KPMG Report – Movies & TV Widely Available on Legal Services

I’ve lost count at this point how many times and ways I’ve rejected the premise that piracy is a consumer-driven response to claims of scarcity in the market, especially in the United States; but now KPMG has released the results of a study of motion pictures and television programs that rebuts such pro-piracy claims with actual data.  You can read the details of the report for yourself, but suffice to say that if you’re an American, you really have no excuse not to be watching filmed entertainment through one of many available legal channels.  From my point of view, the KPMG report doesn’t reveal a lot that cannot be surmised anecdotally simply by scanning available titles on iTunes, Amazon VOD, Google Play, Netflix, Hulu, and so on.  But the report does verify these casual observations for anyone seeking a more methodological examination.

Naturally, KPMG could not study every possible title and account for every taste, but by looking at a sample of 808 unique films with measurable popularity based on revenue, critical acclaim, and awards, the firm found that 94% of the films studied were available on at least one (and in most cases several) of 34 legal distribution services included in their research.  These services included Subscription Video-On-Demand, ad-supported Video-On-Demand, and Electronic Sell-Through services.  The study did not even include TV-everywhere services or online catch-up services offered by networks for fans who might have missed episodes when broadcast.  Naturally, the report also does not look at original programming for web-based networks like Netflix’s House of Cards, though shockingly enough, these programs as well as network titles made rapidly available on such services are still pirated in remarkably high numbers.

Data aside, I can say personally that I currently use four non-broadcast, web-enabled services these days and still don’t have time to watch everything of interest. And so, I continue to wonder what kind of ultra-leisurely lives are led by those who complain about a lack of access to filmed entertainment.  Simply put, if you need pirate sites to feed your demand for these media, you have WAY too much time on your hands. Certain individuals may claim that specific titles of interest cannot be found through any legal channels, and such complaints often give way to over-reaching claims that piracy is about preserving culture; but year after year, sites like TorrentFreak reveal that the most pirated titles are, not surprisingly, the most popular titles according to the same kind of criteria used by KPMG for its study.  All highfalutin claims aside, if pirate sites had to rely on fans of arcane, art-house cinema, they would all fold.

To put the time thing in perspective, if we only count the titles included in the KPMG study, they translate into roughly 6.5 hours of viewable material per day for a whole year.  I don’t know any adults with full lives, jobs, responsibilities, etc. who have 6.5 hours a day, every day to watch TV shows and movies. The only people who have that kind of free time are children, who really shouldn’t be watching that much of anything, legally or otherwise.  And I suppose adults who possess great wealth might have that kind of time on their hands, but then they can afford all manner of access to media and are far more likely to spend their leisure time sailing or heli-skiing or something more exotic than six-plus hours a day watching TV and movies.  So, claims of scarcity by anyone in the US at least really need to be scorned and then ignored for the adolescent whining that it is.

One aspect of this subject I do find interesting is that despite chronic claims by various pundits and consumers that legacy industries need to “adapt,” the filmed entertainment industry has actually responded very rapidly to changes in viewer habits and desires as consequences of changes in technology.  In fact, industry-wide modifications and even experiments in distribution have been virtually in synch with advancement in the capacity to send and receive high-quality video signals worthy of our high-quality monitors and televisions.  One chart on Page 8 of the KPMG report shows a trend in decreased time between primary and secondary release of motion pictures, and this downward curve over the period studied more or less matches the technological improvements that make services like Netflix and iTunes work in the first place.  When you consider the scope of these industries as well as the number of potential stakeholders in a particular title (e.g. the number of licensees involved), the industry as a whole has actually done a pretty good job of keeping up with the times.  I get that there remain a number of Veruca Salts out there singing “I want it now,” still unsatisfied perhaps with a three-month window between a theatrical release and a low-cost, online rental; but certain demands are  simply unreasonable if we’re to have a market at all.  Of course, while waiting for that one title to become available, the KPMG report shows that even Veruca has legal access to about 585 hours of other things she can watch.

© 2014, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

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  • I can faithfully report that the situation is very similar overseas, at least in the UK. Most of the Channel 4 programs are available (to British citizens) on 4oD. The BBC iplayer isn’t as good on old programs (I’m not sure why, it’s probably complicated legal stuff I don’t understand) but provides a decent recent catch-up service. And almost everything that isn’t available legally online can be bought in DVD format. There’s so much that I’ve not even kept up to date with Peep Show, which is one of my favourite comedies.

    A related issue I’d be interested to hear your view on. While I don’t pirate, I will admit that I sometimes watch American sites through a proxy. Especially Hulu. My feeling tends to be that they’ve already paid for the programs and, as far as advertisers are concerned, my site hit is as good as anyone else. Is that a valid view or am I being self-serving? As a film guy, would you actually care about someone from overseas watching your work on a US provider?

    (To make things even more complex, mainly what I watch on Hulu is old BBC comedies. And there’s a part of me that feels that, actually, it’s my license fee money that paid for those to be made in the first place).

    • Thanks, Sam. I’ll try to ignore the feeling we’re in a confessional but suggest you say a few Hail Marys just in case. Clearly, you’re not lining the pockets of a traditional pirate site owner and attempting to rationalize that behavior. Use of VPNs to access US libraries from foreign countries is a tricky subject, one I’m sure people more directly experienced in licensing can speak to better than I. On the one hand, wide scale, unlicensed access from a particular market might scare off investors from developing the legally licensed access you want in the first place. On the other hand, the use could be a road map for investors that reveals interest in programming not currently available in the market. I guess, if it were my film, how I’d feel about a market of Brits watching it by VPN would probably depend on what was preventing the work from being licensed for that market. Creators are always glad personally when people want to consume their work, but the business is another matter. Why we’re missing that market would be a big factor for me. If you lived in a repressive market that censored works that we could never get legally, I’d probably be thrilled that people were watching by this method. On the other hand, if my US version of a TV series is unlicensed in the UK because the UK is protecting a home-grown version of a very similar series (or the same series), I would understand that practice.

      Of course, you’re asking about older material, which gets even trickier with regard to what value you are either taking or not through your unlicensed viewing. It would be hard to argue that your example does tremendous harm to anyone, but again, if you’re in a nation where VPN use is rampant, will this slow or even stop investment in more legal access to more licensed works? I’m sure it’s clear to everyone that the nature of the technology implies an expectation of global access to all content, but this is very hard to align with trade agreements and cross-border licensing. As such, we should expect investors and producers to start with the most current and most popular works. Everyone is going to have some niche taste like your British comedies that will be hard to access for one reason or another, and sometimes older products are particularly difficult because their contracts predate all this technology and globalization. So, the owners of a show sometimes can’t license in X market because of some contract with a licensee they can’t renegotiate for whatever reason. These reasons can be dumb and frustrating for sure, but they’re case-by-case.

      In my opinion, you’re not likely doing any great harm, but your viewing is not technically “covered,” which seems to be part of your question. Yes, Hulu has paid for the programs, but not a universal license for all markets worldwide. To that extent, the advertiser for instance might be getting a free ride into your market on the back of the program that hasn’t been licensed for your market. If it’s just you and ten other guys, no big deal. If there a million of you, it’s another story. Going forward, we should expect contracts and licensing agreements to accommodate freer exchange through these pipelines. For the old stuff, it’ll be a game of catch-up begging the question of who wants to invest in making certain older works available in certain markets. Meanwhile, I forgive you, my son. 🙂

  • Wouldn’t any shady dealings by isp’s fall under existing laws, such as antitrust?
    Heard an analogy that made sense to me: the post office.
    They have “regular” service where your letter or package arrives in a usual amount of time, then they have priority mail where a customer who has a need to expedite the delivery, pays more to get it there quicker. The existence of priority mail in no way affects the normal mail.. how would the internet be so different that the parade of hypothetical horribles wouldn’t be dealt with by existing laws?

  • A lot of the most shared movies and TV shows are the ones not available on Netflix.

    I think piracy is really forcing the industry’s hand too. People demand what filesharing offers them – unlimited access to all the world’s published knowledge and culture.

    HBO for instance has some of the most pirated shows because they also tend to be the most inaccessible. Comcast recently started offering service that is Internet + HBO only, for people who like HBO series but don’t want the whole basic cable thing that usually goes with it.

    But until there is a legitimate way to access all the world’s knowledge and culture at your finger tips, that is available to all social-economic classes, illegal filesharing will continue to thrive.

