Infographic: buying DVDs vs pirating them

This pithy and funny chart does a superb job of explaining how the insertion of a lot of "business model" (FBI warnings, unskippable trailers, THX vanity sequences) makes buying a DVD a lot worse than pirating the same disc online. I rip all my kid's DVDs (not least because she has a tendency to scratch them to hell), and the difference between firing up a movie on a laptop and it just starting versus trying to explain to a toddler why Daddy has to spend five minutes pressing next-next-next menu-menu-menu is enormous. I think it all comes down to the stuff in the DVD-CCA spec that allows DVD creators to flag sequences as unskippable: that's such an attractive nuisance, it's bound to attract every hard-sell marketer and power-tripping fool in any media company, who will eventually colonize it with so much crapola that it comes just short of destroying the possibility that anyone will voluntarily pay for the product. (Be sure to click below for the whole thing)

If you are a pirate, this is what you get (via Making Light)


  1. Huh, I’ve been using VLC to watch DVDs for a few years now and I almost forgot those incredibly annoying intro sequences even exist.

    1. Agreed Anon.

      I remember the first time that my DVD player told me no, in fact I could not skip this commercial. I pressed fast forward and thought, “What bs”

      The movie studios Have our money.
      We paid! Why punish those who give you money?
      Same goes for the 13 commercials I saw before Avatar.
      (I counted and was displeased)

      1. Those 13 commercials you saw before Avatar have nothing to do with the movie studios. Those were put there by your theatre in an attempt to recoup the cost of that fancy 3D projector they needed to buy.

        As far as trailers before DVDs go they aren’t there so much for retail purchasers of DVDs as they are for the people who rent them through Netflix and Redbox.

    2. Yep VLC or in my case a cheap DVD player that goes stright to the menu screen.
      If anything its the pirated material that should have the FBI warnings, not informing your customers that what they are doing might get them into trouble is poor service.

  2. Most DVDs I’ve played let you at least skip past all the trailers with the Menu button, though stupidly some I believe don’t let you use the >>| button to skip past them one at a time. Don’t think I’ve ever been forced to watch the ads, just the FBI warnings. (Incidentally, those warnings have always made me feel like I could easily be a criminal just by watching the movie. I know better, and they know better, but that big old WARNING or ATTENTION sure grabs hold of the imagination.)

    The other option (besides VLC) is to get an old APEX or other cheapo DVD player that outright ignores that BS.

    One other thing: is there a way to disable Parental Controls on a PS2? I’m kind of annoyed at having to mash away 9999 every time I want to watch a PG-13 or above movie. And I’m too lazy to check the manual or search online, apparently, so I say this in a comment thread like I’m going to be back here anticipating an answer. Hrm. Maybe I’ll come back here and post the answer!

  3. My computer can ignore all that B.S. but my Playstation3 can’t — even though the Playstation is supposedly a powerful computer. Trying to skip over unskippable content brings up a “That function is not available at this time” message. I sent a letter to Sony suggesting they replace that with “Denied, fucker!”. They wrote back and said they’d pass the suggestion along.

    The worst (well, beyond the written-by-lawyers-for-lawyers B.S.) is the ratings message that informs you what the rating of the film you own is, and why it is rated that way. Freaking spoilers. I do NOT want to be told ahead of time that there is no nudity in the upcoming film. Ruins the hope. And I’m not really kidding, I do consider it a spoiler and it should NOT be part of the disc.

  4. Actively avoid renting physical discs now due to this. Mostly I rent from iTunes, occasionally I think whatever movie I want it worth watching in Blu-Ray. I pop it in, have to go through that ridiculous trailer dance. Then the true genius starts, a loooong clip on how Blu-ray is superior …. playing on my already bought blu-ray player. How is it superior – by making my movie experience worse. Only marketing folks can dream that up.

  5. DRM on anything is only designed to punish the people that paid the money for the product. The pirates and people who know how to find torrents don’t have to deal with crap like that.

  6. Basically, the DVD players from big-name media companies all obey the ‘unskippable’ flags, and the cheap chinese clones and free software players all ignore them. Avoid buying expensive DVD players; the cheap ones are better.

  7. Same with software.

    I used to just pirate everything and put it everywhere, and not think about it. Now, since I’ve decided to actually start paying for it (for the sake of my conscience, and I am actually making money from using it) I have to actually think about what specific softwares I need, then purchase the correct licenses … and did mention I own two PCs and one Mac?? So I basically buy the Windows version, install it on my two PCs, and then pirate it for the Mac … since the licenses/serials only allow for 1-2 machines, and don’t work for Windows/Mac.

  8. My wife being the devil’s advocate, pointed how most pirated movies are bad quality, have noise in the background, people who get up in the middle of the movie, subtitles in Russian…

    But she did raise another point which I loathe in DVD’s: *Regions*.

    My Spanish DVD’s didn’t work when I lived in Australia. My Australian DVD’s don’t work in Holland. I can’t import certain Spanish DVDs for my kids because they come from the States – different region again. I know there are ways around it, but… seriously!! Enough with regions already!

