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back to article Arrr! Comcast working on new tech to nudge PIRATES to go straight

Comcast, the largest US cable operator and one of the nation's leading broadband providers, is reportedly working on a new approach to copyright-infringement prevention that would favor the carrot over the stick. Under the proposed plan, customers spotted engaging in illegal downloads would be sent notifications in real time, …

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Silver badge

It's a great idea, and it could work

if the content providers embraced the globalism of the internet. It'll likely work in the US, but if this were implemented in Australia:

My ISP: "Hi! We've noticed you just downloaded Game of Thrones. Did you know you can view it legally on Hulu.com? Click here to see for yourself now!"

Hulu.com: "We're sorry, but the content you have requested is not available in your country."

Me: "Fine, I'll just activate my VPN and grab it off TV Torrents, even though I'd rather buy it if I could. (And no, I'm not giving Murdoch $120 a month to watch one fucking 3-month show on Foxtel!)"

When these idiots wake up and realise that geo-restriction is the idiocy of an antiquated mindset, they'll solve the piracy problem overnight.

Obligatory Oatmeal Game of Thrones cartoon

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Silver badge

Re: It's a great idea, and it could work

It could work for stuff that's actually available.

but what if they are downloading it because...

- It just aired on TV but they missed it.

- It's out of print and a copy on EBay sells for $175 on VHS.

- It's a foreign film that is only available edited and dubbed. But was released uncut with English subtitles in another country.

- It's Song of the South.

- An Olympic event that the US lost.

- A TV show from "back home".

- An insane Japanese game show.

Or are they just going to ignore anything that they can't sell you, or get a cut on a referral.

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Re: It's a great idea, and it could work

Or needing it for offline viewing like where I watch majority of shows at work on my tablet there is no wireless signal available.Plus the encoding has to be done a certain way or it stutters so DRM would not be an option in the show either.

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Meh

Re: It's a great idea, and it could work

Your first mistake: wanting to watch Game of Thrones.

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Pirate

Re: It's a great idea, and it could work

quote

- An Olympic event that the US lost.

Yep and you can add to that

- Any sport that the USA is crap at

- Any sport that has proper World Championships and not restricted to teams only from the US (and grudgingly Canada)

- Any TV show that can't be broken down into 2 minute segments so that the Advertisers can bombard you with 5 minutes of ads for incontinence nappies and other unmentionables.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a great idea, and it could work

At what point does it start to become wiretapping tho?

That tech could be used in many other ways tho:

"We noticed your buying/searching for xyz on Google/Amazon, have you thought about buying xyz from this company here?? (this company give us a kick-back for every customer we poach from Amazon/eBay etc)"

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Trollface

Re: It's a great idea, and it could work

Uhm...

First, if you're in a different country, then Comcast couldn't monitor or throttle your connection.

Here's the thing... suppose that you're using bit torrent to download a legal file which is not copyrighted? (And you and everyone else thought that only people stealing content use bittorrent. ;-) )

Now you use it and boom, you're labeled an offender.

Not cool.

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Anonymous Coward

Comcast will most likely do the following:

1) License technology from Microsoft

2) Require software to be installed on the computers for real-time alerts.

What you will have is Clippy saying, it looks like you are downloading illegal content. Want to purchase it legally? it will keep doing this until you either buy it or stop downloading. Next, for their data usage plans, Clippy will ask if you want to upgrade.

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Paris Hilton

Downloading Microsoft CDs... blarg!!

I don't condone pirating software to any of my customers. I have, however, found myself turning to torrents to find install discs for software customers own but are missing the install media. I'd be pretty pissed if I got the boot for doing so.

I always rolled my eyes at the "Do not make illegal copies of this disc" warnings Microsoft stamps on its media. Why? The magic is in the KEY, not the CD. I mean, Microsoft pretty much gives is full okay to making copies of its software since it's almost all downloadable now. Well, you know, except for the warning not to make copies of the download. Seriously?

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Unhappy

These are not the carrots you are looking for.

Real carrots would be if the content we want to watch/hear/read had.....

Greater availability.

More reasonable pricing.

No DRM.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: These are not the carrots you are looking for.

I don't mind DRM, most tv shows and movies I only watch once anyway, ever since CrunchyRoll went legit and global I've probably halved my consumption of fansubs (ergo if it's on CR I watch it on CR and if it isn't I get the fansubs) I think CRs figures are something like if a show is on it the piracy goes down by about 60% why? Because it's easy, good enough, a dedicated platform, good HD support, cheap as chips (particularly when you compare it to the old DVD market which was at least a year out of date and expensive), can be free if you only want SD and wait a week, it's simulcast (comes out the same time it does on the Japanese channel they've licensed it from, not may not be the first channel to broadcast)

Though I do use the VPN with it as Americans get a couple more shows. Also apparently your money goes to the publisher in a "what has been watched" ontop of the initial fee. So me watching show X results in show X getting money.

