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January 17 2007

IMDB reports that Serenity in HD has now been pirated. After the HD hack by Muslix64, the HD version of Serenity is now on internet Bit torrent sites.

Sounds suspiciously like this story that was posted on Whedonesqe a while ago. I guess it's the natural progression after the copy protection is cracked.

[ edited by TychoCelchuuu on 2007-01-18 04:06 ]
Ya know...this might sound stupid, but...should we feel honoured that some piece of Reaver bait chose the BDM to be the first HD-DVD product to pirate? Cuz there's gotta be some reason for the choice.

Mixed bag right now I feel. Piracy leads to some dark stuff...but the flick's in the news again;)
I guess you really can't stop the signal.

I don't approve of this. Not only is it bad to do this to Serenity, but it makes HD-DVD that much more unattractive to the movie industry.

We all lose.
'Twas bound to happen.

Thumbs up to the hacker for stickin' it to the man. Just goes to show what lengths of nuttiness software conflicts and lockouts drive some people to. People get really sick of being some corporation's bitch.

Thumbs down to anyone who thieves the hacked product. That's not cool. Mega-thumbs down to anyone who profits from it. Just because it can be done doesn't exactly mean it's fine and dandy to do.

but the flick's in the news again;)

I keep hearing there's no such thing as bad publicity.

ETA: Who really has an extra 19G anyway? The size of the file will keep the downloads to a sorta-minimum, methinks.

[ edited by April on 2007-01-18 05:38 ]
Not only is it bad to do this to Serenity, but it makes HD-DVD that much more unattractive to the movie industry.

Yeah because piracy really destroyed DVDs chances to become the dominant media...

This makes me sad. I mean, power to the hackers and all but...Serenity? WHY? Couldn't they have picked something who's fans are less... I wanna use a phase that's not "insanely possesive" because we're not all like that. How about "proud"?

I don't really care when this happens to other stuff. But Serenity is special. Ya know what I'm sayin'?
ETA: Who really has an extra 19G anyway? The size of the file will keep the downloads to a sorta-minimum, methinks.

Well, with hard drives dropping in price all the time, it's not too expensive to get a 250 gig or even a 500 gig hard drive. You can even get 1 terabyte hard drives now, but they seem to be mostly for back-up drives. However, even with a really high-speed connection, I imagine it would take a looooooooong time to download 19 gigs.

Also, since as far as I know there isn't any rewritable HD-DVD's so it's not going to be easy to move that massive file anywhere. Unless the person's computer is hooked up to a high-def tv, which few people have set up, I'm not sure how someone would be able to even use the file.

Also interesting to note that since the Serenity HD-DVD was first cracked on January 14 the sales for the regular DVD on has gone up just a bit (since there isn't a tracker that I'm aware of for the Serenity HD-DVD on Amazon). Not sure if it was just a regular fluctuation in sales or had anything to do with the news.
Don't panic. It takes about a day to download a 2G file on your average (well, US at least) broadband connection, so to download HD Serenity would take well over a week. I haven't the faintest idea where IMDB gets their one day to download estimate, Linux distributions are typically DVD-sized, tend to have hundreds of seeders with few leechers, and take roughly half a day to download (more or less the ideal conditions for BitTorrent). If someone is that dedicated to getting a copy of HD Serenity, there no real chance that they would purchase it anyway.

You can setup devices to stream media to a TV, and 24"+ LCDs can display 1080p (HD-DVD resolution) without decreasing the size. Virtually any 17"+ computer monitor can display 720p or better, which is still a significant improvement over standard DVDs.

Also note that there are writable Blu-ray discs, but they cost an arm, leg, and first born.
Y'know what? I'd download it. Of course, I already bought the movie, but I'm not going to shell out even more for an HD version when I don't have an HDTV or DVD or, well, anything aside from my computer. (Which is technically in the shop anyway, so it would be going riiiight into Dad's 200 gig spare drive.)

