Torrent as a counter-tool for MegaCorps and Monopolies (and grandpas), pt.1: In the name of money

  • Torrent as a counter-tool for MegaCorps and Monopolies (and grandpas), pt.1: In the name of money

Some random thoughts about torrenting and … “piracy”.


This article was to be published at 23 July of 2014 when, ten days before, MPAA shut down a github code repository , the one of popcorn time. I was so furious to make a post about it, about the “piracy”, about the “pain in the ass” torrent protocol and all the evil stuff this poor industry faces :/ . When I asked myself what do I want to write for specifically, I noticed all the fury and the anger I had, wasn’t all that much for popcorn time case alone. I wanted to refresh peoples memories a little bit, remind them that this industry was and is extorting people to stop sharing what they actually bought: cds , video tapes, cassettes, books, digital media … Nah! Wait! People don’t actually share the medium. They share their favourite art pieces with others. That is a part of the art. Art moves people, that’s the purpose of its existence, but companies encounter art just like a product. So the point is not just to consume it, right?

From marketing’s perspective, sharing, it’s also a huge “no-cost” advertising campaign for the artists and for the companies but this part it’s skipped on purpose. Where would we have NirvanaNevermindalbumcoverbeen if we couldn’t share this album with our friends? It is a bit funny Nirvana chose this cover for their album. Cobain … funny guy huh?

 

But… not so random after all.


Let’s go see for some “piracy” facts:

Did you know that:

The RIAA brought suit against Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc, (Diamond) in 1998, “alleging that the Rio [a device manufactured by Diamond] Rio_pmp300does not meet the requirements for digital audio recording devices under the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, 17 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. (the “Act”), because it does not employ a Serial Copyright Management System (“SCMS”) that sends, receives, and acts upon information about the generation and copyright status of the files that it plays.”   The Rio is a portable digital audio device which “allows a user to download MP3 audio files from a computer and to listen to them elsewhere.”   The lower court denied the RIAA’s request for injunctive relief,  holding that the RIAA had failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits, and the RIAA appealed.  On appeal, the ninth circuit upheld the lower court’s decision to deny injunctive relief but found that the lower court had erred in holding that the Rio was a covered device under the AHRA.  The court noted that in order to be a digital audio recording device, the Rio must be able to reproduce, either “directly” or “from a transmission,” a “digital music recording.”  17 U.S.C. § 1001(1).

Did you know that:

The Orwell estate appears to crack down on people who dare to use the number “1984” without permission?

Movie industry defends:

  • 60+ years old, obsolete business model
  • content overpricing
  • promoting cultural content which “sells more” than quality content
  • Artists’ continuous moral harassment by obliging them (with one way or another) to create or to prefer creating, content which “sells” and not content that matters

While they claim sales losses, University of Kansas School of Business case study (Using-Markets-to-Measure-the-Impact-of-File-Sharing-on-Movie-Revenues-Koleman-Strumpf) says the opposite, “Low impact on content sales”. Also, piracy monetization companies like Rightscorp continue to fail and bring nothing but loss. $3.4 million in 2014 and this continues at the first and the second quarter of 2015. We can easily figure out that the whole cat-mouse chasing is unprofitable and unmanageable, besides it is irrational.

Back in time, cassettes, blank cds/dvds and video cassettes were targeted as well.  Major companies, were protecting obsolete business models as usual. It’s just the medium that is changed and one other costly thing… Did they manage to stop the “killing” of music? Has music suffered all that much as they say?

I think not. In addition, we can clearly see where the music industry is at present. The vast Internet and its technology (file sharing, social sharing from social media) has freed the reproduction of the art work and brought these three sides closer: the artists as beings, their work and the audience. Hence, the industry took over the advantage of this new era, where people sharing (advertising) because they liked the art work (the content)! As a result more and more artists, famous and unseen, have gained more publicity. In any kind of business, in case you didn’t know, more publicity is equal to profit. A lot of profit! And it was all for free!