    1. marco, if you know how to pirate. that situation rarely, if ever happens. theres a marking most people label pirated movies with called ‘dvdrip’ this indicates it was taken directly from a dvd, thus no camera or shakiness. most of those are labeled as ‘cam’. if you are still having trouble with this, you might not be looking in the right places.

      ~the double-devils-advocate

    2. > My wife being the devil’s advocate, pointed how most pirated movies are bad quality, have noise in the background, people who get up in the middle of the movie, subtitles in Russian…

      You’re talking about screeners and/or cam rips. I usually limit myself to stuff that’s actually available via DVDs for sale and rent, which usually don’t have such problems. Plus they go after screeners/cam rippers and/or people distributing those warez with more determination, I’ve been told. I’m content to wait until it’s actually legitimate to have a copy, even if my copy isn’t legit.

  9. It’s even more fun with a series, if you’re not quite sure which episode you’re up to. Go through the entire nuisance only to realise that you’ve seen that episode last week, then start over from the beginning with the next disk!

  10. I bought a number of pirated DVD’s in Malaysia recently and they all include unskippable piracy messages at the start. What is even more hilarious is that the messages look a bit DIY and the english overdub sounds like a mainland chinese person reading english.

  11. I watch everything on my computer. Insert DVD -> lsdvd -> see which track is the longest and play it with mplayer.

    What really pisses me off is region coding. So media companies have created artificial divisions within a population that communicates in the same language online, and they’re surprised when their potential customers give them the finger? Did they think nobody would notice or mind that the boxed set available one continent down is a third of the price they’re being charged for the same thing?

    Apparently Linux players cheerfully disregard hardware region restrictions, but I’m disinclined to pay money for a product when — while it may not technically be illegal for me to buy it — the manufacturer has gone to great lengths to sabotage my purchase. Why should I reward them for using these tactics?

    And then there’s the lack of simultaneous releases. Who is going to wait months, or a year, or forever for a movie or TV series when they can watch it right now?

    Too many dirty tricks; not enough prompt delivery of good products at a reasonable price.

    1. Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh had a great quote in Wired (I think) where he was stating that he wanted simultaneous release for his next feature. When the exec said that they didn’t do it, he said “Yes you do, it’s called piracy”.

      You can only short-change and confuse your consumer base for so long and then they go looking for torrent sites…

  12. I agree, confluence.

    I’m pleased, though, that I get my Blu-ray discs in the UK. Ours rarely have a trailer which explains how great Blu-ray is (and even the explanation on the back of the case is getting less common now, I guess maybe they’re figuring out that we know what it is now?).

    I don’t recall the last disc with unskippable trailers either – there’s often a way to jump straight to the menu – but it has happened, and then you get the branding videos for the sound tech used, and then you get the ridiculously long establishment of menus, and menu transitions, which were clearly designed by somebody who’s never had to sit down and actually use any form of A/V interface at all…

    Oh and when the menu itself spoils the film? That’s bad, and extremely common.

  13. very true for legal dvds, but, hey guys, not true at all for pirate movies (not talking about “dvd”).

    Here is the proper one :

    Search title .rar -> find list of sites -> search for blog -> open 3 or 4 relevant blog posts -> test the first RS link in the first post -> “content deleted by user or due to infringment stuff” -> test the second one -> it’s ok, copy paste url in a new window -> open all RS links in new tabs -> click on “Premium user” in every page -> then click on download in every page -> wait for 20-30 minutes -> open first rar archive and unrar it -> test movie in VLC -> obtain fps information -> go back to browser and access -> type in name of your movie to get the local subtitle -> get list of subs -> find the sub matching your fps -> there is none -> choose one randomly -> download it -> open it in text editor to check language -> rename it as the movie’s exact file name -> launch the movie -> wait for 2 minutes to check synchro -> bad synchro -> back to sub site -> get another file -> download it -> open it -> test it -> rename it -> still bad synchro -> go back to browser -> back to sub site -> search for subs in english -> browse list, check fps -> you are lucky, there is one matching your 23,976 movie fps -> download it -> rename it -> launch the movie -> enjoy.

    This is reality.

    1. Uh, you mean for pirated movies… ‘search for title on favourite torrent website -> click ‘download’ -> press ‘play’?

      Or do you mean for bought DVD’s… ‘wait for a few months before it’s released -> look for it on different shops till you find it -> when you don’t find it look for it online -> find it in a language or region that fits yours -> if you’re in Holland and want to watch a spanish DVD you’re screwed -> order it from because Holland doesn’t carry it -> wait for a few days for it to be delivered -> insert in the DVD player and watch the warnings, copyright claims, trailers, menu… etc…?


    2. Uh, you mean for pirated movies… ‘search for title on favourite torrent website -> click ‘download’ -> press ‘play’?

      Or do you mean for bought DVD’s… ‘wait for a few months before it’s released -> look for it on different shops till you find it -> when you don’t find it look for it online -> find it in a language or region that fits yours -> if you’re in Holland and want to watch a spanish DVD you’re screwed -> order it from because Holland doesn’t carry it -> wait for a few days for it to be delivered -> insert in the DVD player and watch the warnings, copyright claims, trailers, menu… etc…?


