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back to article Study finds piracy withering against legal alternatives

A study has found that people are perfectly prepared to pay for online content, provided that the alternatives aren’t too harsh. The data, from respected think-tank American Assembly, shows that illegal file sharing among family and friends is relatively common – but that people would prefer to use a legal alternative if one was …

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Anonymous Coward

Jury Nullification

Jury Nullification certainly exists, but it is a very infrequent event - there are probably many reasons for this.

Despite the fact that the jury can disagree with the judge, it seems that most laypeople are reluctant to do this and, unless they are properly led or contain knowledgeable members there is a TENDENCY to obey instructions.

A common prosecution tactic is to convince the jury that not only has the crime been committed but the law is just and the offender should be a cell mate of Satan himself.

I would be loath to rely on jury nullification as a defence tactic unless the prosecution was pretty incompetent.

One of the effects of the public relations campaign calling copyright infringers "thieves" and conflating it with shoplifting or mugging is that the jury will be mentally biased towards treating it almost as a violent crime.

This may go some way to explaining why some copyright / filesharing convictions appear to outstrip rape when it comes to sentencing.

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Vic
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> Jury Nullification certainly exists

Absolutely.

> I would be loath to rely on jury nullification as a defence tactic

i would absolutely concur with that.

But the point I was responding to was the claim that a jury *has* to convict if the prosecution has proven its case. It simply doesn't, even though it usually will.

Vic.

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Re: The reliably obnoxious Andrew Orlowski

Ignoring the far-right conspiracy theory That reeks of Fox News, to be honest every other article that A. Orlowski writes here is designed specifically to irritate some part of the readership (be it S. Fry's fans, tree huggers. vegans, fitness maniacs, fretards, ...) presumably to elicit reactions. So, "reliably obnoxious" really doesn't sound too far off. They could have added "deliberately", but it's suggested by "obnoxious" I suppose.

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Happy

OK, I put my hands up, I was wrong. I had never heard of Jury Nullification. In fact, when I was on a jury, the court's directions seemed to go completely against that, even if only by implication, which is where my viewpoint comes from.

It seems to me that this is not very well known and would probably have more impact if jurors knew of it. As far as I was concerned, I was there to evaluate the evidence under the law (although it would have made no difference in that case).

Thanks for the correction and education :)

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Anonymous Coward

Jury /dev/null

Juries are never instructed that they can nullify the legal process if they disagree with the law and throughout UK court history there have been several attempts to remove nullification as an option.

As an example (thanks Wikipedia), R. v. Shipley (1784), 4 Dougl. 73, 99 E.R. 774 complained that the Jury were usurping the law without understanding the legal precedents that had created the law.

The net effect is that in reality, Jury Nullification is only there to allow pedantry to say a jury doesnt "have" to agree with the judge. In practice they are unlikely to know they have that option.

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Anonymous Coward

Freedom and convenience

It takes me about 60 seconds to find a film torrent and upload to the transmission server on my NAS. I can then watch the film on any device I own or may purchase in future.

I pay my TV licence and a Sky subscription, so I figure my money filters back to the content creators one way or another.

I would happily pay for a legal equivalent to torrent download, if there was no DRM and the price was right. A couple of quid feels about right since there is no physical media or chain of physical retail outlets to maintain.

A recent Register article about Apple suggested that the global middle class is 1.8 billion strong.

I don't know how many of those have broadband, but if each Hollywood blockbuster reached 10% of that audience at $2 each, that's $360m in download revenues per movie.

Is that not enough money for these fuckers?

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Boffin

Nope!

That would hurt DVD Sales.

Which would cost jobs in the distribution industry

It would also cost jobs in the DVD pressing plants

HMV would be out of Business in a week

The only way we could keep those fuckers happy is create a government subsidy of £15/$ per DVD direct from Tax payer. Just like we did with the Banks and look how well they are doing. Still screwing us to the wall but thank goodness their Bonuses are back where they should be.

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FAIL

@irish donkey, I care, why?

