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Piracy release group EVO ‘blames’ movie industry for its popularity (torrentfreak.com)
217 points by dredmorbius 50 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 328 comments

I recently watched Arcane using the Netflix Win10 app. The A/V sync was off by enough to noticeably break lipsync, the episode listing was broken (only the first few were shown, but I could still watch the rest by allowing it to autoplay the next one), and the splash images shown while each steam started often served as spoilers for the episode that was about to play.

I would've had a much better experience if I'd just went to thepiratebay and sought out nine MKV files instead.

I've given up on offline Netflix access after the third time the content I downloaded before a plane/train/... trip refused to play once I left wifi. It always said it expired due to changed region or something silly.

Now I just torrent things and play them in VLC. Same or better quality, no buffering, custom subtitle size if I want. And 100% reliable.

For me it's how you quickly reach the download "limit". Especially annoying when my kids can't put all the shows he might want to listen to during a road trip..

It reminiscent of when I bought a blu-ray and I couldn't watch them because of DRM; as I had already downloaded that show I didn't really care, but those disks are pure waste.

Now that I think about it, the physical disks feel like real-world NFTs.

People have been treating vinyl records as collectibles ever since music became pirate-able in the cassette era.

I know many people who stream music 95% of the time, but have a big collection of their favorite albums on vinyl, some of them unopened, as a way to support the artist / a piece of art / keepsake / speculative long term investment, etc.

Real-world NFT is a fun analogy.

A vynil os something you can play on a record player, even if you choose not to do so. How do you play am NFT?

I still try to acquire blu-rays not because I actually want to collect them but because it provides an opportunity to get the best quality with minimal loss of my freedoms(no tracking, no BS with DRM restrictions, I can toss their online player where it belongs: in the trash).

Once acquired, I then take the disc data and strip its own DRM off of it. Now I have the content with the absolute best quality and can just sit back and play it in my preferred player. Obviously this is a hassle compared to just clicking play on Netflix/buying online but I am still enjoying the ability while it lasts. After all, with declining sales of Blu-ray and 4K UHD Blu-Ray seeming like its a bust, there are probably only a few years left until we lose this avenue of control of our media.

How do you strip the DRM, is there a FOSS tool for this?

So there are some drives that allow you to install custom firmware called LibreDrive on them that bypasses the security checks. You can then use a tool called MakeMKV to rip the video streams into an MKV container. What is beautiful about this approach is that you can take the whole movie, all the subtitles, audio streams, different angles and dump it into a single file untouched(no re-encoding) and then operate it like a DVD player but using your native software's controls which is so much better than relying on the DVD menus.

The MakeMKV Forums will get you started on the best drives/proper techniques.

That's how I do it: download first, if it's worth it, buy it but never open or use it, just keep it as a token.

and if you will be lucky, some of those (and games) unopened might be worth quite a bit 20-30 years down the line

Yeah, I already got my money back from old copies of SNES games. Newer games, I'm waiting some 10 years or so to sell. They don't take much space after all.

> I would've had a much better experience if I'd just went to thepiratebay and sought out nine MKV files instead.

I did. I had none of your issues.

"Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem." — Gabe Newell

In fact, that's exactly what I do - I have access to Prime and Netflix, but I like to download and watch stuff later (sometimes days or weeks later) on different devices (TV, computer, tablet etc.). All the spying, DRM, crappy UI, poor usability etc. of both apps get in the way. The solution - download a good copy from the internet. No need to feel guilty since Amazon and Netflix still get paid.

I always find it odd too pay for content with more restrictions than the “pirated” version. Though honestly I stream now. I used to strip the drm of iTunes shows but when that got broken I stopped buying..

The only trouble I see is that streaming service use those metrics to decide which shows to not cancel and that way of watching doesn’t get counted. (I have a bad record of enjoying many shows that didn’t get renewed… still grumbly about the dirk gentley)

When I was student, I didn't feel guilty about pirating. Now that I make money, and know how hard it is, I do feel an occassional guilt (when I pirate something) and often try to either reduce the consumption or pay for it. But I still hate DRM with a passion, and hate this "renting" business instead of owning something - that gives too much control to the distributor and is detrimental to our consumer right.

I pay for Netflix but I don't use it to watch episodes....

I would agree with any streaming service. My main gripe is that if my network connection weakens and the streaming quality dips then a lot of stuff isn’t worth watching (especially in the age where everything is “visually stunning”). I can’t let it buffer or watch it later on a lot of services. I just have to tolerate a lower quality stream… no thanks, I’ll watch it elsewhere away from your terrible drm experience.

Why not use the website?

The last time I checked, the web version was limited to 720p. Although I guess that might have been better than broken lipsync.

While I'm on the subject... about a year ago I tried subscribing to the 4K plan, since I bought a 4K monitor. Netflix only played in 4K if I used an HDMI cable, not DisplayPort, and only if I completely unplugged my secondary 1440p monitor (turning it off wasn't enough).

That sounds more like your external driver (PC or some Box) or your monitor didn't share a supported Displayport Version that supported 4k60 and the HDMI interfaces did. Might've also been the calbe but display-standard supports often sucks on many devices in that regard for higher-level standards.

It turned out my monitor supported HDCP 2.2 over HDMI but not DP (edit: and Netflix requires that all connected monitors support 2.2, not just the one you're trying to watch the video on.)

I would maybe understand enforcing that requirement if it was effective in protecting the content, but it isn't. 4K content (from UHD blurays and various streaming services) is widely available to pirate, and VLC doesn't care what kind of cable you're using.

> I would maybe understand enforcing that requirement if it was effective in protecting the content, but it isn't. 4K content (from UHD blurays and various streaming services) is widely available to pirate, and VLC doesn't care what kind of cable you're using.

Speculation on my part but I wouldn’t be surprised if those kinds of requirements are mainly there to appease motion picture industry partners who Netflix is licensing content from.

Furthermore, given the long experience the people of the release groups in the piracy scene have in fine tuning video codec parameters for optimal balance between quality and file size, and choosing video codecs that can be decoded on a wide range of devices, I think it is highly probable that many of the people working on the technical side of these things at Netflix have had roles in various piracy release groups prior to having come to work for Netflix.

Not saying Netflix would actively seek out piracy release group members to hire them. In fact it’d probably count as negative to openly state any kind of involvement with the piracy scene, and especially to mention having been part of a release group. What I mean is just that the people who were members of these groups have both the skills and the technical motivation to work on these same kinds of things for Netflix.

>Speculation on my part but I wouldn’t be surprised if those kinds of requirements are mainly there to appease motion picture industry partners who Netflix is licensing content from.

Quite likely, but why I, the end user, would ever care about that?

it just degrades my experience.

> I wouldn’t be surprised if those kinds of requirements are mainly there to appease motion picture industry partners

And those partners require it not because it protects something but because they make money of it by running licensing agencies, so they profit from every compliant monitor and video card sold.

If any portion of "secure-from-user" display chain gets broken, including nerfing intel ME, Widevine won't provide higher support than IIRC "Level 1" and Netflix (and other streaming websites) won't provide anything above 720p.

Of course forget about it on anything other than windows (maybe mac?)

No, Netflix uses 720p when it can’t detect DRM and HDCP on HDMI. It’s the default case for Linux for this reason.

Which is hilarious given the pirates have been able to rip full 4k streams from Netflix no problem. Just another case of DRM hurting the end users and doing nothing to stop piracy.

Netflix is limited to 720p if you use anything but Edge or the Store App on Windows for arbitrary DRM reasons (PlayReady DRM).

SO, I am watching netflix in 720p on my linux laptop ?

How do I check that ?

https://cd-rw.org/t/how-to-enable-netflix-full-hd-1080p-on-l... Ah, there's an extension.

edit: https://www.netflix.com/fi-en/title/80018499 Aaand I have been watching 720p... :D.

More likely, this is because the DP didn't support HDCP (which requires a dedicated license while the DP port does not). I suppose the HDCP license cannot be shared between HDMI and DP.

I shouldn’t need a 4k monitor to watch at a better quality than 720p. The only reason I use Edge these days is because that idiotic (and purposeful) limitation isn’t present there (for some reason).

