Online movie watching question.

Is anyone familiar with the site Ninjavideo.net? Prior to my having to reboot my OS, I used to have no problems watching films on there, but now I can’t seem to get anything to play. I keep getting an error box saying ** “The DivX player could not download this film. Please check your internet connection.”** Obviously I’m on the internet, so there is no problem there. And I’ve got the little beta box open, before you ask. Also, what does that second line mean where it says “You must click YES on the security dialog” What security dialog?
p.s. I’ve also been warned that this site is frequented by some dodgy types. Have you any hints as to what this may mean exactly, and what I should be wary of?

As I understand it, the site is doing illegal things; this tends to attract “dodgy” types.

Does anyone want to elaborate on what “illegal things” are? Would anyone reckon providing links to programs that have already aired on tv somewhere, should be deemed worthy of being illegal?

I glanced at the site. It looks like they are providing video that they likely do not have license to possess and distribute in any way. I saw some NBC shows on the list there and I am pretty sure only NBC.com, Hulu, and buying the DVDs are the really legal ways to watch the Office and stuff (well besides obviously legal things like being at a friends’ house watching, or your own). Those shows have ownership and I doubt many or all of the programs and movies on there gave consent to that website to stream all their content for free.

So, would I be commiting a crime by taking advantage of the ‘goodies’ available? If so, how are sites like this allowed to operate, and encourage crime in such a way?

Remember Napster?

Yes, it’s a crime, but the problem is that folks haven’t decided where along the spectrum it fits. To the MPAA, once you see it illegally, they can’t take it back, and they lost whatever price, from the DVD copy to a cinema ticket. That’s assuming you don’t pass it on to friends. To most of the rest the planet, you just watched something to entertain yourself, and while it’s not exactly profitable to the studios, it’s not like you’ve wrecked western civilization and the world economy. Also, what’s fair about a massive settlement or long jail term over a film, when odds are good the thing will be in a discount bin for a buck or two a couple weeks after it’s put out on DVD?

These things need to be sorted out well before society’s going to stand firm on any punishment. Remember, while legal matters seem pretty distant these days, at their root they still exist to keep the bulk of society happy and secure. In the long term, if society decides the studios have outlived their usefulness, no mass of lobbyist money is going to change the end result.

The main answer to why they exist today is mass. There are billions if not trillions of DVDs out there, sold from the inception of the DVD player to today. Trying to keep track of all that is pretty much impossible, and most “pirates” may only offer a handful of movies. The sites mentioned simply link to the multitude of known pirates and torrents, and adjust the links, often via script, so there’s not even a lot of actual hands-on control of the situation, even by the promoters themselves. So to you, it looks like every site has stacks of movies laying around, and should be pretty easy to take down, but reality is most of those targets aren’t worth the time or money to take down. It’s like punching water, take down one another just hops into it’s place.

For a similar issue, look into internet child filtering. A lot of schools and libraries have given up on it, even blatantly flaunting local/state laws, simply because it’s too difficult and near impossible to do correctly. Most “professional” adult sites are more than willing to avoid causing a scene in Mrs. Evans 1st grade class, but those operators have rarely been a problem in the first place. Conversely, if you censor any site with various words and phrases, and you’re going to wash out some pretty useful sites, and completely miss the ones that want to avoid the filters. (Especially with comments/wikis on many sites today.)

Obviously, the “pirates” know they’re a target, so while legal folks might be looking for ways to cut them out of the internet, they’re spending money and time looking for ways to avoid those cuts. Typically, this means embedding themselves into otherwise normal systems. Deceptive links from legit sites, interlaced into the mass of legal torrents, and other systems for avoiding detection and identification are employed.

The other, and more important issue, is demand. Most of these pirate sites aren’t run with any stunning technical prowess. Quick scripts and minimal obscurity make up the bulk of them. However, there’s a demand for movies that the MPAA seems unwilling to deal with. They want to make as much from each copy as they can, at the expense of quantity. There’s a good argument that the studios could charge pennies for each download, provide unlimited downloads to everyone (via a refillable account), and many users would gladly spend more than they do on videos today, and probably have little reason to make a copy, if the prices were cheap enough.

Similarly, this is also a good deal of the industy’s own fault, and they lack the sympathy vote evident in other areas of life. Along with the music industry, DVDs and CDs were sold with the promise of cheap production. When they actually hit the market, consumer prices doubled though various supply and demand manipulations. So, consumers looked elsewhere, a few tech folks figured out how to satisfy demand, and an underground industry was born. If the MPAA folks would have stuck to making movies and not gotten greedy with regional limitations, and other useless copy protection attempts, while jacking up prices, most people probably wouldn’t have noticed, outside of the rare video market that’s not served by most retail stores.

Instead, they went the other way, and challenged the ingenuity of people who simply don’t do well with overbearing authority. While most people tend to fall in the middle of this war (if they even participate in any willing way) I’d say these industries have lost. There are now untold numbers of movies from decades of production available online, new movies often hit the web weeks before they have left the cutting room, and even judges have lost the desire to make examples of those who overstepped the law. Of course, suing recently deceased people’s widows, grandmothers and toddlers doesn’t help win sympathy for the distributor’s plight, either.

Politicians figured this out long ago. Offer people the illusion of freedom while you cut away at those same freedoms. That’s why we get to vote today. Sure, we’re voting for two sides of the same coin, but it keeps the locals from public execution of their authorities. So instead of kings and emperors, we get chads and Diebold, but the end result is still the “Patriot Act” and it’s ilk. Now if we can just figure out a way to hook the forefathers up to magnets and wires, their natural rolling could cut our dependence on fossil fuels significantly. :smiley:

Perhaps someday the MPAA/RIAA will figure out a similar scam, and this issue will evaporate, at least from the average person’s radar.

Thank you for that informative post, st1d.

To me, this is where the MPAA/RIAA’s reasoning is highly flawed. Lots of people download music/movies to watch that they may want to enjoy, but they wouldn’t have necessarily have purchased it even if it weren’t available to download. To assume that every download is equivalent to a lost sale is what really pisses me off about the MPAA/RIAA lawsuits (besides the ridiculously high settlements).