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Swiss Copyright Law: Downloading Stays Legal, No Site Blocking (torrentfreak.com)
546 points by vezycash 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 360 comments



Anecdata, but I’d say 90% of the piracy from people who would otherwise legitimately paid for content I’ve seen or read about falls into one or more of four categories:

1. The person can’t legally access the content at all, due to age, country of residence, or other imposed barrier 2. The person can’t afford the entire price of the content 3. The content has no form of sample/trial/demo, which imposes a fear of buying without fully understanding whether or not the purchase provides value 4. The person actually has or was planning to buy the content legally, but diverted due to DRM which is only present in the legal copies.

All of these reasons indicate that the issue lies outside of the piracy, at least in my eyes. So I’m happy at least one nation has adopted some modern legislation about this topic.


5. Torrents are more convenient.

I was happy to and still do pay for Netflix. But occasionally something comes along and I’m sure as hell not subscribing to 5 extra streaming services. One or two? Maybe even three? But now you have Amazon, YouTube, Netflix, Apple TV along with the other regional streaming services if you want to get content legally. And there’s more services to come.


Unfortunately, any aggregator service suffers the tragedy of the commons. At first it's nice because one place has all of the content. As time goes by, each provider of content sees that they could make more money by removing their content from the aggregator and launching their own service. This is true if it occurs in a vacuum, but it inevitably doesn't; each content provider thinks similarly and creates their own service. Now the consumer does not want to pay for each service and will resort to the most convenient option, piracy. If you follow gaming news, you see this happen with regards to Steam and the Epic Games Store. Piracy is a nearly unbeatable service because it acts as the ultimate aggregator with unremovable content. (Yes, there are private tracker sites with their own selection of content, but the vast majority of people use public trackers.)


The thing they don't seem to understand is that you don't get long-term subscribers from the back catalog. It's the new content.

Which means what they should be doing is reserving the latest season to themselves but making it so that everything else is available everywhere (assuming reciprocity). Then when season one drops on Netflix and Netflix subscribers like it, well, season two is out but only on Disney for the next year. And the customer might actually be willing to drop Netflix for Disney this year if they both have the same back catalog, when it wouldn't be worth it if you have to subscribe to both at once for that.

The result would be that a customer could get all content by subscribing to only one service and no piracy, but only if they're willing to be a year out of date for most of it, which still allows them to get multiple subscriptions from the subset of people with more disposable income. And it's not as if they don't make any money from licensing the old seasons to the other providers -- or make any money when the other providers license their old seasons to them and allow them to get more subscribers.

Their problem is they're overvaluing exclusivity for old content.


I’m not sure you’ve seen Netflix’s dwindling catalog, but they are very aware of this phenomenon and have been pivoting away from deep catalog to originals since at least 2012. I remember once a VP said in all hands, “our plan is to become HBO before HBO becomes us”


Their dwindling catalog is the result of the other services thinking that removing their old content from Netflix will help them. But nobody is going to subscribe to a different service just so they can do a one-time watch of a series that has been on Pirate Bay for five years, so all those companies are really doing is depriving themselves of the money Netflix would have paid them to license that series.


What about the super-series content? netflix just purchased the rights to Seinfeld for example -- probably for an insane amount of money. Or The Office which is leaving netflix in a few years.

Those probably drive new users and retain current ones.


That quote is interesting. I'm not surprised to be a minority but I've paid for Netflix for several years and at no point would I have subscribed to HBO instead (though I did look at doing it, but only for GoT).

It would be nice if media companies could stop trying to own the World and instead be content offering a good service for good compensation. When they get to that point they seem to go "well if we can force people to consume something else that they don't like as much then we can get even more customers". Bleurgh.


OTOH they were willing to pay almost $100 million a year just for rights to The Office.


I wonder if that included the rights to produce new content.


It did not.

NBC already owns the production rights to the Office. Under agreements with the various Hollywood talent guilds, they are required to pay market value for distribution rights such as exclusive online streaming, because that money gets paid to profit participants like producers, actors, writers, etc.

However, NBC is considering rebooting or spinning off the Office with some of the original cast.


Personal anecdote, but the reason i dropped the households Netflix subscription is because they had nothing on their back catalogue i wanted to watch.

I couldn't give two hoots about most of their original stuff which has been laughably mediocre and designed by committee at best, and I have no problem watching it in 5 years time off it's any good.

I just want a media delivery service where I look for something and then it plays, and so far that doesn't exist...


If so then government can take part. Government "technically" buys content of 5+ years old (at fixed price or whatever-measurement they have) to provider, then streaming sites pays a set of price to government to access those content.


This could be fixed legislatively IMO, and should.

If you offer a show for X per view then you have to offer it to all aggregators for that cost.

Tell me the massive holes in that?

As I see it that satisfies the copyright deal, rewards creators and makes works available. Add a 20 year copyright term and I might even be happy!


I'm not sure about other companies, but Netflix doesn't pay per stream. If you license your movie to them you never find out how many people watched it.


In the gaming space we also have Steam and Gog which coexist happily because neither demands exclusivity, each catering to different consumer preferences.


Except you also have Origin and the Epic store which do demand exclusivity and we are rapidly approaching the same situation with video games that we are in with television streaming services. I have most of my games on Steam, but have had to download both the Epic and Origin launchers for one game each. Luckily I don't have to pay a subscription service for each launcher. Yet...


Epic has to pay publishers for exclusivity and most of the time still only gets one year of exclusivity. Steams strength was always the long tail, and personally I'm not that worried about getting games a year later.

EA (Origin) and Activision/Blizzard (Battle.net) have their own launchers and don't publish on Steam. But while those are some of the biggest brands it's a tiny portion of the overall industry: maybe 4-10 dozen exclusive games in Origin + Battle.net + Uplay + Epic Store, but a few thousand on gog and a few tens of thousand on Steam


Steam has just nipped Epic in the bud by saying you can't sell on Steam whilst you have an exclusivity contract with Epic.

Discord is/was a games launcher too and they just shuttered their subscription service as nearly no-one was playing the games that came with it.


> Steam has just nipped Epic in the bud by saying you can't sell on Steam whilst you have an exclusivity contract with Epic.

Huh? I thought saying you can't sell on Steam is kind of what an exclusivity contract with Epic does.


> As most PC gamers know by now, the Epic Games Store has been signing exclusives to its digital distribution platform. Unfortunately, some of these games already had Steam Store pages, creating the expectation for some that it would be launching on that service in the near future. Now, some reportedly recent Steam TOS changes may very well halt this practice entirely.

- If you put up a Steam Store page, you can’t release the game earlier on another platform. - Any patches/updates must be released for Steam at the same time as they are on other platforms. - Games can be released on other platforms, but you can’t put up a Steam store page until 30 days before the Steam release or the game’s original release, depending on which of the two is earlier.


He probably meant to refer to Steam no longer allowing store pages on Steam for games that are Epic exclusives.


Internet radio has figured this out, mechanical licensing. What is stopping netflix from lobbying and campaigning for something similar?


Netflix doesn't want mechanical licensing because they would have to reveal viewership numbers and for some reason they treat that like a big secret.


Apart from giving a better negotiation position, viewership numbers tell you what people want to watch.

If you (think you) know what people want to watch it becomes easy to cheaply produce new content guaranteed to sell.

This is almost certainly the nexus for much of the original content coming out of Netflix.


Because it is a huge secret. It lets them negotiate for content with a much more accurate price than even the producers.


Which they wouldn't have to do with mechanical licensing right?


How exactly is this a Tragedy of the Commons effect?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons


from wikipedia you linked

> tragedy of the commons is a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users, by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action

The shared resource is the amount of money spent by consumers to watch content.

The individual users are content producers and aggregators.

It is in their self interest to own the last mile of content distribution, as they get more money this way than by licensing to others.

This action, collectively, spoils the shared resource by reducing the amount of money that consumers are willing to spend on watching content. They don't want to maintain multiple subscriptions to watch just one or two shows, or different series of the same show, and so maintain less subscriptions than if there was just one or two services with all the content.


The tragedy of the commons is not just any nonrational behaviour. It's a specific case where there is some property or resource held in common, and actors or agents can act to privatise gains whilst collectivising costs.

The classic case illustrated in Garret Hardin's 1968 essay is a common field, with a fixed carrying capacity, at that carrying capacity, in which one herdsman chooses to run yet more cattle. The total yield goes down, but the defector's yield increases. Since the gain is private and the loss is shared, the net incentive is to overgraze.

Calling the subscription spending market a commons seems a stretch. That's never a shared resource, it's always one which accrues to specific provider(s). Though the tendency is for it to accrue to a winner-takes-all provider.

And more crucially, there's no socialised loss here that I can see. There is a race-to-the-bottom dynamic possible with excessive competition, so long as offerings of one providers catalogue cannot be shared with others.

The problem instead seems to be simply one of falling marginal costs, such that the largest provider has the greatest efficiencies, and that with a sufficiently subdivided market (multiple subscription services), no one provider has a sufficient catalogue to sufficiently interest any one viewer, but the monetary and other costs (choice, selection, management) of multiple services is too high for any one subscriber to choose more than a small subset of services.

That's not a tragedy of the commons, it's a natural (network effects) monopoly situation.

(I'm aware you're not the original poster. I'd hoped they might respond.)


The common here is the set of customers willing to sign up for a subscription nobody owns these people. Staring another service (adding another cow) is a gain for the service owner, but the set of people willing to pay for subscriptions goes down.

If your favorite show goes from service A to service B, you might switch, you might maintain both subscriptions, or you might decide neither is individually worth it, and either stop watching or start pirating.

Even if service A does not lose shows, its no longer getting shows at the same rate, so the quality of that service goes down, with nothing of similar quality to replace it. So again some customers will stop paying and the commons shrinks.


So, I'm considering this, but I really don't see it.

Yes, there's a shared, limited, resource pool. But that's true of any constrained economic resource.

The element of privatised gain / socialised loss is what's missing. Any given entrant has an all-or-nothing proposition. But gains precisely match others losses, assuming a fixed pie.

The marginal/average cost dynamic is a red herring here, so far as ToTC goes.


The privatised gain is that a content producer who was previously licensing their content to a streaming service, and starts their own streaming service, makes more money streaming than by licensing.

The socialised loss is that fragmentation of distribution makes people less likely to pay for any service. By trying to take a bigger slice of the pie, they make the pie smaller.


