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July 02 2008

Joss Whedon hopes to tease fans into buying DVDs of his musical. ValleyWag's San Fran editor takes the view that Dr. Horrible is sure to be pirated, and posits that Whedon's "distribution twist" is just free publicity.

Not so sure about the "truefan" snark from the 'Wag.

So what that article is basically saying is that online piracy is just something to accept. Huh? And here I thought that it was a)illegal and b)not something a real/true fan does.

Silly, little pollyanna me.
I think Joss do take that into account. The genius side of this, let's call it experiment, is that how much it can sell, either through DVDs or payed downloads or through the other streams of revenue planned into this mega event, accounting the pirated copiers that will surely appear the minute the free streaming goes offline (even before).
The point is, even with the piracy side being factored in, if there's still profit and a considerable one, then Joss is really revolutionizing the medium, as some of the worries from mainstream media, are just proved unfounded, including region blocking content.
Oh, Valleywag. Here is $5. Please go buy yourself a clue.

ETA: Valleywag, one word, me.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2008-07-02 02:34 ]
It is true that there weren't enough Firefly fans to make that show a ratings hit, but there were enough fans to buy a whole mess of DVDs. I think Joss can feel pretty confident that he is going to sell a lot of DVDs, heck, I plan to buy at least ten (for Christmas gifts)!
Cheers, Sunfire. Yup, this dude obviously underestimates Joss's genius, the caliber of his work, and the power and loyalty of his fans.

Mayhaps it's jealousy over not thinking of it first? *rubs chin*

And yup, there are lots of people who have the capability of pirating, but don't because of the illegality of it, not to mention the screwing of artists that deserve our support.

And I don't think that Joss would do anything, really, purely for publicity. At least not for his work--possibly for Equality Now or some other cause. If there's anything Joss is not, it's a presswhore. Then again, mebbe this article was just published to incense people like us to get a lot of hits...
Their description of what might happen is entirely possible. But I'd tend to agree that if it does, it's not because Joss knew it would happen that way all along and was just trying to drum up PR. Instead, it simply will be that it turned out his gamble didn't pay off.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-02 02:42 ]
Boo to them.

there weren't exactly enough truefans to save Firefly

So... is that saying only true fans have ratings boxes? I must find out how to become one then.
Actually, rose ayn, I think "true fans" have been statistically more likely to engage in piracy, and support it by watching online sites with pirated content, if only so they can queue up their favorite shows whenever they want. Then again, true fans are also usually the first ones in line to buy the DVDs, not just for the extras that come with them (unavailable online), but as a way of saying thank you to the people who work hard to entertain them. Most people are willing to shell out money to support something they love, even if they can get it for free.

I don't think piracy actually hurts as much as studios and artists think it does, and may even draw in new fans. Because of that, I tend to think the stance of Trey Parker and Matt Stone on this issue has been the most reasonable...they did an entire episode on the subject of music piracy ("Christian Rock Hard" -- also one of their best) which basically said "It's gonna happen, so as an artist, why not choose to be flattered instead of belligerent?" Your mileage may vary with that reasoning, but it's understandable. They get enough money to make a good living; why fight the fans for more dollars?

The key here is: they have not only been pretty tolerant of people pirating South Park--thus not alienating any of their fans--they've also paid attention to how their work was pirated, and used that to suss out what the fans wanted. Now you can go to their website, where all their episodes are streaming free (with limited commercial interruption). For the people who like to watch clips on Youtube, they have a "scene finder" so you can watch just the moment you want. And they have extras, like games, unavailable anywhere else. It's really brilliant...they've basically rendered piracy of their show unnecessary, and from what I hear, the fans are rewarding them. Finding out what the fans want, and then selling it to them: the new business model of the future?
Let me preface this post by writing that I am Not an internet businesseer(I initially typed businessman, realisied it was a little sexist, and didn't want to resort to the very clunky and awkward sounding businessperson, hooray neologism!)

The businessmodel for Dr. Horrible resembles the businessmodel that many webcomics now use.

In the early, heady days of webcomics there were all manner of inventive and original ideas for making money: everything from charging people to see the content itself to just posting stuff at the cheapest rate you can find, hoping that people will click the Donate Button.

Almost all these models have failed, and the most successful webcomics all make most of their money in three ways:
  1. Selling ad space (this tends to cover the cost of hosting the comic, and little else).
  2. Selling T-Shirts, Mugs, the usual trinkets.
  3. Selling (physical) books or high quality prints of comics, through both the usual channels and online.

Why does that work?

How can people pay for something they already get for free? Even when the published strips are deleted from the archives, many many pirated copies are still around.

Are people just stupid?

Or is the assumption that people just want the content and nothing else false?

The main difference between traditional media and the internet is the connection made between creator(not that actors and tech guys aren't important too) and audience. This makes the book buying experience different: you're buying something from someone you know.

My first couple of years watching Buffy and Angel, I didn't give a single thought to the people behind the show. Oh I was aware that writers slaved over notebooks(or prior to 1996: Typewriters) but I never really thought about those things in between episodes(I was of course "suspending disbelief" during the eps themselves).

"Dr. Horrible's singalong blog" however, has been a completely different experience; before even seeing the show, I have discovered tonnes about who has made it and why. This shouldn't reduce my enjoyment of the experience anymore than seeing a biopic of Picasso may reduce my enjoyment of his paintings. This connection from artist to viewer is fundamental to internet success, imagine trying to buy a painting from an online gallery, one where you can't see any information about the artist.

The main advantage of the internet is to make it easier to make a connection with artists, writers, actors, lighting engineers, and the guy who goes out for donuts. Once this connection has been made, buying the DVD, Book, CD, etc. becomes a very intimate exchange, you can feel like you understand the art and the person behind the art(to a legal non-stalking extent).

Again, I don't know much about business, I just know what I like.

P.S. If you value your credibility online, don't accuse every Whedon fan on the Internet of piracy(or every fan of whatever else people are fans of). It makes you look like a technophobe.

[ edited by The Londinium Sun on 2008-07-02 03:06 ]
Yup, this dude obviously underestimates Joss's genius, the caliber of his work, and the power and loyalty of his fans.

Well no, I don't think that's their mistake. Genius doesn't pay the crew at the end of the day. A genius plan can though, if it works. I think Valleywag's mistake is that they didn't do their homework and they didn't bother to really break down the actual plan. Joss looked for a sponsor first and didn't find one. This is not Plan A, but it is also not the plan Valleywag thinks it is. The full plan involves DVD exclusives and merchandising. Moreover, Joss started working on this thing when the traditional business model was making everyone's life hell. And Valleywag is evaluating the motive and feasibility of this as if it is operating within that model, and its unique points are just gimmicks to get press. What Valleywag doesn't seem to understand that is an intentionally risky leap away from the usual thing. The point is to test something new. Doing that requires trying something new.

They're just being all glib and cynically cool because that's what they do. And getting traffic since this is getting a lot of buzz at the moment. Their own business model's pretty plain to see.
Ah, so its a musical. It thought it was a terrible name so i never bothered to check it out. I remember Whedons comment when it was suggested that 'Buffy the vampire slayer' was a silly name. He said if people didn't like the name, well frankly they weren't invited to the party. So I guess I'm not invited to this party either - now Firefly - that's a brilliant name ;)
There are already precedents for fans responding to the artists they love by voluntarily paying for their creations - in the music industry. And this is one of those times when Joss' fans alleged "rabidity" could really help the model work. And The ValleyWag wagged it incorrectly when they said, "Then they will disappear, only to return as a DVD you can buy" - leaving out the pay-for-digital step in the plan.

Oh, and did I remember to say "Bite me!" above? 'Cause I meant to say that about the article's implication that Joss is just being a publicity hound and therefore, I guess, a hypocrite when he wrote:

"“The idea was to make it on the fly, on the cheap – but to make it. To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet. To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way. To give the public (and in particular you guys) something for all your support and patience. And to make a lot of silly jokes."

Just to make it clear, my inviso-expletive above is a quote from MST3K and not, you know, anything like my personal response to this flame-baity screed.