    3. click on “Premium user” in every page -> then click on download in every page

      As a premium user, you can eliminate these steps for good by allowing the premium cookie on your machine and turning on “automatic download” [or something like that; I don’t remember exactly since its been so long] in your rapidshare prefs. Click the RS link and the download starts immediately.

  14. I agree, region coding is nearly as bad as DRM. Nowadays most DVD players play all regions, but I never really know if my new player will play all the DVDs I bought in the USA, Europe and Japan (thankfully, same region code). Seriously, what good does a region code do?
    For the customer?
    Same goes for the pricing – why are DVDs so much cheaper in the UK or US than in Germany? It’s the same thing, why should I pay up to 20 Euro more? And do they really think the customer wouldn’t notice that?

    1. What do you mean region encoding is almost as bad as DRM?

      Region encoding *IS* DRM. It’s telling you what you can do with the bits you bought.

  15. That’s exactly it. The point isn’t that pirating is cheaper than buying, it’s that it is more convenient and faster. I buy lots of DVDs, but unless I feel like watching the commentary or the specials, I’ll leave them in the shelf and watch a DVD rip of the film instead. It’s just so much less annoying.

  16. The region codes give them more control over price points. They realize that paying effectively 20 bucks/euros is far out of the price range of your average consumer in places like Mexico or China. As such they want to price them at a more reasonable level so that they can actually move copies. Since it cost them amount a dollar to make, even selling at a 5 dollar price point is more profit.

    Region coding really does nothing to help the customer. It’s a tool to try and let them manipulate economic trends to make more money. Of course this doesn’t pan out because you get people buying cheap region media and just playing it on a region free player.

    1. “This video contains content from Fremantle International, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.”

  17. I see and hear both sides of the fence, or sales counter in this case. My shop sells DVD’s from the US, UK and home in Oz (the antipodean country that is).

    If the the DVD distributor doesn’t put in enough love with the features, cover design, interface and price then they tend to get hurt.

    Distributors like Madman, Eureka and Criterion get it right. The covers looks great and relates to the film, there are bonus features worth returning to and in almost every case you jump straight to the main menu.

    They reward their audience for their taste and intelligence and gain loyalty in return. It’s just that simple.

  18. If after inserting the DVD and watching for 10 minutes, I do not find the movie I am looking for – I assume the disc is defective and return it to the retailer (Amazon, etc.). They can put more pressure on the studios/distributors than I can.

  19. Needs another section, beginning with “If you are a smart paying customer”

    Step 1 (complete once per movie)
    Insert DVD -> Rip with DVD Decrypter -> Encode just the movie with Handbrake -> Copy to fileserver or HTPC ->

    Step 2 (subsequent watches)
    Watch movie

    1. hijukai, in many jurisdictions (though possibly not yours) ripping a DRM’d DVD even for your own private use is illegal; so why bother buying it if you’re gonna break the law anyway…

      I know this to be the case here in Finland. The article in “previously” is old and was sadly overturned on appeal; we’re trying the European Court of Human Rights but mostly from the angle that forbidding distribution of DeCSS violates free speech (’cause they did that too). (The local appeals court does appear to be taking a fresh look in the matter in another case, so with extremely good luck they also might overturn the previous interpretation still.) It _is_ legal to circumvent DRM but only for your private, personal viewing (not storage).

      Also, Finnish law mostly comes from the EU directive; I believe that it’s quite common in the EU these days that even private copies of DRM’d materials are illegal. I believe, but am uncertain, that this is the case for US also what with the DMCA.

      Yeah, that means among other things no backing up and no format transformations. Servers you right for _buying_ the stuff.

      1. @mjr It’s technically illegal to rip DVDs in Australia–where I live–also, due to the circumvention of copy protection required to do so.

        Does that stop me? No. Is it likely to get me in legal hot water? Not unless I make the rips available to others or sell the original DVDs and keep the rips.

        I have DVDs that–after only two watches–have developed either DVD rot or delamination. I store all my DVDs in an appropriate manner but not in a humidor or sealed room. Laws be damned; in this case I’m going to make sure the money I’ve spent on the hundreds of DVDs I’ve bought isn’t going down the tube.

        Still, for me the final result of having ripped DVDs stored on a networked fileserver means I can watch the movie from any compatible location in the house with no mucking about at all. They’ll never be watched twice simultaneously–which would likely break the agreement of “private viewing”–because that would be pointless.

    2. @hijukal

      It doesn’t matter if you are a paying customer… once you rip it you are guilty of what they call piracy.

      They (including the Movie & Music Companies, DMCA, FBI, ACTA) make NO distinction between personal use copying of things that you have legally purchased and a commercial bootlegger who prints and ships thousands of DVDs for commercial profit.

      That’s why the FBI warning spells out “non-commercial” or “without profit”.

      When I was a kid I thought it was so cool that my friend’s dad made audio cassette copies of his records. Living in a world of scratched LPs I vowed that when I was a grown up I’d do the same. If you do that now you’re a pirate.

      The problem isn’t the companies. They’re just greedy. That’s their job.

      The problem is the governments, who should be protecting consumers from these corporate ripoffs.

      Governments not only allow it but are now consciously acting as agents for these corporate interests with secret treaties like ACTA.

      If the catch you you can be fined or go to jail.