Afaik the resolution is lower and some audio features are not supported in most browsers. It is only Microsoft Edge on Windows and Safari on Mac that supports 4k, https://help.netflix.com/en/node/13444.

It's DRM requirement

The website doesn't deliver 1080p video in any browser but Edge (and this may have changed with Edge being switched to Chromium)

> The website doesn't deliver 1080p video in any browser but Edge

I'm pretty sure I watch HD Netflix in Safari. Surely I can't be watching 720p and be deceiving myself?

HD starts at 720p.

The difference between Netflix 1080 and 720p is often pretty small, so you might've really just not noticed. They're generally streaming with pretty poor bit-rates

The first time I watched a pirated episode after years of streaming from Netflix was pretty eye opening for me wrt video quality.

You’re definitely mistaken - you get up to 4K in the browser with Safari - it’s highlighted in the UI even I think.

It's great if it does, not sure how that makes me mistaken though. I never said anything about what was actually supported.

My point was that the pixel density is pretty hard to determine with low Bitrate streams as you get them from Netflix.

Safari on Mac OS can do 4k. Chrome will top out at 720p.

You can check for yourself, hit Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D during playback to show a bunch of stats on the stream, including the current resolution being shown.

Safari is up to 4k on macOS 11+, as per https://help.netflix.com/en/node/55764

Chrome works in 1080p, but has a 1 in something chance of crashing your graphics driver for some reason. After I had to force restart my pc from a black screen for the 3rd time I eventually moved the the desktop app which doesn't have those problems.

Netflix/HBO in browser AFAIK doesn't have 5.1 audio, just stereo. That's the main reason I download "unofficial" content while still paying for these two services for kids/wife to watch or for shows where surround sound doesn't matter. The other reason is subtitles.

Disney is the main culprit here. They are making a few significant missteps with their otherwise very well executed streaming offering.

Initially they offered their streaming service at a very competitive price, but I think they have gotten some of the sequencing wrong after that. Initially early subscribers were hit with these up charges for new films. I think Mulan might have been the first one?

It was mid pandemic and they didn't get a chance to release it in theatres, so I think it felt like it made sense at the time and I am guessing they saw it as pretty successful. They quickly started doing it with far less interesting films, and ones that I could see at release time in the theatre.

At home streaming just isn't a "special occasion" like going to the theatre is, and while I was happy to make it a special occasion during the depths of stay-at-home lockdowns, there are a lot of competitive forces now. An extra $20 or $30 might seem to Disney like an amount people will happily pay for every new release, but I think the appetite for that will be pretty low going forward.

Disney also offered an attractive discount for a 1-year subscription initially, so it was pretty easy to do. I've been happy with it, but I notice my kids are on Netflix much much more. That really surprised me.

Now, my subscription renews in April of 2022, but Disney has already started emailing me that it is going to increase almost 50% in cost at renewal time. I don't know why they feel the need to start telling me that so far in advance, or so many times (3 emails now). All it's done is make me thing "ok, that's a lot, let's see if we really use it" and also "hmm, I've spent some $ on these new releases".

They don't seem patient or that they are thinking through this messaging/experience nearly as well as Netflix. Netflix does increase their prices but they do it rarely and they always pummel you with new content around the time they are doing it. They also packaged in lower resolution options, etc so you can keep your costs down if you really want to. Disney hasn't done any of that.

Similar situation here in the UK.

Disney+ initially available at what I considered a fair price, and now they want to hike it by something like 50% - which seems totally unreasonable.

Furthermore, it seems like so much more content now is not included in the monthly fee - they want to extract even more money from us! And I take issue with the actual pricing here too, for example Mulan was a whopping £20 - for comparison, an adult cinema ticket is around £10! So again, this feels totally unfair and unjustified.

Disney is meant to be about "fun", but I don't think we'll be renewing, because, frankly, they are taking the piss and making me hate the service.

My approach now is to rotate. We keep Crave which has HBO and Showtime. We paused Disney and Netflix and will turn back on, watch for a few months to catch-up on Tiger Kings or Wandavision. You can cut a lot of your costs and not have to torrent. Just keeping the subscription going doesn’t seem to be good value.

Wait till they make that loophole unpractical.

A lot of the big titans in the streaming biz are already whinging about account sharing[0], so I wouldn't be surprised if they start complaining that people aren't "committed" enough to their streams as well, too.

It'd be way easier to cut down on stream cycling than account sharing, too - just jack up the monthly price and make the annual price cheaper.

[0] which is particularly rich because they sell multi-stream plans that are almost practically built for it

Can easily imagine yearly subscription becoming $120 and monthly something like $29.


For example by disallowing suspending the account more than once a year or completely. Another way, if someone is trying to cancel a second time (instead of suspending) they start security theater («Your behavior is suspicious, we need to make really really sure that it's you who want to cancel»).

I've been doing the same. Usually I stay 2-3 months in each before running out of stuff.

Unless you need to watch the viral stuff as soon as they are released and people start talking, this is more than fine.

So did we until the kids got old enough to have a say. Perhaps that is Disney’s thinking, they’ve got the kids roped in and exhausted parents willing to spend.

> Disney+ initially available at what I considered a fair price

It was a completely unsustainable predatory price aimed at making initial marketshare.

Disney+'s price target is roughly £30 per month... As is Netflix's.

I would respectfully disagree - the pricing felt fair, yet sustainable to me.

I see Disney+ as an "add on" streaming service - something you might get on top off either NetFlix or Amazon Prime, and as such I'd expect to stream far less content from Disney+. Even with 2 young kids, this has indeed been the case.

> the pricing felt fair, yet sustainable to me

To be blunt, what you felt about it wasn't really relevant. It wasn't sustainable in terms of revenue, and was a fragment of what Disney received from their previous licensing deals. It would not even cover residuals for existing content, never mind new production.

The average household spend on content is about $60pm, and that figure in real terms is surprisingly stable.

the pricing felt fair, yet sustainable to me

Sustainable in terms of maintaining the same old catalogue indefinitely? Or sustainable enough to finance new films and series? That's the problem. The existing catalogue costs almost nothing to stream while new shows cost a ton to produce.

Creating content is somewhat expensive, but not unreasonably so for their subscriber counts.

A live action TV show costs $3-15 million to produce. They have ~116 million subscribers. If they “invest” $2/subscriber/month into new content, that means they can make 15-77 new episodes per month (a film could be considered to take up several episode slots).

Shang-Chi cost $150-200 million. Avengers: Infinity War cost double that. That’s just two of the many films they’ve produced over the past few years. Look at their upcoming schedule for Phase 4 [1]. It’s extremely aggressive! And that’s just Marvel cinematic universe films. It doesn’t include Star Wars or Pixar or any mainline Disney films, nor does it include any TV series.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvel_Cinematic_Universe:_Pha...

For perspective depending on how you count Disney+ is Disney’s 4th streaming service. Their all about making people pay as much as possible at the cost of convenience.

Avengers infinity war isn’t an exclusive on any of their streaming services making it’s cost to produce meaningless. Disney is all about milking content with ultra cheap sequels / derivatives and old content, that’s what’s going to be included on Disney+ not a new 100+M dollar film. Remember they have had several Cable channels for years they know how to make cheap content.

That said, they could easily pay for several big budget movies per year as Disney+ exclusives without upping it’s initial price. Instead they have zero interest in being good value for money rather than maximizing profits and minimizing risks.

I just want to comment at how sad it is that so much money is being wasted on movies like this. It feels like society has irrecoverably shifted to some different reality and thus the studios keep focusing on these films. I was extremely emotionally invested in the success of a recent film by my favorite director: Edgar Wright. The movie "Last Night in Soho" had a supposed production budget of ~40 million but only earned ~4 million on Box office open. It was competing with all non superhero films for scraps because ~90% of the box office profits were taken by the superhero movies/007.

Yes - but it's likely they'll be releasing those in cinema's and not doing premiere's on Disney+ as they did during the lockdowns.

> Furthermore, it seems like so much more content now is not included in the monthly fee - they want to extract even more money from us! And I take issue with the actual pricing here too, for example Mulan was a whopping £20 - for comparison, an adult cinema ticket is around £10! So again, this feels totally unfair and unjustified.

That's not surprising. What if there's more than one person watching the stream?

