RE: [slightly OT] File protection from copying

Subject: RE: [slightly OT] File protection from copying
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "Sam Beard" <sbeard -at- oico -dot- com>, "Lech Rzedzicki" <xchaotic -at- gmail -dot- com>, "Lev Abramov" <lev -dot- abramov -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2008 14:10:24 -0500

On Behalf Of Sam Beard announced:
> What you fail to consider with your argument in favor of torrent
> files is that this constitutes theft, particularly when they're
> "available on the same day they're screened in the cinema". Theft of
> this nature means that the artists involved (actors, screenwriters,
> producers, directors, all of the support people involved in making the
> movie, etc) don't get any recompense for that particular "purchase" of
> the movie. In a barter system, that would be fine. However, the movie
> (and book and music and ....) industry doesn't work that way. Without
> the incentive of making a living by doing something that you love for
> the enjoyment of other people, many people in those industries would
> longer produce the things they love for the enjoyment of the masses.
> Some would still produce books, movies, etc, but only for the
> of a select few people near and dear to them. The system employed by
> Apple through iTunes for the distribution of movies is currently the
> best that's available. Personally, I would also prefer that the movie
> available for viewing for a longer period of time than 24 hours after
> initially beginning to watch it. But at least there's a legal way out
> there now whereas before there was only your way. And we won't even
> begin to discuss the karmic related aspects of such actions! ;-P

Sam, what your argument fails to consider is that there was a large
mainstream(ish) demand for movies, music, and other such product
(including good ole text-and-pictures, otherwise known as books), in
modern formats (computer and portable) that people preferred them, and
that the traditional media empires were not meeting that demand. For the
first few years, they weren't even aware of it.

There was really no squawk from the traditional media when the first
hackers came up with the first methods of recording and presenting audio
and video on computing devices, because they were doing it for their own
pleasure and convenience, and that of a small circle of their geeky

Much like Bill Gates ignored the internet while concentrating on his
then-traditional (office and home-island users of software), the studios
and publishers ignored the web and the culture that was rapidly growing
it... and being grown by it.

When they finally did notice that there was some potential loss of
revenue happening to their existing model (in which they'd prospered for
decades), they reacted by whining and hollering "Don't do that!", and
allowing _years_ to slide by before introducing their own services.
When those services appeared, they were already outdated, and they
annoyed people because it was profoundly obvious that their major
premise was enforcement, while the minor focus (the needs and desires of
customers) was given short shrift at best. That is, they have far less
interest in serving their customers than in preventing rip-offs.
Let's see:
- paying customers are made to jump through hoops and are treated like
- non-paying "customers" get variety, convenience, ease-of-use and
responsive "providers"
I had some sympathy for producers and distributors when audio and video
"piracy" meant that somebody made physical copies of tapes and DVDs and
sold them for money. It was supportable that the media companies would
go after the makers and sellers of such "pirate" goods. Notice that
they didn't go after the consumers of such goods.
But these days, most of the copies being distributed are free. Somebody
might be losing some revenue (though there are convincing arguments that
it's the old formats that are losing out and the studios/distributors
just didn't jump fast enough to be ready for the current formats), but
nobody is directly gaining illicit revenue when another bittorrent
completes. Yet notice that the industry heavyweights are going after
users/consumers, now.

As for all the creative work going away if studios and
20-million-dollar-a-film actors can't get their exclusive rights
enforced, not everybody thinks that's such a bad thing. Lots of
craftsmen were displaced when horse-and-buggy went out of fashion. Some
whined and pouted (and died broke). Some found different ways to make a
living or found new industries to use their same skills (like high-end
auto-makers still needed people who could work in leather and fine

You might have noticed that there are increasingly high-quality "movies"
being produced for YouTube distribution (among all the dreck, of
course), and that's _with_ the studio blockbusters still in theatres
(and people still paying to see movies on the big screen). Lots of
smart, talented people are simply bypassing the corporate model of
entertainment and information, and taking their own work to the masses.

