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I Know What You Download on BitTorrent (iknowwhatyoudownload.com)
880 points by easterncalculus 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 754 comments

An intern once thought it was a good idea to torrent a couple of Game of Thrones episodes using my startup's Digital Ocean box.

We found out after Digital Ocean forwarded us an email from HBO (who presumably tracked Digital Ocean down via the IP) that we were engaging in piracy. We sent an email to everyone with access, saying whoever was doing it to stop. Then we got a second email (a final warning).

Everyone denied doing it, so I had to find the offender via checking the bash history of the box for all users.

Sure enough a couple of mkv files had been downloaded and deleted by an intern :( Making the mistake of downloading it was forgiveable once, since we lived in a culture where piracy was rampant / normal (this was before Netflix et al were available in my country). But repeating the offense, failing to come clean and making us waste our time to locate who did it was not. (This was a small 7 person startup so trust was super important).

As for why the intern needed to ssh into a digital ocean box to run a torrent? The college internet (where he was working from) blocked torrent connections and he wanted to be the first one to download and release the episodes on the college intranet. Smh.

I used to work at a ~100 person company that provided satellite equipment, mostly to media companies - radio stations, movie distributors, that type of thing.

A senior customer service rep realized he had VPN access to a customer's, like.. T1 line. He started torrenting movies on it. On the CUSTOMERS network. Our entire company was nearly taken offline and the customer threatened cancelling the entire contract and suing us.

Dude got walked out the next day. A MEDIA company customer.

I worked for a large cable company and usually once a week, a thumb drive went around with all the latest pay per view movies on it. Folks from every aspect of the business were apart of this, people who worked in security (had to get rid of logs), people with access to the files (stored in s3 buckets), and people with the decryption keys (set top video app guys). Once the videos were decrypted once, they were converted over to a normal mkv file. I wasn't in the right groups as I had been waging war on the people who were just comfortable at Charter. My team had their own supply of video sources, which was generally things that weren't even ppv yet.

Friend of mine had his brother working for a big ISP, they had an internal NewsGroup with everything you could dream of, only the tech people of the company were on it as you might guess though.

Wow, a classic case of "What were they thinking?"..

> a senior customer service rep

If an intern or new hire was guilty, it'd be more understadable. Perhaps, being senior, they got too comfortable with the power they wielded - but without the tech savvy to understand the consequences.

> "What were they thinking?"

There were sites that tracked ratio which required maintaining a certain ratio to continue to be a member. Some members, however, took pride in having a ratio that skewed uploads over downloads.

I personally know people who paid for T1s just to maintain their "rep" of having the highest upload ratio. Not saying this is the case, but having access to a T1 back in the day was almost a way to "boost" their rep on these sites.

I can remember someone denying me an invite to a private tracker because I might “hurt his ratio”. He eventually relented but it was a hassle. My internet was faster than his at the time so it was a factor for sure.

Many private trackers may ban you if one of your invitees misbehave.

Was he giving you access to his account? I can't see any way that inviting you to register your own account could let you affect his ratio.

The admins could mess with your ratio if someone you invited wasn’t seeding.

> "What were they thinking?"..

It’s their own network, it’s the LAST place they’d look!!

The fictional character “Dollar Bill” from the show Billions comes to mind.

Somewhat off topic, but a T1 line gave a full one-and-a-half megabit/second. "Back then", this was the second coming. Today I have 600 megabit/second in my apartment...

Back in the mid 90's, I upgraded an early ISP from a 56K dedicated line to a full T1. It was absolutely amazing, having all that bandwidth.

I had a friend who worked at an early dedicated hosting provider in the late 90's / early 2000's. He did "network security." He had his own servers on the network, serving up pirated warez and movies. Since he was in charge of the monitoring, this was never found out... until he was let go during the dot-com crash and needed to retrieve his equipment.

This customer service rep, how was otherwise his work performance / output? How was he like to work with?

He was the right mix of gruff, smarmy, shady, and heroic to go pretty far at that company.

That company no longer exists except as a line item in some other company's deprecating assets

I've fired people for having less wherewithal than to ask a question like this. His performance, output, or attitude are irrelevant. He knowingly used company property to violate federal law... IP law at that. Guy should be lucky he didn't get sued for gross negligence.

If you fire people just for asking questions (possibly after misunderstanding the intent of the question like in this case), then it seems likely you'll end up with a team of sycophants that only tell you what you want to hear.

I had the first impression as you but IIUC they are saying the rep's poor ethics/judgement are enough to make them unemployable and we should all realize and agree or our judgement is also questionable.

E.g. Bob's super smart and gets 10 times the work done as anyone else but he also sexually harasses the secretary and dips into the petty cash drawer at least once a week.

It should be clear we don't want to have Bob as our employee. See Susan Fowler's experience with her boss at Uber who sexually propositioned her repeatedly but HR said they would not remove because he was a high performer... https://www.susanjfowler.com/blog/2017/2/19/reflecting-on-on...

My question was only to hopefully learn a bit about how people who do such weird things, can be like, otherwise at the workplace.

Wasn't suggesting anything related to firing or not.

@wcoenen you're right in that there's a misunderstanding of intent.

@ooobit2 I was asking, only to hopefully learn a bit about how people who do such weird things, can be like, otherwise at the workplace.

> I've fired people for having less wherewithal than to ask a question like this

Makes me wonder if you've fired people in the past, because of misunderstandings

I might be misreading the comment above, but it sounds to me like it's asking, "Were there any signs of him being untrustworthy?" (and not "He shouldn't have been fired.")

It is precisely because of the magnitude of his error that it would have been nicer to fire him before he made it.

> like it's asking, "Were there any signs of him being untrustworthy?"

That's right -- I'm interested in hopefully recognizing such signs myself, sooner rather than later

>I've fired people for having less wherewithal than to ask a question like this.

Can you explain what this sentence means?

Hey that's me :)

Lol, and how did that work out for you?


His resume says he was an engineer at LowerMyBills between November, 2003 to June, 2004.

I'd bet that was a bouncer/client set address, for the joke.

Sigh, people probably trust things like this today because FB(whatsapp)/Google/slack/discord forces you to sign up with valid phone numbers and probably expose that as your ID.

I think the joke may have been by ChrisLMB, who saw the opportunity when he read the unmasked second-level domain in ben174's address.

But the guy's got LMB in his name, what's up with that?

That would be the opportunity, I guess. :-)

Definitely had this happen to me when I was new on IRC.

His resume has that place of work listed. Of course it could be part of the joke too, but thats elaborate.

I’m so glad I fired you.

Did you actually?

Green account, no other comments; almost certainly not.

now you ought to tell how it turned out!

... how did that work out for you?! Did you get fired? Did that exchange actually happen?

You can't just say that and then not follow up. It's literally against HN rules, read the ToS.

If he's lying, it's an extremely elaborate set up


...check out his resume.

I too would like to know how this turned out!

sad story ben!

I thought of this exactly.

I worked for a place where our internet was bad, but not that bad. We were coming up to a release and things were fubar. I asked the network guy to find what was up - a guy that reported to me was torrenting child porn.

I worked at a place where, one morning, the guy in the next office over got swarmed by company security and the police. He was trafficking in child porn on the company network. He was a super smart, super dumb guy who lost everything over it, his wife, custody of his kids, friends and a very high-paying career. His car sat in the company garage for weeks.

I worked on a secure project a very long time ago. A very smart guy (he was working on the operating system for a military avionics computer) printed out some child porn photos on a company color printer. (This was long enough ago that good quality color printers were very expensive, not like now when you can buy a color printer for less than $100.)

He got walked out. I don't know what other consequences he suffered. Being smart doesn't mean you can't do something really stupid.

I worked somewhere that had that happen. The FBI showed up with Yahoo messenger logs from our IP address, they wanted to take our file servers etc (he didn’t save anything on our network, but was signing into those sites while at work)

They ended up having to come back the next day with a new warrant because he was at a branch office but their internet was from a point to point connected to the main office.

They took his pc and I provided them with a months worth of squid logs. We had just spent like $4500 on a new CAD workstation for him.

He’s still in prison.

See "The Rise and Fall of Patrick Naughton" https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-rise-and-fall-of-patrick-n...

His wikipedia entry ends with:

> He ended up serving no prison time, in exchange for working for the FBI for free for a year.



He ended up serving no prison time, in exchange for working for the FBI for free for a year.


I remember that well. Didn't know the guy but I knew several who did know him before the bust but, oddly enough, very few after.

That was so brief... Nowadays articles like this are 10 times as long and detailed.

Smart != Wise

When I read stories like this I always wonder if they are setups. Like, it feels too stupid.

I knew him well and he was well-liked and professionally well-regarded throughout at least my division of the company. He was a high-energy, tireless guy with great ideas and worked nearly daily with senior-level management, often traveling with them all over the world.

I, along with a whole lot of others, were absolutely dumbstruck by his profound fall from grace.

Ye I guess seeming like a nice person doesn't prove or disprove anything, but lets not dive to far into your colocated worker's case, but generally.

I had a malware once that distributed (legal) porn. Since then I have had that in the back of my head when reading about child porn. I mean, what more effective way to ruin someones life by framing without having to involve yourself physically by planting drugs etc. It doesn't even have to be a specific target that is framed, but a target.

I really hope that the police have the technical knowledge to judge the evidence in these cases. Even if a framed person is cleared his reputation might be ruined anyway.

It's possible. I remember reading about forums on the dark net a while ago where some hackers were advertising their services where you pay them bitcoin and they plant child porn on any target's computer. Then presumably you report them to the FBI or whatever and they are arrested. You know the rest.

If hackers can encrypt your entire hard drive holding it ransom without you knowing, this attack seems even easier.

They don't have the technical knowledge, and they don't want it unless it gives them access to a bigger bust of the framer.

But there's usually a lot more evidence then one hacked machine, if someone is mentally ill enough to think downloading child porn is a good idea.

Ye, there are actual perpetrators too of course. And I agree from news I have read that many seem to have some other pathalogical condition, like hoarding.

Hopefully the police is aware of the risk for hacking and are looking for other clues too.

Professor in the next office came back from vacation a few years ago and started noticing his unix workstation was doing a great deal of disk access. Disks also seemed to have a lot less space than he remembered. Worked with IT and found out a porn server had been stood up on his system while he was gone. It happens.

> I mean, what more effective way to ruin someones life by framing without having to involve yourself physically by planting drugs etc. It doesn't even have to be a specific target that is framed, but a target.

There’s a subplot where this happens in the comic 100 Bullets.

Is there some reason you thought I was going to "dive further?"

No I just meant that I spoke in general.

