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Digital Watchdogs Widen Anti-Piracy War 119

Posted by Zonk
from the coming-soon-to-a-youtube-near-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times is covering a new focus by companies like Warner Bros. on consumer attitudes towards media consumption. The last few years have seen media companies concentrating on pirated materials sold in marketplaces and downloaded online. Increasingly, the expectation of content for free is what is worrying these same companies. 'Missteps made today could have grave consequences for the future, particularly when it comes to consumers' willingness to pay for movies and television shows online ... Warner and other entertainment companies are moving cautiously ahead, but their interests are divided. All want to share their content online with consumers but are, at the same time, imposing constraints that risk alienating a younger, Web-oriented audience.'"
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Digital Watchdogs Widen Anti-Piracy War

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  • by daranz (914716) on Monday April 02, 2007 @06:46AM (#18571583)
    FTA:

    Missteps made today could have grave consequences for the future, particularly when it comes to consumers' willingness to pay for movies and television shows online, she believes. To illustrate the point, she tells of her niece's fish, named Mortimer, who one day leaped from his bowl, flopped on the table and gasped for air.

    "Mortimer took the leap to freedom," she said. "He said, 'I'm free, but I'm dead,' " said Ms. Antonellis.

    That's right, kids. If you watch movies illegally, you'll drown after jumping into the nearest pool!

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday April 02, 2007 @06:50AM (#18571601)
      Better to die free than to live in chains.
      • by CRCulver (715279)
        If you're dying in a struggle to free others, where you're sure that your death will have an effect for the best, then that may be acceptable. If you are dying just because you don't want to live in chains yourself and think you'd be better off dead, then that's something that nearly all of the religions of the world would agree was suicide and morally unacceptable.
    • by onion2k (203094)
      Why should we believe a woman who thinks her niece's pet goldfish spoke to her from the afterlife?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's definitely silly to trust the goldfish medium. We need to consult someone who speaks directly to the gods. To the whitehouse!
    • Free as in Fish (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Monday April 02, 2007 @10:06AM (#18573089) Homepage
      It's a great story, isn't it? I love how carefully the analogy maps onto the expecations and experience of a music listener:

      The fish is the listener.
      The bowl is -- I think -- The established media powers. The fish cannot get out of it without risking its life.
      The water is the filthy sludge that the bowl (see above) has immersed the fish in.
      Youtube is the air, in which the fish cannot live.

      The analogy breaks down on this point: the listener is actually not a fish, and can live just fine in the air.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cthenkel (940304)
      FTA:

      Missteps made today could have grave consequences for the future, particularly when it comes to consumers' willingness to pay for movies and television shows online, she believes. To illustrate the point, she tells of her niece's fish, named Mortimer, who one day leaped from his bowl, flopped on the table and gasped for air.

      "Mortimer took the leap to freedom," she said. "He said, 'I'm free, but I'm dead,' " said Ms. Antonellis.

      So Ms. Antonellis, do you remember the movie "Finding Nemo"? Are you suggesting that Nemo was Free in that small fish tank? Is this the type of artificial Freedom that you advocate we "consumers" should all be happy with?

      I love this analogy because it shows that the MPAA wants to convince us to stay in the fish tank when we were born in the Ocean.

  • I find it hard to believe Ms. Antonellis' nephew had a pet golddish named Mortimer, who illustrated her point so badly:

    To illustrate the point, she tells of her niece's fish, named Mortimer, who one day leaped from his bowl, flopped on the table and gasped for air.

    "Mortimer took the leap to freedom," she said. "He said, 'I'm free, but I'm dead,' " said Ms. Antonellis.
    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      Not to mention how communist and anti-american her anti-freedom comment sounded.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        And what about this?

        "We were criticized for not being aggressive enough," she said. "At the same time, we can't be faulted for being radical in our approach."
        Uuuuuh? Not agressive enough?
        • by Shemmie (909181)
          It's taken out of context.

