Studios pay out big bucks to license songs for films.

For example: my current employer would pay a license of approximately $500 to license major label music that will be played at an event to a live audience, broadcast globally, and streamed to 10 million viewers. (The total music budget for a 3-day event is maybe $5000, and that covers hours of music.) A movie studio licensing that same song for a movie would pay a minimum of $25,000, just for that song, assuming that it's part of the back catalog. A song that made the top 100 of the Billboard lists when it was released could command more than $100,000.


That's not entirely accurate. The song is only licensed for certain uses. For old TV shows especially, digital streaming wasn't a thing, so it wasn't included in the license. They have to be renegotiated for streaming.

That's why sometimes the songs in the shows on Netflix are different than the ones on the DVDs, for example.


But they always seem to offer English CC though, just not the regular ones (for many movies). And the regular ones should just be a simple transformation of the CC ones (strip all "\[.*?\]" stuff). That said, the other day I watched the movie "Easy A" which did happen to have both English CC and normal English subtitles. Still the only one I've found so far though.


English CC is offered in English speaking countries probably for legal reasons. They are not available elsewhere in the world. In Germany you get only German subtitles.

For whatever reason this is not the case for series in Netflix, which most of the time contain also in English subtitles. Wouldn't have helped the original commenter's case of course.


English CC for English speaking countries is actually for deaf people. There's some new rule/law that is actually making websites include English CC's in order to be compliant, though I'm not sure what the penalty is for ignoring that (probably fines).


That’s not correct. All recent shows I watched on Netflix in Germany (on a German account) had English CC subtitles in addition to typically a range of others. This includes Originals and external content such as Star Trek TNG


Yes as I mentioned most series have English subtitles, while movies do not. I don't have a clue what's behind this difference.


Technically it is easy to create the subtitles, but legally that would be a derivative work of the CC subtitles, so again, it comes down to copyright law. :(


Wouldn't it be a derivative work of the original movie instead? (Assuming that the person creating them didn't use the CC subtitles as a reference point)

Just curious about the technicalities of copyright law.


Well I only phrased it that way because OP suggested running a regular expression on the English CC subtitles. :)


Netflix seems to be pretty opinionated about subtitles. Try watching Narcos without subs, you can't. "Off" means the Spanish parts are subbed, and switching it to Spanish means the English parts are subbed!

Netflix, a Californian company, simply couldn't fathom that some people might understand English and Spanish.


> Netflix, a Californian company, simply couldn't fathom that some people might understand English and Spanish.

Or they just decided the path that serves the most people without complicating matters is to assume you want subtitles for any language not selected as the primary audio language.

I think the relevant question here is how would you design a control panel that allowed you to define which of the many languages which might be in the movie should be subtitled or not? I think the people that care about this (that is, those that speak both languages and find it annoying) is vanishingly small.


I don't agree that adding Off/Auto/Language-of-choice setting is complicating matters. Having an "Off" setting that isn't actually off is not good UX. A huge portion of Spanish speakers in the US also speak English, so I wouldn't say this is a niche feature.

44% of Californians speak a language other than English at home, and 1/5 nationwide [1], yet Netflix' product doesn't seem to cater particularly well to those audiences.

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/censu...


Yes, exactly. Netflix is militantly opposed to feature bloat. That means picking the case that works well for most people.

And I'd add that what to subtitle is an artistic choice; directors carefully decide what languages to use and what they want to subtitle or leave untranslated. Plus Netflix have to deal with source material from hundreds of companies. Creating clever subtitle features quickly gets out into very deep waters.


> That means picking the case that works well for most people.

On the web, you can serve customized content to every single client, because the tech enables it. It's just wrong to go for "one size fits all".


In the app settings you have a list of languages and the user selects the ones they speak. When CC is on subtitle everything, when CC is off subtitle what is not selected.


Yes, that's probably the right way to implement this, but it is still more complex.

No one on this site will have problem with that UI, but I personally know people who have issues with much simpler things.


Sane defaults are easy to set in this scenario so the average user gets the same behavior as today but those people who want more control can still do so.


Add an English and Spanish audio language.

