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 …


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  1. Pete Spicer

    And notice how mysteriously, the argument of DRM fails to coerce people towards legal content - given adequate options, they'll happily pay rather than be cajoled into it.

    1. arkhangelsk


      actually tends to force people towards illegal content, IMO. There is always a chance that the DRM will cause the game to not work on your computer. Now, if they go onto the Net and see a cracked free copy, well, that's no competition, is it?

      1. Peter 48

        i agree

        before i started using Steam i actually had to download dodgy cracks for some games i had purchased just to get them to work properly.

        as for movies, i have given up with the often included digital copies on dvds and blurays i buy and rip a copy instead as the drm is just too cumbersome and restrictive to work.

        1. paulc

          bonus digital copies are borked anyway...

          "as for movies, i have given up with the often included digital copies on dvds and blurays i buy and rip a copy instead as the drm is just too cumbersome and restrictive to work."

          I don't run windows or IOS so they completely fail to cater for me... and I know of quite a few people these days who don't have DVD drives on their computers in the first place (Mac Mini's, Netbooks etc.)... so they don't work for them either...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Digital Copies" are worthless DRMed crap? *That* was a surprise!

          I've seen DVDs and Blu-Rays advertised with those additional "digital copies" (*). But does it say something that *despite never having actually tried using those particular examples*, I had already- and almost instinctively- pigeonholed them as "worthless" in my mind.

          Mainly because I had already assumed they'd be reliant on some overly restrictive and flakey DRM that might or might not work on the intended (and studio-approved device), but only after installing some bloated and useless crapware that would clog up my PC, require me to register and set up an account, and require contacting some server that might work today but probably wouldn't be active in a few years' time, and that probably wouldn't work when I reinstalled Windows or moved to a new machine because I'd forgotten- or didn't care- how their shitty one-off DRM scheme would work anyway or lost my account details.

          (And IIRC some of those "digital copies" only state that they'll work for a year. This might be a disclaimer to cover their ass when they feel like eventually turning the servers off, but who cares?)

          And wouldn't work on any non-approved device, including those I might buy in the future anyway.

          And even if it did work, it would be more hassle than it was worth. And going by what you've said, I was pretty much right.

          But it's worth subjecting your paying customers to this inconvenience, because it's going to do *such* a good job at protecting your content. It's not as if it's the case that if only *one* person in the whole world manages to break the protection and create an unprotected copy, then everyone else will be able to pirate that, after all!

          And it's not as if you're effectively punishing your paying customers at the expense of those trading pirate copies, is it? Got your priorities right there, guys!

          (Disclaimer; no, this isn't justification for pirating Hollywood blockbusters. I neither buy nor pirate them, mainly because I'm not much into films in general, and in particular couldn't give a flying f**k about the latest American adolescent-targeted tossfest).

          (*) Yeah, let's ignore the stupidity that both DVD and Blu-Ray are already "digital copies" by their very design, and it barely counts as nitpicking to say so!

      2. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Exactly right. When you can get a legal download of a movie in a standard format like MP4 that will play on all your device then video downloads will take off.

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Are you listening BBC?

    I would much rather pay you for access to iPlayer from the colonies, or even a reasonable price per episode download, than pay for streambox.

    But the current business model seems to be charge me $60 for half a series on DVD, 6months later, with a random bunch of edits of stuff that would confuse the natives. ( Pressumably the reason there is no legal way of watching Qi - if you cut out the bits that confuse foreigners there is nothing left. )

    1. Graham Marsden

      @Yet Another Anonymous coward

      AIUI the thing about QI (especially the earlier series) is that at least some of the images they use on the big screens behind the panelists are not licenced for use outside the UK, consequently to distribute them in other countries would require paying expensive fees which would make the DVD not commercially viable, hence the edits.

      1. Peter H. Coffin

        Geo- and media-specific licensing of other media ancillary to the production of the main media (as with the "pictures behind the panel not licensed for outside UK above") is something that was excusable a decade and a half ago, but for contemporary productions, it's just short-sightedness. Any contract over the matter can be be worded to specify additional payment at a later date in the event of overseas use of the primary programme.