What about all the wagon wheel makers, or the coal chuckers for locomotives, or any number of people displaced by technology passing them by. That's what progress is. The difference is we were all so stupid for so long in giving these people ridiculous amounts of money, that they are no longer failing to the way-side like the other failing industries of the past, instead they are spending the "small country's GDP" worth of money they have amassed in changing laws to try to make reality match their outdated business model.

If Whalers had as much money as media companies do, we would all still be using whale oil to light our oil-lamps, and 'lectric lights would be illegal.

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Facepalm

@ MacGyver

Not sure what your point is here. You comment seems to agree with mine.

Do I really need to use the </sarc> tag to get my meaning across or is semantics on the internet truly dead?

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Anonymous Coward

@irish donkey

"Do I really need to use the </sarc> tag to get my meaning across or is semantics on the internet truly dead?"

Yes.

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Anonymous Coward

That's the thing about the internet.....

.............you get the truly stoopid pretending to be intelligent.

Bet the dude had to look up the meaning of semantics...

LMAO

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Silver badge

I once bought a movie and got it via Bittorrent

It was a German independent production. Cost me a few bucks, but now I own a DRM-free copy.

As for DVDs and BluRay I simply rip them to hard-disk. What I want is a DRM-free file on my harddisk.

I also have an extra large and expensive satellite dish to get UK television in Germany. That probably cost more than getting Doctor Who on DVD, but it's legal.

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Pint

I download TV episodes from the States then once the Region 2 boxsets are on Amazon the pre-order prices are so cheap, I snap them up. Never rip movies and music, the very few I wish to see and hear I have already or I can nip down the local multiplex and watch the movies.

I think a lot of it was to do with, "Oh I can do it so I will.". Lots of alternatives to grab people's time so maybe the novelty has started to wear off a bit. The other thing I would love to know is if it's seasonal or not? Does the rate of nicking stuff go up during Winter, when we're all stuck indoors for weeks at a time?

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Anonymous Coward

People PAY for content?

Only kidding....

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Anonymous Coward

"The Copy Culture survey was sponsored by The American Assembly, with support from a research award from Google."

I think this tells us everything we need to know.....

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Anonymous Coward

I have an Asus Media Player.

If I plug a BD-ROM drive into it, it can play BDs that have been ripped and burnt to BDR, and DVDs that have been ripped and burnt to DVDR, (as well as the cheap ones from Markets.)

So realistically what are my options? Buy a BD player and wait a couple of minutes to play each disc (loading the DRM and then the ads and then the menus) or obtain ripped copies, which play immediately?

I would quite happily purchase BDs (*at* their current price) if they played on my kit.

(I know some HD-DVDs were DRM free, are any BDs?)

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Mushroom

Regarding PC games..

I do not see any reason for anyone to be pirating PC games any more other than the I WANT IT NOW, I AM ENTITLED to it mentality people seem to have. Games released on Steam (and in shops) generally drop in price drastically after only a few months. Even AAA titles drop in price, Skyrim, on launch, was £35 (early November) I got my physical copy before Christmas for £20. It was available on steam for £23 during their sales. (and I've seen it for £23 for consoles before xmas as well)

Steam sales drop prices to silly levels eventually £10 games that are a few month old for £2 or £3 (dungeon defenders), some more expensive ones dropped to this level after a year.

DRM is a weak argument for pirating, thou' I refuse to buy any Ubisoft game as their always online DRM is too much of an inconvenience. Ahh well I miss out on a few games I would of liked to play, never mind there are plenty of decent ones out there still to play.

Sadly there are plenty of spongers out there who MUST have the latest game and be the first to play it, whatever the cost.. Generally that cost to them is nothing, the cost to the games industry is huge. They argue they cannot afford it is unacceptable, we need to educate people that not being able to afford something does not automatically give them a right to steal it.

As for music, never been a big follower, so don't have any albums (bar a few) and I don't download them to listen to either. Dvd's and Blu-rays are dying, if I want to watch a film I can rent it for a few quid (less than a cinema ticket) so no point downloading them either.

