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The deception of “buying” digital movies


Copyright, as it exists in the 21st century, is a scam.

It does not protect the artists, the creative works, or the little guy. It is a product of decades' worth of lobbying by very rich and powerful organizations and megacorps.

I'm not against the idea of a copyright. An artist has the right to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and creative works do have value.

However, the original idea of copyright has been bent, broken, dismembered, and sown back together in a Frankensteinian abomination and now serves only to line up pockets of people in the publishing industry. And the US has, through its trade deals, exported this thing worldwide.

Disney lobbies for life of author + 70 years copyright duration not out of goodwill towards authors (in fact, it's been trying to wriggle out of paying royalties to some of them!). Amazon uses copyright as an excuse to push DRM, locking out competition and limiting users' rights (Kindle, Audible DRM). DMCA is constantly abused to take down fair-use content.

Meanwhile, book authors are struggling to find a reason to write books, since many barely recoup the costs. Musicians decry royalties paid out by Spotify (that aren't actually so small, but the majority of the cut is taken by the music industry). Photographers try in vain to stop people just copy/pasting their photos online (what are they going to do, sue everyone?), including in some cases big companies that didn't even bother to check the copyright.

They aren't being protected. They are being milked.


I’m going to pile on, but it’s important that it’s part of the copyright discussion:

Current copyright is dramatically limiting culture and cultural growth.

Any artist now needs to make sure that they are not inadvertently copying anything from their entire lifetime, and that of their parents.

It’s rarely good enough that an artist shows that they had never been exposed to a previous work, and so now I see artists taking one of two paths: 1) working in secret, trying desperately to thread the needle between making a living creating and losing it all by being discovered. 2) Forgoing the idea of true creative expression altogether, and limiting themselves to samples that they can pay for up front.


Steamboat Willie is from 1928, almost a hundred years ago. And it is still under copyright.

So you can make that “the lifetime of their grandparents” too.


I'm 35 and my grandmother was born in the late 40s, my great-grandparents.


it's actually shrinking the realm of ideas (culture) by design. since ideas are "property" their value is function of their rareness. economic forces are literally creating artificial scarcity of ideas.


On the topic of artificial scarcity, once food becomes quickly and easily synthesisable on consumer premises, does anyone think that will not be incredibly heavily gate-kept by roles similar, or even identical, to copyright as it is now?


Mic drop


Does the US have any state or federal laws that don't benefit the wealthy at least as much as a regular citizen?

As far as I'm aware, even laws for the small business play into the favor of larger corporations either directly or via auxiliary laws.


Food safety laws are a good example. By acting as a floor on manufacturer and restaurant hygiene and ingredient quality, they help the poor a fair bit more than the rich.


They also conveniently keep volunteers and churches from feeding the homeless, so subsidized corporations can handle that.

One needs only to taste legit French cheese, compared with, say, Austrian manufactured French cheese, to know food quality laws have little to do with actual food quality, and Austria has one of the strictest food legal systems in the World.


The rich also need to well... eat. It benefits them as much as anybody.

For example milk started to be regulated more only after someone in Al Capone's family got poisoned and he bribed the right people to make it a thing. You're kidding yourself if you think any of that was to benefit the poor in the first place lmao, just happens to be a side effect.


Compliance with those laws help big ag and Starbucks WAY more than small farmers and small cafes, and pose barriers to entry.


This seems like an odd question to me. Social security? Medicare? Free education? The entire welfare state? The vast majority of regulatory apparatus, which is generally implemented when wealthy/owner class people cause damage to employees/poor people to a degree that political action is taken (NLRB, FDA, OSHA, EPA, CFPB, etc.)? The great volume of services provided to all citizens, for free - weather forecasting, GPS, state/federal parks, federally funded research; laws like the CRA, VRA or ADA which help those disadvantaged by racism, disability, etc.

Look, I'm not going to say regulatory capture doesn't exist, or that the wealthy don't have advantages in getting laws passed that favor their interests, but there's a great deal of stuff that gets done that is specifically for the poor or the average citizen.


> This seems like an odd question to me. Social security? Medicare? Free education? The entire welfare state?

These benefit the wealthy. They are used the quell the thirst for wealthy blood that would otherwise be prevalent. They are crumbs thrown to the masses to keep them from revolting during uncertain times.

> The vast majority of regulatory apparatus

I'd argue most regulatory bodies are captured agenies in the US. The delineation between state and industry has been fading for decades. They either look the other way, or overregulate to choke out any competition that would unseat existing players. Regulation in the US is almost entirely in service to capital.

> weather forecasting, GPS

Again, these are likely more in service to the economy (capital) than normal citizens.

> state/federal parks

Fair enough. I'd add libraries to this list as well. These institutions are actually kind of an odd exception to America's complete obsession with privatization, consumerism, and capital.

> laws like the CRA, VRA or ADA which help those disadvantaged by racism, disability, etc.

Again, fair enough.

> federally funded research

Yes, often funded by the citizens such that private industry can sell the result without recompense.

> Look, I'm not going to say regulatory capture doesn't exist

It's the the rule, not the exception.


US automotive lemon law for example doesn’t specifically benefit the wealthy or large corporations.

What muddles the picture is people do benefit from economies of scale. So, if you make the law actually hostile for large companies both the general public and corporations are worse off.


Lemon laws only apply to cars sold with warranties. Wealthier people are more likely to buy new cars, or used cars with warranties. Poor people are relatively much more likely to buy cheaper used cars without warranties. Rich people also buy more cars over their lives, increasing their chances of coming across a lemon. Therefore, lemon laws are relatively more beneficial for wealthier people.


> if you make the law actually hostile for large companies both the general public and corporations are worse off

What an overly broad thing to say!


social security, medicare, medicaid, WIC Programs, public schools, public transportation, all come to mind.

I mean, no coincidence that they are always on the top of the list to threaten and scheme to cut by the right wing.


Progressive taxation?


+1 for being the most concise rebuttal. What an asinine statement that poster made


Copyright law was created by and exclusively for lawyers and the oligarchs who can afford them on retainer. Just look at what Disney has done to us and you'll lose all sympathy for the mouse:


Your chart shows two copyright term extensions since Mickey Mouse was created.

As your chart shows ever since the first Copyright Act in the US, there has been a major revision every 40-70 years, typically to update for things that have changed since the previous Act such as new technology.

As far as I've been able to tell Disney has nothing to do with creating the 1976 Act, which was the first time their copyright term was extended. The 1976 was created largely to address the massive changes in technology and international trade since 1909.

As part of that there was wide consensus that the US needed to make its copyright law more like the rest of the world, to pave the way for the US joining the Berne Convention. The change in terms came as part of that, making US copyright terms match what nearly everyone else had.


You stopped just short of the worst one:

>The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act – also known as the Copyright Term Extension Act, Sonny Bono Act, or (derisively) the Mickey Mouse Protection Act[1] – extended copyright terms in the United States in 1998. It is one of several acts extending the terms of copyrights.[2]


on the other hand, I don't think Mickey should go public domain.


I think the best example to work with is Star Wars, or maybe The Lord of the Rings. The harm of eternal copyright is probably best demonstrated with these. They've both entered popular understanding, becoming casually referenced all over the place. "We need to make a little stop in Mordor first" is probably more widely-understood than most references to Greek mythology at this point.