It's just a little quote, is all.
Almost all these models have failed, and the most successful webcomics all make most of their money in three ways:

I almost posted a similar list the other day. I would also include Achewood, PhD Comics, xkcd, and the animated goodness that is Strongbad E-mail.

Also anyone wanting to set up their own internet store should really read the Penny Arcade and xkcd merchandise descriptions. I have never been so tempted to buy so many shirts I would never ever wear.
Oh, yeah, I forgot this part:

"It raises the question then, why not leave the video up and sell advertising against it, like the creators of South Park have done? "

Maybe Joss - not surprisingly and like many of us - just isn't a huge fan of advertising cluttering up his site and his creations? How 'bout that as an alternative, Mr. Smarty-pants who is cynical and wagging it in... the Valley.
This is in fact an interesting experiment. In order to be successful, it will take much more than we few, we happy few, buying multiple copies. This has to spread to many people. I wonder what the projected time frame for this is? When will it be considered a success or not? And will we see the DVD sales figures?

We can add Unshelved to the list of webcomics that are selling books, Tshirts and copies of their comics and doing well enough that one of the 2 creators is doing this as his main means of income.
Maybe Joss - not surprisingly and like many of us - just isn't a huge fan of advertising cluttering up his site and his creations?

I do actually agree with Valleywag there. It's the one valid point in there: leaving the videos up and running ads might have been a better approach, since I expect the videos are going to get slammed with traffic and probably have a lot of re-watching. I would have tried that approach plus the DVD with marvelous extras and merchandising.

I would have seriously considered putting up just parts 1 and 2 up with ads and putting parts 1-3 with marvelous extras on the DVD. I'm not sure I'd be able to do it, but I'd consider it.
Whoo-hoo! Another place the trailer is online!
"I don't think piracy actually hurts as much as studios and artists think it does, and may even draw in new fans."

Um, BAFfler, piracy hurts. Period. I may be the only person in the world who purchases every piece of music I own (and I own over 5000 CDs, records and cassettes) but I believe that piracy robs creators of earnings off their efforts. Now, if the Grateful Dead want to allow tapers, they can- but they also record shows and sell the CDs. I wrote textbooks, spent years putting them together, only to see them get copied and destroy my ability to earn a living off them. I have no patience for pirates, and no willingness to let them off the hook- and I suspect, neither does Joss Whedon. it is one thing to support fanfic; it is another to let someone copy what you make and sell it on their own. That is not how anyone wants to gain new fans, by allowing their work to be stolen.
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I don't know if I'm the typical computer nerd/music lover/film fan.

I have downloaded many an illegal file beginning with the birth of the P2P network...(on a dialup connection no less) It is true. Sue me (please don't). I have downloaded music, TV episodes and movies which I either a) already owned on a physical medium, b) eventually did own on a physical medium, or c) couldn't purchase because they weren't available for purchase (mostly short films).

Why? Convenience, portability, and laziness. If I owned it, I could rip it despite all the various hurdles..or just download it. But that virtual file is no comparison to that shiney disc in the pretty box that I can hold, see, smell and taste...err...well mostly I just display it on my shelf. Entertainment which is enjoyed frequently gets loaded on my computer, one way or another, to preserve the disc from damage due to frequent enjoyment.

I don't know what time or what channel Firefly originally aired on, I just know that I never came across it. I didn't watch Buffy when it originally aired because I didn't get WB from 97-01, and I didn't get UPN from 01-... And wouldn't you know I now own both.

I would be sad if Dr. Horrible was only released in a downloadable format. I want a thing I can own forever and ever and pass down to my neices and nephews when I die. I want it to be non-biodegradable in a pristine high quality format that will not be locked on my current computer when I need to upgrade.

I think Joss is just genius enough to know exactly what I want. I want to watch it the moment it's released, and then I want to buy a physical copy...which will take days to ship. An online edition coupled with DVD edition is the perfect blend of instant satisfaction and longlasting enjoyment. Like that gum.
Dana5140 you are not the only one to purchase all the music you have - I do the same.

BAFfler - piracy hurts, period. It doesn't draw in new fans, it brings in thieves. A true fan doesn't steal from the artists they love.
"Huh? And here I thought that it was a)illegal and b)not something a real/true fan does."

Well, I have to say, I'm very pro-"piracy" (let's forget for a moment that the word "piracy" itself tries to influence people into thinking it's wrong). Admittedly, this is anecdotal evidence, but the people I know who pirate are also the people who buy the most DVDs. It's not about taking money away from someone, it's just to do with sharing content... a nice, somewhat appropriate example is Tim Minear's The Inside. It's not available on DVD at the moment, but file sharing allows it to stay alive, making new fans all the time. Without file sharing, people would just forget about The Inside because they wouldn't be able to watch it. Other examples include obscure foreign music or films that might not be available in your own country, but that fans can (in the case of films) make subtitles for.

Let's not fall into the "but piracy is stealing" trap either, because stealing would be depriving the original owner of something. Take shoplifting, if you were to steal a physical DVD from a store, then that store can no longer sell the DVD. But file sharing is just creating copies, you're not depriving anyone of something.

In my opinion, the biggest problem with the argument against file sharing is that it assumes that whoever's downloading the file would otherwise buy it. This of course is not true, often somebody will download something to see if they like it, and the fact they can download gives them that opportunity, and if they do like it they're then more likely to buy it, not less. And if they can't afford to buy it, then they wouldn't have in the first place -- and this is easy for me to say, not being a content creator -- but I have no problem with people getting things for free if they can't afford to buy them. Like libraries. They rock.

I think it's easy for people to feel bitter about other people cheating the system when they themselves buy everything. Personally speaking, I'm one of those people who buys things, I have an embarrassingly large DVD collection, but it doesn't bother me that other people are experiencing what I experience without all the money I've spent.

Apologies for the long post, I just saw other people had shared their views, so I wanted to share mine too. :)

(And just to be clear, I'm not at all advocating for-profit piracy. Which is just silly anyway, because if you're paying for it, you may as well just buy a legitimate copy.)
"In my opinion, the biggest problem with the argument against file sharing is that it assumes that whoever's downloading the file would otherwise buy it. This of course is not true, often somebody will download something to see if they like it, and the fact they can download gives them that opportunity, and if they do like it they're then more likely to buy it, not less."

Exactly. One act of piracy does not equal one lost sale. I believe the answer really is to just stop worrying so much about it.
I think it would clarify things if there was a term for the people who do watch/download free copies of stuff they already own. To me, if you went out and bought it, then getting another copy to have on your computer isn't piracy. It's backup. Before the ability to do that, would people buy two copies of something? I didn't have two copies of Disco Duck or Purple Rain when I had the albums. (Don't ask.) But 'backupers' doesn't seem like the right word....
BTW, I don't download. Makes me nervous. Just sayin'.
I understand the argument for "piracy", I really do. It can get to people who normally can't have access to it, but I feel icky whenever I downloaded something I didn't pay for.
I believe the answer really is to just stop worrying so much about it

I believe that's easier to say if you're not the creator or owner of the content who feels that s/he is not getting the compensation s/he is entitled to. And, with all due respect, MattK, while your explanation has some rational appeal, it's equally likely that there are many people who download files, enjoy having the product for free, and don't pay a penny. I've known many many individuals who do just that.

[S]tealing would be depriving the original owner of something. Take shoplifting, if you were to steal a physical DVD from a store, then that store can no longer sell the DVD. But file sharing is just creating copies, you're not depriving anyone of something

I disagree. You're depriving those who own the rights to that work of the profit they expect to get from that work. That's why they either created or invested in the product to begin with. I don't know that one act = one lost sale, but I do believe that in the aggregate the loss of profits could be quite large.

ETA: Whatever one thinks about the practical ethics of file-sharing, it's settled that it is, in fact, "stealing" (or at least "unlawful.") C.f. MGM v. Grokster, 545 U.S. 913 (2005), at least where copyrighted files are being shared.
I've always been a bit dubious of the anti-piracy claims because I know how much gets lost in profit margins, unnecessary packaging, and ungodly-huge CEO salaries. Which is why the new business models coming out on the Internet: buy it direct from the creators, no middlemen.