  20. I rarely have trouble skipping past the ads and previews on an adult movie, but children’s DVDs are a whole different ball of wax. To make matters worse, if the movie is a few years old they may well be advertising TV shows or products that are no longer available.

    The fact that my daughter is scared of “play” screens (no I don’t understand it either) and they’ve given me a really good reason to rip the disks I legally own.

  21. They left out the greatest irony; the unskippable commercial telling you not to pirate movies.

    WTF? I BOUGHT IT! You know who never sees those commercials? People who pirate movies.

  22. the way to fix it is not to steal a movie it is not to do business with company that treat you like a thief. you life will not end if you can not watch a movie but stealing is not the way to go

  23. Another reason to get rid of the menu screen: They very often put the selections in an area that you can’t see if you’ve changed the aspect ratio on your TV for widescreen.

  24. I’m trying to understand the mind-set of the advertisers themselves; how on earth is pissing off your potential customer market a good marketing strategy? I personally keep a mental list of “in-your-face” adverts (pop-ups, unskippable ads etc) and vow never in a million years to buy that product. If you want to advertise a product to me, attract my attention in a clever way; don’t shove it in my face!

  25. It’s not just DVD’s or your local movie screens, it’s everywhere that “Madison Ave.” looks to shove their crap down your throat while you go about your business. Even this blog where you have drop downs if your cursor hits wrong spot.

  26. I was a young father with a young son and a beautiful blond wife the day I sat down to watch movie that had a preview for Funny Games. Fortunately I was able to skip the movie preview. I am happy to say that I am still a father with a young son and a beautiful blond wife and now a daughter. I really don’t want to watch Funny Games. The bits that I saw before clicking the skip button were traumatic enough. For some reason – perhaps it was our recent trip to a cottage I identified with the characters. Maybe you think I’m being too sensitive. Oh well. They can put their movie out there (my friends tell me it is a very good movie). I should have the right not to watch it. Or their goddamn preview.

  27. But what about the possible “unskippable” legal consequences of the pirate model? Can you fast forward through those, or skip over them? Prosecution, lawyers’ fees, etc., not a usual part of my media consumption experience.

    1. Or, rather, prosecutions and fees ARE a part of my model: others’ pay them for being courageous to break the media barons’ BS rules, so I can meekly pay more and have a shittier product. Wah.

  28. Prostitution vs. “free sex” is not a good analogy, either, because the pirated version is not being given freely. Prostitution vs. rape? Not that pirating a movie is as bad as rape, obviously.

    In any case, I would hope this would be intended as an explanation for why piracy exists (and how the studios are stupid), rather than a justification.

  29. “That is the stupidest fucking analogy I have ever seen”

    You really don’t read this site much do you? You might give it a few days…you’ll see something about Steve Jobs raping grandmothers, or DRM wants to promote abortions.

    The argument was that something is illegal, yet some people think they deserve to take what they want because the victim in their mind is negligible.

    From this standpoint, it is only a matter of scale…both are clearly wrong.

    As I mentioned in my first comment, if the argument was that DVDs are annoying and they turn a lot of people off with their BS, I’d agree. But making the argument that criminals get the better end of the deal…well…that argument can be made in any number of ways, and it doesn’t make that end of things any more legitimate except to the person doing this.

    Again, the criminal aspect never needed to be brought up…it was brought up, so I brought up an equally moronic comparison to two things, where someone may find it more convenient to get what they want simply by taking it.

    And in no way am I saying the scale of rape is anywhere near that of piracy…yet it doesn’t matter…wrong is wrong, no matter what the scale.

    1. It’s always so refreshing to see a man make the comparison of theft of material possesions to the physical violation of the female body.

      You need to read this: Rape Culture 101

      “Rape culture is the objectification of women, which is part of a dehumanizing process that renders consent irrelevant. Rape culture is treating women’s bodies like public property. Rape culture is street harassment and groping on public transportation and equating raped women’s bodies to a man walking around with valuables hanging out of his pockets. Rape culture is most men being so far removed from the threat of rape that invoking property theft is evidently the closest thing many of them can imagine to being forcibly subjected to a sexual assault.”

    2. “You really don’t read this site much do you? You might give it a few days…you’ll see something about Steve Jobs raping grandmothers, or DRM wants to promote abortions.”

      And these detailed analogies are where? BB is not Fark. The analogy you made came off as very much your own personal issue, Clif.

      I’m afraid you own it now, so don’t be ashamed to pay for it.

    3. Yeah, Clif, I read this site a lot – too much really – and have probably read it for longer than you have. I’ve read it since before it had comments, then it got comments, lost them, and regained them. I even read before there was – it was a zine and later a fun book. And I stand by my statement, you’ve made the stupidest analogy I’ve ever read, topping a ruinous mountain of bad analogies dreamed up by weaker and weaker minds. You’ve stood atop that mountain and shouted “I AM CLIF! HEAR ME ROAR!” and subsequently planted your flag of insensitivity coupled with raging black and white thinking for all to see.

      What began as a terrible analogy was formed into a wonderful encapsulation of idiocy, a treatise of gibbering stupidity, by your further defending it and fighting for it. You’ve shit yourself and are claiming that it’s normal – that clearly if I haven’t seen everyone with shit in their pants that I just haven’t been around long enough.

