Category: Entertainment

About that horror kick…

Well, we still haven’t watched Found Footage 3D, but we did start a trial of ‘Shudder’ via Amazon Prime. I have to say if you like the horror genre or even sci-fi it’s definitely worth checking out the trial. I found no less than 6 movies in the first look through.

I can’t say whether they’ll all be winners yet but I do know that many of the films seem interesting. In addition to the new possibilities and original series that are available there are quite a few classic horror movies to watch including Hellraiser, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Phantasm, and a surprising number of horror films set around and on Christmas. I suppose I get ‘…scary ghost stories…’ from It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year now.

I think you should go give it a shot and see what you can find. I’m currently watching Severance. It’s British, kinda dryly funny, and not scary yet, but I’m only 20 minutes in.

Phil Robertson, the First Amendment, and Idiots

So, I don’t like Duck Dynasty. No big deal. That’s not the reason for me spouting off about this latest controversy. Duck Dynasty is about a family that got rich making a good product. Good for them. They are the poster-family for the hunting/redneck lifestyle. Again, good for them. I wish them nothing but the best in life.

Now, they are being made martyrs for a few comments made by the patriarch, Phil Robertson. Here is the specific quote in question from GQ:

Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine…Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,”

Well, he has his opinion and that’s fine. He has a popular medium to disseminate that opinion which is good for him. He has every right to spout off what he thinks while not inciting violence and with few other restrictions. I’m glad he has that right and I have mine to write here and post my remarks. That is the crux of the First Amendment.

He is not being punished for using those rights. People are espousing that he is being persecuted for his (christian) beliefs, etc. Nope. You’re wrong and if you can’t see that then you qualify as an idiot in my opinion. He is being punished because the television show which he participates in thinks that this will cause a ruckus and may damage the brand and/or show. It might to a certain degree, but what it will really do is make the brand stronger than ever because while a few moderates will drop off as fans because of this kerfuffle even more (christian) people will dig in their heels and swear allegiance to the ‘poor man who is being persecuted for stating his beliefs’. 

In reality A&E did the best thing possible to strengthen their brand and probably increase awareness (and profits). Judging by the fervor I am seeing via Facebook and Twitter their plan is working wonderfully. They are increasing ownership of current fans and pulling in the millions who consider this an attack on their religion instead of the brand protection/promotion that it is really.

So, he said what he wanted. A&E is protecting/promoting. No one is being punished for saying what they think. I saw someone compare him to Miley Cyrus being applauded for her recent weirdness and poor Phil being persecuted. No. Phil exercised his rights as did Miley. Miley arguably increased her brand as did Phil. The conservative groups speak ill of Miley and adore Phil. Two sides of the coin both increasing their coin.

If you cannot see these things, I pity you.

There is no such thing as ‘piracy’ Part 2

This post became too long for one sitting, so it has been divided. Read the first part here.

Now we can move into the point of my original post – file sharing sites, BitTorrent, and other methods of distributing media are not piracy. They are methods of distribution. Piracy can be defined loosely as robbing or violence committed against someone or something (a corporation perhaps). When someone downloads a movie via Megaupload or a song via Frostwire they are not robbing anyone nor committing an act of violence. The RIAA and MPAA would have you believe that they are being robbed of income they would have received if the CD/DVD would have been sold in a store. That seems like a reasonable analogy, but they ignore the fact that research has been performed that shows one of three things:

  1. The person is a fan of the artist or movie and will purchase the work anyway.
  2. The person would never have purchased the music or movie.
  3. The person has purchased the item previously and is obtaining a digital copy.

Think about those items. If #1 is true, then the RIAA/MPAA has not lost any money. The person who got their copy of the work through an illegal distribution channel is going to give money to pay for the work, they merely used a different path to get the work at one point. If we consider #2, then the RIAA/MPAA still have not lost any money because the person has no intention of purchasing a DVD/CD or going to the theater. #2 is what the big corporations point out and hope you don’t think about too much. #2 has always existed, however this person can now download and have the music easily instead of making a tape copy or ripping a CD to their computer. #2 would never have purchased the work even if file sharing sites did not exist.

I am most likely to be in the #3 category should I ever download a work. I have purchased only a few CDs in the past few years for myself. Generally, I attribute this to getting older and not caring for much pop music. Still, I have purchased several hundred CDs and DVDs over my lifetime. If my ‘Alice in Chains:Unplugged’ CD gets scratched, I would easily consider downloading a copy from a torrent. Does this make me a criminal? No, it means that I used an illegal distribution channel to obtain another copy of a work that I paid for previously. The big corporations do not like this because it does not use hard media channels they control like DVD or CD purchases.

None of these acts constitutes piracy. What these acts do amount to is using illegal distribution channels to get a copy of a work. People obtained an illegal copy without using the proper distribution channel. There was no violence. There was no robbing since 1 and 3 will pay or have paid for the work downloaded, and 2 has no intention of ever paying for the work. Unfortunately piracy is an emotional word that people can relate to, and the news outlets can use this word to scare you or sound interesting.

That is my explanation of why there is no such thing as piracy. Yes, a copy may have been made illegally, but that means copyright law was broken. This does not mean someone or something (company) was robbed or violently attacked. People sold illegal copies of cassettes and CDs at flea markets however they were just called criminals. The same can be said for those using file-sharing websites, but it sounds much more evil to call them PIRATES. While these vicious pirates keep making illegal copies, the industries keep making record profits.