          Charles Manson was quoted as saying "If anyone ever downloaded movies of mine without paying me, I'd rip out their liver, and gouge out their eye balls."
          The industry responded with:
          "We were criticized for not being aggressive enough,"
    • The thruth is that the MPAA boys came over, confiscated the bowl and threatened to sue the whole family if Mortimer wouldn't confess it violated the copyrights of Pixar by swimming like Nemo. Mortimer under desperate situation, confessed and saved the family. Now seriously in debts he had no alternative but to commit suicide.

      Don't believe the MPAA propaganda!
      • by BlueTrin (683373)
        The RIAA then proceeded to ask the judge if they could get the computers for inspection from:
        • The fishes wife
        • The dog (the cat told the RIAA that they saw the fish and the dog together, since he hates the dog)
        • Kitekat, they found some Kitekat [kitekat.co.uk] around dog's computer
  • These guys are concerned that people are going to expect content for free. Realise what this is saying. They are basically admitting "most of our customers are too uneducated/stupid to realise that we don't produce huge reams of professionally made content for free." They're essentially claiming that most of their audience don't know that it costs money to produce movies, or music, or software-- that people will come to "expect" such content for free.

    This is very insulting, but is it true? Are most peopl
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jkrise (535370)
      They're essentially claiming that most of their audience don't know that it costs money to produce movies, or music, or software -- that people will come to "expect" such content for free.

      So how come these knowledgeable content providers are providing Free Rootkits that cost lots of money to produce? Customers aren't stupid - they don't mind paying fair price for their CDs - they just hate all these Encumbrances, and being made to jump through hoops, and being spied upon like criminals.
    • by 4D6963 (933028) on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:06AM (#18571649)

      They're essentially claiming that most of their audience don't know that it costs money to produce movies, or music, or software-- that people will come to "expect" such content for free.

      It's not because it costs money that you have to pay for it. Do you expect to pay for your Yahoo! Mail account, your Google searches or your MSN conversations? No? It's not brought to you at no cost tho, they have developers to pay, sysadmins, thousands of servers, marketing departments, and much more, but you still don't have to pay a thing.

      Why couldn't it be the same for mmmh.. TV shows? Oh wait, that's already the way it's always been on TV! Now why do they want you to pay a couple of dollars on each episode of their show you download on iTunes? Cause they can! Why distribute yourself your content on internet for free with some commercials in the middle to get your money on as you do with TV when you can get the viewers to pay what they normally don't pay for?

      • by grrrl (110084) on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:38AM (#18571775)
        You're exactly right - TV is ALREADY free. Perhaps the cable culture of the US is a little different, but in other parts of the world, the latest TV shows are ALL FREE ALL THE TIME over the air, even in digital. The latest series of Lost in Australia is only about 6 weeks behind the US and it is FREE for everyone.

        Why would anyone want to pay to download TV shows? There are certainly some reasons - convenience, being up-to-date (not even 6 weeks behind), having it to watch more than once, having it to watch at your own leisure.

        BUT the 'TV is free' culture is already highly ingrained in my mind. I would find it hard to justify paying for content unless it was DRM-free, high quality and affordable (even $2/ep is not affordable).

        Do I think it costs nothing to make music or TV? No - but if I already get TV for free, music on the radio for free, radio music over the internet (no ads) for free (except for ISP costs) I am not in a position to want to suddenly START forking out huge sums of money to enjoy the wide variety that I already enjoy.

        • by BlueTrin (683373)
          You never heard about something called TV licence ? or TV taxes ? That's what people who live in their own pay to have TV ...
          • by grrrl (110084)
            TV licenses only apply in the UK.

            There is no tax or license for TV in Australia.

            Some federal funding goes to the ABC network, but it is not separately levied and is simply a portion of standard income tax.
          • by 4D6963 (933028)

            You never heard about something called TV licence ? or TV taxes ? That's what people who live in their own pay to have TV ...

            Well, in my country (France), the TV tax goes only to public channels like France 2, 3, 4, 5, and the most succesful channels like TF1, M6 or Canal+ (but the latter is a bad example) don't get a dime from this tax.

