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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » Film-Yak   » Torrent Sites still going strong (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Torrent Sites still going strong
Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5196
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 03-27-2017 07:14 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The other night after our show came down, a few of our crew and myself wound up at one of the truck and bus company's apt for drinks. Everyone was talking shop and having a good time. Then this tech asked if we wanted to watch a movie, some said yes and he proceeded to turn on the REAL big screen TV and bring up a site called Exodus which had an index of literally hundreds of movies which included every major title that was currently playing in theatres, including BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. As soon as that scrolled by there was agreement that he should play that.

I asked how he got that and what was this Exodus site. It was apparent that this had to be one of those illegal torrent sites because some titles were marked "screen capture" and some were marked "pristine." B&TB started and while it did have Chinese subtitles (or Asian...can't know which Asian language the , the image was indeed pristine.

I certainly am aware that there are these torrent sites, but I didn't know they had titles that were barely a week old. And when I tell you it is no exaggeration that every single title that is currently playing in theatres was on that list. I felt it necessary to say, "You do know that steaming any of those movies is illegal, right." Someone said, "Not if you paid for the FireStick TV." Some else said, Yes, but you have to get the code to break the security....you get that off Google."

And while most there were not movie industry people, the were theatre people and should have known damn well that's legal and what's not. It got a little testy with me saying, "Did you every read that big FBI screen at the beginning of EVERY home movie you watch? It's doesn't say piracy is illegal...except if you can break the security code." And I have no idea what breaking he security code means in the first place. When I kept pressing the issue, saying "You can't really believe that getting a movie without paying for it is legal? How is that any different than stealing the DVD?" The millennial whose place it was piped up and said, "But I DID pay...I paid $89 for the FireStick." The crowd, most of whom I didn't not know, pretty much started to turn on me. Given that and the fact that I wasn't going to sit and watch these aholes do what is anathema to the industry I work in, so I got up and left with two of my people.

Thing is, there isn't much you can do about jerks like that other than voicing your objections and pointing out that they are committing a crime. More to the point, what specifically CAN be done about these torrent sites? I mean, this Exodus site had hundreds of titles there for the picking. Does one report them to the FCC, the FBI, the MPAA? All of them? It can't possibly be that the studios and FBT et al have no idea that these sites exist; they are no secret. Why can't they be shut down? I would think Disney of all the studios would have a swat team at the ready to go out and crush the operators like bugs.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12397
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-27-2017 08:18 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think the whole problem is that these sites reside outside of the USA. Apparently we can be the "world's policeman" when it comes to certain issues, but we can't do anything about illegal movies.

Most people are like the ones at your party...they don't think it's stealing if they didn't carry something away in their hand. I don't know how you educate those people.

The studios are under the delusion that they can stop this kind of thing by going day and date with the video on demand. They're too dumb to realize that nothing can compete with "free."

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Dave Bird
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 737
From: Perth, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jun 2000


 - posted 03-27-2017 09:40 PM      Profile for Dave Bird   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Bird   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is why I thought the whole encryption thing was an imposition on theatres from the get-go. I can't put a small screen in the restroom so patrons don't miss the show, but you knew people were going to figure out some point downstream of the encryption to grab pristine copies and fire it out to cyberspace.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10678
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 03-27-2017 09:42 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The modded Amazon Fire TV stick is just the latest user friendly outlet of movie piracy. Apparently it's a very widespread problem. Yet I haven't seen any news coverage about this or heard any noise about it from the studios. It's almost like they're tolerating it. I personally know several people who have these piracy-loaded Fire TV sticks. And, yes, none of them believe there's anything illegal about it. I even got in an argument with my own brother over this shit.

Like Frank, I'm pretty disgusted about this issue. I'm disgusted about it on multiple levels. This freeloading outlet is yet another thing hurting movie theaters. There's a wider issue of the general public being both stupidly blind and selfish, refusing to see any big picture view. We're developing a destructive culture of selfishness that gives me a grim idea of where our society is headed.

I like movies, but at least I understand there is no free ride on watching them. If we want to continue getting a supply of new, big budget Hollywood movies that's not going to happen without both a healthy movie theater industry and movie production industry.

The studios are wrong to think day and date release patterns will solve the piracy problem. I think it will make matters only worse. The studios know what they can do to correct the problem, but they just won't do it. The steps to solve the problems will inconvenience too many rich douchebag types in New York and Los Angeles.