Jesus, do you not wonder if maybe he was framed? I guess it’s a bit of a roundabout way to frame someone, and unlikely to work on anyone who keeps an eye on their running processes... but damn.

> and unlikely to work on anyone who keeps an eye on their running processes

Rootkits are a thing. It would be perfectly reasonable for a criminal to intentionally use one to hide a process doing illicit things on their own computer from prying eyes.

On the other hand, people with that kind of evil inside of them don't go around letting everyone know. They keep it secret and hide it well. Most of the time. So it's not entirely surprising that when that happens to someone you never would have expected it.

Reading stories like this makes people think that all pedophiles are stupid, but then again, as with any other crime, it's only the stupid ones who get caught...

An estimated 1% of men are pedophiles. It's kind of like finding gays in Saudi Arabia. They don't advertise their presence. I heard from an old lady that there were no gays in the Soviet Union until they got infected by the west when it collapsed.

>An estimated 1% of men are pedophiles.

I really wanna see how they made those estimations. How many percent of Woman's are pedophiles then?

Jesus, is that some sort of proven statistic? Because if it's accurate that's orders of magnitude more than what I expected. No wonder they seem to come out of the woodwork lately, but still, kind of chilling.

In Hollywood's high-circles it's probably more like 15% (estimated)

Estimated 42% of hacker news users work in the tech industry.

True...nice to see that other peoples are in the Bigdata-oracle-thingi too, still i think it's 42.8% ;)

I don't think they're stupid, but I do think they're like addicts. They can't control their compulsion, or they would.

One of the reasons most criminals get caught, is because they think they are smarter than all other criminals, and only the stupid ones get caught. No criminal thinks they are stupid.

The ones that don't get caught are typically full on psychopaths, because they are random and don't have an MO that identifies them.

Most criminals definetely dont get caught. Look at drug consumption for example: it never ever went down in history.

My previous employer had a strongly worded email and CEO statement sent out after they were sent a notice of over 100 company IPs (out of 15000 employees) torrenting the game of thrones finale to basically tell people "Hey, don't do that, we do business with many of those companies".

You mean:

"Hey, don't do that, we do business with many of those companies, and we don't want them to associate us with the shoddy work on the later seasons of the series, certainly not that ridiculous ham-fisted finale".

And our company (80,000+) showed us the finale live from the US. Paid for of course.

How do you even pay for that? 80k potential viewers?

Aren't streaming licenses normally region exclusive?

Maybe someone had a netflix or international TV account and they somehow shared a stream of it playing live or something. Now I'm kind of wondering how one would deploy such a thing for 80K clients though.

There are no Netflix streams licensed for further broadcast. Sharing a stream with 80k people is just as illegal as torrenting it to 80k people. Copyright law doesn't differentiate between protocols.

That's even worse in terms of creating more questions. Did every employee pay for their part? Did the company pay for it? How does this even work?

The flip side: When I was an intern I once had four people arrive at my desk (including an HR lawyer) for torrenting ubuntu server.

Thankfully I shared a cube wall with someone smart enough to realize the confusion, and explain me out of being walked out.

They were monitoring for torrent traffic, but weren't paying attention to what was being torrented. Apparently a company-wide warning had gone out the week before I started.

I was "caught" by some monitoring system sharing Knoppix on a machine in the CS lab at university. I'd forgotten about it, and it had been running for months.

One of the helpdesk staff told me that it had been noticed, since the bandwidth to that machine was very high, but he unofficially liked the idea of the university being top of the seeding table, so I should leave it running :-D

[1] http://torrent.unix-ag.uni-kl.de/stats.html?info_hash=8dcb18... (but mine would have been in 2007 or so).

My university did ban p2p, no matter the content. Officially for upload bandwidth savings.

Mine did too. Though oddly the wifi in the classrooms was fair-game, but this was before most people had laptops, and even fewer ones that could last more than 2 hours without charging.

I remember downloading some content over IRC to share on the campus network because I knew how to use it and it was slow, but not blocked.

My university had bad wifi and I think 50mb drive space per student. I ended up plugging in my laptop directly and spoofing a whitelisted IP/MAC combination (the PCi just plugged out) for several assignments.

Those fees they charge the international students did go somewhere, then :-D

I had as much backed-up space as I could justify (some gigabytes by default), plenty of space for laptops where there were power sockets as well as 1Gb/s wired and fast wifi connections, personal webspace/server, a PostgreSQL database, a Tomcat server, remote SSH access to all computers and a distributed computing system (Condor).

Looking at the current guide for students[1], they also get access to a local Gitlab instance, a private IaaS cloud and a GPU cluster.

[1] http://www.imperial.ac.uk/computing/csg/services/

I don't blame them, it can end up costing a lot of the available bandwidth, and it's a finite resource.

My industrial experience year at university was at a research lab, working with satellite imagery.

I got two urgent panicked phone calls from the same person within five minutes of each other for bulk-downloading satellite images from, if memory serves, NASA.

Not long after we started WFH I needed to share a pre-configured VM with a coworker. We tried all sorts of stuff and finally just decided to torrent it. Zipped it up tight with a password and private torrented it overnight. Next morning we were up and running.

Next time try Magic Wormhole.

Has anyone got WebRTC’s file sharing to work?

You find a website that creates a link between 2 clients, and the file is shared via https (maybe the file is decrypted at the server and encrypted again using your public key). Sounds easy if both clients don’t have a public IP (to get SCP to work, at least one client needs a public IP) and every browser now has WebRTC.

Resilio sync is delivered from BitTorrent and it works great

Does Syncthing work over the internet, or would you still need to set up a direct line with your colleague?

Netcat...thats what netcat is for....

How do you do that?

Use your client to create a .torrent. Send the .torrent over. Other party adds your IP as a seed. No trackers or DHT required.

Unfortunately, I've never managed to get this to work, even though the two computers have open ports and can connect to each other via nc/telnet. The other peer m just never starts downloading when I seed the file.

BitTorrent is a fantastic way to transfer files, except for this one hitch I keep hitting.

The workaround I usually use when that happens is to pick a existing torrent that you added from a magnet link, then have the other end add the same magnet link, which downloads the magnet-linked file and then (IIUC) finds your source computer via PEX. YMMV; it's worked something like four times out of four for me, but it's a bit cargo-cult.

If your client/libtorrent hates you enough, it won't work with local peers regardless of settings, and two instances of the same version number of the same software will fail to communicate with each other despite the embedded tracker being accessible from the browser.

I wanted to about 2tb of data, mostly torrents, over a wlan from my NAS, and kept getting dropped packets. Eventually I gave up on smb and ftp, and set up opentracker (a simple download and build, with iirc two config options) on my windows desktop under WSL, and swapped the tracker to a local address; after this, it worked perfectly.

Many, many years ago I used to build distributed content delivery infrastructure for K-12 education systems, state and national.

I remember one customer (a state department of education) in particular had a server at each school with reasonable private bandwidth but unreliable routing and dismal internet connectivity, so we used the BitTorrent protocol for eventually-consistent asset distribution between their sites.

See also: using NNTP as your pub/sub message bus.

Can’t you just scp it at that point?

Hypothesizing - that would be more prone to network failure, torrents are very robust against either peer temporarily losing an internet connection.

Iirc SCP supports resuming transfers. Granted torrent architecture is very robust, but I’ve never had a problem with the way scp resumes work.

To resume, someone would have to notice the failure and start it again. If this happens every few minutes, it's effectively impossible. Even once an hour means their overnight transfer is impossible with scp.

Always use rsync. It's almost drop in compatible with scp, you could probably alias it for most uses, but it's more robust against failures and has more features.

That’s actually a good point, and it’d be real easy to spread to a third person were it necessary

scp is terrible over links with low bandwidth and/or high ping.

I torrented a couple of Ubuntu versions from a VM and then forgot about it. In one month I got though nearly 5TB of data before I noticed. It was a home connection and unmetered, but it gave me a fright.

How are they supposed to know what you’re torrenting?

The protocol is more or less all plaintext. The "best" peer to peer cipher available is rc4; almost no one uses it. The tracker announces can run over HTTPS, but often run over plain HTTP.

The "best" peer to peer cipher available is rc4; almost no one uses it.

...which is unfortunate because even something like the anonymous DH that is specified, or more standard, TLS with random/self-signed certificates, would force monitors to need to MITM all connections in order to find out what they contain.


Oh god... you're not under the impression that bittorrent is a secure or anonymous protocol, are you?

No but all they see is parts identified by hashes. How are they supposed to know whether is a Linux distro or a movie?

Because, quite frankly, parts identified by hashes is not all they see.

If you're monitoring and logging the traffic then it's trivial to not only determine the filename of a bittorrent download, but also everything you need to connect to the torrent yourself and download it to verify that it's what the filename says, if that's what you wish to do.

And, personally, I'd expect someone to at least check the filename before accusing me of committing a crime. :(

The torrent file is downloaded over a secure connection that you can’t monitor. Can you please tell me which messages in the BitTorrent protocol contain the filenames?

Can't you just look up the hash on DHT? Since hash is the only mandatory field in a Magnet URI.

Of course but connecting to a peer to peer network and looking it up doesn’t sound ‘trivial’ to me.

Clients can obfuscate traffic though?

How much can they obfuscate it if other clients need to be able to download it?

The obfuscation is just to disguise the traffic so providers can’t easily implement blanket bans on all BitTorrent traffic

I suppose they could have known by using a tool such as the one linked in this post.

I remember getting an abuse warning from Hetzner as one of our employees was seeding (legal) files via a p2p file sharing framework (IPFS I think?) and the client on his machine sent out broadcast and port scanning requests over the VPN into our Hetzner infrastructure. Hetzner is quite nice in that they dont' immediately block your servers, other providers are less lenient though and such stuff can quickly get your infrastructure to be taken down, especially if you're not an "important" customer of your hoster. I think after you reach a certain scale you can't stop this from happening easily, so it's good to either block such stuff via the firewall or have good audit logs.

I don't understand what's wrong with port scanning or broadcasting to your own infrastructure that you pay for?

You don't own the rest of the stuff that's in the middle. Permission first.

Read the terms of service for most cloud and data center providers. You have to notify them and get permission.

The only moral problem I have in your anecdote is the lying about it. With every fibre of my being, I could not care less about torrenting game of thrones.

I pay for netflix, amazon prime, spotify (and thus hulu), and apple tv+, sometimes youtube tv, HBO+ during Game of Thrones.

I pretty much just torrent much of the content I could find on these services. It's so much easier to just have it appear in the list instead of switching devices, sometimes remotes. Just so tired of boxes and remotes and accounts and having to "type" with a stupid remote control.