    • There is no way to fully square that goal of “all the world’s content at your fingertips” with economic models that produce the work in the first place; and as I’ve stated many times, most consumers are not interested in such high-minded cultural diversity. They want “Expendables III” before it’s released because they’ve adopted the habits of teenage boys. These trends have nothing to do with knowledge.

      • Nobody I know is like, I wish Netflix had less content. The point the places that have the largest and most diverse selections of content (DRM-free too!) are illegal sites. Expendables III for instance is not available on Netflix.

        There is no way to fully square that goal of “all the world’s content at your fingertips”

        We can fund content development trough patronage just fine. In fact I’d contend the net result would be an improvement overall to civilization. Historically government patronage has helped fund more intelligent, high brow programming (see: PBS, BBC), like NOVA for instance.

        The economics of copyright makes it favor garbage produced for the least common denominator, products like Expandables III, Miley Cyrus or Duck Dynasty.

        So actually, by eliminating copyright we might not only be doing good for freedom and the access to human knowledge and culture, but we may also improve the kind of human knowledge and culture that will be created in the future.


      • I’m sorry, M, but that is entirely absurd. The economics of bad taste give us Duck Dynasty. Copyright like free speech only guarantees form protection; they in no way guarantee that what’s spoken isn’t stupid.

      • It’s not. Copyright encourages the creation of works that are widely popular. Because it can be produced once, but monetized by every person receiving it.

        It’s a positive feedback loop too, because works like this actually make the population stupider (culture influences), bringing the commonality lower, which produces even more trite work, and so on and so forth…

      • What I am saying is that by nature of making something widely popular, you must make it popular to the commonality that is widest between people writ large.

        And yes copyright does encourage popular culture, it’s heavily biased to it even. Because the cost of producing something DOES NOT DEPEND on how many people end up buying it, the economics of scale a copyright economy produces is skewed towards commonality even more then that which sustains companies like Wal-Mart.

        Maybe quantitatively you can see this:

        A movie costs $1 mill to make.

        If 1,000 people “buy it”, they must make $1,000 per sale to break even.
        If 10,000,000 people “buy it”, they must make $0.10 per sale to break even.

        Therefore, it is in the interests of the movie producer to produce a movie which is widely popular. In fact, all the economics of copyrighted works are geared towards increasing scale.

        In physical goods, there is a marginal cost that applies to each thing. The economics are thus less skewed towards increasing scale, allowing for a more interesting market where a company might make a product cost 10% more, but end up making 3x profit from that cost increase, so allowing them to experiment more with things that may not be popular.

  • To put the time thing in perspective, if we only count the titles included in the KPMG study, they translate into roughly 6.5 hours of viewable material per day for a whole year. I don’t know any adults with full lives, jobs, responsibilities, etc. who have 6.5 hours a day, every day to watch TV shows and movies.

    That’s not very relevant David. I can point you out to procedurally generated videos that last an infinite duration (and transcendental functions always have “original content”). Obviously there are things people are not interested in watching. If you do a search on Netflix for something and get back “no results”, I promise you most people can a psychological response almost instantly often called “disappointment”. Unfortunately this happens a lot. I know you think that probably immature and they should be happy with what they have and blah blah, I get it, but the fact is, people don’t like when they are blocked from getting what they want, it pisses them off. Maybe they should blame Netflix right for not licensing Frozen or whatever, but ultimately copyright law gives copyright holders the power to restrict, if they have the power they also have the blame.

    • Forget what I think people should want M. The fact is that the stuff most pirated is the same popular content that sells tickets, wins awards, and gets high ratings. As mentioned in the post, if pirate sites were built on more arcane content, they wouldn’t exist. I often refer to Netflix generically as the biggest example of a type of site, but these popular titles are the first to become available through iTunes-like services for low-cost rental. If people can’t find something else to do or watch during the release interval or are too cheap to pay $4 for a rental, then, yeah, they’re being immature.

      • Hrmm. The popular titles are often the ones that also happen to be missing on Netflix. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t. But Netflix has far from a complete selection.

      • It’s not supposed to be. The model is not new. Theatrical release, followed by secondary rental and sale release, followed by a syndicated-type release through premium cable or other subscription service (Netflix), followed by release on regular cable, and so on. Those release windows are where ROI comes from, and without the R, there won’t be any I. And if people don’t want anymore $100 million blockbusters, then they should stop watching them, legally or illegally. But pirating the blockbusters and then expecting them to keep being produced is a contradiction.

      • DVDs/Blu-Rays are predictable – pretty much every movie playing will end up on them in a few months time. Consumers can rely on that and say things like – it looks alright, but that not worth going out to see, I’ll just wait for it to come out on DVD.

        There is no predicting Netflix – a movie may NEVER end up on Netflix. It’s a big difference from the traditional “windowing” strategy.

        I bought the Blu-ray for the miniseries Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. It showed up on Netflix a month later. I don’t completely regret my purchase – one reason I bought it I wanted to support quality programming which is unfortunately so rare on television. But I can’t lie that this irritated me a little bit, it made my purchase superfluous.

        Illegal sites have none of these stupid games. All stuff is on them, all the time, some times even before it is possible to see them anyway else. And they don’t limit themselves to video like Netflix does – music in very fidelity, books, games (including doing stuff like playing games on systems they weren’t meant for – emulation), software, 3D printer schematics, etc. basically anything that be represented in digital form is on a illegal site. This makes them superior to like for instance Netflix. And that’s why they are popular.

      • Can you predict when a film will be broadcast on FX Network? Doubt it. Like Netflix, this is the bargain basement of sales for the product. It is the last window of opportunity. And you shouldn’t regret your purchase of Cosmos because it probably isn’t licensed to Netflix for the rest of time any more than you can know when or how often a favorite title will reappear on a cable syndicator. Illegal sites don’t play “stupid games” because they’re STEALING. See how that works? These aren’t games, they’re business deals. No business, no movies. This isn’t complicated. Every legal business that makes a product follows these basic principles.

      • It’s stealing, it’s terrorism, it’s a jihad (or “freehad”) against art itself. It’s also popular.

        I’m explaining why it happens. And you know what, the more your industry attempts restrict these “immature people” who don’t play by the rules, the more “immature people” who don’t play the rules will exist.

        Modern technology allows for us to share the sum of human knowledge and culture with anyone with an Internet connection. To make all the published works of civilization available as widely as possible.

        For whatever reasons, economic or otherwise, governments have chosen to make this behavior illegal, to various levels of effectiveness. The reason is the idea that you can access any book, any movie, any artifact of knowledge or culture that can be digitized, and that and you can do so without cost, without limit, without restrictions on use, it’s so powerful that even with the harsh penalties, the monitoring and the international war on this sharing, it’s still a massive activity. If you want to get rid of this illegal activity, the most obvious solution is make this free sharing of human knowledge and culture a legal activity. That’s the only rational choice.

      • M, there is soo much stuff you can legally consume under creative commons… why would you care if other stuff is resticted to commerce? Could it be that 99% of the cc stuff is crap nobody would buy anyhow? Are you saying that cc isn’t the promise you make it out to be? You seem to only want the products that take talent, time, and investment to make.

        Welcome to the real world where we live in a quasi-capitalist society. That’s the agreement we have to live in a civil society…I won’t take your shit if you don’t steal mine. If you want something that belongs to me, you have to ask first; and I can set a price if I so choose, as can you. We all have obligations to ourselves and others that happen to need this thing called money to aquire. As long as there is a need for money, there will be a need to charge for goods or services. Why do I feel like I’m talking to my 5-year old nephew when I correspond with you?

      • Here is an image of the library at Trinity College Dublin. No one can consume that. Better yet the task of digitizing it is overwhelming. I know some one that does work for the guttenburg project, it takes him a month per book providing it isn’t technical to digitize and proofread the results. Technical works are far to demanding for OCR and the proofreader has to have good subject knowledge. Now that is with books that can be physically manipulated, many can’t. The person that took the image above has taken scans/photographs of manuscript pages (mostly medieval Latin), and reports that even so a professional “paid for” copy is chalk and cheese different compared to his efforts.

      • AudioNomics,

        I predict CC and social media will chip away at the business of mass media (if it already hasn’t). The majority of top sites on Alexia are social media sites for instance, and last I checked the most popular website that is often alleged to be illegal The Pirate Bay is way down on the list.

