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New Movie Download Pay Service 353

Posted by Hemos
from the finally-coming-online dept.
SailorBob writes " After nearly two years in production, Hollywood-backed Movielink is giving the green light to its online movie rental service. The Web site, a joint project of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal and Warner Bros., will debut Monday with a limited selection of first-run and classic films from the five major motion pictures studios, in a test of the technology to select U.S. residents. Though the film studios have licensed content to other video-on-demand sites, it is the first time they've introduced a service of their own. Of course, just like the new music services, this is also only available to US residents. "
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New Movie Download Pay Service

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  • IE only (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Of course, just like the new music services, this is also only available to US residents."

    And those residing in the US who are using Internet Explorer 5 or later.

  • by Merls (163584) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:02AM (#4641916)
    Dont they want money from outside the US?
    I am interested in this, but they are not letting me in, so does anyone know of any open proxy servers based in the US so I can have a look see?
    Cheers
    • by yerricde (125198) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:17AM (#4641985) Homepage Journal

      Dont they want money from outside the US?

      The difference is that in the United States, the studios own the movies' copyrights because of the "work made for hire" rule. Elsewhere, the "work made for hire" rule applies less or not at all, and the studios do not own the movies; the director, screenwriter, and score composer do. The studios may have to negotiate a separate contract for each country where the service is offered.

      • by einer (459199) on Monday November 11, 2002 @12:30PM (#4643106) Journal
        Which makes the parent's original post that much more important. Proxy servers based in the US could potentially throw a kink into this scheme. The studios are welcome to negotiate as many contracts as they like, but so long as a proxy server can negate their rights to a work being downloaded to a foreign country, they're screwed.

        I wonder if the UN will soon become the new world copyright enforcement body. I'd love to see a dozen UN tanks parked outside my house when I get home tonight. Maybe I'll even get 'sanctioned.' If that doesn't give my W4R3Z dud3 street cred a bump, I don't know what will.

    • by kryonD (163018) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:38AM (#4642082) Homepage Journal
      I don't normally rant, but this is complete bullsh!t. If I was actually in the US, I wouldn't be paying money for a piss-poor quality, streamed, first-run movie when I could see it in the theater with a giant screen and good sound for under $10. Instead, I have to wait months overseas for the films to be released and I have two equally poor choices. #1 Watch it on the local military base for dirt cheap in an uncomfortable theater that was designed for public addresses, not hollywood films; or #2 pay $15 out in town for a foreign language dubbed version with sub-titles. Their main market exists overseas, not in the US. The real pisser is that I can't even get to a feedback form on the site to complain. I would greatly appreciate if a fellow service member, or just kind hearted American could pass this rant onto the 'nice people' who are running the site. In the mean time, I will remain stoked that XXX is actually coming out this week.
      • by cornjones (33009) on Monday November 11, 2002 @10:49AM (#4642462) Homepage
        They aren't streaming. The site is way sparse on details but from what I can see, you download their "Movielink Manager". The MM handles your movie downloads (resumes, etc). You download the full movie in whatever format they send it in and you have 3 days to watch it. Once you start it you have 24 hours to watch it as many times as you like. I don't know the quality but it will be much better than streaming.

        The MM also "convieniently" removes movies files when your rental expires.

        • 30 days: (Score:3, Informative)

          by kikta (200092)
          "You have a rental period of 30 days to play the movie. Once started, watch the movie as many times as you'd like within 24-hours."

          Also, it looks like it is offered in Real or Windows Media Player formats.
      • Hey, I don't know what everyone is complaining about.
        They have made this service available to every one withing the four corners of the world...
        ...of couse since they are from the US, four corners of the world means Florida, Maine, Washington and California.
  • by MikeDX (560598) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:02AM (#4641918) Journal
    Hmmm.

    When I first saw the headline I assumed it was going to a great step towards truly using the power of the internet and online sales.

    However, this is nothing more than glorified movie rental with the user paying well over the odds.

    I've been using something called DVDSONTAP for a while now, pay £9.99 a month and rent as many dvds as I like and send them back when I like. $4.99 AND the "pleasure" of downloading AND having to install their DRM crap? No thanks. I'll stick to regular DVD and of course, leeching from usenet ;)
    • Actually, you have 6 days to watch the movie once you are finished downloading it. Once you begin playback, you can watch it as many times as you want (or can) within 24 hours. That may not be fantastic, but it is better than having to watch the entire thing within 24 hours of download.

      These downloads aren't exactly small, either (the faq claims that they average around 550MB), so I am not going to wait at my computer for the download to finish so i can hit "play" before my 24 hours runs out...
    • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:37AM (#4642078)
      umm, let's get the facts straight, shall we?
      • The services are fundamentally dissimilar. One is "on demand". The other is "when the post brings you a DVD"
      • You do get "DRM crap" with your by-mail service. it's called the physical DVD. Not foolproof / ripproof, of course, but as every pinhead will point out as soon as there's any news article that features some new DRM technology, nothing is.
      • With your service, you get the pleasure of dealing with the post. For my tastes, id much prefer the pleasure of downloading.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        * The services are fundamentally dissimilar. One is "on demand"
        ...

        I bet I can pop off to the local video store, browse for a while, check one out and be home watching before your download is even half done. (even with broadband)

        This service is (probably) faster than the post, but it is hardly "on demand." "Overnight" or "Later in the day (as long as you start early enough)" is a more apt description
        • And I don't know about you, but my video rental place has even the new releases DVDs available for 2 days. What is with this 24 hour stuff? While I can see this useful for a laptop while traveling, I can just as easily use SmartRipper and start up the DVD directory in WinDVD. Voila, movies to go. When you are done seeing it, delete it.
    • by Spunk (83964) <sq75b5402@sneakemail.com> on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:44AM (#4642107) Homepage
      We have this in the US too. Netflix [netflix.com] charges $20/month. I don't own a DVD player, but I've heard good things about them.
      • The charge a bit less, too - or a bit more. It all depends on how many movies you want to have out at a time. We used to have the 'six-out-at-a-time' plan, for $29.99, I believe (the $20/mo. is for 4 out at a time). Now we have 2 out at a time (watching fewer movies) and are paying ~$14/mo. No late fees, no due dates, for that matter. Not a bad service. Decent selection of DVDs, too - especially if you're the mainstream type. Even if not, they have a decent selection of indie/foreign films.
        • Netflix (Score:3, Informative)

          by Andy Dodd (701)
          I have a Netflix subscription and LOVE it.

