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I read on a post somewhere that if you replace "the economy" with "rich people yatch money" a lot of headlines make more sense.

"Last year, one study reported that digital video piracy costs the U.S. rich people yatch money $29.2 billion a year."




It's still funny money.

You can't just take that $4 price tag for streaming a movie through Apple TV or wherever, and multiply it by the number of movies people illegally stream, and get a number that makes any sense. The idea that American households would spend an extra $230/year on average on movie rentals, if only those nasty content pirates would get out of their way, is just absurd. Especially when you consider that most American households were never using these illegal streaming sites in the first place. Most of that average would have to be propped up by teenagers and college students who simply don't have an extra $2000/yr of disposable income to spare.


I can't find it right now, but I swear there was a study that showed that people who pirated content also on average spent _more_ on digital entertainment.

I remember pirating video games about 10-15 years ago to see if they were worthwhile, since the demo scene had pretty much died down. I'd end up buying the games I played through to completion as well.


I did this too, I also downloaded games I already owned so I didn't have to use a CD.

Roller coaster tycoon 2 and kotor for example.


That's basically where I am with streaming sites. Exert minimal effort to find version of mediocre quality, let it run for a bit and then decide if I want to actually pay for the content or just stop watching.

The other big thing is that the illegal streaming site has everything. So part of the whole "Okay I want to actually pay for the HD version of this" is "Okay now is this on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, or...?"

I've honestly mostly just gone back to dvd.com. It has everything (except for digital only stuff that never got a Bluray/DVD release), you can actually get 5.1 or 7.1 sound, and since I live 45 miles from the San Jose facility it's 1 day shipping.



That's never stopped the police and prosecutors before.

Remember all those pictures of drug busts we used to see? Police take the weight seized (including packaging) then multiply it by the the highest price they could justify as an estimate of the "street value". That's how a table full of weed gets valued at $100,000,000.


But think of the trickle down effect. If rich people can't buy yachts, a rich yacht manufacturer can't reap profits while paying minimum wage to it's workers.


This is the hat-trick of the "job creator" myth. Narratives have no numbers attached; the quantitative delta between luxuries, and the jobs they allegedly create, belies real economic energy transferred from those living paycheck-to-paycheck, to those who signify status through conspicuous consumption.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying every purchase needs to pass some utilitarian moral litmus test; and sometimes luxury spending can have positive externalities, particularly when it incentivizes innovation. But we shouldn't pretend that gold-plated helicopters are inherently a win/win/win just because some subsistence wages got paid along the way, when we could have collected the same revenue as taxes and paid those wages for building infrastructure instead.


oh don't be silly


Are all the people, from the film crew to the VFX artists and engineers that work on the IP that is being stolen "rich people yatch (sic!) money"?

You can say what you want about IP law; you wouldn't be able to enjoy many big-budget productions if it wouldn't exist. Many jobs, high-paying and low-paying, wouldn't exist. Of course, the business model for content distribution is somewhat nonsensical and the time until content gets in the public domain should be 10 years, but that doesn't mean that IP law shouldn't exist. Not to mention that the 29 billion number is probably also BS.


I already don't enjoy many big-budget productions. I find niche Youtubers catering to my interests to be a better use of my time -- recently, we've been binging on 3Blue1Brown.

I'm also finding very little relation between production budget (which mostly goes into things like SFX) and my enjoyment. Some of my favorite films were very low budget, from Dr. Horrible to some Bruce Campbell flicks.

Good writing makes a huge difference.

Decent acting and performance makes a bit of difference.

Replacing all the SFX with sixties-era Star Trek SFX wouldn't make a wit of difference to my enjoyment.

There is a correlation between finding good writers and having big budgets -- if you're dropping $300 million to make a film you might as well hire good writers -- but it's not a super-strong correlation.


Then don't watch those movies. The fact is, many people enjoy these things - there's market research on that - and you are not the target audience. The sum amount of enjoyment from a big budget production is much higher than what 3B1B produces (who I also like!). And that enjoyment would not exist if not for IP law.


I could live with that if you didn't try to impose their values on me. I want to be free to write whatever code I want in the privacy of my own bedroom. I want to be free to understand my democratic government institutions. I want to be able to reverse-engineer things I own. I want to understand the world around me fully, and completely, to within the limits of my intellect. I want to build school systems where kids learn to understand their world.

If your enjoyment of big-budget movies doesn't infringe on that, go ahead and enjoy them. Since it does, I'll fight every step of the way. Perhaps I'll lose, but I'll fight.


Sorry if I'm missing something here, but how does my enjoyment of a big budget movie correlate with I want to build school systems where kids learn to understand their world. What harm am I causing these kids that I am apparently unaware of?


The world my child grows up in is increasingly controlled by technology. You can't really understand your toaster, your car, your printer, or your democracy without understanding the software which power them.

When my parents were growing up, they could take things apart, tinker, and understand them as deeply as their hearts desired and intellects allowed them to. They could modify books (with pencils), archive them (in their basements), and even quote exerts. Building radios or modifying cars were mainstream hobbies.