        Wikipedia (creative-commons) is a great example here. People spend more time on Wikipedia then any of the major broadcasters websites or any website associated with filesharing, seemingly implying that Creative Commons content is indeed, very popular amogst the poplice. I would also mention that David’s blog is largely composed of software and design product produced under similar licenses (see WordPress).

        Some things though, like Blockbluster movies or AAA games – don’t really fit the social media / creative commons model. Although, to be honest, I’m really not sure what societial harm would be caused if these high budget items went away.

      • No one can consume that.

        That’s a bit like saying nobody can calculate Pi to 1000 digits.

      • I disagree with the difficulity of book scanning too. First of all, at worst you can always save the bitmaps. OCR technology is quite good these days especially coupled with a semantic analysis layer. Page turning is robotic.

        For the most pathological cases, if you see how Google does it, the most difficult examples to scan are actually fed to humans to solve using numerous captcha systems all over the web. That’s right buddy, you probably have helped Google scan books for years without even knowing. 🙂

        All all I see a picture that is beautiful but full of sentimentalism. I like libraries, they are great way to subvert the content industry profits while still remaining in the law – don’t buy DVDs or CDs, borrow them, it hurts them more – and they are an example of how our founding fathers felt that distributing and providing access to free knowledge was so important, a view I share. I’m glad you like libraries also.

    • Once again, you miss the point if libraries. They are not mere repositories of knowledge, they are well-tended gardens.

      A human being can make leaps in logic to find you a book that you may not know you want, or find one page in a book about a subject you’re interested that stands you in an entirely different direction.

      Oh, and also, they PAY FOR THOSE COPIES, and if one wears out, they buy another.

      It all comes down to this: is technology for humans or for technology’s sake?

      • Libraries buy one copy if that (not all libraries do the by way, the Library of Congress collection was acquired for free, because legally in the US to publish something you must give the LoC two copies the work or risk heavy fines, see 17 U.S.C § 407).

        That one copy can be shared by many people, and it the case of DVD or CDs especially, they might be copied before being returned.

        Libraries ought to have the right to publish their collections online. The reason libraries exist is access to free knowledge and forcing them to use an outdated technology to store and share this knowledge is silly as hell.

      • “Libraries buy one copy if that”

        yeah, no. If you’re a librarian and there’s a new Ken Follett book out, you buy as many copies as you can to meet the demand.

        That “outdated technology” has survived longer than any mechanical or electronic attempt to copy it by several centuries.

      • Also in some place public libraries pay a fee each time a book is lent out.

      • John,

        Only in some places (not like US..) and the extra revenue probably doesn’t offset the difference libraries do in cannibalization.

        The ONLY reason you think libraries are any good is because they’ve been around for awhile. As you said, you grew up with them as a kid. Kids these days grow up with digital libraries, ie. piracy websites. The same sentimentalism use posses for your local library will exist for the kids today for websites like The Pirate Bay. Just saying.

      • If you cant’ see the difference between a library and Pirate Bay, theres no point in discussing further.

      • The same sentimentalism use posses for your local library will exist for the kids today for websites like The Pirate Bay. Just saying.

        I have friends that get sentimental about the “Convoy Pub” where you could get cheap fags, LSD, and whores. They tend to forget about the bad trips, gonorrhea, and waking up in the morning to find their wallet stolen.

      • monkey,

        TPB is illegal, libraries are legal. Both harm content creators to a large degree, although I will agree, libraries do so less.

        Both strive to freely provide the sum of human knowledge and culture to the world’s people, although TPB arguably does a much better job of it.

        Besides that, there aren’t all that much differences, especially philosophically. The case for filesharing is not at all different then the case for libraries – to make the world’s knowledge and culture freely available to the world’s people.

  • John warr: as an aside thank you for that picture! That in a nutshell is why we can’t lose libraries.

    • Yes. Beautiful image.

    • That poor librarian! Dewy carpal tunnel system…

    • When I was a child living in London in the mid 1960s this was my library what was really cool for an 8yo was that in the non-children section there was a wrought iron spiral staircase up to a gallery with tall bookshelves. At about that age one of the librarians taught me how the Dewey system worked, how you could go to the card index draws, find a book description on a card and then trace it to the shelves. I think there was also a microfilche system which catalogued books in London library system, you could earmark a book and it would be there a few days later. That is what I grew up with. When we moved to the Midlands some 5 years later the library system was no where near as extensive and if you wanted a book it might take a month or so. To a 13 year old that was quite outrageous (waves at M).

      As it is wikipedia boasts of collecting the “sum of the of human knowledge” but we suspect that wikipedia actually records but a minute part of the knowledge recorded on those shelves. Or indeed the shelves of any city library. When you think of it I have on the shelve behind me a book on one aspect of Charlemagne, its bibliography stretches to 18 pages. The bibliography for the Charlemagne biography on wikipedia amounts to half a page.

      The accumulation of knowledge is something that takes a lot resources in both time and money. When people glibly say things like:

      [Modern technology allows for us to share the sum of human knowledge and culture with anyone with an Internet connection. To make all the published works of civilization available as widely as possible.]

      they demonstrate a totally lack of understanding as to what “knowledge and culture” is all about.

      • Plus, I want to scream from the heavens that the top digitizer of books is not a library in which we all have a stake but a very large private corporation who is beholden to no one but their shareholders. I can’t understand why more people don’t see that as a problem.

      • Wikipedia does not boost the sum of human knowledge. Wikipedia aims to collect the sum of human knowledge. It’s their mission statement, not their current accomplishment. Of course, this mission will have to come directly in conflict with copyright if it is ever to be realized.

      • Wikipedia is a scraper site no better than any other and worse than many too. They claim some 4.5+ million articles in the English wikipedia the vast majority of which are simply rips from some database. They have 100,000s of articles on biological organisms which contain a single sentence and are straight rips from extant database. The database that they ripped their sentence from will include data such as distribution maps, and in the case of insects links to other databases detailing larval foodplants, and other research papers. Wikipedia contains non of that. Its pages simple push the real knowledge sites out of the google results. 100,000s of articles are ripped from geographical databases, they consist of a single sentence “Blah-de-Blahowitz is a village in Poland”. More 100,000s of articles ripped from sports databases on minor sports people, tracking every player in the 100th division of the Croation football league. Millions of photographs of hedgerows down farm tracks ripped from a geography site and separated from any context.

      • One of the great things about Wikipedia is that it’s editable, so if you see some article that needs help it’s a great idea to expand it.

        Wikipedia is an encyclopedia not a research database either. There are/were bots that scrape (free, public domain) databases and create encyclopedia articles/

        I’ve actually been involved with Wikipedia since before almost anyone knew about it, back when it was only a idealistic dream. There was a bot that at one point scraped US Census data and created an article for every census area in the US (also happened to triple the size of the encyclopedia at the time). If you see the demographics portions of some town articles, you can sometime see this bots influence.

        However, not all the stuff is automated. I was friendly with the dude who painstakingly created little maps you see in many of those articles. This was a TON of manual labor. A lot of people (including myself, but not nearly as much as some others) put a fuckton of effort to make Wikipedia one of the most popular websites on the Internet. Something that at that time would be inconceivable. Not because we wanted money, but because the idea of having this free knowledge encyclopedia available for all mankind was a thing simply worth working for.

      • The main problem with wikipedia is that it is editable. You cannot point me to a single page and say that it will be OK in say 5 minutes time. It doesn’t matter how great it is at this precise moment a moment later it can be complete tosh. Richard II King of England 1345 written by a WMF employee (in feature article for 3 years). Average winter temperature in the Antarctic is between -2 and 4 C stated for a year in a rated ‘good article’ with a 100,000 page views a month. IOW 1.2 million people were exposed to that nonsense. Referenced to what turned out to be a grade 6 child’s homework report.

        How many people do the WMF employee that know anything about anything?

      • Yes I am aware that it is possible to find errors in Wikipedia.

      • The accuracy of any wikipedia article is inversely proportional to one’s subject knowledge. The issues aren’t that there are errors but that there are occasionally to be found accurate pages. WP doesn’t give a shit whether the article is correct or not, only that someone was typed some words in, and may give the WMF some money later. This is the opposite of a genuine publisher, or someone interested in educational content. Neither of which want to be associated with an error riddled product, For WP the fact that it is error riddled is a good thing as someone may fix it and later give them some money.