I don't see this problem with music streaming (although they have tried)


Do they finally offer mainly DRM-free music? I think I saw at least some mp3 offers from Amazon, but haven't looked closer at music streaming for a long time, since other sources are numerous.

For music it is one of my expectations. I have strange and sometimes old devices for playback. Not really interested in locked down content here.


Itunes for example is DRM free.


That is actually quite nice. Apple does good things from time to time, I just don't like their devices. But I think there are ways to access iTunes without an Apple device.


You can use iTunes purchase from the iTunes store on Windows.


And, as of very recently, there is an Apple Music web-app (https://beta.music.apple.com).


But Apple Music is streaming-only with DRM, not DRM-free downloads.


When you purchase a song from iTunes, it is DRM-free. When you download it through Apple Music, it is not.


> 5. Torrents are more convenient.

Don't forget Usenet automation like CouchPotato, now that is convenient ...or so I've heard. You can set it all up to automatically fetch files, and organize them in such a way for Kodi to consume them, and then Kodi gets art for all your shows and movies. There's articles online about it. Downside is Usenet costs a certain amount, course when you start piling on $14.99 for 4k from half a dozen online streaming services, $14.99 once and for all doesn't sound so bad. I don't condone piracy, but I may or may not have done that in my younger years. It was glorious.


Don't know about Usenet but Flexget[1] is amazing for private torrent trackers. Effectively you first subscribe it to your tracker(s) RSS feeds or IRC announce channels. It'll watch and filter and sort new torrents, doing things like "download any new episode of X show in 720p" or "download any new movie that's a Thriller or Horror and is above 7.0 on IMDB". When it hits a match, it'll grab the .torrent and feed it to whatever your torrent client is (via RPC or watch folder or whatever). Then it can shoot you an email/notification that it has something new for you.

It'll also do cool stuff like keep track of which episodes it has seen (so it won't re-downloaded old eps) and watch for propers. From there (in your torrent client) you can post-download hook to auto-extract your new show and put it in the right folder so Kodi can see it. Kodi does all the Kodi things like keep track of watched episodes, get your artwork/subs/ratings/whatever, keep your library sorted.

It's a bit of a Rube Goldberg machine but: End result is I get home and the GoT episode that dropped an hour ago is sitting there on Kodi, ready to be played. It's so convenient it's ridiculous.

[1]https://github.com/Flexget/Flexget


Sounds like it has the reliability of a Rube Goldberg machine too...


I've heard that discoverability on usenet is a problem. Is it similar to private trackers and just harder to find an easy "in", or do people actually pay for access to those index sites?


Having a couple free indexers and a decent paid one (or two) along with a couple good Usenet services tends to cover most needs. With a good downloader app, it's simply a matter of plugging in a couple API keys once and basically forgetting about them while letting your system do the searching and scouring for you.

Or, so I've heard.


Ca you give us some more specific details about what you have heard, like the name of these services? Why are they better than torrent?


With Usenet you get a direct line to the files, there's no seeding, and it's over SSL (you might have to specify a SSL server from your provider). The scripts to download take the binaries and take each part downloaded and put them together and extract all the files for you. I don't even think you need a VPN, but one does not hurt. Also like I said, you can automate the process with projects like SickBeard and CouchPotato. Specifically with SickBeard you can subscribe to shows, and it knows when new episodes come out, and it starts searching repeatedly.

The other thing is you can define the quality you want to download, it will find the best thing closest to that quality and download it, say it's 480p but you want 1080p, but only 480 is available at the time. An hour later 1080p is published, but you already have 480 and maybe you're watching it, no way for it to know, so what the software does is, download the 1080p version, and don't delete it till it's done downloading. You'll know it's downloading cause you can setup all sorts of alerts and notifications. Then you have Kodi setup to auto parse those directories and fetch previews and descriptions.

At one point I had a plugin for Kodi that takes all the content you have and makes "Channels" from the content, so you can feel like you're watching regular TV and browsing through channels.

People love Kodi for the streaming plugins, but Kodi + Usenet was amazing. Nowadays I just pay for Netflix and Hulu, but like I said, at this rate it's tempting to think about Usenet again.


@giancarlostoro and @turc1656 covered this a great deal better than I could. I just want to add that using a combination of NZBGet, Sonarr (TV Series), and Radarr (Movies), makes the task of downloading and managing media incredibly simple on a day-to-day basis. There's a bit of a learning curve to get them all set up and working, but not much more than a single dedicated evening.

I can't say I know a ton about the subject, as it's very intentionally not a hobby for me. One might find it important to simply get everything set up and then go on with their lives. About an hour or so googling around and checking the usenet subreddit(s) and the favorite tools and services tend to bubble to the top. Then it's a matter of signing up for a couple indexers and usenet services and blocks, installing the tools, and let it run. The ones I mentioned above are quite stable and self-updating.

Torrents seem to be easier to get started and along with a VPN are probably the way to go if you download something once a month, but annoying in the long term. On the other hand, usenet can be annoying to learn about and get set up at first and then simply stable and easy otherwise.

One could easily get used to the client interfaces and Plex (or Kodi if preferred) and simply forget that they have a system in place to automatically download these series and movies as they're released and as better quality versions are made available.


Totally agree with you, I am not sure but Sonarr and Radarr look enough like SickBeard / CouchPotato either they're inspired by them or modern forks. Wouldn't surprise me, looking to the SickBeard / CouchPotato sites makes it look like neither get updated often recently.


I've heard NZBGeek.info is pretty good and worth the lifetime fee (currently $30) as far as indexers go. I've also heard that free software like NZBGet which takes in the NZB's and downloads everything for you, verifies the download, and does the unpacking automatically, is great and has its own browser interface. I've also heard services like newshosting.com are worth the $15 unlimited bandwidth access given their speed and retention.

I'm told these are better than torrent primarily for speed and accessibility. Accessibility is key for older content as these massive data centers that belong to the usenet provider will typically hold all data for at least 7-8 years. So if you are within the 7-8 window you won't have any speed or "seed" issues. The issue now for Usenet seems to be DMCA takedowns which applies to new, popular content. Although, if one were to use software like SickBeard or SABnzbd, I've heard they automate the locating and downloading of recurring/episodic television and would replace NZBGet. You set your preferences for a show (quality, language, etc.) and it does the rest because it knows when the show airs so you literally just find new commercial and add free TV downloaded and ready to go.

Combine this with Plex and you're golden. And that's a $30 one time fee and $15 monthly recurring in total, as the rest is all free software. Unless you want the premium Plex which you would only need if you want to stream from your home to your mobile device or something else while in transit. But if you just want to use this to watch at home, then Plex is also free, fantastic software...or so I've been told.

EDIT:

One additional note on legal protection - using Usenet is preferred as you are communicating directly with your service provider (i.e. newshosting.com) for them serving you files. This means there's no one monitoring the swarm and trying to see if you are seeding or serving/distributing the data. So there isn't going to be anyone serving you violation notices or suing you for illegal distribution. Another benefit is those Usenet providers are typically on major internet backbones and typically max your line speed even for extended usage. You can easily pull down several hundred mbps constant for most Usenet providers.


Nzbgeek I believe is for manual searching, but some of those automated services (SickBeard, Radarr, etc) allow you to manually add something in the mix, they are after all downloaders at the end of it all. That or I forgot how to add their indexer to SickBeard. It's been a while, and after not having done it in so long I tried to go back and forgot how I did it so I had some manually setup.


Yes, NZBgeek is like searching a torrent site. I believe you can add any NZB's to whichever downloader you have (nzbget, sickbeard, etc.) If not, one could always have two downloaders installed, one associated with NZBs for the automatic downloading and one which is not and just done manually.


There was one that was used for automation but I forgot the domain, and I feel like it was $15 a year for access and was the main indexer I used. Thanks for confirmation, I wasn't sure but NZBGeeks awesome nonetheless.


Yeah paid ones are definitely worth it, there was one that was like $15 for lifetime access. If you want to download manually there's some forums with yearly subscriptions that aren't too bad too. I don't remember any names off the top of my head, it's been a few years (wow 10...) since I last used any of those. The best I can say is a lot of the sites have the word "NZB" attached to them since that's the Usenet rendition of a ".torrent" file sorta.


In fact, I’ve “pirated” shows I already paid for because the owner doesn’t offer an offline option, or I don’t want to use the crappy players forced upon me. (HBO is a notable example.)


6. You choose torrent for ethical reasons.

To provide a culture access to everyone and not only those with enough money, to bypass censorship and virtual frontiers.

But also to avoid financing distribution companies, that P2P made obsolete. Companies that finance themselves before the tiny subset of compliant artists working for them. The very same companies that make you thing that "sharing is wrong"... Seriously, put this out of context and feel the absurdity of it.

Still though, financing culture still an open problem. For now the only ethical way seems to be the donate buttons and bitcoins.


> 5. Torrents are more convenient.

Right but then you don't fall within the 90% that OP estimates would have bought the product. In OP's points, you either would buy it if you could (1, 2), or are planning to buy after limited evaluation (3). Item 4 is a bit of an odd one (though it applies to me: I only pay for Audible $10/month because you can still do .aa exports and turn them into mp3s and play anywhere, any time; otherwise I'd pirate the books or find a competitor), but your 5th is squarely a lost sale.

The text below your point doesn't really match your point, that sounds more like can't afford or just doesn't want to pay. Leaving in the middle whether it's reasonable to have to go to five "stores" to get everything you want, you either can afford it and are the (proposed) 10% or it falls under item 2.


I think "torrents are more convenient" is also about people who would have bought the product.

Example: lots of people I know torrented Game of Thrones because paid services were actually worse. Things like HBO Go stuttered depending on internet connection -- and in one of the season premieres, the service was unavailable -- while torrents offered Full HD quality with no surprises.

Another consideration is when you're paying for Netflix but it doesn't have all the seasons of a series yet. So people torrent the episodes even when they are already paying for a streaming service: torrents are more convenient. They get all the content when they want it, and with high quality too.


I torrented every season except the last when I used HBONow. The torrent experience was much better. Their app is bloated, shows ads, and is tough to navigate.

Their app is worse than a folder where files show up and disappear when watched. That’s their competition and they failed.


Among other services, I'm subscribed to Prime, and really enjoy some shows on there like The Terror.