I will no doubt download Dr. Horrible, but legally, on iTunes or wherever.
"I feel icky whenever I downloaded something I didn't pay for."

Yeah, it's all a personal preference. I just don't want to get sued, which is what puts me off downloading. I'm not in America though, so at least I wouldn't have to worry about an over-zealous RIAA/MPAA. Doesn't change the fact that I support people who do download though..

It's a little different for film and television, because of the huge budgets involved, but if I was a content creator -- whether a musician or an author -- I'd be glad people are experiencing something I'd created, whether they pay for it or not. It's not as if digital distribution actually costs anything anyway, so if the artist themselves are happy with it there's no reason money needs to be spent at all. Why needlessly involve capitalism with art?

Joss Stone recently talked quite passionately about how she liked the fact her music was shared, Nine Inch Nails/Trent Reznor upload their albums to file sharing sites themselves, and also as free downloads of their site, and of course Radiohead's In Rainbows was a huge success ("pay as little or as much as you want"). So it's not as if there aren't artists out there who share this point of view.

There will always be "bad apples" who download and download and never buy, even though they can, but I just don't think you can let that spoil it for everyone else. The amount of people who do that are going to be very few, and if we started to take the approach of stopping file sharing because it's possible to abuse the system... where would it end? All systems can be abused, the Internet especially, do we cut everyone off just because one person might go too far?


"But that virtual file is no comparison to that shiney disc in the pretty box that I can hold, see, smell and taste...err...well mostly I just display it on my shelf."

I couldn't agree more with this. I love the tactile experience of owning something. :) Books especially, but also DVDs. I owned all the Buffy DVDs in Region 2 (where I am), but they were all in fairly generic plastic cases, so when the Chosen Collection was on offer, I imported it from America, and now I have a gorgeous box set, along with a nice exclusive extra disc (one of the few times I've bought something twice, it's not something I can generally afford to do).

ETA: In response to soddingnancytribe, my shoplifting analogy wasn't meant to be about opportunity costs, which are still very much debatable. As for stealing, I wasn't aware the Grokster case specially mentioned that. I thought that case was more to do with the old Sony Betamax case, because Grokster had a technology that could be used for illegal purposes, but because it could also be used for legal purposes they should be let off the hook. Whilst Grokster lost that case because it was shown it had very few legitimate uses, I'm not sure a similar case would be lost today -- BitTorrent as a distribution network now has substantial legitimate uses (BBC's iPlayer uses a technology similar to BitTorrent to distribute television shows to license payers). I'd also like to make the somewhat obvious point that American case law doesn't apply to the rest of the world, so a legal truth there isn't necessarily true anywhere else.

Apologies if my post is somewhat rambling. It's 5.30am here, and I'm being a bit of an insomniac.

[ edited by MattK on 2008-07-02 05:35 ]
If I pirated Dr. Horrible after it was taken down so I could watch it while waiting for the official download, but then paid for said download as well as the eventual DVD, could I pretty please still be called a true fan?

ETA: Okay, was that too snarky? If so, I apologize. I've just got strong feelings on this issue.

[ edited by UnpluggedCrazy on 2008-07-02 05:30 ]
MattK, I would totally buy the Inside if it was on DVD.

I'm reminded of the Janis Ian article The Internet Debacle. She is an older artist that had a couple hits (Society's Child and At Seventeen). And then she faded into relative obsurity...probably partially due to limited marketing.

At the height of Napster popularity, her new record sales went up as did her web site traffic. People were looking to download her old hits, which led them to her web site...which led them to realize she still actually exists and still records.

As they say, "Out of sight, out of mind." And the Internet has a way with keeping everything in sight for people who are suddenly reminded of something they once saw or heard and capitilizes on that sudden craving to rediscover before we're distracted and forget.

Film and TV have gotten pretty good at closing the time gap between when a series ends or a film stops showing in the theatre and the DVD release....when it's a hit. Fans of less successful films and series just have to be patient or determined to not let it fade from memory. (I waited two decades for the Beauty and the Beast TV series that I watched when I was 12.)

I'm also reminded of an Ani Difranco cassette I once purchased at a concert with liner notes that read "Copying, while illegal, is sometimes necessary". Because she had turned down a record deal and made her own label, her distribution was sorely limited.

I think demonizing all piracy is sort of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Some artists and studios may be leaking their stuff on purpose for the buzz.

ETA: This might sound pretty dorky, but I've actually downloaded (purchased when possible) books in digital format in addition to buying the hardcopy. When I really like a book, I like having the search capability offered in the digital format so I don't have to bend or mark the pages of the hardcopy. Grr, I hate folded corners.

[ edited by GrrrlRomeo on 2008-07-02 05:42 ]
Oh I think technology is brilliant when it comes to distribution, publicity, and bringing older artists back into the public eye. And I love being able to preview tracks before buying, and being able to buy one song off an album instead of (as we used to have to do) pay five quid for a naff LP just to get the one song we wanted. I just don't think asking people to pay as they go is somehow unfair.
Well, I suppose if two people use the exact same phrasing to upbraid me, I must be in the wrong. Of course, I do thankfully have some company on this board, and I would like to second MattK's excellent post and the spotless summation thereof from RaisedByMongrels.

I don't suppose either Dana5140 or rose ayn actually read this part of my comment: "I don't think piracy actually hurts as much as studios and artists think it does, and may even draw in new fans" [emphasis added]. Notice I did not say, "I don't think piracy hurts at all"...I believe it does do some damage. But I also think the amount of that damage has been overstated by the industry and the artists.

I had a college friend who was into piracy, back in the dark and misty days of earlier this decade. (Okay, I had several, but I want to talk about one in particular, to illustrate that this line can be blurrier than you might think.) He would download episodes of his favorite shows a couple days after they aired, but would always -- I think without exception, though I'm not totally sure -- purchase the season box sets when they came on the market. When he discovered new series that he liked, he would follow the same practice of buying whatever was out and downloading what wasn't until he could purchase it legally. In other words, he was doing what UnpluggedCrazy was talking about.

Now technically, what he did would be considered piracy. My question is, though -- who did he hurt? Everybody who stood to profit from the sale of the DVD set got the same amount of money they would have had he not downloaded the shows. He, meanwhile, got more enjoyment out of them. Had he simply recorded the episodes off television instead of downloading them off the Web, nobody would have said boo about it. And in that case, he could even have kept the tapes (and never bought the set) without most people saying he did anything wrong. I know there's a legal distinction. My question is, in his case, was there really a practical one? And for those who are tempted to respond "Well, okay, but he was probably one in a million," I've been around college kids enough to suspect that he's not as alone as some people would like you to believe.

Like SNT, I know there are people -- I've met some of them -- who download with no intention of ever buying. Although I appreciate MattK's distinction, I too have to call that stealing...if you never had the intention of buying, you don't have even the fig's-leaf defense that you were "sampling." But for people who really are sampling with intent to buy what they like, or for people who download a show or movie to enjoy it until they can buy it legitimately, the line is blurrier--not in terms of the law, granted, but in terms of the purpose, which I think has to be considered as well.

I'm sorry people copied your books, Dana. But we're talking about different forms of media, and potentially different reasons for copying. Saying the black-and-white utterance "piracy hurts, period" doesn't seem to me to cut it in shades-of-gray cases such as the ones I and others have outlined here. And rose, I'd like you to stop and consider that piracy can actually create new "true fans," who then buy everything the artist or creator ever did. Yet you would seem to have it that they can never be "true fans" because they went about it the wrong way. With respect, I think that's absolutely false.

(SoddingNancyTribe...for myself, I don't think pay-go is unfair either. If you can tell me where I can get a box set of "The Inside," I'll throw away the six episodes I have recorded on VHS cassettes and make sure FOX and everyone involved get the profit they deserve. The preceding comment was made with tongue only partly-in-cheek.)
ETA: Whatever one thinks about the practical ethics of file-sharing, it's settled that it is, in fact, "stealing" ... at least where copyrighted files are being shared.