It's really not hard. The real problem is that because it's closed-source software, the user must rely on the creator to think of every edge case.


It would be so much better if the user could just watch the encrypted video feed in just any player they want (provided they interface with a libnetflix library...)


Absolutely.

The only reason I have left to pirate a movie that is available to me on netflix is to get more stable playback, the ability to play slightly faster, and the ability to use Smooth Video Project.

It's obvious that DRM-based platforms have driven TV manufacturers to implement expensive frame-interpolation into their displays, when it can be done much more efficiently at the decoder level, on machines where it makes sense to already have a fast GPU. This is the thing I find most frustrating with this situation.


If the show or movie has both Spanish and English subtitles, when you go to turn subtitles on/off just show each language with its own toggle. There could also be master toggle to show turn all on/off. I doubt most shows would have more than two, if at all.


That’s a far far saner interpretation of “off” than the alternative

On hbo Nordic, (The Scandinavian hbo go) off means -OFF- and it’s absolutely infuriatingly stupid to expect that I can speak Spanish, or Russian, just because I don’t want Scandinavian subtitles when watching an English movie


I feel like English-speaking product design in general has not caught up with the idea that there is a substantial audience of very competent second language speakers. Most educated Continentals I know have similar complaints.


To help out: in the most of Hollywood movies spoken Russian is usually beyond unnatural with a heavy accent... to a point computer synthesized voice acting would be an improvement.


Do the same thing happen in Russia when they feature spoken English?


(Likely) it used to in the 80s when I was exposed to Russian movies but nowadays I cannot judge due to lack of exposure. (Russian is my 3rd language.)


Heh, that's actually funny. I'll be that is a technology issue and not a rights issue. The again, how do you indicate that you understand both languages? For a standard movie, the "foreign" language is always subtitled (unless the director specifically sats not to), even with subs off.


But that's the same for BluRay and DVDs. It's just a limited use case and probably just difficult to program for.


edit: never-mind I responded to the wrong post


You'd need more "settings" too because some people want only foreign language subtitles turned on (language impaired) and others want subtitles for everything (hearing impaired). And what if you're multi-lingual but hearing impaired? You might want all subtitles for languages you speak in the original language.


Perhaps they can fathom it, but the percent of the audience that is spanish/english bilingual and cares about subtitles was too small for them to care about.


Burned in subtitles maybe?


Netflix and their subtitles is so strange. I have an account but the subtitle selection is so limited. The rip of a Netflix show, especially recently, will have upwards of twenty subtitles, I assume from every region they're allowed to show the movie. In the actual app, you're lucky to have more than four, with two of those being English and English for the hearing impaired.


It may depends on the country. I'm in France, and I almost always have english subtitles. On the rare occasions there is no english subtitles, I always have french subtitles. I never had to watch anything without subtitles on netflix (which btw, is one of the clear wins of netflix to me compared to pirate streaming).


Yesterday I saw that 'Lord of the Rings' is on Netflix.

I thought to myself 'Cool, I have not seen this movie since it's initial release. I remember there is an extended version, let's check it out'.

Nope, you only get the base version on Netflix. And that's until netflix removes it from it's library.

I am pretty sure that for such a well known movie, I could be watching the hires version of the extended cut with all its goodies after 2 minutes of research if I wanted too thanks to bitorrent.


Thank you for sharing this story. I hope you and your parents are able to connect again when you finish school.


Technology is really beautiful for reasons precisely like this and I'm really happy that there are real life cases and stories such as yours to underline and define the most positive side. It'll never be talked about nor trotted out in defense of allowing things like this to happen but I'd be willing to bet there are many more stories like yours than the demonized stories you'll hear lawyers tell to explain the "seedy underbelly" and "plight on humanity" that pirating and torrenting cause.


I have zero moral qualms about pirating things that the copyright holder refuses to sell at any price. If they don't want my money, I'm under no obligation to give them any.


Bittorrent has kind of given me real sparks in life that I could have never attempted to experience.

This is in terms of amounts of books that I have downloaded! Most associate torrents with audio/video downloads. But any books lovers here - should check out the wealth out there.