Most of this could be solved if I could reliably queue something from my laptop to be played on my tv. Like how YouTube lets you queue videos.

More importantly, if you downloaded some episodes, barring an act of god that destroys your house and the equipment within, you know you will get to enjoy those episodes at the time of your own choosing and with the best quality, no streaming issues or glitches. With HBO, who knows? I still remember they were unable to cope with the load for some of Game of Thrones episodes.

They make kinda do it pretty easy to stream the major services on TVs now. I can't imagine its easier to just torrent the files. I kinda don't care if people torrent, but they've made it easy enough I don't bother.

The trouble is of course I'm paying for something that isn't as versatile (shows/movies come and go, I can't watch without a connection) but I think its easier and the tradeoff is worth it. I don't tend to watch shows over and over so that helps.

Although I agree typing with the onscreen keyboard and remote just sucks...

Of course I am old and remember the hassle of video rentals which involved physical media (where what you wanted often wasn't available), so my threshold for retrieving content might be higher.

At some point I find it hard to draw a distinction between a library and a torrent. Gotta to avoid legal trouble, but from a moral standpoint outlawing torrents is like outlawing the library.

Digital and physical copies of media content differ significantly in their transmissibility and copy-ability.

For example, creating a digital copy of some content is typically so easy that creating an entirely new duplicate copy is actually how works are transfered. Compared to physical media where creating a copy can be so difficult that copies are shared by physically moving individual copies rather than re-duplicating them.

While many libraries do have significant and valuable collections of digital works, they also tend to have somewhat overrought (or overly trusting) systems for preventing illicit copying.

>At some point I find it hard to draw a distinction between a library and a torrent.

So why use torrents instead of the library?

You know full well the difference.

The library uses a shitty app and DRM.

Nothing stopping you from recording your screen a la a 1980s VCR

Actually, HDMI has DRM built in, and many DRM-laden apps won't work unless the HDMI DRM is working. The Amazon app has been telling me recently that my connection to my TV doesn't have it, but it actually does. Then I'll hit "play" again and it'll work. (I think it was a bug in their app, because it stopped again.)

So recording it requires something that implements that HDMI DRM scheme, but still allows you to record.

The "analog hole" is still there. Point a camera at your TV and record it that way. Yes, the quality may be bad...

But that is not the same as a 1980s VCR, which is what the parent said.

Yes, I understand. The parent is still correct. You can buy splitters that strip HDCP.

Or you could screen capture.

Some people use torrents, others use the library, and some use both. Are you asking why some prefer a library to a torrent? For them, likely ease of access and greater access to content. Effectively torrents are an expansion of the library where sharing is easier than ever.

Are you suggesting a library is only moral because of the difficulty in using it? If so, what if someone were to suggest that current libraries have become easy enough to use that they have already crossed that line?

And making a copy of something that hundreds to even thousands of people worked hundreds of thousands of hours on just because you can also has some negative morals do it.

I don't know what analogy to make since all the physical ones fail. Maybe it's like hiring someone for a service and not paying. You get a haircut and don't pay. You hire a lawyer and don't pay. You have an accountant and don't pay. In all of those cases the only thing lost is the time the hair stylist, lawyer, accountant, movie maker spent. Yet we generally consider the first 3 morally wrong. Why not the 4th. That you can copy without getting caught doesn't mean there are zero moral implications.

A library pays once and then allows an unlimited number of people to use an item. A torrent uploader buys once and then allows an unlimited number of people to use an item. The only core distinction is the number that can access it at once. I will grant this is something of a significant distinction, but only if we grant that a torrent technology that allows only one user of any given uploaded item at once is the same as a library, and thus has the same moral implications (multiple uploads can allow for multiple users as long as they don't exceed the number of independent uploaders at any one time, much like a library can have more than one copy of a book as long as they buy more than one copy).

> hundreds to even thousands of people worked hundreds of thousands of hours on

That’s called the “Sweat of the brow” argument, but it isn’t valid in the US:


Can you explain why? I can understand why people want things for free, but thinking that you shouldn't contribute towards the production cost of the programme you enjoy seems strange to me.

It feels so weird to grow up in an age of rampant, unabashed piracy, where literally everyone around you is burning CDs or cracking games or handing out copied mixtapes, and see questions like these. It just goes to show how thoroughly streaming squashed piracy (at least before everything fractured into the current landscape), and how short our collective memories are.

Data yearns to be free -- sharing it and copying it cost nothing. Shows are just video data. Forcing real-world, scarcity economics, in a realm where the only currency of the land is plentiful, seems strange to me.

There are so many other ways to monetize media content, and yet we keep going back to DRM and publisher-controlled walled-gardens. It's a complete and total shame.

I don't mean to pick on you, per se, but I think there's a long-standing confusion about creative works that's captured in your line:

> Data yearns to be free -- sharing it and copying it costs nothing.

The latter part of that is true (setting aside quibbles about bandwidth and storage not being absolutely 100% free), but here's the thing: back in the days of physical media, of books and DVDs and CDs and what have you, the bulk of the price was never the physical media itself. The paper and plastic was never the valuable part.

> There are so many other ways to monetize media content...

Maybe, but just about all the ones that I've seen boil down to one of three methods:

- charge people directly for the content

- give the content away for free and sell ads against the content

- give the content away for free and make ancillary sales (e.g., merchandise)

Charging people for content doesn't require DRM: essentially all digital music sales are now DRM-free, for instance, and many ebooks are, depending on the publisher.

Also, two other observations.

First, while music publishers were always unduly whiny about the ability to record music at all, burning CDs and making mix tapes did cost money; it may have "felt" just like putting your entire music library up on Napster, but unless you had enough money to just hand out thousands of CDs of other people's music on street corners, it wasn't. It's not really super surprising that digital music piracy made those music publishers a lot soggier and hard to light.

Second, "data yearns to be free" sounds like a rephrasing of "information wants to be free," and I think it's worth remembering that the full quote from Stewart Brand went on to say "Information also wants to be expensive. This tension will not go away." Technology may let us reduce the marginal cost of reproducing anything that can be expressed as data to zero, but that doesn't make everything that ben expressed as data valueless.

Information doesn't 'want' to be expensive. We, people, want it to be expensive. And I'm with the folks want it to be cheap. Both groups will do what they can within their power to achieve their goals.

Is it weird?

We may have DRM and walled gardens, but media distribution is much more consumer friendly than it used to be.

There are many services that offer streaming at a flat rate, where you can watch or listen what you please and when you please without being subjected to third-party advertising. You can also subscribe and unsubscribe with ease, without paying additional fees. Contrast that to prior decades where none of that was true.

There are other services that offer perpetual licenses (I am hesitant to call them purchases) of books, music, videos, and software. You can access that content across multiple devices. In some cases you can even legally acquire it without DRM. Contrast that to early digital media. I remember floppy based software that would disable the installation media once it was installed to a hard drive. You could not re-download your music in the early days of iTunes, and they were considered consumer friendly.

I doubt that many people actually expected information to be free. What they wanted was for information to be convenient and cheap. As for those who actually did want information to be free, there are options out there that respect the creator's wishes (creative commons licensing, open source, etc.).

If someone puts great effort and cost into producing media, why would others be entitled to get the fruits of that labor for free? Game of Thrones is a luxury, not a necessity; people aren't entitled to it just because they want it and refuse to pay for it.

I don't mind paying for the latest album/ebook/videogame. What I mind is not being able to watch GoT in HD on Linux. I mind paying for the latest album then not being able to play it on my openhome DLNA devices. I mind not being able to play a random selection of more than 1000 or so songs from my library (a big enough playlist to not hear the same song multiple times daily). I mind not being able to crossfade my music, or use a media player that can adjust for the shitty speakers in my phone. I can finally share my video game library with my friend, but if I want to play even a free game while they use my library, that's not possible (the only limitation here should be playing the same game). I mind paying for an ebook, then not being able to read it in purple 34pt copperplate against a green background with line breaks where they belong (get thee hence PDF). I mind not being able to search the contents of multiple ebooks I own for the name of a character because I forgot the book title or because it's a cameo in another series. I mind not being able to create a playlist of music that contains files from my Google play music library, my Dropbox folder, and my desktop. I mind buying media from a DRM provider, then they decide to shut their service down and I can never access those files again; I may have some chance if I install their software before they shut down their servers, but I'll lose access if I ever upgrade my computer/OS (Nintendo DSi store, various other defunct ebook/music/video game providers). I mind that the e-book I downloaded through my library's OverDrive subscription cannot be read offline at all because it's not available as an epub or on Amazon, and thus it can't be downloaded to read offline, and for the same reason I also can't take notes or have multiple bookmarks. I mind that I can't give away my purchased ebooks after I'm done with them. I mind the fact that to watch movies away from home, I need to get a more expensive tablet (cellular version) and pay monthly for an extra data line that likely limits me to only watching 3-4 movies anyways.

Free is nice, yes. But money isn't the only reason for piracy. Downloading is easier and frequently faster than ripping the DRM off myself.

Streaming services are still less convenient, though they are moee accesible now, and it shows, piracy is less and less popular every year.

Philosophical line in the sand.

Media companies have abused laws and rights that are supposed to encourage and enrich society not diminish and stifle it.

They're beyond redemption at this point. The whole industry can burn at the stake for all I care. Netflix included. (Why does it matter what country I live in again? Why do you remove access to certain shows st random?)

The only media I pay for willingly is books and that is purely because amazon did such a great job of rejecting the authors guild and creating an atleast seemingly competitive market.

If media companies want my money they need to stop suing their largest customers.

They need to stop lobbying my government to enforce their governments rules.

They need to respect fair use.

They need to understand that it no longer costs anything to produce a copy and they are more than capable of finding a business model that works through the use of product placement. Hell they could run ads on their self listed torrents and I wouldnt bother reripping or looking for one without the ads.

Theyre way too focused on producing profits and protectionism than where they should be focused. Creating great entertainment and enriching society.

> a business model that works through product placement

I pay because I don't want video blogspam and advertorials. There's lots on QVC that you can watch if you want to support that style of content.

This just reads like a list of excuses. You could swap “piracy” with “selling drugs” and “entertainment industry” with “big pharma” and it would read just fine.

I don't think it's a valid argument to brush raised issues aside as excuses.

Media companies are aggressively litigious bullies and the way they conduct their business is at odds with the interests of the public at large. Not speaking for the others but I have no tears for cry for losses incurred by actors like that, especially not "losses" of digital media licensing opportunities.

And it probably wouldnt be all that wrong. All that tells you is that the same problem exists in multiple industries and sections of society. General patent law is another one.