The silly thing about what you were responding to here is that it was someone saying if you copy something digital, you haven't deprived the owner of also still having it.

It's silly because we're talking about COPYright. That's the entire point. You can't take, under the law, the entirety of someone else's work and do something with it that deprives THEM as the owner the RIGHT to COPY and sell their own work.

(If you copy a digital file instead of buying it -- or buying whatever the digital file might have been illegally made from -- you've stolen a sale and therefore pay for the creator.)

There's plenty of room to debate whether or not various aspects of copyright law and practice make any sense. But to claim that violating copyright isn't theft is kind of boggling to me. You might not be stealing some unique physical item, but what you ARE stealing is the creator's right to make a living off his or her labor.

Full disclosure: I don't say this as someone who would claim they've never obtained or viewed something other than a properly licensed copy of someone's work. The difference is I don't try to pretend what I'm doing when I do that is something other than what it is.

Now, really, many of us who do occasionally do things the "wrong" way also end up doing it the right way. For example, I might have already seen the Fringe pilot, but I will watch it on TV and if the series is good I will buy, not pirate, the DVDs.

So there's wiggle room on the cultural philosophy of it. But there isn't wiggle room on the legality of it. Cop to what you do, at least to yourself.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-02 05:57 ]
MattK: your summary of Grokster is spot-on; I was being lazy in pulling a case out for the unremarkable proposition that copyright infringement is actually unlawful - turns out it wasn't worth the bother. :-)

BAFfler: I agree with most of what you just said. And I'd love to get "The Inside" on DVD too. I was reacting more to the suggestion that "piracy" (which is kind of a silly term; we're really talking about copyright infringing) is not actually unlawful and, more generally and more abstractly, to the notion that I sometimes hear (but perhaps didn't hear here) that because something is technologically possible, it is also right. It is, as you say, shades of gray/grey. Still abhor the expression "true fan" though. :-)

And having helped fuel this interesting discussion, I think we should probably return to the more Whedon-y aspects of the topic at hand . . .
I think a lot of you folks ought to check out Steal This Film: Part Two. Might make you think a little about all this "evil pirating" stuff. (Of course, I myself will be buying AT LEAST one copy of the DVD, if not several more! :)
It is billions and billions of dollars in losses each year. Rationalize it all you want, it is illegal and it deprives content creators and investors of what is rightfully theirs. I think most media companies have become hip to the sampling phenomena and that is why they make shows and movies available online for free.

It is killing me not to watch Dr. Who at the same (or nearly the same) time as those in the UK, but I can wait the extra three weeks and let SciFi make some money off me.

The Inside is a different can of beans that I hope will be rectified someday.
Well I'll confess that I DON'T wait the three weeks before Doctor Who airs in the US, I don't really see why I should.... If I wait there will be spoilers out there ruining my enjoyment of the show. But I have paid the ungodly prices they charge for a box set of Region 1 Doctor Who DVDs (I'm sure that that doesn't satisfy the purists, but I'm just unwilling to be exposed to three long weeks of spoilers)!

I am reminded of last year at Comic Con when the makers of Torchwood presented what they thought was a new show to a new audience; they were chagrined to realize that at least 90% of the people in the hall had already seen it. In fact I would bet that that is the reason we are only waiting 3 weeks for Doctor Who to air in the US, instead of having to wait 5 to 6 months for the series to end in the UK first.

[ edited by embers on 2008-07-02 07:01 ]
Well, the man is right, to an extent. For instance, I, and many others, won't be paying for the download. I'm only willing to spend the little money I have on the DVD.

Where he's wrong, though, is that he thinks it won't make enough money/be successful. It's pretty much already a definite success, and will likely end up making bundles of cash.

Or maybe I'm just very optimistic today.
embers, that's actually a good example of what I mean by there being wiggle room when it comes to cultural philosophy even if there isn't wiggle room when it comes to the law.

Culture is a shared experience, not just a static product. Part of what makes something like, say, Doctor Who a valuable commodity to its owners is the cultural experience of it as shared by its viewers.

There's something to be said (again, from the cultural standpoint, not the legal) for the argument that viewers of a show should be able to partake of that shared cultural experience together.

The ultimate solution, of course, is for the content owners and distributors to make it possible for their shows to be accessible in different markets at the same time. But the reason they should do this is because the cultural reality -- shared experience -- already is there and is a pretty powerful human force.

It isn't merely some simplistic "I don't want to feel left out" or "I don't want to be spoiled", I would argue.

Rather, culture (like equality, as someone once said) is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth. And culture isn't just some insignificant thing. Culture MATTERS, and one of the thing that I think "geek weirdo perverts" have helped make more acceptable is the notion that proclaiming that one's culture matters to you isn't some flaky nonsensical thing we should be embarrassed about.

That doesn't EXCUSE copyright infringement, but I think it helps EXPLAIN it (or rather at least some of it, since some of it also is just selfish greedy people who never want to pay for anything).

It's also why, as you suggest, there are people who pirate Doctor Who every week to be on the British schedule but then nonetheless buy, and not pirate, the eventual DVDs.

Some people aren't motivated by "why should I pay?" but rather motivated by "I'll pay when that chance does come around, but in the meantime I want to be able to participate in my culture".

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-02 07:10 ]
I think piracy shouldn't be seen as entirely bad… For example, if it didn't exist, I probably would never have learned about Veronica Mars in Germany (the German network chose to air it after midnight). But I did buy the season 1 DVDs as soon as they came out, and I have already pre-ordered season 2. I just don't want to accept that I have to wait, sometimes for years, to finally see a show, when there is the possibility to get it through other channels. I also hate the fact that pretty much everything on German TV is dubbed, so I can't legally see the original before the DVDs come out. But if I think that show is good, I will buy the DVDs. And if I don't think it's good, I don't think I hurt anybody, because I probably wouldn't have bothered to check that show out in the first place if I didn't download it.

I wouldn't resort to this, if, for example, the free ad-supported streams of TV shows that every US network seems to have nowadays weren't blocked for people from outside the US.

Edit: One more thing: I also think the last people I could be hurting with this is the TV networks. After all, I don't have one of those boxes (called GfKmeter in Germany) that record what I watch, so my viewing or not-viewing behaviour has absolutely no influence on the ratings. On the other hand, if I buy a DVD, that can truly be measured through DVD charts…

[ edited by Salocin on 2008-07-02 09:00 ]
Let's face it. The networks are pissed off because the advertisers want larger audiences and aren't going to buy ad time if there's no one to watch it. They apparently "need" money from the advertisements. The networks don't want to change. They're going to continue whining and complaining that the internet is stealing their money. It's become an easy scapegoat and many have been swayed by their "numbers". (I don't trust any surveys or reports, even my own.)

It's not because of the DVD sales. There are plenty of people purchasing the DVDs for multiple reasons. Some want the extras and others want the higher quality. As Bluray takes over, DVD sales will drop, but definitely won't detract from that front.

Let's analyze the reasons for download. (1) In another country. (2) Time of broadcast doesn't fit personal schedule. (3) Hate obtrusive advertisements. These problems aren't new and have been plaguing the average viewer for years. The internet just came along and provided a solution where networks just sat on their behinds. If networks had instead provided solutions to these problems they would have gained much profit. As it is, they didn't and lost out. (1) is easy to solve now so is (2) for those without TiVo and there are alternatives to be explored for (3).

Joss is providing a test subject for the networks to watch. Will it be successful? All bets on yes. Will the networks learn from it? That's another story.
Let's analyze the reasons for download. (1) In another country. (2) Time of broadcast doesn't fit personal schedule. (3) Hate obtrusive advertisements.

(4) The sea change in attitude. More and more people believe that they are entitled to these things for free. Networks, advertisers have to adapt to this.
Some people aren't motivated by "why should I pay?" but rather motivated by "I'll pay when that chance does come around, but in the meantime I want to be able to participate in my culture".

