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back to article Private UK torrent site closes, citing 'hostile climate'

British private BitTorrent site thebox.bz has decided to close its doors. The site specialised in television shows from the United Kingdom and advises it will disappear as of September first, with the following message to members posted to numerous torrenting fora: “It is with great sadness that we must announce the closure of …

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No, they have definitely been threatened and told to keep their mouths shut about it.

And so it begins.

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Anonymous Coward

"No, they have definitely been threatened and told to keep their mouths shut about it."

Is this just some bullshit you pulled out of your ass or have you got some proof?

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Well if they say they haven't been told not to say anything - then they must have been. QED

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Meanwhile in Durkdurkastan.......

Two new torrent sites open.

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Re: Meanwhile in Durkdurkastan.......

..connected via a bank of 14400 modems - Durkdurkastan bought a shedload on eBay for a "very good price"

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In other news, the Intellectual Property Crime Unit opens its doors in September.

(Shame on you Reg for not covering this before, I'm cancelling my subscription, etc...)

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RE: Dan 55

Don't expect them to do any better than whoever is responsible for keeping counterfeit stuff out of our country

(And off Amazon and Ebay).

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Anonymous Coward

Members are inconvenienced

Inconvenienced is not the word. As an expat thebox was my television.

Very sad about the closure, however I fully understand why the decision was made and thank the team for keeping it going as long as they did.

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Re: Members are inconvenienced

Hola.com + Hulu.com ?

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Pint

Re: Members are inconvenienced

Agreed. The BOX was extremely useful.

Also, run by some very polite and easy to deal with human beings who were ever helpful. Have a friday pint guys.

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Re: Members are inconvenienced

just use a newsgroup server that isnt hosted in the US or UK (hint, certain countries in europe) and download away.

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Unhappy

Re: Members are inconvenienced

Given that it's September 2nd and I'm just hearing about this I'm somewhat gutted. Got some great TV shows off that site, some which had plainly been recorded on shaky VHS recorders and are impossible to buy (I've tried!). It is a real shame and it will be sorely missed.

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Stop

Unfortunate

I've lamented on this point for some years, but there's a lot of stuff that after airing on the old-school goggle box is seemingly gone forever. Whatever the reason, be it lack of interest, legal issues, money or licensing, it's an incredible shame that so much of our TV/radio content - including stuff we've paid for with the licence fee - spends most of its life locked up in some big content vault never to be seen again.

"Piracy" is often the only way to get to see, for example, the TV shows from the day you were born, or from some specific day in history, or childhood memories, or more or less anything which isn't lucky enough to have made it to DVD. I was rather a huge fan of Robot Wars, for example, yet there simply is no DVD box set, nor is it available on Netflix or LoveFilm or iTunes or Amazon or whatever service you care to name. Unless you taped it off the TV, it is, for all intents and purposes, gone. Likewise shows such as Tomorrow's World, decades of interesting programming marking the course of progress, correctly or otherwise, and yet we can't use it as a historical reference.

This is our culture, for better or worse, and it's disgusting that we don't have access to so much of it. TheBox.bz was an impressively stocked counter to this unfortunate situation. Even when shows are sometimes available "legitimately", it's not unusual to only have access to a certain amount of episodes. Then there's the issue of content being available through online services, but licenses expiring, so then they disappear. Yes, I appreciate that people paid for these shows to be made, I understand that there are rights involved, I realise that it's not always as simple as "let's just upload it to YouTube", but that really aught to change, it's very frustrating and results in so much content falling into neglect and obscurity.

Well, here's hoping the BBC finally get off their arses regarding their archives, that'd be a start.

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Pint

Re: Unfortunate

Hear, hear! Have a pint!

I was on The Box for years, long before all this iPlayer tomfoolery and the like. The Box has been my sole source of TV, and it is so mentally refreshing not to have to watch adverts and/or the buffering icon, over shite quality streams in crappy web players. Not to mention that sometimes stuff was captured and uploaded and fully seeded before it appeared on the web!

