How to rip dvds – including “copy-protected disks” – with dvd::rip and vlc

March 27, 2016

Disclaimer: I never ever break the law.  Any suggestion that I do so, regularly and in flagrant disregard of conventional norms, is unintended and all I can say in my defence is that you must have misunderstood what I’ve written (I often write fiction – maybe this blog entry is fiction.  Lies, lies; all is lies!).  Anyway, don’t never do wrong!! (was that a double negative?)

I hate buying DVDs.  Bittorrent is beautiful, it takes away all that parting with money nonsense.  But another way to get cool videos is having friends who buy DVDs then lend them out to their friends.  Including you!  Except you don’t watch the thing once then give it back – you riiip it first!

piracy-is-not-a-victimless-crime-resized

Don’t copy DVDs!  Not only is it illegal, it’s not a victimless crime.  Think of the poor movie stars, the directors, the multi-millionaire producers.  And the children!  Won’t somebody please think of the children? [image shamelessly borrowed from the Intellectual Property Rights Center (whoever they are).  Don’t sweat it, IPRCENTER, you can have the image back when we’ve finished using it…]

I like using dvd::rip despite its stupid name.  I mean, what’s up with the double-colons?  They’re invisible to Google as far as I can make out.  Luckily for you, I (the King of stealing shit) found the dvd::rip download page.

Now for the bad news (so far as most of you are concerned – it’s a Linux program!!!  Ha!  Ha!  Ha!  Linux FTW!!  If you want to learn how to rip DVDs with Windows or Mac, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  But don’t give up the hunt too quickly.  Tenacity is a great quality for a pirate, hacker, oil-field surveyer, just about anyone to have.  And if that doesn’t work out for ya, get yerself a Linux OS.  Ubuntu is my favourite (also my first, so I may be biased) but there are lots of other distros to try.

Okay, so you have Linux (Ubuntu!  Ubuntu!  Choose Ubuntu!) installed.  Now you need a DVD ripping software.  My personal choice is dvd::rip, despite its stupid name.  It’s a stupid name because those dumb double-colons stop you from installing the program via the command line (ie sudo apt-get install application-x).  But the Ubuntu Software Centre will find it easily enough, or the package manager of whatever Linux distro you’ve installed.  Tell it to install, and in a jiffy dvd::rip will be downloaded and installed, stupid double-colons and all  (depending on how fast your internet connection is and how long you consider a jiffy to be).

If, for some reason, your distro installation system doesn’t find dvd::rip, you can find downloads in various formats here.

Okay, you have dvd::rip installed on your system and you have a DVD you want to rip.  We’re nearly there: all you gotta do is to stick in the DVD and rriiiip it.

Insert the DVD, then run dvd::rip.  Under the File menu, click on New Project.  The next screen will want some storage path information.  By default the project is called unnamed.  If you change it in the Project name box, it will automagically change in the other boxes too.  Note that the files created by dvd::rip will appear in a sub-directory of your home directory. Now click on the button labelled +create project. dvd::rip will want to know where to put the *.zip file.  For this example, I’m ripping the DVD of the movie The Departed, so I called the project “departed”.  So dvd::rip wants to know where to put the file departed.rip file.  I generally just stick them in my home directory.  Choose where you want your *.rip file to be stored, then click OK.

Now the program wants some info about the DVD device you’re using.  Generally leave this as it is, unless you’re using an external or non-default DVD device.  You’ll be offered a ripping choice: Copy data from DVD to harddisk before encoding or Encode DVD on the fly.  I choose the first because it is quicker and puts less strain on the DVD devices.  It also enables “interesting features”, but I haven’t explored these yet.

 

dvdrip-save-project-departed

So, you’ve selected the DVD device and ripping mode.  Now click on the greyed-out button RIP Title.  This brings you to a new screen.  There’s a big empty space here which will fill with the DVD’s contents when you click the button Read DVD table of contents. Click it.

