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Usenet – what have you become? (90percentofeverything.com)
129 points by harrybr on Aug 28, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 116 comments

Movies and TV need a Steam alternative.

I used to steal every single game I played. Even games that had online play, I would play on cracked servers.

These days I buy every single game on Steam, and if it's not on Steam I still buy it on Play.com. Steam is easy, fast, convenient, and simple. Games are one click away. My Steam account contains over £2,000 worth of games.

It's easier than stealing.

"It's easier than stealing" is practically the Steam business model. This is also why iTunes and similar services "won" the music piracy race. Not to say that music piracy is gone, but it's been largely dwindled due to the low barrier of entry for obtaining music.

Actually, iTunes and the Apple TV did this for me for movies. At some point I started downloading movies from Usenet, for various reasons:

- Annoying unskippable 'don't copy this disc' messages.

- Movies are sometimes not available at the local rental or retailer.

- High prices of Blu-Rays.

- Downloading is legal in my home country.

- Downloading from Usenet was less effort.

iTunes solved most of these issues, and made it easy to 'impulse rent' movies. Nowadays, we just rent movies via iTunes, since it is less effort than verifying/extracting/converting movies and finding subtitles. Also, it feeds the makers.

This may work for people with Apple products and/or people in the US. For us in (Northern) Europe this is not good enough. (Yet)

I iTunes on Windows reasonably well. (I typed "just fine" at first, and that's not true. It has been a bit crashy and clearly a second-class citizen. But it works.)

iTunes feels this way on OS X Mountain Lion for me as well.

Why not? Renting movies via the iTunes store works fine here in The Netherlands... Haven't they added most European countries by now?

in France, the iTunes selection is pretty poor if you're looking for English content with subtitles. Most of the catalog is available dubbed in French - which is a pity, especially for TV Shows where dubbing is really poor.

The selection of iTunes movies in the Netherlands is a few months to half a year behind what you'd find on pirate bay though.

It's useless in Germany. It is just the same overdubbed stuff you can see on TV, several months too late.

Still suffers from region locks, inability to get it on my TV easily, late release times, and all those other things that are made so easy when you download TV.

This is not exactly the same. If you get a game via Steam, you get the exact game. If you however get a cd via iTunes, you get a compressed version of the original (at least last time I checked, not sure if this changed, and cannot find any prove it did). Close, but not exactly the same.

256kbps AAC (comparable to, if not slightly better than, 320kbps MP3). Close, but no cigar.

The one time I bought a TV show through iTunes, it wouldn't let me pipe it from my computer to the TV.

So I still pirate TV shows as they come out, even if I could buy them on iTunes. (I quite often buy the DVDs later.)

What is your home country?

First, thanks for violating the first rule of Usenet.

Second - I have to take issue with one sentence, "you’re at risk of being sued for a lot of money and maybe even loosing your home internet connection. "

Sure, you're at risk, but far less risk than other methods of violating copyright. Nearly every Usenet provider offers encrypted traffic. Most by default, and many as the only option. Which means that your ISP has no freaking idea what you're downloading.

Many providers also allow payment in bitcoins, or go out of their way to accept other anonymous methods of payment.

And finally, unless you're uploading to Usenet (wich most people aren't) you're participating in a much less volatile and essentially never prosecuted form of copyright violation.

Usenet can be a pain to setup, but once you're up and running with the tools the author listed, you'll be using far-and-away the easiest most user-friendly method of obtaining movies and TV available.

The ISP might not have any idea, but your usenet provider does. I'm curious if it's common practice for them to log user activity.

> The ISP might not have any idea, but your usenet provider does. I'm curious if it's common practice for them to log user activity.

Most providers do not log downloads. To cite the policies of two of the biggest providers, Giganews and Astraweb:

> Giganews does not track the specific articles you download; however, we will track the volume of your downloads for account maintenance and download limit enforcement purposes (if applicable).