Did you know that:

British IFPI in the 1980s, launched an anti-piracy campaign with the slogan “Home Taping Is Killing Music.”?

Did you know that:

An early proponent of home taping was Malcolm McLaren, who was at the time managing the British band Bow Wow Wow. In 1980 the band released their Cassette single “C30, C60, C90 Go” on a cassette that featured a blank B side that on which the buyer could record their own music. The band’s record label, EMI, dropped the group shortly afterwards because the single allegedly promoted home taping.

 

home taping is killing musicDid home taping killed music or spurred more people get involved with music?

 

Some random Τorrent facts:

  • Torrent and “piracy” is used as a tool for counterweight media monopolies (and that’s a good reason to use it!)
  • Studies showed that consumers will willingly pay a reasonable fee for the content.
  • Short leaked movies act like a huge promotion. Period.
  • Torrenting and sharing internet culture is responsible for forcing entertainment companies to go to the digital age – without it we would all be held back in the previous century.

 

Why MPAA or any other organization do not sue or send DMCA notices (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to facebook users, or even youtube users for sharing their content for free? I know what you’re thinking… YouTube’s content-id system and DMCA portal  or VEVO etc (In contrast read below about Aurous app case). Youtube mostly is being used by average users, who are listening to the music they like and that means, the majority of tracks played, are “non-official-pirated” music videos. So proportionally, this model is wrong.

On the another hand, Second-hand book stores and record stores are the backbone of a rich culture, and people are enjoying fine works there without the artist getting any cent due to mass sharing of content, even though it was bought once (store owner). Don’t Torrents work the same way?

How copyrights holders reacted when VHS or cassette recorders sneaked in this business and enabled mass piracy of their content ?

TapePiracyWEB

The Popcorn Time Paranoia


Popcorn time was a free & open source project, a piece of software using peer-to-peer networks to stream videos to the users. Therefore, the technology it provides can popcorn timebe used by anyone (since it’s open source) to provide decentralized video streaming. This kind of technology can -from a technical perspective- be used and applied to any similar purpose. Why this software wasn’t used by the movie industry in order to cut their costs -let’s say bandwidth and distribution for example- to provide their content at lower, reasonable prices, with convenience and as a result sell more and having their clients (users) happy?

Instead, the code repository was taken down once, development team was blackmailed (the first and the second one) and  more restricting and dangerous legal precedent is created.

Update: popcorn time is down for good. Say hello to butter project.

Andrew Sampson, Strike & The Aurous app


Andrew Sampson saw his paypal account permanently limited last May after MPAA contacted PayPal complaining about Strike.

Strike is a Torrent search engine, designed to streamline torrent searches and improve search results. As a peer-to-peer (P2P) tool, Strike operates using both a public torrent tracker index as well as a Distributed Hash Table (DHT) scraping mechanism.

Sampson placed a paypal donation button on his site which include various of “legal” open source projects including the “illegal” one, Strike. Is Strike actually illegal? No, it’s not. Strike, is a search engine for existing torrents. Not all torrents are “illegal” neither search engines as whole are illegal anyway. Adopting that view, Google should be suspended for a trillion reasons more than Strike.

 

 

The Aurous app


Aurous is an open source project, whose database is being populated by existing content on other sources like YouTube and SoundCloud backed up from BitTorrent aurous-logonetwork to provide basic media player capabilities, a songs library and playlists to the users. The lead developer of the project Andrew Sampson, announced that Aurous will provide a simple content-id system for DMCA notices to be ensure that no one’s copyrights will be violated. As a result, this dev team was also sued (by RIAA), Aurous team was granted for a short time extension until 11 November 2015, a temporary restraining order was forced upon software distribution and promotion by all means and github repo is down at the moment (we hope until the court’s decision).

 

The Orwell Estate parody


George Orwell’s 1984 is a classic book describes the future with mass surveillance and control. Josh Hadley, an internet radio host, used CafePress to sell T-Shirts (never actually sold any of them). The design of one of his T-Shirts annoyed Orwell Estate, claiming that he used quotes from the book, despite the fact he used a number, and as far as I know too, numbers can’t be copyrighted. Se by yourself. This madness can’t be continued.