So crunchy basically has two of those things and the third isn't a massive issue for most people (you don't need to install any software etc, just be logged into your account) this does though lead to the main problem with CR the bastard doesn't cache so if your internet is bust or they're having high load it becomes lame. But then, download it from the fansubs and leave it on silent play, infact if you get it from horrible you're literally watching the show as they just rip the content from the legit streaming sites.

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Anonymous Coward

Problems

When DVD came out I resisted as long as possible. All the while being told that I was behind the times and wrong. Yet I can buy a DVD and it wont work because of region restrictions yet VHS played in any region. I can put a DVD in my DVD drive and due to the DRM being crap it wont play, VHS worked in any VHS tape player.

I have been bought DVD's as presents that are region 1 and so wont play in europe. I own the copy yet I am not allowed to watch it. I could buy it here, so that means paying for the same film twice. Worse than that are the DVD's that are not released for your country, although they are available for others. I didnt have this problem when I bought tape, it just worked.

The argument used to me was how the quality is so much better with DVD. I agree its a great shade of black when you find it wont play.

Circling back to the point, why would a pirate choose the link to pay for and then wait for content which can only be played in restricted regions on a restricted range of devices? By downloading the content they have freedom to use the content they possess on any device in any region. And it costs them nothing but the computer time.

I have no problem with people taking a digital copy of a film as long as they either own a copy (even if its not for their region/device) or have done all they can to obtain a legit copy.

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Bronze badge

Re: Problems

"I have been bought DVD's as presents that are region 1 and so wont play in europe. I own the copy yet I am not allowed to watch it. I could buy it here, so that means paying for the same film twice."

Or you could check if your DVD player can be made to play DVDs from any region.

On those occasions I've had (or chosen*) to replace my DVD player, I check sites like that to ensure the player I buy can be made to play DVDs from all regions; if it can't, I don't buy it.

* The most recent replacement, a couple of years back, was to a Blu-Ray player. I found a cheap one that could be hacked for DVDs, but not Blu-Rays, so I am subject to the restriction when it comes to that format, but I'm a tightwad and only buy Blu-Rays when I see what I consider bargains anyway.

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Trollface

Re: Problems

Buy a second playback device from the region in question, you probably only want to be able to watch stuff from your local region, and the US (region 1).

That works for Bluray and dvd alike

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Problems

Not complaining at the people writing the comments at all and I have debated buying a DVD drive for region 1. However the solutions to me accessing copies of media that I actually own is to buy a DVD player and hack it or to buy another DVD player of the other region (which is very much region 1).

Someone else has commented separately about the streaming services and their plague on the customer. I cant use them either as I use linux machines.

When a customer is allowed to purchase the content but not use it I feel pretty strongly that the natural chain of events is being badly broken by very wrong law.

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Headmaster

Re: Problems

"However the solutions to me accessing copies of media that I actually own is to buy a DVD player and hack it or to buy another DVD player of the other region (which is very much region 1)."

I think the idea was that you look to see if the DVD player you already own can be hacked, not buy a new player that can be hacked.

Alternatively, I've just typed "region free dvd player" into Amazon's search and it threw up half a dozen region free players for under £40, the cheapest being £26.50 that they'll even ship to you for free.

I understand that you might not have much money (you don't say), but that's the price of two or three DVDs. Unless you're especially determined to be outraged, maybe getting a new player isn't such a bad idea; you could always ask a few of the people buying you DVDs as gifts to club together and get a new player instead.

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Silver badge

VHS worked in any VHS tape player.

Not true.

In Canada 99% of TVs can't play PAL. VHS players can't play PAL. If I wanted to watch a PAL VHS tape I would have to buy an expensive VHS player that could convert PAL to NTSC (not all that well). I can play a Japanese VHS but the black level is off because they use NTSC-J.

My fist DVD player was a DVD-Rom drive. It was region free 5 minutes after I installed it. It can play PAL just fine too (First set top was region free too, but still could not play PAL).

I only have a handful of PAL DVDs like the BBC's The Day of the Triffids series (1981) that was shown on TV here once, but never released on R1 DVD so I bought it from Amazon.co.uk (it was released later, I can buy it now for $37.29 from Amazon.com).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Problems

@ chr0m4t1c

You miss the point. I had a perfectly working system (VHS). We then upgraded to a non-working system (DVD). I have a DVD player and 3 separate DVD drives for my computers. Recent advances in DRM make some of the DVD's unwilling to play on the correct region DVD drive.

Suggesting I can go buy a new DVD player to replace my existing DVD player because the DVD media is specifically designed to be broken for the pleasure of parting with £40 sounds ridiculous (not calling you, I just expect something to work when I buy it). For that I can see the appeal of pirating and the fact that it costs them nothing is only a small part of the reason to pirate. They also get a superior service.