> We do not store any specific information about your downloads. We only store the amount downloaded, date and access IP address for accounting purposes.


Most providers will tell you they do not keep any logs. However, most of the bigger providers will add an encrypted header to any post you make. The NSP can later decrypt the header to see which of their users made the post.

To the best of my knowledge, to date these headers have only been used to nab child pornographers. I've never heard of anyone getting in trouble just for downloading copyrighted works on Usenet. The worst uploading incident I've heard of was years ago when all the members of sd-6 got their Easynews accounts deleted. Granted they were posting non-stop and all using the same NSP. I don't remember any charges being pressed or subpenas being issued.

From what I've seen from the major Usenet providers' privacy policies, downloads are almost always never logged -- connections, maybe, but not downloads. Posts and uploads, however, are logged in order to crack down on spam complaints.

Not common.

I know a few people who use Usenet (I did as well for a while), mostly as they weren't cheapskates who were out for free alone, but as it was the fastest way to get something they wanted in a format they wanted. Most of them dipped off a bit when NetFlix came in (UK based) but as the catalogue quality isn't amazing it's still there as a good choice.

Makes you wonder why someone in the studios hasn't sat down and gone "There's nearly 10 million people paying $15 a month to get hold of movies, we could charge $20 and it's legal and get even more people and we'd be filthy rich", but entrenched behaviour is tricky to shift.

I don't bother with it now, it gets to a point where you're trying to manage data in the terabytes and it's just more of a pain than it's worth.

Because 10 million times $15 is $150 million, or tiny chump change in the grand scheme of their industry.

If you could ensure that only Usenet converts could use it, or pirate converts, that might be one thing.

But chances are, their average revenue per traditional customer is >$20/mo, and thus this kind of service would cannibalize their traditional business.

Reminds me of Windows discs. I never felt that Microsoft took fighting non-business-based piracy seriously, just did their due diligence because the problem was small enough to be nearly irrelevant and the solution would disrupt their normal business.

> and thus this kind of service would cannibalize their traditional business.

Which makes you wonder. Since such a service would largely kill piracy over night, do they not do it because the profit margin lost is actually greater than what they loose to piracy? Evidence they're really not loosing as much as they lead us to believe.

10 million is the amount of Giganews subscribers.

There's probably double that in users of alternative Usenet providers (including ISPs). Then consider that there's at least 10 times as many people who don't know about Usenet that would use it if they knew. So the potential global amount they could be making is 200 million times $15.

Three billion dollars. Think the grand scheme might be interested now?

HBO (a single content creator) is looking to pocket ~4 billion by itself (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118042241) why would the entire industry be interested in splitting 3 billion

$4B is the yearly revenue for HBO (or at least it was), while the $15 per usenet user is monthly.

How about $150 per month from only 20 million people? And then $50 per month from another 20 million people and leave the rest out in the cold?

They'd make even more money with five billion people paying $1.

I guess, one problem is that it is really hard to get contracts with all studios or even just the major ones. If one studio does it on his own, everybody would just complain about the lack of many films. If you do not care about legality, it is equally easy to get stuff from Universal as from some afghan studio with two movies.

And this is where serious politicians should step in and, next time the movie mafia come knockin', tell them that there won't be any more copyright-maximalism craziness until they clean up their shit and offer a common platform which is on par with Usenet. Worse, he would threaten to reduce copyright terms and "free" all XX-century content "for the public good".

I know, I know, a guy can dream.

Tell me about it, usenet becomes more of an addiction and less of a service. I spent more time cataloging and organizing me collection than watching any of it...

Access to [American] Netflix has made it so much easier to view the content my family and I want with out the need to queue terabytes of data.

I know people like this to. I think it is kind of a waste of time given you will often watch something once and if you really want to see it again can redownload it and be good to go in about 20 minutes.

I download things, chuck them on a hard drive that is only 1TB, if it starts to get full I just delete a chunk of stuff.