          I'd say they have an excellent selection of non-mainstream films. Last year I shared the account with my apartmentmate Kate. She definately had non-mainstream taste in movies. I don't think there was a single movie she wanted that she couldn't find on NF.

          Cheaper than this new service and higher-quality too. Also more flexible and available to those who don't have broadband.
      • Netflix advertises via spam - as such I would avoid doing business with them.

        Google'd evidence [google.com]
      • NETFLIX da bomb? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MacAndrew (463832)
        We have Netflix as well, $20/3 discs, and have been happy with it. No late fees, and never the god-awful feeling of returning a movie you never got around to watching. Now that they've opened a nearby fulfillment ctr (there used to be used one, in CA) we get 2-3 day turnaround. Their customer service has been fine, nice considering they're the only game in town, really. Once they get established ... watch out.

        One advantage of Netflix over on-demand is that you can watch more than once. With kids, this comes up a lot, and they are heavy consumers of videos if you multiply out multiple viewings. Also the DVD's occcasional offer extra stuff worth watching, maybe not all at once.

        They appear to have dropped the 2-disc plan mentioned elsewhere. Oh well.

        I would expect on-demand to extinguish transitional by-mail eventually, but won't hold my breath.

        If they're spamming, as alleged elsewhere here, I'll send them a complaint emphasizing that I am a subscriber and that's not kosher. I won't give them word-of-mouth if they're using strongarm.
  • by noodlez84 (416138)
    Thank you for your interest in Movielink. We want you to take part in the powerful Internet movie rental experience that Movielink delivers; however, you currently do not meet our minimum system requirements. You will need to adjust the following:

    * You Need Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP


    They are severely limiting their audience here. While "normal" people will simply go to Blockbuster and rent the DVD, the Internet community doesn't allow have "Windows 98, ME, 2000, or XP".

    As I (obviously) can't browse through the webpage, could someone tell me how format these are going to be distributed in?

    [BTW, I'm running Mozilla 1.1 on SuSE 8.1 Professional.]
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:09AM (#4641949)
      Severely limiting their audience to 90+% of all users on the internet? Obviously a usage of the word "severely" I'm not previously familiar with.
      • A large % of the 90+% are still running Win95. Don't tell me they aren't. I'm helping a Luser install SBC/Yahoo DSL and he only has Win95. They don't support it. However, without my help, he'd never upgrade as most user don't.

        • And that "Luser" should not upgrade! Isn't that the mantra of the OSS community; using older hardware that is more than adequate to do the job? Win95 is fine for email, net surfing, word processing, even gaming. Faster than 98, but buggier too.

          If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Ah.. But "all users on the internet" are not the eligible pool of useres for their service.

        The movie downloads are .5G. This means that realistically, they are already limited to "all users with broadband" (and with .5G free space to park a movie (and who would be interested/willing to watch a movie on their computer (or capable of connecting their computer to a TV)))

        It would be interesting to know the distribution of OS users among broadband users. I'd be shocked if The non-windows percentage was enormously higher, but wouldn't be shocked if it was somewhat higher (broadband is still a faily geeky luxury)

        Next: .5G free space? Well that probably won't disqualify too many recently purchaced computers, but probably will disqualify quite a few Win95 - win98 users.

        Finally: willing to watch on the computer or able to connect the computer to the TV? Sorry, I just don't see Ma and Pa Knownothing who bought their Windows XP box to get that newfangled e-mail thingie as being willing to put up with watching on the computer.

        Face it. The only audience that this service can target is geeks. (Perhaps they don't realize this) The OS/browser distribution in the general population will not save them from failure.

        The failure of this service will have nothing to do with technology. They missed basic business principles. (such as: know your customer)
    • by Dot.Com.CEO (624226) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:11AM (#4641963)
      I don't mean to start a war here, but, personal choices of the /. community aside, something like 95% of the world's desktops run Windows, in one way or another. Furthermore, and I would argue more importantly, the typical Linux enthusiast is very vocal in his/her choice of free (beer/speech, irrelevant really), therefore such a paying service would, really, just induce laughter in the Linux community.

      I think that blocking Mac users is far more stupid. I mean, they are content on shelling out some $100 a year for .mac, I think that testing such a service would be a no brainer.

      • by smd4985 (203677) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:49AM (#4642136) Homepage
        "the typical Linux enthusiast is very vocal in his/her choice of free (beer/speech, irrelevant really), therefore such a paying service would, really, just induce laughter in the Linux community."

        i think this is a incorrect generalization. i'm a big supporter of OSS, GPL, free speech, etc., but i'm also very willing to pay for content i appreciate. not *everything* has to or should be free, and i gladly pay for content i could get for free (ie music). i do this because i understand that an efficient way to encourage content production (code, art, etc.) is through monetary support.
      • Audience Not Limited (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blazerw11 (68928)
        Specs:
        You need Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP
        You need Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher - Upgrade Now
        You need RealPlayer 8.0 or higher
        Windows Media Player 7.1 or higher
        You need a Connection Speed of 128 kbps or higher

        Most folks run 98 or higher, but still a large % don't. (Win95, Mac, Linux, etc.) ~ 75% do.
        Most people have IE 5 or higher, but still a lot don't. ~ 65% do.
        Most have Real 8 or Media Player 7 or higher. ~ 80% do.
        Few have a high speed connection. ~ 20% do.

        So, I hope my math is right, but:
        .75 * .65 * .8 * .2 = .078 or ~ 8%

        Of those 8% of computer users, how many are going to use the service? How many are willing to wait for the download vs. walking down the street ot rent the DVD for less?