The real solution isnt ignoring copyright like i do. That is just all i have available.

The real solution is to reign in the timeframes copyright and patent law lasts for.

Have it only long enough to recoup costs of development and provide some level of capital for the next innovation. Not an indefinite stranglehold on information for the benefit of only a few.

The thing people seem to argue is that these businesses have a free right to profit off of society. They dont, society should demand something in return.

You can think it's bad to pirate media and still be hard-pressed to care when someone does it.

I'm almost at odds with myself on this. I think it's probably somewhat unethical to pirate stuff, but it's much more unethical to aggressively punish people that do... For the most part

The effect is so intangible for the large media funded projects as well, pirating your local struggling musicians might be another story, but is that really much worse than the current streaming model what you get paid a few thousand dollars for millions on streams?

I feel like that would be a rare soul these days. People are so prone to screaming about every little "sin", even if it's really nothing. It's like they can't distinguish between things that are bad and things that are unconscionably bad, and scream at the same volume regardless.

> I feel like that would be a rare soul these days.

Remember, there's a big selection bias on that impression.

After all, the people who think it's none of their business if X at work is sleeping on the job don't post about it on social media.

I think that people that can contribute to the cost of making the programme should do so, but I’m also happy if people that cannot still get to enjoy it.

Exactly! I used to be in the latter camp as a child - allowance paid for some stuff, but not a lot, now I'm in the former group and am happy to subsidize the enjoyment of those less privileged than me. Especially because some of those people are probably going to be inspired and create some great art I'll really enjoy.

GoT season 8 is something that happened to me, not something I enjoyed. Like a bully ruining your sand castle after a long day at the beach.

How does that work? Do you watch programmes, then send off a cheque to HBO if it meets your standards?

It's probably fairly common among people who want to be able to access content freely while preserving an internal sense of ethical behavior.

That's basically what I did with a certain popular TV series. I'd torrent the individual episodes, then buy the DVD box sets at the end of the season to pay for it. When it became clear that the writers didn't actually have any idea what they were doing (which was a topic of no small debate at the time), I stopped buying the box sets.

Whether I stopped torrenting it is neither here nor there, but let's just say that the peer comment ("The last season wasn't something I enjoyed, it was something that happened to me") really rung a bell with me. Later, the same story repeated itself with another popular show on a different network, at which point I just disengaged with TV for good.

I stopped when they resuscitated Jon Snow. That was blatant pandering, and it was clearly going to be downhill from there.

I don't know if that was a joke, but Jon Snow is pretty clearly going to resuscitate in the books as well -- the exact way may not follow the TV show in detail, but it will in essence -- because he is important in GoT prophecy. I don't see this as pandering, any more than Gandalf surviving Moria is.

You could argue that season 8 was rushed, that some battles made no sense, that they botched the Night's King, or that Daenerys' character development was ruined by the abruptness -- though I think this too will play out similarly in the books -- but Jon Snow's resurrection was neither pandering nor the fault of HBO.

I'll be honest, I want other people to contribute while I enjoy it for free.

>I could not care less about torrenting game of thrones.

Promoting and distributing game of thrones is a crime against art, beauty and taste. Pirating it only makes things worse as it exacerbates the network effect.

And the fact that the intern didn't care/foresee we would suffer downtime or at the very least a major inconvenience if our accounts were suspended as long as they could finish their personal task.

Couldn't the intern have paid for his own bare bones VPS and done it from there? Or used a different paid VPN service, which cost roughly the same ~$5? Seems like the cost of a VPN compared to the value of his internship wouldn't even compare. All for some campus clout.

It's potentially less anonymous to the people who might prosecute you. Probably didn't realize how anonymous it wasn't to the employer and didn't factor that cost in to the decision. But if you're willing to $5 to get a show, you're probably less likely to pirate it anyway (or at least be the seed).

As far as I recall, $20 wouldn't even get you a single GoT episode in Australia. As a consequence, Australia had one of the highest piracy rates on GoT / HBO shows.

The Foxtel monopoly has got to go, one way or another. They pay for the rights to all of the best shows, then charge huge sums for subscriptions. I'd pay for Netflix, HBO online etc if only it were possible here for a reasonable, non inflated price without content restrictions.

I was recently surprised to discover that Foxtel still exists. Even living in Australia it had been years since I had heard or seen anything to do with the company.

Personally, I dont feel like Foxtel is a problem so much as the business model of locking up a show within a paid streaming service. There are so many of them. If a show or movie isnt on the streaming services I already have access to I immediately just discard the idea of ever watching it. Its unlikely to even be worth the bother to find a way to watch it.

If you could even download it at any price. At some point people would give up on waiting 6 months for the release, say “fuck it” and just pirate it.

Worse, there was one season (S2 or S3?) where it was released on iTunes the day after each episode aired, for I bought a season pass, think it was maybe $30-40, perhaps even $50. The following season that option wasn't available due to Foxtel having a big sook, so I just stopped watching altogether.

If you were willing to wait until the month that the final episode aired, you could watch every episode for $15 (by subscribing to Foxtel Go for that month, then cancelling).

I don’t watch GoT, but I have friends who have and I know that a lot of people who were fans of the series liked to talk about the latest episode together. So waiting until later would not be an option for them.

That works for most shows, but with Game of Thrones you'd get left out of the conversation that same week and risk seeing spoilers everywhere.

That guy pirated for the glory of being the first to share it with his peers. I wouldn't be surprised if he was willing to pay for that.

Depends, was it a paid internship?

Even if it wasn't, I bet the experience of the internship would be worth more than the cost of a personal VPN. Unless the internship didn't really provide much value.

If you have no money, it doesn't matter what's the value of the internship.

what does that have to do with anything. If the opportunity was good enough for you to take the internship, then they were good enough for you not to risk it by torrenting on their material. He likely got sacked mid summer. He now can't even have that internship on his resume. So much wasted time, so mindless.

not getting paid often leads to not having much money

the solution is not to use your work equipment was my point

$5 can be the difference between eating that day or going without food for some.

yes but you can survive without watching shows, which is my point

This was what a seedbox is. You can get seedboxes really cheap (usually under 15euro/month).

Yeah, interns have so much money.

DigitalOcean bills per hour.

But their lowest tier of VPS caps out at $5 a month


I believe they meant you only need it for a couple hours max so with the hourly rate it'd only be less than $0.02

IIRC they have a minimum payment. You need to put $5 in your account. Not sure what they do if you pay by subscription and only use a few hours, but when I was using DO, you needed to fund your account with $5 even if you were using the $100 free credit from GitHub education.

This is the case for PayPal and Visa debits, but not credit cards IIRC.

I paid for a dedicated server with an unmetered 100mbit connection back in the day. (More than a decade ago, now that I think about it) I wasn't using it for much, so I decided to be a good citizen and run a Tor exit node on it. No filters, every port, why not? What could go wrong?

Well, it turns out you can run bittorrent over Tor. Got dozens of DMCA emails, host took the server down within 24 hours. Taught me a lesson on being nice.

I once pirated a Tv show and was accidentally on my work VPN for a portion of it.

Had a moment of being a bit frozen and scared.

Decided to email the IT head and explain the situation. I got a “thanks for letting me know” and that was it. Not as big a deal as my head conjured up.

I could have done the wrong thing though and made it a big deal.

"Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me."

- your company's IT guy

So funny. But seriously, always be super nice to IT. They might be present during your most frustrating days but don’t make them feel the blame. They’re one of your best allies.

Another interesting story (as the site is just picking on IP, disregarding dynamic ips, vpns etc.) that might save potential users (for legal cases) some costs. The service is heavly false positive and wrong accusation might be expensive:


seedr.cc, bitport.io or zbigz.com exist to solve this problem and would have saved him his job.

Or... just don't use work resources to torrent, period.

That's exactly what the parent comment is suggesting.

Piracy has always been rampant at companies, sure now days its too easy to track but in the beginning we only had good piracy bandwidth because so much of it was done on company dollars. With the good eyes of CEOs, sure it was cold hands when they got raided.

I never do personal stuff on company time/equipment, just seems stupid. I'm not sure I think it should matter though...

i'm a put.io customer and i swear by them. absolutely great service.

Ex put.io customer, I downloaded a bunch of media to consume over a flight, except their App would not let me watch already-downloaded videos offline on a plane.

He may have already weighed his internship as less valuable than the cost of using such a service.

how do such services escape the clutches of DMCA? I assume they're used for pirating content.

They usally aren't in the US, and making an international issue out of them just provides free advertising and sympathy for similar services.

My understanding is that they bank on the fact that takedown operations are relatively slow and starting up from scratch is easy (or even automated), so they fully expect it to get taken down and make as much money as possible in the meantime then rinse and repeat.

bitport is awesome, can vouch

Seriously. The idea that it's just fine to pirate everything because you can or have the tech to do it is appalling to see in this community.

From an 1841 speech to the British House of Commons on the dangers of increased copyright times:

At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot… Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create.


Thank goodness people did, or we’d still be listening to music on CDs and watching TV on the broadcasters schedule.

i pay for amazon prime, youtube premium, hbo max, hulu, netflix and spotify.

if i'm downloading something i'm 100% sure the media company that owns the rights is getting my money somehow.

Huh? Why?

Because I make my money selling my labor and IP to my company (software engineer, it's in my contract.)

If someone stole my IP from me or my company, it would be harder to pay the bills for either me, or my company.

When I was younger, out of curiosity I've downloaded leaked source code of Windows or video games.

Got an impression that code is not that useful to an outsider. It can help answering extremely specific questions how a particular small isolated function is implemented. Even ignoring legal issues, it won't significantly help building competing products, let alone building a successful business around such product.

When we hire people, they gain access to complete source code, documentation, continuous integration environment, bug tracker, and most importantly to the current developers. It usually takes them months to become productive. With just the source code, would probably take a year even for very smart person.

I think the irony is that someone on HN will jump on this thread saying copyright needs to be abolished, and you didn't lose anything as the user wouldn't have paid for it anyways, with the irony being that a large majority of HN either earns money via tracking ads(which is far worse than any copyright), or works money by writing paid software.

I think a lot of HN readers write software that is hosted somewhere, so the users never see the code. Thus, copyright provides us no protection. (I suppose the ex-employee could always take the code and start their own competing service, so copyright does have some value.)

> a large majority of HN either earns money via tracking ads

Have you ever seen any numbers on HN users jobs? I’m continually surprised by the diverse roles of domain experts that appear in threads. I guess I’m hoping you’re wrong.