1984shirt1984pending

Art shouldn’t be a market in such a way it is now


The Arts have a thin line between gaining profit and the non-profitable part of their existence. Art’s existence is strictly combined with knowledge, education, freedom of speech,  joy and health. From the beginning of mankind, art is been used for all of those purposes. Destroying art by using and treating it like a product will bring us back to the middle age or worse. The illusionary view of artists living in huge resorts should stop right now! The majority of the good, meaningful artists are underpaid, not paid at all or … dead. Where, how and when is this going to stop, if future legislations continue to be more and more restraining upon all kinds of art? How art will survive the nominalism?

Let’s face it, they are too damn stubborn to change their ways of doing this business, they don’t have any other way to make these millions, except to criminalize the progress and anything seems so innovative and rebellious. They shut down code repositories – and only their god knows if they realize that programming is (f…) science! They are a bunch of stubborn millionaire grandpas pulling strings all around the world, in order to gain more money and power. Protecting their petty interests. MegaCorps work systematically under and above the surface to force new legislations in Europe and the USA, aiming to criminalize the sharing of any kind, establish political and economical borders to a border-less technology, limiting culture of sharing instead of adopting a new business model, embrace it and create new ways to get profit out of their….. “products”.

Would you like to be barred from accessing cultural content?

fearIt’s all about control through fear at the end. We arrived at a point that third-party private companies acting on behalf of other private companies, blackmail and imprison people who create free software. Teachers, researchers, students, scientists, hackers, activists and artists are afraid to give lectures, write papers, create software, create hardware, write thesis, produce sound in case there’s copyrighted material involved. Crimes like assault have less or the same punishment with copyright infringement.

Let me remind you that most digital stuff are created by hackers all over the world collaborating and sharing content with each other and publish it for free. This is the way both, the technology and art are evolving. That’s how humans make progress. It’s a lose-lose situation for entertainment industry and content providers.

Bill Laswell (Musician):

People fear and hate what they don’t understand. It threatens their security, existence, career and image.

As a conclusion, piracy is not  the problem, it never was. The failure of content providers to be modern and innovative is the one and the second is the same old power game. These organizations have the power to approve almost directly a legislation inside parliaments in Europe and congress in the US, and they are gaining lots of it, it’s an on going process.

Therefore, I can discern a very low and sneaky political profile on the background, acts like a domino effect from the other side of the pacific to Europe, and vice versa. Similar legislations are being submitted and/or approved but without the same cause being triggered the first side to apply its measures. The tangible result is that we can buy a music album or a movie, enjoy it on our computer but listening to it on our portable audio devices is illegal! How it can be possible? In which way I am an outlaw when using the same cassette in home stereo and then put it on my walkman?

All these prior actions and affirmative decisions of  courts, parliaments and politicians (who are clueless about the subject) have led to a tremendous arbitrariness of the executive branch to consider and treat developers, sysadmins and “pirates” like common criminals! Unfortunately, I expect this to raise as years pass…

We should hack our way around.

MoneyTracks

Quoting users comments


TopChef

Next they will be asking Microsoft to remove their media player from windows as people use it to play pirated films. Supplying a screenshot of a pirated movie playing in the media player seems to be all they need.

Michael

MPAA logic: To stop bank robberies let’s shut down GM and the manufacturing of cars.

Anonymous

That notice reads like:-
“Do what we want or we will sue you into nonexistence”.
The MPAA has a history of doing that, which makes such threats more effective.

Violynne

The MPAA reminds me of a person complaining of a headache, spending their time all day bashing their skull into a desk, hoping, one day, the desk will move.

Anonymous

Dear GitHub Inc:

The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (“MPAA”) represents each of the major motion picture studios in the United States
Dear MPAA,
The introduction is unnecessary. Everybody in the world knows who the MPAA is, who the represent and how synonymous with giant greedy lying douchebags they are.