> Disney is meant to be about "fun"

multiple decades ago, maybe

> That's not surprising. What if there's more than one person watching the stream?

So what if there is?

I'm watching at home, using my TV - it is nowhere close to a "cinema experience", I'm already paying a monthly fee, and I don't believe I've ever seen any streaming rental as expensive as £20 before. So, it was certainly a surprise to me!

> I'm watching at home, using my TV - it is nowhere close to a "cinema experience"

To replicate the cinema experience, for another €20 you could pay some kids to kick your seat and rustle chip packets, then turn the volume up to unbearable and play 35 mins of adverts before the movie.

Disney doesn't give a shit. Disney cares about the opportunity cost of other sales approaches.

The problem was solved decades earlier: an FBI Warning at the start saying the screen can only be viewed by one member of a household at a time.

It is surprising when the price ceiling for DVDs of recent highly-rated films in the supermarket is £10, and blu-ray is £15.

Traditionally, home video and cinema were two segregated markets. The reason why you paid 10 pounds for that DVD is because the film is a few months old. If you wanted to see it at release date you were paying the same price per person, per view.

Yep, and you can watch the DVD or Blu-ray and sell it for a few pounds.

> Furthermore, it seems like so much more content now is not included in the monthly fee

Disney literally haven't done any Premier Access titles in months now that cinemas have reopened.

Disney+ was always a service aimed at taking over the pay television market - and pay television was always roughly a year behind the theatrical release. They did a small run of (pretty cheap) extra paid releases while no cinemas were open, but that has now ended.

I don't have a Disney+ account but what you describe sounds bad. Not quite Prime Video bad though.

Early Prime Video used to have a lot of shows with only the first season available with not extra cost, and you'd only realise that by the time you finished it and was going to watch Season 2, only to be slapped with a rental fee for it and all subsequent ones.

I haven't seen much of that for a while (although admittedly I rarely go on there - I wish there was a cheaper Prime tier with only the delivery advantages).

A couple weeks ago though, I started watching a show. I logged in, put on S1E1 and all was good. That is, until I tried to watch S1E2 and found out that everything from that point on was behind a rent wall. Just to clarify, I had actually had a quick look to see if the later seasons were included, and it did look like they were. Until they didn't. Utterly awful experience.

Disney+ in France is reasonably priced. I think the first year it was about €65 and it is now expanded with Star and costs €90 a year. That's €7.50 a month which is great value in a house with a kid mad about Star Wars, a toddler who needs occasional distraction, and a couple of adults who find things on Star to re-watch from years ago. We also get some Hulu shows on our Disney+ stream here, too, which can be good.

We do not have Disney+ 'special' films here for a one-time €20-30 fee, a result of film release regulations in this country (I think). Still, considering it is about €13 an adult ticket at the cinema here, if there are a few of us watching a new release I can see how it might make sense. Sure, not the cinema experience, but comparable in price, improved comfort, the chance to pause if needed, and no babysitter to pay for.

Disney seems to be the main culprit in everything copyright related! Seriously, what is wrong with them!?

Sony. Don’t forget Sony too

What is wrong with making money? If they are at fault, I don't see how you can expect otherwise.

On people and their goverment. What is wrong with them? Well, some people value the product at that price tag. And since people can live without that product (multimedia) their government don't really care.

For me the problem of copyright mindset is locking hardware to specific Intellectual Property software. Multimedia is not a necessity, it is entertaiment.

If your money making is at the detriment of society as a whole then there very much is something wrong with it.

The question would be better phrased as what is wrong with the copyright system. Disney just seems to be the best at maximizing the system to their benefit.

How Disney lobbied to tweak the copyright system to their liking, since the 1970s: https://online.yu.edu/cardozo/blog/disney-influence-copyrigh...

Not really. Disney hasn't just made use of the existing copyright laws, they have had an active hand (indeed, they have been the primary campaigners) in campaigning for the vastly extended copyright terms that we currently suffer.

Yea 'Don't hate the player, hate the game' is pretty disingenuous when the 'player' actively changes the rules of the game through bribery and coercion.

> I don't know why they feel the need to start telling me that so far in advance, or so many times (3 emails now).

Maybe they hope, by informing you so early, you'll have forgotten about the price increase by the time your renewal goes through?

Disney is one of the two media companies my friend is always willing to pirate from due to how they constantly try to rip off the creative talent that is the only reason they're a company. He's one of those types that still pays for and downloads FLACs and has no problem paying for streaming services that are fairly priced and treat their creative resources better than Disney does. I guess it's kind of weird to associate a moral impulse with the act of media piracy but no one says that humans aren't complicated messes of competing paradoxical impulses.

>Now, my subscription renews in April of 2022, but Disney has already started emailing me that it is going to increase almost 50% in cost at renewal time. I don't know why they feel the need to start telling me that so far in advance, or so many times (3 emails now). All it's done is make me thing "ok, that's a lot, let's see if we really use it" and also "hmm, I've spent some $ on these new releases".

Well, if you are thinking of not renewing and foget, it is 100% on you. If you are considering not renewing, you should unsub now so that it doesn't auto-renew.

Do we know if Disney+ is returning a profit or operating at a loss in exchange for increasing its long term user base? Seems like the latter.

In regards to theaters being a "special occasion", I am not sure where you live but here in the US we have "monthly subscriptions" for movie theaters. For example, for ~25$ a month I can sign up for AMC Stubs A-List which allows me to see three films a week in any format I want (standard def, IMAX, Dolby Premium, 3D or whatever else they have) each week for the month. (Thats typically 12 films a month). This is unbelievable value, yet even to this day I see theaters are flat out empty with the exception of Superhero films and established franchises (eg. James Bond). I can't tell you how many films I have seen this year (since getting vaccinated) where I was literally the only one in the theater. For one film I discovered there is a regular light switch that controls the lights in the theater and so I watched the film with the lights on ha ha!

I think movies and ;possibly "old media" are just failing for peoples attention in favor of things like Youtube/Instagram/Twitch etc. After all there are 24 hours in a day and no way to expand that so everyone has to compete by taking away some time spent on existing forms of media.

My wife and I have the Cinemark subscription and used to see an average of 1-2 movies per month. My son has a sleepover with his grandma once a week and we have date night.

We might start that up again once he’s fully vaccinated (mid-December) but otherwise we haven’t seen a movie in theaters since February 2020. I know the world has been open for most people for awhile now but for a lot of us it hasn’t been.

I’m really looking forward to taking my son to a movie in a theater for the first time in his life, maybe on Christmas day (he was too young when the pandemic started).

My cinema is a 15 minutes brisk walk from my flat. There's no way I'd overpay for D+ if I can just pay 4 euros and see it on a bigger screen, with better audio.

This might not be a longterm strategy, because they aren't doing it for their latest major release (Encanto). It's currently in cinemas only.

Device restrictions are even worse than there being too many services. Netflix is still limited to 720p even when used with Chrome on Windows. When running Linux there's no option to get even 1080p let alone 4K. These companies build their backends on these platforms, try to drum up popular support for net neutrality, and then screw everyone on device neutrality. No wonder downloading an actual file usable everywhere becomes popular again.

They also refuse to buffer properly. Tiny latency spike or brief packet loss? Enjoy 480p video for the next minute or so because it downgraded automatically and there is no way to force it back.

That's the beauty of HLS/DASH. Rather than just flat out stopping a la RealPlayer, they allow the video to continue until your network gets its act together. How is it the provider's fault if your network takes a dump for a bit?

This would make sense for a live stream. But we are talking Netflix movies here.

If my network can maintain more bandwidth than needed for 1080p/4k most of the time (which it can) then there is no reason it should ever fall back to lower quality due to a short blip because you can keep several seconds (or minutes) of buffer.

For example I never have this problem on Youtube. Only Netflix.

MY network is plenty fast. I have 1gb down.

If they can't make it work with 1/10th of that, that is their problem, not mine.

We know that having bandwidth does not mean you get full use of that bandwidth. Even using AWS CLI to download large content from an S3 bucket does not saturate my 1Gbps line. There are all sorts of places in a network to prevent you from using the full bandwidth, namely your ISP. To that point, I would not be shocked one bit to find that your ISP is playing with data from Netflix. Hell, mobile carriers tell you they are doing it.