A list of the table of contents will be printed to the screen.  In the case of The Departed it’s pretty obvious which particular title you want to rip: there are only 2 options, and one is only 1 second long.  So title 2, all 2 hours and 25 minutes of it, is the one you want.

dvdrip-tableofcontents

 

Sometimes choosing is more difficult.  Generally, the longer item is the one you want.  Sometimes though. a sneaky attempt at “copy protection” (hah!) presents you with a long list of titles of almost identical lengths.  There’s a pretty easy way of working out which title is the one you want to rip.  I will explain how to get past this ridiculous attempt at “copy-protection” later*.  But, to continue with this example, it’s clear which track you want to rip. So high-light it (by clicking on it) then click on Rip selected title(s)/chapter(s) near the bottom of the screen.  The status bar at the bottom of the screen will start turning orange – the more orange you can see, the more of the DVD has been ripped.  So now it’s a waiting game.  Large files can take 45 minutes or more ro rip!  So now’s a good time to make some coffee, maybe watch some TV show you downloaded from the internet, you naughty pirate, you!

When  the ripping is done, the status bar at the bottom of the screen will not be orange any more.  It will  be clear, except for some text telling you how much free space you have left on your hard disk.  Now click on Transcode.  On the Transcoding page, usually the only changes from the default are under Video Bitrate Calculation: by Target media I choose from the drop-down menus One x 850 MB  Then I click on Transcode, and sit back to watch the status bar fill with orange again – or maybe watch some more illegal content while waiting for the transcoding to finish…  By default dvd::rip makes 2 passes transcoding, which can take some time…

At the end of all this transcoding… and waiting… and transcoding… and waiting… that status bar will trn colourless again, with some text saying how much diskspace is left.  The ripping is complete.  Go to ~/dvdrip-data, and in the directory named avi you will find your movie in an avi video file -move it to where you keep your video files .  The sub-directories tmp and vob may as well be deleted, as I haven’t found a use for them yet. The files in the vob directory are especially large – in the case of The Departed, there were 8 .vob files, all but one weighing in at 1.1 GB each!  They may be useful (perhaps for transferring the movie to another video DVD?) but I haven’t looked into that yet.  So I do myself a favour by deleting the contents of the dvdrip-data directory and freeing up the disk space.

*The sneaky yet futile attempt at “copy protecting”.

I told you that I’d get to this nonsense, and so I have.  Some DVDs, when their tables of content are open, list many titles as the one you want to copy.  You can’t tell them apart very easily, as they are all near enough the same length.  But only one of them is the track you want.  The others are a school of red herrings, containing just parts of the movie or other such crap.  What you need is “The 99 Video Titles Fix”.  What you need is vlc.

vlc should be available through the Software Centre or Synaptic (I’m assuming that you’re using Ubuntu. It might be in the package manager of other Linux distros.  If you’re having problems finding it, have a look at the VideoLAN site for possibly useful information. And Google.  Never forget the mantra: Google Is Your Friend.)  If you’re going to rip one of these “copy protected” disks with dvd::rip you are going to need vlc.  Unless you know of another method, in which case please share this other method in Comments below (or if you’re shy, send it to me direct via the Contact Form button at the top of this page.

captain-america-the-first-avenger-resized

This guy is a dick.  Really!  I ended up cheering for the Red Skull, that Captain was so goody-two-shoed.  And a shield?  FFS! [image stolen, I mean borrowed, from amazon.com]

Anyway.  A friend of mine lent me his DVD of Captain America: The First Avenger, and an evil voice in my ear whispered “Rip the DVD and add it to your goodly-sized collection of comics-based movies.”  You see, I collect comics-based movies.  The good voice in my other ear said something like “Mmph! Mmmph!” like it had been gagged or something.  Anyway, I’m easily led, so I set to ripping Captain America.

But those evil guys at Hydra, I mean Marvel Studios, had employed a fool-proof method of copy protection.  I fired up dvd::rip, had it read the table of contents, and look what it showed me!

cappy-table-of-contents

99 tracks in total, 16 of which were about the right size to be the one I wanted.  But only one was the right one.  So what to do?  Rip all 16 possibles?  That would take a bloody long time.  There had to be a quicker way, I thought.  And I was right.  I consulted my good friend Google and it found this for me.