        Much of the content there languishes unloved. Here is one result of mass article creation which no one gives a toss about:,_Dobrich_Province

        Here is another that was spam for a year despite various editor breezing past to tweak invisible markup.,_Uttar_Pradesh&direction=prev&oldid=624353608

        I’m told however that if you want the lowdown on My Little Pony characters then WP is the go to place.

      • Wikipedia does contain poorly organized or unfinished articles. If you find such articles that intersect your domain of expertise, you can help make Wikipedia better by improving them.

        Here is a good place to find Wikipedia articles in need of help:

      • For why? It is a mess that the WMF created, and a mess that they have no desire to fix themselves. It is in their interests to have it wrong. If you fix something that is incorrect today there is no guarantee that it won’t be made incorrect tomorrow.

        Take as an example the maths articles some years ago one lunatic decided that they should be the purvey of maths professionals, as such they have become so specialist they are closed off to the general reader. You need a maths degree to read them. This despite maths professionals have a number of dedicated specialist reference works. Worse yet each main area has become filled up with someone’s pet sub area. It is as The polynomial article, is equivalent to, say the London article being 50% about the building of Brent Cross shopping centre.

        So they took a resource that may have been useful to 100s of millions of high school students and perverted into something that is readable by a few 1000 professionals at best.

        The medical article are similarly being taken out of scope of lay people and being written for medical professionals.

      • Wikipedia is largely developed by its users. WMF has relatively a small # of employees, and most are in the technology end of things (writing the software, managing the server farms, etc.).

      • And that’s the thing, if you want to see Wikipedia get better, YOU have to take responsibility for making Wikipedia better. If you don’t care to make Wikipedia better its that’s fine. But managing the quality of comprehensiveness of the content on the site is a collective enterprise.

      • The WMF have spent $35 million last year (page 11)

        $4 million on fund raising , and a further $8 million on admin costs. Leaving $23 million for program support. 50% of that went on staff wages (doing what?). $1 million on travel, almost $3 million on unspecified crap, and another 2.5 million marked down to depreciation WTF are they using to deliver this educational resource a Leer Jet?

        That’s not counting the $2.7 million in office staff wages, plus another $5 million in unspecified crap. Apparently though the typists don’t get to use the Leer Jet that much only $0.25 million in travel for them.

        Pretty much the same story in 2012 too (page 12). So in the last 2 years, if we deduct the money spent on internet hosting, they have spent $38 on project related stuff. None of which was on actually improving the end product. The vast majority of the money was spent on pet software projects like VisualEditor, Flow, and a MediaViewer. All of which have been rejected by the editing community as bug ridden useless crap.

        $38 million spent and nothing to show for it, no improvement to the end product.

        The key encyclopedia content that they host has all been taken from the 1911 EB, the Catholic encyclopedia from a similar date, and other OoC works. Taxonomy information is all coming from books written pre Crick and Watson. The mathematics as said above has been screwed up by lunatics. The growth areas on the site are coming from people obsessed with transportation. So every bus route is every major city is being documented, along with train timetables, and subway stations.

        Meanwhile, everyday some one adds facts like Richard II was king of England 1345, that Thomas Rainsborough was a famous Ranter in Oliver Cromwell’s army. And $10,000 is flushed down the drain re-fixing bugs in the software, because they’re ‘Agilating’, with no regression tests.

        Any donations in either time or money that you give ro WP is completely wasted.

      • WMF has relatively a small # of employees, and most are in the technology end of things (writing the software, managing the server farms, etc.).

        the WMF has 215 employees, 132 of which are writing the software. Compare that to the company that I work for which comprises the world’s larges CAD/CAM development team (~180). We spend on software development and its support costs $15 million a year. Compare $15 (180) with $18 (132), the WMF hemorrhages money. Also we actually get working software out the door each year which people are prepared to spend $25K per license.

      • It costs money to run the #6th visited website in the world. The amount of money Wikipedia takes to run is actually surprising. I wonder think it would be in the billions.. not tens of millions.

      • It takes $2.5 million a year almost the same as it did in 2006 when they had more people regularly editing, and a workforce of under 20. Since then they have had an order of magnitude more money in donations, and have increased the workforce by the same amount.

        That workforce does not do anything to improve WP content, and neither do they manage the site, everything is done by volunteers, in many cases by children.

        They have a fighting fund of some $50 which would comfortably keep the servers and lights on for the next 10 years.

      • wiki essentially dupes people into working for free, and uses the money they do get for lobbying and enriching the owner.

      • Well I think that enriching the owner is a bit of a push, but Wales certainly makes a decent living on the chat circuit off the back of it.

        Mostly it is funding inflated salaries of its managers. Who have spent the last decade empire building and stuff the place with the terminally clueless and useless, from the brown-nosing ranks of its adherents. It is doubtful whether any of them could gain employment outside of WP.

    • John,

      It’s a non-trivial but not very momental effort to digitalize a large library. Of course, Google has being doing it for years. They could easily make this collection available to the general public if the law were to allow it.

      • Google’s scanning is fucking atrocious. They have scans of books from the mid 19th century (I have originals in a cabinet in the hallway) which are so bad they are almost worthless. Take this one

        The pdf is unsearchable, and the images are crappola. This is a book describing the artefacts found. Lets switch to the text version:

        t Almost every village in Turkey, not on a high road, and not pruvidcd with a caravanserai or khan, contains a hanse reserved exclusively lor the entertainment of giic-ils, in which travellers are not only lodged, but fed, graiuituusly, It is iiiamtained br the joint (^(mlribution of the villagers, or soinelijiies by the chantahle bequcst.s of individuals, and is under the care eltlier of ttic chief of the village


      • Not going to happen, nor should it. Google is a private company, and unless they fairly compensate living authors, they should not be doing it as a moneymaking venture.

        Let’s quit thinking of Google as a benevolent organization or a public service; they are an advertising agency.

      • And cops could put every bad guy in jail before they did anything if the law were to allow it. Hackers could get every credit card on the planet if the law were to allow it. That’s not the social contract under which we live.

        As Jaron Lanier pointed out, a lock on a car is ultimately only a symbolic gesture. What ultimately prevents everyone from breaking into cars is that “we want to live in a world were car break-ins are rare.”

      • John,

        I don’t see the problem. The text is crisp and easy to read, and the illustrations are quite well scanned. The OCR seems to work well enough that I was able to search for random sentences in the book without problems. A feature I might add, is not possible in the dead tree version of the book.


        I don’t care if Google or the Library of Congress does it. But we need to allow libraries to move to the digital age, and their collections should be made available online for free access.

      • You cannot read a 632 page book in pdf format. It is an awful experience. The images are hopeless. Here is one from page 295 in the book which I’ve just spent a few minutes scanning it still doesn’t convey what is in the book but none-the-less is far better than the Google image.

        As for the OCR well enough is NOT good enough.

        iU walb were tepreunted « -e^ve tifte, 4ieHed itt -dMlt fOMi, a JfUii
        falling ftom their dioiiMeH^ fconb laded vpm Sam^taA mmh tt ilt vadfd
        thdr le^ ; they had dust, bailgr liwr and beaid^ . .
        In ilM ottter ohambCT two doonniv apfMMite the graad entnaQM into the

      • The dead tree version takes more space and well, kills more trees. I prefer e-books (e-ink displays are great) whenever possible, especially because I can carry many bookshelf worth of content with me anywhere. YMMV.

        Also no results found for “they had dust, bailgr” in the book.

      • The point is that you should care. Putting it in the hands of a single corporation is unaccpetable.

      • Trees capture carbon, are good for the environment, and the felling encourages biodiversity, especially when used in properly managed woodland.

      • You’ll find “they had dust, bailg” just after “mHwnm umvmufi

        Wm^^^^^- “

      • monkey,

        I would prefer Library of Congress to do Google’s work, but you know, they won’t or can’t do it. Google is a company that has the right balance of hubris and money to pull something like “scanning all the world’s books” off.

      • I would prefer Library of Congress to do Google’s work, but you know, they won’t or can’t do it. Google is a company that has the right balance of hubris and money to pull something like “scanning all the world’s books” off.”

        But not the money (or ethics) to compensate authors.
        I’m sorry, but if it’s truly “all the world’s books,” it is not the purview of a private corporation to do that.

        What part of “any reproduction, via mechanical or electronic device” is jhard to understand?