Tell me about it, usenet becomes more of an addiction and less of a service. I spent more time cataloging and organizing me collection than watching any of it... Tell me about it, usenet becomes more of an addiction and less of a service. I spent more time cataloging and organizing me collection than watching any of it...

LOL, I know exactly what you mean. Except in my case, it's bittorrent and not Usenet. And it's not even entertainment, it's more like business related books / audio / video, and/or self-help / pickup / NLP / etc. stuff. I probably already have more stuff downloaded than I'll ever have time to read/watch/listen to. And now I spent more time than I should, on moving stuff from one portable drive to another, backing stuff up, reorganizing, etc.

Which has made it even more interesting, as people are finding ways to pay for an American subscription service and open a VPN endpoint in America to get access to the content. They seem happier to complain about pirate bullies taking their lunch money than to actually take advantage of a giant financial opportunity.

I've always been of the opinion that there aren't any tech minded people making those types of decisions for publishers in Hollywood. Also, I'm sure there are a fair amount of contractual issues that prevent the open distribution of content using a paid model.

No doubt the licensing and contractual issues are a thorny problem, but the licensing and contractual issues are generally from the studios who created them. If they wanted they'd be able to get around it, or find a compromise or similar.

Especially considering 95% of the content they resell is making them pure profit. By now, even the shittiest movie produced in the 90s has had so many tv runs, so many VHS and DVD units sold, that all production losses and fixed fees have been recouped.

There is absolutely no excuse for not having a cheap platform streaming every pre-2000 movie, except pure greed from the copyright mafia.

By now, even the shittiest movie produced in the 90s has had so many tv runs, so many VHS and DVD units sold, that all production losses and fixed fees have been recouped.

I'm not so sure about that. The movie business is notoriously crappy - most movies never recoup their costs. It's the few wild successes that keep the studios afloat.

On the other it is true that the marginal cost of selling digital downloads of back catalogue movies is close to zero.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting the movie studios can have a movie that "never recoups their cost" and yet they somehow make money off the enterprise. I am not saying they don't occasionally take a bath on a bad bet, but they do well most of the time (the percent of break even or better is much higher than they like to admit).

I still use Usenet daily. To post messages on programming and linux groups. And mind you, I'm not alone (else it wouldn't make much sense, would it?). In fact we're back in the good ol' pre-AOL time, when only a few roamed there.

Maybe the solution to the HN problem is moving it to Usenet :)

I would love to see someone set up an all-new Usenet network that is proactively disconnected from the old one and disallows any binaries. Especially if it were well-run and seeded by users from, say, HN, I imagine it could be a fabulous place for discussions on all things geeky.

Hell, if you have to change the port numbers and the name of the system to get around ISPs that fear it, that'd even be fine.

I remember that day. A quiet sunny morning in September of 1993...

Since the major binary providers stopped deleting articles about 4 years ago, Usenet has effectively become a public digital archive. Granted, archive.org takes uploads but they're limited to public domain works or creative commons. There's a lot of copyrighted works that are of value to our society but the content networks just throw them on a tape in a vault somewhere. The few items that make it to Youtube (without the copyright's holders complaints) are able to live on and help serve as items in a 21st century library. If you have a digital item you'd like to see preserved indefinitely, a Usenet post (along with other avenues) is a a good start. I personally think archive.org should upload their media collection to Usenet just to serve as an extra backup. Youtube would be even more valuable there as there are tons of YT videos in which the original source file probably doesn't even exist anymore. If anything ever happens to YT or Google (they're corporate entities, things tend to go down hill eventually), what will happen to these works? Many may very well disappear from society's grasp.

It bugs me that it has to be in this stupid base64 encoded format, which is wasteful. Also, the binaries have to be cut up chunks of a certain size; it's all rather hacky. Instead of providing Usenet servers it would be better to offer something like bittorrent caches.

While lack of 8 bit support is unfortunate, most posts utilize yEnc now which is much more efficient than base64 or uuencode.

