Speaking of piracy

Philip Berne:

I stopped downloading any pirated content about 5 years ago, when I was caught and sent a nastygram by my cable company. But it wasn’t really the cable company who caught me. It was HBO. I was trying to download The Wire. The warning I received said they were not pressing charges immediately, but they wanted me to stop and destroy my copies. They also reserved the right to sue me at any point in the future. I’m probably in the clear, but hopefully this screed will go some way to convincing HBO that I’m completely on their side. I have seen the error in my ways.

I bet that would be enough to make anyone stop illegal downloading.

  • Or look for a way to cover their tracks.

    Like this: http://www.hidemyass.com/proxy/

  • quietstorms

    Jim, you take it as a zero sum game. What if someone, like I do now, paid for all the channels for $200 a month so I could catch an episode of The Walking Dead on the torrents because AMC never shows it on primetime for the rest of the week?

    What if I saw a Daring Fireball mentioning Top Gear’sw episode of all the Bond cars but couldn’t see it, while I have BBC America, and have to watch reruns until the BBC decides to air it a year later?

    I don’t want to be made into a crook. I’ll pay when it’s available but everybody wants me to pay more for channels on demand and I can’t even pay for shows outside of the US.

    I had to torrent Black Mirror from the UK (which you should really see) because they gave me no other option. The shows are not available on iTunes in the US. This is the case with a number of movies as well.

    • KvH

      Walking Dead is available on iTunes. Current season releases an episode the night it airs.

      Top Gear, specifically the bond episode, is also available.

      • quietstorms

        Did you go without 15 days of power while Cablevision still charged you during Hurricane Sandy? Did you walk with a 40lb. bag on your back while carrying a 13 lb. dog through 4 feet of freezing water when a house started burning down two houses away from you? That is why I missed shows like The Walking Dead, Homeland, Dexter and American Horror Story.

        This is why I missed two episodes of the Walking Dead, and, unlike Cablevision who still gave a bill though reduced, you are less forgiving than they are.

        Top Gear, specifically the bond episode, is also available.

        Then you should tell John Gruber that when he was quicker to recommend you do so illegally rather than providing an iTunes link. It was through his post that I made his comment.

        Thank you for the response though. I didn’t watch the episode yet that I torrented. I’ll remove, buy it from, iTunes and keep it for the rest of my life.

        • KvH

          Not sure why you appear to be angry with me, i’m just pointing out the shows you torrent are available, pretty much immediately from iTunes. I don’t really care about your rationalizations for torrenting. I don’t have cable. I either record shows I want to watch from over the air broadcasts, buy them from iTunes, or netflix stream. Occasionally i’ll get the DVD although that’s rare these days. I’ve not found a reason to torrent anything. I don’t like waiting on Dr. Who but I have tons of stuff to watch instead.

          • quietstorms

            I’m not angry with you. I explained why I didn’t get to watch these shows while I was still charged.

            I’m angry because I had to live with no power and no heat for 15 days while my wife and kid had no heat when it reached 36 degreed at night.

            I’m mad because I pay the most for electricity in the US and LIPA was the worst in the New York State to respond to the problem.

    • The problem is with the phrase ‘had to’.

      You don’t have a right to anything & everything you want. The copyright owners do. If they want you to not have it, that’s their right. Stupid, but their choice.

      However, their stupidity is what leads to torrenting. Regardless of rights/wants/needs/legality.

      • quietstorms

        Don’t tell me what I have a right to what and I don’t have. Cablevision still charged even when I couldn’t watch their shows whether I paid it for or not and, when I got my power back, I had to wait another two days for them to fix the problem.

        The cable was out all along during the outage yet Cablevision still chose to charge me. They let LIPA take all the blame because power and heat are more important. National Grid (who owns LIPA) is now getting their license revoked to provide power in Long Island.

        • I won’t, but the courts/laws do.

          You agreed to Cablevision’s terms, live with it or break the law.

          Those terms do not include allowing you to download any show that Cablevision might have showed at any time, ever.

          • quietstorms

            The laws do a lot of things. This country would still be a British colony if no one objected. What is of value in anything prosecuted is intent.

            I’ve looked over my contract. There was no mention of extenuating circumstances that allowed for them to charge for no service.

            Everything can be fought inside of a court. The only difference is that I can’t afford to beat Cablevision’s lawyers.

            I need something like the town of Oceanside, LI whom is suing LIPA collectively for their ignorance.

          • Well, as long as you think TV is life giving, have at it.

            /backing away from the crazy guy.

          • quietstorms

            That’s right asshole. Five TV shows that I pay $200/month for is life giving while they charged me when I had no power.

            Good thing you can pretend to take the higher ground while I’ve got to deal with FEMA and the insurance company when initially paying from my own family to keep my family warm during the cold.

          • Rage on dude. Maybe next time try to be prepared for a hurricane to hit the east coast. I used to live there. I know I was prepared.

            Maybe you should have spent more time worrying about preparation than watching TV. Your family would have been warmer.

      • LEGALLY the copyright owners do. But remember, copyright is entirely a government creation. Its not a right, its a privilege.

        What you do morally is a different question. If you don’t believe in copyrights, or government, then maybe morally its not wrong to torrent a movie.

    • Your Walking Dead example is flawed, since there are legal avenues for time-shifting content (e.g. DVR) or viewing it elsewhere shortly after release (e.g. iTunes). You did not have to torrent it illegally. You simply chose not to take advantage of legal options that were available.

      For Top Gear and Black Mirror, an inconvenience does not give you a right to engage in illegal activities. You can pick up a DVD for Top Gear in about a year if you’re worried about missing it when it airs on BBC America, or else it’ll likely be available on Netflix, which is how I’ve been watching Top Gear this entire time. I’d assume Black Mirror could be picked up in similar ways if given a little time. A lack of patience is not a justification.