But for whatever reason, the release schedule for new episodes on season 2 is all messed up in my Amazon region. Sometimes there will be 6 days between them, then 9 days, right now the last episode it offers is the fifth one, released there on September the 9th, that was 10 days ago.

It ended with a massive cliffhanger, and I'm sitting over here looking for something to watch, but Amazon Germany simply doesn't want to deliver. So earlier I looked up the scene release, which was back on the 15th, and pirated that episode.

The pirated version also has the added benefit of not throwing double the amount of subtitles (German and English) at me for any foreign language scene. One would think such localization subtitles should be easily disabled, yet Amazon Germany doesn't offer an option for it and still displays them even when English dub and subs are selected.


> 5. Torrents are more convenient.

Some people enjoy "crazy good" less than 1Mb/s internet conexion: no way you're streaming anything. So yeah, torrent it is.


This one hit home for me recently as my partner and I were streaming Good Omens off of Prime. It was a laptop on wifi (10mbps connection), hooked up by HDMI to the TV, and the quality kept dropping down to 480p or worse.

Every time it did it, I was like, man I should have just pre-downloaded this, and then it would be issue-free.


>Amazon, YouTube, Netflix, Apple TV

I think only YouTube works properly on Linux without the DRM EME botnet plugins.


A lot of these (all of them??) are streaming services, which suffer when you have a slow internet connection.


i already pay for amazon, youtube, netflix and hulu. if some content i want to watch is not on any of those services, i will gladly download it -- not because i don't wanna pay for it, but because i'm already paying the studios (through these 4 services) more than enough.


Exactly.

There's a problem here, though. If there was only a single distribution channel, that would be a monopoly with corresponding prices.

So this means that there will never be a distribution channel which is satisfactory. Unless perhaps a non-profit organization runs it.


The problem isn't so much having too many distribution services but rather that each service has a monopoly on specific content.

If each service had access to the same content as every other service then market forces would not only satisfy the price argument but also the quality of the services itself (lets be honest, some of the pirating services run circles around the legitimate ones).

Unfortunately though, the movie, TV and music industry have been allowed to operate monopolies - even push for extensions to copyright law and against reforms - for so long that I can't see it ever changing.


My proposed solution to this: require frand licenses from copyright holders before they are allowed to bring copyright claims to court.

Whatever license they want to give, they should be required to offer the same terms to whoever comes along, if they want public assistance in protecting their work. If they think they can keep it locked down on their own then they are free to offer discriminatory license arrangements. If they want help from society protecting their works, whatever is offered to Amazon ought to be available to Netflix, or anybody else, including you and me when we start our own alternative.

Edit: to deal with rights holders that don't want anyone else to offer their content, they are free to make non-discriminatory royalty arrangements with extremely high royalties. However, they must pay those royalties to the government as a tax (again for access to the courts).


I don't agree with this at all.

Part of copyright is maintaining a degree of artistic control - for instance a band not allowing a certain political party to use their song at rallies.


Yes, but why should society help you with that goal? In order to get something from society, there should be some sort of equivalent exchange. You are asking for a form of violence enforced by society (policing to enforce that the particular political party doesn't play your song). What exactly is society getting from you but a limited opportunity to enjoy the music you created?

This is a bad deal for society. Renegotiating it won't stop artists from producing art. If you don't want that political party playing your song, make sure they never hear it: play it only for people you trust.


Not to mention the lack of a unified UI. I don't want to fire up 3-5 different apps, have to figure out which show is on which, manage 3-5 different watchlists, etc. It's all about convenience.


Thankfully one can just:

    mpv 'anyoldurl'
and you have a unified UI for very many services:

http://ytdl-org.github.io/youtube-dl/supportedsites.html


>5. Torrents are more convenient.

I miss watching videos outside the service-branded players. I get that the floor is lower, but the ceiling is at the floor. None of them are special beyond making the DRM work, their UIs are at best rebranding of the good ideas they steal from the youtube player.

Sometimes I just want the flexibility to watch their video with a feature I know a different player has. Or without uninterrupted access to high-throughput internet connectivity. Like, in the car, the wilderness, or anywhere that the home network is administrated by a normie.


Torrents aren't that convenient anymore. The vast majority of available data is on private trackers, and the procedures for joining said trackers are extremely byzantine, sometimes outright demeaning, and require vast quantities of time and effort. I'd argue that it's much more convenient to just pay Bezos, unless - as suggested - you're a teenager and don't have any money, or the rightsholders made it impossible for you to make the purchase (this has happened to me when trying to purchase music, of all things).


For really popular stuff torrents are really fast and convenient. I wanted to watch the last GoT season and had access to HBO Online (a family member pays for it). Torrenting it just took a few minutes, after unsuccessfully trying to make HBO work on my Linux desktop.


The state of private trackers tells us about the amount of effort put into enforcement. Accessible trackers dont last long, so there is necessarily some hoop jumping to make it more profitable to go elsewhere and attack softer targets.


> Accessible trackers don't last long

The Pirate Bay is still up, even if they do have to keep changing URLs; one can Google on "pirate bay proxy" to get a list of whatever the latest hostnames are, then go to those sites.

This is a slight hassle, and the time it takes is not really significant compared to watching a 2-hour movie. I suspect it is less hassle than trying to buy a DRM-crippled movie and playing it on my Linux box.


Even before the pirate bay became a vague concept often repurposed by people trying to sell dubious VPN services or mining cryptocoins with your browser they had already ceased to be a tracker. Those are just indices! They'll suggest some actual trackers on the magnet URLs in their listings but you can get comparable results using a DHT search engine.

You can intersect here "trackers" that are "public":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_BitTorrent_sites


Kickass Torrents has had to move around over the years to new domains, but they have been a reliable way to find torrents with new media (and software) for years. I wouldn't use TPB unless I was really desperate.


Not to give Amazon any ideas but I would actually love a service like Audible for seasons of TV series: pay a monthly fee and get X “credits” that you can use to access a season of a show.


I don't even bother to torrent anymore .... I just don't view it.

I love Star Trek, haven't seen any of the new series. I'm not singing up for a new streaming service for one thing, and there's so much media available I can always find something else... so I just don't watch.


and DL'ing is only going to get more pervasive as the fragmentation of "exclusive" content gets worse with the explosion of services


Do individuals downloading some television or movies here and there for their own personal use really cost these media companies a lot of money, or is it more like a rounding error?

There was a post yesterday that mentioned setting up a Plex Media Server and something like Sonarr to download television shows and the consensus was that this setup is way too complicated for most people. Given that, how big an issue is piracy, really?

There was an article on Vice recently[0] that indicated BitTorrent traffic was on the rise (too many streaming services, too much exclusive content). But my knee-jerk reaction is that if it was really costing these media companies significant dollars they'd be investing in one streaming service rather than splitting off into more and more.

[0]: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/d3q45v/bittorrent-usage-i...


put.io + showRSS trivializes it. Mind you put.io has a price, but maybe that illustrates the parent's point that people are willing to pay.


Along the same lines, but something applicable I heard with regards to software piracy in the late 90s or early 00s - for every 5 people, 1 will pay regardless, 2 will steal regardless and 2 will pay if it's easy, fair and convenient.

As a loose rule of thumb, that seems to be roughly my experience when you take into account everyone that's accessing stuff (ie, kids, people earning money, parents, etc. etc.).

I'm also reminded of the late 90s Gate's quote: "Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though. And as long as they're going to steal it, we want them to steal ours." -- It's exactly as you said. Make it easier and more convenient for people to get it legally than for them to get it illegally. When they have the cash they'll value the convenience. My subscriptions to Spotify, Netflix, Prime, Creative Cloud and so forth are a testament to this.


I think 2. is more ”the person felt that the asking price was unreasonable“. Most of us could afford to pay $30+ for a DVD but I’d imagine most of us wouldn’t be willing to.


For a DRM free digital copy I'd be willing to pay around 20 bucks after release and would expect a drop in prices layer on, just like with physical releases. 1080p, maybe 4k but I don't even have a TV for that yet. I'm only watching movies very occasionally so I'm not sure if that kind of business model would be feasible, but my guess is that just the paranoia of selling something without DRM is too big.


$20 is a lot of money for about 2 hours of entertainment.

If films were like $1-$3 for a high resolution download I think they'd sell like wildfire. I'd definitely pay for the convenience.


To put that in context, it's about $18 for a movie ticket where I live and $30 if you buy popcorn and a drink. But yeah, it still seems like a lot to pay for a few-year-old movie that you'll only ever watch once.


With an AMC subscription I can watch three movies per week (any movie, any theater, any seat) for $20 a month. Pretty decent deal as long as I don’t blow money on popcorns and drinks (that’s how they get you). I still definitely prefer watching movies on the big screen.


Well, that might work for you, but there's a lot of people that won't work for. I only watch about 3-5 movies a year. I also like popcorn with my movies, so I'm either watching at home, or paying up the wazoo.


Movies have dropped down in my perceived value considering within a year or two you can get a 60+ hour AAA video game for ~$15


And to put that in context, the closest theater to me generally has month or two old movies and charges $2-6. And I don't want popcorn anyway.


I'm gonna go out on a limb and say people where you live probably torrent less than people where I live. :P


It's in the middle of the US. It's more about the difference between a brand new movie and one that isn't.


Cinema is still pretty expensive. If I go to a pub to hang out with friends, I spend under $10/hour and get beer for the money.


One beer. :-/


I might drink 8 pints in a night hanging out with friends, spread out over about 6 hours. The beers I drink in pubs cost on average 6 Euro. That works out as 8 euro/hour, which is about US$8.84 and is 1 and 1/3 pints an hour. If I drink one more, for an average of 1.5 an hour, then it works out as US$9.94, still under $10/hour on average spread over about 6 hours.


I'm more happy to pay for the experience of the cinema though. Even though the film itself is only 2 hours you've got the travel and before/after events to make it more fulfilling.


>If films were like $1-$3 for a high resolution download I think they'd sell like wildfire. I'd definitely pay for the convenience.

I really doubt that would be the case. It would be way more likely that movies would be stuffed with ads and we'd be crying about the death of "real cinema", like we do today with journalism.

$1-$3 doesn't even seem sustainable.


Movies pay for themselves within the first few weeks/months in cinemas. I’m sure they would.

DVDs and Blu Rays are already packed with ads (Trailers etc) at full price.

The amount of people paying for them compared to getting them from other means would be higher too.