Wouldn't it be ironic if your job arose in part due to demands placed on the internet infrastructure as a result of pirating activity? Or due to pressure on content owners to lower the cost of streaming enough to make it become mainstream? It would be interesting to tally up all the investment into streaming platforms and the supporting software and servers. Without BitTorrent I really wonder how much smaller that market would be. Or if we'd all still be waiting for our discs in the mail or trying to program our DVRs to record the right shows.

Doesn't make copying someone else's work without payment right.

> Doesn't make copying someone else's work without payment right.

I believe it is right in a moral sense. The illusion that any art is always to be treated as having a value commensurate with the effort involved (or the transient demand), is a fantasy that has been commoditized. Thats the current worldthink.

Many of us create over years and see our programs go to waste without a second thought in the same way. It has been a brutal set of lessons over the years. Media creators are no different than me and both arts are better serving humanity in the digital age where the information can flow freely in society. Software licensing is bad and media copying is goid. I believe this now (20 years later), as I always have.

Does it help much that Android's source is available?

The idea "exclusive monopolies" and transferable intellectual property rights for perpetuity is bullshit.

The blunt fact of the matter is - A majority of the movies would gain more by giving it away to the public domain because most movies fail. Radio did not kill Art. Internet is the new radio.

The same is true even for software. 80% of business fail. It would not matter if they gave their code away. GPL based business have made billions, i'n not even talking about open source and have more users than some of the biggest "startups".

Among the minority that made it "big" copyright contributed maybe 5% to the success. IP allows big companies to bully creators, lie to consumers and bully independent companies that they perceive as threats.

In Music, Code, Science ... openness has lead to more innovation. Movies and Games present an interesting case. They have plenty of upfront costs. Games have already embraced some notions of the freemium mode. It would be really interesting if 100 million dollar movie is entirely funded by the people. There is nothing stopping that from happening. Copyright, Patents should last at-most 1 year.

Plenty of 100 million dollar movies have been entirely funded by the people [0]. They pay using a thing called “tickets”, or sometimes by paying a small fee to download it to their homes.

To your point, the vast majority of media and software is proprietary, though much of it is supporting in nature and not directly for sale. Nevertheless, shouldn’t publishers be free to choose how they fund their creations?

If we take away the option of artificial scarcity then an entire highly trained professional class will be out of work. While I don’t think Jonny Depp, for example, is worth $650M [1], I don’t personally think that’s a great option for the editors, writers, extras, gaffers, and many other professionals that work together to make great media.

Companies are motivated to maximise the revenue from making this stuff. If they could make more money without copyright, they would have done this already. (And radio is a terrible example: commercial radio simply plays advertising for artists, called “songs”, 24x7)

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_films

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/jul/13/johnny-depp-tel...

> Nevertheless, shouldn’t publishers be free to choose how they fund their creations?

Of course. The problem is when they demand that goverments take away their ciziten's natural rights to copy and share information in order to support their chosen business model. If publishers want society to make their business model possible by being given special "rights" and having public institudions enforce those "rights" then it is very much up to all of society to choose if that is acceptable.

Remember copyright is an entirely artificial construct meant to benefit society by encouraging creators to produce content. It is my and many others opinion that the current state of copyright is a very one sided affair that benefits mainly big corporations while having numerous negative effects on society.

> If we take away the option of artificial scarcity then an entire highly trained professional class will be out of work.

Unlikely. There will always be a demand for entertainment and people interested in filling that demand will find a way to make it worthwile.

But even if the entire entertainment industry would instantly disappear then that would still not be an argument to uphold unjust laws. Professions becoming obsolete with progress is entirely natural. People can adapt.

While I agree in spirit with some of what you say, the law is as it is and producers invest in content with the expectation that those laws will be enforced. You want copyright to go away? Then get enough people to agree, and get the law changed.

> copyright is an entirely artificial construct meant to benefit society by encouraging creators to produce content

The problem with this line of reasoning is that all property is an artificial construct. Just because it’s an artificial concept doesn’t, on its own, make it wrong.

> It is my and many others opinion that the current state of copyright is a very one sided affair that benefits mainly big corporations while having numerous negative effects on society.

That may be true, but last I looked we live in a democracy, which means that we have a process for changing the law, which does not include doing whatever you want.

And honestly, while there is plenty about modern copyright that I find repulsive, especially the constant extension, nevertheless the wholesale removal of copyright would have many consequences that you probably don’t want. For starters, the GPL, CC, Apache and many other free licenses rely on copyright to work.

> There will always be a demand for entertainment and people interested in filling that demand will find a way to make it worthwile

Copyright supports far more than just entertainment. The wholesale destruction of journalism, for example, has clearly damaged society. Part of the damage has been caused because Google and Facebook have subverted copyright to their own causes.

It really is not black and white.

> … the law is as it is and producers invest in content with the expectation that those laws will be enforced.

The law can change tomorrow with the stroke of a pen and society won't owe them anything for these past "investments" no matter what their expectations were. Which, of course, is why they invest so much in politics and astroturf campaigns to head off any attempt to actually change the law to something more in line with what most people actually think is right. (If you applied the principle of estoppel and required anyone who had ever violated copyright law to suit words to actions and vote against it then you probably couldn't even get a quorum in favor, much less a majority.)

> The problem with this line of reasoning is that all property is an artificial construct.

Property rights arise naturally as a result of scarcity. Someone has to have the right to decide how the scarce resource will be used or it might as well not exist.

"Property" rights in things that are not scarce are a purely artificial construct.

> For starters, the GPL, CC, Apache and many other free licenses rely on copyright to work.

Copyleft licenses were created as a reaction against copyright. Sometimes they overstep their bounds, true—especially the less permissive variants. However, in general, if copyright and software patents did not exist then there would be no need for any of these licenses.

> The wholesale destruction of journalism, for example, has clearly damaged society. Part of the damage has been caused because Google and Facebook have subverted copyright to their own causes.

Taking it at face value, this appears to be an argument against copyright? Not that I really agree that Google and Facebook are primarily to blame. The public simply prefers to be entertained and reaffirmed rather than informed. If anything, copyright reinforces this outcome since you can't copyright facts (and rightly so); as such, actual journalism, uncovering the facts of the situation, has become a cost center to be minimized, whereas the "expression" is heavily subsidized via copyright monopoly.

> The law can change tomorrow with the stroke of a pen and society won't owe them anything

What you say is literally true, but because most investment ends up as wages, such an act would literally destroy tens of billions of dollars of working capital, and put a hundred thousand people out of work overnight.

I assume that's not an outcome you actually advocate.

> Property rights arise naturally as a result of scarcity

Rubbish. The whole concept of rights is almost entirely artificial [0]. For most of history, property and other rights were determined by whoever had the biggest army. Jesus, many people still don't have the right to their own bodies in some places in the world.

The idea that rights of any kind are somehow anything other than a set of cherished beliefs codified in law, is nonsense.

> Copyleft licenses were created as a reaction against copyright.

I think the situation is much, much more complicated than that, but it is a side issue of this conversation at best.

> this appears to be an argument against copyright... The public simply prefers to be entertained

You surely can't blame people for wanting to be entertained? Are you saying you never watch something fun?

In any case, weak and misapplied copyright laws have enabled Google and Facebook, in particular, to concentrate the important elements of journalism and present it to their users in a way which reduces the diversity of all journalism. They show just enough to get away with "fair use" while ensuring that the likelihood of people clicking outside the walled garden is minimised.

Imagine what these companies would do to us if basic copyright was even weaker. Do you think Facebook would link to an article it can just copy? 2 billion+ people on the earth would have just one web browser and it would never - not be allowed - to leave fb.com.

That is not a future I want.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta

> I assume that's not an outcome you actually advocate.

I don't wish misfortune on anyone, and I expect there would be a transitional period in any real-world implementation, but just the same I cannot possibly justify continuing this parasitic situation any longer than absolutely necessary. If I were presented with a button that would eliminate copyright law instantly, globally, and permanently, I would press it without hesitation—and then get to work dealing with the inevitable fallout.

> For most of history, property and other rights were determined by whoever had the biggest army. Jesus, many people still don't have the right to their own bodies in some places in the world.

You are obviously referring to legal recognition of rights, not the rights themselves. The law is artificial, founded for the most part on non-defensive application of force to achieve a desired outcome, and doesn't correlate very well with the rights that people naturally possess. Some legal systems are better than other in this regard. No law which comes from a government will ever fully recognize natural human rights because, quite simply, that would put them out of business. However, here in the U.S. we at least explicitly recognize that there are rights which humans naturally possess ("endowed by their Creator"—whatever that happens to mean to you) which do not derive from the law, but rather have priority over it. There is a difference between what the law says you may do without penalty and what you may rightfully do, and when the two are in conflict it is the law which is wrong, no matter how popular the law might be or how much force can be brought to bear to back it up.

> You surely can't blame people for wanting to be entertained? Are you saying you never watch something fun?

I'm not blaming them. I'm just saying that there isn't a strong market right now for actual journalism. It's thankless work, for the most part, with or without copyright.

> In any case, weak and misapplied copyright laws have enabled Google and Facebook, in particular, to concentrate the important elements of journalism and present it to their users in a way which reduces the diversity of all journalism. They show just enough to get away with "fair use" while ensuring that the likelihood of people clicking outside the walled garden is minimised.

Are you trying to say that copyright should be expanded to cover facts and not just expression? That it should be illegal to quote or paraphrase a small portion of a copyrighted work? I believe the majority would side with me in vehemently disagreeing. Keep in mind that (in the U.S.) the exceptions for fair use are the only reason why copyright law was not declared wholly unconstitutional on 1st Amendment grounds. Freedom of speech is far more important than this runaway social engineering experiment known as copyright. (IMHO they gave in too easily. Copyright law violates the 1st Amendment and freedom of speech even with fair use.)

> I don't wish misfortune on anyone ... I would press it without hesitation

I can’t reconcile these two statements. People would definitely die if you pushed that button; I don’t think you want that.

> here in the U.S. we at least explicitly recognize that there are rights which humans naturally possess

Perhaps true, but only for certain values of ‘human’.

> Are you trying to say that copyright should be expanded to cover facts and not just expression? That it should be illegal to quote or paraphrase a small portion of a copyrighted work?

I think it’s pretty clear that I’m saying that fair use has been subverted by companies for profit, and that eliminating copyright will make things far worse.

> Freedom of speech is far more important than this runaway social engineering experiment known as copyright

Given the rate at which people are getting sick and dying in the US right now, I’m not certain that the “runaway social experiment of free speech” - as moderated and directed by the copyright infringing trolls at big social media - is working out too well for you guys either.

> Copyright law violates the 1st Amendment and freedom of speech even with fair use.

Didn’t you just essentially argue that the law is not morally authoritative?