            So yeah, a TV channel you don't give a dime to can survive and become actually huge and rich.

      • "I think it is ok for authors (please let's not call them "creators", they are not gods) to ask for money for copies of their works (please let's not devalue these works by calling them "content" ..."
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by 4D6963 (933028)

          "I think it is ok for authors (please let's not call them "creators", they are not gods) to ask for money for copies of their works (please let's not devalue these works by calling them "content" ..."

          Well, not our fucking problem, that's something between them and whatever media will broadcast their works. And that still doesn't mean we (the viewers) have to pull a dime out of our pockets.

    • by Don_dumb (927108) on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:31AM (#18571737)
      Well people are dumb enough to believe that piracy is damaging profits http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/106698/technology-boos ts-movie-industry-box-office-sales.html [pcpro.co.uk] - and will soon destroy the industry, unless drastic measures are taken to prevent it.
      In the UK decades ago they said that 'home taping of radio shows is killing music' and actually got the government to change the law to outlaw taping radio shows. It didn't stop the practice and music is not dead.

      The music and film industry has always complained about piracy and yet they go from strength to strength.
    • by Kelbear (870538)
      Yes, and I would think most people don't know that "free" things still cost money.

      Why are TV shows free? How do all those websites offer so much content for free hosting all that bandwidth?

      It still costs money, whether people pay via donation, credit card, or just out of the pocket of the creator's limited pocket, but mostly, these things come from advertising.

      So to get music and movies as "free" as the above, you'd have to settle for advertising throughout it. The more attention-grabbing the advertising, t
    • "The second part is the consumer; we have to do a better job of explaining why promoting creativity, promoting songwriters, promoting not only the people who write the songs, but the people who bring the songs to us -- that has to be appreciated."

      Stupid consumers. They're sharing culture with each other because we haven't fully explained to them how and why people create music [and movies, and TV shows, etc]
      (from Artists for File Sharing [a4fs.net])

      There's an alternate explanation: people are starting to realize that
  • by jkrise (535370) on Monday April 02, 2007 @06:50AM (#18571599) Journal
    Customers would like the media they purchase to be free of encumbrances.

    Content providers .... the only thing they want to supply free seems to be rootkits.

    If that's the attitude the content providers take... I say, let us have stage plays again, and ban all recording devices during performances... let's see what market size we're talking about for such 'content'.
    • by andphi (899406)
      Technically, there's a huge market for live theatre, and recording devices in theatres are considered harmful, but the business models for live performing arts companies are entirely different from the business model for shrink-wrapped crap^H^H^H^Hentertainment. You typically deal with much lower margins, a great many much smaller target markets, and much higher sunk costs - unless you're doing a touring show or something that's playing well in London/New York/Chicago/Las Vegas, which still has the sunk cos
    • Content providers .... the only thing they want to supply free seems to be rootkits.

      Which really shouldn't suprise anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of economics. Content costs money to create.
  • When a large population of your consumers has been driven away by mediocre content and increasingly predatory legal action perhaps this issue should not be one's sole focus.

    In a more general sense, of course content providers should be paid. Its even more of an issue with movies which take vast amounts more capital to create and market than a typical music album. The question is that if a) Radio has made it for 100 years on a free content delivery system, and b) Television has done much the same, why can'
  • Which makes me wonder, what will be the outcome? Will we ultimately all get used to getting stuff for free and go towards a general acceptation of piracy as something morally OK and ultimately bend the law/the IP holders towards accepting it too, will we rather get more and more used to pay for stuff we download or will the situation indefinitely freeze and there will always be people who like to pirate, people who prefer to pay and the IP holders who try to make more people from the first group go into the

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday April 02, 2007 @06:55AM (#18571613)
    The key problem the industry has is that DRM devaluates the product.

    When I buy a piece of hardware (computer related or not), I have an advantage over stealing it. I have warranty, I have access to discounts, I get free or cheap spare parts, I may even get additional goodies, coupons or trade-in options, if there is a flaw I can return the product and so on. All that and more is no option if I buy it off the van in a shady alley or steal it outright.