        Sounds like an excellent business model!
        • by krb (15012) on Monday November 11, 2002 @11:04AM (#4642550) Homepage
          Your math is wrong because you're not factoring in overlap... by which i mean, users who fall into more than one category. These characteristics you list are not strictly independent. I'd guess that damn near everyone still running win95 lacks broadband, for example, so if you've already limited your market to "broadband subscribers" you probly don't have to care about too many people with win95.

          I won't bother getting into the discussion of whether your numbers are accurate, but if we assume they are, i'd figure that the best guess for the actual market is much closer to being exactly the same as the percentage of users with broadband, due to overlap. In your estimation, that's 20%, which is still a fairly decent chunk of the user base, assuming they're able to effectively advertise to that demographic. I don't think they will, mind you, but it's still a potentially lucrative market.

          -k

    • On my laptop at work, I use Windows (2000), but browse with Mozilla, and the error message I got was "You need IE 5 or higher".

      A glance at the requirements site reveals the following:

      You need Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP

      You need Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher - Upgrade Now
      You need RealPlayer 8.0 or higher - Upgrade Now OR
      Windows Media Player 7.1 or higher - Upgrade Now You need a Connection Speed of 128 kbps or higher - Retake Connection Speed


      I don't know what IE does that Mozilla can't, but I've already seen the "hot new releases" they're offering anyway (well, most of them, but I'm not really interested in the rest).
  • Interesting.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by glh (14273) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:05AM (#4641928) Homepage Journal
    Here is the jist according to me:

    1. You can download certain videos that are probably like the "new release" section at the video store, but also some classics (examples- A beautiful mind, harry potter, ..)

    2. You can view it within 30 days of the download, but once "play is hit" you can only watch it within a 24 hr period (but as many times as you want).

    3. Cost will be between 2.99 and 4.99

    My question is- Why not save yourself 1 1/2 hrs and possibly a buck and drive to the video store? The only thing I can think of is no late fees. A little more convenient in that sense. But what about video quality? Who wants to watch a video on their pc as opposed to the big screen tv upstairs?

    • Re:Interesting.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mshurpik (198339)
      Sounds exactly like DivX, which failed miserably and was subsequently replaced with an altogether different meaning of the word DivX ;)

      Of course, one could argue that the original DivX was not flawed but merely ahead of its time. That seems to be what they're counting on.
  • Why hide the site? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:06AM (#4641933) Homepage
    Thank you for your interest in Movielink. We want you to take part in the powerful Internet movie rental experience that Movielink delivers, but it is presently unavailable to users outside of the United States.

    I'm don't see why I can't even have a look? Are they just paranoid of people copying their service in the rest of the world?

    I'd be nice to know more, but seems we have to resort to Gnutella/eDonkey/etc... here ;)
  • EVERYBODY!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dupper (470576)
    Sorry to schout, but it's ridiculously important that we support this. If we can show them that the internet is a useful communications tool. If the movie executives can see that they can exploit it for their own good, they'll stop painting those who use it as criminals.

    I may not have articulated it very well, but I'm sure you all know what's at stake here. So go there, look for a movie you like and pay for it. And don't put it in a shared folder.

    • I would but I don't have a webbrowser capable of viewing their page... They have some (really nasty looking) browser detection going on through javascript.
    • Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

      We're supposed to support something that has already failed in the marketplace? (Hint: Think Divx.) Just because they've added a bandwidth crippling download and locked it to your PC without all of the extra DVD-goodness?

      Not to mention the charges are HIGHER than at your local video store. $2.99 for a 24-hour rental? Not to mention at lower quality and you can't even play it on your living room TV.

      No, this does not deserve our support.
      • Re:Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GutBomb (541585)
        this is the first step to officially sanctioned internet based mainstream video-on-demand. sure this is just a pilot, the prices will get worked out, quality issues will be tweaked, and tv playback options will probably appear if this is in any way succesful. most of the people who are downloading divx movies are probably the target group here. these people are already willing to either sit at thier pc watching a movie or are satisfied with the tv output of their video card in order to watch a downloaded movie, and this is even legal (too bad you don't have an option to save the file... a crack will come out soon after but that is another discussion). Even though this incarnation of it may not be the best, if it gets support bigger and better video on demand options will come along in the future.
    • I would, but I have an unsupported computer running an unsupported browser in an unsupported country.
  • by donkeyDevil (451438) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:08AM (#4641948)
    It's early on for Movielink, but in its initial incarnation, its strictly Windows & Strictly IE. If you try anything else, you'll get:

    Thank you for your interest in Movielink. We want you to take part in the powerful Internet movie rental experience that Movielink delivers; however, you currently do not meet our minimum system requirements. You will need to adjust the following:
    *
    You Need Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP


    Running Netscape, even on Windows will get you:


    Thank you for your interest in Movielink. We want you to take part in the powerful Internet movie rental experience that Movielink delivers; however, you currently do not meet our minimum system requirements. You will need to adjust the following:

    You need Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher - Upgrade Now


    Spoofing your browser & javascript settings will just hang your machine.
    • by Zigg (64962)

      Spoofing your browser & javascript settings will just hang your machine.

      Do you really mean machine? If so, maybe you do need to upgrade away from whatever OS you're using, that permits a website to do such a thing...

    • I suspect that the windows only thing is a reward to MS by the movie industry for MS support of DRM. As such, I suspect that this is one of those sites that is unlikely to ever go beyond MS and IE. I think this is also a signal from the future with no legal options other than MS and IE. All the Palladium apologist take note.

      Look at this way. There are only three reasons for a site to be IE and Windows only, or even IE only. The first is lack of resources for development. Houston ISD fits this category. The second is incompetent web development. Companies like Cingular and some credit services fit this category. The third is an explicit decision that certain customers are not important, or to keep certain customers out.

      The movie industry had resources. The project should make enough money to justify competent programmers. Everyone watches movies, and success depends on popular appeal, so there is no basis to say a certain group of customers is unimportant. That leaves explicitly keeping certain customers out.