You clearly believe that there exist natural rights. I happen to believe that the right to control the things I create is natural. Just because something can be copied easily doesn’t abrogate my natural rights, any more than the fact that your genome can be copied abrogates yours.

Despite what you think, its entirely possible and natural for me to suffer a loss if you copy something that I created, particularly if creating it was expensive for me, and your copying it prevents me from making good my loss.

While there is much I find dismaying about copyright law, there is nothing unnatural about it.

The number of CEOs who think printing money is a good idea might make you wonder if they even know anything about money. Polluting air costs less money why not do it ?

80% movies don't need the 100 million dollar budget and I'm pretty sure Johnny Deepp would be happy to release Edward Scissorhands to the public domain.

Most big movies make their money by single day screenings and releasing movies at different dates in different regions with market buzz.

> If we take away the option of artificial scarcity then an entire highly trained professional class will be out of work.

Interestingly your argument fails for porn. Its about 1/4th the size of hollywood.

How about publishers own the copyright and creators own the copyright instead of commoditising a copyright artefact ?

I assure you musicians can survive and Depp can do some theatre. Most EDM is essentially copyright free, especially techno. 1 year of exclusivity is fine. Fuck NDAs.

These days the cost of production has gone down so I think you will see more indie media taking advantage of that. The average budget for a reasonable movie is less than 5 million, heck even 500k dollars going by kickstarter funded movies.

I don’t really know what you’re arguing, you seem to be making a few assumptions about my position, which are probably wrong.

In terms of $100M movies, I think they almost all suck, but that was the value you suggested. I’d say that no movie needs to cost $100M!

But plenty of movies cost $10M. If it takes 100 people a year to make a movie then you can easily spend $10M on salaries and overheads alone.

> Interestingly your argument fails for porn

Does it? I’d guess that the average porno costs a few hundred bucks to shoot, and takes a couple of hours. There is easily 100x more hours of porn produced per day than narrative fiction, and yet it only makes 25% of Hollywood, and notoriously, the actors are frequently exploited. I’d say that porn is a warning of danger rather than a proof of success!

> Depp can do some theatre

When was the last time you paid to go to the theatre?

> Most EDM is essentially copyright free, especially techno. 1 year of exclusivity is fine. Fuck NDAs.

My raver days are (sadly) behind me, but sure, OK, like porn, EDM can be produced with little investment. So what? No everything that is good is also cheap or easy to build.

> These days the cost of production has gone down so I think you will see more indie media taking advantage of that.

I’m a huge fan of indy media but, because of that, I pay for it, and I don’t like it when people freeload.

> The average budget for a reasonable movie is less than 5 million

I think you’re just making things up now, but even so, 5 million is a buttload of money that you need to get back. Few people are gonna spend that sort of money with no expectation of recouping it.

> So what ?

I too can ignore every big budget predictable cliche and say so what. Lets ignore the successes of alternatives.

Is Kanye West and Britney Spears the best you can do with millions of dollars ? I'll stick to punk and EDM ... no thanks.

> I’m a huge fan of indy media but, because of that, I pay for it, and I don’t like it when people freeload.

Is copyright / patents the only way to finance and get money back ?

Absolutely not. Thats the argument I am making.


There are a lot of undeserving idiots with money out there, no doubt. And they have certainly taken advantage of copyright to get wealthy. But it seems to me that you just want to solve this by making everything “indy”, on the cheap, and as much as I love independent music and film (I saw 40 movies over a two week period at a film festival last year, it was awesome) I think the world is far more complex and interesting than can be expressed by a couple of dudes with a camera.

The problem is that some productions are simply expensive. Think about sending an imax camera to the space station. There is literally no way to make that cheap. And why concentrate only on music and movies, what about games? What about journalism? There are a huge number of industries that depend on at least some form of copyright, even if not specifically the bastard form that exists at this moment.

> Is copyright / patents the only way to finance and get money back ? Absolutely not. Thats the argument I am making.

But as far as I can tell, you’re only arguing against copyright, you’re not actually making an argument for a viable alternative, and that is my problem.

Just because you dig EDM and punk, and these specific types of music can be made on the cheap, doesn’t mean all good media can be made cheaply. Just because most $100M movies suck doesn’t mean that $10 million movies shouldn’t be made.

Accept that, and then explain to me how to repeatedly raise the $10 million investment needed to create high quality, high cost products that will be given away for free, no strings attached. I think you’ll find that the problem is that doing so is incredibly hard and extremely risky, which is why nobody is doing it.

I believe in reform. 1 year exclusive copyright / patent at most and author always holds the copyright. Its ironic that the movie with the biggest budget is a pirate movie ;)


So we agree :) except that like the pirate party, I’d make copyright 5 years since some works take much longer than one year to create, and it can often take more than a year to distribute certain works or plan and go on tour.

Also, I believe nobody should go to jail or be bankrupted for copying digital works.

And what do you know? Two randos came to an amicable position on an Internet forum :) next stop, world peace!!


> A majority of the movies would gain more by giving it away to the public domain because most movies fail.

What exactly about being in the public domain would help a movie "gain more" if it hadn't had a successful box office run previously? "GPL-based businesses making billions" does not strike me as a meaningful comparison here. ("Well, 'Cats' is a fiasco, but if we give it away for free we can make a killing selling enterprise service contracts for it!")

How about scene by scene commentary for cats on a youtube video. Sports have this and you can watch old sports matches on youtube. Right now youtube would block it and my use case extends the fair use by quite a mark. You have to understand that under DRM even seeing the movie with family and friends is illegal.

Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV show in history. I remember when the first 4 episodes of season 5 were leaked at once. Christmas came early!

Because it was great and it wasn't available legally in so many countries, or it was with forced reader and no native-English language versions in TV or 480p streaming online.

It's most pirated because it was great quality product with low quality service and delivery.

There's was also providers in the UK who's bad video compression made the picture so dark it was unwatchable.

Are you sure you weren't just tuning in to season 8, episode 3

That's probably the episode they're talking about but it doesn't render their complaint less valid. It just shows the limits of streaming technology in its current form.

Also in some markets the official local release was a year behind. Given that it's not possible to get an HBO subscription outside of the US, for many people pirating was the only way to watch it.

Or in the Netherlands, where is was exclusive to 1 ISP

An ISP that provided cable internet exclusively; so if you had fibre at home it wouldn't even make sense to use them.

But it was a devil's bargain: you would then have to wait multiple weeks for the 5th episode.

I have an HBO premium subscription (along with access to HBO Go), but I have downloaded a few of the episodes over torrent to ensure I can watch it where there was no internet or where it was unstable.

While I have technically participated in copyright infringement (I haven't raided any ships, I promise, arrgh), I do not feel I have done anything morally wrong.

If you're in USA or somewhere else with liberal Fair Use then you might not have infringed?

I'm not sure there's any caselaw on downloading content you've paid for? Seems very close to format/time shifting to me.

Possibly depends if you leeched or not.

I don't think that this argument would hold up in court as you're not just downloading for yourself (which you could argue you have a license to the content), but you're also providing (at least parts) of the content to others. I think this is where you'd definitely get into trouble.

Yup, at least in Germany that's the legal situation: They send out cease&desist letters because torrent upload counts as "sharing the copyrighted work without a license", and because of bit-torrent high connectivity they just assume by default that you are doing it on the "scale of a business", stipulating absurd damage sums.

I once torrented an episode of the show The Americans, my last option as my usual sources were weirdly all offline and it was the middle of a season, the show wasn't even legally distributed in Germany at the time.

Turned out some German publisher picked up the distribution rights to the show and their first action wasn't to make it legally available in Germany, but trying to profit from Germans who followed the show trough piracy by sending out serial c&d letters demanding 800€ payments and stipulating damages in the range of 10k€

It's a pretty wide-spread and annoying situation to such a degree that using public torrent is a very quick way to get expensive mail as there's a whole lot of anti-piracy outfits in Germany that monitor public torrent trackers for German IPs downloading files named after copyrighted works to send out those c&d letters.

I'm not living in Germany, but am downloading torrents (to watch stuff unavailable via HBO/Netflix) via VPN which terminates in Germany. I wonder if the VPN company is getting shitloads of those C&D letters and if they can ever blow back on me.

That would depend on the specific VPN ToS.

Afaik the worst they could do is cancel your service/subscription because the c&d letter is addressed to the owner of the connection, which in your case would be the VPN company.

Yeah, good point: I do not usually seed stuff that I believe is highly likely to result in C&D letters from my ISP. So yeah, fair use might apply.

Yup. Entirely HBO's fault too. I don't know why they didn't offer HBO GO with a paid subscription. Missed out on so many sales.

It was on HBO Now, which you could get with a paid subscription. It's how I watched it in Japan.

My collage had similar restrictions for many website and torrents. I tried something similar by renting a server and then trying to download torrent in it but obviously got instantly blocked from Service provider.

Somehow 1-2 months later I got a request from my college's computer center to make some changes in the college intranet landing page. Then I became good friends with them. and later I got an account from them, where everything was open. I was a good time ;)

Hmm but doing that in a 7 person startup, and then repeating the offense, and then failing to come clean !! seriously man..

My undergrad would just throttle/packetshape torrents/p2p/IRC-dcc/etc so it would move at 1~2kbps. My grad school would ban your MAC address if you had any torrents running (I found that out the hard way when I got banned for DemocracyNow/Miro video player, which I didn't realize, used torrents as its backend transfer protocol).

One needs to remember to cover their tracks :)

When I was young and stupid (at least more than now) I did some pranks using dormitory server, and knew that I should clean bash history (actually using a single space before command did that).

But what I didn't know was that vim also has a history of commands :) server admin wasn't happy.

You never know what type of logging is set up though. You can log others users commands too, making use histories irrelevant.

Ugh, and he/she could have gotten a box for an evening for fraction of a cent or something. To even think about using company infrastructure for this seems really very uneducated. Ok, that wouldn't also have been stupid, but at least you wouldn't put your company at risk.

You'd think they would just pay for their own droplet in that scenario. Digital Ocean runs promo's all the time with free credits too.

None of the large cloud providers will let you do this. You’d need to rent a box on a service that turns a blind eye to this sort of activity.

A friend told me that OVH, the largest European cloud provider, doesn't seem to mind on its cheap Kimsufi servers.

I thought DO blocked torrenting, or perhaps officially disallows it?

Somehow I can only see one this comment of 252 in this thread.

I had the same issue, emailed the moderators using the "Contact" link in the footer, and got a response quickly. Recommended.

So did you sack him?

Yep, since he didn't seem to care if our Digital Ocean account would get suspended.