An increasing number of people don't have the infrastructure to save (large) files. They don't have PCs, only phones or tablets.


Yes that's probably it. As a techie I'd probably even be fine with buying a bluray and ripping it but I don't even know if their copy protection has been defeated for good or whether it's a cat and mouse game like with modern console piracy. So I watched exactly one movie at home this year on a laptop with a friends Netflix account. A DRM free download service would have made that maybe two or three.


That's essentially what a rental is. You're stuck with having to stream it, but most people don't care or even know about quality differences from that.

But if you're buying the disc it's not just $20 for 2 hours of entertainment. I bought Spiderverse on 4k and have watched it at least 5 times since buying, sometimes solo, sometimes with friends.


That's if you're the type to watch movies over and over again. There's only a few movies that I'd ever bother to re-watch.


Then there's no need to buy and renting is perfect for you is my point. It's typically 2 to 4 dollars. You can rent from iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, etc and get the movie usually for 48 hours.


Perhaps I really enjoyed the movie though and I’d like to watch it again in a few months time. Do I pay to rent it again or pay $20 for a permanent download?


Exactly. I spent $20 on a video game that so far I have got 160 hours of entertainment out of. I can afford $20 but that doesn't mean I think it's worth it.


$30+ DVD... with ads. I’ve always found it insulting to the consumer. I wouldn’t mind ads on a cheap trinket, but not a full-price DVD.


A lot of people like the ads. The un-skippable is what people don't like.


Seriously?

While I sometimes enjoy watching trailers for other films in the "bonuses/special features", when I buy a film (whatever the price), what I want is to watch the film:

I put the disc in the player, I press play a couple of times after I chose the spoken language/subtitles, and then, I watch the film.

Even if you can skip them, I really dislike the sequence of trailers, ads, "FBI WARNINGs", more ads, "enjoy the full experience of ULTRA HD", THX deep note, yet more ads.


I have an old Disney DVD with a feature called FastPlay. It has a 30 second, unskippable, description of FastPlay.


They might be fine the first time you watch a DVD, but when, later, you see outdated adverts every. damn. time? That's actually the exact thing that made me abandon DVD's years ago.


The use case that I did personally hit a couple of times is old, out of print books. They were relatively inexpensive (say, $10-$15 at publication 30 years ago), but did not publish a lot of copies. Thus my choice is between getting free digital scans off hobbyist sites (I guess also known as those evil "pirates") or searching for an occasional seller on ebay asking $200 for a copy of unknown quality. Can I afford $200 for a copy? Yes. Will I pay it? Not so sure, sorry. My 2c.


Maybe there's no clear line between the two, but there's a difference between pirating something out of print which has greatly appreciated in value due to rarity far beyond the typical asking price for media of that type, and being unable/unwilling to pay the typical retail price of a currently in-print item. I may have tried to tell myself otherwise, but when I was pirating blockbuster video games in college it was just because I didn't have $60 spare, not because there's anything inherently unreasonable about a $60 price tag for the game. Not least among the reasons why is that the original creator won't get any of your money for the out of print item.


A classic case of privileged people thinking that the rules don’t apply to them. And if they don’t like the rules someone else made, it is their right to break them and make up some BS justification.


They’re anti-social. These are the same people who drive in the HOV lane with nobody else in the car, or litter or jaywalk. They’re free riders. They violate the following moral principle: “If everyone did what I’m doing, what would happen?” In the case of piracy, the thing you’re downloading wouldn’t exist unless the majority of people followed the rules.


Essentially repeating the same BS analogies with the "would you steal a car" campaign 20 years ago.

The commercial success of movies is measured at the cinema screenings. This is implicitly accepted even by studios. When a film is labeled as a failure, it is because it didn't break even at the cinema. Given that, I'm all in for heavy-handed crackdown on pirating content still screening at cinemas.

Whatever comes after cinema screenings, is just milking the cow for as long as the current laws permit it. The problem in the case of USA, is that the law permits this virtually forever. So this is a case where the law is being antisocial, enforcing copyright protection of works that should have been in the public domain long time ago. Good for Swiss people that they're not living in a USA protectorate and they can have their own laws.


Isn't this, like, the opposite of the truth? Theater revenue is a small fraction of the total revenue from a film. From where did you draw the impression that it was otherwise?


I've seen some industry insiders talk about how box-office takings effectively "snapshot" later earnings. So the TV syndication rights or streaming rights will pay out based on the box office (and possibly even just the opening weekend).

Certainly this isn't always true: The Room has been running for a long time, and is now presumably much more valuable than its initial box office would suggest. But I don't think that most movies become cult hits, and their revenue is probably closely related to initial box office.

I don't have a source for this beyond reddit comments though.


"In the film and media industry, if a film released in theatres fails to break even by a large amount, it is considered a box office bomb (or box office flop), thus losing money for the distributor, studio, and/or production company that invested in it." [1]

Also keep in mind that Hollywood typically inflates costs to avoid taxes and royalties [2].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_biggest_box-office_bom... [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting


Yeah, you haven't answered the question. A box-office bomb does badly at the box office; that's all it means.


Yeah, you're not very good at reading. What part of "thus losing money for the distributor, studio, and/or production company that invested in it" did you miss? Would "box office flop" even exist as a term if the box office was not the main source of revenue for films?

And since we're here, from where did you draw the impression that it was otherwise?


From a source that actually broke down revenue from movie releases between box office and home viewing, thus refuting your original argument?


It's also the old "nothing would exist without scarcity and profit motive" argument.

If Star Trek style replicators were invented today, there'd be people trying to ban them.


> They violate the following moral principle: “If everyone did what I’m doing, what would happen?”

This is probably me being stupid but I have a little trouble understanding exactly how to apply this principle in practice.

Example: assume for the sake of argument that living in a suburb requires enough additional resources (land, energy, whatever) that if "everyone did it" in your state/country then it would become infeasible and there would be no suburbs as we know them today. But luckily enough people naturally prefer to live in a city that things just work out. Does that mean the people living in the suburb are nonetheless "anti-social"?

I suspect not but I'm having trouble identifying a clear reason why the moral principle does not apply to that situation but it does apply to the situation where some people abuse the HOV lane and some people don't.

Is it the existence of a rule forbidding it? In that case the principle seems more to be about the rule than about "what if everyone did it?".

Is it restricted to the situation where "free riding" is universally preferable on an individual basis, and only self-restraint prevents people from being free riders? If so then piracy advocates can save their argument by arguing (truthfully) that some people simply prefer to support the creators and they don't.

What am I missing?


> Is it the existence of a rule forbidding it? In that case the principle seems more to be about the rule than about "what if everyone did it?".

The vast majority of the US lives outside what we’d consider “the city” so that’s a bad example. But anyway the difference is that the act in question involves payment for a scarce resource. If everyone paid for a house in the suburbs (assuming that the prices factored in externalities) then it would be fine because prices would regulate land use. And if the price doesn’t include externalities then it is antisocial to live in the suburbs, as folks here in HN point out regularly.


To me it feels like you are arguing that the guiding principle for whether an action is "antisocial" is whether you are free riding or imposing externalities: getting a benefit at other people's expense.

Which is a fine moral principle, and does easily distinguish between all your "antisocial" examples and my "housing choice" example (assuming correct prices).

But it doesn't seem to require the "what if everyone did it?" principle. So I'm wondering if that principle brings any additional value, or indeed if it is a real moral principle at all. Hence my question.


If everybody lived in the suburbs there would be endless rows of cookie-cutter houses with a law in the front and a swimming pool in the back. You would have loops upon loops of cul-de-sacs that just meandered in residential housing blocks. Every 50 miles or so you would have a mall with box stores and you grocery stores would be so big that they would have little electric cars in them to get from one side to the other. Because shopping would be such a big PITA, people would buy mayonaise in 1 gallon jars and would buy vans just so they could transport all of their groceries for a month. Children would have to be bussed to school because the low population density would make a school within walking distance too expensive. Likewise children would be shipped around in their parent's van because soccer fields and basebase fields would be too distant to get to by foot. Public transport would be so expensive that you couldn't have a reliable and prompt service for any reasonable price. People would drive one or two hours to get to work -- each way. Since they would be either commuting or working for 11-12 hours a day, a couple would need 2 vehicles: the van for buying monthly supplies and carting the kids around as well as another vehicle to go to work. The increased load on the traffic system would mean that it would be almost crazy to consider riding a bicycle. All the roads would be set up for cars because it would be the only reasonable transportation that could work. The expensive of maintaining 2 cars, driving all over the city all the time, keeping the house in shape and the garden in shape would mean that in many households both parents would have to work to make ends meet. The children would have to be looked after by a service for most of the day, every day of the week.

Of course many people can't afford to buy a house in the suburbs. Thank goodness.


You basically just described the suburbs of an Australian city. The only difference is we have way more supermarkets than that.


Man, I wish I could have quickly thought of a different example. I tried to avoid starting a housing debate with "assume for the sake of argument," but it doesn't feel like it worked!


> In the case of piracy, the thing you’re downloading wouldn’t exist unless the majority of people followed the rules.

They would be forced to adapt, just like other industries adapt to changing social behaviour or technology. Maybe more movies would be crowdfunded (Kickstarter-style or Patreon-style). Maybe they would have product placements. Maybe something else entirely.

Things change -- you either adapt or you go out of business.

(For the record, I personally do not pirate. I rarely watch movies or shows anymore, listen to all my music on a premium spotify account and buy all the games I play and non-open-source software that I use.)


Maybe they would jointly fund an online streaming service with predictable prices for the product, similar to what we see in music streaming...


> They violate the following moral principle: “If everyone did what I’m doing, what would happen?”

The reason a lot of people, perhaps most, don't follow that idea is because it's a lot like the slippery slope fallacy. Hypothetically, if everyone pirated all their content, perhaps there'd be serious problems as a result. In reality, that's never actually going to happen.


Some other sucker is paying for your entertainment, so it's all cool?


I never said that. I just don't find the "if everyone did that" argument very compelling. For instance, if all 7.7 billion people lit wood fires every day, we'd have ash constantly falling down on us and the skies would be darkened, but we don't need to feel bad about setting the occasional campfire because the reality is that most people aren't going to be lighting fires all the time.


If too many people started burning wood and it began to pollute the environment, then a law would be passed banning it. And in fact, that's exactly what happened. There are burn bans happening all the time all over the world -- especially on the west coast.

https://forums.jlconline.com/forums/forum/jlc-online-peer-to...