I sincerely want to 'buy' all books I have downloaded after I own a house and a dog.


This. X 100.

Bittorrent and VLC gives you 100% control over how you view content. And subtitles are a huge part of the watching experience for many people.


That's a sweet story, thanks for sharing.


Would you mind contacting me about this, my email address is in my profile.


Open solutions are by nature more flexible.


The reason why for me, someone with a netflix and amazon prime account in Germany, bittorrent is neither dead nor declining (for movies and TV shows):

a) Being on time. If you want to take part in the online discussion about tv shows, you have to watch them on time. For a ton of shows I can't even buy episodes on the day they come out. Torrenting is still the far superior choice.

b) Languages. Yes netflix, I know that I live in Germany. That does not mean that I don't want to have the option of watching anime in Japanese with English subtitles. And Amazon, it's great that I found out you are now showing advertisements before every episode, but it's also in German. While everything else on amazon.de is in English for me.

c) Quality. I don't care that your algorithm thinks my network is not fast enough for HD. Just let me tell it that it's wrong. Or I could torrent and download something in actual HD within just a few minutes.

The worst thing is that all of those are completely artificial. There is no technological reason for any of those problems to exist. And ignoring if I want to or not, in most cases I don't even have the option of throwing absurd amounts of money at them to make them go away. Because of greed, laziness and/or stupidity, torrenting is still the superior option in most cases. For me.

PS: Mostly thanks to Bandcamp.com music torrenting is completely dead for me.


> PS: Mostly thanks to Bandcamp.com music torrenting is completely dead for me.

Seconded. My music search these days is

    Find interesting band
               +
               |
               v               not sure I can
        Is on bandcamp? +-no-> be arsed to even
               +               check torrents
               |
              yes
               |
               v
           buy entire 
         discography on
            bandcamp


I love bandcamp. It only takes 10% to 15%, unlike Apple/Google/Amazon which take >= 30% from artists.

Really I prefer buying CDs at shows. Artists usually get to buy CDs from their own labels for $1 each, where if you buy it on Amazon/iTunes, they have to pay their label back for the recording costs, so they get like $0 until they hit some number (usually a few thousand). So if I buy a CD for $12, they're probably getting at least $10 of that.


To be fair, most bands I but from don't have the "problem" of having a label to worry about ;)


I'm so tired of this evil label narrative. It's unfair to reduce them to those 5 major labels.

Particularly on Bandcamp there are countless small, honest labels that act as a curator and really help to develop their artists while taking a fair cut. Being featured on one of them is a huge opportunity for most artists.


I make it easy for myself. Any label that's a member of RIAA of IFPI is evil, the others I throw money at.


A very simplified view.


As I said, I'm making it easy for myself.


Torrents don't really work for music. Soulseek is your friend there, super old-school but great community and it has basically everything.

I also buy almost everything I find on Bandcamp. Excepting those über-hipster techno artists with 100-copies vinyl-only releases (but those you can usually still find rips on Soulseek.)


Before there even was Bandcamp, there was Oink's Pink Palace [0], not only one of the best sources for music (NiN's Trent Reznor was a member & user of the site), some (lesser known) artists even released music exclusively on OiNK.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oink's_Pink_Palace


To add to your comment is the interview of Trent Reznor and Saul Williams from 2007 [1].

Begin excerpt from said interview:

What do you think about OiNK being shut down?

Trent: I'll admit I had an account there and frequented it quite often. At the end of the day, what made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store. Pretty much anything you could ever imagine, it was there, and it was there in the format you wanted.

If OiNK cost anything, I would certainly have paid, but there isn't the equivalent of that in the retail space right now. iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc.

Amazon has potential, but none of them get around the issue of pre-release leaks. And that's what's such a difficult puzzle at the moment. If your favorite band in the world has a leaked record out, do you listen to it or do you not listen to it?

People on those boards, they're grateful for the person that uploaded it — they're the hero. They're not stealing it because they're going to make money off of it; they're stealing it because they love the band. I'm not saying that I think OiNK is morally correct, but I do know that it existed because it filled a void of what people want.