Yep the industries (Music / Film / Game / Books / Cinema) need to understand, people who paid don't want to be told not to copy/pirate the material by making them sit thro' the stupid adverts or forced DRM checks.We've paid already treat us with respect; nothing more annoying than sitting down in the cinema and being told you are a pirate by the very industry you are supporting. You're advertising the wrong message to the wrong people, in a way you are saying "You're all mugs, whilst you have paid to see this, there are ways & means to get it for free".

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Anonymous Coward

@Tsung

I sort of agree with your post.

However, one quibble:

"Sadly there are plenty of spongers out there who MUST have the latest game and be the first to play it, whatever the cost.. Generally that cost to them is nothing, the cost to the games industry is huge. They argue they cannot afford it is unacceptable, we need to educate people that not being able to afford something does not automatically give them a right to steal it."

Yes, they are spongers and we can chastise them for wanting to play the game on day 1 but not to pay the day 1 prices for it.

However, they arent really costing the industry huge sums of money - any more than you are costing them £15 per game by waiting until the prices drop or I am costing them £35 per game by simply not playing it.

If anything, it could be argued that the leachers who break the law to get games for free at launch help drive the social pressure on more law-abiding people to buy copies.

On the whole, the high launch price for games is largely just an attempt to screw massive profits from gamers, when they eventually sell the game at £5, there is still a profit to be made so it does raise the question of why cant they price it over the lifetime (eg. sell for £15 at launch and forever) and stop trying to get short term boatloads of cash. (but this will never happen - "development costs" "advertising costs" etc...)

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Silver badge

I suspect that piracy is why PC games are declining in quality. The % of piracy is so high that games must sell *very well* to make any decent profit. Medium sized games companies are treading water just by making great games. Meaning that if they make just one accidental mediocre game they risk going bust. Saw this sentiment spoken by the guys who made Amnesia.

The result is that the market is now dominated by mass-market same-old-tested-format games such as battlefield 3, modern warfare, skyrim, etc that is propped up by heavy marketing.

More commonly now game developers are targetting the consoles first and only port to PC as an afterthought. Because consoles have far less piracy = far more profit. The result is that PC games are often now designed for the inferior controllers of the consoles and whether the gameplay "works" on the PC is often a secondary concern. Games companies primarily developing for PC are now shifting to small indie outfits.

Just saying. I know this opinion won't be popular here, but don't shoot the messenger. It's all gone downhill over the past 5 years and I suspect it hasn't yet bottomed out.

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Anonymous Coward

@NomNomNom

It isn't piracy that is causing the decline in PC games.

It's (as you mentioned) the practice of porting inferior versions to PC. That's the main reason why I didn't buy MW2 but played a copy of it instead (that and the far-too-short single player and the dedicated server fiasco). PCs led the way in game development, but the corporate greed of the console manufacturers has led to a rapid decline in quality and a general dumbing down.

I'm being expected to continue paying the same money but for inferior products - well, it ain't gonna happen - they can piss off.

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Anonymous Coward

Production Decline

@NomNomNom

"I suspect that piracy is why PC games are declining in quality. The % of piracy is so high that games must sell *very well* to make any decent profit. Medium sized games companies are treading water just by making great games. Meaning that if they make just one accidental mediocre game they risk going bust. Saw this sentiment spoken by the guys who made Amnesia."

Not sure I agree.

In every industry there is the risk that if you fuck up and deliver a mediocre or crap product you go bust. This is market forces not the result of piracy.

If an expensive restaurant hires a mediocre chef they lose customers. Why should software be any different?

This kind of implies that games companies want to be able to charge a surcharge to cover the fact that some of their output might be shit and not sell well. I cant for the life of me see how that is fair.

The mediocre games are more a result of risk averse companies looking for the best way to maximise a profit so when they get a big seller, they beat it to death rather than innovate. This is not because of piracy.....

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Big budget computer game development is *not* typical of all industries

"In every industry there is the risk that if you fuck up and deliver a mediocre or crap product you go bust."

Not always true, at least not to the same extent as in computer games development. For example...

"If an expensive restaurant hires a mediocre chef they lose customers. Why should software be any different?"

This isn't a good analogy- well, not for you- because it actually demonstrates the point I wanted to make.