Basically, fire up vlc,  then select Media > Open Disc.

vlc-open-disc

Next select the type of disc you’re about to play (DVD), enter the device name and path (VLC will select the most likely device – or use Browse and click Play to start playback.

vlc-disk-selection

Now start watching the movie – make sure you’ve gone through any menus and the correct movie you want to rip is playing, then click Playback > Title.  In the example below you can see it’s Title 1; but when this so-called “copy protection” is in use the correct Title could be any, from 1 to 99 or however many they’ve decided to put on the disk to dissuade potential pirates.  Bloody idiots: no matter how many layers of armour they embed their precious movie in, there’s always a way through!

vlc-title

So now you know which Title is the one you want, go back to dvd::rip and select that Title.  And Abracadabra!  The movie is yours!  If you’re a wicked pirate, that is, and I would never condone piracy.  I feel I must repeat: this blog post is fictional – I’ve never ripped a DVD in my life – and all th info is strictly for educative, abstract purposes.  They hang pirates, you know?  Seen the end of Pirates of the Caribbean, where cunning Jack Sparrow escapes the hangman’s noose?  Well, that’s fiction.  (If you haven’t seen that movie, you could probably find it via bittorrent; or a friend may have a DVD you could borrow… 😉 )

giffgaff1

Click on Stewie if you want amazing value mobile phone service including 4G and £5 extra free credit!

 


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Pirate Bay returns… again! You can’t keep a good phoenix down

February 3, 2015

The Pirate Bay’s back. All of us music/video/software moochers can get back to mooching. Luke Skywalker trashed the Death Star and we can all sleep soundly in our beds again (assuming that your bed wasn’t on Alderaan…).

TPB-ship

Some would say that the whole Pirate Bay thing has been blown up out of proportion. After all, the efforts to close down TBP were a legal issue, to try and stop evil pirates from downloading other people’s intellectual property for free, thus depriving the artists and creators their cut of the dosh. Theft is bad, m’kay?

The thing is, the artists and creators (with a few exceptions) weren’t the ones screaming to have TPB closed down and its admins thrown into prison. Back in 2006, the year of the first Pirate Bay raid, it was widely reported that the raid was “politically motivated and under pressure from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).” The MPAA declared that the operation was a resounding success. But in truth TPB was back online in a few days, and the publicity brought to the attention of the Swedish public the debate about what intellectual property rights are for, and the question of whether the Pirate Bay’s admins had actually broken Swedish law. On 31 January 2008, Pirate Bay operators Fredrik Neij, Per Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström were charged with “promoting other people’s infringements of copyright laws.” Pirate Bay’s legal advisor, Mikael Viborg, has stated that because torrent files and trackers merely point to content, the site’s activities are legal under Swedish law.

So, the first Pirate Bay raid resulted in a lot of computer equipment being seized (including equipment that TPB didn’t even own. From Wikipedia:

All servers in the server room were seized, including those running the website of Piratbyrån, an independent organization fighting for file sharing rights, as well as servers unrelated to The Pirate Bay or other file sharing activities, including a Russian opposition news agency.[13] In addition, equipment such as hardware routers, switches, blank CDs, and faxes were also seized.

Another result of the 2006 raid was TPB taking action to mitigate the effects of future police operations. Redundancy has been built into the system, and TPB has servers in many locations around the world. A lot of countries and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) try to block TPB traffic nowadays: a Wikipedia article lists countries involved in blocking attempts – a list numbering 27 countries! But that doesn’t pose a major problem, as using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) account will usually get around the block. John Gilmore, computer science innovator, Libertarian, Internet activist, and one of the founders of Electronic Frontier Foundation, famously said of Internet censorship: “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” As governments and their ISP lackeys have moved to block access to TPB, online activists and all-round good guys have set up proxy sites mirroring the Pirate Bay. There’s a list of proxies here.

Okay then, The Pirate Bay was raided again on 9 December 2014, seizing servers and other computers and equipment, which resulted in the website going offline. The raid was in response to a complaint from Rights Alliance, a Swedish anti-piracy group.