The USA and other modern countries found that too many people not paying creators for their work caused problems and passed laws against doing it.

This is all working exactly how it is supposed to, so yeah, the "If everyone did that" is exactly compelling.

The opposite is true, you know. If people paid for more of what is good, pick up litter, and be nice to people, then the world would get better. If everyone reduced their carbon foot print, imagine how many more species would still exist today!


All you did was nitpick my argument and completely ignore the point I was making. Congratulations for fixating on details and not seeing the bigger picture.

> If people paid for more of what is good, pick up litter, and be nice to people, then the world would get better. If everyone reduced their carbon foot print, imagine how many more species would still exist today!

And yet they don't all do that. If everyone on earth just held hands and sang Kum Ba Ya, there could be world peace, but nobody's going to believe that's the way to end wars because not enough people are practically going to do that.

This is why "if everyone did that" can be used in a way that's fallacious, and it's insidious because it's true given that one accept the premise of universal participation. But even during the heyday of digital piracy, most people weren't pirating, or even pirating all of their consumed content. Hollywood and the like didn't ever come close to collapsing due to piracy.

All you need to do is to challenge piracy on a moral level. It's universally agreed upon that taking something without paying for it is a bad thing. Just because there is a minority of piracy advocates doesn't mean that those advocates don't recognize that they are doing something wrong. Saying "if everyone did that" just dilutes the impact of a single immoral act. Sure, I can imagine an off-the-wall situation were everyone pirated content. That image just isn't very realistic or useful in judging whether something is right or wrong. Fires might have been a bad example because, as you pointed out, we did ban burning in many places.


It's a stretch to equate piracy to unjust usage of a scarce resource.


I couldn't disagree with this statement more; I believe this kind of thinking is human nature and is in no way limited to "privileged people". People are willing to put up with a fixed amount of inconvenience or spend a set dollar amount on entertainment. When the inconvenience or cost becomes to costly they look for alternatives.

These media companies are increasing the inconvenience (moving the product from service to service, requiring cancelling one and signing up with another) and increasing the cost (the alternative is to subscribe to more services). A rise in piracy seems the reasonable outcome anyone would expect.


> When the inconvenience or cost becomes to costly they look for alternatives.

The alternative for an ethical person is not taking something you shouldn't.


That is your opinion. It does not change the facts as stated and, in my opinion, is not a helpful way of framing the issue. Certainly is isn't helping media companies sell more content nor is it helping their customers consume more content.


> That is your opinion.

Since when did stealing = unethical become an opinion?


Ethical or not people look for alternatives if they feel the cost is too high.


No. What you’re dancing around saying is that unethical people steal when they don’t want to pay.


I am totally not dancing around it, that is straight up the observable and factual reality of the world that we live in.

I do think that painting everyone who commits a crime of any magnitude with the same broad brush is unhelpful if you are, say, a large media company trying to make the big money.


I also think that when it comes to infinitly duplicateable products, value becomes extremely subjective.

Paying full price for a movie just isn't worth it to me, even if I can afford it. I just dont value them highly.

If the inly legal avenue for getting my hands on something I want to watch is priced way out of how I see the value proposition, I'll just pirate it.

I favour a "pay what you want" model for a lot of these goods.

I would pay 5e, but it's only available for 10e a month plus the work of cancelling subscriptions and so on, so instead I pay 0e.


5. The person considers it a civil disobedience to not pay for services which lobby against the rights of said person/s. To not pay for your "service" is a political act.

I could afford every content I consume, yet I make sure my content cost is 0 dollars and 0 cents.


Since this comment is obviously going to be controversial, might as well nip the scapegoat in the bud right away -

No, you are not taking food out of the animators at Disney's mouth by not paying whatever obscene price they want for that Blu-Ray. Those workers got paid a salary to make the content and that has already been said and done. Across all industries the amount of royalties going to creators, especially when it takes hundreds of them to make a product (CGI movies, animations, etc) is within a margin of error of 0.

Your money goes to investors and corporate coffers when you are buying popular mainstream media. If piracy in aggregate causes lower profits than anticipated that results in business as usual - reevaluate your product development and / or change strategy and / or complain on mainstream media that you need to use force of law to make people buy your stuff because that obviously makes sense. The creators behind whatever the thing is already got paid all they are going to get in the average case.

A very small percentile of the revenue in the creative industry is actual content creators themselves trying to sell copyrighted works they made to make a living off of them. Most professional media is made by salaried or contract artists that are making the thing on behalf of some corporation whom has the intent to try to profit off selling the copies of the finished work.


I'm not sure if I'm feeding a troll by replying, but I genuinely don't understand your comment. I would ask a question but it's more that the whole thing seems incoherent. Could you try to explain it to me in different words?


It made perfect sense to me. They're advocating "voting with your wallet". They don't want to financially support big companies that politically lobby against their interests.

Paying for a Disney movie is (in at least some small way) a vote for the policies of the PR and corporate lobbying that Disney performs. If you support shorter copyright terms, it's understandable to not give money to someone who you reasonably expect to use that to extend copyright terms.


Ah, I understand the first part now, thanks. Makes sense not to want to support Disney. Not sure what's with the "I make sure my content is gratis" part (someone always puts time in it, and how does it help not to pay/donate to the indie artists that make it available for free? That doesn't help the lobby), but I can see how they're trying to avoid them the same way as others avoid Shell or Nestlé. Not sure if GP pays for any service in the industry though, that's kind of necessary to create a positive change.


I don't care if a movie I stream is DRM encumbered because I'm just there to watch it as it streams. It doesn't seem a lot different to me than going to a movie theater or to watch a play where you aren't allowed to record the show.


DRM is far from the only thing media corporations do which you could reasonably oppose. I even gave a specific example.

Nobody brought up DRM in this chain of comments until you. I'm not sure why you're defending it.


I live in Switzerland, im paying for Netflix but i often download the movies i could watch on Netflix due to the bad streaming quality i get from Netflix. I have 10Gbit/s connects, so i usually get downloads speeds of ~60 MB/s when downloading a movie.


You might want to preserve net neutrality and continue to use torrents like this.


You might want to ask your ISP to participate in the Netflix Open Connect program [1], which provides service providers with free caching servers. My ISP (Init7) does that and the performance for Netflix is absolutely fantastic (instant playback in highest quality).

[1] https://openconnect.netflix.com/


An interesting subcategory of #1 is when you're trying to watch a legally available movie that doesn't have subtitles in your language of choice. Watching Netflix in United States? Some stuff might have Spanish subtitles, but most doesn't. Amazon is even worse.


Subtitles... or even audio. I've got an Italian Amazon subscription (even if I live in the UK now) and lots of US movies don't have the original soundtrack, only the dubbed one.


I've recently tried to watch the Netflix production "I am Mother", but it isn't available on Netflix in Switzerland – nor on any other streaming service or Blu-Ray.

It's probably cheaper for production companies to ignore piracy to a certain extent than to fix the distribution/rights issues, but that's definitely not good service.


A typical scenario is like mine: I purchased season 1 and 2 of "private eyes" (I know, I know, but I just love this show :-)) from Apple TV. But season 3 is not available (yet?), but I know that season 3 is already out, so ...


4a. The person would by legally but content only comes in a form that the seller can delete remotely on a whim without any recourse (or will become unavailable if the seller goes out of business).


Dont forget the people who already purchased the content but lost the physical media or their access to it


I've torrented physical media I've bought because it's more convenient and I don't wan't to pay the long term price of storage (either in terms of data or physical space).

It's an interesting thought experiment: if I buy a DVD and physically keep it, am I more entitled to watch a movie in perpetuity than if I buy it and burn it in a fire. What if i keep the ashes? Where's the digital equivalent of a perpetual ownership structure?

(For me, this all comes back to the problem that intellectual property laws/ concepts are, as a general rule, farcical/nonsensical)


There's another category:

5. The culture generally has no concept of placing monetary value upon intellectual property.

I'm from a "third world" country, and throughout my life, I have almost never known or seen anyone pay for original software, movies or music. Originals were never easy to get here (few companies have official distribution here) to begin with, but even after widespread internet access (since the mid 2000s) and millions of smartphone (mostly Android) users, there's still virtually nobody who spends a dime on software or media.


I think number 2 is very common in the professional software used by hobbyists world. For instance if you dabble in music or video production but can't afford your preferred DAW or editor then pirating the software is a very low friction option.

I sometimes see companies offer "Lite" versions of their software for a reduced price but often stripping out desirable features making pirating the normal version even more appealing.


6. Piracy isn't seen as something morally bad in your society.

Where I come from, you can buy a bootleg dvd/bd from a store for a buck and nobody bats an eye.


Anecdotally, I agree with you, and memes [1] confirm this. Apologies for referencing 9gag, but that site did in fact go through Y Combinator.

[1] https://9gag.com/gag/aj5DjOp


> The person can’t legally access the content at all, due to age, country of residence, or other imposed barrier

I buy stuff on iTunes then pirate it in my preferred format. Same for ebooks, audiobooks, etc. Not going to risk it disappearing.


Or being edited. I (perhaps naively) didn't realise that happened to any real degree, but there was a thread on reddit today where someone had noticed that a series they wanted to stream had been retroactively edited to remove the music they liked from it.

Archiving media by torrenting or ripping a stream is the closest we can get to owning media in this subscription based world we live in. Of course there's physical media, with the associated drawbacks others have mentioned (availability, ads, FBI warnings, etc).

https://www.reddit.com/r/techsupport/comments/d68gi9/how_can...


Itunes does not use DRM.


Pretty sure it does for movies, or at least you need to go through hassle to play it in your preferred form factor.


iTunes uses FairPlay DRM for tv shows and movies (at least).


Or you can't find the most valuable copy of something: highest bitrate video, multiple languages for subtitles, multiple audio streams for different languages. I just want 1 supreme copy of something.


Well maybe the rest of the people would never pay for all the content they pirate but they'd probably pay for at least a small portion of that.


In what other areas do you get to decide you don’t like the price someone is charging for something, or the terms and conditions, and get the product for free instead?

I commute from a train station that has reserved parking spots. Quite a few are unused—if I park there, I’m not costing the garage any money. Is it okay if I park at one of those spots for free, so long as nobody was going to park there anyway? I’m not costing the garage anything right? Or displacing anyone else from getting a spot?