Exactly. Not everyone has access to TV shows in their country within reasonable time frame of their first air date, if ever. When I use to watch Buffy/Angel on TV, I had to stay well away from anything online about it, as I was seeing episodes at least six months after the US. I watched Buffy/Angel on free to air TV, taped it to re-watch it, and then bought the DVDs. Since then I’ve started downloading TV, because what I want to watch is usually treated really badly (e.g. moved to different timeslots from week to week, shunted to 1am) on Australian TV. They haven't even aired season three of Battlestar here. So, I download Battlestar, and then buy the DVDs when they are available. I honestly can’t see how that make me less of a fan, and it irritates me when others, who do have access to everything within weeks of its release, make blanket statements about how downloading for free is completely morally wrong. I do get that artists are losing money from people abusing this system, which is why it obviously needs to be fixed. So I am very interested to see how Joss's experiment will turn out. Fingers crossed that it will prove profitable.
I'm the same field as MattK. Man, I pretty much share the same opinion as you, you`re just better with words than I am.

The thing is there's actually a really really thin line between sharing and all the networking that the web allow us to do and piracy. For ownership and copyright issues it should be all classified as piracy. Do I buy and pay for everything that I consume, either music, tv or movie? No, I don't. But I still spend more money on it, buy getting them later on, than people who are mostly apathetic.

A question for buyers. If you bought every piece of music you own, do you mean a physical copy of the music (let`s say the dvd or cd), and every single digital copy of the same song? Why do I ask this? If you don't own the rights over the music, if you're ripping a cd you bought into digital copies for your mp3 player, aren't you pirating? If you bought a song online, and wanted to share it with your sibling, aren't you pirating? As I mentioned for the owners technically you are pirating, even in a smaller scale. Questionable? The line is so thin, that there's a Brazilian Senator proposing a new law, in which those simple actions above are clearly classified into piracy, not only that but a culpable crime with a minimum of 1 year prison time. So you're telling me that those kids that share songs with their classmates, but not everyone of them are from families that can afford them, should actually all go to prison. Really grey issue, huh?

There has to be a new solution, and equitability of costs. Is not exactly a question of the model being wrong, is simply that the model is outdated and need urgently to change. I still think that the deal WGA got with online content, was just ok, not ideal.
My boss was discussing this issue with someone the other day. Things should cost the same everywhere (and I mean everywhere), the problem is most things don't cost the same.

Economists have been using an interesting reference as an financial index in the last few years, which is the "Big Mac Index". No matter what are your opinions about McDonalds, but the Big Macs are actually one of the few things in the world with equitable value. Let's say the Big Macs cost US$5 in the US, so it will have the same line value all over the world, it does not suffer effect of the currency exchange.

The problem is most things don't follow the Big Mac rule. If you selling a song for US$1 in the US, it does not have the equitable current currency value, so if you're a foreigner, you're actually paying much more than locals, because you have to consider the currency value of how much is US$1 in your country.

The youtube explosion from the last few years also changed sharing a lot. Youtube, show us that most people just want to get access to the content, no matter the quality. So it doesn't matter you're watching something with bad video quality, just that you're watching it. And the most important part, you're skipping the ads. How do you sell something when people can simply skip through them.

Does someone else remember what the fuss was when VHS became capable of recording content directly from your tv? I'm not even going into the tivo field here, I'm going back almost 30 years, when the first VHS devices with the record button started to become accessible to general public. Now we're seeing this in much wider context, in which anyone who's online can be a player, not just someone who happens to own a VHS player.

Things are changing, but traditional media is just not on the same pace. They want their productions to become worldwide success, but the old model just won't work anymore.

If you've been following the "Fringe" discussions, it's interesting what a different stance Fox been taking in their new regime. They know it's out there, that people are freely sharing it, without their legal consent, but instead of hunting down 17 year old kids with an indictment, they been taking a completely different approach, where they see opportunity, instead of threat. The people who are so eager to consume it right now, are mostly the same people they want to stick around and come back, even if through alternative revenue solutions, such as merchandising or other type of content.

As I said in my first post in this thread, Dr. Horrible will be a very interesting experiment to watch. Not saying it as a Whedon fan, but on the perspective of how this might become a benchmark for other mainstream media.

[ edited by Numfar PTB on 2008-07-02 10:43 ]
OK, I have to weigh in. As a musician trying to sell my CDs I'm very aware of the problem of illegal downloads. As an internet nerd I have downloaded illegally (Even though I try to make it right afterwards by buying). Mea Culpa. So I can see both sides of the problem.

So how much do you make available online without risking your income? How many restrictions do you place without losing potential clientel? The problem is if promotion and sale are virtually the same transaction for the user (click on download or on close window or on some other button) there is almost no awareness of wrongdoing and any hindrance will be met with disinterest and impatience.

A lot of interesting points came up. Numfar did a fine analysis of the status quo and so did others. But I think that Joss' experiment is not really one. It's an acceptance of the status quo, closely following usual nerd behavior. Therefore I think success should be not unimaginable.

Now if someone changed the status quo (either more restrictions or less) the plan would be going against common sense and I think that's what the article wanted to pick at. But as it is it's brilliant, because now you as an internet user can do what you usually do, without having to feel in the slightest bit guilty. Sample first, buy later, buy more copies to gift people with. If you like it that is :)

I think it's brilliant. So boo to valleywag and success to Joss'.
Still hopes that the experiment will work, although I agree with the question in the article, ( no boo's from me :) - Why not go with advertising ?
The whole 'make available for a limited time and then on DVD' is basically an open invitation to fileshare, seems suboptimal to me.
Could be that someone is underestimating the kind of money advertising could pay compared to DVDs ?
While I understand some people treasure their DVDs, these days they really should treated like collectors items for the fans, with all the extras, booklet with scripts, autograped pics, with the special note from the W family, and costing an arm and a leg. Or possibly saving this for the collectors edition due 2 months after the first edition is a smarter financial move ?
ETA: Ooops just read the Roush piece, sounds like JW makes the first DVD the collectors edition, good for him.

The point being creating and sending DVDs across the world costs money too, why do it unless it's providing some really good added value and is really neccessary ? ( Environmental costs ?)

Regarding the piracy issue, filesharing is here to stay it's adapt or die as per usual, Darwin was a smart cookie.
Politically speaking what's currently going on smells like new prohibition to me, in 50 years the history books are going to read something like 'and thats how they made criminals out of a generation and proved once and for all that governments are driven by special interests not by voters'.

IMO the real question is how to move filesharing from piracy to legal, smart money is on finding a model that treats it similarly to the local radio/library and make the radio station pay the artists in proportion to use, makes sense to me, not to Big media obviously.

[ edited by jpr on 2008-07-02 12:38 ]
The thing is that whether anyone likes it or not, the entertainment industries profit from having us share our passionate love of their products. Artists like Janis Ian and NIN and Saul Williams and Wilco realize this (for Radiohead it was just a stunt). If we are able to share something with friends it is a way for them to potentially gain sales and loyal fans. You obviously want people who have tried it to buy it if they like it, but I am extremely wary of the erosion of any kind of fair use and I am incredibly tired of the music industry's crusade against users and assumption that all of us are pirates. The RIAA sues people claiming its "for the artists" then systematically deprives the artists of that money through their infamous accounting practices.

I realize that the different industries are handling this differently. I don't support people downloading first run movies in lieu of paying for them, but for things like publicly broadcast tv or songs that are broadcast by radio as well... it get s a bit fuzzy. We're able to record and share these if we choose (or we used to be able to at any rate, that's slowly and quietly going away with time flags on DVR files) and help grow the audience for something that we enjoy. The one copy for one sale is way skewed. Poor college kids are checking stuff out that they couldn't afford and possibly spreading it to people who can afford to pay for it who would not have known about the (art? product? which is it? both?) show/song in question and then are able to help pay for the fact that the person they learned about it from didn't pay for it.