    2. Robert A. Rosenberg

      I am a Doctor Who fan and until my Cable Company added BBCA (and the US broadcasts of the series were no longer embargoed for from 6 months to over a year by whoever had the US rights - SciFi and now BBCA) I watched the show in real time via Bit Torrent and then bought the DVDs once they finally got released. I also watched the companion Doctor Who Confidential (ie: The "Making Of" show about that week's episode) the same way (no longer since the BBC has canceled the show). While the DVDs have the Confidential episodes as extra material, they are trimmed down to 15 minutes from their BBC3 versions of 45 minutes. I think this applies not only to the US Region 1 DVDs but also the UK Region 2 DVDs. Thus the only way to see the show is to pirate it (although the iPlayer versions might be uncut). I wonder why they supply the trimmed as opposed to full length versions.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      perhaps foxyproxy would help

      comment here

    4. CyberCod

      Hey now

      I'm a "foreigner" and I enjoy QI on a regular basis, despite a complete lack of editing. The only thing I find confusing is the scoring, which even the show's host doesn't seem to understand.

      1. Dr. Mouse

        Very Simple

        "The only thing I find confusing is the scoring, which even the show's host doesn't seem to understand."

        The scores don't matter. Simples.

    5. Armando 123

      Another Yank QI fan

      And what's more, I think I understand the scoring system: it's merely a prop for more jabs and jokes, a la I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

      Although I do have one complaint with QI, my family all got sore throats trying to do Rob Brydon's man-trapped-in-a-box voice.

  3. DN4

    Two thirds

    "Over two thirds of those questioned would share music within family or friends."

    So what about the remaining one third? Do they hate their families or have been brainwashed so thoroughly that they think sharing with their family is wrong? Not sure which one would make me more sad.

    1. dotdavid

      Re: Two thirds

      "So what about the remaining one third? "

      They would share music with family AND friends!

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Please! My children need music!

      It makes me sad [1] that you believe brainwashing is the only reason why someone would decide against an activity which is illegal, arguably unethical, and of minimal benefit to anyone. It's *entertainment* (and often mediocre or worse at that), for fuck's sake. If my family and friends want to enjoy some piece of entertainment media I own, they can either borrow it - on physical media, and I'll go without it until it's returned - or they can buy their own damn copy.

      If my family and friends needed me to steal IP for them in order to like me, then I'd be better off without them. (As it happens, no one's ever asked.) Is stolen property really the currency of familial love where you come from?

      [1] That is, it *would* make me sad, if I weren't protected by an impenetrable shield of cynicism.

      1. MacGyver

        @Michael W.

        When one of your family comes over for the holidays and asks for an aspirin do you also slap the bottle out of their hands and scream "Buy your own god-damned aspirin!, this is mine and I paid for it?"

        I don't normally attack individuals, but really, you're going to go with the "no sharing" argument?

        They were talking about "IP" that the person already had in their possession, either by legal or illegal means. You "renting them your DVD (hereto known as IP) for $0 (hereto known as FREE)", is also considered IP theft by the media companies. Did they open the new package, thereby agreeing to all T&C? Are you licensed like Blockbuster? Then you too are a thief.

        "As it happens, no one's ever asked"

        No kidding, they already know and understand that you are a programmed shill for big media companies. I already know it, and I've only read a few sentences from you.

        The whole world is where it is from humans helping and sharing with others, and you come along after the initial buildup, and declare that "all sharing is bad", and people should only enjoy something if they have paid some piper somewhere, and you think you're not programmed?

        (by the by, people aren't even taking about simply not wanting to pay, they are talking about not being offered something worth paying for (DRM'd), or something not even available to be paid for (region locked))

        I may not be morally spotless, but you are just wrong, maybe one day you will understand why, but I doubt it.