I'm okay if your IP laws restrict my right to distribute copies of your work. I'm not okay with a copyright regime that makes it illegal for me to reverse-engineer and understand the software which controls my life, to tweak my car, or to understand my phone.

There's a possible dystopia where elections are de facto controlled by secret algorithms at Facebook, where all my information comes from a Google phone with a locked-down infrastructure I can't peak at or understand, where I can't record a 30 second clip of a movie to discuss it in my classroom, and where my car shuts down if I do an after-market repair.

At the time the DMCA came in, the RIAA and MPAA became major enemies of my personal freedom and my child's ability to learn.


I don't know how true this is (it could just be rumours) but I've heard multiple times from hardware vendors that the main reason they can't open source GPU drivers and firmware, or the code for a smart TV, is because of concerns about the DRM being cracked. It would be a pretty sad state of affairs if the end result of this copyright enforcement is that the general public just isn't allowed to know how a TV or a GPU works anymore, and that right becomes reserved only for the 5 big movie studios.


The initial argument was "we need IP law so we can enjoy big budget movies". The counterargument is "I don't care about those, here's a list of things I do care about that are made harder or threatened by IP law".

It's an interesting case in that the internet has caused big media to push for stricter copyright enforcement and experiment with giving people less and less rights on their products, but at the same time the internet has made people much more aware of the downsides of copyright.


What's the point of this comment? Why does your opinion matter so much?

Truth is most (practically all) people want to watch Game of Thrones and are willing to pay for it.


And that's fine. The question at hand isn't whether people will pay for GoT, but whether they'll be used as an argument to pass laws like the DMCA, which says I'm not allowed to reverse-engineer technologies in my home, or ones which put bankrupt or put college students in prison.

My claim is that if MPAA profits went down even 50%, society wouldn't be any worse off at all. On the other hand, we are worse off for DRM.


Then you’re arguing against politicians politicking. It’s not like its real people arguing for any of that.

I think most people would say were worse off if game of thrones was produced any different. You don’t like visual effects, but you’re in an extreme minority.


Minimum wagers aren't who's buying ever-racheting copyright laws, via campaign funds.


They may not be buying them, but I've done some research on this in the past and IP law is widely supported by content creators, even those who make little money. I personally also think that copyright laws as they exist right now are not optimal, but I think that pretending that "rich people yacht money" is all they are good for is also not a good thing.


Do VFX artists and engineers get residuals?


Those people are not making less if I don't pay for a movie. The marginal revenue is all yacht money profits.


No, but the second-order effects of you not paying may very well affect them in the future. If the studios get less revenue and have to pay more for enforcing IP law, they have less money for new productions and therefore less jobs and salary for the people producing the content. And I don't see why you should have a right to enjoy the fruits of their labor without paying.


That suppositions might carry some weight if Hollywood Accounting didn't deny every penny possible to those same people.

ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting


The people we're talking about are paid in normal ways, and not via "percentage of the profits, which there will never be" etc


So this doesn't really impact them much after all.

Until we see publishers closing doors due to lack of profits this argument doesn't really work.


Something that affects profitability will change how many projects are worth doing, which will affect demand for their skills. Greater demand means greater ability to negotiate higher pay, and vice versa.


> but the second-order effects of you not paying may very well affect them in the future

I'm not a copyright abolitionist, but I'm curious what the second-order effects are to giving money to companies like Disney that are using that money to expand IP laws, buy up competitors, and impose one specific view of cinema on the entire market?

People should obey laws because generally it's a good idea in a functioning society to obey laws. But to the extent that people can deprive companies like Disney of revenue without breaking the law, I kind of feel like they should do so. Not just by avoiding their products, but by making it harder for them to make money in general. It would be good at this point for companies like Disney to fail and for the media ecosystem to become more diverse.

There are extremely negative effects that come from allowing one corporation to own so much culture. I'm not going to break the law, but I'm also not going to lose sleep over Disney the corporation losing profits, because I want Disney to lose money, and I want them to produce less content. I don't want Disney to be the biggest media producer on the market, they're crowding other people out and using their leverage to control things they shouldn't be able to control.


I will spend the money somewhere else and that is where they will be working in the future.


Without meaning to offend, that is not a good argument. If you rob a store and the employees have to quit their job, saying "I will spend the money somewhere else and that is where they will be working in the future" would not absolve you of the responsibility that you have indirectly damaged their livelihood.


The money/goods that I rob from a store cost a lot to reproduce, unlike movies. And I would scare people.

This is more like me buying from store A than from store B. Am I robbing store B?

Surely not giving to charity is worse than any other economic reallocation?


If store B is actually the black market then you actually did steal from the one producing whatever you bought or possibly from store A.

What do you mean by your first sentence? I am fairly sure that movies do actually cost quite a lot to produce.


On your second point I mean that there is zero marginal cost to produce a movie. To me, that makes that it cannot be compared to stealing e.g. a bag of M&M's.