Was the raid successful in stopping online piracy? I think not. TorrentFreak reported that most other torrent sites reported a 5-10% increase in traffic from the displaced users, though the shutdown had little effect on overall piracy levels. And it certainly had unexpected effects: In retaliation to the raid, a group of hackers claiming to be part of Anonymous allegedly leaked email log-in details of Swedish government officials. IsoHunt has since copied much of the original TPB database and made it accessible through oldpiratebay.org, a searchable index of old Pirate Bay torrents. And on 31 January 2015 TPB was up and running again.

How long will it be before TPB is raided again? I really wouldn’t like to speculate on that. But one thing I’m pretty sure about: if it’s taken down, it’ll soon be up again. The Pirate Bay is more than the 4 guys busted in 2006. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said to Darth Vader: “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” Yep, you can’t keep a good phoenix down…

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18 January – Internet Freedom Day!! Hip Hip Hooray!!

January 18, 2013

I got an email today from the nice people at Fight for the Future, reminding me that a year ago today, “you, me, and 24 million people defeated SOPA and Internet censorship. It was the largest online protest ever.” SOPA was the Stop Online Piracy Act, a proposed US law that would have impacted horribly on all our freedoms online. But it was stomped, one year ago today, and now many people are calling for 18 January to be known as Internet Freedom Day.

The email suggested one way we can celebrate Internet Freedom Day:

How is Fight for the Future participating? Since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up, we’re reminded that Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is copyrighted, and often censored on sites like Youtube. We realized that watching and sharing this speech (which could be considered illegal) to celebrate Dr. King’s work and the freedom we fought for is exactly what needs to happen.

To honor Dr. King’s legacy of nonviolent civil disobedience and to celebrate our historic defeat of SOPA, we made this video that contains the entire 17 minute speech.

Join us in a small act of civil disobedience to remember what we fight for. Watch and share this video.

If SOPA had passed, you could have gone to jail for sharing a video of it, and entire websites could have been shut down for linking to it.

But even more than that, there’s a bigger question: Are you okay with a world where when someone just learning about race and civil rights goes to the web to see MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and is confronted with a notice that says “this video has been removed”? It isn’t until 2038, when the copyright on this speech is over, that you’re even allowed to share this video.

If you haven’t done so already, send this video to a friend, tweet it, talk to your friends about it, and celebrate MLK’s work and our ability to fight back online censorship that can keep the things we love and need from us.

Nice sentiment. And if you click that link to see the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech, you will see that there’s still a lot to fight for.

The email also said:

Last, but not least, our friend and Center for Rights board member, Marvin Ammori, just wrote a book called On Internet Freedom that you can download *for free* today. He describes it as “a sort of love song to the First Amendment and the Internet.” (You can download the Kindle app for free to read on your computer, phone, or anything else, and we think he’d approve if you removed the DRM to read it on other devices.)

But anyway: 18 January as Internet Freedom Day? Hell yeah, I’m up for it.

Let’s try and make sure the Internet is, and remains, Free.

HAPPY INTERNET FREEDOM DAY!!!

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Major updated post (21 Sept 2012) on how to download streamed video, esp for Linux users

September 22, 2012

Okay, I turned my back for just one moment, and suddenly downloading streaming video has all changed about. So I’ve decided to write a post with up-to-date info, rather than adding another update to my original post on the subject. So, if you have that post bookmarked in your web browser of choice (Use Firefox!! Use Firefox!! It’s the best browser on the web!!), maybe you ought to bookmark this post as well (keep the original link too, because this isn’t a tutorial, just an update.

So, what’s new in the downloading streaming video world? Quite a bit, I think. Maybe I’ve already posted on some of this, but I think it can’t hurt to repeat myself. So,let’s look at it bit by bit.

Youtube is being mean again, swapping stuff round to make things difficult for us. For instance, the Firefox addon VideoDownloadHelper doesn’t seem to work anymore with Youtube. I think I have already told you that PWNYouTube wasn’t working as well as its website www.deturl.com claims. Well, I thought I’d better check it out before publishing this update. I didn’thave time to try all of the features it boasts, but I could not download a Youtube video by adding “pwn” to the video url or by typing the url into the requisite box on deturl.com. So I think it doesn’t work. But please, try it for yourself. YMMV.

youtube-dl seems to be okay still (Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install youtube-dl), and I’ve also been using a web-based solution at savemedia.com – it’s a similar set-up as PWNYoutube: you get the url of the video you want to download (eg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTcz-etqwKg) then replace the http://www.youtube part of the url with “savemedia” (in this case http://savemedia.com/watch?v=wTcz-etqwKg). It offers a number of different filetype options, and it’s got a GUI, so command-line phobics need not worry.