The people who grew up in the culture permeated with such stories are stunted expressively. Because they're denied the use of an ever-growing share of the tropes and characters of the common culture. Many Disney films themselves are retellings of classic stories in the public domain. If you want to reference the original Cindarella, or Greek mythology, or Oliver Twist, you're free to do so.

You cannot do that with Luke Skywalker, or Aragorn. Now, maybe you shouldn't be able to within the author's life. But how many centuries should we keep this privilege? Would you or I (or Disney) be able to tell a new story about Hercules if copyright had been around 2000 years ago? Imagine Shakespeare still under copyright! No Hamlet or Macbeth characters in any other works without permission. We can strike several important 20th century books right there. In the future, the equivalent of Shakespeare will still be under copyright long, long after they are dead. Derivation and reuse are normal in art. Disney can borrow from the public domain to make Cindarella, but it in turn will never become public domain.


What about the ballet The Sleeping Beauty? Disney used Tchaikovsky's music heavily in their adaption despite it being less than 70 years after his death (and even further from being 95 years from its premiere).

That's always my go-to example for copyright because:

1. Disney has benefited both from extending copyright and from the previous shorter duration of copyright

2. The fact that a work from the 19th century would still be under copyright in 1959 is astonishing to many people

3. Disney's Sleeping Beauty, despite opening to mixed reviews, is generally well received today and is a great example of what we are missing out on; this work (judged "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the LoC) could not have been made if today's rules existed in 1959.


What is casually asserted can be casually denied. Can you elaborate your reason for thinking this? Is it a special carve-out for Mickey, or would you also include, say, Alice in Wonderland?


In a way, Mickey Mouse is under both copyright and trademark.

If someone wanted to do "The New Stories of Mickey Mouse" they should be free to do so.

If someone wanted to act as Disney using Micky Mouse, then they should be sued into oblivion for acting as another company.


Why? I see no reason why it shouldn't go public domain. If anything it might be possible wash some of the stain of Mickey Mouse.


At this point it should've been public domain twice over, it's old as dirt.


I do.


What's also bad is that most of the artists that don't benefit from copyright in it's current form are proponents because it's such an emotional issue.

Corporations barely need to do any propaganda because so many artists advocate for exploitative system without any prompting.


I recommend you read Melancholy Elephants, a short novel on copyright by Spider Robinson, I read it years ago and it stuck in my brain you might like it


What do you think a reasonable form of copyright law would look like?


10-year extensions with graduated costs. You get first 10 years upon publication, for free automatically, or for a nominal filing fee to register your claim. The next 10 years costs (extending to 20 total) now costs a meaningful fee. Maybe a fraction of sales structured like a license owned by the public/government, maybe a known schedule of fees based on the type of work, but either way it is a non-trivial sum. Then at 20, 30 and 40 there are further extensions each with higher costs, stopping at 50 years total. The copyright isn't tied to the creator's lifespan. Maybe we extend from my proposed 50 to 70 years to match current expectation, so Mickey gets protected (or would have) but there is a social benefit that gets shared.


Personally, I think this is the best solution I've heard. It still has problems in that copyright holders need to be proactive and it punishes work that can't pay the copyright extension fee that doesn't become popular until later but I think these are reasonable compromises to make to serve the larger good.

I haven't figured out a way to push this narrative in any meaningful way. People have a hard time distinguishing arguments against copyright from arguments for copyright reform. Most of the time I have to stress that I'm not for copyright abolishment but more reasonable copyright terms and extension protocols.


Copyright is a right. Having to pay for it sounds absurd.

I have a much simpler solution: copyright terms are fourteen years from date of publication. There are no extensions.

It could even be a lot shorter nowadays. Nearly all media gets nearly all of its profit in the first year. A lot of commercial software goes out of date in a few months rather than yearly releases.


That's even more corporation favoured. It's much easier to stomach the price as corporation than author...


A decade or two tops. That is enough time to monetize your work. Then, you get out of the way and let others benefit from your work just as you benefited from the works of so many others who came before you. You're still free to keep creating new things.


Exactly, you should get to build on what you were exposed to as a kid once you become an adult. Anything else is cultural robbery.


Just like patents are right now.


Basically a modern version of the US Copyright Act of 1790. 14 year terms with an automatic 14 year extension if the work is still in print and was in print for say 10 out of 14 years of the initial term. If it isn't made available in the country, it isn't under copyright. If you "assign" your copyright to somebody else, you have the right to revoke said "assignment" at any time and reclaim your copyright. Publishers should only be allowed to publish under a license from the creator and should be banned from being able to steal the copyright to the work from the creator via deceptive contracts. Corporate copyright should only be allowed if the work was actually the work of the corporation rather than the work of an individual or unincorporated group of individuals.

Patent law would, ideally, be abolished altogether as I'm not convinced that other types of patents are any more legitimate than software patents. Trademarks should not expire, of course, but there should be restrictions on what you can trademark to protect the public domain (for example, the mouse corporation shouldn't be able to evade the copyright term limits by trademarking its characters).


Probably around 7-10 years, which is the time limit it originally had.

Copyright is meant to be a "public pact" to encourage creation and innovation.

But think about that goal for a minute. It doesn't necessarily mean you should be able to create one awesome thing once and then benefit from it for life as a rent-seeking fat cat.

Instead, it should give you a reasonable amount of time to benefit from the fruits of it, but afterward, you should be encouraged to create again. So you'd be motivated not just by the carrot of making a lot of money over a 10-year span after launch, but also by the stick that you will no longer get royalties after 10 years, so you need to keep innovating. There is even a study out there that shows that the buyers of most books drastically drops after 10 years.

This benefits society at large, since it creates more competition, both from the original author of a work, but also by others who are then allowed to make iterations of the original work.

That's why patents are time-limited, too. The idea isn't to give one company the "right" to make money off an invention for eternity, but to allow the whole society to profit from it eventually by allowing others to drastically improve upon that original idea afterward.

But why was it ever intended as a "public pact" and not like an "actual right" that authors have? Because let's not forget that no idea is 100% original.

In fact, most aren't even 10% original. We all live "on the shoulders of giants" as they say. So most works are just rehashing of old works - so that also means that if enforcement was 100% the inflow of new works would drastically be reduced. So you don't "deserve" to benefit from a "new work" that's actually mostly rehashed old ideas anyway.

I always recommend watching the Everything is a Remix series to get a new perspective on this based on the history of copyrighted works:


You're dead-on-arrival. I vouched cause it was a respectful answer.

You probably should abandon this account and create a new one that isn't "dead" on post.


> Probably around 7-10 years, which is the time limit it originally had.

Samuel Clemens stated that if copyright was shortened to this long or shorter, then he would not issue books. Instead he'd public chapters as to restart the clock for each. And naturally, would arbitrarily lengthen copyright to however long he'd string readers by.

As for me, I have no answers. This problem is larger than I think anyone can view.


> then benefit from it for life as a rent-seeking fat cat.

Instead the benefit of creative works would almost exclusively to middle-men who created nothing.

7 years is sooo short. Many TV shows and book series take longer than that from start to finish. And often times they grow in popularity.

Movies based on books frequently come out more than 10 years after the book resulting in a surge of popularity. With 10 years the original author would see no benefit from either the movie or their new book sales! There’d be a lot of fat cats, just not the actual creator.