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Re: Unfortunate

That's not to even mention the advantages of being able to watch or listen to your favourite show at any time without having to worry about whether the DRM server will become unavailable/shut down/be replaced by some other DRM scheme, or whether the licence will lapse on the content, or indeed you licence to view it will cease to apply to your particular account or file...

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Re: Unfortunate

And you have exactly nailed the proverbial nail on it's head, on why copyright law was originally set up the way it was. Here in the USA at least, our pre-DMCA laws were very specific that copyright gave the owner the sole right to be the only party allowed to profit from the material in question. Copyright itself allows individuals to duplicate that work freely, just as long as it is not done in any manner that will profit them, or not in any way meant to cause financial harm to the copyright holder. But that condition was also there so that said copyrighted materials would be able to continue to exist, for the good of all. Copyright was intended to be, and briefly was, protection for individual rights to be creative and profit in the short term and to benefit the entire world in the long term.

But then the lobbyists got involved, the DMCA was created, and corporations started convincing lawmakers that duplication was equivalent to property theft.

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Re: Unfortunate

I totally agree. Robot Wars is cool btw. But I'm a big fan of the early Shooting Stars comedy quiz, the first few series' of that were just absolute brilliance. But the Beeb won't release them on DVD. There were some re-showings on Challenge TV, but they always cut them short for the ads. I really wish they'd re-release these on DVD. The only way I can see them now is from old downloads in poor quality.

Same for other shows and all we get these days are reality shows and other crap.

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Re: Unfortunate

I don't personally like reality and talent shows, but it would be unfair for me to say that I want Robot Wars, Tomorrow's World, It'll Never Work or whatever else I wish still existed to be made available but not Big Brother or Pop Idol.

My gut feeling on those shows is that they're exploitative, cynical, brainless trash designed specifically to extract every last penny from hopes and dreams, embarrassment and failure, but they are part of our modern culture whatever their purpose or function.

So yes, make those available too, if people want to see them. I won't be watching, but someone will, and if Britain's Got Talent isn't worthy of making available then what's sitting in my favourites list which most other people deem absolute drivel?

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Re: Unfortunate

Copyright law offers far to much protection to the content providers and confers to few rights on the public.

If you create a work and want to make money from it (or not) then fine do that. Sell, license it, give it away with the newspapers, whatever works for you.

Just don't sit on it. If you are unwilling to continue providing it to the public, through whatever means you want, then it should become public property.

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Linux

Re: Unfortunate

"Well, here's hoping the BBC finally get off their arses regarding their archives, that'd be a start." -- You can request access to the archives of BBC material just like anyone else. The only catch is that you have to pay a considerable sum per minute of footage.

When contacted by a Horizon researcher that wanted to use our Human Rights video material; the BBC flat-out refused to pay our modest* fee for the use of this video.

*orders of magnitude less than that demanded by the BBC for their archived material.

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Re: Unfortunate

"Just don't sit on it. If you are unwilling to continue providing it to the public, through whatever means you want, then it should become public property."

Which is exactly how patents should work too.

You should patent something to give you a head start on producing the item, as a means to recoup R&D costs, or licence it to someone else thats willing to make it, not sit on it so no one else can make something vaguely similar.

Its interesting though, that from the other perspective, ie when the public has something they dont use, we get told "use it or lose it".

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Re: Unfortunate

"I was rather a huge fan of Robot Wars, for example, yet there simply is no DVD box set, nor is it available on Netflix or LoveFilm or iTunes or Amazon or whatever service you care to name."

I care to name YouTube - more Robot Wars footage than you can shake a stick at, or even wield Sir Killalot's hammer at.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unfortunate

"Just don't sit on it. If you are unwilling to continue providing it to the public, through whatever means you want, then it should become public property."

I don't understand this. If I create something, and decide I don't want it to be publicly available, at this particular point in time, it should become public property?

Why?

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Anonymous Coward

plenty more fish in the sea.