  4. honkhonk34

    Games is a tricky one, 'specially PC games. I think Steam as a form of DRM is one I can live with happily because it supplies many advantageous features to me as a user (centralized and well stored game keys! auto patching! best of all: legacy games adapted to work on newer systems without spending two hours looking up advice!)

    Here's the kicker; very few PC games have demos nowadays, and I don't blame people for pirating a game on the basis that they want to try the product before paying the full price*. The problem is obviously that by the time people have pirated the game in order to try it out, the principle of buying it if they like it often drops by the wayside.

    *Consumer rights for gamers, what a novel idea.

    1. Killraven

      Problems with demos

      I was driven to "pirating" games to try them out when demos started to include the same DRM as the final game, and games started shipping with so many changes from the demo that they didn't work the same anymore. Demos became a thoroughly pointless, and often dangerous, means of trying out a game. Downloading a copy with the DRM stripped out was totally safe. My rule of thumb was that if I still played the game after two weeks, then I'd buy it.

      The final straw for me with demos was when StarForce completely ruined two CD burners and caused me at least three complete reinstalls of the OS.

    2. br0die
      Thumb Up

      Works for me

      I think this method is appropriate. I would not want to buy a game (considering what they cost these days, and the amount of bad games that have come out) without trying it out first. Thankfully, the structure of modern (PC) games is perfect for this model. The pirated copy usually only allows you to play the single player part anyway, because getting on a server to play MP involves some kind of key checking or otherwise phoning home. In this way, if the game is good the person will likely buy it to be able to access multiplayer (which with today's games is 80% of the gameplay anyway), and if it is rubbish they will get rid of it and that will be that. The latest FPS games only have a campaign mode that lasts the weekend, then it is on to multiplayer for months, if not years. Seems like a fair deal to me.

    3. Peter H. Coffin

      You may find that rather more games have demos than you previously expected. But those are on Steam as well. Chalk that one up for having a parallel delivery system for both demo and game. For non-Steam games, it's not easy to build a game that has DRM and is written to be delivered on a disc that is always accessible, then can trivially be adapted to run without that DRM off of data downloaded and saved, and that CANNOT be extended to the full game by adding in the missing content copied off the disc by others and downloaded to a hard drive.

  5. heyrick Silver badge

    My movies come from the DVD bargain bin...

    ...or recorded off the TV. If I can see a film on the big screen for €6,50, there's no reason why it shouldn't cost similar for the little screen...

    And quit with those anti piracy adverts and promos you can't skip and fecking macrovision - those are the reasons I rip my DVDs to XviD first. I want to watch the film, okay? The. Film.

    1. Simon Neill


      One DVD I owned briefly before it was cast into the bin had (I counted) 6 unskipable trailers for other films, 4 of which I already had. 3 "you wouldn't steal a..." clips. 2 minutes of the text. Then a 1 minute into into the menu.

      So after watching the disc once I threw it away and went and pirated a copy.

      Overall - I think piracy is something you just have to live with. Taking Avatar and CoD MW. Both set world records for sales while at the same time respective industries are claiming that piracy is killing them. Sorry, something doesn't add up there.

      1. Peter 48

        easy to skip

        The next time just hit the stop button twice, then hit play. This launches straight into the movie and skips all that nonsense. Works a treat!

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Asked Pioneer about this

          DVD player stil obeys the crap, but plays copies perfectly

          Tried with PS3 - the same, but the same virus is now being found on _SOME_ BluRays, but the blanks cost a LOT more than DVDs, and I haven't yet been able to rip one, burning though is fine, got my last three holiday videos on BluRay.

    2. Wild Bill

      Having recently set up an xbmc installation for my TV on an old shuttle pc, one of my favourite features about it is that the DVD player automatically skips all the crap before the menu. Super!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > the DVD player automatically skips all the crap

        VLC does this too, as does myth.

        I suspect the not-allowed-to-skip-this-shit nonsense in most players comes from clauses in the license for the copy protection.