This is precisely why those laboring under the misapprehension that the same mechanism used for this can somehow be used by them to make things more "fair" are, at best, delusional. The results will always be "more fair" only to a certain group; moreover, that group will always exist in some form or other, as precisely such has always been the actual outcome of any fascist/mercantilist/communist system: only the name and presumed principles vary, but the effective outcome is always the same and always toxic to the rest of society.


"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread."


obligatory link I found it here sometime ago


One under-appreciated limitation on digital movies is geographic restrictions. You buy a bunch of iTunes movies in Canada, then move to the USA, and you no longer have the right to watch them anymore due to licensing.

Another significant issue with digital movies and games is the inability to resell the content once you're done with it. You can sell your DVDs at a yard sale or on eBay but not your iTunes movies. IMO, our competition law should require vendors to allow re-sale of digital goods. Big benefit for consumers.


Unfortunately geolocking isn't new or unique to the pure bits movie format. DVDs were regionally locked as well and even analog media like VHS tapes used color encoding formats that were specific in different regions (NTSC vs PAL vs SECAM).

That said, the situation is quite a bit worse now as the modern DRM is harder to circumvent and geolocking more granular than ever before. But the intent to lock us down was always there from the movie industry, just not the capability until recently.


> DVDs were regionally locked as well

To be fair, those of us who tend to complain about these things also raised hell about DVDs back then. Geo-locking is such an obviously bad idea for consumers. It was such a relief when the restrictions were hacked away (was it that an encryption key got leaked? I don't remember the details).


DVD has an incredibly weak 40-bit encryption scheme due to US regulations on exporting cryptography when it was developed. As a result, it was broken very quickly after launch. It has no real key revocation system (just stop including keys for certain defeated devices in new releases), and nowadays a computer can brute-force every possible decryption key within seconds, rendering revoking stolen drive keys completely pointless. As the region lock is enforced by software only, an unofficial player like VLC does not need to pay the region lock any heed.

Blu-ray on the other hand... well, where do I start? 128-bit AES, key revocation, host authentication, virtual machine fixup tables, digital signing, Media Key Block updating, Java applications... Let's just say Blu-ray is stuck in an odd place where the underlying technology isn't really that defeated, even though hackers have made keeping up with their stolen device keys from hacked players very impractical for the Blu-ray Disc Association. (Revoking a drive key requires a 90-day heads up for manufacturers to roll out new keys for the effected model, which means that if hackers manage to steal 4 device keys per year... from over a decade and a half of different players, many not receiving updates anymore...)


And let's not forget, that if you brought your DVD player with you, you could still play your DVD's no matter what region you were physically in.


Overall I think geo-locking was bad, but I wouldn't go this far:

> Geo-locking is such an obviously bad idea for consumers.

Depends a little on the consumers, really. Region-locking enabled them to sell cheaper copies in lower-wealth areas, the same way that movie ticket prices were lower. Without geo-locking, pricing strategy gets much more complicated, but it's a fair guess that consumers in regions 3-6 (that is, the majority of humanity) would have either paid more or gotten movies later.


People complained, but I can't imagine the user experience of playing an NTSC DVD on a PAL player and TV would have been very good, or vice-versa. There isn't a clean way to convert between 50 and 59.94 fields per second. You would have ended up with either jittery playback or incorrect playback speed. The field sizes are also mismatched, which would have required some pretty gross scaling given late-'90s DVD player technology.

Region-locking on Blu-Ray is 100% unnecessary. Fortunately, it has become increasingly common for discs to ship with no region restrictions.

Of course all of this is moot when you're just slapping that disc in an optical drive and ripping it to a NAS, instead of using an "official" player.


> Geo-locking is such an obviously bad idea for consumers. It was such a relief when the restrictions were hacked away (was it that an encryption key got leaked? I don't remember the details).

DVD region locking didn't need to be hacked away; it operates purely on the honor system. There are 8 regions, and a DVD contains a single byte specifying which regions it should be allowed to be played in. If the bit for your region is clear, you can play the DVD.

Or, of course, you can just ignore that byte, and play the DVD.


I havea few DVDs I bought in my previous country... I remember first time I tried to play them in a player from the new country, it asked me if I wanted to "move" it to the new region... I think there were 2 "moves" allowed. So, anyway, I was able to play it, no worries.


>even analog media like VHS tapes used color encoding formats that were specific in different regions (NTSC vs PAL vs SECAM).

I think you're really stretching this one. These were dictated be the equipment of the regions. This was just as much of a pain in the ass to the studios as anyone else. If theStudios wanted to sell VHS in these markets, they HAD to make them in the format that would work in that region.

DVD/Blu-ray region was definitely something added on top of format limitations as DVDs were still PAL/NTSC, but by the time Blu-ray and HD arrived, those format limitations were less of an issue. It was all about the region locking at that point.


> geolocking isn't new or unique to the pure bits movie format

when governments ban imports / exports, its a matter of public scrutiny. So is protectionism.

But apparently we allow a private cartel to do the same thing to an enrire industry with no pushback.

This affects smart IoT devices, TVs, cars, etc. My xiaomi light does not pair with the app because its was meant for chinese market, and the guy that sold it to me claims its not hia problem either.

The only way out of this mess is a law to properly define digital ownership.

If you want a weired half renting half ownership, that should have to be explicit contract with a signature and maybe lawyers involved, so you know what you are signing up for.


This is out of context and has nothing to do with what they said. The comment is about how companies were already region locking content using technical means on DVDs, not anything to do with government involvement.


Anyone interested in the history of DVD DRM / region locking may be interested in the "illegal number": a hex code which defeated DVD AACS encryption, prompting an attempt by the industry to surpress it across the internet, leading to a streisand effect and the end of effective DVD DRM.


That was a leaked Blu-ray Processing Key that was quickly revoked - but the industry was livid that it was allowed to propagate before they could revoke it (which takes 90 days). This means, ultimately, that if you have a player that hasn't had a Blu-ray Disc made since 2008 inserted into it, and are trying to decrypt a disc made before ~2008, then maybe with the right tools you could. It's a shallow victory meaningless nowadays.

[Even then, a Processing Key isn't nearly as interesting as a Device Key, plenty of which have been leaked since without much attention. Blu-ray has so many keys...]


In the UK it was quite common to be able to purchase DVD players that were region free in most of the large electronic stores. The few that were region locked required something like the Konami code to unlock all the region's.

Was region locking really that big of a deal?


Was region locking really that big of a deal?

No. Not in the US either, at least. Even if there was a part of the world where it was a big deal, I imagine if you were so big a cinephile for it to matter, you would know how to deal with it.


DVDs were region locked but not to the same degree. Digital content is on a country by country level. An American can easily buy and use a Canadian DVD while on vacation and then use it back home. The same is not true of digital content.


> DVDs were regionally locked as well

It's easy nowadays to get a DVD/Bluray player that is multi-region, if only because of an aftermarket mod. E.g. I have a Samsung one that happily plays both media from any region.


NTSC, PAL and SECAM wasn't a case of intentional geolocking, those were simply different signal standards used in different parts of the world. NTSC had different frequency from PAL/SECAM because the signal was synchronized to the power grid; SECAM was different from PAL because the French being French had to make it their own way (and then communist-affiliated countries adopted it).


> Another significant issue with digital movies and games is the inability to resell the content once you're done with it.