The smart companies are starting to come around and see some file sharing as a means to increase their audience; writing it off as a promotional "expense" (which really doesn't cost them as much as we constantly hear that it does - it may even offset any cost associated through new revenue generated by fan creation). I'm willing to bet good cashy money that some of these pilots out there were put there on purpose by networks to generate buzz amongst geek taste-makers. Welcome to the gray/grey :)

There is a large body of consumers of any media that are going to consume without looking to purchase the object that they can hold in their hands, but there are also the die-hards, the people lending their DVDs/CDs/what-have-you to share their love of the artists. How many of us have multiple copies of shows we love or have at least bought multiple copies and then donated/given away other copies? I own like four copies of Serenity in multiple regions, bought Buffy and Angel twice... When you forbid fair use and when you treat everyone like pirates (again this is aimed at the RIAA, but has broader implications) you start to kill off part of the way that these things become successes in the first place.

Sampling some HBO shows on peer to peer might make someone get HBO, sampling a song by radio/torrent/a cover band might make someone buy a CD. Unless that CD has DRM measures, then they may not. Intentionally degrading the quality of a CD to prevent reading in a CD or DVD-ROM is not cool, just ask Philips who sued (successfully) some companies using specific DRM (that in their view destroyed the fidelity of the original recordings by introducing random errors in the data stream) measures into removing the CD logo from their discs.

ETA - in addition to the BAEN library mentioned below, I will point out that Blu Ray discs and some DVDs now include "digital copies" to allow people their fair use (and save them the time it would take to rip) on their PMPs. Also, what herb says... plus, I will tell you right now, I have never bought anything from iTunes due to the DRM (yes, they are starting to offer DRM-free material now), but upon finding out Amazon's mp3 downloads were DRM free I have in short order bought a not inconsiderable library of things from them that I owned on tape or lost/scratched CDs already. DRM makes things less portable and a headache for me when backing up or place-shifting them.
Online piracy is _not_ stealing. Nor is it a crime. Steal $10000 from bank, you go to jail. Download 10000 cd:s, you will not. (With current situation at least in USA and Europe). You might face compensation fee for copyright infringement of up to $750 000 for every CD (USA), but it still is not, I repeat not, stealing.
End semantics

Now, does online piracy cause revenue losses? Yes, of course. does every single download mean a lost sale? No way in hell. Does piracy improve sales? Yes, probably way more than the industry gives credit for. You might as well ask whether listening to radio is stealing. Or renting a book from library. (Yes, I'm serious about this one. Do check and read the intro).

I have personally downloaded movies, liked them, and bought them. As well as tv-series', comics and music. I also downloaded some music, liked it, almost bought the CD (almost getting to the cashier already) but then I noticed the DRM which prevents them from playing on my computer (which is the only way to listen to music atm) and just skipped the buy. And I'm leaning more and more to the same approach on DVD:s as well; if I _buy_ a DVD, I seriusly do not want to watch unskippable warnings about piracy, or those annoying unskippable animations / commercials. Nor do I want those annoying anti-piracy pamphlets attached to them (there were _50_ anti-piracy leaflets in the B5 box I bought).

As long as pirated products are easier to get, available right now and _better quality_ (for example, listeneable right away without using third party software to rip the cd), they will be downloaded amass. And yes, some of the downloads do cause revenue losses. But not all, eg. the Buffy season 8. It's available immeditially, so I download it, instead of waiting for months for the issues to be available here. Also, I don't really like the single-issue format. Thus, with download I get to read the story right away without having to be scared about spoilers, and I can easily wait another 6+ months for the collected graphic novel to be released to my bookshelf.

Also, since I downloaded Buffy comics, I've also downloaded several others. The ones I didn't like, I really didn't read that far, and the ones I do like, I pretty much own the ones easily available. And as I had maybe 5 year break in between buying any comics, I can say with 100% accuracy that reading comics online caused me to start buying comics again (currently ordering something like $100 worth of comics every now and then, 4 packages this year alone. Which is alot more than the $0 I was spending before).

Anyway, my point I guess was, that it's not all black and white. Not all piracy causes monetary losses to the artists, and some of it actually promotes sales. And piracy is not a criminal offence, unless you are talking about the kind that steals boats at gunpoint.
I remember seeing a bright orange t-shirt for sale on someone's site that had a one sentence summation of the issue. "Your broken business model is not my problem"

While it may be a bit crass, it cuts to the point that the reason "piracy" is rampant, and artists are not getting paid for their work. Which is, the content owners / distributors, not the creators, are refusing to adapt their way of doing business, and in doing so, are depriving the artists they represent. That is, if you believe they have the artist's best interest in mind. Their actions say otherwise.
Houah! herb. That is the issue.

Admins, could I have free rant today because it's my birthday? That would be like my present.
Admins, could I have free rant today because it's my birthday?

Probably not the best idea as this thread has diverted off topic enough as it.
Semantics: online piracy is copyright infringement, and is illegal. It can be beneficial to the artist/creator, no question and proved over and over many times, and I foresee a shift in copyright laws coming eventually from necessity, but it is still illegal.

Argue the benefits all you like and I'm right there with you. I can bring up quotes from authors and musicians, I can point to studies that show file distribution have increased sales. But saying it's not illegal is not only go la-la-la to the truth, it weakens your argument, like insisting that you should be able to speed just because you can and anyway it's not a crime. "Yes, it's illegal, but here's why that law is hurting their business" is a much more powerful argument.
It's been interesting reading everything everyone has to say about piracy. I have nothing new to add to that conversation.

I do want to address that "Firefly didn't have enough truefans" comment, though. Braeden Fireheart makes a good point. Truefans are not the people who keep a show on the air. Casual viewers are. Hardcore fans have not until very recently had a way to indicate their love for a show *directly*, just by the act of watching it. With people keeping track of DVR and online views, that's different now. Before that, it was all writing thank you notes and purchasing from advertisers. Which does not save a show, as Firefly proves.

I think the beauty of Dr. Horrible and its distribution system is that truefans do have the power in this model. The comparisons to Penny Arcade and other webcomics are apt. The gentlemen at PA have been living off that site for years, now, through advertising, merchandise, shared projects with other companies, and the sale of their books. Their site is probably not viewed by the random web surfer. As widespread as video games have become, I think it's still a fairly niche market. PA has a huge audience that can directly show their support. And, I may be wrong, but I suspect Tycho and Gabe see a lot more of the merch money for their stuff than Joss and his cohorts did for any Buffy merch.

It occurs to me I probably have still said nothing new here. But I did want to address that comment from the article because it really got me where it hurts. (I say as I polish my CSTS trivia trophy.)
Just to clarify something I said earlier, I wasn't trying to say that file sharing wasn't illegal, because it most definitely is due to copyright, as theonetruebix mentioned. I was trying to making the distinction that, whilst unlawful, it isn't stealing. I think stealing is the wrong word to use, in the sense that stealing is defined by law (to my knowledge anyway). The reason this annoys me is that about half of the DVDs I own have this obnoxious unskippable anti-piracy ad that starts with "you wouldn't steal a car" which is clearly an inappropriate analogy.. (doesn't the fact that I'm watching that ad mean that I don't pirate DVDs anyway? so why show it?). Anyway, that's what I was trying to get at with my comments about stealing.

Edit: Eerikki worded it better above; that was what I was trying to get at anyway.

I'd like to say thanks to the mods for putting up with this discussion too.. I don't intend on furthering it anymore myself -- I think I'm all typed out ! :) but I'm still interested in what other people are saying.

[ edited by MattK on 2008-07-02 14:27 ]
Yeah, I didn't think so. My rant would be bitter. I try hard not to be bitter, but some people are getting on my last sweet nerve.
Happy birthday anyway dreamlogic ;).

TamaraC: It is billions and billions of dollars in losses each year.

Really ? Billions and billions ? How do we know that ? Do we know for a fact that "piracy" is to blame ? Or are we just taking "their" word for it perhaps ? Fair enough I guess, it's not like "they" have much to gain by lying or exaggerating ;).

Total respect for Joss trying something new. Watching the studios flailing about trying to protect a model that's unworkable in the digital age is starting to get embarrassing.