Ninja

heard from a few people who say it’s so good that they find it much more convenient and easy to use than things like Netflix

Instead of trying to go legal they could, you know, LEARN something from what the software offers and improve their own services.

We know this ain’t happen and if it ever happens it will cost one kidney per month.

DannyB

The digital streaming services the MPAA blesses only serve US customers. (Try out Netflix, Amazon, Hulu.) The ‘foreigners’ whose money they aren’t interested in constitute only 96% of the planet’s population.

Therefore that 96% of the planet who are ‘foreigners’ should be allowed to use Popcorn Time without complaint, since they do not represent potential lost sales to the MPAA.

 

JH

The first thing everybody should have learned from Napster and similar cases that followed it were that including hollywood content within promotion materials is a bad idea. The courts will see that as inducing infringement. Don’t ever do anything that would imply (in emails, on the phone, or even with your fellow developers) endorsement of infringement. There should be a clear policy on this before you start a project-or fork.

Then you need to consider that the mafia is still going to utilize tactics like that seen here. The answer to this is setting up a .onion via Tor and manage your own anonymous repository. Again- don’t post anything that is infringing. Have a legally sound DMCA policy in place to gain protection in the event that copyright infringing content is posted to the forums, etc. Ideally such forums should be third party though and merely linked to another site which maintains the same legally sound DMCA policy.

If the government breaks down the door to your .onion node you should have a lawyer already on retainer for your project. The government will seize your assets, but if I’m not mistaken a lawyer which has already been paid can’t be undone. That retainer can be significant and refundable.

The DMCA policy should probably direct all legal inquires directly to your lawyer. Your developers/users/administrators are not lawyers and should be informed to STFU about legal matters (that should be in the site policy- and be blatantly clear on a terms of use page), keep your mouth shut when arrested (and make sure your admins/developers know to STFU when arrested and who to call), or a lawsuit is filed.

While it is sad that a non-profit project is forced to operate like a business it’s critical to survival these days. We really need a lawyer on retainer for the technical community in general I think. Anybody with technical know how should keep a business card with that lawyers emergency 800 # (which ideally is easy to remember since it’ll probably be seized). The goal of this legal service should simply be to help people in the initial phase of navigating the legal system, and ensure an appropriate lawyer is found quickly. If you f’ up (and you will since you don’t know the legal system) the courts won’t care. They won’t make it easy or even possible to fix. You didn’t have a lawyer to inform you to STFU? Too bad. You didn’t know that you had to file xyz paperwork not to lose. Too bad. You didn’t know that you had to keep your eyes on some obscure legal docket in every f’ing state to avoid having a default judgement against you? Too bad. Yea- that last one basically is true in some states, and the fact you weren’t served doesn’t matter (you’d think somebody would have to contact you if they were bringing a lawsuit against you, but apparently not in some cases).

Having had to deal with patent trolls and followed cases like Lavabit I understand the legal trickery they use to F’ us over. The only way to minimize the damage is to have good legal advise from the get-go until a more permanent and/or appropriate lawyer can be found.

Even after all this your going to get screwed. The legal fees will add up quickly and bankrupt you before you ever make it to court. If things go well and everything is settled quickly (ie you give in and use legal trickery of your own) you’ll probably find the legal fees are several times whatever you paid out to the entity which brought the lawsuit, and the substantial legal bills have probably still bankrupted you.

You wonder why people commit suicide as the result of legal persecution/prosecution? It’s not because they’re in the wrong. It’s because your guaranteed to loose as the result of the cost of fighting ANY legal battle. Then you also have the United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines which have made things even worse. 83% chose to fight in court in 1983. In 2009 96% pleaded guilty and this can be directly attributed to the sentencing guidelines. Good people like Aaron Swartz, Ladar Levison, and others lost not because they were in the wrong. They lost because of the insurmountable costs of defence, the design of the system, and the abuse of the legal system by law enforcement, schools, judges, and prosecutors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Federal_Sentencing_Guidelines

Galileo Galilei:

“and yet it moves.”

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