The studios' first mistake was making all the content digital. The next mistake was creating screener DVDs and Blu-ray discs to hand out to douchebags who couldn't soil themselves with watching a movie in a theater with common, not-rich people. Those screener discs grew legs and walked into the hands of pirates. Then the studios sped up the release cycle, debuting movies in many countries at once. That gave a much larger number of criminals basic access to the content. If they couldn't figure out some way to hack the DCP they now had tens of thousands of screens to pick from to aim a video camera. I don't know if the studios allow "VIP" types to stream virtual screeners of new movies, but it would not surprise me. And it wouldn't surprise me if those VIP movie streams were getting hacked and pirated.

While I'm still mad at the general public for taking part in widespread movie piracy, I'm even more angry at the movie industry because the pain it is suffering from piracy is thanks to self inflicted wounds.

Today the Bloomberg news site ran an article about premium VOD Hollywood movies (and, as usual, painting a mostly "pro" picture of the ploy). The sales angle on it now is helping movie studios save millions on marketing costs. They just run one campaign for the theatrical release and the video release will happen so fast they don't have to do more ad buys months later. I think what ever cost savings they gain from this will be far offset from overall losses they are going to suffer when the plan backfires. And when it does backfire I don't think there will be any going back to longer release windows. This is like pulling the pin on a hand grenade. You can't make that hot potato un-explode after it pops.

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Dave Bird
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 737
From: Perth, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jun 2000


 - posted 03-27-2017 11:36 PM      Profile for Dave Bird   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Bird   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm no techie, but yeah, a day-and-date VOD release has to be susceptible to piracy. They either have to allow some sort of unencrypted source output to existing television monitors (since people aren't going to buy special TV's), or at the very least a nice crisp "camcorder" version is easily done with a 4K TV + high-end camera + direct sound inputs.

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Buck Wilson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 855
From: St. Joseph MO, USA
Registered: Sep 2010


 - posted 03-28-2017 01:42 AM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yeah these pirated films are being watched by darn near everyone. I know friends, family... even a theater general manager who's into all that. Unreal. The title should read "Stronger than ever" instead of "still going strong"

The biz... it's going down...

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1538
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006


 - posted 03-28-2017 07:20 AM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A friend of mine has been working on a long term project in Singapore
for a high-tech firm. He's been there a couple of years now.
We keep in contact by e-mail and online chat services like SKYPE.

He really likes some of the MARVEL superhero flix, and I knew he was
really looking forward to seeing one of them a year or so ago.
(I don't remember which one it was)

We happened to be SKYPING the day the movie was released here in
the USA. So, I casually asked if he had seen it yet, knowing that the
movie was a worldwide release, and Singapore is almost a full day
ahead (time zone-wise) of where I'm at here in California.

He hadn't seen it yet, but said that he'd already seen guys offering
bootleg copies "on the street" as he was walking to work that morning.

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Rick Raskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1085
From: Manassas Virginia
Registered: Jan 2003


 - posted 03-28-2017 07:41 AM      Profile for Rick Raskin   Email Rick Raskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The horse is long since out of the barn.

Last summer I was working a VFW booth at the Virginia State Fair and there was a guy a few aisles away selling a version of the KODI box that was preloaded with the software to access the very media streams discussed above. No one was questioning the legality of his product.

Just Google KODI box and you'll see just how pervasive these things have become. Hell, they even sell them at WalMart and Target.

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Mark Lensenmayer
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1576
From: Upper Arlington, OH
Registered: Sep 1999


 - posted 03-28-2017 07:44 AM      Profile for Mark Lensenmayer   Email Mark Lensenmayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The software at the heart of this is called KODI. It is a perfectly legal streaming platform that will let the user watch many different streams. For example, JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER streams many of its concerts. For a price, BROADWAYHD streams musicals and plays.

There are add-ons to KODI that allow streaming of not-so legal content. The breakthrough here is that it is very very simple to select a movie. It's just like selecting a movie with Netflix...click and go. No setting up Bittorrent software, no waiting for seeding, just hit the button and go.

I was at a Home and Garden show about a month ago and there were 2 Vendors there selling Kodi boxes for about $50. They were showing ESPN streams and touting the movies that were available, and clearly stating that this wasn't downloading, it was streaming and it was "perfectly legal".

It is very very difficult to track streaming. With BitTorrent, you are part of a swarm with a trackable IP address...not so with streaming. The only way to stop this is to cut off the streaming sources, but when taken down, they just pop up at another location.

I don't think shrinking the release window will do anything to stop this. Someone will find a way to grab that content and release it to the world for free.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5196
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 03-28-2017 11:25 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thing is, I only knew about this bitorrent stuff peripherally -- I mean, I knew these sites existed; a number of years ago now, one of the IT techs at work showed me how to download a film and I thought, if the average Joe needs to go thru this hassle, it really isn't any major threat. It seemed like it would be too damned complicated for people who barely could manage programming their DVRs. But THIS system was totally different. And yes, I did hear the word KODI when he was explaining how it worked; I was talking with others and wasn't paying too much attention -- I thought he was saying someone named Cody set it up for him.