The problem here is not recognizing that the piracy was actually the problem. In what way was it forgivable? Because everybody does it, that makes it okie dokie? Because you don't have a Netflix account? If everyone treated piracy as theft (it is) then no one would have to waste their time investigating it because the collective will would exist to prevent it.

> If everyone treated piracy as theft (it is)

Then everybody would be as wrong as you. You can repeat this as much as you like, but it is simply false.

Legally speaking: copyright infringement is an offense distinct from theft.

Speaking from reality: copyright infringement does not deprive the holder of the right of their property.

Speaking ethically: Copyright infringement is a violation of a particular commercial mode of exchange. "Unauthorized Looking" would be a better term for what retail bittorrent users are up to.

I agree with your interpretation of copyright and that it is not theft, but your position ignores the fact that very many “properties” would not exist except for the understanding that they might be profitable. In some cases, like GoT, the likelihood of profitability is very high.

In that sense, copyright infringement _indirectly_ deprives the holder of the property through the capital that they invested in order to create the property in the first place.

I mean, if I spend $100 to make a movie with the hope that 100 people will each spend $2 to watch it, and then you make a copy and distribute it for free to my audience, then you’ve deprived me of my $100 in capital, and the $100 in profit. The profit itself is a loss because it is an opportunity cost: if I hadn’t made the movie then I might have spent my time making money some other way.

The distance between your position and mine is, I think, one of scale. Individual infringement of a property with millions of views is a tiny fraction of the cost of creating that property. But as the number of infringers increases relative to the audience, it really does deprive people of property.

What if someone pirates it after 100 people already watched/bought it, and now you got 500 more loyal fans who might also buy your next movie?

The actual likelihood of this happening in the real world approaches zero, given the intrinsic incentives of pirates ie to release as early as possible, and the fact that pirates don’t usually know (or care) if the product has recouped its investment, or not.

Even if it was possible, surely the people who have invested real money should be the ones to make this decision? Indeed, lots of IP becomes free (even freedom-free) after it’s made money, eg the Quake engine.

> Even if it was possible, surely the people who have invested real money should be the ones to make this decision?

Why? They have no inherent right to limit the distribution of their content, only the special rights society has decided to give them in order to encourage the creation in the first place.

But all rights are granted by society, including your right to own a house or a car or a laptop or the clothes on your back. ALL of these rights are “special rights society has decided to give”.

And in the case of copyright society has decided that media is something that is worth investing in and we have created laws that encourage that.

Some of those laws suck and are stupid and overreaching, but that’s not the argument here.

piracy is taking someone else's work without compensating them for that work. There are lots of forms of work that require nothing but time. Programming is one, lawyer work, accounting work, digital design work, planning, managing. I'm sure we could list 100s more.

I don't know what the legal term is for hiring someone for a service and then not paying them for that service.

My first search came up with "theft of services"


If you want the your tax forms filled out you pay the tax accountant. If you want the movie you pay the creators of the movie.

I know there is a difference in the the movie already exits but is that an important difference? When I arrive at the tax accountant's office to collect my tax forms they already exist. Maybe I should just make a copy for free and leave and say "copies are free so it's not theft"?

It's not the document that was stolen, it was the value of their time.


Please stop turning the forum further "to shit" with unsubstantive comments.

I am unsure when you grew up, but for many of us who grew up in the 90s and 00s, this is exactly the mindset we have. I used to be able to take a movie I had and lend it to a friend, the same with music. The movement away from physical copies took this away from many of us, so we tried to take it back in kind -- piracy is what they called that behavior.

I understand it might not seem right to you, but in all the social groups I am a part of piracy and sharing accounts is normative. The only fault I see is mixing personal and work resources, which naturally have separate concerns.

I see nothing wrong with "lending a movie" to someone.. But how often does the "lent" movie ever get "returned" ( read: deleted )? If not your analogy breaks down and it becomes the same as physically copying a VHD/DVD/CD.

I’m not sure why that’s important. I don’t frequently watch movies multiple times so the loaning and watching once is, I think, most common.

Back in the dvd days, I would frequently never get discs back. The few times I’ve loaned a file from a digital file I’ve bought on Amazon, I’ve never watched the movie again. So for all I care, they could keep it forever.

I wrote more about this in another comment [1], but I believe that the limitation of not being able to lend something is a constructed limitation of digital goods. I already do "lend" access through streaming services -- I would call it "lending" because many of the services have limits on concurrent streams (This is the exclusivity principle that is important in lending, as you mention).

In terms of digital goods writ large, there is no good way for me to lend access in a provable manner -- so of course piracy is the natural evolution because that's the only way to lend things.

Also, we used to copy Blockbuster tapes too, which is illegal, but there was never enforcement because we never re-sold these copies. Maybe I'm just a miscreant through and through. Irrespective, this is another clear example of where the transition to digital caused a dissonance between the physical and digital worlds that led users to believe behavior called "illegal" was actually just a subtraction of their ownership rights.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23823166

> The movement away from physical copies

I just don't understand this argument, physical copies of virtually any type of media absolutely still exist. If you want to own even Netflix shows on disc, you can do that pretty cheaply. I'd you want to get Blu Ray discs delivered to you by mail for a subscription fee, you can probably do that (although this is slightly more geographically restricted).

This argument is simply invalid.


That claim isn't true. There are games that are not provided with a physical copy (i.e. Beatsaber for PSVR, Quest for Booty-Rachet and Clank, etc)

Also, I'm sure there are other Hulu, Netflix, Prime excluses that won't make it to the physical market.


This still avoids the main issue here: It's the right of ownership of the copy. Having a digital copy, in it's current state, prevents you from transferring it to others. Amazon's ebooks have the option for lending, but you're still reliant upon Amazon's "holy permission" to do that. (They can reascend it at any time). With physical mediums the original creators cannot prevent you from reselling what you own. (They can try.. but often times they've failed)

It absolutely is. I said virtually all, and for virtually all it's true. A small number of counter examples that aren't relevant to the majority of the media-consuming public does nothing to change the inarguable fact that the vast majority of media is available in physical form.

These are not a small number of counterexamples, these are patterns that are pervasive throughout modern media distribution. Let's look at Star Wars as an example. I bought a Star Wars box set and I can't watch it on my computer without installing malware. I can't play "Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order" without installing malware. I can't watch the new Clone Wars or Mandalorian show without paying for yet another streaming service. "Think of the content creators" is the new "think of the children". It's not my fault that every aspect of our culture is for sale to the highest bidder; my rights matter more than the profit margin of faceless megacorporations and as long as they engage in these unethical business practices I will not give them my money. Piracy is civil disobedience.

"Civil disobedience" is a rather grandiose way to dress up not paying for things you use because the person who owns them didn't sell them exactly the way you wish they did. You're not marching in the streets, you're watching TV.

I don’t buy movies on dvd or Blu-ray any more. But I still lend access.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that if I watch a movie that I like, I should purchase it again on physical media just to loan it. And that my friend should buy a DVD player just to watch a borrowed movie.

If I’ve bought it once digitally, I will make copies and lend them to friends. Or more specifically, I’ll give them a login to my private Plex server.

It’s great to hear about people using software to share culture. Re: Plex, I looked in your bio but didn’t see contact info. I also have a private server to share culture with friends. Find my contact info in my bio and maybe we can talk more?

I agree that the statement "Physical copies don't exist for digital media" is false (And I wasn't trying to assert that, of which I could have been more explicit), time of release aside. I can still hold the above position and not be in conflict with that, though.

The issue we saw is that there is no way to legally lend a digital resource to someone else, which is a constructed limitation. Lending here involves two things, one is that the resource is exclusive and the other that it has the same traits as the original good. In crux, why do an illegal, but "not as bad" thing when there is no legal difference -- just do the illegal thing at that point.

This is how torrenting, piracy, and account sharing became normative. Access to digital goods was restricted further than physical goods, meaning that as content moved to digital first, there was a dissonance between worlds (This is where all the "First Sales Doctrine" litigation tens of years ago comes from). When that dissonance was resolved in favor of businesses, we adjusted via legal brinksmanship -- wherein we said "This is normal behavior, but if you're calling it abnormal and illegal I'll just do the actually illegal thing because it doesn't matter anymore".

I have a library card, where I borrow exclusive, digital copies of a resource for a reasonable price (If we snake a path between my taxes and the library service). I think this system is great, even though it has just the same properties as physical lending has. It is when properties are lost inexplicably that you see new, emergent behavior.

Once again, I understand that this isn't widely accepted view point in some circles and that you may just fundamentally dislike it. I know that behavior might be illegal by US code, but the nature of something being illegal is that it is illegal because it is an accessible possibility. We create laws to inhibit possible behavior, and, in this case, many of us have just said "I don't care" to these laws in a similar way to jaywalking or speeding.

> Access to digital goods was restricted further than physical goods

You only have two choices as a rights holder when it comes to digital works; much less sharing or much more. There's no workable digital equivalent of the kind of sharing limits imposed by having to move a physical thing from one place to another. In order for sharing to be viable with digital versions the DRM would need to be much more sophisticated, or the prices would need to be much higher.

Edit: if you want a concrete example of the harm caused by this attitude, go look into why there's no HD remaster of DS9 or Babylon 5. The studio broke down sales figures for previous SciFi remakes and then the degree to which those shows are torrented. If even an appreciable fraction of the freeloaders ever actually bought the discs, then it would be worth it to make one. You don't, so they don't.

> as theft (it is)

Are you sure digital piracy is theft? Wikipedia defines theft as:

"The taking of another person's property or services without that person's permission or consent with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it."

Copies are made, sales (possibly) lost, but no property is being taken such that the owner cannot continue to sell/rent/etc it.

My take: I'll pay for whatever streaming service that has the content I want (except Hulu), but if it is not available to stream then Internet Copies are an option for me. I don't have a DVD/Bluray/etc player to go the physical copy route and would simply go without if not for streaming first then Internet Copies.

physical copy theft: the physical medium is being stolen, the works are still available, but it is theft because packaging is an industry unto itself, costing money. Making an internet copy costs (basicallly) nothing.

In all: I will pay for what is available, I will even wait if they announce something I want is coming to x-platform at y-date. Because of Netflix alone, I basically don't download movies now. Disney+ is an interesting option now, too. If the market provides, it can have my money!

My reason: movies and TV shows are a form of storytelling and the execution is often very bad if you care to think about it. Storytelling doesn't need to cost much. Poor storytelling should cost even less. Shows from the 80s were very enjoyable but cost only a fraction of current shows. With current distribution systems, shows should cost even less. And I never asked for a team of 100 CGI artists. I just don't want to contribute to the absurdity of all this.

