The British government has decriminalised online video game, music and movie piracy, scrapping fuller punishment plans after branding them unworkable. Starting in 2015, persistent file-sharers will be sent four warning letters explaining their actions are illegal, but if the notes are ignored no further action will be taken.
It’s a step forward that the government bodies of the UK makes it official that “pirates” will be victims of explanatory letters, and nothing else.
The scheme, named the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), is the result of years of talks between ISPs, British politicians and the movie and music industries. The UK’s biggest providers – BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky – have all signed up to VCAP, and smaller ISPs are expected to follow suit.
I could have told them this years ago, and saved them frustration, time and money!
VCAP replaces planned anti-piracy measures that included cutting users’ internet connections and creating a database of file-sharers.
Which would have been a relatively bigger harm to society than the filesharing itself.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of music trade body the BPI, said VCAP was about “persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection.” He added: “VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It’s about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice.”
I am sure those letters will be heavily coloured by government and industry propaganda.
Officials will still work to close and stem funding to file-sharing sites, but the news appears to mean that the British authorities have abandoned legal enforcement of online media piracy.
If piracy is not a crime – which it can’t be since the authorities choose not to prosecute (are they not forced to, if they are aware of it?) – why go after the content providers?
Figures recently published by Ofcom said that nearly a quarter of all UK downlaods were of pirated content.
Which does not equal to any significant losses. If I do not walk into a store to buy milk, that is not a loss. It is competition.
Here’s the June 2014 catch of DVDRs from the interwebs:
Hatfields & McCoys
Hobbit 2: Desolation of Smaug
Last rites of Ransom Pride, the
Loyal 47 ronin
Revenge of the Ninja
Robocop (2014 remake)
Surviving the game
Wolf Creek 2
World without end (miniseries)
Today I was met with this message on the front page of one of the trackers (p2p file sharing sites) I visit, SwePiracy:
2006 – 2014
Swepiracy has been permanently shut down due to insufficient funds, lacking interest (among members as well as staff) and most important the extreme judicial situation of today (according to host personnel, our servers were copied together with Sparvar, although we were not hosting any tracker or torrents). All the best to you who made this long lasting era possible, and thanks to all members for eight unforgettable years! /Staff
This happens occasionally in the file sharing world, and is going to happen again. It happened with Softmupparna and with Sherwoodskogen, to mention two trackers I was at. I downloaded quite a few films from SwePiracy, as it was a so-called private tracker, which means that the quality of releases are better and there are rules to ensure that downloads work efficiently. For example, hit & runs are not allowed. If you download something, you must upload it for X amount of time to give others the opportunity to download. This is a common rule on private trackers, but is not enforced on PirateBay, an “open” tracker.
Fortunately, and purely by coincidence, I had already registered at two new trackers this week, which seems to be good or even better than SwePiracy.
The downloads for May were not that many; I am starting to experience space problems, with thousands of DVDRs stacked in jewel cases taking up two walls in my home office. I’ve started to store the discs in plastic pockets now, which saves space, but I am also trying to limit what I download. I’ve tried that before – to concentrate on favourite actors and directors – but it’s too hard when I have such broad taste, haha!
Double trouble (Hill, Spencer)
Go for it
The Keeper of Lost Causes, aka The Woman in the Cage
Last day on Mars
Odjuret, aka Savage
Ronja Robbersdaughter (extended)
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
One of the most important areas of policy for the pirate movement is that of patents. You know, the protection of inventions through rights and legislation. A bit like copyright, patents gives the creator/inventor rights to exploit the process or the object, and copycats can be sued. This may sound fair enough, but patens also cause damage. For example, if a medical company invents a new life-saving medicinal drug, they can patent it and thus control the distribution of it, which in turn means they can decide how much to charge for it and who can buy it. That limits the drug from being used by as many people as possible. Many will even die because they can’t get it or it’s too expense. Have you ever been to a pharmacy and the clerk asked you if you wanted a different medicine that had another name, but was cheaper, and otherwise exactly the same as the more expensive drug? That’s your advantage – the patent isn’t in effect anymore, so anyone can make that drug! Competition is good for mankind.
Patents is a huge thing in the medical business, but some patents are just idiotic, even if they are not about “important things”. Idiotic, but they should not be laughed at, because they display the problems of patents very clearly.
This time I’m talking about Amazon trying to get a patent for shooting still images against a white background, with the camera put on a table.
Is that even an invention? If the patent is not overthrown (it’s already approved), will you need to pay royalties to Amazon every time you photograph something against a white wall?
The reputable website Ars Technica sums the patent itself up like this (the highlight is mine, to emphasize what Amazon wants to have sole rights to):
The white-backdropped photo and video studio layout, which looks and sounds similar to basically every other photo studio in existence, includes: “A front light source aimed at a background, an image capture position located between the background and the front light source, an elevated platform positioned between the image capture position and the background, and at least one rear light source positioned between the elevated platform and the background.”
The patent, granted in March, even describes the use of a table: “A subject can be photographed and/or filmed on the elevated platform to achieve a desired effect of a substantially seamless background where a rear edge of the elevated platform is imperceptible to an image capture device positioned at the image capture position.” (Look out yearbook pictures everywhere.)