      I can only hope that you’ll figure out why it was wrong and why you should learn perspective and that wrong acts aren’t all equal. Even Catholics, the masters of guilt, know that sins vary in severity.

  30. If you’re “pirating” a movie, as they call it, why bother with the “insert dvd” step? The only step before watching the film is to double-click on the movie file. DVDs are obsolete, particularly if you connect your computer to an HD projector.

    If you want a paid service, for convenience, there’s Netflix and iTunes, with no trailers or commercials. But both services have pretty crappy selections for movies to download or stream online. For some reason, it seems the film industry doesn’t want people to pay to watch their films (otherwise ALL of their films would be available at Netflix’s Watch-it-Now or on iTunes rental).

  31. great post and discussion. i don’t think it is about pirating or not pirating. it is about the steady trend towards “media controls the user” that is worth hard-thinking about as media technology rapidly gains “intelligence”. this trend can only accelerate. in some ways 3d cinema is a good example of this. the media manipulates our visual cortex in order to gain more privileged access to circuits involved in emotion and learning. this is all fine and good and “HD”. . .but will bring new problems.

    Hence the warm gratitude that LP’s, comicbooks, novels ,life performance and low bandwidth video deserve in all their analogue goodness.

  32. The pirates are taking their cues from the Republicans… just make crap up if the truth doesn’t suit you.

    You should have called that a “mis-infographic”.

    I’ve NEVER had a DVD that forced you to watch trailers. Either the pirates have lost their remote control or they’re my 93 year-old father.

  33. I’ve actually run in to DVDs that prohibit me from hitting the STOP BUTTON or ejecting the disk during the pre-menu ads.

  34. “It’s that the end product of pirating is superior to the purchased product”

    I wouldnt say thats always true. Pirated movies are typically smaller resolution, not dolby sound, video compressed, recorded in the theater, have crappy fps, etc etc. Not worth it for me. I’d rather pony up the 10 bucks for the disc or rent it on Netflicks.

    Most DVDs I have dont make you watch anything other than the boring FBI text, but Im a big boy and can wait 30 seconds.

  35. I remember being told, growing up, that capitalism was a perfect system because the demands of people were inevitably served by the market. It seems that this is not the case, or has not proven so in the short term.

    DVD manufacturers feel entitled to to limit my behavior by managing my control of the product I purchase from them. This is authoritarian. In this context, piracy is an act of defiance, not theft; it is civil disobedience through direct action. The moral imperative, if I may be so bold, should be to defy the tyranny of arbitrary authority that uses advanced legal jargon and secret copyright treaties to violate the personal freedom of the consumer.

    If the industry isn’t making a profit, they can always choose to stop producing. However, as long as their product is designed to control the buyer, they should be opposed. How else are you supposed to resist? The sting of piracy seems to have gotten their attention, they just don’t want to relinquish control.

    I pirate media to be free. When I can, I give back to the producers of the media I take. I don’t remember ever seeing a DVD that claimed it contained X number of commercials, or that I owe them Y minutes of my time when I purchase. The transaction is at the register. I will not allow it to be in my home, to be every time I want to watch. The film industry, having the greater power and resources, is not the victim. It has violated my rights in this case. Therefore, I will resist until an equitable transaction can be negotiated.

  36. They “say” masturbation is “fair use,” but every time I try to do it a lawyer breaks into my room and tells me he represents the rightsholder and they have a copyright on erect members. The worse part is the lawyer looks like MY MOTHER!

  37. I hear ya.

    We just put the DVD in without turning the TV on. Hang curtains, cook dinner, shovel the sidewalk, whatever.

    Should it be one of the DVDs that decides to launch the film before we’re ready to sit down we back-chapter-stop to the beginning.

    There are a few that allow skipping the crud. (Not the biggies, surprise.) The funny thing is I actually like to watch trailers (how I decide what DVD I’ll buy next since I’ve given up cable I don’t get TV ads) and some manufacturers will put the trailers on as a menu feature.

    The worst is our Get Smart Season One DVD set: the menu will only launch at the beginning of the first episode. So we have to fast forward through all the episodes to get to the one we’re at. Somehow I doubt we’ll bother with season two.

    You’d think somebody would be swift enough to make a decent interface. But then, I guess if they aren’t bright enough to adapt their business model why should I be surprised.

  38. Regions really piss me off. My kid LOVES “Charlie and Lola” but I can ONLY get season one on Amazon. Season TWO is available in the UK, but I cannot have him watch it, because our Sony DVD player does not like the region.

    I tried to rip it, that did not exactly go well.

    So? I know every line from every episode of season one


    Please let me legally buy a show, without all the poop.

  39. To add insult to injury, Warner movies now won’t be available to rent until 28 days after the DVD release. Once again the movie industry has shown their complete competence in figuring out more and more ways to get me to just pirate.

  40. Clif’s… selective communication skills… aside, rape is one of things actual high seas pirates were and are known for, which leads me to reconsider the actual analogy this post and thread is based on, that of ‘piracy’.