Just another reason why people might prefer bittorrent then if it can saturate the line and the netflix player can't.

I would prefer it would stop rather then downgrade to something unwatchable.

I would more prefer it would buffer more so it doesn't need to do either.

Providers know that networks take dumps.

Netflix's 4k is also so bad. I swear, 1080p Google Play looks better. I don't know what it is with their compression, but it really really hates dark scenes, causing blocks and ghosting.

Supporting 4K to a limited list of known hardware like AppleTV 4K, Roku, etc is much easier than trying to imagine the endless possibilities of what ever frankenputer you've assembled running whatever distro you've chosen while using whatever excuse of a driver you've managed to install for your hardware. Now mutltiply that across the larger number of windows users.

I can't imagine why they've chosen the path they have /s

Limiting 4K to specific configurations is a DRM decision, not a video quality decision. There's nothing special about 4K video: it's typically encoded in the same codecs as videos in lower resolutions (H264, H265, VP9) and basically any modern device can play it without a problem. I never had any issues with 4K YouTube videos on Linux or Windows, regardless of configuration/driver.

I think what they're trying to avoid is people capturing/copying the 4K stream, that's high quality enough to be considered a "master", and distributing it. IMO it's a pointless thing to do because dedicated piracy groups will quickly figure out ways to do that anyway, and it makes the average user experience worse. However, they are probably contractually obligated to do so.

Given that they're also applying it to Netflix Originals, I don't buy the "contractually obligated" argument. At least for those, it's on them.

And just like I don't buy that argument, I don't buy their service either. I'm not going to pay for an intentionally crippled experience.

Supporting every hardware under the sun is as simple as dumping an mp4/avi/... file.

The reason they don't support high resolution is just DRM. They will happily deliver 4k video to your underpowered Windows machine which will lag and not play it properly, as long as it uses Widevine L1 or similar.

You can argue if this makes sense or not [1], but let's not pretend they are doing this for some difficult engineering reasons.

[1] This doesn't seem to stop pirates in any way so I can't see how it does.

As I understand it, it has nothing to do with "will your hardware support it", it has to do with preventing people from saving the high quality stream to disk. Hence the reason they don't allow 1080p except on certain, locked down platforms. Pretty much every device/player in existence supports 1080p at this point, Netflix just won't allow it.

That's funny because 4K Youtube works on all of my frankenputers! Actually the browser handles all the cross-platform complexity.

how is that significantly different from someone downloading several segmented 4k\1080 "clips" and running them? Youtube seems to be able to do it just fine.

I have no problem paying a "reasonable" amount for content, I've had plenty of paid accounts to multiple services.

I've given up keeping up. The combination of Radarr + Sonarr + Plex or Jellyfin + Sabnzbd + a Usenet account @ ~$10/month is too good. I have immediate access to all new content, automatically downloaded as well as a back catalog that is more complete than I can get from any set of streaming services. The local interface is excellent, discovery is good. No ads and I can access the content from anywhere in the world from any device. Even if I was willing to pay for every subscription I needed to access the same content, I would still consume it with this stack, the experience is too good.

A subscription to each of the top 10[a] streaming services is ~$85/month (~$1020/yr!), that still includes some ads! At some point someone out of APAC is going to start selling a device with a large drive and the stack ^^^ bundled with a Usenet subscription (if there isn't one yet). That will remove the complexity and mainstream this type of piracy.

I don't know how the industry is going to solve this, I know they need to before they go the way of paid adult content.

[a] https://screenrant.com/ten-most-popular-streaming-services-r.... I chose the least expensive ad-free option for each service. For Amazon Prime Video I used 1/3 of the $12.99/month cost, $4.33.

I work in publishing, and it is still hard to get management to understand that convenience and a reasonable price is more effective than drm for fighting piracy.

On the other hand, Spotify also solved the industry’s problem of having to pay artists.

If you are implying they "solved the problem of having to pay artists", that isn't true as Spotify payed artists over $23 billion as of 2020.


I think they solved the problem of paying artists quite well, 70% of their revenue goes to the copyright holders (if those aren't the artists, that is a different problem Spotify can't really address).

It's hard to see a record store or different streaming service do better than that ratio.

I don't think it's Spotify that is paying them less, it's consumers.

With Spotify, I can listen to hundreds of new songs every month for $10. That would cost a fortune with CDs or buying digital downloads.

Most people bought very few records in the past. FM rádio and cassetes where extremely popular because of that. I think that there is far more today between Spotify and Apple Music than there was between all labels during the CD era

With Spotify, the music industry is collectively able to extract $120/year from you for your at-home music listening experience. Would they be able to extract more with buying CDs or digital downloads? Or would you spend a similar or smaller amount, and simply consume less?

Zoom out a bit and take a group of friends 20 years ago vs now. A CD would commonly be shared/ripped, unlikely that everyone in the group buys the same record. Nowadays I wouldn't be surprised if sharing music is much less common since the monthly fee is quite low and good value.

I think now they can extract $120 in subscription fees, back then they might have been able to extract $120 in each person buying 4 CD's a year for $30.

My gut feeling (that might be completely wrong) is that the total value extracted probably stays roughly the same or goes up with an increase in disposable income.

How much of that went to artists and how much went to the record labels?

Spotify 'negotiated' a deal with the record labels that maximised how much money that went to the labels and minimised the money that went to song writers and artists.

“ 70% of their revenue goes to the copyright holders (if those aren't the artists, that is a different problem Spotify can't really address)”

Absolute lols. It is a problem they can address. Their deal with the labels sends the money to the labels rather than the artists as a stream is counted like pressing a record rather than a radio play.

If a stream was considered a radio play the far, far more money would go to the artists.

> If a stream was considered a radio play the far, far more money would go to the artists.

Doesn't that still imply that the problem is really just the labels negotiating contracts that are exceedingly in their favor?

Artists are getting screwed over because they signed away their distribution rights but there's not a lot Spotify can do about that. Spotify doesn't know where the money goes when they send it to the only place that can legally sell the rights to the content, and it probably shouldn't.

Artists across the board need to stand up for themselves and make better deals. More and more big names are standing up against the industry and causing a ruckus, so we may see a revolution in that space in a few short years. Until then, the music labels will continue to profit from their artists as they always have.

Spotify absolutely knew what they where doing when they "negotiated" the deal.

They knew they would be funelling money to the labels over the artists by adopting the ludicrous notion that they were making the equivalent of a mechanical reproduction over the equivalent of a radio play when a user streamed a song.

The major labels are big share holders in Spotify. It was a complete stitch up of the artists. Spotify were not a neutral party.

You say it like Spotify has loads of bargaining power in this negotiation.

When Spotify started whether the big labels would even licence anything to such a service was far from a given. Many digital music platforms had failed in the previous 10+ years cos the labels wouldn’t work with them.

The way I see it a Spotify subscription is about the price of a CD per month. So the spend is probably similar for most people as the amount they would have spent on music previously.

The difference now is that people listen to a much much larger number of songs in total in any month. They don’t listen to one album over and over and over again like before. So that same spend gets spread way more thinly than previously.

Lastly on the label issue the labels power is significantly undermined. You don’t need a million dollars to build a recording studio and make a record any more. There is much more scope to put out your own shit and get 100% of the streaming revenue.

New times, new reality. The labels treating streams revenue like they did CD revenue shouldn’t surprise anyone, and is not Spotify’s fault.

The artist sold their distribution rights to the labels. What do you think could be done differently from Spotify side that was still legal?

Fun side note, spotify (from sweden) started of with a collection of pirated (scene) releases, prolly from thepiratebay(sweden): https://torrentfreak.com/spotifys-beta-used-pirate-mp3-files...

They could have said streaming a song was equivalent to a Radio play and not pressing a vinyl record.

Boom, instantly performers and writers get more money and the labels less.

It’s moronic to keep asserting that Spotify had all the power here, or made the decision on how the labels should distribute revenues.

Some other streaming services (e.g. Pandora) pay out on streams as if they are radio plays.

You got any evidence of that?

The labels own the rights. Yes they fleece artists, no it’s not new nor something anyone who wants to deal with them can directly influence.