Amazon now appears to have control over putting a camera on a table and using a white wall or cloth as background. Keep that in mind when you take pics of your kids, folks.
As you will see, April was a meager month. Partially due to Easter, which means I am going away on holiday for over a week, as many Norwegians do. It’s also one of the natural variations – not all months have many new releases of interest to me, and I’ve also been busy with other things that browsing for torrents.
Bite the bullet
China Syndrome, the
Dear Hunter, the
Halls of Montezuma, the
High and the mighty, the
Kill Buljo 2
Legend of hell house
Robinson family stranded, the
Sons of Katie Elder, the
Thor 2: The dark world
As you can see, three of the movies are old Westerns. I regularly download Wild West films as they are a nice break from modern, glossy, effects-filled fantasy, and they have fun action and interesting themes in themselves. Plus, I grew up watching Westerns on TV in the late 70s and 80s, so I guess I am nostalgic about them. And being in Norway, relatively few Westerns are released over here, so downloading them is a good option. I could get them from Amazon, but the movie industry has messed up DVDs with region coding and there’s also the NTSC vs PAL things; American video images do not look as good as PAL. And frankly, if US video companies bothered to put Nordic subtitles on their movies (sometimes they do very, very seldom – we Europeans are lucky if the UK or German issue has them) I’d be more inclined to buy them. Now, many DVDs do not have the technical things on them to justify a cash expense.
There are tons of studies and meta-studies about the effects of media piracy – and just to be sure you don’t assume anything, many of them show how piracy has a positive effect on paid and legal media consumption. Just to mention two reasons why piracy can be a positive contributor; when you can sample and try songs, books and movies for free, you take chances more often and will be exposed to things you didn’t know, and will go on to buy it if you like it. And second, if you copy from friends, family and internet buddies, you are more likely to find things you like because people you are familiar with know your taste and you know their taste, so the chances of finding something you feel is worthy of buying increases.
I won’t go into all the studies or even try to summarize them, as they are too many, but I will mention one quote which is important to have in mind. The following quote is not the findings of all studies, because the studies cover so many aspects of p2p and piracy, but for several studies to actually find the following should make any hardcore antipirates think twice about their black & white view on piracy:
The biggest music pirates are also the biggest spenders on recorded music. Our German results appear to confirm this finding–in fact, extravagantly so. German P2P users buy nearly 3 times as much digital music as their non-P2P using peers.
Here are two links that lead to pages that link to a huge amount of studies:
This week, WIPO celebrated World Intellectual Property Day on the 26th “in order to promote discussion of the role of intellectual property (IP) in encouraging innovation and creativity”. On their homepage they use Charlie Chaplin as an example of a great early creator. Movies is the theme of World Intellectual Property Day 2014.
One hundred years ago on a dusty California lot, Charlie Chaplin created the Tramp, arguably inventing the modern film in the process. As an actor Chaplin brought pathos, nuance, and depth of character to the screen. As a director he embraced new technologies and explored new avenues for the medium. As a producer he developed innovative means of financing and distribution, helping to create the modern film industry and establishing film as one of the most popular art forms around the world.
This is funny. What WIPO conveniently does not mention is that Hollywood is based on piracy. It is only thanks to breach of patent rights that the California film industry could be established. Read my post from 2012 about this and pay particular attention to paragraph 3, which contains some important points and this key sentence:
Today, thousands of technology companies deliver paid cameras and other equipment to the film companies. What could have happened if one or two New York companies owned the rights to all film cameras in the world?
Oh, the irony, dear WIPO.
What is WIPO? Let me pirate this from their website: WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. We are a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 187 member states. Our mission is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international intellectual property (IP) system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all. Our mandate, governing bodies and procedures are set out in the WIPO Convention, which established WIPO in 1967.
Folks, one of the resons that some people download stuff for free and illegally is the very simple reason of not being able to afford to pay. A new movie could cost 18 euros and a new CD 15 euros. Or much more! Even rentals at 5 euros could be too much for some, but video rentals are not possible in most of Scandinavia anymore; the local video shacks are almost all gone. It’s all about Netflix and HBO and iPads now. It’s an irony that with HD gadgets being available, we settle for for low quality streams!
The poll question for today is: Have you ever, or do you regularly, download illegally simply to be able to enjoy culture because money is too tight?
So, here are the movie DVDR downloads for March. It was a medium catch this time, for no particular reason.
Burnt by the sun
DaVinci’s Demons season one
Desert Fox: The story of Rommel
Houston, the legend of Texas
In the name of the king 3
Jack the giant slayer
Revolution season one
Tora! Tora! Tora!
I also grabbed the following music albums in MP3 or FLAC format:
Alan Parsons Project – Eye In The Sky
David Helpling – 6 different albums
Malia & Boris Blank – Convergence
This blog is written by a media pirate, Long John Silver, and is published by an independent publisher to protect the identity of the pirate. If the blog is abruptly deleted, it has been killed by the host, the police or the media industry.