Either way, I usually only download DVD-quality or above if it's (A) old, I've got it in another format, and I can't find it anywhere (do you know how hard it is to find a DVD of Best of the Best? Or even another VHS!), or (B) if I'm going to make muvids. Mmmm, huuuuuge Serenity muvid...
While I feel kinda proud that Serenity was "Chosen" as worth being the first one to rip, I am against this. In the eyes of the MPAA and Professional industry, this could be a black mark on Whedonverse fans. Frankly they decide any future Whedonverse DVD, TV, Film releases, and if they believe his fans are the type to not just pirate, but to be pioneer's in piracy, that could effect the future of Whedonverse projects negatively.
Yeah because piracy really destroyed DVDs chances to become the dominant media...

Firstly, DVD's CSS protection wasn't cracked until DVD was a well proven format. Second, DVD had no realistic competion for market share when it was launched or when it was cracked. So, your sarcastic analogy is entirely inaccurate.

HD-DVD being cracked so early in the game is more reason for the industry to throw its support to Blu-Ray... the more expensive of the two formats, and the one Serenity aint on just yet.
And an ironical thing is, I've been using Serenity to sell HD-DVD. We have a copy at the store I work at, and it looks unbelievably fantastic on HD-DVD.

So many customers have gone "Wow! That looks fantastic! ...what is that movie?" Le sigh.
There's no hard evidence that cracking anyone's DRM has ever truly hurt sales of a product. "Serenity" is just an innocent bystander in the ongoing, escalating war between pirates and obnoxious orgs like the MPAA. This cracking was inevitable, and no one on the MPAA side who threw their weight behind HD could have done so without knowing it'd be cracked sooner or later. If Blu-ray was looking to be the dominant medium in this situation, it would have gotten cracked just as quickly. Times have changed; the winds of DRM are irritating more and more people, unlike when DVD was first released.

Anyway, I get the conflict of conscience over this type of thing; there's a romantic notion that people deserve to be paid for their art, where "people" broadly includes "corporations structured to squeeze actual people in order to profit as severely as possible" (the record label model gets the most attention in that category, but it only takes one lawsuit by a Peter Jackson to remind people that movie studios fundamentally depend on accounting that seems designed to deprive content creators). But no one has definitively proven that cracking DRM or file sharing actually hurts content creators, and to the contrary, there's research showing the opposite. If you, like me, assume that file sharing works as an act of guerilla promotion for the artists in question, then the HD pirates who cracked "Serenity" are acting as Independents, engaging in an act of Getting The Word Out. It's not so bad.
IMForeman - the volume keys which were cracked was for ACCS, which is also the copy protection method on Bluray. There aren't any USB Bluray drives yet (I think), and there's some slight more protection on it -- but mark my words, that will get cracked shortly, too.

The person who cracked DVD's CSS protection said a few months ago this would get cracked. Nobody listened to him, so, hey.

Personally, I doubt this will effect Serenity's sales figures.
Umm... does no one else see the irony in people complaining about pirating Serenity?

I guess ya'll just volunteered for the alliance :)
I just see it as theft. Don't really care about the restrictions that HD-DVD has but people worked hard on Serenity.

Dunno what happens in other poster's countries but DVD piracy is used to fund criminal and terrorist activities where I live. So the romantic notion that pirating is a two fingered gesture to faceless corporations is somewhat naive and irrelevant where I come from.
The AACS crack is not strictly a crack, since it fixable exploits flaws in software HD-DVD players (rather than exploit flaws in the encryption itself). At some point it there will be permanent AACS crack, just as the nature of these things.

Also note that DVD copying preceded the DeCCS release, with programs that take screenshots of each frame (something that AACS, and likely any future encryption cannot reliably prevent).

In all seriousness, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. It's entirely possible that fair number of people download Serenity to see the quality of HD-DVD.

Dunno what happens in other poster's countries but DVD piracy is used to fund criminal and terrorist activities where I live.
Source? I'm fairly certain that no money is spent (other than equipment, Internet connections, which certainly doesn't go to criminal or terrorist activities) in any point of the piracy chain. And frankly, if someone was selling illegal copies, who would buy them? (Note that this is completely unrelated to the street sellers prevalent in places such as China who do profit off of piracy, but are mostly unrelated to this article since there isn't any way to sell physical copies of HD-DVD discs).