        The open source peeps had DVD Jon so never needed the license. Consequently they don't enforce the bullshit clauses.

        In fact, if you have the right DVD drive, the open source players don't enforce region locks either.

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Stopped with DVDs due to this

      Unskippable warnings, annying promos.

      Needed to rip to PC and burn a copy with the protection removed.

      Dual layer blanks not that cheap.

      When it is easier to download a rip and watch that than a legitimate copy - you know things are wrong.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "And quit with those anti piracy adverts and promos you can't skip and fecking macrovision - those are the reasons I rip my DVDs to XviD first. I want to watch the film, okay? The. Film."

    The phrase preaching to the converted spings to mind. A bit like EA and Spore where the pirated version was more accessible on multiple installs than people who actually shelled out for the game.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the 60's, nobody cared if you tape recorded a new song on the radio. When VCR's came out, people regularly recorded their favorite movie. Again, nobody cared. The recording industry said that these copies were low quality and they didn't care. When DVD's and CD's came out, the recording industry squawked that copies were perfect and perfect copies were unfair (even though I can argue that early tape recordings were close to what the original media offered). Now they claim foul even if you make low quality copies, make copies of your media for your own use or the use of your family. With the Sunny Bono copyright extension act, copyrights on movies are essentially forever.

      Yes people are glad to buy content if the price is right. I use Netflix and I think it is a great alternative to both Cable and downloading. But the DRM people don't really like the idea of me paying a low fee for Netflix and they desire a lot more money. Thats where the rub will come from. IF the entertainment industry is interested in providing low cost alternatives to downloading, but I don't think that will happen. They are too greedy. The RIAA suing 7 year old children makes sense to them. Just a thought

      1. br0die

        "In the 60's, nobody cared if you tape recorded a new song on the radio. When VCR's came out, people regularly recorded their favorite movie. Again, nobody cared. The recording industry said that these copies were low quality and they didn't care. "

        Not entirely true, see "Home Taping is Killing Music".

        1. Peter H. Coffin

          See also "Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc." a.k.a. the Betamax Case.

          1. Juillen 1

            Yep, they cried that if home taping was allowed, everyone would record and share, and the movie industry would die.

            They lost the court cases, home taping was allowed, and it set the scene for the lion's share of the movie industry income these days.

            Now, they're doing exactly the same "Oooo.. Copying anything will mean we'll all go bankrupt. Copying is killing the industry.".

            Basically, this story just says "No it's not. Do something people want at a price that's a fair deal and you've nothing to worry about. Try extortion, and people get unhappy with you.".

  7. Graham Marsden

    XKCD got it right...

    1. Quxy
      Thumb Up


      I buy plenty of ebooks and audiobooks; but before doing so, I make sure that they're either DRM-free or use a DRM format that I can remove (I suspect that if Adobe finally updates ADEPT, ebook sales are going to plummet).

  8. Grumpy Fellow

    If 46 percent are doing it

    I suppose it is too late to reclaim the word Piracy to mean hijacking ships and their cargo? Arrrr!

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Opportunity costs

    In economics we talk about opportunity cost and while many people conflate it with monetary price; the two are not the same. Opportunity cost also includes time (which has a very real price in terms of income passed by), knowledge required, actual work (physical effort, travel distance to see the neighborhood duplicator, monetary price of travel, etc.) and, of course, financial price.

    The problem here is that while the opportunity costs of duplicating, distributing, and 'consuming' media content has fallen dramatically due to the digital information revolution, the financial price has not similarly (dramatically) fallen. And the media organizations resist any further change in the status quo, resorting to lawsuits, unjust laws, and other enforcement actions, in an attempt to return to the markets of old.

    If you look at the survey findings, you will readily find that where an _individual's_ opportunity costs are high in comparison to monetary prices, legal methods tend to predominate. Where low to actual prices (the teens and twenties), so-called piracy dominates.