Which, as I've recently noticed, in turn has the interesting (and from the consumer point of view somewhat unfortunate) side effect that if a particular online release is pulled from distribution, it becomes completely unavailable (at least through legal channels) from one moment to the next.

Whereas with physical media first of all being pulled from distribution doesn't automatically mean that all existing stock in all stores worldwide is being recalled (it can happen, but the process is not as intrinsically linked as it is with digital distribution), and secondly in any case there's always the second hand market to completely legally fall back to, so the onset of unavailability is a more gradual process, especially for more popular media where there's a sizeable second hand market offering available.

With digital media on the other hand you more or less immediately have to fall back to under-the-table sources if that happens…


>> You buy a bunch of iTunes movies in Canada, then move to the USA, and you no longer have the right to watch them anymore due to licensing.

Maybe this is true from the perspective of the license but it's not something Apple enforces through tech. For example, I have a two iTunes accounts for two countries. I can purchase content through both and use that content anywhere without restriction. They make it a big pain because you can't switch your account to a different geo after it's created but with multiple accounts your content isn't actually restricted.


Maybe iTunes wasn't a good example but it has happened to me with other services. I live in the Netherlands where I bought a subscription for the Formula 1 TV service. Last year I was in the UK visiting family and was unable to watch races there, despite havng already paid for them, as the geo restrictions were different.


>> Last year I was in the UK visiting family and was unable to watch races there, despite havng already paid for them, as the geo restrictions were different.

Yep, thank sucks. You can thank brexit for that. AFAIK services offered in one EU country have to work throughout the EU (so if you were in Germany it would have worked). This meant that on holiday (coming from UK to Spain) a few years back I was able to watch F1 live on my phone via the NowTV/Sky app. This year - geo restricted.


I found this happens sometimes with Kindle books. I never know what will work or what will get disappeared when travelling.


Jumping through hoops doesn't work for most consumers. Nor should they have to do it.


The original point was that you might loose access to purchased movies because the licensing doesn't allow you so watch it from a different locality.

This is currently untrue for Apple/itunes and that's the only point they made.

There are currently no hoops for anyone to jump through unless you want to sidestep the law or licensing agreements, which is another discussion entirely.

Potential buyers still have to consider the original point however, as even if Apple doesn't enforce it currently, there is no assurance that it won't in the future. And there is no guarantee that it's gonna be the same if theyre buying on another platform.

Didn't Google and Amazon have competing platforms for example?


I am on the same boat but found it more and more a PITA to manage as Apple started to push for 2FA (that damn prompt every fucking login to "upgrade" your account). Switching account is now way more burdensome, and it's also a pain to get the password prompts on updates as apps are still bound to your logged out account.


I find the password prompts an improvement over earlier versions of iOS, where there was no way to get updates to those apps without logging out of the app store entirely and logging in with the other region's account.

Obviously it would be better if we could be properly logged in into multiple accounts at the same time (The play store on android does support switching easily), but at least I can now (I think since iOS 15) get app updates while staying logged in in my main account.


in 2010 I bought an ipod touch at the px in Afghanistan and Apple wouldn't even let me create an account; without an account most of the features were not accessible.


Final space was also interesting. Another show that got the chopping block for tax purposes. They were removed from AMazon, even if you purchased the seasons!

Piracy returns?


-"Piracy returns?"

It never gone. 4Tb USB HD + Good Torrent Tracker = All problems solved.


Thankfully we never went away and we have a lot of the shows/films/music that are no longer commercially available archived for future generations.


Came here to say this. I thought "Now that it's not streaming, I've at least got a copy on Amazon Prime!" Nope. Not anymore. And definitely can't get Season 3 any longer. Complete bullshit.


> You buy a bunch of iTunes movies in Canada, then move to the USA, and you no longer have the right to watch them anymore due to licensing.

In the EU we have an interesting law regarding that, if you subscribe to Netflix in Germany and then travel to another EU country you'll still get the same catalog as in your home country.

If you have a US account and travel to the EU you'll get access to the catalog of the country you are in.


do you have a link to this law?


That is feature of DRM and has nothing to do with digital movies. If you bought DRM locked product that you are not really an owner. You can play video file anywhere in the world and any time.

Second issue is if you bought it trough a service and keept it there, then you definitely not the owner...


Ok, "digital movies as most consumers know them". People aren't buying DRM-free digital movies. (Technically, DVDs and Blu-rays are digital as well, but we don't call them that)


Doesn't matter if you are talking about downsides. Digital movie has no downsides, DRM on other hands has as we all know. Only valid complaint here is DRM and it always was. We were warned but nobody listened.


> Another significant issue with digital movies and games is the inability to resell the content once you're done with it.

I get your point but I don't see how this could actually work. As a buyer, why would I buy an iTunes movie from someone else and not from iTunes? And as a seller, why would I sell it at a lower price than what it is on iTunes? It's not like it would come with a box that would look used/damaged, or a DVD with scratches on it.


> As a buyer, why would I buy an iTunes movie from someone else and not from iTunes?

Because it is the same thing, but cheaper.

> And as a seller, why would I sell it at a lower price than what it is on iTunes?

Because otherwise people won't buy it from you, they'll buy it from ITunes.

Even if the lower price doesn't make sense for digital media that aren't degraded through use, lower price (that lets you recoup, say, 90% of what you paid) would be needed to make people go through hassle of not just buying it "new."


True, and if the market economy was working as it should. Then if enough people were selling old digital music at lower prices, Itunes would have to lower their prices. Essentially what their doing is anti-competitive.


The only problem with this is that with physical media, there's an intrinsic amount of "friction" that prevents gaming the system. It's not convenient to, for example, have five people buy and share one set of DVDs. The hassle of moving the disc around (which gets dramatically worse with distance) incentivizes people to buy their own copy. But digital buying and selling would make it rather easy for one person to "sell" their movie to a friend for next-to-nothing and then "buy" it back when they want to use it. And we can be a thousand miles away with no problem.

There are ways to correct this, such as imposing reasonable floors on the sale price, or not permitting the sale of a title for something like 30 days after a transaction.

I'm just saying that these things would need to be factored into any proper solution, ideally via legislation.


I'd be curious to see if a system like that exists already for some kind of digital asset: secondary sales for something that is not limited in quantity, and can still be bought from the source at a higher price.



steam does exactly this. you can sell on steam and pay steam their cut, or sell steam keys elsewhere for the same or more money without steam taking a cut.


>as a seller, why would I sell it at a lower price than what it is on iTunes?

A seller would do this to undercut iTunes, making a sale much more likely.

>As a buyer, why would I buy an iTunes movie from someone else and not from iTunes

Because the seller would likely price it lower than iTunes.

The real question is: how does this affect the digital goods market overall? Does allowing re-sale make iTunes unprofitable? Does it make movie production unprofitable?


This I think is one of the places where smaller technical differences make things legitimately different. I'm not coming from the side of "it shouldn't be allowed" or "it must absolutely be allowed like physical goods".

Second hand items are often

* Lower quality, as they've been used * Lack consumer protections

The first just doesn't apply to digital goods and the second is much more minor (not expecting technical faults to become apparent after a while owning a digital item).