There have been problems with host sites (eg megaupload.com being closed down by the US authorities) and also sites that don’t actually host any files but just provide links (eg the owner of surfthechannel.com, Anton Vickerman, from Gateshead, UK, was sent to prison for 4 years for “facilitating” copyright infringement”). Project Free TV is still working, though it has changed its url, probably to try and avoid shutdown (working url at this time is http://www.free-tv-video-online.me. The site tv-video.net is still up, but no longer gives access to “pirated” media – now it’s a pay-to-watch site, doubtless because of the draconian measures being used by US and European governments.

The get_iplayer program apparently still works for some, but not for me (on 64-bit Ubuntu 12,04), giving me RTMP header-reading errors. The get_iplayer program has been forked due to the original developer giving it up – new developer’s site here. It’s a command-line program, but not too unwieldy, and I believe it is used as the back-end for some GUI iplayer-downloading apps (no personal experience of these GUI apps unfortunately, but if you Google “get_iplayer” you will find a heap of resources).

The wget method of downloading from Project Free TV still works (remember, this method is for Linux users.  I don’t know if there is a Windows alternative for wget, but I doubt it – Linux, as a Unix-like operating system, has always been developed with networking in mind.  Windows hasn’t). So: If you are using Firefox and have the VideoDownloadHelper add-on, go to Project Free TV and select the TV show/movie you wanna save. Start watching it; when it’s started properly, the DownloadHelper icon will become all colourful and rotating. Click on that, and select Copy URL. Now, go to a terminal and type in something like wget -c -O movie.flv then, before hitting Enter, right-click and select Paste. That will paste in the actual URL of the movie you want. Hit Enter, and wget will start downloading the movie.flv file (or whatever name you chose) to your Home directory. Note: in that wget command, the -O is a capital letter O, not a zero. Once you’ve got wget downloading the file, close the Firefox tab that’s playing the movie. Otherwise the download will take much longer.  I’ve used this method to download files via other sites too, but Project Free TV is the only one this work for consistently.  But please, try and use it elsewhere – and if you have success, let us all know via Comments.

This update is in no way exhaustive – I know there are loads of sites and methods that I haven’t even tried. This is just a small contribution to the subject. If any readers know of other methods or sites, please share them via Comments. It is paramount that we keep up to date on this, as governments are closing down sites and jailing site owners at an alarming rate on behalf of the so-called “legitimate” media industry, and we must not let that industry win this war. The best way to keep free downloading possible is by sharing news and by actually downloading stuff. As long as there is a demand for downloads and streaming, people will continue to offer the services. And I’ll keep up my little contribution on the subject for as long as possible. Never surrender! :p

ANOTHER UPDATE, ABOUT PWNTUBE, 7 MARCH 2014

Nicky has dropped this info into the Contact Form:

There’s a much easier way to use pwnyoutube than the one that you were talking about. You don’t have to add pwn to the video url or type the url into the box on deturl.com. There’s a pwnyoutube bookmarklet link that you add to your favorites list and whenever you’re watching a video on Youtube all you have to do is open your favorites list while on Youtube and then click on the pwnyoutube bookmarklet and a list of download formats will show up at the top of the screen on Youtube. All you have to do is right click on the one that you want and click save target as and then click save. Here’s the page for the bookmarklet:http://deturl.com/bookmarklet-to-directly-download-videos-from-youtube.asp. There’s also another very easy way. There’s a program called YTD Video Downloader. Just install it, open it, and when you’re on Youtube and you’re watching a video that you want to download just copy the link and then mouse over the url bracket on the YTD Video Downloader and the link will automatically paste itself then all you have to do is click download. It has always worked flawlessly for me every time on Youtube and it works with other sites as well. I guess that I should have mentioned earlier that the pwnyoutube bookmarklet hasn’t been working for me very recently for some reason but I wanted you to know that there was an easier way to use pwnyoutube than the way that you were.