This is a poor analogy imo. It's not a physical medium. There's a finite number of parking spots. Once they're used up they're gone. Media is not a finite resource. If I have 50 friends over to watch the Avengers movie, there's nothing wrong with that. There's not less movie to go around, but there's probably fewer people who would spend money to rent it. I can't bring 50 people in my car to use a parking spot. There's physical limitations. Comparing digital things to physical things is always going to be a poor translation.


The fact that there are a finite number of reserved parking spots only matters if there are more people who want one than there are spots. In that case, you’re keeping a spot from a paying customer, costing the garage money. In my garage, however, the reserved spots have number been full, and many are empty every day. Does that make it okay to park there?

The digital versus physical distinction is in my opinion meaningless. We’re not talking about an abstract bit pattern. We are talking about the product of peoples’ labor. (Indeed, movies are more uniquely the product of human labor than almost anything else. It’s not like a factory-produced widget.) People make these things and ask you to set the terms for your benefitting from the fruits of their labor. Whether the product takes the form of a physical thing or a bit pattern is irrelevant to the human dimension of the transaction.


> In my garage, however, the reserved spots have number been full, and many are empty every day. Does that make it okay to park there?

Maybe it does. If all the spots are interchangeable and have no other uses besides parking vehicles, and there was never a time that all the spots were full while your vehicle was present, I think a very good argument could be made that there was no damage to the property owner as a result of you parking there. Regardless of who technically owns the spot, the absence of damage implies that there would be no just basis for seeking restitution.

Of course, in the real world parking spots are not interchangeable (e.g., some are more conveniently located than others) and have potential uses other than parking which the presence of your vehicle would conflict with. But those concerns only apply because the parking spot is a specific physical space which can only be put to a single use at any given time.

External benefits others might derive from our actions are not something we have any inherent right to control, even if they are the result of our own labor. We only have the right to veto actions which would interfere with our own use of our property.

When it comes to physical property most of the obvious ways in which others might benefit from the property would interfere with our own use, so we get to decide whether those uses are allowed or not and seek restitution in proportion to the damage caused when our wishes are not respected. There are exceptions where others' benefit does not interfere with the owners' use or result in damages. Maybe I derive enjoyment from the mere fact that the object exists; you don't get to veto that passive enjoyment regardless of whether I pay you for it.

When the subject is unauthorized copying of patterns of bits, however, that act can never interfere with the makers' use of those same patterns of bits. The maker derives the full benefit their labor (the enjoyment of the work itself), and others can also derive that same benefit at no expense to the maker.


Is that one of the reasons listed in the post you replied to?

The equivalent to piracy is that you park in a spot that's equivalent to a reserved spot but doesn't take up physical space inside the train station's land. And, well, that sounds fine.


Bottled water, movie theatre snacks, drinks at a club, lemonade stands, drive-in movie, open air concert, Linux CDROMs, cosplay accessories, 3D printer parts, maps, email, wifi, books, political donations, "Microsoft" phone scam, home maintenance, trees/plants, clean fill, printer ink, coffee, legal documents, happiness.

Basically anything you're willing to DIY rather than paying for convenience.


It seems that fining someone when there are still spots open is not really justifiable because you're not preventing anyone from parking yet.


>due to age

Many of the others make sense, but age seems like a hard one to work around. Generally these restrictions only apply to children, and legally (and to some extent socially) we treat even near adult children with the same attitude we treat toddlers. Yes, kids will pirate, but in this case giving them legal access may be a far worse choice as long as our society continues to view a child who is willing to pirate as being just a kid.


Another way to read the original post's "due to age" might be the age of the content itself, rather than the age of the user downloading it.

For example, you can't get a digital copy of the original Star Wars theatrical release, but there are fan conversions of old VHS or film reels and additional reconstructions that aren't legally available, but are certainly out there. I know that when I was doing pop-culture research for a thesis on pre-WWII American Cartoons I ran into a lot of works that were only digitized by amateurs and hobbyists, and therefore not legally available anywhere.


Good point. I guess both are reasons people are blocked, and the age of content is one that does apply to OP's point.

But now that I've thought upon it, I do wonder how people feel about the age of viewer issue, especially since people can easily lie about their age or otherwise pirate the content.


I think you're missing a huge group of people.

Those who just want something for free. They easily step over/don't care about any of those barriers you've mentioned.

I've said this before as well, but listing all those problems make it sound like someone, at any cost, simply must consume some pirated content, otherwise some terrible thing would befall them.


No one is entitled to any of what you describe. I believe that is the problem. The feeling of entitlement endemic in our society/culture/species.

If you can't afford it or access it or demo it or feel comfortable with your purchase then do without.

You aren't entitled to someone else's property.


Certainly no one is entitled to anyone else's property. And yet, somehow, copyright holders manage to act as if they were entitled to other people's money (their property) when those people apply their own materials and labor to produce copies of certain information, an act which doesn't involve any property belonging to the copyright holder.


Are you serious? You're arguing that because you had to invest in a computer and perform labor to click a button that you created the movie you copied?

Maybe you want that to be an argument or you just came up with it and are seeing if it sticks to the wall, but it don't. It's absurd.


Well I certainly create a lot of copies of many things all the time. My computers do it automatically and effortlessly. I don't claim authorship though. And you know that other people who copy things don't claim authorship either except for the few frauds which are not the topic here.

I do find it weird to use the term "property" for things that can be copied infinitely. Right now a lot of laws are created to sustain this economy. I'm not convinced it's worth it. So please don't act like these laws are something natural! We're creating them and we have to discuss which parts are sensible.


Don't be absurd. I'm not claiming that I created the movie, just that one physical copy. Obviously the abstract pattern of bits comprising the movie existed beforehand—but that bit pattern isn't property, and even if it were treated as such it isn't affected in any way by my actions. It was my labor which caused my computer to encode that pattern into my own storage medium to create the copy, and it is that act involving only my own labor and property for which the copyright holder is demanding payment.


You're right, but given that this is the current psychological reality, comments like the parent are useful feedback for sellers and creators to know these motivational tipping points if they want to expand their business in the future.

Of course if they so choose they should be free to keep themselves to a premium boutique industry, and should still receive legal protections for doing so.


What is the notion of something being someone's property, though, if not an entitlement? The problem with this analysis is that it's completely dependent on what entitlements you are willing to acknowledge. There is no such thing as an empirically readable tag on an object or a particular combination of bits that identifies the owner; the notion is entirely constructed and maintained by humans, and therefore the weight of any particular notion that "A owns X" depends on which and how many humans believe it.

On one end, pretty much all members of our society agree to and hone people's titles to movable objects like, say, a car. If the car is parked in place A, the owner is in place B and a random third party is in place A, then we believe that the owner has a moral right to demand that the random party not take the car, even though in some real sense the third party currently "has" the car, or at least has access to it. A hypothetical society in which people only believe in a very narrow set of property rights along the lines of "you have the right to not have your things ripped out of your hands" might write something like: "If you can't protect it or hold on to it or make sure that nobody else lays their hands on it then do without."

If you consider, say, building squatters and their supporters, or public-right-of-way advocates, this intuition that government-granted title counts is already not nearly as universal for certain pairs of property and owners; a nontrivial number of living humans appears to believe that an individual living in a building or plot of land has more of a title to it than a faceless landlord nominally owning it without putting it to use out of some abstract economic consideration. In the eyes of those who tend to side with the squatters, it is the landlords who are acting entitled to somebody else's home, just because they paid money to get an official-looking piece of paper from another unrelated entity. (This becomes more apparent in cases where there isn't a single continuous government in control of an area. If governments A and B claim a territory, person X buys a title to a plot of land from government A and person Y buys a title to the same plot of land from goverment B and then they squabble over who gets to move in, which one is "acting entitled"?)

There generally seems to be far less consensus once we talk about titles to "property" that is not even physical, and/or can be cloned rather than moved at zero cost. Is someone who designs and places a building in a public space entitled to restrict reproduction of its appearance in photos? (France says yes, most everyone else finds this ridiculous.) If we forget about reproduction, am I entitled to freely sell or give my unique copy of a book or game to somebody else, or is Valve or the author entitled to stop me from doing so? (Many Americans seem to lean towards siding with the publisher, a parallel thread mentions that the EU just reaffirmed that the publisher's rights are exhausted with the first sale.)

Other cases where people disagree about whose title is valid : taxes, patents, copyright duration...

You need to recognise that many anti-copyright campaigners come from a moral framework where the creator of a book or movie has no meaningful title to what someone does with data that they have stored; in this framework, it is the copyright owner who is by default assumed to be acting entitled to someone's manifest property (a sequence of bits on their harddrive, which they are not withholding from anyone else). Often, this goes hand in hand with a basic moral intuition that ownership := you are entitled to not lose use of the thing := you are entitled to not have others gain use of the thing. (That's why "you wouldn't download a car" is so universally made fun of in anti-copyright circles. It makes sense if you think of the point of owning a car being that others don't get to use it.) You might persuasively argue that this notion of property/pattern of recognised titles is inferior to yours - and this is the type of argument that is being made whenever people debate whether patents encourage or stifle innovation, rather than making the debate about whether the inventor or the commons is acting entitled - but to simply assert that the studios' title is valid and the copy-holder's title is not is as useful as shouting "no, MY moral principles are right".


It's pretty clear to me. If you created it and you own it, you're entitled to it. If you didn't, you're entitled to agree to the terms of the person who did create it, if you want to get it for yourself.

It's called property rights and it's the bedrock of almost all modern cultures.


Define "you own it". (I take it you also agree that if the architect of 432 Park Ave said so, you shouldn't be allowed to post pictures including the NYC skyline anymore, right?)

Are you trying to argue that Switzerland and most of the EU, which don't quite seem to believe in what you call property rights, are not "modern cultures"?


So if I create a copy of something the copy is mine?


Sorry, but being free is the reason 99% of people pirate software. This list is a good spin on putting pirates into a positive light, but the fact of the matter, is that they are stealing software and entertainment. None of which are a basic human need or right. What if you could download a Playstation or new TV, and have it materialize in front of you for FREE? This is like arguing that torrents are mostly used for distributing freeware/shareware. Sure there are some, but the rest is illegal software.


> What if you could download a Playstation or new TV, and have it materialize in front of you for FREE

And in doing so I didn't deprive anyone else of their TV? I would have a TV in every room of my house.