      Who is being punished? The Linux and BSD users, who broke and published DVD encryption, and are a major thorn in the sides of the movie industry. Apple Mac users, who buy their computers to 'Edit, Rip, Burn,' or, in the eyes of the movie industry, pirates who wish to steal content and force the movie industry into starvation.

      As such, I think we take this as an attack on the npn-MS systems. The movie industry does not like non-MS, and they will not play with them, at least until a time when the movie industry can set all the rules. It is the movie industries right to do this, but it is blackmail.

  • by gregwbrooks (512319) <gregb AT west-third DOT com> on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:09AM (#4641952)
    Lacking in clue content on the movie industry's part? "Maybe," says Joe Public and "Damn straight!" says the average Slashdot reader. But all in all, we have to view this as A Good Thing(tm).

    Yes, someone will crack the DRM. Yes, the adoption rate will suck because most non-geeks really do want to watch movies on their televisions. But all in all, movie-industry suits have shown themselves to be more adaptable in the face of change than their counterparts in the music industry -- CDs cost what they cost a decade ago, but DVDs are probably about a tenth or twentieth of what the first VHS movies cost when you factor in inflation.

    Bottom line: I'd rather have the movie industry experimenting and learning than have them go into siege mode the way the music industry has done. They both have a lot of money to throw at Congress -- money and influence we can't ever match -- so signs (even dull glimmers) of cluefullness are greatfully appreciated.

  • Why bother (Score:5, Insightful)

    by locarecords.com (601843) <<moc.sdroceracol> <ta> <divad>> on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:10AM (#4641957) Homepage Journal

    They try to protect these films so much and then you can only watch them for a short while, why would anyone bother?

    I think the possibilities for actually storing *bought* films on you HDD (perhaps as part of an iTunes like library) which can be watched direct to TV will be the answer.

    Download to your PC is just *not*. Who wants to watch a film on their computer, crouched over on an uncomfortable office chair? Or maybe they still believe in the convergence of the PC and TV... er... nope

    Anyway the download times are so horrific it would be quicker to nip to the shops...

    In fact the only advantage I can see is that Hackers will break the code in.. oh... seconds and then peer-to-peer distribution will take off for film ;-)

    • Re:Why bother (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ford Fulkerson (223443) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:19AM (#4641992)
      In fact the only advantage I can see is that Hackers will break the code in.. oh... seconds and then peer-to-peer distribution will take off for film ;-)

      From the article:
      The company is testing the service for 90 days, taking in consumer advice and troubleshooting the technology. After that, it expects to publicize the service widely through online marketing [...]

      Note to hackers, make sure to wait until the studios evaluation period is over before releasing the crack..
  • by migstradamus (472166) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:10AM (#4641959) Homepage
    It's a bit low-tech, but since I moved to NY I've been getting four or five movies a week from the public library. The selection is vastly larger than my local Blockbuster, you can request things online (telnet lives!) and they send them to your local branch and then e-mail you when it comes in, you can have up to 15 requests active, you get the movies for a full week, and it's all completely free! Most films even come in DVD now. (The system is for books, too. Remember books?) It's amazing. Plus, when you pay your dollar-a-day overdue fee you get a warm fuzzy feeling for giving to the library, as opposed to handing four bucks to some mumbling chowderhead at the video megalopoly outlet. The NY site is here [nypl.org].
    • Re: public library (Score:4, Insightful)

      by No Such Agency (136681) <abmackay@gmail.3.1415926com minus pi> on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:54AM (#4642162)
      Plus, when you pay your dollar-a-day overdue fee you get a warm fuzzy feeling for giving to the library, as opposed to handing four bucks to some mumbling chowderhead at the video megalopoly outlet.

      I consider library fines to be one of my major modes of charitable donation. I don't deliberately keep books overdue, it just works out that way... a lot ;-) Yeah, paying late fees at Roger's or Blockheads^H^H^H^H^Hbuster really sucks. And yes, local libraries can have a surprisingly good selection, everything from arty European stuff to Kurosawa to four copies of The Matrix :-D

    • by Eccles (932) on Monday November 11, 2002 @12:27PM (#4643094) Journal
      It's a bit low-tech, but since I moved to NY I've been getting four or five movies a week from the public library.

      I'm considering becoming a library contributor; I'll buy a movie, watch it until I'm tired of it, and then give it to the library for the tax break and the possibility of renting it again later.
  • Same old problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by parliboy (233658) <parliboy@NoSpam.gmail.com> on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:10AM (#4641961) Homepage
    We already know what's wrong with these sites. But to summarize for latecomers:
    • $3.00 to rent a movie for 24 hours, versus $5.00 to rent it for a week from the shop down the road.
    • It's not portable. I can only watch it from the downloading computer.
    • Forced, automatic "updating" of their software.
    For any lurkers: Charge me $5 to $10, depending on age, for a permanant copy which I can burn to DVD myself. Charge me extra if I want the "value added" version (the retail DVD, versus just a movie.) Afraid I might pirate your stuff? Please, if I have broadband, I already can. So, take my money, the way I want you to, or I'll get your product somewhere else. Get over it and get with the economy.
    • Re:Same old problems (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Brolly (151540)
      Give me exactly what I want or I'm going to aquire it illegally. Ahh, blackmail. Your morals are interesting.
      • Blackmail implies a negative outcome for the company. Or, at least, an outcome more negative than had I no dealings with the product. They gain money by providing me with product, and they lose no money (save what they had to gain) by not. That is not blackmail. The part about acquiring it illegally is a given about much of the public in many ways of life. 30 seconds on packetnews, go to the appropriate IRC channel, and get the newest Screener or DVDRip. Been that way for awhile. You might bemoan that, but it's still the case. Here they're trying to fulfill a market that doesn't exist (24 hour online rentals) and so of course it's going to fail. The only people interested in online rentals are agorophobians and people who live in desolate areas. So that leaves Johnny Carson, and who else? Porn is the only industry that gets off (pun intended) on that business structure, and this venture won't change that. Side notes: In my meager defense, I've downloaded a move exactly once, then realized why screeners really suck. I will likely do it for Spirited Away though, because of Disney's cock-up in distributing it to all of 200 screens in total, with the nearest being three+ hours away. I may do it for Bowling for Columbine too, because of the Regal Cinemas flap, unless Michael Moore wants to sell me a DVD personally, so I'll know he's getting my cash and not a distributor.
      • I hate it when I do stupid stuff like pick the wrong format. Once more with appropriate breaking:

        Blackmail implies a negative outcome for the company. Or, at least, an outcome more negative than had I no dealings with the product. They gain money by providing me with product, and they lose no money (save what they had to gain) by not. That is not blackmail.