[ edited by SirNuke on 2007-01-18 09:42 ]
I downloaded Firefly episodes before I bought the DVDs. I downloaded Done the Impossible having pre-ordered the DVD. I dowloaded Buffy and Angel episodes before I bought the DVDs. I downloaded South Park episodes before I bought the DVDs. I downloaded mp3s before I went on to buy the CDs. And on and on...

I didn't buy them out of guilt - I bought them because the downloads helped make me want them. They are great marketing.

One person's experience - one person's opinion.
I didn't buy them out of guilt - I bought them because the downloads helped make me want them. They are great marketing.

It doesn't make piracy less criminal, but as you said, there's always two sides on the coin.
I would have never been able to sample some music, movies or even tv shows I've started to really enjoy if I had to buy them on cds. There's only so much money you can spend.
Of course some people lost money from me, when I decided that some things were just not worth my money, but other just like you, just made me want them.
I did download a rip of Serenity, back when the DVDs weren't available yet. But now I own two copies of it.
Do I think that downloading things is an ideal scenario? Never. But, nowadays, most of the time is one of the few practical options available.

[ edited by Numfar PTB on 2007-01-18 10:15 ]
Source? I'm fairly certain that no money is spent (other than equipment, Internet connections, which certainly doesn't go to criminal or terrorist activities) in any point of the piracy chain.

19.6GB of HD goodness is still 19.6GB. That's a bitch of an amount of data to download. And basically, it's not worth it. Not yet atleast. And besides, you can't burn the movie right now, it's just too big so for now this is merely an interesting factoid. And it will probably just give Serenity some extra exposure rather than hurt it.
Right Simon, so people with a vested interest in stopping piracy say that it's used to fund terrorism and that's incontrovertible proof ? Come on fella, now who's being naive ?

"It is estimated that about 80% of the criminal gangs involved in intellectual property crime have links or associations with paramilitary groups.

Estimated ? Links ? Associations ? What does that even mean ? Doesn't pretty much any non-petty crime in Northern Ireland get the nod from the para-militaries, or else the criminals get a wee 'visit' ? Does that mean the money's being used to fund them ? When they started the 'piracy supports organised crime' campaign I joked that saying it supported terrorism (today's bogeyman to keep the unwashed in line while you strip them of their rights) wouldn't be far behind. Bingo.

and no one on the MPAA side who threw their weight behind HD could have done so without knowing it'd be cracked sooner or later

I dunno, those guys don't exactly seem the sharpest knives in the drawer if you get my meaning. The current model's dead guys, find a new one !

Couldn't they have picked something who's fans are less... I wanna use a phase that's not "insanely possesive" because we're not all like that. How about "proud"?

Not sure but since we're such big fans i'd guess most of us would buy it even if it's available for free (knowing/assuming Joss etc. is getting at least some amount per unit sold) whereas a more casual fandom might not so in that sense it's a plus.

Note well though, all that said, I don't condone piracy at all (though I think there are situations where it's justifiable). Cracking for fair use is one thing but piracy deprives creators of their rightful dues (not as much as the big corporations deprive them but that still doesn't make it right).
It's hard to quantify criminal activity here but I'll have to resort to the cliche of "Everybody knows the terrorists do it". It's one of those things. If you buy pirated DVDs here odds on part of the money will get back to a paramilitary group on either side. It's part of the culture. Same as red diesel, dodgy football tops, moustaches and country and western music.

Anyhow it will be interesting to see if this distribution of the Serenity HD DVD online has any wider implications. Personally I'd be happy to see multinational companies get realistic and accept the principle of liberalisation when it comes to people downloading movies illegally. Perhaps something akin to drug laws in some countries. A small amount is acceptable (1 or 2 movies - I dunno) but anything more and you're going get done. Dunno how that'll work or indeed if it could work. But the genie is out of the bottle and something practical has to be done. Can't fine everyone.
"ETA: Who really has an extra 19G anyway? The size of the file will keep the downloads to a sorta-minimum, methinks.

Well, with hard drives dropping in price all the time, it's not too expensive to get a 250 gig or even a 500 gig hard drive."

Well yeah. I actually checked my extra hard drive space after that comment and found space won't be an issue to anyone with a halfway new computer. Just trying to be optimistic. But space and download size taken into consideration still makes this an unattractive download to many.
I'm no big fan of piracy but I also think that existing DRM measures are hurting everyone with no benefit to either side.