Look at the hashtag #brokenrecord by Tom Gray on Twitter.

Look at the the evidence nce goven to thr British Parliament on this topic.

Not really. Their income will soon overtake pre-widespread-internet peak.


That chart shows revenue, so I don’t think it takes into account the higher profit margins that come with not needing to manufacture and distribute physical media.

RIAA income != artist income

I don't understand why buying music on iTunes was so popular in the US for a while, when in Europe everyone was already listening to Spotify.

in Europe everyone was already listening to Spotify.

Spotify wasn't available in the US until almost 2.5 years after its initial launch.

But weren't there other streaming services such as last.fm and pandora?

More disposable income, different culture that values actual possession more then merely enjoying it.

Is that accounting for inflation?

No, the peak statement is not valid if inflation is considered. But the page has a "Adjusted for inflation" checkbox on the right, so you can see for yourself. :)

Their goal isn't to fight piracy, it's to make a lot of money. At this point I think they've mostly figured out that maximum profits come with some level of piracy.

Big difference with music is that 10$ a month get you everything, and it's the same catalog from Spotify to Google to Apple.

TV shows and movies are very different.

Content Creators need to just lobby Governments to regulate ISPs to block illegal stream and torrent sites. Much more effective than chasing DRM.

In our case (two person household), it makes much more sense to pay $4 to rent movies individually. We watch about four movies per month, so this gives us access to virtually every movie ever at a cost equivalent to a Netflix subscription. In addition, it greatly cuts down on the effort that it takes to find a movie that we're both interested in seeing. TV is different, because the cost of renting a season is still insane. I think the real value in subscribing to streaming services right now is the TV shows.

> TV is different, because the cost of renting a season is still insane.

That's because Amazon, iTunes, etc. make you buy a TV season instead of renting it. The crazy thing is—when I took stock of all the TV I watched and priced it out, buying the seasons online was cheaper than my cable subscription. That's when I finally took the plunge and cut the cord…

Ye subscription streaming are no way competitive with rentals for most people. Unless you want to watch some series on Netflix, the price is just too high for what you get. It is like going on a buffet - you think there is value for the money but you don't eat enough more to justify the price.

Where do you normally rent?

Not the author but I had a good experience with iTunes. I wouldn't normally buy anything on there due to vendor lock-in (I believe the files are DRM'ed) but since this is a rental anyway I don't mind.

And it would make even more sense to just pay for a VPN subscription, since they're cheaper than $4 per month.

Voice telecom operators have this all figured out. Companies exist to function as interconnection hubs only and are very successful at it. Billing systems (mostly built on RADIUS) keep track behind the scenes of every second of voice call routed through these companies.

All it took was a regulating agency to force the telecom operators to open up and allow 3rd parties to interconnect to provide their own voice service and/or act as hubs. And all of that at regulated prices per minute.

So let's say you subscribe to Voiceflix for 5$/month but want to "call" Game of Towers which has a different techprefix so you're routed outside your network at a (hopefully reasonable) cost. Initially it will be expensive (remember the prices in early '00 per minute of voice call?) but eventually it will come down to earth.

So now you have two types of entities:

- content storage: tries to get as much exclusive content but for overlapping content tries to "bid" the lowest price so it gets the traffic.

- hubs that want to take your money and stream from content storage services and don't care which one has the content as long as it is within profit margin the user can stream it.

Piracy makes me feel like I'm living 50 years in the future. One where there's no such thing as artificial digital scarcity. Yesterday, my partner and I wanted to watch something. I started downloading it because I'm not going search on which streaming service this 3 year old show is on. As I was downloading it, she found it on netflix. I stopped my download and we watched it there. From my point of view, piracy will go down by 98% when all shows and films are accessible in one place. Until that happens, 50 years from now, I'll continue to pirate.

I'm having similar perspectives around music.

Spotify is arguably the most powerful music discovery platform on earth, but over time you will find your favorite songs arbitrarily disappearing from your playlists. If you stick with mainstream content, this is typically invisible. But, if you are on the edge following indie artists and experimental works, things are much more rough.

For me, taking favorited content out of people's playlists is unforgivable. Even if there is an unlimited amount of other acceptable content to enjoy. The feeling of loss is severe for me.

I've bought more physical CDs in the past 12 months than I ever have in my life. New content is still being stamped to plastic discs for those who are out of the loop. The new Dune soundtracks by Hans Zimmer (yes there are 2) being my most recent acquisitions.

A few years ago I used to be a Google Play Music subscriber (now YouTube music). I had uploaded my own music library under the impression I could redownload exactly what I had uploaded later if I wanted to (mind you some of it was pirated, though much of it I had ripped myself from CDs I owned). Well, the day came I wanted to my music back and GPM had not only completely messed up the filenames, they were also giving me censored or incomplete versions of songs in my export.

These days I play all my music locally. I occasionally pirate, but I often just buy LOSSLESS version of albums directly on Bandcamp. I listen to a lot of electronic music (ex Carbon Based Lifeforms, Jon Hopkins) and Bandcamp has been indispensable. I've considered buying a physical CD and ripping it myself, but so far it hasn't come to that.

Sounds like I need to check out bandcamp. Downloading flac is a lot more convenient than shipping media and manually ripping each item.

Edit: Just set up an account @ Bandcamp. This is looking pretty incredible. Seems like a perfect combination of direct payments to artists, discovery & ownership of purchased content. Looks like most digital downloads are very reasonably priced.

Bandcamp is amazing. You can often stream the music before you buy, so you don’t risk buying stuff you don’t like. Then you have the option of buying a physical copy or just digital. If you buy a physical copy you can still download the flac and start listening immediately while you wait for the record/CD/cassette to arrive.

Bandcamp then goes beyond and publishes articles, blog posts and podcasts where you can discover new music. Even though this is technically advertised content, it feels more like an actual music article/radio show that you can enjoy regardless of if you intend to buy the featured music or not.

I can’t recommend Bandcamp enough.

Just make sure that you have a copy of everything that you buy on bandcamp somewhere other than bandcamp. Stuff gets removed from there too.

I thought you could re-download removed albums from your collection page? But can't find anything on mine to check with right now.

It's pretty incredible that in about a year they'll hit $1000m of payouts to artists.

I don't think you can. If you go to see your purchases, by each purchase there should be a "download album" link. Next to one of my purchases instead there is a "more info" link and if I click it I get the following message: "Sorry, {album name} by {artist name} is no longer available. Please contact {artist name} for more information."

But is the download link also missing from your collection page?

edit: I found one track that has the "more info" link in my purchases, searching for it on my collection gives no results. I guess that answers that :(

Qobuz is another service I've found useful, it has a lot of the more big name artists/recordings that might not be on bandcamp and you can download non-drm flac from it as well. The big downside is a lot of the downloads cost more than ripping an equivalent CD yourself, I can't figure out why that is but it's not always true so you just have to do an extra search first if you want to make sure they aren't ripping you off. But yes, bandcamp is also great, it's my preferred vendor when they have what I want.

> Carbon Based Lifeforms

Nice, I hadn’t heard of these guys. Big Hopkins fan. What else would you recommend along these lines? A few for you to return the favour in advance:

- Rival Consoles - Daniel Avery - Lorn (on the darker side) - Ital Tek

Your music taste is similar to mine, here's some stuff you might like:

nthng Skee Mask vc-118A Mohlao - landforms Traumprinz/Prince of Denmark/Prime minister of doom/etc. (Same guy) Giulio Aldinucci - Shards of distant times (ambient) Wanderwelle (ambient) Quiet places (the whole label A strangely isolated place is amazing, also ambient) Bowery Electric (also Boards of Canada from the 90s) Belong - October Language Rafael Anton Irisarri

I explore a lot of new electronic music and the artists you mentioned I was obsessed with a year ago or so. Since then, I have been digging deeper and deeper, enjoy.

> What else would you recommend along these lines? Aes Dana, Solar Fields, and Emancipator are all also good.

I like Lorn! I'll check out the other artists. Thanks for the recommendation!

OTT (ottsonic.bandcamp.com)

maybe also: Shpongle, Entheogenic, Bluetech, Younger Brother.