I have my own solution to the problem and it works pretty well and I wont pirate because I like to legally own what I have. If the service providers would provide a good service then I would have some rage against the pirate. But It actually makes sense for them to do so as illegal as it is.

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There are problems here with net neutrality. It is not the ISPs place to send their customers to specific stores. They say it'll be industry wide and send you to alternate sources "when" it is not available from the main ones - but this comment should set off alarm bells.

I do see this hurting the smaller and more new world content distributors who offer a fairer deal and have less money to hand to comcast. This is the beginning of comcast funnelling customers to clients who pay big and that is a very dangerous thing. Whats more its also one of those slipery slopes, there are sales and therefore money in it and once this begins nobody will be able to pull it back. It'll only get larger and more wide spread.

This should definitely be rejected by consumers. Unfortunately, few understand the larger picture.

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Anonymous Coward

This is just stupid

Anyone who is pirating should be prosecuted and sent to jail. Japan has the correct response with mandatory fines and minimum 2 year jail time for pirates, 10 years for hackers and facilitators of piracy.

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Holmes

Re: This is just stupid

I agree completely with Timmy the Troll. Not the way he wants me to, though.

Cos 'pirates' are the ones profiting from redistributing IP which damn well is 'theft' if they're truly removing a sale from the legitimate channel. So long as that channel for that IP exists in the country of the offence, of course, which is not always a given; if not then it's a heads up to the provider to perhaps establish a channel and get the sales for themselves.

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Silver badge

Re: This is just stupid

Yes, and 20 years for being an anonymous asshole and troll as well.

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" benefits for users of purchasing legal content"

Which they listed as... ?

>>> tumbleweed <<<

(Suggestions: piracy notices assuming you're a bastard, advertising and giving-them-money)

The sooner they realise Netflix and Lovefilm are currently their last best hope the better, until something more preferable comes along. We watch more Netflix in our house than 'grey-sourced' material by far. In fact entertainment from alternate sources is usually only employed as a last resort to catch-up TV where something can't be found via a 'legitimate' provider. Presumably if season X of program Y can't be found in the UK then someone somewhere decided they couldn't make money off the licensing which in turn means they're not losing any money if it gets downloaded anyway.

Oh and we skip the adverts on SKY+, too, rarely watching anything as it's broadcast.

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Benefits?

The legal download services offer very few benefits, and many downsides relative to torrents...

Forced to stream rather than download (so cant download at off peak times and watch later etc)..

Restricted to using approved devices for viewing the content...

Forced to pay again to watch the same content on different devices.

Regional discrimination.

Technology today allows for more flexibility in how we consume content, and yet they would try to arbitrarily restrict us so that we have less flexibility than we did in the days of VHS... This is just wrong

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Bronze badge

Priorities

I wish Comcast would use their "considerable engineering resources" to do something about the way my cable throughput seems to drop every evening from 5 to 9, as the online gamers chew up the shared bandwidth.

Is it too much to ask that they just provide a big tube to the interwebs, and stop trying to "add value"?

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Facepalm

Re: Priorities

Did you miss the sentence about Universal Studios and the NBC networks?

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Bronze badge

Hmmm....

This reminds me of how Comcast use to insist on us installing their "Constant Guard" anti-malware software on both PC's and Macs before allowing connection to the internet in 2011. I uprooted and uninstalled that Comcast malware as soon as I possibly could. Makes me wonder if the much vaunted X-1 platform they've been advertising along with "The fastest WiFi", is actually this listening device nonsense. We don't need it in my house and any attempts to force it upon is, will be resisted.

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No Such Thing

There are content creators but there are no "Content Owners" or "Digital Rights", only artist and customer EXPLOITERS.

CopyWrong must go!

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Silver badge

Am I the only one ...

Am I the only one that objects to them snooping on my Internet activity? I have plenty of problems with this, but the main thing that bothers me is the way the whole conversation has gravitated to discussing the merits of this particular use of the surveillance system as if everyone agrees that surveillance per se is acceptable. It is not.

It as is if the argument is centering on recipes for cooking babies without anyone stopping to consider that maybe eating babies is a bad idea.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1080/1080-h/1080-h.htm

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It's a good idea, but that alone will not make a dent in piracy. Neither will "6 strikes", nor censoring/blocking pirate sites like The Pirate Bay. Only thing that will work is effective copyright law enforcement. We need a big stick, and every single person who pirates needs to feel the brunt of that big stick. Making examples of a few people won't work, you'd need to go after everyone. We need fines for first time offenders and jail time for repeat offenders. Sure, you may or may not catch the VPN folks, but if it's a choice between paying for a reliable VPN and still rolling the dice with law enforcement, or just paying for the content, I think people will just pay for the content. As a result, traffic to Pirate Bay shuts down because no one wants to risk going to the site, and their ad revenue dries up.

If we do that, AND make the carrot more attractive with greater availability and reasonable prices of legal options, things will get better for the industry.

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