Cheers for that Nicky.  Any more downloading tips, let us know via Comments or the Contact Form.  I try to keep info here as fresh as possible, but it distracts me from my porn and online gambling activities!!  😉

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Wanna share your goodies? You must be a pirate then – keel-haul the varmint!

February 24, 2012

Surfthechannel.com used to be a wonderful site, where you could search for tv shows and movies; links to sites like megaupload.com and novamov.com would be supplied, and us cheap freebie-hunters could catch up on all sorts of series that we might have missed, with free downloads so we didn’t have to cane the credit card to watch the time-lapsed shows.

But now it’s all fucked up.  Search for a movie or TV show on Surfthechannel.com and you used to get direct links to streaming sites.  Now you get Filebox.com, Vureel, iTunes… so now it’s basically a pay-to view site, with very occasional free stuff.

I know Surfthechannel.com must have been threatened by someone – but it would have been far more honorouble to relocate to an overseas server, adjust your link-scanning systems (so you could easily use the “save harbor” defence)… but no, you lay on your back and let Bush, Obama, etc tickle your tummy.

Bad luck, Surfthechannel.com – I’m never using you again; I strongly urge my visitors to stay  clear of your vile site; and I hope to hell you dump your damned URL, find another name and overseas host, and go back to the good ol’ days.  So-called “intellectual property owners” scare you people shitless; and I really don’t know why.  Grow some balls, you idiots.

UPDATE: I wrote this blog post some time ago, but never got round to posting it.  Until now.  The US seems to have declared war on the “pirates”, actually stealing URLs of alleged DMCA-violating sites… so if you point your browser at http://www.megaupload.com, what you actually get to see is

I’m sure there are other hosting sites out there who’ve been hit similarly, but I haven’t actually found one yet.  But one thing I have noticed is a growth of difficulty in finding stuff via Project Free TV.  The Project has avoided DMCA-inspired attacks by adhering to its policy of not hosting any material whatsoever. As the Project Free TV Disclaimer says:

The author is not responsible for any contents linked or referred to from his pages – If any damage occurs by the use of information presented there, only the author of the respective pages might be liable, not the one who has linked to these pages.

Project Free TV doesn’t host any content

All Project Free TV does is link or embed content that was uploaded to popular Online Video hosting sites like Veoh.com / Youtube.com / Google Video. All youtube/veoh/googlevideo users signed a contract with the sites when they set up their accounts which forces them not to upload illegal content. By clicking on any Links to videos while surfing on Project Free TV you watch content hosted on third parties and Project Free TV can’t take the responsibility for any content hosted on other sites.

We do not upload any videos nor do we know who and where videos are coming from. We do not promote any illegal conduct of any kind. Links to the videos are submitted by users and managed by users.

No doubt the USA and its bitches, the EU and the UK, are working out how to deal with this “loophole” in the current legislation.  But hopefully they will fail.  Hopefully the Project Free TV will be able to emulate the Pirate Bay‘s  continued existence.  I’m a little worried that I may have jinxed the entire project by stating my hopes.  But fuck that.  Just remember the mantra: “Hope for the best but expect the worst”.  That way, we should never be too disappointed.

I’m not condoning “piracy” here.  But I oppose the idea that anyone can tell me what I can or can’t do with my own CDs/DVDs.  And as for the rights-owners’ claims that each “illegal” download equals one lost sale… you gotta be crazy to believe that and evil to say it.


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SOPA and PIPA down but not out. Watch this space…

January 21, 2012

The Wikipedia-led “black Wednesday” seems to have done some good. SOPA and PIPA votes have been postponeded, seemingly because of the onine action. Senate majority leader Harry Reid said: “The decision to postpone the votes was made in light of “recent events,” – taken to be a reference to Wednesday’s day of action.

But remember, the votes have been postponed, not cancelled. The issue is bound to resurface at some point, probably while the world’s attention has been drawn elsewhere by a tsunami or something. So Watch This Space – and other spaces too, I’m not exactly the most regular of correspondents. SOPA and PIPA are hurt but not dead. We gotta be ready to administer the coup de grace.