      • Google’s interest in scanning “all the world’s books” very likely has more to do with Kurzweil’s AI goals than with anything so altruistic as being a river of wisdom for “the people.” Tell me Google wants to be a river of knowledge to the masses, and I’ll sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. Tell me Google wants to teach computers to contextualize language like a human brain, and you may be onto something.

      • I won’t dispute that part of the reason they scanned all the world’s books is to allow their AI systems to gain knowledge from all the world’s books. But they can also make it available to humans too, if it was legal to do so. And I don’t see why they wouldn’t. In fact, they do for public domain books already. You can download DRM-free PDFs of public domain books from Google Books, and you can use them to create your own service (that’s how Internet Archive gets a lot of these books, btw). They only reason I see on why Google doesn’t make full copies of non-PD books available to the public is legal – there is no technical reasons not to.

      • Well, M, you may disagree, but legal reasons are not trivial. A prohibition on Google making money off of someone else’s work without their permission is not censorship, nor is it impeding progress – it’s simply how the world works.

        If indeed there is some utopia in which everyone can buy what they want without working, then Google can digitize books by living authors. Until then, hands off. Treating creators – and only creators – unfairly based on a possible future while paying everyone else is immoral.

      • Well we have libraries despite the fact that they cannibalize sales from authors. So I think access to free knowledge is more important, and libraries should be allowed to participate in the digital revolution and not be allowed to become obsolete.

      • M, a physical library ( which again buys books) is not the same thing as what google intends to do.

        I actually like the idea of universal access to works. But unless that can be done with compensation for authors, you’ll just have to wait. And I definitely don’t trust a private corporation to do it.

      • You can find artistic work the same way scientific development is funded today – patronage.

      • The days of kitchen sink science are more or less over. There may be some person in a garden shed, that emerges after 40 years with shoe box and major break through in scientific understand, but mostly science these days requires $millions if not $100s of millions or $billions in funding and a team of people. It requires government or large corporate funding, where the expected financial rewards are massive to offset the years of failure. Big pharma doesn’t invest in drugs or cures which the beneficiaries can’t afford. So 3rd world diseases don’t get any resources.

        The entertainment industry is much the same, most of the projects it funded are a financial disaster. As revenues fall who is going to take a commercial risk on an untried formula? Patronage in the arts gives us the things that governments, the rich and the powerful want us to consume. Take the facebook experiments on users:

        this was so that they can sell the ability to manipulate populations to governments and businesses.

        Google already manipulates search results based on user preferences. The numbers that click on links further down the Google front page drop off exponentially, such that few goe beyond the first Google search page, and if you happen to be on page 3 forget it.

      • It’s no use arguing with the religious… M (and possibly A) belong to the Church of Kopimism, and it’s not idealism you’re arguing with, it’s cult-like devotion…

      • Patronage in the arts gives us the things that governments, the rich and the powerful want us to consume.

        Guess what, the government is by default evil. Public funded broadcasting like BBC and PBS seem to be far more high brow and educational. I wouldn’t mind more of that and less of “Expandables III”.

        Public funded science tends to be more unbiased too IMO. I would trust a study funded by NSF versus one funded by an oil company any day.

      • They are more high brow and educational because they are reflecting high brow and educational culture. The BBC has some budget for high quality drama, and that is being cut. HQ drama is expensive to create, far cheaper to do Pop Idol, celebrities roughing it in tents, chavs on holiday, and reality TV police car chases!

      • John,

        You’re exactly right. That kind of crap tends to be the work of for-profit content creators. When you make content creation a for-profit activity, of course it’s going to produce the cheapest possible crap that attracts eyeballs. That’s a given.

        Patronage (especially government patronage) produces some real culturally important art, and it can do it without the influence of investors and other money grubbing forces. Just as with science patronage really.

      • BBC “Strictly Come Dancing”, “Masterchef”, “The Great British Bake Off”, “Celebrity Antique hunts” and “The Voice”. C4 has loads of reality shows.

      • I dont know, I still think BBC is a bit higher quality then the random crap for-profit channels produce. Our PBS is probably one of the few places left of TV that has anything of value regularly. Another example Smithsonian Channel, which is not entirely patronage but still run by a government organization. Literarly “The Learning Channel” and “History Channel” is full of nonstop crap.

        Government just seems to be a better comissioner of quality content to me, so I don’t fear their patronage.

      • Sure, government patronage is nice. But try getting people to agree that their tax dollars should go to that. The technolibertarian crew are no better in supporting government than their less technology oriented counterparts.

      • Why is that so unlikely? Science gets a large amount of help from taxpayers, so what is the deal with that? We use hundreds of billions of dollars of tax dollars per year to fund science already, federally, in the United States alone. This is in addition to billions of dollars of charity funds, state and local funding of science, exceptions from property and income taxes for scientific organizations, amogst many other government provided perks.

        But maybe you are right: society does seem to favor science over art (as it should!), but I doubt it’s impossible to get $10bn or so for such a public sector Kickstarter. That’s like what? A few hours of the DoD budget? You are telling me that’s impossible?

      • Because science has medical, commercial and military benefits. It’s no big secret that the Internet benefitted greatly from the military.

        But my point is that you can only discover a cure for cancer once; there are limitless possibilities in art, which is why an open market makes more sense.

      • An open market only makes sense if it is sustainable in the first place. In an age where anyone can freely copy anything that can be digitalized, I don’t see how an open market can work.

  • I need pirate sites to fill my demand for media, and it’s because I have too little time on my hands. I would need to subscribe to multiple VOD services (plus basic cable, plus HBO) to get the coverage I get effortlessly from piratebay. And since I frequently travel on business, I would need to invest in some whole new and different array of services to access my content overseas, since neither amazon nor netflix (the two legal services I’ve tried) will permit this.

    I have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with cable companies’ kafka-esque consumer hostility, nor sit through ads or deal with fickle DRM plugins. Piracy is unambiguously the quickest, easiest, most comprehensive option.

    • Oh, jeez, I feel simply horrible that someone wanted you to pay for their valuable content. Here, let me tie your shoes and wipe that crud off your chin.

      I know you’re so busy and self-absorbed that you don’t equate the same work you do to the hard work that went into making the media that you apparently so desire.. that you are willing to give money to organized criminals that media piracy is only one of their branches, other include kidnapping and human trafficking, than pay the creators to stay afloat to do more slave labor for you. You are special. I’m sure your mother told you that many times. keep believing that… you are special…the world revolves around you and your whimsical beliefs.

      btw, you’re going to have to take time off of your busy schedule when I send you that court summons… you’re special remember? You are worth it!

    • From what you say, it sounds as though you and I have a different definition of “need,” though I admit to having a limited number of TV shows I’d ever need to see, even in the broadest definition of that word. The post very much targeted Americans, especially since the KMPG study only looks at this market. I do recognize that foreign markets have greater challenges with regard to access, though this doesn’t entirely justify putting money in the pockets of thieves who are literally hijacking revenue from the makers of these products.

      • Out of curiosity, do you know why content licensors are so strict about geography? What would they really have to lose from allowing foreign users purchase streamed content? Are there pre-existing exclusivity arrangements with other media outlets in foreign countries that would prohibit this?

      • It’s not as simple as just uploading files, though the technology would have us believe that. It’s a host of challenges, none of which are about rights holders wanting to keep products away from a market that would be willing to pay for them. Who would do that? But, yes, there are pre-existing contracts that make some older titles impossible or difficult to legally license in certain markets. There are trade agreements among nations. There are nations that censor content. And then, market for market, somebody has to pay lawyers and other entities to license a title or slate of titles, and the expected return on that cost has to be worth it. As such, the older, more arcane material is going to be harder to find in any market, including the U.S. This may sound like reasonable grounds to go ahead and pirate on the basis that you’re one of ten people who wants to see something that will never be brought to market. This leaves one with a choice to make, depending on how honest one is about trying to acquire the title legally.

        Oddly enough, I was looking for something just this morning that is unlikely ever to make a streaming library and was thinking about writing a post on the subject.

      • And who are the “aristocrats” these days? If we’re in a new gilded age it’s not because of Metallica; its because of the googles of this world.

        If there actually were a revolution, I’d feel safer if I was an artist than if I was head of a tech firm.