What was so disturbing to me was that this thing displayed a LONG, seemingly unending list of movies with modern-looking graphics, BETTER looking and more easily maneuvered that a Netflix menu. It had a totally legal looking interface with spiffy graphics. And I am not sure whether or not he was just rationalizing, but this guy said that because he bought hardware and software (KODI is software?), that it was as legal as watching Netflix. In fact, his wife said they had given up Netflix once they got this treasure-trove of first run pictures!

I would say, the only solution here, if it is so difficult to stop the service providers, is that they really have to start searching out the end users and laying hefty fines on them. People are less likely to engage in this activity if there is a REAL threat that the arm of the law can and will LIKELY get them. Right now the populous thinks it's immune.

People don't cheat on their income tax because there is the real threat of The Audit. They pay their parking and moving violation summons because there are real, unavoidable consequences if they don't. Its a matter substantially changing the culture.

First problem is, that this TV box that has been with us for more than half a century, everything the entire family saw on that TV screen -- in the home -- has been FREE. TV screen = free content. Add to that, the culturally ingrained concept that a man's home is his castle, blah blah blah, and he can do whatever he wants in his home without fear of The Law nosing in on him, and you have a mindset that is difficult or impossible to counter. That castle thing is fallacious, of course...you can't commit crimes in your home and claim immunity. But those two concepts together make a very powerful mindset and a very hard cultural egg to crack.

Then of course as Mike says, when you add the idea of getting something for free to the mix, you will have a hard time fixing this problem. The solution isn't to try to stop the torrent servers which obviously had proven to be nearly impossible, but to start prosecuting enough people to the point where most people would no more watch a pirated movie than grow marijuana in their homes. That may take a bit of time, but it can be done. You need to create a situation where everyone knows someone who has been fined (and I mean a hefty, PAINFUL fine -- not a slap on the wrist) for this kind of activity. Right now you have a situation where most everyone -- the ordinary, law-abiding citizen -- knows of NO one who has been prosecuted for participating in this copyright infringement activity. The big FBI warning on ever DVD is simply not enough. The populous needs to come to see there is a real threat of nasty consequences and that WATCHING a pirated movie is basically co-conspiracy, i.e., participation in a Federal crime.

If the next-door neighbor has to move out of that "castle" of theirs because they can no longer pay the mortgage due to a $50,000 fine and the breadwinner's wages are garnisheed, THAT certainly would have much more of an impact those silly "piracy is not a victim-less crime" trailers. And it would give every one of the other neighbors pause should they be contemplating watching a pirated movie.

Damn, I didn't think there was a fascist hiding in me!

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12397
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-28-2017 12:47 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree, getting after the end-users might be a solution. But our government doesn't even want to get after people who are openly violating things like immigration laws, so they're probably not going to go after Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sixpack in their living room watching movies with the family.

Also, prosecution is too expensive. What's needed is a way to prosecute automatically. If I'm at work trying to stream Amazon Music, and Amazon can tell that I'm already streaming it at home and ask me if I want to switch, it should be just as easy to nail people streaming illegal stuff. Of course that'd involve some government agency "watching" your download stream, so the ACLU would be all over that.

quote: Bobby Henderson
I don't think there will be any going back to longer release windows. This is like pulling the pin on a hand grenade. You can't make that hot potato un-explode after it pops.
I guess I don't understand why they couldn't go back to longer windows. They could say, "Yes, we released our last movie early on video but it was a huge flop to do that, so we're going back to a longer window. Visit your local theater to see this great new movie!"

My wife told me that various people at her job (computer guys) have these hacked Fire sticks. They all think they're perfectly legal. Well, they SAY that's what they think. In their heart of hearts they probably know it's a scam but they're playing dumb in order to watch free movies at home.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

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From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-28-2017 01:34 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mike Blakesley
Of course that'd involve some government agency "watching" your download stream, so the ACLU would be all over that.
As well they should. Does not the gov't "watching" your download stream bother you a bit?

This is an industry problem that the industry is going to have to throw LOTS of money at. Prosecutions will be few and ineffectual. The gov't has been going after dope smokers for about 90 years and are still losing ground, they are not going to do any better in the copyright violation trade.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10678
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 03-28-2017 02:15 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mark Lensenmayer
It is very very difficult to track streaming. With BitTorrent, you are part of a swarm with a trackable IP address...not so with streaming. The only way to stop this is to cut off the streaming sources, but when taken down, they just pop up at another location.
One thing I fear is widespread movie piracy will be another excuse for lawmakers to eliminate various elements of Net Neutrality. Perhaps as early as today Congress may overturn a law preventing ISPs from selling a customer's web browsing history on the open market. User privacy is taking a back seat to making money. Mobile carriers like Verizon have already been caught bundling creepy tracking software into the phones. All of the major phone carriers were doing this.