    The usual analysis goes something like, “Filesharing isn’t piracy– actual pirates murdered, raped and stole– but theft of goods is an entirely different category of law from copyright infringement!” Which is solid analogy-busting, and (IANAL) legally sound, but… a bit dry, when put like that. Not really a competitive meme against, “The pirate hordes raped my music!!”

    So instead of saying it’s “not piracy”, I think one needs to expand upon this piracy analogy. The imagery is just to rich to set aside.

    If people who copy files are like pirates of the high seas then the rest must (analogously) follow:


    The pirates of the Caribbean would have to be able to sidle up alongside a Spanish galleon of the treasure fleet, copy all the gold inside, and then sail away without ever communicating with the galleon’s crew in any way. The original gold, of course, sails on for Spain.

    The copied gold can (of course) generate even more gold exactly like itself, much as has been seen in fairy tales and movies for centuries.

    The Spanish Empire is outraged. Surely this will cause the collapse of the imperial economy! And so warships are dispatched to sink the pirate ships.

    The effort backfires horribly. Not only do they fail to catch more than a few pirates involved in the initial copying, but they randomly attack anyone with copied gold, declaring it “counterfeit”. But the gold is as real as the original, and Spanish trading partners are dismayed that this effort is driving people away from Spanish-marked doubloons, out of confusion, fear and disgust at these attacks upon the entirely non-violent pirates and their growing legions of friends.

    Then some clever Spanish rival asks, Where does authentic Spanish gold come from? And soon the wider world becomes aware of the coercion and torment that the once-free artisans of the Spanish colonies endure to mine, forge and transport these glittering treasures. Oppression and slavery are plain to see, if anyone looks, at every level of Spanish gold production, rewarding only the “entitled”, whose primary contribution is a ceaseless dose of lecturing that this slavery is for the moral benefit of the enslaved.

    Spain is unable to regain its honor in this, as they can demonstrate no tangible harm. Their economy not only does not suffer, but improves due to the better distribution of prosperity the piracy has brought. The choice still lay ahead: Will Spain use its treasure only to fight its own colonies that produce it? Or will it realize that it need the colonies more than they colonies need Spain, and change its ways accordingly?


    There’s the analogy.


    Postscript. In actual history, of course, plunder and slaves were something rival empires adopted as models from one another, and they felt little shame for it for centuries. Real piracy was often a part of this rivalry, or was inspired by it. But it’s also true that the Spanish Empire collapsed, in large part, because hyperinflation prevented it from financing the rule of its holdings. Hyperinflation brought on by hoarding colonial gold.

    1. Maybe if it’s done by pirates with poor editorial sense.

      Anyway, it wasn’t pirates that replaced the shotguns with walkie-talkies in the revamped version of E. T. ;-)

      1. According to the poster, the “pirated” Matrix begins immediately after the “Village Roadshow Pictures logo.

        1. Well, if you mean to argue that the product is therefore not superior to what a paying customer gets, then that’s a fair point. I wasn’t trying to be argumentative.

  41. I’ve never understood why the most expensive region’s discs, when RCE-encoded, refuse to play on a chinese region-0 player. My Region-1 DVD of X-Men 3 (ya, i know — it was a gift) says something like ‘region doesn’t match’ and then won’t do anything at all.

    If I were the media companies, I’d make sure that the most expensive copy played in all players, so that globetrotters would buy that one. Especially since that would probably be a multilanguage Region 2 copy.

    But in screwing over our Spanish/Aussie/Dutch friend above, they force him to learn to rip his discs, from which true piracy is a much smaller step. (not that I’m accusing)

    If in ripping his own discs he’s already labeled a criminal, he literally has no disincentive.

    What advice would give him, Clif? Avoid the overly sarcastic analogies, please, and tell us what you would do yourself in his situation.

  42. @ Clif

    If you “find rape to be the most offensive thing out there,” then I wonder why it is you have no problem triggering memories of being raped for rape survivors who want to be able to read through comments without seeing the worst thing that ever happened to them compared to pirating a fucking movie.

    Anyone who gives the slightest shit about people who have been raped needs to find another analogy.

    And if you’re unwilling to give up your use of rape as a flippant analogy, don’t go around claiming how much you care about rape and the people who survive it.

  43. I don’t believe in the death penalty, but if it has to exist, I’d rather it exist for things like rape than murder

    And, of course, for illegally downloading DVDs, which is an “equally bad act.”

  44. I have a program called AnyDVD HD that lets me skip to whatever section of a DVD I want.

    But that’s not why I have it. I have a dual monitor setup, and my stupid Blu-Ray player will only play on the first monitor. AnyDVD HD cracks the disc and lets it play it on the much larger 2nd monitor.

    1. No matter how annoying it is (and I agree it is annoying), it does not and will never justify stealing.

      Maybe not, but it certainly does encourage it.

    2. Absolutely true, Murray. And you know what? NOBODY thinks it justifies stealing. NOBODY. Everyone agrees with you!

      But many people think it justifies illegal copying.

      Which is not stealing.

      If you steal my DVD, I no longer have it. If you copy my DVD, I still have it. Copying is not stealing.