With bittorrent caches, wouldn't you still be limited to people providing seeds for each item? The sustainability of Usenet is now driven by commercial demand. Wouldn't BT be limited to people donating bandwidth/resources at personal will?

I meant replacing commercial usenet servers with commercial/ISP bittorrent caches. Perhaps paying for it would be harder to justify, but it could offer the guarantee of fast download speeds, plus never having to worry that there are 0 seeders. It's also interesting for ISPs because BT traffic costs them money if it has to go through other ISPs (peering agreements), whereas traffic through their cache would be essentially free.

> It costs about $20-35 US Dollars a month for Giganews usenet subscription

That's the only thing that keeps on confusing me when it comes to usenet. I don't get why people don't just use cheaper providers but flock to the ones with massive ads and referal links. There are a lot of 10 USD / month providers without caps and the same retention. I get that it might be easier just to pick the one that you're pointed at, but for a recurring 10-20 USD/month, it might be worth the 15 minutes or research.

Perhaps it's because they've used the cheaper services and found them lacking? In particular, there seem to be a lot of issues with retention time (years, for Giganews!) and missing posts. Speed is also a factor.

It's not that they haven't tried the cheaper services. It's that those services just don't have the same quality.

As far as I recall there are basically just 3 large providers and tons of resellers.

There are e.g. Eweka (http://eweka.nl/en/usenet_toegang/specificaties/) Or The Cubenet (http://thecubenet.com) which don't fall short compared to the expensive counterparts with the large advertisement budget.

EDIT: Here's a small overview about who resells what: http://www.usenet-providers.net/newsgroup-resellers.php

There's still dozens of small, basic service providers. Many universities run NNTP servers, as do ISPs.

Cox used to offer a base NNTP service, for example, which was part of my cable subscription. I stopped using it because they had awful data caps and horrible retention.

I remember when USENET was the internet for me. I went to college before the web and we had terminals connected to a IBM 370 for my first year (got a VAX account the second year). USENET was an amazing discussion vehicle at the time.

The best-ever Usenet discussion vehicle was DejaNews - and Google killed it.

Mmmm. As I recall, DejaNews decided to reskin and become "Deja", along with making their service much stupider and more user hostile.

Then, they died.

I think there was a SaveDeja campaign for a while before Google finally bought the archive.

I was not thrilled with what Google did with the archive after that--hugely disappointing, actually--but first the stupid and then the dying happened before Google touched anything.

I agree wholeheartedly. Is there anything even resembling a replacement now? I'm looking for long-term, searchable archives of widely carried groups (typically the rec.* hierarchy). I don't even care about the binaries groups. I just want to be able to search old posts and post with a relatively nice interface.

I think the best thing about Usenet is that no one talks about Usenet.

I'm starting to think this is no longer the case. I can't even count the number of blog posts, websites, and forum threads recommending it in the past few years. And with more people writing software to simplify the process it's only going to lower the barrier to entry.

I just hope the industries adapt by the time usenet starts deteriorating.

It made me cringe to think that a usenet article made the frontpage. Nothing to see here folks...

1st rule or you despise it?

Usenet has for years been the most reliable, easiest source for high-quality same-day releases that the Copyright Czars have always ignored (probably due to lack of popularity). The more popular it gets, the quicker it gets killed.

I mean, few people realize how ridiculously, amazingly simple it is to download a movie or even an entire series using Usenet and NZBs. Click a file and start downloading at full bandwidth. That's it. No torrent seeding bullshit, no download caps or mirrors to find. It's incredible. And we're scared it might become popular.

Honest question, how would usenet get killed?

Usenet posts are, for all intents and purposes, anonymous. Sure there's some source header information, but that's extremely easy to spoof and there's already dozens of SAAS upload services which hide the user's identity.

Downloaders are as anonymous as their NNTP provider makes them, thanks to SSL encrypted connections.

The only attack vector for copyright holders is to go after the service providers, which _should_ fall under safe-haven rules. The worst they can do is issue DMCA takedowns for individual posts, which can number in the hundred of thousands for just a single video.