Cease excerpt from said interview.

Flash forward 11 years and there still isn't a legal alternative to OiNK' Pink Palace (OPP) that can hold a candle to it. I love music, but the music that I love I can not find on any streaming service.

The bands I like are old enough that they are no longer touring or producing music and since I can not find any of their "old" songs on any (legal) streaming or downloading sites I am left with zero options to support the bands I personally like.

[1]: https://www.vulture.com/2007/10/trent_reznor_and_saul_willia...


>Torrents don't really work for music.

Redacted has almost anything that's not the most obscure of the underground.


+1 for soulseek. I still boot it up quite a bit, no where near what I used to, but still quite regularly.

Although for the more obscure things, youtube-dl is #1 where soulseek fails


>Torrents don't really work for music

How come? I know What.CD closed down, but I remember that RuTracker had quite a large selection of high-fidelity music records.


Oh the other hand, if it's on iTunes it's almost an instant piracy. Not only you can't buy it without installing a huge application, you can't even preview it either.


Can anyone speculate on why Apple has never made iTunes purchasing available as an online store? It's the prospect of installing iTunes that keeps me away as well.

I've used Google Play when I couldn't find something on Bandcamp because it lets me purchase and download the album in a browser. But even then you have to have an account.


It's all part of their one-size-fits-all approach.

They want to make sure everyone uses their software that runs on their overpriced hardware, and DRM is yet another way to enforce that.


well to be fair iTunes isn't as bad as it is on windows. granted it was better when I started using a mac. around ~10.9 but I regulary buy music there. it's simple and iTunes is fast on mac and I like how it organizes music.

but yeah I never liked it/like it on windows.


I never had an issue with it on Windows. Recently, they even added HiDPI support!


I was this way with iTunes for a long time.

iTunes successfully turned me off pirating music, why would I do it when I can pay 99p for a song and have all the metadata correct, including album art, perfectly synced to all my devices in perpetuity? And no DRM means I can play them on my non-apple/iTunes devices and media players.. great!

Well, unfortunately I want to own my music, so I don't like to use streaming services and there was an issue[0] with some music going missing. So for as long as apple are pushing their subscription model so hard I'm going to go back to ripping from youtube or downloading FLAC torrents and converting them myself.

(sorry, I'm a little bitter that the entire UX around apple's media player changed to push this bullshit so hard)

[0] https://blog.dijit.sh/importance-of-self-hosted-backups


> all the metadata correct, including album art

https://picard.musicbrainz.org/

I even… buy music on iTunes… and overwrite all of their metadata with MusicBrainz's.


Why, is it better?


Not sure I understand why, if you want to own your music, you don't just ignore the premium streaming services and continue to buy what you want. I admittedly have a big library and am generally less interested in a lot of newer music but I currently just have the "free" streaming Amazon Prime service and just buy anything in particular I want.


Amazon prime does not operate where I live (Sweden) and buying has a lot more friction than it used to.

I haven't tried bandcamp but iTunes is annoying for me today. Features like the "complete my album" and recommendations no longer exist except inside Apple Music.


Heh. Pretty much exactly like that for me :)


Don't forget youtube-dl, the bridge between the streaming world and the download world of yore. Song you like on youtube? youtube-dl -x. It supports so many sites too - at least all the major video sites plus bandcamp and soundcloud.


>b) Languages.

It is so damn hard to find media in other languages, and there is no reason for it. The US and Germany are both very technologically advanced countries producing a great amount of media in their own majority languages, but as a German speaker in the US, Harry Potter is about the only German language novel I can reliably find. I like Harry Potter, sure, but I like other books too. I shouldn't have to fly to Germany to find them.


Reminds me of the story that when the last book of the series was released in English, a German fan group sat down an translated a portion each. They finished the task in something like 48 hours. And they did it because supposedly the official German translation could only be started after the English release for fear of leaks.


> b) Languages.