    • Stealing a credit card number (beause after all, it’s just information) is unambiguously the quickest, easiest most comprehensive option for making money, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

      • No, it definitely isn’t. You need to steal the card, for starters, which is something you can automate to scale if you’re the Russian mafia but, for most people, is a hassle. And you need to only charge small amounts, launder your purchases through reshippers and money-moles, etc.

        If your analogy means to point out that piracy is immoral, I’d call that irrelevant to the ease/convenience point. David’s basic assertion in this post is that there are vast quantities of media available legally, such that anyone who pirates must have some bottomless media appetite denoting huge amounts of spare time.

        Likewise, if you “wouldn’t recommend it” because it’s illegal — also irrelevant. The likelihood and consequences of detection for piracy vs. identity theft and credit card fraud are not comparable.

      • Not the point. I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s stealing, and while I realize it’s more complicated than just getting a number, the fact is that it’s doing nothing more than copying information, which apparently wants to be free.

        You cannol remove the legality and morality from the question. Laws are not just impediments to be ignored at will.

        (and before you mention “civil disobedience,” recall that both Thoreau and MLK were ready to do the time for breaking the law in the name of their cause)

      • monkey,

        Like a solider accepts to die at war? Civil disobedience doesn’t mean accepting punishment as legitimate.

        “Laws are not just impediments to be ignored at will.”

        Laws should not be respected if they are immoral. In fact you can be punished for following a law if a future society find the law was contrary to morality. There are many people who hung for following the law.

      • wtf is this “future society” bs you keep peddling?
        Is that one of the refrains at your Church of Kopimism (or the church of childish cop-outs as like to think of them)?
        You are gonna get to an age of having to support yourself one day, M, your mom’s basement might -seem- like the real world, but I assure you it is not.

      • I can pretty much guarantee that no author will ever be hung for asserting their copyright.

      • monkey,

        I don’t know, the kind of stuff that gets hurled on the Internet against copyright holders for asserting their copyright seems pretty mean, I noticed especially if the action is against a personal individual (copyright disputes between companies are less controversial). I’ve heard people are afraid of asserting their copyright to the fullest extent for this reason (things like “remember Ulrich”).

        I’d say there is a big gap between what copyright holders CAN do, and what they actually do – for this reason. Copyright holders are often in positions where their reputation is directly tied to their success, and so they won’t possibly harming their reputation over anything but the more egregious infringements.

      • M: you suggested that some things can become illegal if society changes. I can guarantee that asserting one’s copyright will never be a crime.

      • Well asserting your aristocratic privileges isn’t really a crime either.

  • Actually, the whole point of civil disobedience is to show that the law is unjust. And yes, that means facing the punishment sometimes.

    But how is a law that is not appllied unfairly – anyone who creates an artistic work can get a copyright – and benefits people immoral/

    There is nothing – nothing – immoral about copyright law in and of itself. That is a nonstarter.

    • I agree there isn’t. Copyright was great when it was an industrial regulation on printers and publishers. The problem arises when you try to apply copyright regulations on the whole population. What could be enforced by innocent audits on business’s activity, can now only find tandem in the intrusion of personal lives writ large.

      • And we’re at an impasse.

        The tactics of the RIAA or MPAA have nothing to with holding google or pirate sites accountable.

      • Accountable for what? Being a search engine? They even follow the DMCA to letter, which is a draconian law that allows anyone to censor any content from the Internet without having to provide even a modicum of proof that content is illegal in the first place. The anti-theft/anti-shoplifting laws on the books put far more barriers in place to protect people from such accusations then copyright does.

        Also the DMCA is a US law, and as much as some would wish it, US law does not apply outside the US. Other countries may or may not have similar laws, but I don’t think it’s universal.

      • David and others have explained what google does countless times. And last I checked google is a US company.

        We’re not going to agree on this.

      • Care to provide an example of a search engine that does things fundamentally differently? Some search engines like Baidu have explicit subareas that let you search directly for unauthorized music and movies.

        Bing started a lot of things I’ve seen complaints about like full screen image previews. I remember seeing posts online about things like “I love Google’s search engine, but I use Bing because it lets you see the image in big right in the interface.”

        So where is this halal search engine?

      • Again, we’re at an impasse, and this has been discussed here ad nauseum. (Although pointing out that the DMCAA is only a US law is ignoring the fact that the Berne Convention is not).

        Anyway, I would argue that if a company’s business plan involves violating other people’s right to control their work, then it’s not the creators’ business plan that’s faulty.

      • Well here is the thing, you can’t seem to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve suing all the search engines into non-existence?

        The Internet’s existence is more important then the movie and music industry existence – I assure you – even to Congresspeople in the pocket of Hollywood. They will never do anything that can be seen to jeopardize it.

        If you have some kind of other solution, feel free to share it.

      • Saying the Internet’s existence is more important that the movie or music industries is like saying the trumpet is more important than Louis Armstrong. The Internet doesn’t mean shit without its connecting us to things like news and entertainment. And somebody has to produce those things.

      • The Internet is a much better thing then just a content distribution system at this point. I think it’s more like saying roads are more important then Louis Armstrong. Which, yes, they are.

      • Start charging for Facebook & Twitter, and watch what happens to social media. Stop producing television and movies, and watch what happens to the demand for broadband. Roads are only important if you have somewhere to go.

      • Exactly! WIthout the content websites the internet is ebay, amazon (without the books, music, and DVDs_, and a bunch of other online places to buy shit.

        Let me show you something. FLICKR does not make it easy for Google to index their content, part of the changes to Google Image search was because flickr does not allow framing of their site so here are two search for reusable images of Butterfies on flickr.

        1 Google:…2489.7916.0.8267.….0…

        2. Flickr:

        Note how poor Google Image Search is, see how much it misses.

        I have lists of sites that cover the areas that I’m interested in. Hardly any of them appear on the first few pages of a Google subject search but in terms of quality they are head and shoulders above that which Google churns up. Periodically I go through those sites and note any new links that they may be listing.

      • Start charging for Facebook & Twitter, and watch what happens to social media. Stop producing television and movies

        Well let me cut you off here: Patronage. Patronage works with the Internet. Copyright does not.

        The Internet is a free communications medium capable of securely transmitting large amount of any arbitrary data between hosts on the network. At the core level, that’s all the Internet is – anything else is just abstractions on top of this fundamental capability of free information sharing.

        Here is the problem David, you can’t control a free communications medium. You might think you can, but you really can not. You can keep trying, but you’ll just keep failing, as your industry has since, well, pretty much the popularization of the Internet. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over…

        I’m just wondering when the realization will happen that you can’t always get what you want.

      • The question is when will you realize that there is nothing “free” about this communications medium and that what will eventually happen is better collaboration among ISPs, Silicon Valley, and content producers? All this populist bullshit is just a side show. This is big business, and the tech sector cannot ignore content creators. Can’t sell TVs without TV shows.

      • Patronage on the internet starts with the content creators. Should they remove that patronage, as I said before, the internet is just ads.

      • No, because it don’t matter what the content creators think their content will be freely shared on the Internet.

        There is not some kind of negotiation going on here (Elders of the Internets: if you don’t listen to me, I’ll stop making content). The Internet is not some human thing you can negotiate with, it’s a tool used by people to freely communicate information with one another, including yours, if they so choose. There is nothing in the Internets design that makes any protocol difference between your content and my content as the payload.

        It’s like trying to negotiate with gravity: good fucking luck. I’d love to be able to negotiate with gravity, and the speed of light too. Do you think gravity gives a shit about our space travel problems?

      • Yeah before you are like, but you can convince the entire population to respect copyright and give your their monies, well okay go ahead and try that.

        I suspect you’d need some kind of massive scale mind control device. But why? You can so much more fun stuff with something like that. 🙂

      • *chortle* this coming from someone who was mind controlled over DNS.

        The is no reason for any creators to keep making stuff available. They can go get jobs in real estate, accountancy, or banking. No one has to supply you with entertainment, or information at all.

      • The is no reason for any creators to keep making stuff available. They can go get jobs in real estate, accountancy, or banking. No one has to supply you with entertainment, or information at all.

        Yup. Tell me John, is that what you want? Because you know, we can always use patronage instead of copyright. It pays my bills just fine. I’ll be honest, there I have little smug acceptance of my point of view when I realize that the tax dollars you artists pay using your increasingly grim revenues go towards my [yes, increasingly] respectable salary and benefits. Every time you pay your income taxes, some of that goes to my bank account. Thanks fellas!!