If safe haven didn't apply, usenet itself is distributed, take down one host and people will simply move to another.

@evandena > which propagate to the other providers

Source? I haven't heard of DMCA takedowns propagating to other separate companies. Resellers sure (same company). Many users have specifically avoided Highwinds resellers due to the large number of takedowns they receive, implying that whoever else they find isn't getting (or observing) the notices.

Each provider still has take down rules in place, which propagate to the other providers. I guess if the copyright holders monitor every file like a hawk, they can send tons of take downs and pretty much cripple the library.

Ah, I wasn't aware that takedowns propagate. That does change things.

1st rule.

Netflix is not available in my country. There are some online video providers (including iTunes), but they insist on offering most movies and videos in German (talking about Germany) rather than the original English.

Not that I have taken to Usenet, just saying that there is more to it. It is also tiring to look for movies and find they are not available (mostly for political reasons, no doubt).

I was just thinking about this. Reddit is usenet without the files. That blew my mind a bit.

Reddit is a former link aggregator that people have repurposed into really, really crappy forums software. It's nearly impossible to have a long, coherent discussion with multiple participants because of how much effort is involved in keeping up with new comments (unless they're direct replies to you).

Reddit really sucks for discussion and it's one of the (many) reasons I don't go there anymore.

I disagree. With most discussion sites (the likes of slashcode, phpBB3, vBulletin, etc.), daily re-visiting of the site and trying to pick up where you left off the previous visit is a maddening experience.

With reddit, it's easy to see at a glance (particularly with the enhancement suite) just what comments/posts you have made have been responded to.

Granted, there simply is no web-based discussion format that rivals firing up "trn" and using 2 keys to flip through several hundred threads in just a few minutes. That, and you can sync the posts offline, read and respond to them offline, and post your replies in a single batch once you regain connectivity. Pure ASCII was such a great medium for discussion.

Obligatory comment about removing default subreddits and finding niche ones.

... sounds like a personal problem.

Most of Usenet had nothing to do with files. It was a forum for discussion primarily, until it was overrun by spam. That and concerns over content in some "alt" groups led ISP's to drop the service.

How? It's not architecturally even similar. That's like saying phpbb is just like reddit or usenet.

The reason why piracy can continue to exist is licensing agreements.

Content providers need to offer a flat rate for resellers, and sure, they'll have the occasional exclusive and better deal to specific online stores.

But compare this to a real world store: they can sell anything they can buy. Yes, they have to negotiate with a distributor but it isn't nearly as ridiculous as the digital marketplace is.

I should be able to set up my own ebook / movie / tv-show / game online store and be able to sell anything that isn't locked into an exclusive agreement.

and don't even get me started on that we need to be able to resell "used" content as individuals.

The current fiasco of "losing" all your electronic purchases on death because they're non-transferable is criminal abuse.

There's a big difference between paying a monthly subscription to stream versus buying digital files that are hosted on your hardware and you can't transfer them after death.

Interesting question, is anyone here using the Usenet for something besides binaries?

Yes. In fact, I pay ten Euros a year for access to news.individual.net, which does not carry any binary newsgroups. As I run my own little server, I also get news from eternal-september.org and a few other free, non-binary services.

It's quite reliable, and if your upstreams are good about filtering spam, then many communities are quite useful, too.

A good threading Usenet client like slrn is pretty much the peak of discussion interfaces. Web forum stuff rarely comes close in terms of usability for someone who takes ten minutes to learn it.

>A good threading Usenet client like slrn is pretty much the peak of discussion interfaces.

You might be interested to hear that not everyone feels that way.

In fact, the lack of what I considered an acceptable client is what made me stop reading Usenet. I was running Linux at the time, and I thought all of nn, tin, rn, trn and slrn had very bad user interfaces. (I forget if Pine had a Usenet reader in it. If it did, I tried it, too. I also tried the Usenet reader in Lynx, and in fact that is what I was using when I gave up on Usenet. Lynx's user interface bothered me a lot less than the others, but Lynx had severe performance problems when I "pointed it at" a busy newsgroup.)