That is, the problem - too easy distribution of works in digital form -
is also the solution. People who would once have been content to
"distribute" their labors-of-love to just a few friends now have the
ability to reach everyone on the planet who is interested, and beyond.
It's a solution from the perspective of the people who are driven to
produce art and from the perspective of people who want access to art.

Have you noticed that bands and performers that are already richer than
god, and who can count on selling millions of copies of their next
studio-made album, are still willing and eager to take their show on the
There are two forces making that work. One is that the performers crave
a live audience. As good as it is to polish off a new CD and get paid
royalties, they still feel the need to get out where real live audiences
At the same time, "consumers" who enjoy a studio album are still
prepared to shell out big bucks (often hundreds of dollars per ticket)
to experience live performances.

If all the major studios and distribution labels were to close tomorrow,
I'm confident that there would still be touring rock bands, and there
would still be talented people in their own studios creating recordings
for internet distribution. It might be a different crop of productive
talented people. It might be some of the ones who are already famous and
rich - those who didn't go into a big sulk about the departure of the
corporate recording business.

The same would apply to film. There'd be an upsurge of live theatre, and
there'd be some real gems of recorded video drama appearing among the
YouTube crud. True artists and performers simply can't just stop. They
are driven. Only the mostly-mercenary ones would fold up their
production companies and go away. Maybe they've had their day and
rightfully so.

Have you noticed that TV shows like "American Idol" and "So You Think
You Can Dance" are not running out of talent? They tour the same big
cities year after year, culling from the tens of thousands of people who
choose to show up. Yet each year, there are more extremely gifted people
among the also-rans and losers. It's not that new kids are growing up
and becoming ready. The people who show up are all ages. For whatever
reason, they didn't enter the contest previously. And that's just the
ones who want fame and fortune (or the chance of it) via that particular
route. There are tons and tons more talented artists of all kinds out
there.... I should say, out here, where we real people are. It's only
the major studios and the top 2% earners among the "stars" who have a
lot to lose if the world's entertainment-delivery model moves on ... or
moves back to an earlier model based on performers getting paid by the
number of tickets they can sell to personal, live performances.

The same general argument applies to the written word and to other forms
of art. If the concept of copyright was struck down tomorrow, some
writers would stop writing. Most would keep doing what they are driven
to do.

Yes, there's a shift in fortunes when there's a shift in paradigm. Some
people drop out of sight. Some people adapt and continue to prosper.
Some people find opportunity that wasn't there before.

There's a certain degree of success at selling MP3s, when the price is
low enough. Nobody bothers to build timed expiry or number-of-playings
expiry into simple recordings of songs. So people willingly pay a buck
or two to download them, even though they could find free copies if they
cared to look.
But the example was paying for a video download that was designed to die
after 24 hours, whether it was convenient for you to view it within that
time or not. That's just sick, and people have no sympathy. Theatrical
and DVD releases still pay the production costs and generate profit for
deserving movies. Demanding to get more than a buck or so of profit off
a file that costs you nothing to serve, and using artificial methods to
boost your revenue is ugly, and people shy away from it. The people who
dreamed up that scheme are deliberately driving away potential
customers; driving them into the open arms of the very "pirates" they
If people suddenly stop wanting the big-screen experience, then the
model has finally changed, and first-run theatrical release will no
longer pay the production costs of a blockbuster. Maybe the new model
will no longer support $250-million dollar production costs. So be it.
It was a good ride for some people. The next wave will be a good ride
for a different gang.
Maybe the new model will support only movies whose cost can be recouped
by low-price, paid-for downloads, low enough in price that people will
gladly pay the couple of bucks for a cupful of databits that they are
going to show in _their_ homes, on _their_ equipment, using _their_

Disclaimer: I don't have a single pirated video or song or e-book.
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[slightly OT] File protection from copying: From: Lev Abramov
Re: [slightly OT] File protection from copying: From: Lech Rzedzicki
RE: [slightly OT] File protection from copying: From: Sam Beard

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