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February 17, 2007


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Why should we be bothered with paying for content when technology makes it possible to make other people’s work available for free?

1. Download quality is almost always worse than DVDs. Files in torrent land are compressed and the audio is often just in stereo and not the Dolby Digital and/or DTS tracks. Even the legit content source iTunes has DRM protected sub-DVD quality video and just two channel sound. Totally bogus. Give me DTS or give me death. Rarely do you see full DVD art, extras and all audio tracks available.
2. DVDs, movie theaters, hotel movies, video on demand and pay per view from your cable or satellite provider (which can be in a superior HD 1080i or 720p signal) are all instantaneous gratification, which is very valuable in the media delivery business and to me. If you should be so lucky as to find a full quality DVD image copy on the Internet, one with all menus, art, extras, audio tracks both foreign language and multi-channel surround, it’ll probably take you 15 hours to download. And you don’t know what you’re really getting and you don’t know if the files are corrupted.
3. Misc. costs involved in watching downloaded movies. Well, other than the fixed computer equipment costs and technology know-how necessary that will limit any potential damages to computer dorks like me, most still have to watch downloaded movies on their computers. Even if you download a movie and still want to watch it 15 hours later, well you can either watch it on your computer or hopefully be savvy enough to burn a DVD which will take you another hour and a half. And hopefully the burn works, and hopefully the movie you downloaded is actually the one you thought it was, and hopefully the files didn’t have any flaws. Rare. Computer monitors lack the contrast appropriate for movie watching. So you’ll have hook up your computer to your TV. Sure, a DVI or HDMI connection will do it. I do occasionally do that. However, I don’t have a multi-channel digital audio connection from my computer to my receiver, just a stereo one. An apple TV device will solve that though. Do you have one professor?
4. Watching a film in a theater has unique value. $150,000 projectors, 40 foot screens and modern digital theater audio are what I pay for, not just the movie content itself.
5. We shouldn’t bother paying if you value the movie at less than the price at which it is offered. And you shouldn’t bother paying, especially for a movie you wouldn’t buy or see in a theater anyway and you could otherwise see if you pay for Netflix or cable or movie channels, which I do.

And if we’re talking law, I believe the burden would be on you to show damages. I’m skeptical. Fixed costs are high for downloading movies and it takes a lot of patience and time and know how.

And perhaps such exposure increases the market for those movies. Did you read the article about those mix-tape DJs in the NY Times Magazine today? Hip hop labels encouraged mix-tape DJs to put unlicensed tracks on their underground/black market mix tapes because it increased exposure and sales of the studio albums of the artists. Same possibility here, for sure, for these Oscar movies.

And I’ll note that even assuming damages arguendo, when the time comes when it will be easy and seamless to quickly download full quality movies and watch them with the proper AV devices one owns for free, the art of movie making isn’t going to be hurt very badly. Huge big budget blow ’em ups might become fewer and further between, but let’s face it, have you seen the garbage out there and how much money they spend on making XXX 3 and Independence Day? It might be a good thing for the movie business and the world.

So your either/or of either a state of nature or civilization rhetoric may be a bit, well, blunt? Conservative black and white reasoning even?

Down with greed and exploitation of control of channels of distribution. Up with the lowering of costs, prices and the increase of efficiency. Up with film and art and movie theaters. Down with Tom Cruise and grotesque violence and hollywood big budget garbage. Join the revolution indeed.


Under U.S. law, copyright holders can choose to collect "statutory damages" of $750 - $150,000 per infringed work in lieu of proving actual damages.

Political Umpire

I find it hard to take the Oscars seriously anyway. It isn't much more than an excuse for a party. We know without the Oscars which films the critics like, and we know without the critics which films we ourselves like.

And look at some of their silly choices over the years. Dances With Wolves won in 1990 ahead of Goodfellas - what were the judges smoking? Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman? Was that anything other than a 'bout time' award? Thin Red Line didn't win best picture, nor did 2001 (or Kubrick ever, if I'm not mistaken) and ... oh I could go on and on ....


Doesn't using these for quasi-criticism make it fair use anyway?

Joan A. Conway

Speak for yourself, Political Umpire, I like Hollywood parties!

I studied acting for about ten years, and have been a stage actress.

But after awhile acting comes very easy, besides playing difficult characters with definitive speech patterns, and physical characteristics, performing difficult actions and emotions, but that is besides the point.

If you are not meshing with the plot, you are a HAM!

And even if your performance fits into the totality of circumstances you do stand the chance of being too easily identified with the character you play, and hence, sort of a Wayne Newton!

Joan A. Conway

As far as ripping of someone's intellectual work, my Dad tapped into AT&T's service for years, as an electrician. So there! Finally, he was caught, but he was dying!

Political Umpire

Yeah but Joan I don't get invited to them ...

No problem with the party, however (*grumbles to self*), but you can't deny that many of the choices the judges make are weird, to put it kindly.


Doesn't it depend on how well each film campaigns for the votes of the Academy members, i.e. by providing them with merchandising, free tickets, dinners at expensive restaurants, etc? Chicago, for that matter, was one of the strangest winners ever.

I wouldn't break the law in this instance. I have been at the receiving end of it for downloading a few songs ('I'd never get caught anyway...'), so I can only suggest to be wary.


Meaning RIAA sued you?

Political umpire

Ah, suprised to see me Mr Duck ...

Nice to run into you in another part of the world. I wouldn't be surprised, frankly. It's certainly how host nations for the Olympics, Football World Cup (soccer as we're in the USA) etc are determined - a bunch of fat cats getting schmoozed in a four-year long junket. Why should the Oscars be any different?


Seeing as I am resident in Germany, no not RIAA, but lawyers acting on behalf of the German record industry. Paid a small fine to the prosecutor's office (to be donated to charity) and a huge (at least for me) out of court settlement after a private suit was brought.

So, yes, I would recommend to anybody to stay the hell away from anything that possibly could violate copyright law. It may be unlikely that you get caught, but if you do, it will be one of the more stressful experiences you go through.

Hello, P-U, followed your link ;)


Soyle Web And I have to agree with Andrei, the smoking was really annoying. The advantage of being in the middle of nowhere in Germany gave me the opportunity of getting the max out of my car, so I won’t complain about that

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