        The part about acquiring it illegally is a given about much of the public in many ways of life. 30 seconds on packetnews, go to the appropriate IRC channel, and get the newest Screener or DVDRip. Been that way for awhile. You might bemoan that, but it's still the case.

        Here they're trying to fulfill a market that doesn't exist (24 hour online rentals) and so of course it's going to fail. The only people interested in online rentals are agorophobians and people who live in desolate areas. So that leaves Johnny Carson, and who else?

        Porn is the only industry that gets off (pun intended) on that business structure, and this venture won't change that.

        Side notes: In my meager defense, I've downloaded a move exactly once, then realized why screeners really suck. I will likely do it for Spirited Away though, because of Disney's cock-up in distributing it to all of 200 screens in total, with the nearest being three+ hours away. I may do it for Bowling for Columbine too, because of the Regal Cinemas flap, unless Michael Moore wants to sell me a DVD personally, so I'll know he's getting my cash and not a distributor.
    • Sigh. Too true (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      I want to like this system. Really, I do, but being UK based, having a pathological dislike of IE, and living 4 minutes walk away from a DVD rental shop, I just feel this doesn't give me what I want. Especially because it would tie me to Windows even more.

      I don't object to the self destructing movies - really that's quite reasonable if the price is low enough. As long as this is done sensibly, will allow me to transfer the movie to a different machine, and reregister the same copy if I want to see it again, a few months later I'd happily pay a reasonable amount for a convenient download (although "convenient" implies it will take less than 3 hours to download).

      It looks like I don't even have the right to buy a VCD version online. That's something I want. I want to be able to download it, burn to CD, and watch it on my DVD player. I want to be able to access it via FTP or any other open protocol. I want to be able to choose the software I download with. I like my text based FTP client. They should stop trying to force me to use what they think is better. I want them to accept that some piracy will happen, and stop punishing me - the purchaser - for other people's piracy. I'd willingly pay a reasonable amount. Considering the distribution and manufacturing costs aren't as high as for VHS, and the quality is worse than DVD, I'd expect the costs to be substantially lower.

      Piracy will happen. If they can't pirate from the video files, they'll pirate from a rented DVD. Macrovision doesn't work as well as they like to think, and an MPEG 1 recode is good enough for most people. You only need one person to pirate it. Everyone else will just spread that copy.
  • But the site has no search feature. I went to the Comedy link, and it completely failed the one-shot test:
    The Appointments of Dennis Jennings [imdb.com]
    Does anyone know why this intense, Oscar winning IIRC, little film cannot be found under the sun?
  • Read the article (Score:2, Informative)

    by m00nun1t (588082)
    It's a "a test of the technology to select U.S. residents". It's a limited test, people, not a fully fledged launch. It supports the setup the majority (80+%) of Internet users have: Windows, IE and WMP/Real Player. Please, no more "it doesn't support linux" or whatever posts.

    (and before you say "it's not a test without platform X", I'm sure if they can get it to work on Windows, they can get it working on your platform).

  • Horay!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by browman (191604)
    It's true then, I'm not American... .. that makes me happy
  • Only in the US (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oliverthered (187439)
    VGA out + MPEG2 in * DIVX = KAZAA.
  • USA only (Score:5, Funny)

    by selderrr (523988) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:24AM (#4642012) Journal
    Thank you for your interest in Movielink. We want you to take part in the powerful Internet movie rental experience that Movielink delivers, but it is presently unavailable to users outside of the United States.

    Europeans not allowed, and it is not slashdotted. This proves that we, europeans, are the major factor in the slashdot effect

    Q.E.D.
    • Nah, it's just that half of the page gets filtered out with Proxomiton due to the crappy design, so we don't hit it as hard.
  • paranoid (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 12013 (622026)
    talk about being paranoid...

    Thank you for your interest in Movielink. We want you to take part in the powerful Internet movie rental experience that Movielink delivers, but it is presently unavailable to users outside of the United States.

    The pirates are so much more user/customer-friendly.

    Working in Turkey at the moment, around the block from the hotel people are standing around with these huge boxes full of DIVX movies. costs about a buck or 2 a movie (depends on your bartering skills)...

    the amazing this is that they even have a system! It's all DVD quality, autorun feature that would install all the codecs, subtitling software,...

    now i don't feel so bad for having bought some of those when i' really really bored...

    i was going to buy some from your site mr. movie exec... but you wouldn't let me... so this was my only option

  • I'll stick with my Charter on Demand movies. My TV has a bigger screen, the prices are just as good and the selections are better.

    It doesn't require my to go by a specific TV from a specific vender either! I can use an old B&W tv with vacuum tubes or a new shiney one. It can be a large screen, or HDTV or just a regular TV.

    Life is good when you don't have to buy even more stuff you don't want (like a WindozeXX computer) just to see a stupid movie!
  • by rabbitpoo (68666) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:28AM (#4642035)
    Did they make up a big list of things that would make the service suck and pick them all?

    Okay, so lets review. You pay $4.99 for a new release, you get one day to watch it, it's lower video quality than DVD, you can only watch it on the PC (unless you have video out hooked to a TV) and to top it all off, you can't use the service without Windows let alone even browse the site without IE?

    How this is even close to spending $3.99 to rent a DVD new release you can watch on a TV for two days with full quality video and sound is lost on me. Yeah, you don't have to drive anywhere to get it, but you pay more and get a lot less.

    I can't imagine why this service would fail to catch the business of regular people, and of course those people trading DVDs.
  • Of course, just like the new music services, this is also only available to US residents.