If we lived in a post-scarcity world we would be living in the Star Trek utopia. Tea, Earl Gray, Hot.

> basic human right

IP protections are also not basic human rights. When Ug invented fire, he didn't get an exclusive right to license it out to other Neanderthals for 20 years.

Now, I'm not saying that infringing on copyright is right or moral, or that IP protections are wrong, but that it's a valid debate to what extent these things should apply, and what morality is attached. Our laws as they are today are not necessarily an embodiment of what is true morality. Just dismissing it as "stealing is wrong!" is not a strong argument. Most of us agree with taxation, but in a way that's stealing as well.


I pay for Spotify, but then the week after I bought a new Smart TV Spotify turned off access from the official Spotify app on the new TV, and told me they were revamping it. Years later, I still can't listen to the service I pay for on the device I paid for, and as far as I can tell I've only been lied to about it. But MP3s on a flash drive work great. I used to pay for FloGrappling. First weekend I had it, I wanted to watch 3 fights and they lost sound or partial video for all of them and had spotty service the day of the event. I had the results spoiled for me before I could watch any of them. They refused to refund me any money. YouTube had videos of the same fights, recorded contrary to venue policy, so I just started scouring YouTube a few hours after fights. NBC pays tons of money to get exclusive access to sporting events and then offers inferior coverage. But I can get on a VPN and get it elsewhere, or I can torrent it after the fact.

Media companies steal from me all the time through breach of contract and anti-competitive behaviors. I'll pay for the service, and then the minute they break their end of the contract and don't care about it, it's on. I'm not going to spend money suing them or calling for charge-backs every time - someone has been offering me better service for less money this whole time.


Indeed. Just as their systematic fraud is within the scope of the free market, so is piracy.


I don't think systematic fraud is within the scope of the free market. One of the few things I think government should provide is a low-overhead way (lower-overheard than what you can do in court today, but maybe that would be abused) to hold people accountable for their word, and I would include things like this in that. But not giving chronic liars my money is close, maybe that's what you meant.

But I think the prevalence of piracy is a "smell" about the business model. If people could materialize food in front of them for free without taking that food from someone else that would be amazing. That's literally a Star-Trek-level fantasy about ideal society. As long as the food companies stay in business. In this case, the "companies" are having no problem staying in business.

Most money paid for music goes to record companies. The most successful artists make the overwhelming majority of their money from live performance and physical merchandise. So what value are the record companies providing. Distribution? No, independent artists can do that online through SoundCloud or even Spotify. Spotting talent? I think their taste sucks more often than not. I don't get it. I think really the value they provide is with connections to help an artist make it big - so in the big picture I'd say the record companies' customer is actually the artist.


They're stealing nothing. It's really hard to take you guys seriously when you talk about "stealing" information.


"Steal" in English means much more than just taking physical property without legal right and without intention of returning it. Here are several examples of common, correct, usage:

• Someone says they do not like cats and have no interest in having one as a pet. A cute stray kitten shows up on their doorstep, they take pity and feed it. They fall in love with it and keep it. They might say that the kitten "stole" their heart.

• An actor playing a minor role in a play gives a performance that outshines the performance of the stars. Many would say that the actor "stole" the show.

• An employee of a rival company poses as a janitor to gain access to your lab and takes a photo of a whiteboard containing the formula for a chemical that is a trade secret in your manufacturing process. It would be common to say that the rival company "stole" your secret formula.

• When crackers gain access to a company's list of customer email addresses, passwords, or credit card numbers, it is commonly said that the data was "stolen".

• Alice is Bob's fiancé. Mallory woos Alice without Bob's knowledge. Alice elopes with Mallory. Most would find it acceptable if Bob said that Mallory "stole" his fiancé.

• A team that has been behind since the start of the game but wins on a last second improbable play is often said to have "stolen" the game.

Outside of court documents, statutes, law review articles, and your final exam in an IP law class, using the word "steal" for willful copyright infringement is common and correct usage.


>using the word "steal" for willful copyright infringement is common and correct usage.

The problem here is that we're talking about legal usage at the end of the day. "Copyright infringement" is a legal term, as is "theft", and on this matter, the supreme court already ruled.

The short version is that someone made a business pressing and selling Elvis records without the rights to do so, and the license holder tried to get him for theft. SCOTUS basically said no, copyright infringement and theft are not the same thing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowling_v._United_States_(1985...


So... English has a lot of metaphor-based idioms.

As copyright infringement is a matter of law, the literal legal context is the only one that matters.

I have seen a lot of people desperately trying to make a moral equivalence between theft and copyright infringement on the basis of dictionaries and thesauruses, and it just doesn't fly as an argument.

When you copy something, you are not dispossessing the current owner. The only reasonable way to translate theft into the world of intangible goods is as "plagiarism" or "counterfeiting".


I've consistently bought something legally, and either lost access (service shut down, copyright issues removed the item from the service, etc) or was unable to actually access it after paying, and got no refund.

Nowadays I buy all the media I can (the restriction always being availability, usually region locking but occasionally something being too old), and then I immediately pirate a copy and usually consume the pirated copy since there's no DRM nonsense and I can actually get to my damned content.


Your situation is the 1%, and that's awesome. You support the creators, AND you get a copy for yourself that is the most convenient. There is just NO WAY everyone else is doing that though. People have not purchased the thousands of movies they have on their 4TB hard drives.


I don't think this is a great situation/course of action.

- Depending on your jurisdiction, you may break the law anyway and risk trouble. - By buying something that you don't actually use, you effectively donate to a for-profit entity. To me at least, that feels very wrong. Donating directly to the creator would be different but since DRM is involved, you probably pay a middleman. - Even worse: by paying for DRM-infested media, you encourage the use of DRM.


Ditto, if you compute long enough you are virtually guaranteed to live the frustration of artificial boundaries brought to you by DRM. We really need to get over this topic as a species and head forward towards free, unassailable information access...


That is a rather broad brush you seem to be painting with. But I can only speak for myself.

I have disposable income. I haven't pirated in a good while ( gog and steam making it mostly pointless -- though I did uninstall steam recently for other reasons ).

One of the game I was considering ( borderlands 3 ) is coming out on epic store with restrictive drm Denuvo. Now I can afford it, but ever since certain company that shall remain nameless decided to rootkit my PC, I became less than forgiving about drm. Hell, torrent may be the only way to have drm free experience on some games.

I am not asking for free. I am not making gaming a right, but I expect that as a customer I am treated seriously. I am not. Torrents even out the playing field, cuz clearly no one cares what me as a customer thinks. Torrents put the fear of god back in the executive types.


This is already being shown via an article from yesterday: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190320/07442041832/ironi...

Everything available everywhere for $12.99/month isn't feasible so folks are going back to piracy, even though signing up for a handful of streaming services one time is easy. Folks just don't want to spend the money per month it would take to watch everything they like.

This was always the inevitable outcome of trying to do a la carte TV and approach the original cost of a monthly Comcast bill.


It’s not “everything available everywhere for $13”, it’s “most things available some places for $13 plus $7 plus $97/12 plus...”

That is, even if you get the Disney premium package, you still need to rent netflix, Amazon prime, Hulu’s ad-free experience, CBS, NBC, HBO, and ever other nickel and dime streaming service out there.


Yes, what OP is mentioning in that folks are pirating again not because of "convenience", but because free is cheaper and this was always the real reason.


I disagree - if anything this highlights exactly how inconvenient streaming has gotten:

- Maintaining 7-8 active subscriptions

- Finding the right service that's streaming a particular show

- Hope they haven't implemented some sort of time limitation so you can never watch episode 1 of a show again

- Paying more than cable for that privilege


Signing up for a recurring monthly service one time with a user name and credit card number takes 5 minutes. Folks are now just making excuses to pirate because they like free stuff without any consequence of getting in trouble. It would be a lot easier if folks would just admit it vs. all of this pretzel logic that's getting harder and hard to believe as the years go by and content is easier to legally obtain (but have to yes pay for).


If there were two identical torrent services, with the same content, except one you had to pay, what percentage of people would choose the pay site?


A few confused people would pay. But why should anybody pay if the service is the same?

If on the other hand one service paid the authors for licenses, curated the content, offered consistently good availability, performance, and convenience, and was without malware, I guess a fair share of people would pay. In fact a lot of people do pay for exactly these reasons.


"Folks just don't want to spend the money per month it would take to watch everything they like." Exactly my point. I get why they are doing it, but not for the idealistic reasons OP referred to. People will always choose free over paying for something. It has nothing to do with whether they can afford it, or it has DRM, or they want to "try" it before they buy it. Before the internet/torrents, everyone had no problem dumping tons of money into cable. When VHS came on the scene, everyone began copying movies and distributing them.


I don't think it's for idealistic reasons either, but I fully believe piracy is a service problem and not so much free vs paid.

I honestly can't remember the last time I pirated a PC game. Steam is just more convenient than pirating a game. And okay, when I was a kid i pirated games because I simply couldn't afford to buy them.

I had a spotify subscription for quite a while, but they seem incapable of making a working music player. So now I'm buying albums on bandcamp and 'find' the missing ones online.

Netflix here is so garbage, it just flat out made me stop watching movies and TV shows, I just watch youtube/twitch instead these days.

As soon as your service is better than piracy, people will pay for it.


So the question is this, if there was two versions of a popular torrent site, equal in every way, except you had to pay for one to get the same content. What percentage of users would choose to use the pay site? I suspect a small fraction.


> So the question is this, if there was two versions of a popular torrent site, equal in every way, except you had to pay for one to get the same content. What percentage of users would choose to use the pay site? I suspect a small fraction of a percent.

That's not the question at all, no. I said you need better service than pirates. And that's absolutely possible, as steam shows.

Meanwhile spotify is busy losing my offline songs for no reason when i'm abroad and can't really stream because of roaming and netflix refuses to give me the original english audio.

I never had a problem with downloaded songs just disappearing when i bought an album from bandcamp or a youtube video refusing to play in english.

Using netflix and spotify is way easier than some kind of setup with Kodi or whatever people use, but they need to stop crippling their services. Some people pirate stuff instead, I mostly just stop consuming content where i'm treated like shit even after paying.


Unfortunately, it's not Netflix so much crippling, as it is all the content creators trying to get a bigger piece of the pie. It was inevitable, there will never been a single place to get all of your media. Even Steam has lost high profile games to Origin, Uplay, and whatever other half dozen or so nonsense services there are out there. I'm sure as shit not going to torrent pirated copies, so I reluctantly install them all if I want to play the game.


