Torrenting vs Buying according to the Oatmeal

I love The Oatmeal and this is another perfect way to sum up my views on movie dowloads..

Torrenting vs Buying courtesy of The OatMeal

Torrenting vs Buying courtesy of The OatMeal


Don’t stay out of my territory

I’ve just finished watching Breaking Bad seasons 1&2 on Netflix to find that the third season has yet to air in the UK despite the fourth season having already aired in the US and the fifth and final season being due to air later this year, it’s also not available on physical release presumably the studio are waiting for someone to buy the rights to air it on TV before releasing for physical distribution.

This kind of s**t makes me angry when we have the TV and film studios trying to get the US government to introduce futile laws that aim to impede their customers from trying to enjoy the content that have produced. Yes studio people, they are the customers, they are the people who actually want to watch it, the people who enjoy the programming that you make and commission; they aren’t downloading it to ruin your business or to profit from it – ok a few might be, but they are profiting from the fans who can’t legally get hold of the content that you made for them to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I think copyright theft is bad, I believe that everyone should be paid for what they make/do; my point is that if the content is harder to get legally than it is illegally then people won’t make it hard for themselves. In fact, this tweet sums it up nicely:

I’ve spoken about this before, but it still surprises me that the TV and movie studios have yet to realise what the music industry learnt after requiring DRM on their content for so many years (it was around 5 years after the launch of the iTunes store before DRM was dropped across the board). If it’s easier to get the content people will pay for it. It’s 2012, the problem isn’t a technology one, it’s a human one, it sits with lawyers and executives, the kind of people who don’t have a clue what the internet is and think it’s just for ‘geeks’, the same kind of people that wanted to push SOPA and PIPA through.

It got me thinking that if the UK’s TV channels weren’t going to license the films or tv shows that some many people want to watch, maybe it could be possible to crowd-fund the licensing of this kind of content in a kickstarter fashion. If a streaming service was set up in such a way that all interested parties could register their commitment to certain TV shows and movies and agree an amount that they would be willing to pay to watch it, maybe we could buy it as a cooperative and then stream it beyond that point. Although the problem here is timing, I imagine it would take much longer to get enough interested parties and then negotiate the license agreements with the studios in which time everyone has got it quicker off of MegaUpload BTJunkie Pirate Bay. I’m interested in hearing people’s thoughts on this idea though.

And for those that haven’t seen Breaking Bad it’s well worth watching

Rubber Dinghy Rapids

I’m probably amongst the minority of my peers on this but for some time I’ve questioned the actions of those of my friends who regularly risk the potential legal ramifications of torrenting 1000’s of videos and albums every year and who have fallen foul to a plethora of viruses and Trojans from bogus downloads. I’ve not been a fan of pirating since my days at university when Napster was all new and the talk of the web and even less so since I took up camp at the 7digital offices where piracy is obviously one of our biggest competitors alongside messrs Jobs and Bezos. I certainly don’t advocate the theft of copyrighted material, it puts my job at risk, but after this weekend I’ve begun to understand why it happens.

After being reminded that I still hadn’t seen the Chris Morris film Four Lions I went to 3 HMV stores on Saturday but was unable to find it in any of them. I could have ordered it from Amazon but it would have arrived mid week and I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to watching it for weeks. I wanted to watch it that night. It wasn’t available on Zune or SkyPlayer on the XBox so I had a look round a few sites online but nowhere would allow me to buy it and then stream it to my TV through the Xbox 360 due to the DRM or requirement to use proprietary software. So I chose to torrent it.

The movie downloaded in around 20mins and the torrent client I chose, Vuze, has a DNLA client to allow me to stream it directly to my Xbox with no intervention – it even automatically converts it into the right format if necessary. The endless choice, ease and speed of the process makes it so effortless – if I could have that same service and pay for it I definitely would.

With the number of connected devices in the average household increasing and the advent of connected TV sets we need better licensed services in the UK that are simple for the average non technical person to use and made available on these platforms. I’m pleased to see Sky and Lovefilm have already taken a step into console integration with their movie services on XBox 360 and PS3 respectfully. There’s iTunes too, but you need an Apple TV device to play through your TV.   Outside of movies there are several good services (iPlayer, Seesaw and Skyplayer) but again they are only usable through a web browser. These existing services also need to look to make their content available through more platforms like Boxee and Roku so that they are simple plug and play services.

DISCLAIMER: I am actually now going to buy Four Lions from Amazon, it would have been better to be able to pay the studio, Optimum Releasing, directly with some form of honesty box system though.

Oh and the title of this blog post is taken from a quote in the movie and for those of you that haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend that you watch it, it’s laugh out loud funny all the way through.

The music industry goes lean

There’s been a bit of chatter today about Sony and Universal deciding that they will try putting new singles on sale as soon as they get radio airplay to try and reduce piracy. The existing model has new singles getting heavy radio airplay for several weeks before they go on sale in order to boost first week sales.

As consumers we are demanding, we are used to getting things now so making us wait means we will go elsewhere so it should have a positive effect. I’m doubtful that it’s going to make a massive impact on the piracy problem especially with those that never buy music – but then I guess that was money the labels were never going to see in the first place.