Is piracy illegal ? Of course. Is it theft ? Not under any current UK legal definition i'm aware of (though IANAL ;). Is it always wrong ? That's a grey area IMO (and on both sides there's a very fine line between rationality and rationlisation). But all that is irrelevant IMO because it's here anyway and won't go away without either switching off the internet (see how many "billions and billions" are lost then ;) or curtailing our freedoms to such an extent that we'll have privileged copyright holders over absolutely everyone else. Laws have become more and more draconian in the "battle" to end piracy and yet piracy, as the record companies are very fond of telling us, is apparently on the increase anyway.

So the way to approach the problem is surely to come up with other ways to make money (i.e. exactly what Joss is doing) and not to use financial muscle to pressure governments or to prosecute citizens of other countries for infringing US law (don't be so sure you're safe MattK, "DVDJon" may well have thought the same thing ;).
I have to say that this is one of the few threads I have read this closely in months, it is a very interesting topic. I worked for the Senate Committee on the Judiciary back in the early 1980s when it was first possible to record (on cassette) music directly off the radio, and it was possible for the first time to record (on Betta Max or VHS) TV directly off the airwaves. There were powerful forces who wanted to make those recorders (cassette and video) illegal, and the Judiciary Committee held lots of hearings, but ultimately they didn't think that it was possible to control how people enjoy the content once it has been aired. That once the technology is 'out there' that people will rewatch and/or re-listen. But somehow, since then, the corporations have managed to skew the situation and the FBI enforces their rights, but I really wonder when these new laws were written.... Have these new laws been tested in court? Because it didn't start out as illegal at all.
I hate the term "trufan" as well. As said though, trufans are not what keeps a show on the air, but they do keep it going after it is off the air and they are the ones who buy the most stuff. I think this is going to be a really interesting experiment.

BTW, how can you spot DRM laced goods?
Joss Whedon hopes to tease fans into buying DVDs of his musical.

Well, as far as I am concerned he will succeed. In fact, I'm ready to purchase the dvd RIGHT NOW, sight unseen. What I really want to know is why aren't those "Dollhouse" dvds available yet?
My question is this - so what if the distribution twist is just free publicity? Is that something we're caring about? If it helps the thing be successful and changes the way things are done - AND I get to watch and purchase something Joss made - I'm happy.
The problem with that is missmuffet, it might not happen for products that don't require the free publicity. It's the difference between changing how things are done and using the appearance of changing to perpetuate the old way of doing things. That said, I don't know this for a fact of course but given how pissed off he seemed during the strike, i'd say Joss is not so much with the perpetuating the old way ;).

(or he played the long con of all long cons with his Oscar worthy fake pissed-offedness ;)

BTW, how can you spot DRM laced goods?

They smell of brimstone ;).

(AFAIK, until you have the file you're reliant on the provider telling you. Simplest way for audio is to stick to MP3s - which don't support DRM - and avoid iTunes and Microsoft formats just in case)
Just to snag one point lost in the sea:

If you don't own the rights over the music, if you're ripping a cd you bought into digital copies for your mp3 player, aren't you pirating?

In fact, no. As embers points out, for example, we hit a point, at one point, where the laws (and those that make them) recognized that there is a realm of personal use that (1) is pretty impossible for the law to control anyway and (2) doesn't really damage anyone anyway.

It's only in the more recent history that such a philosophical approach to copying and copyright came under fierce attack by the various entertainment industries and they started (1) getting new law passed to try to weaken this principle and (2) started implementing technology that restricted personal use.

But even today, in that environment, ripping a CD you own to mp3 to put on your iPod isn't considered piracy.
I'd be interested to hear why Sony etc. took steps to prevent said fair-use CD ripping in that case.

(if they hadn't been idiots and their "rootkit" had just worked and done its job without exposing machines to security vulnerabilities, would there have been the same fuss ? AFAIK, none of the resulting court cases were over the removal of people's "fair use" rights so it'd seem as if it was considered a reasonable step to prevent piracy)
Saje, the "billions" I referenced includes hard goods piracy like you see on a street corner in Manhattan or Moscow. I don't know of a study (offhand) that has quantified the filesharing revenue impact. It may not exist for the many reasons stated by folks above. That line between promotion and stealing is getting very very blurry.
I've seen the clapboard ruins of what used to be called "CD City" outside of Camp Butmir in Sarajevo. It was a place where you could supposedly get any upcoming release or famous bootleg (international cooperation did it in). I don't think anybody's claiming that piracy doesn't exist, but should it be equated with fans' sharing activities when they don't have any other access? I don't think a lot of the artists think that way. If their distributors are trying to equate the two, should we accept that? I certainly don't think any Joss fans are trying to get of of paying for Dr. Horrible, which was the start of this.

Thanks, Saje ;)
Oh, and happy birthday, dreamlogic and all the amazing and wonderful people born in that most wonderful of all birth months, July!

So is the author suggesting that if Joss is doing that on purpose, it is a bad thing? 'Cause I don't get why it would be.
Forgot to say in my last post: Happy birthday, dl! :)
What I really want to know is why aren't those "Dollhouse" dvds available yet?

Because Fox hates us and doesn't want Dollhouse to succeed.
On a happy note, Happy Birthday dl, sending you a big hug.
Y'all are so nice. Ouch. My grinchy heart is melting and expanding. Ow!

I think I'll still do the birthday rant, but parts of it will be nice, and it will all be in iambic pentameter, delete parts as necessary. OK?
Because Fox hates us and doesn't want Dollhouse to succeed.

Actually Fox just has it out for barboo in particular. I've had seasons 1-5 of Dollhouse on DVD for ages.
I thought everyone had it. I got mine free in a packet of Cornflakes.
Packets must be bigger than I was imagining. All those DVDs of extras make the set kind of huge. I think putting the musical episodes on their own DVD was a good move though.
Yeah but did we really need so many commentaries for every episode and all the spin-offs ? And the bonus 5 seasons of 'Firefly' just felt like overkill.

(it was family size BTW. Kevin Reilly actually needed help carrying it when he personally hand-delivered it to my door)
I need to start eating breakfast.

When are the Dr. Horrib-O's going to hit the stores?
"Dr. Horrib-Os, Now with added Science !"

Yep, proof if it were needed that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Yeah but did we really need so many commentaries for every episode and all the spin-offs ? And the bonus 5 seasons of 'Firefly' just felt like overkill.

Those Firefly episodes were pretty good. Took me a few episodes to get into it, though. I mean Nathan's very good and I love puppets, but it was a bit much.

Horrib-O's have a bit of a marketing problem, so I expect never, hackasaway. I bet they would be green though.
Yeah, isn't there a new promo for that? Buy a pack of Cornflakes, get the Dollhouse set for free WITH an entry to tour Joss' house. Enter as many times as you want. There's even runner up prizes, one which includes action figures and poster art of Dollhouse.
Oh, what about that soundtrack that came out with Eliza on the vocals? She looked sultry on that stage. Isn't the Dollhouse convention coming up?

And, that episode regarding piracy? That was deep, even if a bit historic, since that's been solved for years.

(see how I bring it closer to being back on topic?)
Aaarrghhh, ze topic, it burnnnnss !
Piracy was not even the original topic. It was Dr. Horrible's distribution model and whether or not we'd be gleefully pirating it like a bunch of no-good... pirates.
Horrib-O's have a bit of a marketing problem, so I expect never, hackasaway. I bet they would be green though.

They could give away free samples for a week to get people addicted, before selling the boxes with cool prizes at the bottom (singing prizes, of course). It could work. Until the large chains start selling the suspiciously similar Terrib-Os, MD. And yes, I too envision green.
I know, Sunfire. That's why I said CLOSER to being back on topic. See here:

(see how I bring it closer to being back on topic?)

Aaarrghhh, ze not even ze original topic, it also burnnnnss !
I, for one, plan on not pirating Dr. Horrible. Though if it's as good as I think it's going to be, I may have to suffer withdrawal symptoms. Say, if anyone in south-central Texas starts hearing very loud moans at all hours, just send the paramedics over to my place, will ya? And tell 'em to bring some insulin. Or some Dr. Horribl-O's. Those things rock. I bought a ton of them to help the cravings, but then I ate them all, and now I'm out of disposable cash.