    And for the rest of residents on this globe... P2P... gosh, the people in the movie industry are just as smart as the music industry. They're going to be flushed down the drain if they're not coming up with a viable internet business idea soon...
  • by nomadicGeek (453231) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:37AM (#4642079)
    The only appealing use of this that I can think of right now might be to load a movie or two on the laptop prior to a plane flight.

    I was hoping that this may allow you to burn a DVD or VCD from the downloaded site but no such luck. I can't think of any time that I would sit and watch a movie on my PC except when travelling.

    I can't quite see how they expect to make any money off of this. To be competitive this services has to offer something better than the existing distribution channels. I see far too many bad points and only one good, no returns or late fees.

  • I tried to go there with latest nightly build of Mozilla and got this lovely message:

    '* You need Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher - Upgrade Now'

    Food for thought.
  • This is a joke (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Coolmoe (416032)
    This service will no doubt fail as it requires too many things for all it delivers. The more likely thing we will see from this is after this fails more lobbying in washington as they can now "proove" that the internet is only comprised of pirates! See we opened a pay service and nobody used it!
  • Tried it (Score:5, Informative)

    by SirAnodos (463311) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:51AM (#4642148)
    I tried it last night. Rented and downloaded an older classic for $1.99 (took 1.08 hours on my DSL). It seems their codec could have been much better. I have seen DivX movies the same size (628MB) and same length movie that were higher quality. I would say the quality was similar to VHS. I don't know what codec they are using, but it doesn't seem like MPEG4, which is what I would like to see them use to make maximum use of bandwidth.
    This service would actually be useful for us, because we live so far away from any rental store... and sometimes have problems getting the movies back on time. :-)
    We usually watch DVDs on the computer anyway.
    If a service opens up that uses MPEG4 (or DivX) and has good prices, then we will be using it quite frequently.
  • I personally find this web design [nforce.nl] to be:

    - Easy to browse.
    - Compatible with multiple browsers.
    - International, by allowing non-americans to connect.
    - Searchable.

    They also use innovative comments called "nukes" to tell us if the quality isn't what a user would expect. :-)

    So, I think MovieLink should learn from that one and come back. ;-)
  • Collusion? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SubtleNuance (184325)
    Does this strike anyone else of illegal collusion? to fix prices, distribution modes etc? really, i thought sony, MGM et al were supposed to be competing?

  • Not in the US but... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mantrid (250133)
    This sort of service has some potential. There are several issues - i think I can live with DRM for this, provided that whatever system they have is self-contained. Also their download system must work, and work well. It must be convenient or why bother?

    But perhaps the biggest issue here may be bandwidth - even with 1.5 Mbps DSL at home it'll take awhile to download a movie. (I wonder how the quality is at that...) If I'm going to rent a movie, it is rare that I'm thinking ahead as to what I'd like to watch. So once I decide "hey let's rent a movie", the download process begins and a few hours later I can actually watch the movie. As opposed to running to the video store for about the same price in half an hour.

    An even bigger threat may be Video on Demand (VOD) services slowly being introduced by cable companies. They are basically offering the same service, but you don't have to wait for it, and it works with your TV equipment, not your PC.

    Even with all of these problems, there may be a niche market here - such as going on a flight - just DL a movie ahead of time. Of course DVDs are readily available - but at least in this case you can do it a week ahead of time and not worry about returns - hey here's a thought maybe they can offer LAN services from stores a local airports? Download over your ethernet from airport store servers?

    I hope they have a business plan though!
  • It's so convenient! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday November 11, 2002 @10:04AM (#4642209) Homepage
    All I had to do was:
    1. Find an open http proxy in the USA
    2. Discover that I need to "upgrade" to IE.
    3. Reboot into Windows
    4. Switch from Phoenix to IE to view the site
    5. Switch back to Phoenix to download WMP 7.1 (I'm not going to use Internet Exploder more than I absolutely have to)
    6. Reboot again to complete the WMP 7.1 install.
    7. Go and get a cup of coffee.
    8. Come back, acknowledge that Win 2K Pro just plain forgot to complete the reboot, reboot again, nursemaid it until it actually starts the reboot.
    9. Navigate back to the site and read a 4,000 word T&C and 2,600 word privacy policy (did you? Did you notice "Linking to other sites is an integral part of the functionality of the Internet, including our Website" and "c. Restrictions. You may not: (i) frame or link to the Website except as expressly permitted in writing by Movielink")
    10. Reject Flash 6 every time I refresh a page.
    11. Download the Movielink Manager (Windows only).
    12. Read and agree to another 1,800 word EULA.
    13. Go back to the web site and look in vain for anything like a "search" feature.
    14. Navigate laboriously through the tiny library.
    15. Pick "True Grit". Yeee haw.
    16. Proceed to checkout.
    17. Register as Mr Fake Name
    18. Realise that my CC billing address isn't in the USA, and decide not to have my credit card stopped by entering the number.
    19. Uninstall the Movielink Manager
    20. Go through the registry and actually remove all references to it.
    21. Reboot back to linux and go back to leeching from gnutella or (gasp!) paying-per-view through my cable.

    Yes, gasp on that last one. I do actually pay-per-view right now, when there's something showing that I want to see. Look, actual currency, waiting to go into your bloated pockets! I'm not a habitual collector of free content. I'll only leech if there's no easier way to view the content (like, you refuse to make it available to me to maintain your artificial market segmentation).

    But this is asking too much, offering too little, and it's hostile as all hell. It looks as though it's pretty much set up to fail, which might be the point.

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday November 11, 2002 @10:22AM (#4642315)
    "Back in the Day" I ran on-air ops for a major cable premium network, from whence this anecdote, and perhaps some inkling into H-Wood's current mindset, arises:

    In the big hubbub prior to "The Day The Skies Went Black," i.e., the time when HBO and Showtime began encrypting their signals (early 80's), denying them from the long-standing C-Band pirates, various congressfolk went ballistic. Their gripe (inexplicable and amazing to us in the industry at the time) was that the cable networks could not all-of-a-sudden deny the pirates their entertainment; we had to at least offer a for-pay alternative to what they had gotten previously for free. This neccessitated a tremendous cost in building out certain shared encryption operations centers that would pool subscriber data, etc etc. (Happy upside that nobody predicted was that the revenues garnered from catering to the former pirates was HUGE, in some networks' instances well in advance of Cable susbcriber revenue.)