"The only long-term effect of copy protection is to ensure that those who defeat it are immortalized."
I saw an article online at the New York Times about this yesterday and they included a brief synopsis of Serenity in the article. That part was nice.
HD-DVD and Blu-Ray use the same encryption technology. When one was cracked the other was as well. So, this kind of thing isn't a sign that the industry will go towards Blu-Ray over HD-DVD. In fact, it might be said that the fact that the news is about HD-DVD and not about Blu-Ray is a sign that HD-DVD is the more prominent format in the media and in the public's mind.
Simon is right. Anyone who thinks copy infringement / piracy doesn't fund criminal activity has their cunning hat pulled over their eyes.
I am trying to find a Washington Post article that explored this very topic. I will link if I can find it.
People think its not a big deal to buy bootleg - whether it be on the Net or the guy offering fake Prada on the corner. The core of this business is criminal activity- funding organized crime or terrorism. Don't fool yourself.
And from a more practical, whedonesque standpoint...imo, the more money that goes into Universal's pockets (regardless of how you feel about them) the more potential browncoats have of getting a sequel. Money begets money.
I tried to post this two days ago from another site, and it got removed. I'm not sure what I did wrong, and I haven't heard back from any moderators from my e-mail. I don't really mind that it got removed, I just want to know what not to do next time. Anyone know who I should e-mail other than Sorry for the off-topic post, I just want to be able to participate without making more work for the mods. Thanks!
I'm very undecided about this, because I hate to see Joss not getting paid for his work. On the other hand, a lot of people will download this and watch it just because it's the first hi-def pirated movie. That could bring in a lot of new fans that will buy the movie and shows. It's definitely illegal, and my gut reaction is "Bad!!", but it doesn't hurt to look on the bright side.
ETA: This is actually more of a response to mavourneen. Which is what happens kids when you 'Preview' then take a phone call at work then 'Post' without looking. Let this be a lesson to us all: Saje is dumb.

The simple solution then is to say "OK, nobody buy pirated DVDs etc. from markets/car boot sales and so on. Instead just download pirated materials from the internet. Problem solved". Do you think the MPAA etc. would be happy with that response ?

Presumably, if piracy helps terrorism so much we could win the 'war' on terror by air-lifting FREE DVDs of all the latest films to Indonesia, China etc. (where by far the most pirated DVDs are actually sold). People wouldn't need to buy pirate copies therefore terrorist money dries up therefore ... Goooo Freedom !

(I virtually guarantee that'd also be cheaper than oh, say an expensive war in a far-off foreign country. Just as an example ;)

To reiterate, very, very powerful people with very, very deep pockets (the same people that can reach across national borders to prosecute the breakers of American law) think they have a lot riding on piracy being perceived as inherently evil, supporting organised crime/terrorism/paedophiles (if there's any way at all to make it happen I bet they'll be next on the list) etc.

It's about as easy to get unbiased information about piracy and its effects on sales/terrorism etc. as it is about global warming (here's an early analysis of anti-piracy spin).

[ edited by Saje on 2007-01-18 17:10 ]
Mmm. I download movies. But I don't buy downloads.

So...since my money doesn't go into the thief's pocket, that makes my thievery more noble, right? Right?

I have the feeling that I'm one of the few here who doesn't really mind piracy.
I think the piracy supports terrorism argument is lame. As i stated above i am against this. Not because of terrorism, but because if the film is being stolen and not bought, then the odds of us ever getting a sequel go down even further than they were to start with. Piracy isn't hurting the studio, it can hurt us. The US government trained/funded Bin Laden and his soldiers to fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. By paying my taxes then, the argument could be made i was supporting terrorism. So that argument is moot and irrelevant. Anything can support terrorism. I am more worried about negative response twords Whedon fans in general and the hurt of sales resulting in a lack of future funding for Joss projects.
Also, it doesn't matter if you are buy pirated material or just download it not paying Mr Terrorist anything. Fact is, that hurt Joss and his fans. Forget about buying pirated goods for a second, if the pirates all just downloaded about 500 different copies only about 10% stand to actually still buy a legal copy of the movie. Whereas if the illegal copy didn't exist, you can likely bump those sales numbers up by 20%. 150 sold copies or 50 sold copies, which do you think helps Joss more? Yes piracy can get a film out there but it only hurts major films and only really helps indie films. Working at a Video Store like i do, those trends are obvious, as small as they are. The top mainstream downloads on places like Pirate Bay usually end up slowing OUR sales.
While I don't personally like piracy, because 1) I'm not one for using piracy (I really like DVD's), and 2) don't really like having to pay much for all the DVD's I buy because of it, I don't think piracy is actually morally wrong.