Unless they piss off a very important or very influential customer (or mess up *extraordinarily* badly!) the future of a restaurant *isn't* normally at risk with every meal they serve.

Such a scenario might be bad for business, but shouldn't be fatal if managed correctly. After one, two or a few substandard meals (and evidently unhappy customers), they have the chance to correct their mistake (e.g. replace the chef, apologise profusely to their loyal customers and/or whatever).

Even in the notoriously fickle pop industry, artists can sometimes come back from a flop single or even album.

By contrast, moderately-sized developers who've spent literally years and millions of pounds on a single big-budget game are very often reliant on that game being a success for their continued survival. (One recent example was the 2010 demise of Scottish developer "Realtime Worlds" when APB flopped).

That's why it's an industry I'm glad I never had any interest in working in.

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Anonymous Coward

Analogy

"Unless they piss off a very important or very influential customer (or mess up *extraordinarily* badly!) the future of a restaurant *isn't* normally at risk with every meal they serve."

I am not that AC but as I read it, the analogy never said every meal they served, did it? It said the hired a mediocre chef while implying they still charged premium rates.

No analogy is perfect but that is why they are analogies not the original thing.

Even in the computer game industry there is the chance to recover from selling a dog and in every industry there is a risk that spending all your money in the hope that a single product will sell well is a massive risk that has led to the downfall of many businesses.

The problem with the game industry is that when dogs are released, they dont apologise, they dont drop prices, they dont try to make amends to the customer - they just say "our business is being hammered by pirates so we need to charge more per game" - or words to that effect.

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"I am not that AC but as I read it, the analogy never said every meal they served, did it? It said the hired a mediocre chef while implying they still charged premium rates.

No analogy is perfect but that is why they are analogies not the original thing."

The OP was talking about how in the (big-budget, mainstream) games development industry, a business's entire future can hinge on a *single* big product.

The analogy failed at a basic level because the example it gave (for another industry) was a situation where this *wasn't* the case, for reasons I already stated. It wasn't merely imperfect, it was fundamentally flawed!

Also, I'd argue that it wasn't meant as an analogy, but as a (randomly-picked) direct counter-example which meant to demonstrate that the same situation applied in another industry- except that it obviously didn't!

It's certainly true that computer game development isn't the only industry where that situation applies- but it's definitely not universal throughout all industries, nor even true in the majority of cases as was implied.

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Anonymous Coward

Keep sending hackers to prison

They make prisons for those who can't live within the laws of society.

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FAIL

@AC 10:17 - Idiot.

So you have never exceeded the speed limit?

Never littered (even by accident)?

I can see why you post anon - you realise how stupid and pompous (or merely childish) your post sounds.

Now go away please, adults are talking.

(disclaimer - I have my own prejudices, namely drink drivers should shot at the road side.)

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 1017 GMT

Its a shame you couldnt use the troll icon, isnt it?

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Facepalm

Oh.. you mean law-breakers

You mean like people that get speeding tickets for 5 MPH over the posted?

Or people that forget to claim the $20 win at the slot machines on t heir taxes?

Or people that sing "Happy Birthday" in a group setting?

Or ones that record shows on a VCR, and then let a friend borrow it.

Those people. Oh so you mean everyone.

Prison is where we put people to punish them for breaking laws, but it's mostly to protect others from them, because the laws they are breaking tend to have violent results.

I don't know about you, but when I walk down a dark alley at night, it's not people downloading music that I'm worried about.

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Anonymous Coward

I gladly pay for content that I find reasonably priced. These days, I mostly pirate movies - and I do that because I still can't find a service that won't sell me a digital copy unless I pay almost the same as a physical copy. Sorry folks, but if you don't have to print and wrap and ship a physical DVD, you're saving money. I expect some of that saving to get passed on to me. And adding crippling DRM on top of that is just an insult.

Digital games get their price down to a fraction of box price very quickly, and I happily buy them. Learn from that.

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It does cost money for the movie companies to set up the infrastructure and supply the bandwidth for you to download their legal copies you know?

Not saying I don't pirate, because I do. But I do it to save money any find interesting content. I'm not going to pretend I'm morally obliged to do it.