Selling physical goods also has a reasonable time commitment to it, you have to physically move things - there's friction. Digital goods could be sold between regular people near instantaneously. Buying a DVD and selling it after watching is do-able but still some work. Buying a film second hand the moment I press play and selling it on a market straight away after I stop watching seems trivial. I know this is ~rental, but theoretically users only need to buy in total enough copies for the concurrent number of watchers. A big enough market and this could impact how things are released, a "watch anytime" vs a "you really need to be up to date (e.g. sports)" would make a vast difference in total required copies floating around.

The resale value impacts the price you can sell at too. If a customer knows they can easily sell an item for 80% of what they bought it for, they're likely to be willing to pay more for it. However the customer also takes on more risk.

It feels like such a small change, but I can see it making a very large difference.


> Does allowing re-sale make iTunes unprofitable?

I doubt it. Does reselling used physical books make the book publishing business unprofitable?


As a buyer: to get it cheaper. As a seller: to obtain money for something you no longer value at its purchase price.


It’s rather simple, because you want to sell it. If you want to hold out for selling it at market price while the buyer will prefer buying it directly from the source, then so be it, or if you want to sell it immediately, you price it at bargain prices or even free if you don’t care, i.e. value the item anymore. What we are witnessing here is a total destruction of markets and commerce between free humans.

What you and many are are also missing, including the author, is that the whole system is a fraud because the prices we asked to pay (I refuse) are fraudulent themselves because of it. You are “buying” a movie at a price, precisely because the whole system is rigged in a fraudulent manner where you are not able to actually own it and you are not able to sell it, and you can’t rent it or even lend it; therefore it is not actually a market price, it is a monopoly price based on cartel control and total cornering of the market. It’s essentially no different than the fraudulent price of diamonds or any of the frauds that have been prosecuted where people corner and manipulate the market of, e.g., onions, famously.

Some may have heard the phrase “you will own nothing and be happy” expressed by your global rulers. This topic is precisely manifestation of that and people don’t seem to realize it. You own nothing related to media that you think you own and you think you are happy for it, without yet realizing what a fraud and trap it is, even as the encirclement of slavery progresses all around us.

Especially in America there are many people who, if you were to look at closely, literally own not a single thing they think they have; and in many cases own less than they are even worth. Every single thing can be yanked out from under people like that on a whim … legally. A recent famous example of that is the Tesla that was disabled because Tesla didn’t like something. Slaves of the past were also “happy and didn’t own anything” since their healthcare was “free” and their groceries were “free” and their housing was “free”, etc.; all provided for “free” by government of and by the feudal lord or plantation owners.

In case people have forgotten the most relevant case of what the author writes about; remember when Amazon simply deleted a book from users’ kindles without even asking, let alone receiving consent? This was about 4 years ago now. That book that Amazon just disappeared off people’s devices with no evidence of their actions other than some coincidental proof of purchase people had retained … 1984.


Yes. That is the scam.

It's no different to the rest of them. If Stadia hasn't already taught anyone that it is a scam then I don't know what will.


I have started a modest Blu-Ray/4k Blu-Ray collection. For me, it is by far the best movie experience I've had with any format. It takes maybe 90 vs 20 seconds to get the movie playing, but in return I get noticeably better quality. 4k Blu-Rays' bitrates are around 128 Mb/s. For comparison, Netflix tops out around 17 Mb/s. It really does look and sound noticeably better if you have the TV and surround setup to take advantage of it. Sometimes WAY better.

Also, for most physical movies, they had a "+ digital" code included that lets you redeem a digital copy of the movie too. So I can stream most of them on my laptop anyway if I'm away from home or something.

Physical media for movies is super underrated, at least for the situation in my country. It's often cheaper than "buying" the digital version! I can even go to my local used bookstore/Goodwill and find tons of Blu-Rays for cut rate prices. And then I own it forever, and it's 100% legal.


I buy blurays, rip them and then store them on a NAS to play back via Plex. Much, much better quality than any stream from Netflix et al.


How do you handle the storage for this? One bluray disk is about 60gb. I'm not sure if movies typically take 60gb but if you watch TV shows they do. 15 disks is 1TB. In a short while you're running a data center, especially if you collect a lot of video content.

I've heard that you can get efficient re-encodings, but that typically means torrenting it from somewhere. I'm not aware of a way to make high quality re-encodings locally without lots and lots of tweaking/testing/re-encoding and it takes a particular set of skills.


A Synology is good option here (I say this as someone with 2 UnRaid machines and 1 12-bay Synology). You can even get one that can run Plex for you as well (assuming your transcoding needs are minimal/none, else you might need a seperate box to handle the transcoding and just use the Synology as storage, like I do).

14TB+ hard drives are not too bad (~$235) so that would be 210 movies right there (though you are going to need to "burn" 1 drive for parity). The other option is to more liberally interpret copyright laws and buy the disk then pirate a copy that matches your requirements. Seeing how there are many people out there just doing the pirating step and that you aren't running a pay-for-plex scheme then I can't imagine you running afoul of law enforcement.


I use this project by Don Melton to get a Blu-ray video down to an 8 - 10 GB file size:

It uses HandBrake, FFmpeg, MKVToolNix, and MP4v2 with some custom tuned settings and has really good results from my experience.


Even if for some reason you don't re-encode, 18+ TB disks are now available. This means you can fit nearly 300 films' worth on a single drive like this, more if you buy multiple. I don't think it's such a bad idea to run a 4-drive cluster out of a single Raspberry Pi, with all the drives connected over USB.

You don't even need backups for this, really. If you own the discs and lose the digital version, just copy it on the disc again. If you acquired it via other means, then... it should be possible to replace most such data. Even if you do choose to make backups, then that doubles your cost per terabyte at most.

Storage is really cheap, assuming you're fine with something that isn't a fancy ZFS/RAID array.


Handbrake, chose a profile, use a script, use a more efficient codec. Doesn’t take much manual work but computer chugs for a while.


I use a 4 bay NAS with 4TB drives. I guess things would be more problematic if I had hundreds of movies but I’ve got a hair over 100 right now averaging around 40GB per movie which is fine.


Might as well skip the extra step and just torrent them directly. What you are doing is illegal either way, so why do the extra work?


Maybe in America (Land of the Free). Elsewhere in the world it's perfectly legal to backup your owned media.


Yeah, no.


I thought about doing this, but I was worried about codec compatibility issues with Dolby Vision and Atmos, and DTS:whatever. Everything I've read says you need to buy an Nvidia Shield to do it right. This is probably even closer to ideal than my setup, but in the end I decided it's not worth the effort/cost vs just putting the disc in the player.


I mean, I still have all the discs too, obviously. I’ve not noticed any codec errors with my tv which is running the Android OS.


An Apple TV 4K with Infuse app does all of this without problems and supports many kinds of storage backends.


This is essentially correct. I've been bouncing between different boxes and HTPCs for almost a couple decades now and the best experience I've had has always been the Nvidia Shield. The only annoyance I have is I want to reliably set Kodi as the main launcher, which is more of Kodi's issue rather than the system.

But seriously, HTPCs of yesteryear are essentially dead due to Windows' terrible handling of Dolby Vision, Atmos, DTS:X, and HDR. Even though there are players that will allow you to get much better quality out of your source file on PC, the hassle of licensing and HDR modes is just absolutely not worth it.