    With content, it is exactly the other way 'round: Stealing it increases its value. There is no region code, no mandatory previews to watch, no annoying FBI warning, no copy restriction, in the case of software, no need to keep the CD at hand and insert it when you want to play or a dongle to plug in (and render that port unusable 'cause whatever else you might want to plug in won't work), no unwanted spyware installed with your content, no restriction drivers that interfere with other software or even harm your hardware, nothing of the ever increasing pests that clog the movies and software of today.

    It's not (just) that stealing content is cheaper. The main problem is that the stolen content is actually more valuable than the bought one.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You nailed it -- paying for the entertainment cartel's "content" is like paying for ones own shackles, when the DRM/rootkit/spyware/"trusted computing" stripped version is a .torrent away.
      • I'm not saying that I wouldn't pay for content. I'd be very happy to pay for content and the convenience of having it on a nice DVD with a nice cover, in a nice box that I can put onto the shelf. I don't think anything one could burn can come close to that convenience and tidyness. I don't consider browsing through stacks of DVD spindles a good start for a movie evening.

        It is not the content that's not worth the money. It's the way it is packaged.

        A movie is not just 2 hours of moving pictures. It's a feelin
        • Indeed. I returned Shrek 2 because it had a sodding unskippable advert for Madagascar. I don't mind trailers but I don't want an unskippable and irritating advert I have to watch every time I watch the disc.

          (By the way, I know that it's possible to fast-forward through these 'featurettes'. I just don't see why I should need to)
        • Same here -- happy to pay, but not for the shackles. Another poster mentioned unskippable trailers, a particularly egregious example of some of the crap that is avoided by simply downloading the movie. I do (despite the campaign of terror by the MPAA) go see first-run movies in a "VIP room" setting. It costs $8.00 more for a decent seat and no commercials. Like you said, the experience is what matters.
    • A choice quote from TFA:

      "The term D.R.M. is steeped and mired in its legacy definition. Today, call it something else. I dont care what you call it. Get rid of it. But we need to make this work so we can get a deal."
    • by Dogtanian (588974) on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:57AM (#18571869) Homepage

      With content, it is exactly the other way 'round: Stealing it increases its value. There is no region code, no [etc]
      And no condescending and insulting anti-piracy advert/propoganda whenever the ******* DVD starts up. I just paid you for the **** thing, and you shove this crap in my face? Nice irony that this sort of anti-piracy BS can be removed if you break the copy protection and make pirate copies.

      This was a Warner video, by the way. It also came with a leaflet that attempted to link piracy with the case of the 21 Chinese illegal immigrants who drowned whilst picking cockles in Morecambe Bay. [bbc.co.uk] The reason was when they searched the gangmaster's houses, "they found over 4000 counterfeit DVDs and computers containing counterfeit material". I'm sure that they also found milk in the fridge, but so what?

      Yeah, they'd argue that the message was that some nasty people are involved in DVD piracy, and we shouldn't support them. Fair enough, but the style of the leaflet was pure propoganda, attempting to associate the deaths of the cocklers with piracy in general; as if supporting piracy had encouraged their deaths, or that the illegal immigrants wouldn't have been out there if pirate DVDs hadn't been bought, or..... whatever. I can't really argue against it because, being propoganda, there wasn't any real substance as such, just a nasty and underhand discussion-bypassing attempt to smear DVD piracy with another tragic incident in thoroughly exploitative manner.

      Anyway, I've scanned the leaflet and put it online, here (side 1) [imageshack.us] and here (side 2). [imageshack.us]
    • by mpe (36238)
      With content, it is exactly the other way 'round: Stealing it increases its value. There is no region code, no mandatory previews to watch, no annoying FBI warning, no copy restriction, in the case of software, no need to keep the CD at hand and insert it when you want to play or a dongle to plug in (and render that port unusable 'cause whatever else you might want to plug in won't work), no unwanted spyware installed with your content, no restriction drivers that interfere with other software or even harm
      • Most anime come out "officially" over here a few years after their release in Japan. Most of them subtitled instead of dubbed, and with a translation that reeks of bablefish.