    3. Copying is not stealing. If you borrowed my “Indiana Jones” DVD & watched it are you stealing? You didn’t give Paramount, Steven Spielberg or Harrison Ford etc. a dime to view it. Are we stealing? It’s not any different than you or I sending free emails 24/7 & the U.S. Postal Service not getting postage or your long distance carrier didn’t get a quarter for that phone call. Do you think your robbing the Post Office or Phone Company? It’s all about the money. If I buy a movie for $19.99, I should be able to do with it as I please. I shouldn’t have to ask them for their permission to have 100 people over to watch it with me or can I protect my investment buy making a copy. To me P2P is the same as trading out movies without paying for postage to the Post Office. I paid for the “Indiana Jones” movie & paid for “E.T”. I don’t feel there’s nothing wrong in that. I didn’t make a profit or have to pay for both movies that way. It’s sharing. I sold all my VHS tapes & DVDs, which take up too much space,to the Pawn Shop, so they can re-sell it for a profit. I’m also a lover of the radio, where I can listen to free music. I shouldn’t have to pay so much for a copy.

  45. “The argument was that something is illegal, yet some people think they deserve to take what they want because the victim in their mind is negligible.”

    No, the victim is non-existent. Your analogy fails for many reasons, but I think the victim’s-life-ruined vs victim-unaware-it-even-happened aspect is the biggest disparity. At worst, movie piracy is like fantasizing about a porn star while masturbating.

    You see, porn stars make a living by people paying to see them naked. If you fantasize about them, you are making an unlicensed mental image and using it without compensating the actor. Every time you fantasize about a porn star instead of paying for one of their movies, you’re stealing.

    But your biggest problem is that you completely missed the point of the article. The point isn’t that piracy is good, it is that the studios are PUNISHING THIER PAYING CUSTOMERS.

    Like it or not, piracy IS an option. No amount of ineffectual legal restrictions are every going to change that. The genie is out of the bottle. People do and will for ever after have the option of copying a movie instead of paying for it. That being the case, the smart business move is to make your product more desirable than the free option, not less. Since none of the silly restrictions applied to optical discs has any effect on piracy, it is foolish to keep them. All they accomplish is to annoy the people who do pay.

  46. If you get and use DVDShrink, which is free, you can use it to back up DVDs you bought, and it makes sections skippable, or you can delete them entirely.

    It also removes regional protection. Amazing software.

  47. Our family media center DVD player is set up to automatically rip anything put into it. We get movies from the library or Netflix, put them in, and when it ejects we return the disc. No trailers, no problems, just movie.

    However, I don’t see the incentive to buy any movies but the ones that we truly like watching repeatedly, and want to see the extras for (making of, director commentary, etc)- however, we have found that is maybe one movie every two or three years which meets such a standard.

  48. Chip: Excellent post– exactly.

    The largest problem is that laws in democracies used to be made to benefit society.

    These laws about “IP piracy” have not been determined by social mores but rather dictated by corporate special interests and implemented from above without the populace even being aware there was even an issue. Rather in the same way the Emperor, King or Führer used to make laws.

    Guess we’re not in Kansas anymore.

  49. If you are so inclined: Buy the movie of your choice then “archive it”. DVD decrypter is still around, so use it. Strip off all the crap the lawyers pooped on it, by only selecting the main feature. remove the region code, anther click of the mouse, and you’ve got yourself an archived BS-free copy, so if your dog eats you movie, you still got your back-up. After all, you paid for it. you should be able to make fifty copies of your own copy if you want, one for the SUV, one for the summer house, one for the kids room… yada, yada yada

  50. I used to rip Dvd’s and pull out all that B.S. for the same reasons. It’s MY time, I PAID for my DVD, and I’m watching what I want out of it. Screw ad’s and FBI warnings I don’t need em. I did this all the time.

    Did I mention Im in the movie industry? Sad but true. It’s skipping these commercials on movies and Television that is killing my industry though- they can’t figure out how to monetize moving images now. Believe me, we are suffering big time in the industry. Less quality content now, more stupid reality show’s and cheap to produce Leno Crap… Sigh… time to go back to school for something else…

  51. Yes, Disney did it to me. We had to watch of half hour of trailers to movies that WE ALREADY HAD!!

    So first, I ripped them to DVD. Then I discovered avi that the kids could watch on a computer or laptop. Then I discovered giving a dvd with 4-5 movies on it to fellow travellers on the Disney trail. Then I discovered downloading.

    Then I discovered that everything is free in the internet age….if I could only download hardware, I would!!

  52. Criterion are the only people who know how to make a gddmn DVD. You put it in, you get the menu. Later you can watch the extras if you want to, and they’re worth it if you do–just like the essays in the booklet–but they’re not in the way. And the FBI? Not a mention. Why? I bet it’s because Criterion knows that their customers have seen movies at home before, and that warnings do nothing against the determined.

  53. Whee! This thread has sure brought out a lot of pent-up something-or-other in people.

    It’s true that most DVDs let you push MENU right after the initial FBI thingie to get right to the second FBI thingie, then the flying logos, then on to the main attraction. But why do they make it so HARD to do this? Once the trailers begin, you can’t escape them. It infuriates me every single time I encounter this anti-user “feature”.

    My method of not supporting the companies that foist the annoyance upon us all is to check out the DVD from the public library, thereby depriving the studios of my royalty payments in a totally legal way.

