Piracy (and its products) isn't always about money.

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Piracy (and its products) isn't always about money.

Postby Jeff » 2012.02.21 4:20 pm

It's often about freedom and convenience.

Check out this scenario.

I have gotten spoiled by my XBMC setups. I pick a movie or TV show from a well-organized and simple-to-navigate list and it just plays. This can be done with a normal-looking TV remote from across the room.

Internet video, like Netflix or Hulu, isn't terribly difficult, but Netflix's closed approach to streaming doesn't allow an XBMC plugin and I'm forced to dump out to the desktop and load netflix.com in a browser. This generally requires mouse and keyboard navigation, making the TV feel like a big, awkward computer instead of a sleek, integrated system. And Hulu? Forget about it. As I do not shell out for Hulu Plus, I'm forced to use their desktop app, a slow, clunky Flash affair laden with ads, poor navigation and spotty remote support.

Let's not even get into specialty streaming apps for Ultraviolet or other DRMed-to-hell formats.

Even my Blu Rays are pains in the ass compared to the HD movies in my collection. They invariably start with difficult- or impossible-to-skip trailers for other films or worse, evangelism for the Blu Ray format itself. Then there's a very long wait for the menu, an optional wait for access to mostly worthless online content, and the same slow series of disclaimer and warranty screens that we've been subject to since the days of VHS.

Media piracy proves through its convenience, speed and ease of use that the technology is already there for a smooth, universal consumer experience. The entire process could be streamlined. Downloads would be lightning fast if spread across server clusters and torrented. WoW and other platforms have known and leveraged this for years now. One-click purchasing that retains DRM while allowing painless and transparent installation has been mastered by Steam. Beautiful and simple-to-use interfaces already exist in open-source projects like XBMC and variants like Plex and Boxee. Why more set-top box, Blu Ray player and TV manufacturers can't get with the program on the UI front is now just pitiful. XBMC ran like a dream on the original spec-starved Xbox, for God's sake. Android (a la Google TV) is free. And the delays inherent to Blu Ray are not a fault of the medium or hardware but rather the clunky software that runs the menu system and self-imposed limitations by the content providers to make sure the user can't skip promotional material or copyright protection information.

I will download or rip copies of my own DVDs and Blu Rays just to have a better, faster experience with them.

The TL;DR version of the rant is this:
An elegant, centralized, fast media consumption experience is very possible, but next to no one will experience this. Those of us that curate these collections do it by fighting tooth and nail against content providers that refuse to let us in on the fun.

It's the same old story of monetization getting in the way of progress. I am not avant-garde or in any way new or special in my opinion or methods, but it never ceases to amaze me how great we could have things if only we were "allowed" to.
I do what I can.

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