    Of course, this didn't stop the real dyed-in-the-wool, off-shore-operating, parrot-on-the-shoulder, chip-modding, math-prodigy, Trans-Am-On-The-Cinder-Blocks, Complete-and-Total-Social-Outcast Pirates, who set about cracking the (ridiculously loose, in hind sight) encryption we used at the time. But... because we had gone to the pain and expense of creating this "inclusion" distribution for all the dis-affected Big-Ugly-Dish geeks nationwide, we as an industry had tremendous goodwill with the Gov't. This led to numerous FBI sting operations against the pirates, whereas before the industry couldn't really get the authorities' attention on the matter. In fact, my boss at the time was one of the industry guys who travelled around with the FBI agents cuffing the pirates. Big, Big, Fed-Entertainment Industry co-op, once the Ent Industry showed good faith in creating a system that ensured "no one was left out."

    You see where I'm going with this. "Back In the Day," the pirates said, basically, "If you don't want me to view your network, keep it out of my living room." Tough to argue with, so the Ent industry encrypted and provided Joe Dish-Geek a means to buy his entertainment. Flash forward 20 years (ye gods... has it been that long? Christ, I'm old...), and Joe Internet-Geek is saying, "Look, I'm getting this entertainment on the Net, I'm accustomed to getting it on the Net, you can't deny it to me." By providing a net-based, for-pay service, H-Wood is "fulfilling its tech evolutional obligations" yet again. And they are doing so faster than their peers in the Music and Book Publishing industries.

    Only Windows? Only US? Who cares? Certainly not H-Wood, or US Law Makers and Enforcers. It ain't about wide-spread adoption (although if they can make some money on this, they won't turn it down) it's about having some credibility and teeth in the subsequent piracy pogroms.
    • Of course, this didn't stop the real dyed-in-the-wool, off-shore-operating, parrot-on-the-shoulder, chip-modding, math-prodigy, Trans-Am-On-The-Cinder-Blocks, Complete-and-Total-Social-Outcast Pirates

      While it's true I have a parrot, I wouldn't be caught dead in a Trans Am.
  • For $17.99 - $24.99 I can get most of these movies on DVD. The price of a DVD includes All the extra "features" and "enhancements" movie companies put on the disc are now gone, which should wipe out a good chunk of the cost right there. Take out another big chunk for the sound and video quality being generally crappy (A VHS rental tape would look/sound better.). This leaves me with a shitty copy of a movie that I could have rented for the same price.

    Why not just charge a little more, sell a nice DiVX rip of the DVD, so that I can buy the movie, download it, burn it to a CD, and watch it all I want? The movie companies would make more money in the long run, because they no longer have to package and (physically.) distribute the movie. Of course, I might just serve the video up on Kaazaa, a private FTP, or an IRC bot, but someone else was already doing that when the movie was in the theatre!

    I think it is nice that the movie companies are doing this, but they need to loosen up a little. Exisiting distribution paradigms are dying fast, the time has come to cut losses and just give consumers what the consumers are already getting for FREE, instead of selling a crappy version.
  • i love it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by asv108 (141455) <{alex} {at} {phataudio.org}> on Monday November 11, 2002 @10:30AM (#4642360) Homepage Journal
    <recording studios>
    Lets make a site that is ridiculously restrictive so that when most people come to it, they will be forced to either upgrade or go away. This way when can point to movielink and say, "We tried, but the pirates do not want to pay for anything." Then we will be able to convince congress to force mandatory drm.
    </recording studios>

  • by Flamesplash (469287) on Monday November 11, 2002 @10:34AM (#4642382) Homepage Journal
    For those outside the US you can always try the proxies listed with the Web Page Entanglement [slashdot.org] article, they are inside the US.
  • An alternative (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You know what works a whole lot better, and yeah I know this is primarily for Windows: get a PVR video card like WinTV PVR. Then if you've got either digital cable or satellite, hook up one of the receivers to it (via s-video) and you're all set to go. Want the latest movies? Pay per view-- $4 each. Record it, burn it to DVD, and you've got a way to have hard copies of those movies which you don't think are worth the $20 price tag, but which you might want to see again. The quality is near identical to the broadcast, which is not quite DVD but certainly better than video or whatever this company is selling. Not only that, but it captures the dolby surround as well (or whichever kind it is that's encapsulated in the stereo channels), so I'm able to play it back on a real home theatre system and experience it much better than I ever would on my PC.

    I guess it all depends if you've got $500 to spend on the PVR card and DVD burner. For me it was a worthwhile investment, I'm really happy with it, and it's cool to have the ability to edit out commercials as well. (I wonder, when you rent their movies online, how many previews they'd subjcet you to and if you'd actually be able to skip them. My guess is about 10 minutes, and no.)
  • Anyone care to explain exactly how movielink may be detecting the location of connecting Web clients? I've tried several working US-based proxies, including a few private ones run by friends, and every time I'm faced with that stupid blue page saying something along the lines of 'thanks for the interest but you're not American, so get lost'

  • by Matey-O (518004) <michaeljohnmiller@mSPAMsSPAMnSPAM.com> on Monday November 11, 2002 @10:45AM (#4642443) Homepage Journal
    "
    Thank you for your interest in Movielink. We want you to take part in the powerful Internet movie rental experience that Movielink delivers, but it is presently unavailable to users outside of the United States. "

    I guess Denver, Colorado isn't a part of the US. (Or AT&T Broadband, either.)