    [And yes, I am married to a librarian. They rock.]

  54. I was visiting Russia when the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie had only been out in theaters for a short time, they already had it on DVD in their video stores…lol

  55. This sort of brings up an ironic anecdote I had the other day. I wanted to watch the brilliant Hayao Miyazaki film Howl’s Moving Castle with my girlfriend (because she hadn’t seen it). Netflix instant? Nothing. iTunes rental? Nothing. But when I checked Several high quality torrents. I would have gladly paid to have rented it to watch, or even purchased it over iTunes, but the thing is they just didn’t have it. The irony is that high quality movie torrents are available for pretty much all movies, with no pre filler crap or DRM. As long as the industry continues to produce a worse product then the pirates do, then well, people like me will pirate films just because it’s easier. High speed internet pays for itself.

  56. @ asuffield – you’re absolutely right, the cheaper players basically give you the most freedom (region free, letting you skip what you want to skip etc). The only downside I’ve found is the quality sometimes suffers…shorter longevity, poorer picture etc.
    So, in the end I’ve gone for a moderately priced player – region free – and DVD shrink ;)

  57. I like films & used to buy on tape. I made the mistake of buying a well known brand DVD player. After I’d watched just two DVDs I couldn’t be bothered to fight the thing to get to where I wanted on the dvd. Whenever I stopped play (intending to watch more the next day) I had to go through the whole intro sequence again. It was all too much & I’ve given up watching it & won’t buy any more dvds.

  58. This is what the dreaded “Skip+/-” buttons are for. Although even if you pound through the infinite startup on, say, a Disney disk, it can still take you 3-5 mintues for all the copy-protect BS to activate.

  59. Actually Disney movies are one of the less annoying for me. Pop it it and it gives a warning before going to FastPlay(tm), which plays a few trailers then automatically starts the movies. You can hit menu at anytime, but the kids can start the movie themselves even if we can’t find the remote.

    My preschool kids complain if I skip the trailers anyway.

  60. People actually still buy DVDs? How quaint.
    You know, back in the day, there were stores where you
    would /rent/ DVDs. From a store. No, really!

  61. The reason piracy exists is because the world increasingly demands more information. Demands that the studios seem unwilling to fill in ways that are called for today. Selling or renting DVDs one or two at a time by means of a middle man has been made obsolete but studios seem hesitant to try new ways to make money. Greed has made them hold onto the old ways of distribution all the while lashing out at potential customers wanting to use a more convenient delivery system. This is because they short sightedly view these new systems as a threat since they are not in total control right off the bat. It’s this classic, “I got mine, screw you,” attitude that will be their undoing. Look at all the money Apple has made simply because they were willing to cheaply and conveniently offer music online when it was clear that is what the customer wanted. Imagine if music companies were fighting to keep customers buying 8-tracks in the age of the CD, simply because they own the eight-track factories.

  62. I hope you don’t mind , but that info-graphic was so priceless , I had to pirate it! :)

    Not sure where it’s likely to crop up , but I promise not to undercut your profits from it :)

    I don’t know , but when DVD pressing costs are at scale , including the box probably less than 25 cents, I feel a little abused at paying a 1600% markup for even a 30 year old movie and
    then as your info-graphic pointed out being subjected to endless commercials.

    Of course it’s not enough to sell me the movie once.
    First sell it to me on tape with some screwy copy protection
    that makes even honest viewing full of this flickering.

    Then retire the technology so I have to buy the DVD with some sort
    of screwy copy protection so the chances of it playing are sketchy and of course a new machine.

    Now retire that technology and bring out Blue-Ray or something
    else and tell me I should again purchase the content and of course the new machine

    So buy then , I’ve paid probably over $100 for some 30 year
    old movie purchased over and over and I’m then subjected to
    force fed ads to enjoy something I’ve supposedly purchased.

    This idea of charging me repeatedly for the same lunch is not new.

    Over the air TV I get for “FREE” and watching ads was a reasonable trade. Here in the states , cable TV was originally
    sold with the promise that if we paid for the content that
    we would get a clear picture and no commercials , since we had of course paid to view the content. That promise lasted for about a year or until the ink on the legislation dried that made cable operations a legal business.

    Now the cable companies have their hand out at every turn, and
    we have wall to wall commercials , including in the package we pay for, channels that pitch things at us in 24/7 commercials.

    Corporate back scratching games that attempt to see how many times we can be charged for an Internet connection, despite the fact we can probably only surf one at a time anyways.

    Car insurance companies that want to see how many times we can be sold a policy , even though there again , we probably can only physically drive one car at a time , and it’s very unlikely that
    the parked one is going to run into anything.

    House insurance companies seeing how many times they can sell
    us that product, saying of course that if your house catches on fire thats one policy , but if the fire’s brother the water comes in you must buy insurance again.

    To say that I must be sold a health insurance policy , but
    if my teeth get sick ,I need to buy another policy
    if my eyes need attention I need to buy that too.

    At the end of all this I say hoist the Jolly Rodger
    as no matter if I dedicated my life to never paying a thing again
    I will always be a junior punter in Piracy compared to the
    poor corporate “little red riding hood” victims with those oh so large teeth.


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