    Yet the media id10ts, including far too many of the press analyses, reject such a simple explanation and continue their insanity. Albert Einstein had a rather famous quote (directed at those deny the then new physics. And so it goes. I do hope the id10ts will have a chance to look back at their error as they are strung up, one by one, come the revolution.

    [I won't live to see said revolution. You also have my apologies for such turgid writing.... Academic by birth, statistician/economist by inclination.]

    1. Anonymous Coward


      A better perspective can be found in Wikipedia for this is indeed yet another example of the Prisoner's Dilemma (as are most things difficult to strategize).'s_dilemma

  10. Neal 5

    And 2k people showing a fair representation of the us population?

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Actually, yes, a sample size of 2000 is very good. If you want to criticize statistics, perhaps you should learn statistics first.

      1. zb


        Actually, possibly, a sample size of 2000 is very good.

        Provided that it is a carefully selected representative sample. The typical "survey" quoted in press releases consists a PR junior assistant asking a couple of people in the pub a loaded question.

        There is a pretty good short description here

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. MJI Silver badge

      My CD collection - all except one marked as CD-DA

      And that one kept being returned as unplayable - 3 copies returned to shop - eventually ripped it to CD-R.

      Will check the broken DVDs now - well the ones I have not sold.

      Never buy a DVD with Fox on the case.

  12. Turtle

    And these people are... uh...

    1) Who are these people that I, or anyone really, should care about their opinions or the study that they have commissioned? Let me answer that for you! Looking at we see their work commended by highly laudatory statements from, among others, William Patry, senior copyright counsel, Google, and Michael Geist, favorite academic authority of the anti-copyright bureaucrats in Canadian government (and for more about whom go to and use search to find many articles about this well-paid shill.)

    And would I, or anyone else, be surprised to learn that Google is funneling money to either Columbia University, the American Assembly, or both, rather like they funnel money into the Berkman Center at Harvard?

    In spite of how often The American Assembly likes to say that their organization was founded by Dwight Eisenhower, this organization seems to have no real existence other than a few guys sitting around doing, well, doing not much other than thinking of schemes to get grant money. At any rate, looking at some of their previous work and the people who support them (see the MPEE Support Group on Facebook, for example) the contents of this latest "empirical study" were easily predictable. (On the MPEE Facebook page find the following: "The reliably obnoxious Andrew Orlowski...")

    "The data, from respected think-tank American Assembly..." Respected by whom, for heaven's sake"? Google, Michael Geist, and others who profit from piracy?

    2) "When it comes to the penalties for piracy the American public is a lot more forgiving than the courts." What the courts say is one thing, but *juries* have awarded copyright holders enormous sums for damages. Is there any reason to think that those juries were more representative of the American public than the sample in this survey?

    I understand that there are people who want to justify content theft but they need to do better than this "highly-respected" "American Assembly".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Argh, Jim Lad

      "Is there any reason to think that those juries were more representative of the American public than the sample in this survey?"

      Well sort of.

      In the court the information is presented in a very different manner, frequently making the copyright infringer out to be Satan's catamite.

      When surveyed people think about their own behaviour and that of their families, making them more tolerant.

      This is why there is frequently a disconnect between what a survey says people think and how they act when it comes to votes, juries etc. Both are representative of what people think though - its all about the framing and the context.

      "I understand that there are people who want to justify content theft "

      I understand that there are people who want to criminalise copyright infringement but they need to do better than try to correlate it to other crimes to gain traction.

    2. Dr. Mouse

      "What the courts say is one thing, but *juries* have awarded copyright holders enormous sums for damages. Is there any reason to think that those juries were more representative of the American public than the sample in this survey?"

      Disclaimer: IANAL

      AFAIK the damages are not assigned by a jury, but by the judge. The jury only decides guilty/not guilty of each charge.

      Even if it is the jury who award the damages, they will be directed in what they are allowed to do by the judge. Many may feel the damages are disproportionate, but a jury is not allowed to flout the law: If they find the defendant guilty of x, they must award damages of y. I have been on a jury, and their remit is severely limitted.