Another thing. I buy most movies I like on iTunes, but I have an issue with the films one of my favorite directors; Werner Herzog. The company that distributes his films on iTunes has decided to mostly make his films available with only a dubbed English soundtrack rather than the original German with subtitles. Even though I don't speak German, hearing the original actors voices gives me a better feel of what the director was doing. Herzog actually shot and edited two different versions of Nosferatu, but his ear for english, or his actors comfort with English make the english version clunky and stilted. In Aguirre, the Wrath of God, the voice actor doing the English for Klaus Kinski can't convey the delusional desperation in the closing speech to the monkeys on the drifting raft the way Kinski's voice can.

Interestingly, I recently bought Almodovar's Women on Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It defaults to a dubbed version, so every time I watch it, I have to reconfigure my AppleTV to play the Spanish, but add english subtitles (a setting that I have to back out when done because it screws up all my other films). Its funny because several of the characters in the film are actors that do voice dubbing, and there are several scenes where they are dubbing an American film into Spanish. Translating that to a english language film it seems like she is dubbing an English language film into English. kind of absurd.


Maybe you can switch to the German store for German language movies. Does that work or do you need a German address?


Even if it was possible, you'd have to switch back and forth between stores and maintain 2 separate accounts. Piracy seems like the more convenient option here.


> Quality. I don't care that your algorithm thinks my network is not fast enough for HD. Just let me tell it that it's wrong. Or I could torrent and download something in actual HD within just a few minutes.

This is so true. I have a decently fast connection (75mbps) and Netflix's own speed test tells me the pipe really is that fat. YouTube can play 1080p60fps content without breaking a sweat. But Netflix is always blurry af. I tried firefox Chrome edge and even the native windows app. The quality is always lesser than what you can get on YouTube. It's the same on Android. I think it doesn't even show me 720p on my 1440p phone. Even when I pre-download something so the network strength is not an issue.

On the other hand, Amazon prime content is crispy clear 1080p most of the times.


1080p and 4k streaming on Windows currently only works on Internet Explorer\Edge.

Other browsers are at a lesser resolution, I believe it was 720p but that could be wrong.

Edit: yup, 720p on everything except IT.

https://help.netflix.com/en/node/23742

Quote:

    Google Chrome

        Up to 720p on Windows, Mac, and Linux

        Up to 1080p on Chrome OS

    Internet Explorer up to 1080p

    Microsoft Edge up to 4K*

    Mozilla Firefox up to 720p

    Opera up to 720p

    Safari up to 1080p on Mac OS X 10.10.3 or later


I know, that's why I tried IE, edge and also the native Windows app. The quality is still crappy. In fact I wanted to watch the movie Pacific Rim, and the quality was so bad that it was unwatchable. I torrented a 1080p copy and watched that instead.

As I said, the weird part is that their is no improvement in quality even if you pre-download the content.


Maybe your ISP is specifically throttling Netflix, but not their speed test?


I'm pretty sure their speed test (fast.com) is designed to hit the Netflix content servers making it difficult (impossible?) to throttle either independently.


Also don't forget a much narrower content selection. I'm happy to pay for Netflix, but if you live in the wrong country, it has like 10 times less good content than the US version.

I understand that there are business and licensing reasons for that, but it is still a bummer to use a much inferior second rate version of the website.


The US version is losing content every month. Brazil looked a lot better, my guess is that they know Brazilians will not pay for anything, haha, even if they could.


a) Being on time. If you want to take part in the online discussion about tv shows, you have to watch them on time. For a ton of shows I can't even buy episodes on the day they come out. Torrenting is still the far superior choice.

I generally found that buying a season pass on iTunes typically gives you episodes as soon as they come out. They often offer shows in the original version and with German subtitles/audio. In original versions, the shows get released in parallel with the US. And if there's something missing, I use an US iTunes account (Apple TV 4 permits quick account switching).


Except if it’s a japanese show. Then it won’t be on itunes or you’ll see it in a year.

Because apparently fuck japanese shows, both ways (right holder side and distributor side).

Netflix is getting better at this game, but worldwide same time release is still more of a miracle than a standard procedure. If it ever gets release outside of japan in the first place.


Is it possible to watch stuff on iTunes without downloading their software? Because I have limits.


