Can you stop piracy? No. But you can slow it down BIG time.

Piracy has been a pain for many and a convenience for some. If you know how to grab full length features from the web whether its from a torrent or newsgroups and that’s the only thing that you do (not UPLOADing  movies), then you’re probably safe. In fact, you’re a great ‘watercooler’ marketer for new movies in the theaters or just released on DVD. Now, it seems that Comcast will be monitoring bandwidth hogs, and  slowing down those connections that real hogs….translation: anyone downloading movies and music. So, what’s the worst thing you can do to a person that downloads a screener of gran-torino1 ‘Gran Torino’ or marley-and-me‘Marley and Me’ today ? (Because they ARE up on the newsgroups thanks to the studios themselves – my next post, btw).  SLOW his connection speed to a crawl. Simple. No technical anything needed.  It will make getting these films to your home an incredibly frustrating experience.  And, this will happen, eventually…. read this. (Thanks Om!)

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The new ‘kid’ on the block

Where can you download hundreds of new movies without DRM, in the format of your choice, for $2-5.00 a pop? Unbox? iTunes? NBC Direct? Movielink? CinemaNow? Nope. None of the above. Instead, try zml.com. From the same folks who brought us ‘allofmp3.com’ (now defunct) brings us the newest thorn in the side of Hollywood, zml.com (this stands for The Movie Library). Until Hollywood shuts this one down, it is the newest equivalent to what Kazaa or Limewire once was – access to full, brand-new Hollywood hits available for download – except with a download ‘fee’ attached.
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If you want to try this service I’d suggest getting a pre-paid Visa card because who knows what they’d do with your credit card number once grabbed in their database running out out of Russia. My sources tell me the site is up and functioning (I did not try it). From what I’ve read, it takes a little over an hour to download a full length film ( 700 meg Divx file) -this was on a DSL connection (so broadband would be significantly quicker). Formats run from Divx to iPod (mp4), PDA to DVD (vob).

These kinds of illegal movie download sites pop-up from time to time. But it seems when Hollywood legally ‘sanctions’ (officially ‘license’) a bona-fide movie download site, they always seem to shoot themselves in the foot or force the website to remain captive to its licensors (the studios) restrictive, anti-consumer un-user friendly demands which ultimately strangles the web service. Done right (which the illegal sites seem to get right because they DON’T have the studios in their faces) are the ‘key’ elements that go a long way to providing some traction and consumer popularity. These illegal sites all tend to promote 5 essential consumer ‘key’ elements that make them very attractive to use and popular. They are (1) broad choice of current or new movie’s offered + library (2) flexible choice of video formats (3) priced fairly (4) no DRM (5) ease of use

The 1 item that Hollywood can’t seem to get around is DRM. The use of DRM and the reasons why the studios insist on DRM has another solution than the “all or nothing” proposals of the past. This issue CAN be handled differently. Handling this another way would allow consumers to have the same flexibility that an ‘open’ (or non-DRM’ed file) digital file would have – complete interoperability between different kinds of hardware playback devices (DVD players, iPods, computers, etc.) AND still contain the DRM algorithm ‘flavor of the month’ that Hollywood desires. More on this another time soon.