Just get a DVD/Blueray player. The content is there for you to legally get and pay for. Heck, you can buy pretty much any movie from Amazon digitally. There is really no excuse not to pay.

HN is a global community. Quite a few people here are in countries where legitimate DVDs/Blu-rays are not available locally. If a person were to try to order them from Amazon, the shipping fees would be enormous, and the package may get stuck in customs and require further payment to get it out. In fact, some online shops (like Criterion) will not even ship abroad, because they have licensed the content for a DVD/Blu-ray release only in North America or some other limited geographic region. Consequently, it is no surprise that many ardent cinephiles turn to torrenting (or buying a release from the local marketplace that is going to be a pirated copy anyway) even if they would have liked to build up a physical collection.

> Heck, you can buy pretty much any movie from Amazon digitally.

Not really, I pay for Amazon prime, tho in Germany, as such the content is very limited and often only exists dubbed, granted: They've been getting better with this.

But delivery of certain shows sometimes is days and weeks late compared to US release, streaming quality has also been spotty for me with no real way to fix anything.

I also have shared access to Netflix, but once again: It's German Netflix, as such it does not have the same offerings as what's current in the US, for example no second season of Twilight Zone.

With Netflix I could use a VPN to get access to the US version, but finding a free VPN with enough bandwidth to stream Full HD content is easier said than done and finding a good paid one seems like quite a bothersome task.

Meanwhile, none of that matters with the warez scene, which also covers everything, not just specific IP. Meaning that I don't run the risk missing out on something interesting or a new season due to not having properly kept up with the news or checked dozens of different services.

No weird issues with streaming, just a handy *.mkv file, add whatever language subtitles I want/need because unlike the entertainment industry, the warez scene actually has been extremely good and consistent about setting and keeping standards [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_(warez)

> With Netflix I could use a VPN to get access to the US version, but finding a free VPN with enough bandwidth to stream Full HD content is easier said than done and finding a good paid one seems like quite a bothersome task.

My understanding is that you'd still be breaking copyright laws, so you might as well download from torrents...

Some services restrict online commerce to USA, because that's where money are, doing anything beyond that is an effort that is unlikely to pay off. Also DVD/BD is just plastic waste.

There isn't much of a difference between digital media and "services." We'd all agree it would a dick move if I walked out of barbershop without paying, even if the barber didn't have any other available customers at the time.

You have robbed them of their finite time, by sitting there, getting your haircut, and then walking out.

A pirate however, does not deplete any of the provider's resources. They don't use computational or transactional resources.

If I used my haircut-robot to create a strand-for-strand identical hairstyle as the one you paid your barber for, is that me stealing from your barber?

In many jurisdictions this isn’t theft either, and often the police can’t do much about it. Technically it counts as non payment of debt, which would have to be recovered by a civil action.

In practice they’ll just bar you from the premises.

It’s not theft. It’s not legal, but it’s not theft. It’s also not a big deal, maybe you disagree with that assessment but it’s how the majority of people feel.

It’s also frequently legal through fair use.

So I’d say that piracy is potential copyright infringement and leave it at that. It’s curious to see moral judgement on this. I assume that the judgers work in media or something.

But I also come from a generation that thought DLC was unjust.

Piracy is copyright infringement. There's no reason to call it theft. They are both bad for society, they are both illegal, but they are distinct.

I think the jury is still out on copyright infringement. I think it may be a net benefit to society, although a negative for copyright holders.

Back in the Napster days I bought so much more music based on stuff I downloaded. Not everyone was like me, buty piracy made money for the record industry.

I also think copyright infringement has allowed lots of knowledge and entertainment to be available to low resource markets that would never attract releases. How many young people in Lagos got software and media only through piracy?

> They are both bad for society

I challenge you to demonstrate that copyright infringement per se is bad for society. This would mean copyright is good for society which is still to be proven at least in it's current acception.

As part of society. Piracy is pretty good for me. Paying for DRM-infested media and fragmented streaming services on the other hand is bad for society.

It's not that clear cut.

Some people we're never and are never going to pay for some of the they consume, they'll either pirate it or just not consume it.

I'm presently watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. Which I just pirated earlier today. I'm never going to our-right buy, nor rent, it.

One season is presently on Netflix here in Australia, so I'll watch that there, and the publisher will get their three cents out of me via Netflix, or whatever Netflix pays.

That's three cents they were otherwise never going to get out of me.

If the content was available at a reasonable price, say some portion of what I pay my ISP and the AU$8 I pay the VPN service to hide my traffic from my surveillance-state ISP, I'd pay it.

But it isn't, and I can't afford to pay for all the content I consume on my trifling skilled-tradesperson wage.

You realise when people like me see job ads for doctors getting paid in a day what I earn in a fortnight, and revenue figures like:

The Last Airbender had grossed $131,772,187 in the United States, and $187,941,694 in other countries, making for a total of $319,713,881 worldwide.

... there's no way you're going to convince me this side of the heat death of the universe that copyright infringement in universally bad.

While literally true; I have always found this argument to be petty and pedantic.

I’ve heard every argument in the book; but even the old ads said ‘you wouldn’t steal ____’.

The fundamental principle is so similar to the point that discussing it quickly devolves into pedantry.

I am one that has had this discussion probably a dozen times; half of those on this forum, and I’ve just decided to stand by my educated opinion that it’s absolutely a type of theft.

It's not pedantic at all. If we could copy-paste food, clothes, etc. for free, theft would be very different.

Or maybe not, I can just about imagine a bunch of suits suing Jesus for multiplying bread to feed the poor because it deprived them of their baked good sales revenue.

There would not be theft.

There would be infringement.


The purpose of those ads was to convince people that copyright infringement was equivalent to theft.

Maybe a very distorted type of theft but from my perspective the main immoral thing about theft is that it deprives someone of what they used to have, or takes the place of a sale. From the limited research I've seen the evidence is, at best, mixed that corporations are losing sales due to piracy.

If it was a clear choice between buying something or pirating it, equating piracy with theft would be more reasonable (though the owner still has their good so not entirely identical) but that doesn't seem to be the typical scenario. The ads only make that equivalence because it's better for the companies if they convince people it's theft.

From a moral perspective I think whether it is theft really depends on your motivation/what you would do in the absence of piracy.

> the main immoral thing about theft is that it deprives someone of what they used to have

You should have just stopped there. That "or takes the place of a sale" rider is a very recent invention. You know what else takes the place of a sale? Spending your time doing anything else and ignoring the fact that the work even exists. If I could have paid to listen to a song from artist A and instead I listen to a song from artist B (free or paid, but we'll assume it was with permission either way) then that "takes the place of a sale" for artist A, but there's absolutely nothing immoral about choosing to listen to artist B's song instead. Or reading a book, or sleeping, or whatever. You could even write your own songs and give them away for free, directly competing with artist A and taking the place of many sales, and there still wouldn't be anything immoral about that. Artist A was never guaranteed sales, so they haven't lost anything simply by not making a sale. They still have their copy of the work, so they have not in fact been deprived of anything.

Complaints about piracy always read to me as: "You aren't complying with this monopoly which was promised to us in a rather one-sided deal with a third party (government) which (unilaterally) claims to represent you. If you don't shape up—or even if you do—we intend to sue you for everything you own in courts run by our beneficiaries and otherwise do whatever we can to ruin your life, just on general principles and not because we suffered any actual damages." And yet they have the audacity to pretend to claim the moral high ground…

Furthermore, by the way, theft typically destroys total value. If someone steals a wallet (or anything really), the amount he gets from fencing it is typically much smaller than the cost (including hassle, time spent, and potentially nostalgic value) to the original owner of replacing everything (if that’s possible at all).

Copyright infringement, by contrast, arguably creates value - instead of one person being able to see the movie, two can see it.

No it's really different.

If I don't watch your movie or watch it for free, it doesn't change anything for you (I'd even argue that the later might actually be better for you, but that's another topic)

On the other hand, whether I eat your apple or not make a big difference to you, since you might not be able to eat it in one scenario.

The ads that infringed the copyright of a small music creator ... when the execs of the companies that paid for the ad go to jail for conspiracy to commit theft I'll change to using your wrong terminology.

Then you fell for the ads of wealthy companies.

Feel free to steal whatever you want from me as long as you don't deprive me of anything or violate my privacy.

"Piracy" is not the problem, it is the solution. The truth is all subscription services straight up suck. They don't hold a candle to copyright infringement. Despite making billions of dollars in revenue, they simply can't compete with what's essentially a bunch of enthusiasts. More often than not the reason why they can't compete is copyright itself.

They have clunky interfaces, making users miss mpv. They don't have chapters, making it annoying to seek to a specific part of a film or episode. They don't allow users to download content beforehand, locking them out whenever there's no internet connection. They have annoying DRM, preventing content playback on perfectly good computers and TVs for no good reason. They aren't available in most countries, locking out entire regions of the globe. When it is available, users get only a subset of the content and feel like second rate consumers. Whatever ends up being available is frequently modified, censored or cut. Users straight up lose access to content with no warning when licensing agreements expire. Every copyright holder launches its own little streaming service with its own annoying quirks. They compress the video so much even pure black frames have massive artifacts and have the audacity to charge for this garbage. They don't have enough subtitles. There's usually zero extra content such as commentary tracks. They track everything users do and watch.

There is exactly one area where streaming offers a superior experience compared to copyright infringement: multiple audio tracks. This is because of a technical limitation: video players can load subtitles that are external to the video file but not audio tracks.

Something as good as "piracy" shouldn't have to stop existing for the benefit of aging industries. It's the 21st century, copyright doesn't make sense anymore. Society must rethink its laws. The copyright industry must adopt new business models or disappear.

> Because everybody does it, that makes it okie dokie?

The fact everybody is infringing copyright is evidence that the law is wrong. Laws are supposed to codify the customs of a people. If everyone is violating a law then that law obviously does not represent the customs of that people. Society must recognize this and adapt so that the behavior can be allowed.

> … video players can load subtitles that are external to the video file but not audio tracks.

Not true for MPV:

           Play audio from an external file while viewing a video.

           This is a path list option. See List Options for details.

           CLI/config file only alias for --audio-files-append. Each use of this option
           will add a new audio track. The details are similar to how --sub-file works.

I stand corrected. Awesome. Thank you.

They said before Netflix was available in their country. There were / are many countries where it is impossible to legally watch US cable television. I cannot hold someone at fault for wanting to view creative works that are blocked just because of where they live.

I had Netflix for a year and canceled because I ended up still using torrent. There are lots of movies and anime missing in Netflix and it is annoying to use with Widevine (as I run almost 100% FOSS I use Kodi as a media center).

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