I buy almost all my music on Bandcamp these days, great platfotm

Yes, no longer renewing my subscription this year, google play music did similar things to me. I occasionally listen to music, and not fond of my playlist greyed out because of turf wars.

This happened to me too. I'm not sure if you took advantage of uploading your own music library to GPM, but I had uploaded around ~2k songs near Google Play Music's inception. When I downloaded it about a year and a half ago, the track file names were not only often incorrect, but oftentimes they were censored or radio edit version of songs in the export when I knew for a fact the original songs I had uploaded were the original edits.

Things have only gotten worse since the forced transition from Google Music to YouTube Music.

How can such a significant product be so bad?

The answer lies in your question. This is not, in fact, a significant product to Google.

GPM was the moment for me when I finally realized I cannot count on Google services. Since then I migrated to Deezer - so far so good, but I would not be surprised if they also turn to bad. That's why my music collection is backed up in the cloud now. I am self hosting a media server, so I am all good.

YouTube music was the worst with this too. Songs were constantly disappearing or changing

I feel like there is a difference though. You can still buy a lot of music from actual stores (including online stores like Bandcamp and Discogs). If you live in a medium to large city chances are there is a record store nearby where you can go to and buy a copy.

Movies are not the same. Yes there is Amazon but the quality of the DVD copies you get from there are kind of crap (and I suspect a lot of them are actually pirated anyway).

Buying music is a joy, buying movies is not.

I haven't bought a lot of movies from Amazon recently but I used to and they just seemed like normal retail discs? A lot of record stores sell movies too.

Movies at record stores are kind of a novelty. You can go there to browse, but chances are that you will not find the movie you were looking for. I’ve actually had better luck at thrift stores. That being said if they happen to carry a copy of a movie that you want to see and don’t mind adding to your collection it is definitely a joy. But it is kind of a rare experience compared to music.

DVDs at amazon range from fine to terrible. It is almost always better to just torrent the movie. Quite often the DVD has no extras, terrible subtitles, wrong aspect ratio, etc. I have quite a few DVDs which I’m never going to watch again, if I want to rewatch the movie I would rather torrent it, even though the DVD is right here.

Amazon commingling inventory will probably mean that quality varies quite a lot.

Exactly. Here are my product requirements:

Unrestricted access to all movies, music and TV shows ever made. Not 90%. Not 98%. Not "all except a few we couldn't work out licensing agreements over". All.

Highest resolution/quality available at the time of release (DVD quality for 90s movies: OK. DVD quality for 2010 movies: NO)

No arbitrary device/OS limitations.

Can watch/listen/download from any location on earth with sufficient bandwidth.

No ads embedded in the middle of the content.

That's it! Piracy offers all of the above for free, but I'd be willing to pay for this. Just release this product and take my money. The best part is, technology-wise, all of the above are solved problems. You just need to get the lawyers to say yes and you have the product already.

EDIT to address now-deleted comment: I didn't mention a price I'd be willing to pay--that's up to the market to figure out. Currently nobody offers this so it's hard to come up with a comparable.

You forgot buffering and granular control over resolution. I have to manually set the resolution on each youtube video I watch because youtube insists my network is fast enough for 4k when it most definitely isn't.

Thank you, youtube-dl devs!

> From my point of view, piracy will go down by 98% when all shows and films are accessible in one place.

Or better yet, there are multiple competing streaming services that all have all shows and films, and compete based on other features (device support, parental controls, video/audio quality, speed, search interface, etc.) instead of available content.

IME Netflix keeps finding ways to fuck up. Movie not available at your location. Movie available at your location but not with English subtitles. Movie plays but the image on TV is corrupted (weird green-ish colors).

I'm not saying that torrented .mkv files "just work". But the point is, if there are problems, they can be diagnosed and solved. Netflix (and Amazon etc.) is literally just "computer says no", better luck next time!

It's a distributor/rights holder problem. Netflix is very good with subtitles with stuff they make and a lot of what they license. For example in North America the DVDs/Blu-rays of Anime never ever come with Japanese subtitles in my experience (sometimes you can't even disable English subtitles if watching Japanese audio), services like Crunchyroll, Funimation, Amazon Prime etc. never have them but if Netflix makes it or licenses it worldwide they do. Movie not being available in your location is the same problem, rights holders sell the streaming rights to different distributors in different territories. Or maybe they let Netflix have it because their own streaming service in country Y isn't set up yet. I'm sure Netflix wishes it could be Spotify for movies/TV with basically everything.

We know it's a distributor/rights problem, but the core of that problem is the drive to extract as much value as possible. Casual piracy of content drops off a cliff when there is an opportunity to cheaply, and easily access content. We saw this with the emergence of early streaming service with broad catalogues.

Now each distributor, or sufficiently large rightsholder wants to capture as much of that value as possible by both restricting catalog access and demanding ownership of the relationship with the end user, without any sort of federation across services (with a few exceptions like Apple TV that have used market dominance to assert the ability to search across content subscriptions). The end result has been a rapidly accellerating decline in the quality of the user experience for accessing streaming content. Couple that with a shift away from series releases to weekly releases (better for customer retention as customers won't subscribe for a month to binge a series when it drops, and increasing 'user engagement' on platforms for however each platform collects those metrics)

The response has been an increase in piracy, and vilification of users who are frustrated because we had an awesome era of rich content libraries, but a bunch of accountants and MBAs focused on short term profit increases have destroyed the good will that the entire industry built with the emergence of streaming.

I haven't had the last problem but gte first two are largely not their fault, but related to regional licensing

And despite that, they're still not ashamed to extract the full price of the service even from those people to whom they can't offer 80% of the content.

If I purport to offer you a service, knowing that the quality of that service is subject to a mosaic of laws and regulations that I am aware will fluctuate over time, then that variable quality is arguably not my fault; but, if I do everything in my power in all my advertising and messaging to hide or deny that variability, then it seems that that is my fault. We're outraged if Amazon yanks books from our Kindles, even if it's not technically their fault—we're outraged that they're even able to do so. The same should apply here.

(Or, what rhn_mk1 said more eloquently and briefly: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29352027 .)

It might not be their fault, but as long as they operate within a framework that allows that, it's their problem.

I dropped cable, which had everything 'in one place', because it forced me to take everything and pay for it. What you see as a search and access problem I see as a new choice I never had before.

I use a Roku, it has a search feature that searches across a bunch of streaming services, I can see where is show is available, how much it might cost, or if a subscription is required. I'd argue that you have a search problem.

The entertainment industry wants you to buy it all and pay an ever increasing price for it, while including as much advertising as possible. The all-in-one service you are looking for looks a lot like cable, where you get a giant bill and no choice to remove things you don't want to pay for.

Given the way copyright works in the US, there is no 50 years in the future where things are freely available - future generations can still cash in on things copyrighted today.

Congress needs to be brutalized in elections until they fix copyright. It shouldn't last longer than the author's life.

such ideas are dead on arrival in US. you gotta have a revolution first before being able to override money interests like this.

While your not wrong, I think it's also because the uniparty had incentives to waste time on fake debates, like pretending be financially responsible when not in power.

So much time and energy wasted on fake debates and scapegoating, rather than actually solving problems that most people would agree with the solution on.

This is currently a problem all the streaming box developers are trying to solve. Each modern one has a sort of universal search that allows app providers to publish the list of titles they have available for streaming, and the system will surface those apps if a user goes to that search box to look for the title. We’ll probably have an overview of how good it works in 5 years or so.

I don't know about other devices, but the PS4 has a unified "TV and Video" portal that I think tries to do something like this:


Unfortunately, it's hobbled by the fact that the underlying apps are not reliable enough— Netflix works great, Disney+ is trash [1], Jellyfin has to be used through the browser so the interface is wretched. Not sure about Prime, Crave, and Hulu.

[1]: https://screenrant.com/disney-plus-app-playstation-4-bufferi...

From what I gather Google Chromecast w/ Google TV is a good performer in this regard. However, the issue remains that you'd have to pay almost 10€ per platform, for a total of 3 platforms, per month. That's simply not economivally viable.

That's a heck of a lot less expensive than cable even without the premium channels.

Well another alternative is you pay say $5 per movie you watch or $2 per tv show episode rather than an all in price.

Would that be an improvement?