  • by BroadbandBradley (237267) on Monday November 11, 2002 @11:07AM (#4642563) Homepage
    Thank you for your interest in Movielink. We want you to take part in the powerful Internet movie rental experience that Movielink delivers; however, you currently do not meet our minimum system requirements. You will need to adjust the following:

    *

    You Need Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP

  • by droopus (33472) on Monday November 11, 2002 @11:13AM (#4642605)
    I worked on the site, so I can't comment on the political aspects of it (which are large and complicated) but I can tell you this:

    Last night I downloaded a 650mb film in under 20 minutes. I was even shocked when the Movielink Manager estimated the time to download at "less than 25 minutes", thinking it was in error. But the sucker came down at a steady 4mbps.

    I've only ever gotten speed like that from Apple FTP, MSDN and one or two Internet 2 guys on IRC. Maybe it's due to huge capacity with probably only me using it (heh) but whatever the complaints, it's hard to complain the download is slow.
  • by Masem (1171) on Monday November 11, 2002 @11:14AM (#4642609)
    A lot of posts are complaining about price, time, DRM restrictions, etc.

    However, what's more important is that the movie industry is at least starting off on the right foot into the online digital distribution model, compares with the music industry. Here, yes, you have to watch the movie within a month, and then for only 24 hrs since you start it, it costs about as much as a rental (and takes more time), quality is not as great as a DVD rental, and a list of other problems. But this is the first trial of their service. Maybe later they'll add the option that for $5, you can keep the movie, possibly burn it off to some standard format, or have a quick order method to get the DVD shipping automatically to your home, offering a discount since you've watched it already. Maybe they'll eventually increase the time allowance on the movie, since 24hrs is awfully short. I don't know but this is certainly not an attempt to alienate customers (except for those outside the US, but someone pointed out the legal reasons for this regarding work-for-hires), but a chance to work with them, and to see if they can improve the service.

    Of course, half the problem right now with this service is that putting 550megs downstream is slow and time consuming due to poor broadband adaption and dl caps for most consumers. This won't be a permenant situation, but will be with us for a while.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Monday November 11, 2002 @11:52AM (#4642841) Homepage
    These jokers charge $3 to rent a movie (roughly the same as Blockbuster), but you can only watch it in a 24 hour period. And even when done, it plays on your computer, not your TV. Do you want to pay $3.00 to watch Rollerball?

    And, as I have mentioned before, you can't beat Blockbuster's bandwidth. Period. It is so much faster to walk to the video store and rent your movie then it is to wait for the download to complete.
  • Why it will fail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joeblowme (555290) on Monday November 11, 2002 @11:58AM (#4642876) Homepage
    This will fail just like music industry sites. The rates are too high. Let's see for $3.99 I can rent it from blockbuster and watch it on my DVD player in high resolution and with dolby digital 5.1. Or for $3.99 I can go to this site and watch a low quality version on my computer with real player which means my computer will crash like 6 times because real player sucks. Which will I do? This is just a bad business model. Consumers want one of two things either like a low cost per view (Like 25 cents) or a flat rate like $10 or $20 a month. I'm more apt to deal with issues like studdering video or low quality or sitting in front of my computer to watch a movie if it's a good deal. These companies bring piracy on themselves because they are too greedy. There is incovience when dealing with digital files everyone of these companies needs to take that in to effect when setting thier prices. For music it's me taking the time to download the files then the time to burn them on to a CD. If it's gonna cost me $15 to do this I'd rather go to the store and just buy the thing. Same with movies, if I have to deal with downloading the video and it studdering, I'd rather go to blockbuster and spend the same amount of money there. Lastly, most cable companies already have something like this with thier on-demand service. Basically these companies need to really reevaluate thier business models online.
  • MovieLink features (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Monday November 11, 2002 @02:34PM (#4644054) Homepage
    It requires extensive proprietary software:
    • You need Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP.
      You need Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher>
      You need RealPlayer 8.0 or higher or Windows Media Player 7.1 or higher.
      You need a Connection Speed of 128 kbps or higher. Scripting must be enabled.
      Cookies must be enabled.
    There's spyware.
    • a. Downloads. You acknowledge that Movielink and/or its authorized third party providers and affiliates may issue upgraded versions of the Services and Movielink Manager Software required to be downloaded by you from time to time, and may automatically electronically upgrade the version of the Movielink Manager Software that you are using on your computer. You consent to such automatic upgrading, and agree that these Terms of Use (as amended from time to time) along with the Software License Agreement and any amendments thereto will govern all such upgraded versions.

      b. Modification of Services. Movielink reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to update, change, modify, add or remove any portion of the Services or these Terms of Use, in whole or in part, at any time. Changes to these Terms of Use will be effective when posted. You agree to review these Terms of Use periodically to be aware of any changes. By continuing to use the Services after any changes, you agree to be bound by subsequent revisions to these Terms of Use.

    There's an arbitration clause like the one just struck down by the courts regarding PayPal.
    • g. Arbitration. Any and all claims, grievances, demands, controversies causes of action or disputes of any nature whatsoever (including but not limited to tort and contract claims, and claims upon any law, statute, order or regulation) (hereinafter "Claims"), arising out of, in connection with, or relating to (i) the interpretation, performance or breach of this Agreement, or (ii) the arbitrability of any Claims under this Agreement shall be resolved by final and binding arbitration before a single arbitrator, on an individual basis. Such arbitration shall be administered in Los Angeles, California by the AAA in accordance with its then-existing Commercial Arbitration Rules. Except as provided herein, the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1, et seq., shall govern all proceedings hereunder. The arbitrator's award may be enforced in any court of competent jurisdiction and shall include costs and may include reasonable attorneys' fees to the prevailing party, and judgment upon the award may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof. YOU EXPRESSLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT BY ACCEPTING THESE TERMS OF USE, YOU ARE GIVING UP YOUR RIGHT TO A COURT OR JURY TRIAL.
  • The plot thickens. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ahfoo (223186) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:50PM (#4644700) Journal
    I'm among those who suspect this will only lead to a faster shift away from the fortunes of video copyright holders and I think that's a Good Thing(TM)
    I don't really know the wording of copyright law in all its many jurisdictions, but I do know that the original intent was to grant an exclusive right to profit from publication and that copyright was certainly not intended from the beginning to limit the free exchange of information which is how it is being re-constructed with all this language twisting and convenient redefinition of terms like piracy and theft.

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