I think this is what everyone should do instead of "buying" or paying for subscription services


Except for the unskippable nonsense, and the hit-or-miss ability to resume a show you that you paused or stopped.

other than that I 100% agree with you and have a collection as well.


Do you have to watch these non-skippable FBI warnings?


The worst part is that the old “stop stop play” trick doesn’t work on any devices I have that can play disks (Xbox and computers). Every time I play a disk and hit the unskippable nonsense, I’m reminded why nobody uses those things anymore.

If you have a stand alone player, however, perhaps that trick still works. Just press stop, then press stop again, then press play. It skips the warnings, pre roll stuff, menus, and just plays the movie.


Meh, I just rip the video files and watch those in mpv.


I don't have much physical media since finally going 4K HDR, but so far my experience hasn't been great. I purchased the Mission:Impossible boxed set, and it came with a download code to use on iTunes.

The discs look like trash. Noisy, grainy, just bad. The iTunes versions look phenomenal.

It would be nice if there was a way to know how good the quality of a particular release is before buying it. Reviews I read don't seem to go into a lot of detail. I realize it's probably somewhat subjective and hard to put into words how an image looks.


Wow, that's really surprising and disappointing. Usually the disc is considered the ideal "canonical" way to watch the movie, but I guess not always. I think has user reviews that are focused on the quality of the disc specifically, but I usually don't look at them. I looked at MI:1 and they talked a lot about the grain, but seemed to see it as a stylistic choice.

Film grain from pre-digital era movies is a divisive issue. All older movies originally had some amount of film grain from the analog film. Some people like it and want it there on purpose. Some people prefer the movie run through a de-noise filter. The pro-grain people claim this removes fine detail. The anti-grain people say why the hell would you want it there on purpose. Some modern movies even add film grain on purpose. See Disney's Luca as an example. I personally don't care for it but it usually doesn't bother me as long as it's not extreme.


"Noisy, grainy, just bad."

AKA, it was shot on film. Film has film grain, which can only be removed by Digital Noise Reduction. DNR removes film grain, but also scrubs away detail and can leave waxy faces among other artifacts, as well as a fairly artificial and non-cinematic look. Film grain compresses very badly over streaming, so DNRing the streaming version before compression is probably what you are seeing. In this case, you prefer the DNR - but if you read online forums, most collectors hate it and consider it a crime against humanity to have ever been invented.


It’s funny if the poster is actually complaining about grain. Digital compression, like the one that Netflix uses, will often clean up the image of grain as a secondary effect of the compression algo.

Essentially grain is a lot of detail that video compression algorithms have been taught to ignore/remove. H.264 was notorious for virtually removing all grain making it impossible to have authentic film grain on YouTube for years. (I work in advertising).

Exactly like you said - grain is a common first victim of video compression.

The other curious thing - modern movies that are shot on film / have grain actually get it removed during VFX stages. You have to do it so you can integrate CGI - grain is usually “sampled” first by the compositing software (The Foundry’s Nuke in 99% of occasions) and removed since the CGI image won’t have any grain from the CG renderer so you have to integrate it onto a denoised image. You then re add it at the end!

Using the same software you then re-add the sampled noise back onto the image, and since you’ve now integrated the CGI, the noise goes on top of everything helping it all get integrated.

Just saying this because you are right - using noise reduction to remove film grain for release is considered a sin (I myself would agree with the sentiment). Yet actually most films today will go through some denoise stage in VFX. Which is an interesting thing to think about - we actually remove the grain for a lot of the work then re add to keep the filmic texture.


It's not just extra DNR applied, modern image and video compression formats almost make it a point to erase all detail and texture from images.

For example, compare the WebP and AVIF (VP8/AV1) compression artefacts with JPEG (and MPEG).

With WebP and AVIF all textures and low contrast details tend to be erased or smoothed out, preserving only high contrast parts of the image.

The JPEG image may have some visible ringing and block edge artefacts, but at least the textures and fine details are preserved!


I'm not a collector, but I hate vaxy faces. Which is also the reason I could spot CGI for years, until we had the ability to simulate even a pores of skin, but then again it were tuned to 11 and I could spot it again.


On the other (semi-unrelated) hand, film can be much, much better than digital for some applications. For example, a transmission electron microscope that uses an emulsion film to capture the image compared to a digital capture device - the film can be magnified again with a light microscope later for much more magnification than may be accessible when all of the information is registered to a single pixel.

Just something to remind us that there are pros and cons to everything.


Which explains the downvotes I'm getting. I've apparently angered the cinephiles.

Edit: I'm bemused that my subjective personal preferences have made multiple people this upset.


There are sites who do this exact kind of review.


Film grain is a funny topic... if it was the original look then it can be considered highest quality/fidelity to retain it. Filtering it makes for easier video compression.


This is a totally uninformed question. Are you sure the bad quality from the discs is the fault of the discs rather than your blu-ray reader? I'm assuming you've had good quality from the reader for other discs??


It's a digital signal, either it reads and works or it doesn't. You don't lose quality because a "bad" player.


You have stumbled upon one of the greatest virtues of owning your bits and bytes, which is something that people seem to be forgetting


The biggest difference for me is the sound quality. Lossless 7.1 24/96 or even 24/192. Compared to, at best, DTS or DD+.


I currently have a 5.1 setup, and I want your opinion. Do you think 7.1 or 5.1.2 with on-ceiling speakers would be better? I'm leaning toward 5.1.2.


Really depends on the room, your personal taste, and the source material. Do you have room in the room for the side speakers? Do you watch a lot of movies with planes or other things flying over your head?

I don't have gear that can decode Atmos, unfortunately, so I haven't tried ceiling speakers myself - only at movie theaters. Why not 7.1.2? =)


Definitely, although most people don't even have a crappy soundbar, let alone a quality 7.1 discrete speaker setup.


Where do you buy them from to ensure their authenticity?


>4k Blu-Rays' bitrates are around 128 Mb/s. For comparison, Netflix tops out around 17 Mb/s.

Surely, this is just a current business decision of Netflix. As internet speeds increase, the bit rate is almost inevitably going to catch up (most likely if Netlix et al decide to charge a premium for it!)


I doubt it. All streaming services are around this bitrate or a little higher, like around 30 Mb/s or so. This bitrate is good enough for most people and is likely to remain so. People watch on their 50" bargain TVs with a soundbar, or even just on a laptop/tablet. Most people wouldn't even be able to tell a difference. It's just not worth the cost of the almost 10x bandwidth for Netflix to stream losslessly encoded video and sound that like 95% of customers won't even notice.


You also can't always just 100% directly compare bitrates because Netflix can more easily adopt efficient new codecs while e.g. for 1080p Blu Rays a lot of them are still VC-1.


So here's what I do when I buy a movie, either on Blu-ray or via iTunes. I download the remux from Usenet. If there isn't one (rarely), I wait for the Blu-ray to arrive and I rip it myself. There's a U.K. release of Wages of Fear that you cannot get in the U.S. any other way than purchasing the Blu-ray from BFI. (The U.S. Criterion Blu-ray release is missing 5 minutes of footage.)

Even for movies I rent or stream, I often download the remux to watch it, then delete it after watching. It's the only way to avoid bullshit like streaming apps (all of them except Criterion, no matter your settings), not letting me watch to the end of the credits in peace. Or subtitles which are shown below the frame for movies which are wider than 1.78:1. Or, let's say you want to watch RRR in its original language with English subtitles. Netflix only has the rights to the Hindi dub.