      If you don’t want to be a crook, don’t be a crook. It’s that simple. No one is making you do what you’re doing. It’s not like this is food that you need to live. Most of us can exhibit a bit of self-control and wait for when things are available legally.

      • lucascott

        While you are correct, these are things that the content creators can change but don’t. They, especially Warners, scream that posting them on places like iTunes makes it easier for tormenting cause folks have figured out how to strip the DRM and now they have a perfect file. But the lack encourages torrents. Folks are fine with logos etc on a free product.

        Same with the directors tossing a fit about posting $20-30 rentals on iTunes after the movie is out of the theatres. Yeah you’ll invite 5 friends over but that’s better than doing the same with a cam etc. folks that don’t want to pay the ticket price won’t. But that doesn’t equal them buying the DVD or even renting it off Netflix in a year.

  • I used to live in a house with a few guys who I still regularly see. The guy who moved into my old room when I moved out is apparently a rather heavy torrent downloader, and from what I understand, he’s already received a handful of threatening letters from various copyright holders. Despite that, he’s still downloading. Not everyone gets a clue when they get a letter, unfortunately.

    • Maybe because letters are a lot cheaper than lawsuits.

    • Bob

      If you receive notices and then continue to download, you are escalating your situation into “willful intent” meaning you know you are doing something illegal yet you do it anyhow. The penalties typically go way up for willful intent even in a jury trial.

      • lucascott

        Unless you are caught downloading kiddie porn or thousands of shows and movies constantly its actually rare that anything happens. They send the letters to scare folks into stopping and it works sometimes. But not always

  • It’s a problem if you get one of these letters (like I did) for shows I’ve never downloaded or seen in my life.

    All I could figure is that one of my 70-something-year old neighbors somehow got into my WiFI and seems to be a crazy-ass pirate who downloads AND shares torrents like there is no tomorrow (which in their case might actually be true).

    There is no way for me to prove I didn’t do it. All you get is an online form from some law office where you can check the box “I didn’t do it” but they reserve the right to sue you anyway.

    As an at-the-time paying customer I was not impressed to be treated as a criminal and have since cut the cord. All the cable companies can jump off a cliff and die as far as I’m concerned.

    Oh, and if they would have an ounce of brain in their heads, all of their shows would be same-day rentals on Netflix & Xbox & iTunes. Problem solved.

  • I received a notice from my cable company through HBO for downloading Rome back whenever it was still on TV. I just laughed it off.

    I had an HBO subscription; HBO Go didn’t exist; and Comcast is garbage. They just bought out the local Time Warner Cable office, and a storm went through during this process which damaged cable lines all across town. They had faulty lines down the street, and I had difficulties with both picture quality and with internet. They didn’t fix it for months. It took a class action lawsuit to get Comcast to just simply fix the cable lines because they thought it was Time Warner Cable’s responsibility.

    So, I downloaded TV shows during that period. Even though there’s no legal basis for my argument I felt ethically I could because I was paying for service I wasn’t receiving. After I got the letter I continued to do so but on private servers away from their prying eyes. Today, I still download TV shows I can’t get by legal means and feel absolutely no remorse for doing so.

  • JDSoCal

    Should have used Peer Block.


  • Bob

    I want to get HBO without buying other channels. That’s it. I don’t want cable. I just want HBO. I’m not going to do anything illegal to get it but I’m also not going to subsidize a bunch of other cable channels to get it. I’m stuck in the middle. It doesn’t surprise me that others are stealing the content though. Think about that for a minute. The HBO content (I’m just using HBO as an example here) is in such high demand that people are willing to steal it. As a company, wouldn’t you want to fill that demand? The reason they are stealing (for the most part) is that content distribution hasn’t kept up with technology. HBO GO is a good start but again, that requires you to subsidize a large number of other cable channels. You are buying something else you don’t want. When I go to the store to buy bananas, I’m not forced to buy a bunch of apples with the bananas. I just buy bananas. Granted poor college kids who may be stealing content may not buy HBO even if it is offered cable-free (there will always be some theft) but I’m guessing there is a huge number of people (like me) that would pay for it.

    I realize this argument has been made a thousand times but I thought it worth repeating.

    • lucascott

      A lot of folks so, same with Showtime, same with Starz. Many folks would like to also be able to subscribe to smaller packs of channels. Say everything you watch is on a GE channel (NBC, USA etc) Let you subscribe to that pack for like $10 a month.

      Theory with my coworkers and I is that the inability to subscribe independently is likely why HBOGo isn’t on the AppleTV. Apple is trying to leverage it and iTunes as a non Cable choice but the app is restricted to those with a cable package.

  • It baffles me as to why people insist on defending people/companies that are actively screwing them over.

  • It wouldn’t make me want to stop. It doesn’t make kids want to stop. The culture is changing. Suing your customers is a losing strategy. It makes them enemies- and they’ll just pirate harder. They’ll get it one way or another. If there is a paid alternative, they’ll happy to get it. If there isn’t, sorry, but they’ll get it anyway.

    We are arguing about the wrong group of people. Stop insulting people who WANT to pay and start blaming the people who won’t let them.

  • lucascott

    Actually it rarely stops anyone. I have an ex that got 7 in one year, all from HBO, still hasn’t stopped.

    Even when I broke things off because that’s my work she’s pirating and I found it personally offensive she said she wasn’t stopping.

    Those that are going to do it just to do it won’t be stopped by anything. The beat we can do is stop the ‘casual’ downloaders. The ones that say ‘if only places like iTunes were better priced’, ‘if only they had stuff in HD’, if only it didn’t take two years for it to get on iTunes’ etc.

  • Mother Hydra

    3 words: SSL VPN Usenet. Only idiots use torrents and the like