        Government patronage is actually pretty awesome. Academia is one of the freest of free in terms of expression (see: academic freedom) and the true advancement of science. And the money comes from the government, mostly. It won’t make you rich, but you won’t have problems “making a living” either.

        I’m okay with good artists and musicians feeding at the some trough. But suit yourselves. This love affair with the free market comes off a little conservative-minded though, what happened to Hollywood progressives. 🙂

      • Quick tip: Middle class already in trouble. Most of the artists to whom you refer are middle-class workers. As their salaries dwindle, so go the tax revenues and your beloved patronage.

      • How about a Kickstarter type thing where every taxpayer gets some X amount of money (or points that translate some way to money) that they can spend (or if they don’t goes in a fund that is devvied up based on the relative spending).

        This has a nice advantage over copyright in that people with more disposable income don’t have more control over culture creation. This also works with the idea of a free communications medium. It has advantage over vanilla Kickstarter in there is likely to be more money to go around.

      • Did you just propose an entertainment and media consumption allowance mandated by federal law? If so, I would actually pay to watch someone propose that on The Hill.

      • It wouldn’t even require a change to copyright law. Just in addition to, of course I think something like that will eventually displace copyright law :), but you’d be free to try either system as an artist.

      • Well yes David, I did. I think it’s possible. I want to help you make money. Believe it or not. Don’t fear government money, it’s not the same as welfare anyway. You earn government grants with your work you do as part of it. It’s never a handout, any politicians that call art grants or science grants a handout are morons.

        Remember anyway, all money comes from government. Just look at your dollar bills for proof. 🙂

        I just think we need to stop fearing non-free market solutions. Quite frankly the free market is fucked EVERYWHERE, as automation improves. Free market only works when human labor is widely needed.

      • So some radical ideas in this line:

        I personally would do it as a points system that translates to a rubric. That rubric has two parts, a tax free “expense” account and a taxed income part.

        So like your project gets 1-10 points from the citizens, that’s like worth $25,000 income, $1000 expenses.

        Maybe if you get 1,000,000+ points, you get $300,000 income, and some millions in expenses.

        What I am getting at is like the income should be logarithmic and start at a minimum income (call this, the basic income 🙂 ), and the expense account would be linear or something along those lines. Also, you can hire people with your expense account but you can only pay them based on like some formulas (ie. no loopholes for paying people millions using the expense account).

        This helps reduce the wealth gap but still incentives people who are probably better at creation (they get bigger incomes), while still allowing works of high budget to be made.

        I realize this is radical and shit, but look, this could maybe save the us from the future economic problems.

      • M, we have told you countless times why government patronage of the arts will not work on a mass scale. It’s simple: taxpayers have already expressed zero interest in funding arts.

        In any case, propping up one industry by putting everyone in another industry on a form of welfare is a bad business model.

        And again, you can only discover something once; expressing an idea is limitless.

        The internet is not some beast we can’t control. It is not like gravity.

      • You can have a free and open Internet and a copyright-friendly Internet, because copyright can not work in a system without extensive regulations on communication. If there is anything about the Internet that seperates it from other network topologies it is free and open communication, so basically, I would say you’d have to “kill the Internet” to make copyright work. Not suprising considering that copyright stopped working properly right about when the Internet became popular.

        In a fundamental level, copyright doesn’t work properly when copying is no longer an industral activity – and that’s what modern technology changed.

      • Unless you are a $billion tech company you don’t have a free and open internet. It is enclosed and you pay a tithe to access the web, over and above any access costs that your ISP imposes. Effectively you are serf the internet is enclosed and Companies like Google, and Facebook have walled it up.

        Additionally YOU don’t believe in a free-n-open internet either. Google recently reported child porn in a gmail account to the authorities all well and good. They say they won’t report other illegal activity, but they are scanning and categorizing your communications for purposes other than detecting child porn.

        There is no guarantee that they won’t sell whatever data they mine on to others. In fact in an unregulated free-n-open internet, then there would be no regulations stopping them from doing it.

      • John,

        Do you have a link to that?

      • John,

        I don’t consider an unregulated Internet to be the same thing as a free and open Internet. Like net neutrality is a regulation. I wouldn’t mind putting strict privacy regulations in place for tech companies either.

      • Then you have to define what you mean by a free and open internet.

      • I’d like an article from a reputuable source that makes the same claims you made regarding Google’s actions, because I can’t find any.

      • Free
        1) able to act or be done as one wishes; not under the control of another.
        2) release from confinement or slavery.

        From WP:
        The New Yorker reports that although the Internet was originally decentralized, in recent years it has become less so: “a staggering percentage of communications flow through a small set of corporations—and thus, under the profound influence of those companies and other institutions

        1) competition with no restrictions on who may compete.

        Robert McChesney: In the fight between monopolies, the public doesn’t really have a dog in the race; the real question is why a cartel of private monopolies are controlling the Internet?

      • Well yes. The difference of course, as I mentioned before, is that you seem to view that as a progressive change and I view it as a troubling change.

        Neither does it change anything about my statement: you can’t have a free and open Internet and a copyright-friendly Internet. Even more abstractly: Copyright only works when the mechanics of copying and commucation are centeralized. Decentralization is the enemy of copyright.

        Here is the deal: I can still make websites without getting preapproval. I can still send things across the Internet without my ISP or Google getting involved. I can still use encryption. Although it is less free, less open then it once was, it is still pretty damn free compared to the alternatives. The Internet has a looooooooooooooong ways to go before it becomes unfree enough to actually be copyright-friendly.

        Repeating this because it is important: You can’t have a free and open Internet and a copyright-friendly Internet. Even more abstractly: Copyright only works when the mechanics of copying and commucation are centeralized.

      • I still want that link too, by the way. It’s a serious accusation you made against Google. It could be strong evidence that Google violated wiretap laws.

        Microsoft got a shitstorm leveled against them for doing something similar with someone’s Hotmail account, but they justified it because it was a Microsoft employee they did it against who had no expectation of privacy at work.

      • I’d like an article from a reputuable source that makes the same claims you made regarding Google’s actions, because I can’t find any.

        I have no idea what you are complaining about. Be specific.

      • How about evidence that Google is actively monitoring people’s e-mails accounts for any kind of criminal violation?

      • Neither does it change anything about my statement: you can’t have a free and open Internet and a copyright-friendly Internet.

        There is no “free and open” Internet. It has been monopolized. To quote Utah Phillips

        Some young people reach out for power and gold
        And they don’t have respect for anything old
        For pennies they’re bought, for promises sold
        Someday they’ll be used up

        A generation were bought with gimcracks and baubles. For free email, maps, and search they have given away their privacy to data mining corporations.

        I already gave you a link to 100s of reports. Forbes, BBC, and here are the Google shills TechCrunch explaining why because no human is reading every email it wasn’t a Privacy Violation.

      • John,

        Thanks for the links. It seems that child abuse gets all kind of exceptions on how it is acted on compared to other criminal acts. Which means that Google is probably not in violation of the Wiretap Act, which is unfortunate. Of course there is a slippery slope and I see that you may think it leads to monitoring people’s e-mails for any random reason, especially for copyright infringement. I don’t necessarily think this is the case, but it is definately something to watch out for. Reading people’s e-mails in my view, is no different then reading people’s mail.

      • how is any of it different from normal gmail snooping?

        You have agreed to it by using the service. They may in recent times no longer use their scanning to serve you ads but they won’t have discarded the already built profile on you. And as we know they won’t have stopped scanning the emails either. All images have a content id hash its how things like tineye work. Facial recognition can put names to people in cctv images in real time. Each photo you take, send, or receive via these systems will be classified and used to build a better profile on you.

        These companies know everything about you. They know the books you read, the music you listen to, the films you watch, the websites you visit, what your mother does, what your sister does, who your friends are, where you work, and where you live.

        And to cap it off they have you marching to congress on false premises, the better to profiteer from your activities.

  • John Warr; about the failure of funding; we’re already seeing it. I forget where I read it (maybe the Independent) the documentaries that tend to get funded these days are either advocacy ones, very solipsistic ones (the Morgan Spurlock/Michael Moore model) or about well-worn historical subjects (WWII, etc). Documentaries on subjects of small public interest (the kind the National Film Board of Canada excelled at) are not being made as much.

    Patronage is definitely not the way to go.