(P.S. Sunfire -- Hey, hook me up with that sweet deal, man!)
Oh, sorry korkster. So about Dr. Horrible being on the internet!
Oh my. When I posted this, I hadn't quite expected the tangential nature of the talk of pirates (as opposed to pirate-talk, arrrr, me hardies!)

And here I was thinking the discussion would be whether the "new" online distribution model that Joss is trailblazing-- as briefly touched on in today's Chicago Tribune"'Horrible' good news for Web"-- means we'll be seeing more creator- funded-and-self-distributed content that bypasses traditional media controls.

Or maybe something about whether the pay-for online version of Dr. Horrible is going to work, after giving away the cow for free.

I do think that the 'Wag editor may have missed the point: online video distribution is so new that we're still in the experimental phase, when creative-types are trying out all sorta ways to monetize their work-- and nobody knows yet how it'll shake out. So kudos to Joss and his mad-science like experimentation.
... whether the "new" online distribution model that Joss is trailblazing ... means we'll be seeing more creator- funded-and-self-distributed content that bypasses traditional media controls.

Well, that obviously depends on whether it works since presumably no-one's going to follow him down a dead-end (except us ;). We've touched on the other stuff (potential pitfalls etc.) in previous threads so I guess for now it's just a matter of waiting and seeing (we're free to speculate of course but without any data at all, blind speculation is all it is).
That article really makes me angry and sad. It sounds like they are saying "they'll just pirate, why bother to try anything new." Well pooh on that. I admit to being one of those US people who is current on many UK shows and guess what, I make sure I buy DVDs for those shows. Many, when it is clear they will not be released in R1 I buy in R2. It's very easy to hack the regions on a DVD player, Thank Heavens.

The point being, if I circumvent the system it is only a stopgap measure, much the same as taping a show on TV.

As far as Doctor Horrible. Bring it on, I'll buy the DL, I'll buy the T Shirt and mugs, I'll buy the DVD. I think this endeavor will be successful, but partly BECAUSE of this fandom. Joss has shown respect for his fans, I believe they'll show respect back. NOT all people in the entertainment industry show respect to their fans. I think for this business model to work, the fans need to be more than just a number. I am not a number, I am a free man!!......ah, woman.
I guess for now it's just a matter of waiting and seeing (we're free to speculate of course but without any data at all, blind speculation is all it is)

Absolutely: but what would qualify as a success or not-- and how would we know? I mean, I consider Dr. Horrible already successful just in terms of the interest it's generating. But maybe that's cause I'm drinking the koolaid. :)

I do think the intellectual property/piracy debate is important-- the various positions above make excellent points, applicable to all sort of creative endeavors; but I'm not sure whether "unauthorized re-distribution" (for lack of a better term) of Dr. Horrible's episodes would be so detrimental. I suspect that 100% of those who will purchase the DVD will be those who watch the serial online first -- so might it get more viewers as a viral-type video?

I'm guessing that Vimeo will be doing the video-sharing. I hope they can handle the load of everyone trying to watch the episodes as soon as they become available online!
July 15 is going to be like a stress test for the nerdnet. I can't wait.
It'll break, for sure. Everyone is always underestimating the nerds.
Yeah, I wonder if they'll be able to handle the load? Only 48 hours for the first two eps and then ONLY 24 hours for the whole thing? I know I'll want to watch each part prolly several times and the whole thing at least a couple.
Eh, I was hoping this thread would be off the front page by now, 'cause my birthday rant poem sucks. Turns out it's harder to really try to say something than make flip comments. Who knew? But I said I would and I still have ten minutes of birthday left. This is my birthday rant entitled "You Piss Me Off."

Two score and four I am today
Motherfucker! another nothing year
So I grow old, and suck my gums
And loves my voice to hear.

You piss me off when you belie
Your love of what is good with tough guy crap.
The basement and the Klingon costume of the soul
are not so rank as what you'd interpose
pass off as strength what's only blank and bleak
Ozymandius, his big sad feet, the numbers.
Variety, Wall Street Journal - better
zombie flicks by far there are than these
more accurate depictions of reality
there are, in comic books, and scatterings of petals.

There are real wastelands in the world
made largely by the tough guy crap
they spread, they seep into our basement, here
It's there, and you can listen and repeat
Speak it's words as yours, repeat.

Outside in crunchy nature, things grow too
Springs and sprigs, each time upon a time
called hope anew - forget hope, just love green
and clear, what made you, never seen,
but hated by the seeping thing, repeatedly

Stop talking crap
You piss me off.
I think it's lovely, dreamlogic.

Happy love green birthday.
Thanks, QG. It does suck vastly in comparison with the idea of it still rumbling around in my head, but that's how it goes, huh?
Bloody hell dreamlogic, that's an actual poem, no messing. Nice one.

(for once i'm at a flip comment loss ;)

Absolutely: but what would qualify as a success or not-- and how would we know? I mean, I consider Dr. Horrible already successful just in terms of the interest it's generating. But maybe that's cause I'm drinking the koolaid. :)

Maybe to some extent, yeah ;) - just being good or widely known or even being widely watched doesn't qualify as complete success in my book since part of the object surely has to be for Joss to determine if he can make money doing this sort of thing. If it gets a million hits but not enough people pay for it to cover even the costs of production then i'd say it's a failure in one important sense (i.e. as an experiment with a new-ish business model).

ETA: Though of course, ultimately we won't know that unless Joss tells us.

[ edited by Saje on 2008-07-03 10:35 ]
Love your poem, dreamlogic. I hope we don't have to wait a year for another one!

I suspect we'll know if this new business model is a success or failure - by whether the Whedons repeat it or not. If it works (i.e., if they make money), surely they'll do it again. (Well, I would, anyway.)
I know most of this thread turned out to be quite off-topic (I myself did went far off, without really intending to do so), but strangely became one of those Whedonesque threads (they should be in a class of their own), that it's quite fun to re-read.

Dl, hope you had a great birthday. I'm no big fan of poems, but have to say that yours was very amazing.
Well, (grumble) if somebody had decided to really revolutionize the joint and make the finances transparent (dark muttering), then we'd know earlier, and might even be able to help out in a pinch, but apparently that's out (grr argh mutter grumble).
Dreamlogic, there are problems with being TOO transparent, I know that when Amber made her first film 'Chance' she had to be careful of how she sold it online because she could be in violation of certain union/guild/distribution rules that could destroy her future career if she screwed it up....
so sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry.

But of course I still intend to help w/profit making by buying t-shirts, mugs, and multiple copies of the DVD!
Yeah, I'm sure it's complicated, and the benefits are a little theoretical at this point. But I wish somebody would try, because what a mess it all is now (nothing happened at the SAG talks yesterday, more likely nothing is scheduled for Monday). Joss is in a better position than Amber to try.
Well Joss said something about 'waivers' being in place, but of course who ever granted waivers probably wouldn't want those made public either! But if Joss succeeds and this makes money then it will help pave the way for others (hopefully).
Happy belated birthday, dreamlogic! Good poem, too.
I know I'm a little late at the party here, and most of what can be said about internet-piracy has been said, but I do have one observation on this discussion I'd like to share. It struck me as interesting that people come at this topic from different cultural backgrounds, and that influences their perspective.

For example the argument theonetruebix makes on the law at hand being called COPYright, and thus being about copying, struck me as a completely new perspective, as in my native language (dutch) it is called AUTHORright. So to me it is also about authors having the right to have their work be treated with respect (and not for example be placed on one DVD together with a porn movie).

Also the laws in different countries are different, which makes claims "This is illegal" not universally true. In the Netherlands it is for example legal to download music, regardless of the source (but subsequently giving it to others is strictly illegal, which makes participating in a file-sharing network illegal). Of course one can argue about the morality of this law (anyway I think ethics should be used in determining laws, not the other way around, which an "it is illegal, so it is immoral" argument would imply).

[ edited by Celebithil on 2008-07-04 10:20 ]
Even later to the party here (as usual) but I wanted to say Happy Belated Birthday dreamlogic, and that was an awesome poem!

And worth the price of admission since it's free to hear Saje say "bloody hell" and declare himself at a flip comment loss. ;)

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