I think it would be good for the film industry if people wanting their movies seen as much as possible would take over a bit more from the moneymakers. When I see how much filmstudios and the famous actors make, and how hard it is to make an actually original movie, I think things might need to change there.
God, I think I'm about to start to ramble on the topic. Beware, that at some point I might stop making any sense at all, simply because I'll start to shoot to wherever direction the line of thought will take me.

I tend to discuss this a bunch with my friends, maybe in a lame attempt to atone for all the downloading that we do. Sort of like group therapy sessions, that just delve a lot into the same topic.

Most of time, we do wonder if the companies weren't willing lower the mark up price, allowing more people to buying, wouldn't that estimulate people to get more original content, instead of getting the pirate one.

It seems a relevant question. I live in Brazil, and also a native Taiwanese, so this is always something in question. And people do question, "why will I spend 40 bucks on something, that I can get for 5 or 10 bucks?". That makes the price point almost as close as a rental at Blockbuster, and you'll get to own the media. When DVDs overtook the place of VHS as a dominating media business, I believe the introduction of extras (which were non-existent in earlier releases), was a way to provide original content, so people would be more inclined to get the original product. But, nowadays DVDs are all ripable, and you can get complete copies of the original product.

I've talked to some people who just doesn't care that much about the additional original content, onto movies, they just want to watch the movie and that's it.

As I said before I own two copies of Serenity. The first one I imported from Australia and the second one I got locally the Brazilian release when it came out. Onto the price point discussion, I spent almost as much on the local release, as I spent on the imported one. As a fan that ain't exactly surprising, but I wonder what general public, which is the greater part of the market think about this. Will they spend a little fortune, on a little known movie for them.

The growth in the high speed internet just made the whole situation worse. As you can get almost any content very easily. National limits are just gone, and a lot of companies are just unable to keep up. A lot of business people still want to apply traditional business strategies in the virtual business world, which loses on scope. Apple has demonstrated, with some success (although there's still all that DRM topic), you do need to change the gameplay a bit in the virtual world.

And then there's also the whole question about how much intellectual property is worth. After you bought a cd or a dvd, or a movie on itunes, what is the extent of the buyer's ownership on the product. Why can't I share it with my friends? Why can't I share it with "my friends" (emphasis on the " "). And at which point this type of sharing stop being nice and naive sharing, and become piracy?

Well that's it. Just wanted to ramble on some random thoughts on the subject. I know it lacks some proper conclusion for the post, but maybe I'll come back later and wrap it up properly, now my mind just froze after typing so much in a gulp.
Where I come from, a majority of pirate DVD sales goes to benefit frauders (and that's from those arrested and tried). I don't think, off hand, there has ever been a single proven, in court case of piracy being used to fund terrorism. It is very commonly used by the MPAA and such in adverts, although they have never -- as far as I know -- provided evidence of it. I think it's irresponsible of them to use that as a quoted fact in adverts against it.

That said, personally, I'm against street selling of pirate DVDs for cash. Why? The person did not create the work. They don't get to profit from it.

Do I mind about downloading of movies? Not so much.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-01-18 22:17 ]
Dunno what happens in other poster's countries but DVD piracy is used to fund criminal and terrorist activities where I live.

They trotted out that line to get increased fines etc as well down south ( Ireland ) and the first three people they caught were police officers so I've taken that claim where ever its made now with more than a grain of salt
jmaze, I replied to your e-mail yesterday. In short, your headline didn't cover the story properly, the description was overly dramatic and leading and you asked Joss to comment, which is something we want to avoid happening. In future please make your headline as descriptive as possible and save opinion for a follow up comment.
Yeah gossi but surely people downloading are also effectively profiting even though they didn't create the work ? They're implicitly saving 20 or whatever that they would have had to spend on the DVD in order to benefit from the product.