I want my money to go to the filmmakers and actors and production crew, but these fucking studios and streaming companies, man. Please, let me pay you to watch the movie in high quality and in peace. Why is it easier for me to pirate content? Like, it takes me 30 seconds to go to, type in the name of the movie I want to watch, click search, click download, wait 5-10 minutes, and now it's there for me to watch.

Contrast that with going to Just Watch, maybe the movie is on a service I pay for, maybe it isn't. Maybe it's on Blu-ray, maybe only on DVD. Want to watch Happiness (1998)? Too bad, not available anywhere except maybe you can find a used DVD on Amazon for $50. How about The Heartbreak Kid (1972)? (Oh, hey, how do you like that, someone put up a copy of it on YouTube last year.) But time and again, movies just aren't available. I really don't understand why they get locked away. What's the incremental cost of taking a movie which has already been digitized for DVD or Blu-ray and making it available on a streaming service or for digital rental or purchase?

Come on Hollywood. Get your shit together.


Hollywood has got their shit together.

They have optimized for user hostility and money.

They've created a system where consumers have bought their products many times over yet still don't own them.

As an aside, games and software is 100x worse. Often times there is just no way to get old software or games running at all.

Why, when emulation of old computers is mostly a solved problem?


I am hoarding DVDs and it's because a.) it's cheap, b.) it's reliable c.) it's future-proof and d.) I don't trust tomorrow's political/cultural landscape to not disappear things down the memory hole as well as subtly editing out offensive material or otherwise altering things in hard to detect ways. Case in point, not long ago a family member witnessed "Scrubs" being scrubbed of a particularly offensive joke that ran afoul of today's censors. With streaming, you have absolutely no control over what version of a movie you're seeing. What are you going to do? Store the bits and compare it to your neighbors'? That right there is a crime.


Well you do you. If you ask me, DVD quality (480p) is not really watchable anymore these days. Looks like what VHS looked like when DVDs were new now that we have full HD and 4K to compare it to.

Just going full on pirate with an HDD full of instantly accessible files seems way more practical, especially living in a country where it's de facto legal.


I think calling DVDs and 480p "unwatchable" is a pretty extreme take. Sure you might not be able to count an actor's eyelashes, but a well-shot film on anamorphic DVD properly upscaled can still look pretty fantastic. If watching on a tablet or phone (as more and more people seem to do nowadays) it would probably be hard for your average consumer to even tell the difference unless you were running them side by side. And that doesn't even take into account that most 4K content is consumed on streaming services that save money by serving content at the lowest bitrate possible, leading to compression artifacts (notably distracting banding and loss of detail in films with a lot of low-lit scenes), where watching an uncompressed DVD could arguably be said to look superior.


> watching on a tablet or phone

Damn, I must've missed the models that come with DVD drives haha.

Honestly imo even on a tiny phone you can still tell the difference between 480p and 720p, not to mention 1080p. Not having high levels of compression definitely helps but only to a degree. I have a decent DVD collection from the pre-fiber era and honestly these days I rather just download a FHD version in a few minutes it takes to complete than take it out of the box and find a machine that still somehow has a drive. It's all just collecting dust.


If only DVDs were 480p. Its much much much worse: 480i (or something a bit higher but still interlaced)


I’m pretty impressed with the upconversion quality of the Xbox One for better viewing on a modern television.


Agreed. Now if I have a TV show I haven't seen, I check if I've already downloaded it years back and watch the downloaded version rather than stream it. I can't trust streaming services to show me anything as it is, ever since Netflix removed the Community episode with blackface (it was parodying blackface, that was the point).


> "Scrubs" being scrubbed of a particularly offensive joke

Which one?



It wasn't that, it was a one-liner by McGinley's character that just got inexplicably stricken.


DVDs have a limited lifespan as well


My oldest one is 25 years old and still works with no issues. Technically every physical object breaks down over time, but I expect that with proper storage and handling with care, a pressed DVD could last 50 years. And then you can also rip the bits and store them.


I have a disc from 2004 that had been in its original shrink wrap until this year but it had read errors when I tried to rip it and was showing signs of rot. Some discs are from bad batches, and you don't really have any way of knowing if a disc is bad until it starts rotting.


Luckily, the data on them does not. Storing a 5GB file locally is basically free, at $15 ish per terabyte for modern HDDs.


With MKV transcoding you can get them down to around 300MB, DVD quality is pretty shit.


> If you buy a DVD or a Blue-Ray at a retail store, you are able to play that disk for as long as that disk physically works (often over 20 years). There are very few if any countries that would allow a shop to send around bailiffs to seize DVDs already bought years past, because the distributor no-longer has the rights to distribute the content.

If a retailer dared attempt such seizure of people’s Property, there would mass outrage. The media would shout about the retailer being thief’s, questions would be raised in parliament and the business would most likely face legal problems.

On the other hand, if the distributor simply added the Blu-ray you bought to the blacklist of your DRM compliant Blu-ray player, I'm not so sure there would be the same level of outrage, even though the end result were the same.

My suspicion is the level of public outrage is less about some deeply ingrained sense of natural rights and more about what kind of actions feel familiar and which feel unfamiliar. Which is a problem, really.


> if the distributor simply added the Blu-ray you bought to the blacklist of your DRM compliant Blu-ray player, I'm not so sure there would be the same level of outrage

I don't see what leads you to that conclusion. I've also never heard about that happening, and I don't suspect this would happen unless something actually illegal was happening (illegal copies and such). The justification for actually blocking you from watching that movie for which you own a digital copy would be pretty hard to find. And the work around is relatively easy - dont connect your blueray player to the internet. With streaming services, you're at the mercy of the service provider to just lose a contract with a studio and stop providing their content.

> less about some deeply ingrained sense of natural rights

At this stage fairness is proven to be deeply ingrained, even in animals. There is something deeply unfair with losing access to something you were supposed to own, just because they can, and some corporate bean counter decided to not renew some licensing contract on their catalog because the competition offered a percent more.

> more about what kind of actions feel familiar and which feel unfamiliar

9/11 was a one-off, I didn't get familiar with this type of terrorist event. On the other hand, school shootings happen so often that I'm not surprised by them. Both still trigger outrage.


Has anyone tried a legal challenge to the word "buy"? It seems like a straightforward case of misrepresentation.


I don't know if this is exactly the same thing, but this ruling from the EU, coming from reselling oracle licenses, comes to mind:


That won't fix the core problem though - the platforms will just use another word for it and you still won't be able to take your content with you on a vacation or give it to your friends and family.

It's a massive degradation of consumer rights you had guaranteed with physical media.


I think getting rid of the deception and forcing companies to be upfront about what they're selling would be a significant improvement.

Hard to get companies to change when people don't even realize the problem.


'License' and 'EULA' basically do what you propose in the software world. They were a ploy to get more rights form 'buyers' than copyright allowed.

It works so well that a lot of people think companies can't sell software without giving the right to unlimited copies, even if a book or dvd are trivial counterexamples.

Basically the button 'buy' changes to license


Exactly this. Those of a certain age will remember the days when all media was physical media. People could purchase new, used or trade for a copy of this media. People had some amount of freedom regarding how they handle and/or distribute this media. It could be resold. A corporation could not immediately and arbitrarily decide to revoke your right to use the media or place many restrictions on _how_ you used it.