      Similarly if it is a judge who makes the descision, the both he and the jury are constrained by the law. If the case is proven that someone is guilty, the jury must find them guilty. They cannot use their sympathies to decide that, althopugh they committed a crime, they should be let off. The judge must then use this verdict to determine the punishment within the constraints of the law. There may be a small amount of wiggle room allowed in the legal framework, but things must remain within that framework.

      1. Vic

        > I have been on a jury, and their remit is severely limitted.

        Not a limited as you might imply. If a judge misleads a jury into thinking they have less leeway than they do, that is of itself grounds for appeal.

        > If the case is proven that someone is guilty, the jury must find them guilty.

        Go and read up on "jury nullification".


    3. Juillen 1

      Juries aren't there to make the law. They're there to determine whether a law has been broken or not. Not whether the law is actually just or even ethical (or even enforceable or workable).

      You could have a law written to say you had to, say, euthanise every third born child. In a court, even though the law was unethical and mostrous, a jury would still have to convict if someone was shown to not have euthanised a third born.

      But hey, nice straw man.

      1. Vic

        > a jury would still have to convict

        No, they wouldn't.

        A jury is within its rights to decide that someone is not guilty, even if the facts are extraordinarily blatant. It's called Jury Nullification, and it is real.

        One of the things I like about the UK justice system is that no-one can ask the jury *why* they decided the way they did; if a jury decides to acquit a defendant even in the face of overwhelming evidence, that is their right (although the prosecution now has certain appeal rights).


        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Vic

            > Jury Nullification certainly exists


            > 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.


            1. Dr. Mouse

              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 :)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                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.

    4. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      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.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    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?

    1. irish donkey


      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.

      1. MacGyver

        @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.

        1. irish donkey

          @ 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?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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?"


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

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

     get the truly stoopid pretending to be intelligent.

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


    2. Christian Berger

      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.

  14. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    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?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People PAY for content?

    Only kidding....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    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.....

  17. Anonymous Coward
    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?)

  18. Tsung

    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".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      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...)

    2. 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.

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Production Decline


        "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.....

        1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            "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.

            1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

              "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.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep sending hackers to prison

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

    1. Ian Stephenson

      @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.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC 1017 GMT

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

    3. MacGyver

      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.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Wild Bill

      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.

      1. Ian Stephenson

        @ 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.

    2. MacGyver

      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.

  21. NomNomNom

    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.

    1. Peter H. Coffin

      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.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Leave them where they are

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

        1. NomNomNom

          and no internet connection

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward 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.

      1. Graham Dawson 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.

      2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

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

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

        (warning: pdf)

    3. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      @ 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.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    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).

    1. 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.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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?

      1. NomNomNom

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

  24. Cyberspice

    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.


    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.

    1. Vic

      > 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...


      1. irish donkey

        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

  25. Maty

    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.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  27. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Fascinating debate ...

    which slightly (to me) misses the point.

    Content providers (previously known as record comanies, and film studios) were well aware of the nature, and demand for digital content well over 10 years ago. Their customers told them of it, and requested it, and were basically told to **** off. By failing to engage with the market, and therefore shape it to *consumers* wishes, they have effectively been bitchslapped. We have seen wave after wave of laws, and regulations, and dodgy civil, and criminal suits for what ?

  28. Armando 123

    Wait a minute

    You mean Steve Jobs was right, that people are basically honest and willing to pay for something they deem worth it?

    I'm conflicted; are we supposed to dislike Jobs or like him today?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it often gets on my *its?

    Most people, most of the time wish to remain legit users of stuff they use (otherwise we end up in an alternative reality?)

    It is helpful for T&C along with purchase price AND other stuff to make it easy-peasy for the great abundance of users to be legit users no?

    And if no, why no?

    Alternatively, if yes, why yes?

    But what really gets on my *ity bits is that humungous, interfering stress inducing manner of banner advert that jiggles my wotsits according to where it is in its playback mode?

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