The user interfaces of all the clients I just mentioned are text-mode, but that is not the main reason I stopped using them: I continued to use Lynx as my web browser and text-mode Emacs as my editor for many years after giving up on Usenet.

trn is the client I spent the most time with. Probably the biggest problem I had with it is that is discouraged contemplative reading. Specifically, every other device or contrivance for reading I have used allowed me to go back and re-read what I was reading a few minutes ago. In trn, I could usually succeed in going back (using the = key or using the arrow keys combined with the "tree view") but some small but significant fraction of the time going back was impossible (or prohibitively difficult and tedious) because in the mean time I had reached the end of the unread articles in one group and had been automatically taken to the next group with unread articles or (if I remember correctly) I had finished up reading a huge subtree and been taken automatically to some other subtree.

My second big problem with trn was that it tempted you to get a "stupid high" by using it to overload your brain with a constant stream of information or novelty in much the same way that watching TV does.

Although some probably considered that a feature, I concluded that it was unhealthy.

The main contributor to this "dynamic" was the decision by the designer of trn that all a user would have to do was keep on hitting the space bar (or more realistically the space bar and the n key, which skips to the start of the next article) and he would continue to be fed new text. In contrast, browsing the web requires a person to make a steady stream of decisions about what to see next, and although these decisions seems very easy to make, this constant stream of decision points seems to prevent the use of the web to get the "stupid" high that certain people like myself were tempted to get whenever we used trn to read Usenet.

If I remember correctly, slrn shares the two problems I just described with trn.

I do realize that many people feel as you do about these text-mode Usenet clients that came out of the Unix tradition. I also realize that Usenet had certain "pro-social" and "pro-free-speech" properties that the web does not have. Also, note that I spent many thousands of hours reading Usenet, back when it was still a more important medium for online discussions than the web was.

The Usenet clients might not be the peak of usability but they're far, far ahead of all the different kind of forums software we also have to put up with these days.

How so? I've never used a news reader or USENET for that matter; what am I missing? How is it different than an ordinary email client's threading?

It isn't very different from an email client. I was comparing against web based discussion forums.

The rec.games.roguelike.development group still has a surprisingly active and helpful bunch of folk on it. I check it every week!

(Actually most of the rec.games.roguelike branch is fairly active, but RGRD has a special place in my heart)

Ever since google groups changed formats (earlier this year) it has been really great at eliminating spam too, which has had a positive impact on activity, as far as I can tell.

I created free Usenet web reader. Something like Thunderbird in the browser, standard three pane interface. Supports only text groups.


It is not just the day one availability that is the problem. Where can you legally get high bitrate 1080p video with DTS-HD Master Audio/Dolby TrueHD via the internet?

This is perplexing. A consumer will purchase a $3000 60" screen (eg, Samsung ES 8000) that is capable of stunning 1080p and run Netflix and Hulu on it. That's like taxying an F-22 down the freeway.

This more than anything proves that cheap and easy media is king.

My oldest documented Usenet post: https://groups.google.com/group/net.unix-wizards/msg/bdd2d3b...

Anyone here on Usenet earlier than that?

For some reason, I seemed to pick on csh a lot back then: https://groups.google.com/group/net.unix-wizards/msg/ab37210...


That's kind of puzzling, because I've never been a csh user as far as I can remember.

I use the Usenet since 1999 for downloading. In my country it's still fully legal to download anything, but not distributing (uploading) it.

We don't have hulu, netflix, bbc iplayer, spotify, whatever since the world wide system of copyright is too complicated. Media providers have a huge hassle to simplify the process.

As long as it's easier for millions of people to set up a giganews acc, couchpotato and download every single blockbuster in HD quality months before it's available on BluRay, VoD et cetera, people will do this.