Net piracy puts 1.2 million EU jobs in peril? More industry and government lies

March 17, 2010

Have you seen this ridiculous story? Apparently, a study backed by the European Union and the TUC has “found” that “a quarter of a million British jobs in the music, film, TV, software and other creative industries could be lost over the next five years if online piracy continues at its current rate.” It says that in the EU as a whole, as many as 1.2 million jobs are in jeopardy as piracy looks set to strip more than €240bn (£218bn) in revenues from the creative industries by 2015, unless regulators can stem the flow.

This is a lovely little scare-tactic story, designed to scare us all into accepting the UK government’s upcoming Digital Economy Bill, which hopes to introduce draconian powers to cut people off the internet if a film or music industry rights holder alleges that a person has infringed copyright. Anyone accused of copyright infringement will have their internet access disconnected, with no trial and no effective right of appeal.

The diabolical thing about this study is that its figures mean absolutely nothing. The claim is that illegal downloads are causing a financial loss to the entertainment industries of more than €240 billion. How did the study come up with this figure? By asserting that every single illegal download directly deprives the rights holder of the price of that downloaded material. For instance, if I download an album that costs €20 in the shops, that’s €20 I have actually stolen from the record company.

The entertainment industry has been using this formula for a long time now, so they have been able to claim millions of euros in compensation from average joes who share their music and films over peer-to-peer systems like bittorrent. But the formula is utterly ridiculous. Take “my friend” for instance. He has downloaded several rock albums over the years; and yes, if he had bought those albums legitimately he would have paid maybe €300 for them. But the point is this: if he had not been able to download these files for free, he certainly would not have gone out and bought them. Indeed, during this time he has spent a good few hundred euros on other albums. He downloaded many of these albums, to listen to and decide if he liked them – and when he decided he actually did like them, he went down the record shop and bought them on CD. If he likes a record, he wants to reward the artist – by paying for CDs, by going to concerts, by wearing official merchandise… he has absolutely no problem with paying for this stuff. But the albums he hasn’t paid for, he considers are not worth buying. So he hasn’t bought them – he never would have bought them – and the record industry has lost zero sales, and therefore lost zero money.

He likens this system to what we all used to do in the time before bittorrent. I would borrow an album from a friend and listen to it. If I liked it, I would go to the record store and buy myself a legitimate copy. If I wasn’t so keen on a record, I might record it onto a blank audio cassette; but I wasn’t depriving the record company of any money because I had no intention of buying it at all. If I hadn’t been able to copy a friend’s record, I certainly wouldn’t have gone and bought a legitimate copy. I would have gone without it. And I was certainly not alone in this.

At that time, we all saw those ominous posters that said “Home taping is killing music”. But, funnily enough, home taping didn’t kill the music industry. Plenty of legitimate records were bought. And a similar thing happened with video. When consumer VCRs hit the market, the film industry was up in arms. Why would anyone pay to see a movie when they could just get a bootleg copy? was the big question. But, as we all now know, the VCR did not kill the movie industry. Far from it: the video cassette gave the industry a new and lucrative income stream. People bought legitimate videos by the wheelbarrow-full. It’s true that the cinemas took a hit. But that loss was more than made up for by the revenues from video sales and rentals. New technology scared the industry for a while; yet within a very short time, that new technology became the new cash cow.

So, yet again the entertainment industries are worried about the new technology. All they see is doom and gloom. But if they were capable of learning from history, they would soon realise that computers and the internet will soon pour untold riches into the industry coffers. Some companies are already moving into new business models – companies like Netflix are making good money from selling an online streaming service. And in time, more possible solutions will present themselves. The digital revolution is going to be as big and important as the introduction of “talkies”. Why can’t the entertainment industries just get up off their asses and come up with new business models? Why do we all need to suffer, just because the fat slobs are too lazy to do their stinking jobs? New technology always changes the status quo – not always for the better, but very often it’s easy to see the silver lining. Why can’t the movie and recording industry bigwigs see the silver lining here? How in hell did such blind, lazy good-for-nothings ever get to be so successful? Idiots.

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