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@ Wild Bill

No question it costs money to set up the infrastuctrure, however this is an investment with a long life - well at least a few years, they dont need to recoup it in the first six months of operation.

Case in point, any idea how long VirginMedia's content delivery system (the cable network itself) or the Astra satellite is being depreciated over?

Nor do I, but it won't have been charged in the year of construction, nor was it charged to customers before they started construction.

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Happy

Don't forget...

You are paying them close to the same money, and in reality, will have nothing to show for it afterwards. At least with a (insert physical media) you can watch it as many times as you like, and can leave it to you children when you die, or give it to a friend, or hell even sell it for crack money. With DRM'd media, they are merely letting you look at it for awhile or once, for close to the same price, it's like a wet dream to their bottom line.

All the money, no real overhead costs, and you have to come back again and again, forever. No wonder they want DRM.

"Soon, Same price, Once" verses "Now, Free, Forever", I think they may want to rethink their business model and their expectations. Because the real world doesn't just work like they want it to, it's our money until we give it to them, and it looks like we might be getting sick of giving it to them.

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Silver badge
Pirate

Well I saw this coming a mile away. A few weeks ago in the newspaper I read that the british navy has been releasing captured pirates without charge even in cases where there was clear evidence. They just took them back to shore and released them. Doesn't take a genius to realize they will just re-offend. And it struck me that if pirates were not even being charged isn't that sending the message that piracy is not a crime, ie legal?

So when people read PIRACY WITHERING AGAINST LEGAL ALTERNATIVES bear in mind that this is simply because "LEGAL ALTERNATIVES" now include piracy.

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Actual pirates, not what the RIAA says are pirates

The public would be unhappy if the Navy hanged them, or spent boatloads (heh) of money locking the pirates up for enough time to really matter. Really, what alternatives are there? If you want to change this one, start campaigning for the hangings.

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MJI
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Leave them where they are

Miles out to sea, small pump up boat, no food , no water

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and no internet connection

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Silver badge

It's called jurisdiction

In international waters the pirates attack a Liberian flagged vessel - exactly what rights does that give the British navy to charge them?

You might also like to consider why you are spending British tax-payers money and risking British sailors lives protecting ships that their British owners registered in Liberia to avoid paying British tax or requiring British crews.

ps I not sure of the link between this and me ripping a CD to my iPod - but no doubt the RIAA can show that I'm funding terrorism somehow.

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Silver badge

Yet anther etc, piracy on the high seas doesn't *have* any jurisdictional issues. If a suitably capable vessel comes across another vessel being seized on the high eas they're entirely within their rights to act to prevent it, no matter where either vessel is flagged and then dispose of the malefactors however they wish. The reason te navy are releasing captures pirates isn't jurisdictional but legal; if they are brought back to the UK for trial they'll be able to claim all sorts of rights under the human rights act and get away with their piracy essentially scot-free so, because of that, there's no benefit in bringing them to trial and they may as well just be released.

That said, you're right, there's no link between physical piracy and copyng music.

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Silver badge

Re: the RIAA can show that I'm funding terrorism somehow.

Yes they can. And did (well, one of their sockpuppets did, sort of):

http://www.ifpi.org/content/library/music-piracy-organised-crime.pdf

(warning: pdf)

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@ NomNomNom

I read somewhere that on the Somali coast, the limiting factor for piracy isn't the pirates but the boats. A boat owner would have no trouble at all replacing an entire crew overnight because the population is starving and desperate; however boats (even the crappy ones) are costly. So bringing the pirates to Blighty and putting them in jail would be doing them a favor while doing nothing against piracy. Leaving them ashore without a boat ensures that they will not be able to re-offend, at least for a while -until they can afford another floating pile of crap.

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Anonymous Coward

Me too

As a Brit living in Germany, my options for TV and films are:

1. Watch German TV and maybe, subscribe to German SKY (obviously, in German) ;

2. Watch UK TV that is available free via satellite (UK broadcasters do not support this but it is not illegal);

3. Subscribe to UK Sky (use a UK address and flaunt Sky's Ts & Cs);

4 Download via P2P, usenet, etc.

Like UK Sky, online offerings in the UK are not legitimately available to me, not being UK resident.