The day when one eco-system provides me with state of the art resolution movies which I can buy _and_ collect (not VoD) , no matter where I live, that day will be the end of my filesharing career.

> Does this tell us people will do anything to save a bit of cash? No. It’s telling us that people will do almost anything to get same-day releases – and that they’re willing to both pay wads of cash and break the law at the same time to get them.

I'm not sure that that's the correct lesson to learn here. If anything same-day delivery only applies to the most popular shows. And even then it's not a guarantee. And even if it does show up you still have to wait for it to finish downloading, which may take more than a day if you have a slower internet connection.

So, what's the real takeaway?

I think it's that users will do almost anything to have physical control over content. Having your favorite movies and TV shows and music on a hard-drive that you own is well worth the cost and the time-investment for a huge number of people.

Region locking, launch day delay, cross border licensing , etc all amount to a pile of dung that limits their profits.

Global distribution that steps over the above is a first step to a solution. Country ISP level firewalls and DRM are not.

Another proof that people illegally downloading art (movies, music, books, ...) is the category that spends the most money for art (spending it here for Usenet access, but also moviegoers, paying for gigs, buying the vinyl of this great album they found in FLAC on rapidshare, etc).

It is now well know, and it's about time for the major companies to understand it, piracy is not their biggest problem, their biggest problem being their uninventive, old, broken business model. Until they finally figure this out, more money will be spent on Usenet access, rapidshare accounts, etc.

I wonder how many years since its inception you'd have to add together to get to the bandwidth of one pirated BlueRay.

Or in other words: How many Naggums is one "Twilight-Eclipse-1337-0-day-aXXo-xvid-sucks-720-SWESUB.mkv"?

I think the author has jumped to a foregone conclusion. He thinks it's all about getting releases before they're made public, and doesn't see any reasons other than that people might have for going with pirated entertainment.

The reasons are many and varied. Some folks simply don't want to pay, others are frustrated by the content providers insistence on their way or the highway.

IMO the recent Oatmeal says it best: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

The big question is: Is there a price point which will both see widespread adoption and make enough money to cover licensing.

I pay $70/month for cable, I would probably pay up to around the same amount for a free varient of usenet that could match the availability of new shows. Sports is a tough point, the main reason I got cable is for sports that weren't possible to get live on any other service. So if someone could nail on demand new shows and live sports there is a massive market opportunity there.

Live sports over NNTP is akin to live sports via email.

Worse than that actually. NNTP is a pull model, SMTP is push, at least.

Sopcast is usable for live sports.

The article's numbers are a bit off, Astraweb has unlimited accounts for $11/month, also there's 1-2 providers who are offering free access to their IPv6 Usenet server (XSNews and I forget the other). There's also no real mention of NZBs and tracking sites that host them and offer indexing/filtering/searching (NZB is basically like a .torrent).

So you don't actually need to load up a full client and start searching all these different groups for files anymore.

I know a few people that do this and their argument is that downloading isn't the illegal part, the uploading is. Is that not correct?

IANAL, but my understanding is that, at least in the UK, it's still illegal to download. It's just that it's almost entirely pointless going after an individual purely for downloading. You could claim the cost of the individualy pirated item plus probably a few £ in damages - for a single movie, I doubt you'd get into triple figures.

But with uploading, you can claim a cut of every single download that other people could have done from your file. This can be run into many thousands of pounds per file.

The BPI's own FAQ seems to suggest that their case against downloaders is rather thin if existant at all. http://www.bpi.co.uk/digital-music/article/online-faqs.aspx

> Downloading is when an internet user obtains a digital music file from the internet in filesharing this source is another internet user known as an uploader. Unless this act of downloading is done with the permission of the record label (for example, from a licensed service like iTunes), it is unauthorised copying and is illegal.

Looks like their position is pretty clear to me - even if it's not worth actually prosecuting.

In only the narrowest sense.