Anti piracy efforts might try to block or severely throttle traffic going to/from piracy havens like Russia and China, as long as that doesn't interfere with legit global business traffic too much. It might involve blocking connections to Virtual Private Networks that many use to hide what sites they're visiting from ISP's. More people are using VPNs out of concern for privacy and freedom of speech. Netflix already blocks most VPNs to prevent people from accessing content in countries where it isn't licensed.

quote: Frank Angel
Thing is, I only knew about this bitorrent stuff peripherally -- I mean, I knew these sites existed; a number of years ago now, one of the IT techs at work showed me how to download a film and I thought, if the average Joe needs to go thru this hassle, it really isn't any major threat. It seemed like it would be too damned complicated for people who barely could manage programming their DVRs.
In the past the average computer user faced a steep learning curve if he wanted to download free movies, music, porn or cracked software using torrent software. Even worse, the average user faced a minefield of download bait pretending to be a free movie but instead carrying a payload of computer malware. IIRC, the MPAA was posting bait online to catch people looking for illegal movies.

Both problems are solved (mostly) with these modded Fire TV sticks. You don't connect them to your computer, just your TV set. I still wonder if it's possible for one of these little HDMI dongles to carry software that will tunnel through your home network and infect any connected PCs anyway.

quote: Mike Blakesley
I agree, getting after the end-users might be a solution. But our government doesn't even want to get after people who are openly violating things like immigration laws, so they're probably not going to go after Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sixpack in their living room watching movies with the family.
I disagree. Over the past decade our government has passed laws that infringe on the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and possibly even 9th & 10th amendments. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 effectively gave the government the ability to bypass due process, arresting and holding people for any length of time without bringing charges.

On illegal immigration, I find it disturbing and heavy handed they're willing to arrest and deport "dreamers," people who were brought into the country illegally when they were just kids and grew up in the US. I don't think I'd like it very much if the government grabbed me and dumped me off in Ireland or Scotland where I have no job, immediate friends or family. Many large industries in the United States have deliberately used illegal labor for decades. It will be interesting to see the unintended consequences of mass deportation when certain industries, like agriculture and cattle processing, struggle to find American born people willing to do that work for long hours and shit pay. For the past 40 years America's net population growth has come from immigration. The birth rates of American born citizens are falling more and more into regressive territory. It costs way too damned much money to have and raise kids these days. 20 years from now America could be mired in problems via an inverse, constrictive population pyramid -way too many retired age people and nowhere near enough working age people and younger to keep the system afloat.

quote:
I guess I don't understand why they couldn't go back to longer windows. They could say, "Yes, we released our last movie early on video but it was a huge flop to do that, so we're going back to a longer window. Visit your local theater to see this great new movie!"
If any studio could try lengthening windows it's Disney. BTW they're the only studio that doesn't want to go along with this premium VOD crap. They're also the only studio that keeps quite a few of their Blu-ray discs and DVD priced fairly high -especially all the animated movies and Marvel shows. It's not often you see those titles fall into the bargain bin price range unless the show was a huge flop.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12397
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-28-2017 02:23 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Martin McCaffery
Does not the gov't "watching" your download stream bother you a bit?
I guess I wouldn't care if the government knew what I watched. I'm not watching anything illegal. If they want to watch the old "The Office" reruns along with me, the more the merrier.

Seriously, I just can't think of any other way to deal with the pirates. If going after the end user is a solution, then how else would you implement it? I mean, the cops can bust your door down if they have probable cause that you're using illegal drugs in your house.

quote: Bobby Henderson
If any studio could try lengthening windows it's Disney. BTW they're the only studio that doesn't want to go along with this premium VOD crap.
Disney's average window in 2016 was shorter compared to 2015, but was still longer than it was in 2014. They still have the longest window of the majors. And they had the biggest share of the boxoffice last year. Food for thought, studios?

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Rick Raskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1085
From: Manassas Virginia
Registered: Jan 2003


 - posted 03-28-2017 03:50 PM      Profile for Rick Raskin   Email Rick Raskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Martin McCaffery
Does not the gov't "watching" your download stream bother you a bit?
Indeed. Now aren't were running afoul of wiretap laws. It requires a court order for the phone companies to tap a line. I can't see any difference between that and monitoring a download stream.

Going after the end user is not the answer. You have to stop the illegal activity at the source and that would require international cooperation. Sounds familiar doesn't it? And we all know how successful the war on drugs has been.

I'm just not sure the powers that be consider illegal movie watching to be that big of a problem.

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