I would be happy to subscribe to a service that allowed me download a selection of TV, films and music for a fixed monthly fee, much like a SKY satellite package. For the time being, I'll continue to watch BBC etc. via satellite and download the rest (over 90Gb last month).

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zb

As a Brit living in Brazil I do not have options 1, 2 or 3. I do run a virtual server in London and watch iPlayer via a socks proxy. There are not many films for sale or rental in the original language and the choice is minimal. The mail is not very reliable and customs duty is extortionate so mail order is out.

So I buy and rent what I can and use torrents for what I cannot and don't lose too much sleep about it.

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Anonymous Coward

People in denial

It's pretty funny to see the people in denial over piracy. They should go to a court proceding and see how well denial works as a defense for piracy. It's a chilling reality check for those in denial.

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Anonymous Coward

A river in Egypt

Its pretty funny seeing how many times someone can use the word denial in one paragraph.

Denying what, dare I ask?

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Silver badge

are you really denying the denial that you denied you deny?

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Unhappy

Simultaneous release in US and UK?

I do not torrent movies. I do not torrent music. I do torrent and watch the occasionally TV program from the States.

Why?

Because I have many friends in the States and I want to discuss stuff with them / not be spoilered / etc. So why do I have to wait months sometimes to watch the same show in the UK. Its not like it has to be dubbed or anything. So I torrent usually just after it has been broadcast over there and then buy the DVDs when they finally appear over here.

To me Steam and iTunes are excellent examples of services that do work. I buy a game on Steam and then I can install it on all my machines. I've bought more games on 'PC' (Well iMac running OSX / Windows7) in the last few months than I did in the entire few years. I buy media on iTunes too.

If the TV companies made the shows available to download at say $2 a pop right after they've been broadcast I would be buying them like there's no tomorrow.

Finally there's one other kind of show I torrent. Those I just can't get in the UK. For example the Legend of Neil is not available at all over here. Only season one is available on iTunes (US - Store). So there's no choice. I have to torrent and the company loses a sale.

Basically media companies drag yourselves in to the 20th (I mean that) century. Stop trying to prop up a tired and dated business model.

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Vic
Silver badge

> Finally there's one other kind of show I torrent. Those I just can't get in the UK.

I waited for 23 years to get hold of a DVD of Chelmsford 123. In the meantime, I did watch a very poor-quality torrent that had been recorded from UKGold onto VHS before being digitised...

Whilst my actions were unlawful, I think there would have been reasonable mitigation should I have been caught; the DVDs had been promised so many times, but never delivered...

Vic.

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Happy

Chelmsford 123?

was awful

And Rory McGrath less said about him the better.

You are right no court in the land would convict you.... maybe send you for some counselling or somefink but jail wouldn’t help.

That would be just be temporarily locking the problem away.

But every man to his own. Enjoy

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another thing...

A couple of times recently I've had to go back to the store and point out that the DVD they sold me is totally borked. Obviously quality control on the copying process is poor to non-existent - and these are fully legit DVDs I'm talking about.

Not to mention that Windows will simply refuse to play some legitimately-purchased DVDs on our computer. In each case a quick visit to a torrent site has produced a clean copy that ran perfectly.

So when legitimate sources provide an unusable product, I get a quick, free and convenient 'pirate' copy of the same material. But the stupidity of it riles me.

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Anonymous Coward

Anti-piracy messages

It used to drive me crackers being forced to watch stupid anti-piracy adverts (and, of course, trailers) when I had bought the damned DVD in the first place - talk about preaching to the choir.

After buying a Father Ted DVD that I had to try on four different computers before it would work properly I gave up and now (as far as video content is concerned anyway) it's piracy all the way for me.

I do buy music and software and go to the cinema, but I'm not paying £20 for a DVD that's not as good as something I can get for nothing. Added to which, discs are just stupid anyway. They get scratched and/or lost and if I never see another as long as I live, it will still be too soon.

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