I would bet that the marginal cost of that movie is actually higher than the cents it costs to produce that bag of M&M's. Even if the marginal cost of movies is 0 the cost of a bag of M&M is so low it might as well be 0. Does that now justify stealing the bag of M&M? No.

That does not even matter since looking at marginal cost of a movie makes no sense. Do you want to see movies? If yes then pay for them, if no then simply don't watch them. Justifying stealing isn't the way to go.


How fast would you be able to switch the industry you are working in?

I would guess that a lot of the jobs that are discussed in this thread are fairly specialised ones and if that industry would disappear they would be out of work.


The economic re-allocation doesn't have to be overnight or even in a single decade. It isn't as if the revenue suddenly goes to zero and the industry is nuked.


No matter how long it will take they will have to start fresh and whatever experience, knowledge and education they had becomes useless. Much more likely they simply become unemployed and stay that way.

That is an awful lot of time wasted of their lives.


It doesn't. Some people retire, some people leave the industry because they prefer something else, etc. All that needs to happen is that not all of them are being replaced.


On one single movie, no, but the expected revenue for a movie informs their negotiations (and the demand for their services). The reason high tens of millions of dollars are spend on VX for blockbusters is because they make a lot of revenue.


If what you’re saying so strictly true, yearly movie budgets would have been dropping year over year. With the obvious exception on the pandemic, is this what is happening?

Pay of individuals working on set, which the exception of huge name actors, is not really impacted by total movie revenue and they don’t often get dividends. Once the fixed cost is covered, which for most big movies it easily is, the rest is the gravy train for the investors.


"No yacht for me, no more movies for you."


"Those people are not making less if I don't pay for a movie. The marginal revenue is all yacht money profits"

The byzantine logic here on a supposedly 'smart site' really goes sideways on ideological issues were people have a) some ideology and b) they want it for free.

The failure of your comment is really quite evident: basically 'every purchaser' could make the same statement about 'marginal revenue' in which case, if nobody bought the content, then, there would be no content and no yachts.


And if everyone sold their stocks the economy would crumble and millions of people would be out in the streets and lose their retirement money, should we make selling stocks a crime?


Luckily the industry is highly unionized, so the losses likely aren’t coming out of the pockets of the crew.


The film & recorded music industries were built in an era of information scarcity, maintained by tightly controlled distribution. We now live in an era where information is infinite and everywhere.

Criminalising people isn't going to turn back this fundamental sea change.


Information is infinite, but creating it is still not free. Creating the media that people consume via these streaming services costs millions of dollars and manhours. You are right that media companies have to adapt to the changing times, but simply saying that it should all be freely available is not a solution. I can imagine a future where this may be a feasible solution, but we are not there yet.

What is also a problem is that prosecuting copyright infringement presents a nasty threat to privacy protections.


"Criminalising people isn't going to turn back this fundamental sea change"

- Making private information available as a common activity is not inevitable.

- Staling private information is a crime by any account.

- The underlying economics are against your logic: it takes many workers, doing real work, to make those things. If they don't get paid, it doesn't get made.

- The 'yacht' analogy wrong - the entertainment industry is full of money losing projects, and zillions of people working really hard on stuff because they care and not earning a lot of money. There surely probably more arbitrarily rich people in tech than in entertainment.


> IdiocyInAction

Username checks out.


Yacht?


I wonder how hard it would be to get people to start pronouncing the "ch" in yacht. Maybe to rhyme with the German "nacht" rather than a hard "ch" as in "church".

I figure there are more people who enjoy doing silly things to bother other people than who enjoying yachting.


In Danish it's pronounced the same way as the word for hunt - "jagt". I almost forgot what the word sounded like in English just now because my native tongue version of the word, spelled the same, sounds better to my ears.


I was also stuck on that word. Thank you.


The next time you watch something on Netflix go ahead and watch the credits and you'll see the names of the hundreds of mostly regular people who made that thing. In addition, it's worth nothing, that most actors are not remotely rich, they're barely making it if that.

Netflix and the Studios profit margins are similar to other distributors, and after all is said and done, most of them are not 'rolling in it', at least not any more than the local pharmacy chain corporation operators are - those are regular jobs as well.

FYI: Even studio heads are not rolling in it, they make less than the biggest talent/starts, and there are only literally 5-10 of them, one layer below, and those people are earning the same as senior devs at Google with a small amount of stock options. The rest of the distribution machine are not paid so well.

This 'yacht populism' is ridiculous unless, maybe, you're referring to 'Jim Carrey' or 'Tom Cruise', but even then ...

The content is made by people, just like physical things are, if they don't get paid, it doesn't get made, it's that simple.


> The content is made by people, just like physical things are, if they don't get paid, it doesn't get made, it's that simple.

This is patently not true. Maybe it's true for a subset of the high end content like Netflix series, but the vast majority of creative content e.g. music or paintings are not made with the primarily goal of being paid. Some good examples are how Myspace gave way to thousands of artists, the works on Deviantart or how Open Source is made by volunteers.


Everything is on the razor thing margin while everything is expensive at the same time and salaries are stagnant. Those money should go somewhere after all, like those metaphysical yachts.




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