        And then there are perfect fansubs and even -dubs as .torrents...

        Sometimes the industry makes it really, really, really hard to stay away from the dark side.
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday April 02, 2007 @06:56AM (#18571619) Homepage Journal

    TFA:

    Warner and other entertainment companies are moving cautiously ahead, but their interests are divided. All want to share their content online with consumers but are, at the same time, imposing constraints that risk alienating a younger, Web-oriented audience.

    Mention of the younger, Web-oriented audience tries to dismiss the shift to online content as a fad for young people. In my house we don't bother with TV any more. My wife and I are both over 40. Our son is 5. We have three laptops, broadband and wifi. A lot of our entertainment (news + movies and music) comes down the line, and some movies we rent from the video shop.

    Warner could put the video shop out of business if they let me get movies on bittorrent. If they make it cheap enough to download when I want to watch, as opposed to keeping a copy and watching it later, then it won't get pirated much because I would have to keep the stuff around, cluttering up my system.

    • In my house we don't bother with TV any more.

      Hear hear! My daughters told me I might as well unplug the cable TV because there was never anything on it worth watching (took me by surprise, but they're smart kids). That was two years ago; have watched less than 2 minutes of TV since then, total, amongst the whole family.

      Of course they spend all their non-study time playing WoW, which is a total waste of time. Some day they'll have the maturity to go beyond that, and waste their time in a more productiv

  • Today? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Digital Vomit (891734) on Monday April 02, 2007 @06:57AM (#18571625) Homepage Journal

    Missteps made today could have grave consequences for the future, particularly when it comes to consumers' willingness to pay for movies and television shows online...

    I think you mean "Missteps made ten years ago". It's a little late to be worrying about people expecting movies and TV shows online to be free.

  • she tells of her niece's fish, named Mortimer, who one day leaped from his bowl, flopped on the table and gasped for air. "Mortimer took the leap to freedom," she said. "He said, 'I'm free, but I'm dead,' " said Ms. Antonellis.
    I wouldn't pay to see it though. Anyone got the YouTube Link?
  • by unity100 (970058) on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:24AM (#18571701) Homepage Journal
    They are freaking hell from the fact that they will have to sell "content" for lower prices than the hellishly inflated ones they used to :

    Digital distribution cuts costs to phenomenonally ridiculously low rates per "piece" of content.

    One would think they would adjust their distribution system and prices accordingly, and adapt to the new amenities.

    But they dont want to do this. They want to sell stuff from the prices of the previous decades, where the final price was justly high due to the costs involved in production of the medium carrying the content and distribution of it.

    Hence, they will pocked the 200-400% rate profits per piece sold - old prices, minus the new pathetic cost of distribution.

    This is what they are concerned about. Its not about "piracy" or "content distribution" (heh), "protecting rights" or "intellectual property"

    Its totally about being allowed to screw the public en grande, or not.

    One would think that they would have understood that piracy is going to go on as long as they try to screw people over. But apparently they did not.

    Then piracy will continue.
  • They should have done it earlier, now its too late.
  • the funny thing is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oliverthered (187439) <oliverthered@NOsPAM.hotmail.com> on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:34AM (#18571745) Journal
    I wouldn't shell out for a movie or software, but I would make donations to people who write OSS.

    Somehow the people who don't want to grab all the money seem more deserving.
    • by mgblst (80109)
      but I would make donations to people who write OSS.
       
      Well, what is stopping you then?
  • Too bad Big Media engendered cynicism by withholding online sales during the dot com era, encumbering with DRM when they finally caved, took so long in shutting down Napster, bribed the Sony Bono Copyright Extension Act through, and started suing their customers. Otherwise maybe the boomlets might have had the same positive view of copyright that I, as a Gen X'er had. (I still like copyright, but now I advocate the 1790 version [wikipedia.org] of 14 plus 14 years).