While streaming media has some notable conveniences in certain cases, the downsides to the consumer seem to outweigh those benefits. It's as if there is a coordinated assault on ownership rights across many industries which is being led by the ubiquity of actually-broadband internet connectivity, the streaming technology that exists across many industries (gaming, movies, music and even general software) paired with corporation's insatiable desire for growth at all legal (even some not) costs. Because they now can, they will.

As one who prefers freedom of use to maximum convenience I think it wise to purchase physical media when possible and back it up in a manner which is suitable to your long-term accessibility needs. Maybe I'm just a crabby old guy...


There's probably wording in the agreement (linked next to the checkbox we automatically tick before clicking the button) that says you're buying a license to watch the movie as long as the movie is available on the platform.

There are other definitions of buy a movie, e.g. buy the IP so you're allowed to make sequels.


The point of such a lawsuit would be to establish that a reasonable person thought they were “buying” it in the same way as a DVD, and the idea that it was time limited or could be unilaterally revoked was deceptively hidden.


If you sue Amazon, can they ban you from using their services?


This sort of thing does have a chilling effect. I've had issues with Sony and google. With a physical store? I'd have simply done a chargeback. With my them? I'm basically guaranteed to be banned from their services. That sort of thing doesn't happen in physical stores. One doesn't get barred from walmart if you have a beef at the return desk.


It's faster to build alternatives...

There will always at least 2 (N) groups of people who agree/prefer Nth direction


I expect that such a case would be enormously expensive, and bankrupt one or both sides in the process.


I work in R&D where tens to hundreds of millions are spent on talent/materials/engineering to design new high tech materials for the world.

It’s strange that this much effort practically gets about 10-15 years of protection(or less depending on prosecution time with the patent office), while a drawing of a mouse or “moving-pictures” is protected for a century.


Not using cost measured in dollars to equate the benefit of different things, but most studio films are at minimum tens of millions of dollars, with nine figures not being uncommon.


Of course, I’m just noting it’s interesting that a similar endeavor measured in dollars is protected for about the half the life of the inventors in R&D, and almost 10x that in the latter case.


This hit me long long ago when the kindle first came out. At the time (haven't looked since), eBooks were the same price as paper back books, but with a paper back book you OWN it. You can GIVE it to a friend. You can SELL it. Heck, if it gets really cold you can even burn it. With an eBook you can read it, and thats about it.


> With an eBook you can read it, rip it into an epub and give it to ALL your friends and everyone on the internet.


Or more accurately, someone's already done it and you get to be one of those friends.


It's usually cheaper, and they often have sales were you get it for 10%~20% of the paperback price.

Also, for fiction, it's an advantage too because many times there's only a hardback + ebook release. Since hardbacks are the more expensive and less convenient/easy version to read - heavier, get's damaged more easily - you can just get the ebook for maybe half the price of paperback


I understand the point you are trying to make but a hardcover book is definitely can take more damage than an ereader.


There needs to be a very large lawsuit or two about this. Claiming you can buy something, and then renting it, even if the rental is 20 years is fraud.



Good luck winning this with Amazon, Apple and Disney on the other side.


I buy a concert ticket. Does this mean I can go see that artist everywhere they perform forever now?

No. I bought a revokable, limited access right to see a particular performance.

Should we not use the term "buy" here as well?


That's a false equivalence though - it's well understood in this case that you bought the ticket not the performance, and that the ticket expires after one use. The same is not true of buying films, as it used to be possible to keep a physical copy (e.g. DVD) that no-one could take away from you, and that was recent enough that I think most people still (reasonably IMO) expect a perpetual license when 'buying' a movie.

We had a word in the olden days for buying a limited license to watch a film - we called it "renting".


> buying a limited license to watch a film

Buying a VHS was still a limited license. You weren't allowed to reproduce it and sell the reproductions. You weren't allowed to then operate a movie theater around your off the shelf VHS tapes. You weren't entitled to a new tape once the tape wore out.


When you are sold the concert ticket you know you are buying it to only view at the one specific time and location. It is an event ticket. With a digital movie, ostensibly buying lets you view it whenever you want wherever you want in perpetuity but that's not actually the case. We can use the term "buy" for digital movies if you actually are just buying a ticket that lets you view the movie however wherever and whenever the license specifies. But that information should be highlighted to the buyer otherwise it's deception.


> When you are sold the concert ticket you know you are buying it to only view at the one specific time and location.

Do I know this? Are you assuming I bothered to read the ticket ahead of time? I bought a ticket to the Red Hot Chili Peppers 2022 Tour. I should be able to go to all the tour, right?

Oh wait, you're telling me there's text on the ticket I should have read to understand it was only for one location and one evening? You really expected me to read all that legalese?

> With a digital movie, ostensibly buying lets you view it whenever you want wherever you want in perpetuity but that's not actually the case.

Ugh. I bet I would of had to read something to understand the limitations of what I was buying. I can't believe companies expect people to read about the things people buy these days, totally taking advantage of everyone by putting knowledge behind words.


Agreed. Even when you "buy" a DVD or Blu-Ray, you are actually just buying a copy of the media with a limited license to use it for certain purposes.

It's still copyright infringement if, for example, you buy a Blu-Ray disc and then open a movie theatre and start playing that disc publicly. The license you bought with the disc doesn't extend that far.

Whether you "buy" a movie via a disc or a streaming service, you're really just buying a limited license to display the movie along with either physical or digital delivery.


> I buy a concert ticket. Does this mean I can go see that artist everywhere they perform forever now?

This is a bad analogy. A better one would be, your bought a car from me, and three years from now, I tow your car away and do not compensate you for taking the car. Because buyer beware, caveat emptor, etc...


What part of a streaming movie is a physical item? It is even further removed and a worse analogy than my concert ticket is like a streaming movie license. With one you physically have a few thousand-pound piece of metal in your garage with a title from the government of ownership, the other you have a limited license on an account maintained by the service provider.

If you "buy" a car, and don't get a title, then yeah sure I guess the title holder can take it away. You didn't own it; you never had the title for it.


That's an interesting thought.

I wonder how long a used-car dealership that made people sign an unfair agreement similar to streamed movie legalese, and then later came to repossess people's cars, would last.


That doesn't compare. If I go to Amazon, look for a Harry Potter collection, I'm presented a Buy for kindle button. Not a "rent for some time, but read fast because we might take it away whenever" button. If they said rent, lease, license, borrow, peek momentarily into, it wouldn't be misleading.


You don't "buy the performance" but a ticket for a certain time.


You don't by the streaming movie but a license for an indefinite time.

And how do you know what the limits of the ticket or the license are? You read the document you're agreeing to when buying the ticket.


If they call it buying, but think renting, then I might as well call it borrowing, but think pirating.


I often wonder how much money the movie industry would make if they just charged $2 for HD movies and $3 for a 4k download, no DRM because it's pointless and clearly looking at pirate bay doesn't work. I think most people would just pay and probably quite a lot. I'd probably be spending $30 per month there and it would feel great to be doing things honestly but getting a file I could keep forever.

The people intent on pirating would still pirate and the people who wanted to pay a reasonable cost would get as good if not better experience than the pirates. $10+ to "own" a movie on a streaming service with DRM and lock in is far too much.