Now, I'm in a grey area (poor streetlighting ;) since someone very close to me (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) downloads quite a lot of broadcast TV from the US before it gets to the UK but I do think that if you can afford to pay for a CD/DVD/whatever then you should. The system is flawed but for many creators that's the only way they currently have of getting a return on their hard-work (others can earn by live performances/merchandise etc. but for, e.g. a certain purple screen-writer, that'd be pretty tough).

Where I think it's justifiable is where either you couldn't buy it even if you tried (old programmes not released on DVD, obsoleted software, out of print books etc.) or where ordinarily you wouldn't buy it anyway (e.g. a piece of software that's much too expensive for you to afford) since I think in those situations the implicit deprivation of the creator's rightful dues doesn't exist (they would've been implicity denied the money anyway). Course, for that to be morally defensible you have to be blisteringly honest with yourself.

As I said though, many/most of my friends pirate from the net and I don't sit lecturing them on their evil ways cos ultimately I don't think it's doing too much harm (and despite what the adverts may claim, it's emphatically NOT the same as smashing a car window and nicking someone's stereo).
Caroline: Thank you very much for responding. The spam filter must have caught the return or something. I was afraid that I offended someone or something. Thanks again!
I've pretty much read all of the comments in this topic and while everyone made some really good points, I guess that for me it just comes down to stealing. It's someone's work, their intellectual property. Just because it isn't concrete that doesn't mean that it doesn't belong to someone. This type of stealing is rampant and it does affect the person/institutions that own the property. One of my very best friends is a best selling genre author and some of her books have been pirated and she feels violated by it. To her (and I would assume many artists) it feels like someone came into her house and took her property without her permission. Just because you can't afford something doesn't mean that you should steal it ... I can't afford a Ferrari ... but I'm not going to go steal one ... But I suppose ymmv.
No offence resa but the oft trotted out 'Ferrari argument' is specious. If you or I steal a Ferrari the previous owner has been deprived of it, they can no longer use it or gain by it. Pirating software/books/films etc. is NOT the same because the creator still owns their creation and can still gain by its sale (albeit possibly less than they would have). It's more like 'stealing' a tiny amount of air from the tyres. Sure, the ride won't be quite as smooth but they're still driving a Ferrari.

Re: affording it, i'll try to explain what I mean more clearly.

Situation 1: You'd would have bought (for example) 'Serenity' but you decide to pirate it instead.

Creator would have gained: $10
Creator's implied loss: $10

To me this is wrong (though not as wrong as theft, see above).

Situation 2: You would never, ever have bought (for example) Photoshop, it's much, much too expensive.

Creator would have gained: $0 (you never intended to buy it)
Creator's implied loss: $0

As I say though, for it to work the pirater has to be extremely honest with themselves. It's no good 'pretending' you can't afford it and wouldn't have bought it if what you really mean is "I can't afford it and that new T-shirt I want so i'm justified". Bizarrely, this way of looking at it means you're on morally safe ground only when you pirate stuff you really don't want at all ;).
No offense taken Saje :). The Ferrari analogy isn't perfect. You're right if I steal a Ferrari the owner is deprived of it's use. But the owner can collect on the insurance and replace the car (at a financial loss probably). So sort of the same thing ... maybe. ;). I just know that my writer friend (and many of her colleagues) see it as depriving them of their property, and damaging to their career. And that's how it feels to me too.
I think downloading is actually most like carpooling with the owner of the Ferrari.

(To be very clear: The driver that is willing to share is similar to uploaders, passengers are similar to downloaders, and the artist is like the petrol people who might (!) make less money than if both people had been driving seperatly, but maybe, if it's really good, the passengers will decide to buy a Ferrari themeselves too.)

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2007-01-19 20:35 ]
lol Groo ... I agree, as long as the uploader owns the property. If it's pirated I'd have to disagree. Then (imo) it'd be like carpooling with the person that stole the Ferrari. :) Not sure I agree that the artist is the petrol person though ... to me the artist is the owner and should decide whether or not to 'carpool'.

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