- Since the content-as-property itself is intangible, you do not deprive anyone else of its use by downloading, hence you have not "stolen" anything.

- Since you did not legally purchase a license to the content, you are not bound to uphold its terms with the distributor.


- Your possession of licensed content without a license may constitute evidence of a criminal conspiracy, on your part and the part of the uploader, to defraud the distributor.

- If the material was only distributed in a form protected by DRM, then your possession of unprotected content may constitute evidence of circumvention, which is a crime under the DMCA.

Also, from an ethical standpoint, since somebody has to upload it, you're relying on someone else to take the risk of paying fines or going to jail in order for you to circumvent the intent (if not the effect) of the law.

Depends on your jurisdiction.

If you're downloading over SSH, can anyone really know what you're downloading? In other words, what's the likelihood of getting caught?

Over Usenet? Very unlikely that a casual leecher will get caught unless your ISP is doing deep packet inspection. Consuming Terabytes of data a month might arouse suspicion at your ISP, but that's regardless of Usenet or Bittorrent. 90% of good newsgroup providers offer SSL transfers these days anyways, but if someone is sniffing your line and inspecting your data, you have bigger problems than how to download the new Avengers movie securely.

We need an app to stream movies from Usenet. There is so much freaking bandwidth on Giganews and they have like EVERY movie ever made. Instead of -> download -> par check -> combine -> unrar -> watch, it should just stream right from the rar files.

Money is still the primary reason.

As others have mentioned, the risk is low and it's a lot more user friendly than people realise.


I beg you, let this be the last post about Usenet.

Don't turn it into... well... what the rest of the Internet has become.

And then Fox sued Dish for ad-skipping.

It’s telling us that people will do almost anything to get same-day releases – and that they’re willing to both pay wads of cash and break the law at the same time to get them.

That's the entire point, right there. It is stunning to me that media companies are oblivious to this, and it's possibly even more stunning that they're still trying to control their shows as if it's 1985. You may as well try to hug water.

Like shocks says, when the studios build a Steam for media (e.g. Hulu but without the bullshit), they will come.

Well they will have to, because the entire system is going to colapse when the old subscribers die of.

They won't understand this, but any business model trying to treat infinitely-copyable digital goods as salable material possessions is going to either change or fail. It will happen in the next 10 years, and no amount of law, security, or resistance is going to stop it. It's already happening with music; Spotify, MOG, Rdio are all viable and spreading.

The network is here. It has made their product into a service whether they like it or not. They need to provide it as a service.

While I mostly agree with you, there is a third option none of us really want to consider. And that's that HBO/MPAA/etc get so efficient at catching and prosecuting piracy, that piracy itself dies off.

Now we at first think, "this is impossible, where there are bits, there are ways to copy said bits". But don't forget What happened with DirecTV at the turn of the century. They implemented an "unhackable" card that stopped all satellite piracy on their network. No biggie, pirates just moved over to the hackable DishNetwork and began purchasing FTA boxes and hacking them to emulate cards. Dish spent a ton of money implementing their new "unhackable" Nagra3 encryption and mostly eradicated the problem. Sure you have a few people doing some sort of private card sharing... but effectively, satellite piracy is dead. I don't want to sound like chicken little... but let's at least consider that these draconian ways could persist and push us back to the dark ages.

Satellite piracy is not dead. I'm pretty sure anybody on Usenet could be downloading those very same shows right now.

It seems the pirates just tow your ship to land and rape and pillage from there.

And that's that HBO/MPAA/etc get so efficient at catching and prosecuting piracy, that piracy itself dies off.

There are just far too many ways to evade detection. Remember, bits copy easily. Controlling that is very difficult, near-impossible, and with encryption and other tactics, it's darn near impossible to detect.

Reality is not on their side.

EDIT: data point here: an alternate Internet. Imagine what would happen if the media companies really did start to succeed in controlling and suing "piracy" out of existence. This is what would happen: http://www.reddit.com/r/darknetplan

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