The thing that surprised me was that a court ruling about football TV rights was able to block access to a torrent site (on all uk isp's) that contained no football whatsoever. Why is this abuse of the law not news? - it's clearly a convenient way of blocking sites 'they' don't like without a shred of evidence.

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Holmes

Stupid Big Media

If they looked through their telescopes from the correct end they'd see stuff like this was a positive not a negative.

All that hosting of TV archives they're getting for *free*?

Seriously, if I created a site that legitimately had all the discontinued TV on it (think loads of old Doctor who, Robot Wars, etc, as mentioned above, plus others that you can't get on DVD/etc - OK Doctor you probably can) how many people would actually either subscribe to it or pay, say, a fiver for a mint legit season of something.

Oh but then the where's-my-cut-gang suddenly get involved and toss the whole thing into limbo because some greedy fuck wants a cut of something whereas previously he was happy with a cut of nothing. Not that they're not entitled but you know they'd break the entire concept with their dismal 'rights negotiations'. And that's before you get into DRM enforcement on the files/streams cos, you know, meaning nothing meaningful (like a DLNA device) would ever be able to play the shit anyway...

Which is exactly why you _can't_ make a damned useful service like that without a shitload of cash, lawyers and the patience of Job.

In fact the BBC are 'uniquely positioned' (hem hem) to be able to set a frigging example and do this with the vast archives of content they have. Yet they don't.

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Re: Stupid Big Media

Even if think about it from their end of things, consider for a moment what people are doing here. They're trading often barely watchable copies of 3rd generation VHS duplicates, just to get a vague glimpse of a show which obviously means something to them. There's money in that. Yet countless hundreds, thousands of shows even, are gone without a trace. They're likely sitting in a tape vault somewhere, ready to be "monetised".

On the other hand, Given that those tapes are apparently not worth bothering to do anything with, what's it to them if a few people want to share some old episodes of some forgotten kids show from the 90s or a failed sitcom from the 80s? They weren't trying to make money off them anyway, so what are they losing? Any potential loss they think they're making is their own fault for not having attempted to sell it to people in the first place. It wouldn't even be as bad if the copyright terms on this stuff weren't so ridiculously long.

I don't want to come across as "entitled" here, but these shows were made to be consumed, so we should let them be consumed. They have made impressions on millions of peoples' lives, however insignificant a dodgy telly programme from some distant recess of a failing memory might seem. We have the technology to make this stuff available, as is evident by the fact that TheBoz exists, and the many services which do offer legitimately licensed content. Please, content owners, throw us a bone here, either do it and charge us, or leave us be to do the digital equivalent of swapping video tapes.

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Re: Stupid Big Media

It wasn't only TV. There was a mountain of radio some of which will never see the light of day ever again. With TV there is almost always the possibility of finding what you want from somewhere but the same can't be said of some of the radio 4 plays and dramas. Just A Minute, Sorry, etc... have an exploitable following but some of the one off no-name plays will be forgotten about until the name becomes famous ot they decide to go after people like the folk at thebox.

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Re: Stupid Big Media

Absolutely, there are various Radio 4/4 Extra/Radio 7 sci-fi dramas which I missed the first time round because I simply didn't know they existed, and I've really enjoyed them... but unless they show up as repeats on iPlayer, I have no way to listen to them. Worse still, there are some which I find on iPlayer, even new ones, which I've stumbled across when it's on its third episode, so at best I can only go back to episode 2, I can't listen to the first episode. The show might be incredible, but without the first episode I'm missing a likely significant chunk of the series. It's really quite annoying.

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Re: Stupid Big Media@Shinku

Abso-fecking-lutely

They'd all rather cut their noses off to spite their faces.

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Re: Stupid Big Media

Re: "Entitled" As far as I'm concerned, those of us who are in the UK should be 'entitled' to download and acquire BBC content. We paid the license fee that was used to create that content! The Box was great for finding obscure shows that are not available anywhere else.

The Box had a great community of users/cappers/uploaders that did a great job making a broad range of content available, a large amount of which cannot be found anywhere else.