Considering I can get AAA games for $10 after waiting a year or so, I'm not sure if $5 for a decade old movie really that worth it.

A-la-carte needs to be substantially cheaper to realistically compete with buffet style streaming services.

I can't be the only one who just bought a 4K blu-ray player. The cost of a disc is cheaper than a monthly subscription and I can still trade them in making it a cracking good deal. And quality is soo much better than streaming, literally made me move my sofa a little closer to TV!

Does anyone else remember when the Covenant add-on for Kodi was thriving? It was amazing. You could search for and watch pretty much any TV show or movie ever made with a variety of language and quality options and your choice of downloadable subtitles. It made the idea of downloading torrents seem quaint. I'd pay good money for that service, if only it existed legitimately. Sadly the entertainment industry eventually got pretty good at shutting the related infrastructure down.

Gabe Newell nailed it when he said that piracy is a service problem.

Is there a place that lists what films or shows are on what streaming platform in a given country?

JustWatch.com will do this.

Will it reliably do this for markets other than the US though? Not long ago it definitely didn't. I'll give it another try but I'm not getting my hopes up.

It’s built into Roku, although I’m not sure how well they do but outside the USA at this

Others have mentioned justwatch.com, but reelgood.com also does it.

I use trakt.tv; I think it had some coverage that justwatch lacked.


Similarly I still have subscriptions in netflix/prime/appletv but I can’t remember the last time I opened the apps. I have set up all the shows I watch in sonarr and it automatically downloads them a few minutes after the show airing and then offloads them to Plex which is a universal interface.

Bonus points for having an integration with trakt.tv to keep track of what you are watching and discord for notifications.

Just had this conversation (sans the pirating bit) yesterday with a friend who has YouTube TV.

The proliferation of streaming services is too much to manage and inconvenient, nearly to the point of customer-hostile. And with each content creator wanting its own platform (Disney, Paramount, etc.) it's getting worse.

You'd think the number of choices would be freeing, but bundling is still alive and well, with only the illusion of its demise. That is, many platforms pull you in with one or two original movies or serials of interest, dragging along with it a multitude of uninteresting content most don't consume and would rather not pay for.

Of course, the big cable/satellite services have traditionally provided the aggregation, but their extreme bundling practices are heinous. There needs to be a service that aggregates all on one platform, but also provides the ability to create your own "bundles", perhaps even a pay per view option: subscribe to only the shows or serials that interest you.

> The proliferation of streaming services is too much to manage and inconvenient, nearly to the point of customer-hostile. And with each content creator wanting its own platform (Disney, Paramount, etc.) it's getting worse.

I rather like that for $14/month I get access to more video that I can watch in my remaining free time.

If you find that $14/month gives you access to all of the quality content you want and denies you access to none, then you're definitely winning.

This article is asserting that enough people don't find that to be the case that it's become a problem. I think they're on to something.

> This article is asserting that enough people don't find that to be the case that it's become a problem.

Unpopular opinion: all entertainment does not have to be free, or approaching free. I'm able to buy access to thousands of hours of quality video entertainment for what just a few years ago was the cost of a single audio CD. It is annoying when you have to buy the whole subscription to watch a single show, though.

>Unpopular opinion: all entertainment does not have to be free, or approaching free

Torrentors aside, most people expect to pay for content.

They'd just prefer it be convenient and to pay for only the content they want, which...

>annoying when you have to buy the whole subscription to watch a single show, though.

...is pretty much what you're saying here.

No one wants 89 streaming subscription services to watch one show on each.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Paramount_P.... applied to streaming services would have provided that, no? It's unfortunate it's been terminated.

I already felt like that 20 years ago. The distributors (copyright holders) have been dragged by their hair, kicking and screaming, into a future where content distribution is digital and less onerous than in 1995.

But they haven't changed their motivations at all during that time. They've only come to realize that pursuing their vision of receiving full payment from every individual that experiences at least one moment of any of their works would leave them with lower revenues. So they've made some small compromises. But they won't go where the logic dictates unless the purely digital distribution platforms out-compete them on content. Ever stopped to wonder why Netflix and Amazon run their own well-funded production companies? This is why.

Count on this still being a problem in 2070.

> From my point of view, piracy will go down by 98% when all shows and films are accessible in one place.

That’s generally amazon prime. You can rent/buy a pretty massive selection on it, and it certainly hits the ‘more convenient than pirating’ barrier most of the time.

Well, with the exception of price point. Maybe it's because I've been spoiled by Steam, but $10-$15 to buy a movie that's 10+ years ago. I would've paid the same price if I bought it a month or two after release, or bought a ticket to see it in the theater.

If they can ever match the $40-$60 to $5-$10 price decay by waiting a year, then I think a-la-carte could make more sense, but currently for the price of buying 1 HD movie on Amazon, I get one month of Netflix for a month.

If I wanted to watch a new movie every week or so, a la carte is currently prohibitive.

You should use the renting prices instead of the buying prices to compare against other subscription services. $2.99 to watch a movie in the evening is anything but prohibitive. Or buying TV seasons, which amounts to close enough to the same hourly cost in my experience.

It’s less than I remember rentals costing when physical rentals were a thing, and while it’s certainly less cheap than a $10/mo subscription service, it seems like a stretch to call it prohibitive to most people. A season of a show plus a half dozen movies comes out to like $40/mo (ignoring all the ‘free’ stuff).

$40/mo for a vast selection isn’t fantastic, but in my eyes, it pokes holes in the pirate’s “If it were just more convenient while affordable I’d pay, I swear.”

Now I know Amazon is more stable that most other streaming services, but so far, my Canadian experience has been to have digital purchases of movies I have made be shuffled from one service to another as they fold, or are acquired, with differences in quality, or "expirations", etc.

Renting I don't mind, but as a consumer my preference is to buy Blu-ray movies in the highest quality available, and then rip them. I am a huge screen buff, and have boxes of physical media (blu-ray, dvd, VHS, and even a couple of beta tapes in storage), but it's endlessly frustrating that a large number of classic movies are only available in "remastered" editions, that destroy the fidelity and classic feel of the original movies by updating special effects, or committing the sins that George Lucas did of adding entirely new scenes to movies that undermine the overall quality of the movies ("Jabba, you're a wonderful human being."), let alone re-cutting the movies from full-screen to pan and scan. I recognize that the recuts have broader mass market appeal, but some of the history of how classic cinematic masterpieces were made, and how film making changed over time is lost to new audiences when those changes are made.

FWIW, you can typically Google for any movie or TV show and it'll show all the services that it's available on. I have multiple streaming services and frequently use this to avoid manually searching all of them.

This experience sucks.

I was watching some horror films on Halloween. We subscribe to Netflix, Peacock, Sling, and once in a while Hulu. I looked up one movie I wanted to watch on Google and they say it's on Sling. Cool, start watching it and it's the censored TV version. (And not marked as such). I turn it off. Google also says it's on Amazon Prime. I happen to have Amazon Prime free trial at the moment but I've never used their streaming service. I download it to my tv, sign in, and they have it - for a $6 rental. Pointless.

I just torrented it for so much less fuss.

Unfortunately it doesn't work so well outside of the US - especially when you live in a smaller country.

After some local streaming service took over like 70% of market (largely by expanding it, because it costs $3 compared to competitors at $5-10) other companies made a deal and now you can subscribe to "Most popular streaming service + exclusives from some other service at $5/$10 etc" and stream everything on one website/app.

Nobody is going to make a $50 million movie for $12 of revenue from the first customer who then pirates it to the rest of the world. The end outcomes here are 1) Piracy remains manageable in scale 2) Production costs go down tremendously and vloggers dominate eyeballs 3) alternate business models, such as product placement or advertising.

I can buy a DRM-less lossless music file that will play as many times as I like, on any device I own, for a reasonable price, without having to deal with a crappy and/or buggy distributor-specific app, or being dependent on the distributor's infrastructure being available, the distributor still being licensed to distribute the music, or the distributor still being in business at all. If this works for music, it can work for TV and film as well.

Yes, but you can only do this because the industry has used the courts to squash things like Napster.

> make a $50 million movie for $12 of revenue from the first customer who then pirates it to the rest of the world.

and yet today, this already happens, and movie budgets are bigger than ever. I have not seen a movie that i cannot find pirated - even fairly new release ones.