There is no such thing as ‘piracy’ Part 1

This post became so long that I divided it between two separate posts. This first post attempts to explain that the MPAA/RIAA are good at hiding money, do make money, and have always controlled distribution channels.

So, people have been saying for the past decade how movie/film/TV piracy is destroying the livelihoods of everyone from the janitor at NBC Studios to the radio DJ to the kid selling CDs at your local music shop. Websites which allow the easy transfer of media between people have been described as nothing short of abominations and safe harbors for criminals. We (collective) thieves and criminals only use these networks to steal material from the good and hard-working people who create the blockbuster movies we watch while munching popcorn every Friday night. We thieves rob the MPAA mebers of the ability to make more movies by stealing their hard work. We take food from the mouths of camera men and their children. Musical acts such as Jay-Z and Taylor Swift can not keep putting out albums if piracy continues unabated. Every song we thieves download from file-sharing sites takes away money that could be used to sign and develop the next Metallica or Ozzy Osbourne. File-sharing sites have no legitimate purpose other than to steal. This has been and is the mantra from the RIAA and MPAA.

Well, there are some major fallacies and discrepancies between what the MPAA and RIAA would have you believe and the truth. To begin with, the MPAA and RIAA members have been reporting record profits despite the horrific piracy that threatens their existence. So, that shuts down the argument that these organizations are unable to keep the lights on in the office. It would seem to me that this means they should be expanding, and are not struggling to survive as they would have us believe.

Secondly, the movie and record industries use some very creative accounting to keep any movie or record from ever making a profit. Would you believe that Star Wars has never made a penny? It’s true. The guy who played Darth Vader (under the suit) has not received a penny of the over 1/2 BILLION dollars which Star Wars has actually netted. The RIAA is pretty good at this type of accounting too. Put simply, these corporations are broke as can be if you subscribe to their accounting methods. Fortunately, we live in the real world and can see that they are merely cheating the United States tax system. So, piracy isn’t breaking the bank, then why are these trade groups saying that it is destroying them?

We should look at the business models of the RIAA and MPAA to begin to explain their arguments/lies. Until the past few years music and movies had always been bought and sold as hard copies. This holds true for VHS, DVD, BD, record, tape, CD and if you reach way back – 8-track. Members of the RIAA and MPAA have always been the primary controllers of these media. Sure, independent shops existed, but big companies have a close relationship with radio stations and other ways to promote their hard copy productions. Movie studios do a great job of using fast food toys to advertise to kids. These facts show that until very recently media distribution was performed via hard copy by large corporations. There were no mass distribution channels without one of the studios behind you.

Recently, this has changed with the advent of iTunes, Spotify, BitTorrent, and other file-sharing sites.

 Part 2 will be released later and explains why piracy is nothing more than illegal distribution, and seems to not harm the industries in actuality.

Can your PC replace your cable/satellite subscription? Part III

In part I, we learned about some free and completely legal ways to watch TV and movies. In part II, there was some long explanation, and a brief bit of some information about how to watch your shows that are not well-defined. The laws contradict each other, so you are on your own down that path.

Now, I will explain the completely illegal ways to get your shows. Please know that I do not suggest doing anything illegal, but feel that you should know about these methods so that you can avoid them and any trouble that comes with using them.

The first, easiest, and most common illegal way I see of getting music, shows, and movies is LimeWire. There are legal reasons for using Lime, but the use of it is not for those reasons. Lime is used mostly to illegally ‘share’ music and other files across the Internet.

People like to claim that they are only ‘sharing’ these files with their friends or, really, complete strangers across the Internet. That, is a lie. Not about what they’re doing, but pretending that it is legal. People are taking material that they do not own the copyright for and giving it away to others. They are also downloading material illegally from other LimeWire users. Along with the illegal files comes a big risk for viruses, also something I see a lot on PCs people ask me to fix.

Up next is Bit Torrent. Torrents are similar to LimeWire, except that they are used more in legal ways, such as sharing legal discs to install Linux and other free information. Unfortunately, a lot more people use torrents to illegally download movies, music, and more from others. So, Bit Torrent is covered under this illegal section.

How torrents differ from regular downloads is that it downloads from many different users in ‘chunks’. It operates on the idea that the more you ‘share’, the better/faster you can get files. It works out well for everyone because the more people share a file, the faster it downloads for everyone.

After downloading files illegally, the most popular way to steal (yes, it is stealing) material is to rent it from the video store, borrow a CD, or find another way to get a digital copy and rip it or copy it onto your PC.

People have mentioned several times that they rent a DVD when it comes out, rip it, and keep the copy they made on their PC. Once again, this is completely illegal. These people rent a piece of copy-written material, not own it, and make a copy (that may be legal if they owned it).

There is no salvation for those who rent a DVD or borrow a CD to copy it. Ripping most anything without owning a copy yourself is stealing from those who put it out there for sale.

As always, there are exceptions: if something has been released under a license that is free to distribute, like some written works and all Linux distributions. These materials are different than most things, and are the exceptions.

Generally, if someone downloads material that is copyrighted, they are breaking the law. If anyone is ripping material that they don’t own a copy of, they are also breaking the law.

This is the simple version, but gives a decent overview. As always, this is not legal advice. Do your own research.