    A reprise of a Slashdot comment [slashdot.org] I made two years ago:

    Prior to 1980, it was expected that when you went to a movie you might not be able to ever see it again. And it was expected that your records would get more and more scratchy and skippy with age, and maybe even break.

    Not me. My teenage years were in the 1980's, where I was able to purchase -- legally -- "perfect" quality CDs and high quality (for NTSC, anyway) LaserDiscs, both free of copy protection. Both CDs and LaserDiscs were touted to last a lifetime, and even though that's not true, the lack of copy protection enabled lifetime chain copying to preserve the recording for personal use.

    I grew up accustomed to, after hearing or seeing something I liked, purchasing it, and playing it back at any time for one of two purposes: a) reflecting upon its content, b) recalling the time and place where I originally heard or saw the recording, for the purposes of sentimentality.

    I've said it many times, and almost always get modded down, but I'll say it again. I consider it a form of mind control for a publisher to present something for my consumption, and then be able to at a later date forbid me from reviewing that material in the time, place, and manner of my choosing.

    As I said, I believe this attitude of mine is due in part to my Gen X demographic. Baby boomers and older -- those presumably running XXAA -- grew up not expecting reviewing capability. Baby boomlets grew up expecting stuff for free via P2P. Gen X'ers are in the position of expecting lifetime reviewing capability, and expecting to pay a reasonable one-time fee for it.

    But demographically, there aren't as many Gen X'ers as baby boomers and baby boomlets. And no one seems to care that books after 1924 are rotting away. So DRM and short memories it will be from now on.

  • C'mon it's simple really. Sell your movies online at $5 flat. No advertisements. No bullshit DVD menus to slam through with your remote. Absolutely no DRM. Just a professionally encoded xvid file at around 1.2-1.5 gigs in size. Offer it on a site with a fast connection that puts the often snail's pace of P2P to shame. There's very little that I'm not willing to blow $5 on. Seriously. I'd be buying movies all the time. As it is the few DVDs I do buy ($20 a pop is fucking overpriced in such a novelty-driven c
  • If I were in the business of selling music or movies right now I'd be getting the hell out fast.

    The business model of selling physical media containing content to consumers is winding down. Get out while you can.

    If you can't see it sinking, you deserve to go down with it.
  • "Hollywood's attention shifts from bootleg DVDs made in China ..."

    Always a good thing to address, always the wrong way to address it. More on this later.

    "... to the problem of copyrighted television ..."

    Which is, of course a problem; why shouldn't I be able to watch a broadcast whenever, wherever, and however I please. It's already been distributed to me.

    "... and movie clips showing up on sites like YouTube and MySpace."

    Ok, this particular focus is downright stupid. Piss on your free advertising, please.
  • by kfogel (1041) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:36PM (#18575343) Homepage
    These exchanges always go the same way: someone in the industry (an executive, a production person, an artist) says "Without these high royalty rates, I couldn't make the living I make today!" This is true, but utterly beside the point. The question is, would art and music and writing still be produced if we abandoned the centralized, monopolistic distribution mechanism that DRM and modern copyright law currently enforce? The answer is obviously "yes". And artists would still make a living, just as they always have (since copyright royalties play no significant part in the economic lives of most artists anyway, with the exception of a few stars). Giant publishing conglomerates would make a lot less money from royalties, but that's not society's problem. After all it is not the job of government to enable one particular business model at the expense of other business models.

    Spread the word: http://www.questioncopyright.org/ [questioncopyright.org]
  • "Increasingly, the expectation of content for free is what is worrying these same companies."

    Morons don't realize what I've been saying for some time now: people have NEVER paid for music. They pay for ACCESS to music. Not the same thing at all.

    The only time people paid for "music" is the phonograph era before cassette recorders were invented. And even then they were STILL paying for access not the music itself. It was just that they had no other option (except reel-to-reel tape recorders - and some people
  • Too late, most of us demand free content now.

    Screw em.

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.

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