Yes, because the movie industry has made it pretty hard to pirate. You can certainly do it but it's not nearly as easy as it was in the Napster days. Even the entire concept of a torrent is a lot for many people to grasp.

I mean sure, just stealing something works great for you. People made the film or show. They need to be paid. Walking in CVS and stealing a candy bar would feel like 50 years in the future as well, for a while.

There is a fundamental difference (at least for now)–there is nearly zero cost involved in copying data and moving it around. There's no real scarcity of data. There is some real scarcity of candy bars.

To be fair to the argument, there is scarcity of the labor that produces the data and that must be compensated somehow.

That's true, but the labor that actually produced the data is not receiving the full value of the money that people pay to access the data. If the money went directly to the creators, I think people (and myself certainly) would feel much more amenable to paying for it.

Enters Patreon and similar type of things where you directly support contributors.

However, $15/month for "everything-ish", or do you Patreon every content creator you watch? If you do anything around $5/month, thr budget might start hurting on the other side.

I can’t imagine people subscribing to Disney’s patreon, or to key grip #8’s patreon. That model will never work industry-wide.

The scarcity of the labor is completely disconnected from the artificial scarcity of data.

Agreed, but therein lies the problem. The markets for our needs are still markets based on scarcity, and therefore artists need to operate within them even while producing a product that exists in a post-scarcity environment. To date no one has developed a better way to deal with this dichotomy than to impose some form of artificial scarcity in the post-scarcity space.

I personally find that solution unappealing, but admit to no better option than to deal with it in most cases. Some of the people producing work I like can be compensated through patreon or twitch or some other means, but not all.

With physical books, the cost of the pages was never that significant anyways. Same with VHS. The scarcity was never in the medium, so I fail to see why suddenly it matters.

> Walking in CVS and stealing a candy bar would feel like 50 years in the future as well

Or present-day SF.

It's just not going to work anymore. First, it's hard to steal something that can be copied infinitely (imagine if you could insta clone that candy bar, would you be bitching online about these crass hoboes trying to eat for free, really?), second, the entertainment world has to adapt, they were too well paid when they could argue scarcity, but now they have to drop quality and revenues and do something else with their life.

If horse riders had been half as persistent as the Hollywood parasites, we'd still be riding horses bragging we got them good, these car building robbers.

The analogy doesn't work, because eating is a fundamental need to survive. The movie that just came out isn't.

I think you mean copying not stealing

A) copyright should be lowered to 10 or maybe 20 years.

B) content owners have the right to ask for however much they want for content if copyright lengths were reasonable

A model I like is as such:

Copyrights are possible to extend indefinitely.

The owner must declare a value every year for their copyrighted material.

The owner must pay X% of the material's value per year as tax.

The owner can release the copyright at any time.

Others may bid to own the copyright. If it is higher than the owner's declared value, the owner must raise their bid to match, or else the copyright is sold to the highest bidder.

This is not a good idea. Giant companies could buy the copyrights for all intellectual property and no individuals would be able to own valuable intellectual property.

Well, artists only have to sell if they don't think their copyright value is worth the price, so they would be getting nice payouts. Don't really see how it could be a loss for artists, unless maybe they undervalue their own work.

Also it would mean that large corps pay for their copyright enforcement, unlike now, when a 1 man book is given the same protections as disney's stuff for the same cost, despite the fact that it costs 1000x more to protect disney.

That's true.

Perhaps increase tax such that even giant companies can't afford the copyright after one or two decades. Let's say start with 10% and increase by 2.5% every year. The twentieth year the copyright would cost 60% of the declared value.

Granting a monopoly on something with zero marginal costs creates massive dead-weight losses for society. Creating that information is a positive externality, so that positive externality should be subsidized. The problem we need to work out is how much value is a particular bit of information worth.

This is an idea I came up with, so likely has many issues to be worked out, but the core of the idea seems valid. We need to find out how much people value this information. We know how to get people to bid their actual values. We put IP and copyright and open source software into a Vickrey Auction. To do this you need not ask everyone every bit of IP, you would need to work out a statistically significant sampling of the population. This would be a multiple item auction, so you might have 1000 people in the auction, but only the top 750 bidders would walk away with access. The bottom 25% would have to go the year without. But since they would get access to all OSS and IP that they did not have to sample, they would still win out. The top 75% would, like any other Vickrey Auction, pay the amount of the highest bidder that did not win.

Owners would have the option to either keep it secret, or release it into the auctions. As the societal value of the item would be much larger having it open, every IP owner would choose to open it up so that they could get their share of the pot. Once an item has a fairly stable price, you wouldn't have to get a sampling every year for it. You would then either take funds from some other tax, or just print it, and subsidize the owners based on the value that the sampling provided.

Couldn’t a large corporation just bid any competitors out of existence by saying their works are worth absurd amounts that are trivial for them to pay but impossible for a small copyright holder?

I’d prefer a model where more content enters the public domain rather than the copyright changing hands.

Declare somewhat-short, fixed terms (5 years?) for every bit of content. The first term is free and then subsequent terms increase in cost geometrically. The first renewal could be an almost insignificant amount…but just the fact that it’s something would mean most content that is unmonetized would enter the public domain after the initial free term. Successive terms would start to only make sense for the most profitable content.

Being able to balance a healthy public domain with the ability for content creators to put out content that costs a ton to produce seems like it should be the goal of the copyright system.

Unnecessary complications only add avenues for corruption.

I'd like a law where the copyright ends as soon as the content is no longer sold.

Then the company would find someone who buys the content whenever they need it.

They should be able to ask for as much money as they find reasonable, but it should be a uniform fee only and any discrimination should be considered an abuse of monopoly, resulting in immediate loss of all copyrights.

This would mean they get payed well, and that there is a healthy competition in streaming services.

>content owners have the right to ask for however much they want

they already do. and content distributors and consumers all have the right to say "nah, your content isn't worth that much".

C) no copyright after 2 years. (would this really decrease output?)

Ask yourself that if it was a project you spent multiple years working on from developing it, producing it, editing it, marketing it. Is 2 years worth of protection from other people using to your work to make money from it fair?

Would you have created a better project in less time if you had access to the wealth of work done before yours?

I don't understand the premise of the question. Are you suggesting that a project's time to completion could be shortened if you are allowed to just out right use the script of other previously produced content, or use their footage? I really hope not.

Take the True Detective series as an example. The first season is highly regarded, and took forever for it to get made. Lots of love and effort went into developing that story. Because of its success, the producer was asked to do a new "season". It was litterally pulled out of thin air with no iteratitive development time on the story, and was univerally panned and the creator admitted this. The point? Sometimes it takes time to develop a good story. Just ask JRR Martin.

Not necessarily using the full script or footage, but things like characters, settings, design elements or wholesale plots. Even if they reused a script, anyone who's worked on a play knows you can have two very different scenes that started with the same script.

I haven't seen True Detective, but maybe he could have pulled off a successful second season if he could have freely adapted someone like G.R.R. Martin's story.

Oops, stupid typos. It might be intersting to see Jeorge RR Martin's characters in a buddy cop detective series.

I figured you combined Tolkien with Martin, I bet it's a pretty common mistake.

Unfortunately any series trying that premise would need to wait like a century or pay Martin a ton of money, so you'll never know if it's interesting.

Ahhh, I see the problem. You just need to be introduced to fanfic!

Fanfic is basically ignored copyright infringement, severely limiting the potential of the medium. There are plenty of examples of reboots and adaptations making new and superior works, copyright just adds an insurmountable barrier for most works.

I think a hybrid model would work well where you don’t get royalties from access by non-profits/individuals but corporations with a sufficiently large market cap (eg $1bn) do have to pay royalties to distribute such content.

How so?

That doesn't make sense. I think most of the royalties come from the long tail of companies, and market cap is a really terrible way of determining the worth of a company

Fine then strong man the argument and say companies > $100m in revenues.

I also didn’t mean to imply right away. I meant “after 10-18 years”.

I do not see any reason to add that complication.

Politics. Shrinking copyright from 90 years to 20 years for most uses might work if you can say that content creators get to still charge big corporations from charging royalties for the remaining 70 years.

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