In my case, iTunes doesn’t work in linux.


That’s very similar to its status on MacOS and Windows.


I mostly use streaming sites instead of BT these days.

Got burned once when my flatmate downloaded family guy and we got "mail" by an attorney of 20th century fox...

But yes, I got Netflix and Amazon Prime too. They simply don't have everything in every language.


> I mostly use streaming sites instead of BT these days.

Why? You have to get through tons of ads, have to hope they are of decent quality, etc. With BT I download, and in about 5 minutes I have the whole thing in HD.


Netflix and Amazon rarely show ads, normally just a short 30 second recommendation at that.

All streaming in HD in about 5 seconds.


I think he wasn't talking about legal streaming sites as that was kinda the point of my original post.

> All streaming in HD in about 5 seconds.

Yeah, until it's not. I mean sure, 20 seconds of low quality is not the end of the world. But there is no reason it should be that crappy. And they are competing against easy and free, having only "moral high ground" as the competitive advantage. So at the very least, they shouldn't be worse.


Yeah, until it's not. I mean sure, 20 seconds of low quality is not the end of the world.

I literally never have 20 seconds of low quality on Netflix et al. It is sharp HD from the moment that I start streaming (UnityMedia with 200 MBit/s downstream).


200 Mbit down as well and I had 20s one time yesterday with Amazon Prime Video binging Bosch


“A short 30 second recommendation” sounds like an ad to me.


It's also illegal, and this isn't the 90s or early 2000s -- copyright laws are being enforced.


Ah, if only there was a 1:1 correspondence between what is "legal" and what is "ethical/fair"...


Regardless if it's "ethical/fair" or not (and it's really concerning that you're conflating the two words) it's still illegal and you can get hit pretty hard for it. Saying it's ethical doesn't get you out of court or a hefty fine.


Give me an example of something that is ethical but unfair, or fair but unethical


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judgment_of_Solomon is unethical but could be considered fair (with respect to the putative mothers, if not the baby).


A fascinating story!


Feel free to use ethics as your legal defense when you get sued... as for me, I'll stick with a solution that's both ethical and legal.


https://bitport.io/ or a VPN like https://speedify.com/ to get around that


Is German Netflix that bad? In the USA, I can choose the audio and subtitle language pretty easily; it's even supported on their Plex app and so forth.

Example: I just watched "Dark" and it defaulted to English dub, but it just took a second to switch it to German with English subtitles.


We are using Netflix in Germany and it works fine. Though we primarily use it for Netflix originals now, they usually come with English and German subtitles, as well as English and German audio.

(Being Dutch, I am used to having subtitles, so for some reason I prefer English subtitles over audio only. I guess that I have to concentrate less with subtitles.)


It always depends, this is what I get for Darker Than Black: https://imgur.com/a/KFF8R


Am living in a Spanish speaking Latin American country, the netflix options here are 1/10 of the options in the US (spanish language programs).

Plus the connection is not very good for streaming, so torretning is the route to go. We tried cable, but the number of adverts and the length was insane (I'm originally from the UK, I seem to recall being annoyed at the sheer quantity of ads when have visited the US as well)


I’m in a small European country, my wife is learning Spanish so she’d like to watch TV shows in Spanish. I think Netflix here has maybe 3 shows in Spanish or with it as an option.

Even worse is although most films at the cinema come out dubbed in our language or at the very least with subtitles, Netflix doesn’t have any content in our language or subtitles. It does have an option for Russian, but most people under 40 don’t speak it.


We're currently in Austria and my daughter likes to watch "Mia and Me" which she used to watch back in England, in Austria the only option is for German dubbed audio, English is the source audio, I've no idea why it isn't available here.


Netflix provides Plex app? Where? I would really like to use Netflix in Plex.


> b) Languages.

I wrote above about why this is, and you're right, it is artificial, but it has nothing to do with technology.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16360889


Yeah, I know about that. It's why I said there is no technological reason for any of these.


Same for me. Just music torrenting was replaced by my Spotify subscription. For the very few things that arent there (e.g. Joanna Newsom) I just use Youtube.

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