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Re: Stupid Big Media

I can't disagree with that, it should be our content to consume. Having said that, as I understand it, it's not quite that simple, because there are rights holders other than the BBC involved, anything from writers to performers, production companies to other broadcasters, and even if the BBC wanted to upload that content for all to see, they couldn't necessarily legally do so. IANAL, of course, nor am I involved in the media industry, but I have been told during various conversations that this is the case, to what extent it's true I couldn't honestly say.

But if that is a significant reason why certain content isn't online, that's precisely why the whole system needs an overhaul, copyright terms aren't short, so if we want to see any of this content before 2040 or whenever the copyrights on your particular favourites happen to end, there needs to be a better way to cut through the legal spaghetti, otherwise we'll continue to be in the exact same position. It'd be advantageous for those making content too, because it means content is more widely available, more widely viewed, and easier to claw back some currently non-existent fees from.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stupid Big Media

Doctor Who was a bad example - the last of the available material is due to be released in DVD form this year.

I say available because Dimensions In Time has such convoluted rights that it will fortunately never ever be shown again.

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Re: Stupid Big Media

Usenet (alt.binaries.sounds.radio.bbc) and radioarchive.cc are your friends here. The former contains very helpful people who are always ready to supply a missing programme from a series. You may find the latter also has many of the series you missed first time around.

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Very sad. The box was a great resource. Stuff you just could not find anywhere else.

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Anonymous Coward

Here's an idea

Stop torrenting material you don't have the right to torrent.

Oh, wait, that's too simple for these morons.

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Re: Here's an idea

Hey Orlowski,

Go do a Nokia-is-marvellous piece and stop trolling.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here's an idea

I'm not Orlowski, I believe in freedom and freedom depends on strong & fair copyright.

Ask the GPL, Creative Commons people.

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Re: Here's an idea

You know what, most people agree with you. Unfortunately big corporations don't agree with you, they don't want "strong and fair", they want "impenetrable and forever".

Copyright in the USA was originally 14 years, and if the creator was still alive he could apply for a single 14-year extension. Now it's what, 75 years and corporations still cry that that's not enough?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here's an idea

I know the current laws suck (and I don't agree with this never-ending-copyright). But that doesn't change facts. If you don't want to be shut down, stop doing stupid shit.

If you don't agree with Disney, MGM etc; stop consuming simple. There are **LOADS** of alternatives, go an support the people who have the same goals as you, rather than ripping off the majors. All ripping off the majors does is give them ammo to demand more laws - it's self-defeating.

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Damn, that was a great site. I saw so much stuff I might never have known existed otherwise.

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Anonymous Coward

What a relief - now that the rights of impoverished record companies and movie studios have been restored our government can concentrate on their second favourite activity: dropping bombs and killing foreigners in far-away lands.

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Anonymous Coward

@OP

>dropping bombs and killing foreigners in far-away lands.

I'm not sure whether they get more satisfaction from that or the falsifying of intelligence reports to justify it.

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Who?

Never heard of them.

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Re: Who?

So, what do you think of your first day on the interweb?

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Anonymous Coward

Sad day ...

the best thing about TB was having all that stuff IN ONE PLACE.

Apparently forums will continue for a bit longer ... maybe they can find a way to offshore the operation ?

Silliest thing is, I would *pay* for access to a resource like TB.

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Meh

Anyone need some spare name server capacity?

It's not every day I read about a customer shutting down on the Reg! I run SlickDNS which has hosted DNS for thebox.bz for the past year or so and it's evidently a very popular site considering the traffic it sends to the SlickDNS name servers. Condolences to those affected.

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Anonymous Coward

Ever an optimist..

I was happy to find some of the albums I bought once upon a time (and subsequently lost in time somewhere) are now on Amazon fully playable.

Maybe the Beeb or Ch4 or ITV will make all the progs I've watched available... somehow...

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Anonymous Coward

Scenetime is currently open for new users, might be a good time to make the jump and start rebuilding on there instead?

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