Agreed.


Agree. I would 100% steal if by doing so giving me something I want but doesn't cause me any trouble or inconvenient. Software piracy fit very well here.


As a linux user I'm not aware of any software that I want that I would have to pay for. I guess I'm in the 1%.


> ...failed to fully address key complaints from the United States Trade Representative (USTR) made on behalf of rightsholders.

I'm glad that a country reminded their local USTR that they're not a colony and he's not the viceroy. It's so easy to get confused on matters like this.


Yes and no. Naturally as the biggest IP holding nation/country it has the most interest in maintaining, strengthening, enforcing IP protection around the globe. However, small countries that want to encourage foreign investment/capital to flow into them, or want to protect their small but occasionally successful startups' IP around the globe (for example Skype, TransferWise, all started in Estonia) also has some incentive to adopt IP laws.

Of course mindlessly abiding rarely enriches a small country.


You presume that a legal regime of IP per se encourages the flow of foreign capital and is to the benefit of local successful startups, but what's the evidence for that?

What happens when relatively robust economies start to reject IP conceptually, altogether?

It seems unambiguous that they'll be at an advantage, not the other way around.


I don't really support that view, I just explained what's usually the common explanation / motivation for politicians of smaller countries.

The real motivation is probably simply the fact that radical politicians rarely get to the point where they can decide about US trade agreements and so on. And even if they do, realpolitik usually gets in the way of saying fuck you to forever-copyrights.

> It seems unambiguous that they'll be at an advantage, not the other way around.

Sure, they might gain some export advantage, but then countries can simply refuse/tax/toll their products.

Some degree of protection is warranted. Trademarks, results of R&D, songs/tracks. The problem is that the patent process is largely useless, because where it matters it's not used (eg. for the pharma sector the FDA can and does grant exclusivity regardless of patents), and where it doesn't matter it's misused (fast moving tech, it's just used for fucking with the other market participants); the creative arts IP regulation is completely captured by the rent-seeking incumbents (Disney, the big 4 music "labels" and so on).

The whole IP protection should be reformed, and it should be decided based on how hard it was to innovate versus how hard it is to copy the result of that innovation. (This means coming up with a new iOS/Android programming thing in a year, gets you at best 6-12 months of protection, whereas if you spend 10 years researching a new steelmaking technique, maybe you should do get 5-10 years of protection, because it's trivial to copy the process and it takes a long time to get the fruits of your innovation in that sector compared to the mobile app dev sector.) And for creative stuff holding the IP should be taxed, and the longer you hold it the more you should pay for it based on how much you made from it in the previous years. Of course FRAND should be mandatory (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing) so anyone can use and build on top of IP, be it green steelmaking or new medicine, or just a fucking one-click pay-and-order solution for your webshop.


> Switzerland is largely free to make its own legislation

That's a charming idea, but not really a very accurate one. Switzerland is under perpetual pressure to harmonize legislation with partners both close by (EU) and distant (US).

Sure, we are free to make our own legislation, but at some point, those partners would also exercise their freedom not to deal with us under favored terms anymore, and, particularly with the EU, Switzerland tends to eventually adopt a large part of EU legislation.


That's the raw definition of freedom: your freedom stops where the freedom of others starts.

You're free to give passports to war criminals to flee to Argentina, we're free to require Credit Suisse to give us their list of european clients if they want to operate in european markets.

Everyone is free in the best of worlds, long live free Switzerland.


> That's the raw definition of freedom: your freedom stops where the freedom of others starts.

This does not really apply here; the meaning here applies to freedom as a right from an authority (being this a state or an abstract morality). The freedom Switzerland has is not constrained from that[1] but it is constrained by the responsibility they have towards their own population.

[1] Ok, above the state of Switzerland there is the Swiss population. But that does not really have an impact here.


In this specific case though, what are they gonna do? Stop selling media in Switzerland?


One of the problems is that much content is not available via legal means in Switzerland because the media companies have not got around to it, so many will use torrents as it's the only way to get the content. If they completely block legal access to content, then torrenting will only increase.


Yeah that was exactly my point. Here in Germany tons of people pirate things that aren't available too. Like if something is on US Netflix but not available here, well people are gonna pirate it. If 10 seasons of a show are available on Amazon Prime but Seasons 11-13 are only available on US Amazon Prime or some other US cable network, people are gonna pirate it. It's not really a surprise and leaving that market entirely is just gonna result in more people pirating.


One really annoying aspect of streaming services in Switzerland is that, even when some content is available via legal means, say Netflix, you often have the problem with subtitles. I often run into content that have subtitles only in German or only in French.


They can always do economic sanctions. Just look at what happened to GBP after the Brexit vote.


That has nothing to do with economic sanctions, though.

That's related to the fact that the markets believe that the UK boarded a train loaded with nitroglicerine, going downhill with failing brakes.


No sanctions were involved for that, just the market losing faith in a currency.


Somehow I doubt countries are going to start sanctioning Switzerland because they don't play ball on copyright regulations.


what economic sanctions? I haven't heard of any


AFAIK EU wants closed borders and a different financial center if UK leaves EU. Both of these can have the effect of hurting the UK economy.


It's the UK which is insisting on closed borders, specifically exit from the customs union and ending freedom of movement. The EU is just promising to reciprocate.

Brexit is the UK imposing sanctions on itself. You can watch the GBP tick up or down according to how likely it looks to actually happen on any given day based on stupid statements by the PM.


Sure, what I was saying is that Switzerland could have distanced itself from US and EU, and it would probably have had a similar effect on the Swiss economy (and the CHF).

Without outside money Switzerland would be in a much worse situation.


Many in Switzerland would be happy if the CHF lost value. Of course, that's only true if we can somehow maintain the same level of trading rights.


The EU wants the financial centre of the EU to be in the EU. That does make sense.


If by different financial center you mean a lot of banks leaving the UK, that is more a side effect of the UK leaving the custom union than a restriction from the EU. Banks don't like being unable to move their money.


> AFAIK EU wants closed borders

What? That is exactly the opposite of reality.

Its the UK that want hard Brexit.


One of the reasons, though, why doenloading is and remains legal in Switzerland, is that a levy is charged on blank media, which can be used for recording purposes[1].

Even though I can hear the wails and hollers it seems to me like a rather fair compromise and it's not incredibly high to begin with.

[1] https://www.suisa.ch/en/customers/levy-for-blank-storage-med...

edit : typo


Australia also has blank media surcharges, from memory. Though it is not well known about. I've always thought of it as an insidious method to recover potential future (criminal? civil?) losses from otherwise innocent people in the present.

Though I will agree it is highly pragmatic, and not a noticeably large amount in Australia. Otherwise, people would perhaps have noticed.


Same in Austria, there's that tax but downloading is illegal so we get worst of both worlds.


Same in France, except that tax is so high it's skewing the EU average and it created a black market of hard drives and DVDs.


Why not just order from e.g. Germany?


Germany also has that tax. Its on everything from printers to usb sticks and dvd drives.

Its especially fucked up since its explicitly to allow for private copies. Instead it is illegal to circumvent copy protection. Those tax schemes are a major rip off and nothing but pandering to powerful lobbies. Its protection money.


Actually people still order it from Germany since the French tax is much higher.


Legally speaking you have to declare imported drives and pay taxes on them.


Is this specific for drives? I thought the whole European single market thing was to prevent taxing of stuff bought inside the single market? (serious question)


They have different pricing depending on the type of storage medium (Phone/USB Drive/Regular HDD)

https://www.copiefrance.fr/images/documents/tarifs_FR_2019_0...

Looking into it, it seems to not be considered a tax as it's not collected by the government, it also states that if you are importing a drive from a country that also collects such a "tax" you should seek to be reimbursed from the exporting country and pay the "tax" to the importing country.

Their FAQ: https://www.copiefrance.fr/fr/ressources/questions-reponses


Thank you for the links, I was not aware that the consumer is legally required to pay the "copyright tax" on EU imported storage media falling under this ruling.


The Netherlands also has the tax AND it's illegal to download. The tax is even charged on all kinds of storage media, even phones bought in stores.


Well, this used to be why it's legal to download, because of that tax. Then the European court of justice came along and went "oh no that's not how this works" and then downloading was suddenly illegal without a change of law by elected leaders. I don't get why we still have the tax, but compensation for downloading was actually the purpose.


Which european court decision do you mean? Is it EU wide?

I know it's illegal to upload which includes sharing a torrent. But it has been legal to download movies and games. For instance from Internet Archive, which has lots of music and games.


So because you _could_ copy illegally, the tax is taken?

Thats like putting a tax on cars because they might be used in a heist. Or a tax on weapons because there might be murder...


Those taxes are no fines but the fees to allow you to make private copies of copyrighted work. Not a bad idea until private copies were made illegal by introducing laws to circumvent copy protection. Today the tax is just a giant "Screw you, because we can" in most countries who still have it.


I actually kind of like the idea, and it smacks of a pigovian tax, which are generally quite fair. If something has a negative externality, taxing it to correct the negative externality makes sense. For example, taxing carbon emissions is hard, but taxing fuel is fairly easy, so gasoline and coal taxes make sense as a reasonably close approximation.

That being said, the question really is: is the tax fair (mostly affects the causers of the negative externality) and effective (does it actually reduce or fix the negative externality)? I haven't read the research to know the latter, but it seems the former isn't satisfied since there are legitimate uses for high capacity blank media. That being said, I'm not against it in principle.

My personal view is that IP protection is too generous, which results in larger IP owners having an unfair advantage. IP laws were intended to help protect smaller creators and encourage contributing to the public domain, but these days it seems to only help those who can afford to litigate. I think that by reducing IP protection terms, we can make progress on both fronts (ideally have extendable IP protections if the owner can prove they need more time to recoup their investment).


I mean they kinda do... Sales tax is on most things and pays for the police.


In France there is the levy, and download is still illegal.


Does the tax apply to hard drives? Does it apply to 'full' hard drives? Seems like any tax on commodity storage would really hurt tech companies.


Spain apparently has something similar, though I have no idea how they distribute the money (I have a feeling that they don't).


The money is distributed among several professional associations of "media producers", of which the SGAE is the most famous one, and also the one whose board of directors were charged with embezzlement.


That doesn't surprise me.


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