    • It’s not like you have any other option. It’s either patronage or nothing, quite frankly. Copyright as hell sure isn’t worth jack shit now is it (otherwise, we wouldn’t be having this conversation).

      Again feel free to prove me wrong and propose a workable method of enforcing copyright that isn’t a tautology (eg: end online piracy by fighting online piracy).

      • At one point in time it was acceptable to drink drive, so smoke in restaurants, and to pour used engine oil down the storm drains.

      • And all the cool kids ran behind the DDT trucks!

      • John,

        And people still do all those things.

      • There’s going to have to be something. because patronage is oten antithetical to free expression, which is something free advocates claims to be in favor of.

        Art is not “knowledge” in the sense that scientific discovery is. The fact that human beings are aware of their own mortality is knowledge. However, that fact can be expressed in millions of different ways, from Hamlet’s soliloquy to the works of Camus to the movie Jacob’s Ladder. In my opinion that makes art a very different beast, but what have you.

        In any case, I’m shocked – shocked! – that when it comes to paying creators that the tech world – which claims to be able to work miracles – is suddenly unable to solve the problem.

      • You are free to express what you want, without getting paid for it.

      • There were no BBC documentaries this year reliving the 1984 Miner’s Strike. They have to behave ‘cos it is coming up charter review time.

      • And patronage, which involves catering to a benefactor’s whims, often infringes on that freedom.

        Of course a creator doesn’t have to be paid to create. However, if someone is making money off it, we have a problem.

        I would love to see information be free. I would also like to eat, however, and to use someone’s work without their permission and without recompensing them is at its core immoral. Imposing a socialist system on one sector of the economy while maintaining capitalism everywhere else is also immoral.

        Your idea of a universal guaranteed income is fairy dust in a world where people have to fight to get a living wage. We are going to need to resolve this soon, because if the tech industry plans to automate everything, when the Teamsters hear about that techies will be begging for the days of the MPAA..

      • So lets bring in another part of this discussion, wikipedia. You’ll all have read reports of Jimmy Wales lambasting companies and PR people for massaging their or their clients wikipedia entry. But what happens when that manipulation is being done by wikipedia’s large corporate sponsors? Pretty much nothing.

        Indeed it was reported earlier this year that their biggest corporate sponsor the Stanton Foundation channeled $50K through the WMF in order to pay inexperienced editor (who the Stanton Foundation supplied) to write about the Stanton Foundation.

        Many mid ranking Google manager’s have a WP entry, ‘written’ by some other mid ranking Google manager, who also has a reciprocal entry. Indeed almost all large donors to wikipedia have articles written by themselves.

        Qatar, The Brightwater Fund, De Ramel Foundation, Disruptor Foundation, John Templeton Foundation.

        Nothing has ever been done about any of that on WP.

        Indeed even the Law Firm that the WMF used to send out cease and desist letters to Wiki PR have been writing their own article.

      • And patronage, which involves catering to a benefactor’s whims, often infringes on that freedom.

        Freedom of speech != freedom to get paid for that speech.

      • Not what I meant. When you have a patron you have to conform to that patron’s whim. In a free market system, you are allowed to sys what you want and if people like it get paid for it.

      • Popular culture brought us Duck Dynasty, not van Gough.

        The things that most people like aren’t necessarily the things with any value.

    • Perhaps they do. People still bet on cock fights, and dog fights too. Far less than in the past, and many of their associates think the less of them for doing so.

      • Well if it isn’t the case for copyright infringement, one must ask why.

      • Time. You are already seeing in surveys that people, even amongst the 15-25s (in Europe at least), see content piracy as something that is anti-social.

      • Maybe. I find that people like copyright but hate copyright enforcement. There is a lot of very good arguments for copyright, but copyright enforcement is ugly. I think it’s very similar to hating terrorism while hating the War on Terrorism.

      • they really don’t.. what they “hate” isn’t based on reality, it’s being afraid of overblown scare tactics from the very corporations that are profiting from the status quo…

      • …for example– if you would ask the very people that were so fervent against SOPA, and ask if they were against individual components of the bill, they would say ‘yeah, that sounds reasonable’.. Kinda like people supporting the “Affordable Care Act”, but going ape-shit over “Obama Care”.
        People are ignorant and misinformed, and very vocal when riled up by certain stake-holders. “sheeple” is a very apt term…

      • Well, I don’t agree – SOPA was legitimately a horrible idea.

        But you know we live in a democracy and if you can’t get something to be endorsed by the general public, you know what I say to that? Tough shit.

      • Actually, we live in a republic, which is why anything happens at all. And why was SOPA a horrible “idea?” Go ahead and demonstrate a flaw or flaws in the language perhaps, but what exactly is wrong with the idea itself? Starve criminals of funding? Horrible.

      • There are endless arguments written on why SOPA was quite frankly, batshit insane. I’m not entirely sure how it would have stopped or even reduce piracy. I share most of the complaints levied against it, but my biggest personal complaint was that it enabled manipulation of DNS. The entire reason the current DNS works is that the system trusted by network peers. There no reason you have to use it as the name resolver. Messing with DNS would cause people to promote and advertise alternatives to it, which could produce clusterfuck of epic proportions where what website a given URL points might be different depending on the configuration of the computer. This by itself, was good enough reason to oppose to bill even if it magically fixed the content industry, and it wasn’t even explained how it would.

      • Messing with DNS would cause people to promote and advertise alternatives to it


        which could produce clusterfuck of epic proportions where what website a given URL points might be different depending on the configuration of the computer.

        So what?

      • So what?

        Well I care. And a lot of other people did. And because we cared, we fought it. And we won. And it was pure awesome to be part of that and to make a difference against your apparent political interests. You lost, and spectacularly too I might add. I am waiting and waiting for SOPA 2.0 but it seems we slammed that pile of shit far down into the ground that Congress totally empathic and cautious about new copyright legalization – something I’ve never seen or heard of before. In a word: rekt.

      • Explain what exactly the issue was, because I don’t think you actual have a clue. But explain it if you can,

        this should be amusing

      • You are free to remain butthurt about losing against the evil Silicon Valley. I don’t care. The more important thing is that we won.

      • …temporarily…

      • More importantly people like me can laugh at how M’s head was fucked over regarding DNS. Paul Vixie is one of the people that know more about DNS than most. He worked on BIND the most used DNS software on the planet. He is also the one of those that whinged about how DNS filtering would break the internet. Google shills like Masnick were pushing Vixie’s views in August 2011:

        The problem is that back in May 2011 Vixie was explaining how DNS filter could be made to work, by the tech companies to filter out SPAM, and SCAM sites, and to filter out child porn portals. How it wouldn’t actually break the internet at all, He acknowledged then that it could also be used to filter out counterfeiting and priracy sites, but concluded FUCK THEM we don’t want to do it for those reasons:

        So filtering out SPAM, SCAM, and CHILDPORN sites that make Google’s search engine look shite is good. Filtering out sites that are making Google money in ad revenue BAD BREAKS INTERNET dontcha know.

      • exactly, the ENTIRE outrage, including and especially the “break the internet was such bullshit. The good news is that another outrage campaign won’t be effective, as congress and key people have since seen through the bullshit tactics by people that are on the edge of being broken up by antitrust action.

      • …temporarily…

        Bring it on.

      • Back in the 11th century the christian church started to develop a theory that they, all those in clerical orders, were outside of the secular system of government, that they were subject to some higher authority than secular rulers. In effect they determined that they were a state within a state.

        In the 12th century secular rulers were developing the idea that there should be one system of law within there borders. Henry II started to develop a Common Law which was to replace the system of baronial laws, honour courts, manorial courts, shire courts, hundred courts, and village courts. All of which had their own systems and all of which were subject to the arbitrary whims of local magnates. Henry’s reforms were the building blocks for Magna Charter.

        Henry also determined that criminal clerics should also be subject to the King’s Justices, and that religious landowner were also bound to do justice to their tenants. This was the cause of the row between Henry and Thomas Becket. After Becket was killed in Canterbury cathedral and the church devised numerous miracles for the superstitious and the credulous, Henry back off his insistence that criminal clergy and ecclesiastical landowners were subject to the same laws as everyone else.

        It took several 100 years before we emerged into the modern world and the Nation State did away with an super national ecclesiastical state within its borders.

        But we learnt the lessons during those 100s of years, it is highly unlikely that the modern State will allow such a thing to happen again.

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