Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Legal Torrents for Movies?

No, I'm not referring to a new site. I'm talking about an interview that TorrentFreak had with the creators of The Pirate Bay, who have been in the lime light because of their upcoming trial. Anyway, one of the big quotes from that interview is their advice to the movie and music industry to start their own torrent site and put The Pirate Bay out of business. Would this ever happen? I kind of doubt it. Yes, there are several popular movies on BitTorrent, but how many people do you know who have tried it? Why would you pay $20 for a digital copy of a movie that you can only watch on 2 computers? The over-arching issue here really is DRM. Releasing DRM-laden movies on BitTorrent is like if someone orders a hamburger and you only give them half of it. How many years did it take the music industry to turn to DRM-free mp3s? It will take at least that long for the movie industry to come along. I have a feeling that they eventually will come around, I just don't know when. So if I believe they're guaranteed to eventually ditch the DRM why don't I think they're likely to use torrents for distribution? Simple: control. These companies like to have a lot of control, hence DRM. Getting rid of DRM will be losing a lot of control for them, and I think it'll be a while longer before they lose control of distribution to a peer network, despite how well-constructed BitTorrent DNA is. I'll admit that it's possible though, but getting studios to come together on a torrent site won't be much easier than getting the labels together (I have no idea how Amazon MP3 pulled this off). I think they'll associate torrents with the enemy for a long time, and not be trusting of it. But I'll be optimistic and say that it's possible, just not in the near future.

The more content that Hulu has been getting, the more street cred it has been receiving. In case you don't remember, this site's goal is to provide television shows on-demand (current and past) for free. You can think of it as a competitor to Joost, only it's not hard to use and has popular TV shows. NBC's defection from iTunes was a pretty bold statement, I think. I've been using it to watch Firefly and other stuff since the writer's strike began and I never missed my television set during that time (though I did use it to watch DVDs). That article makes a good point that they should advance television to the next level with this with more interactive features and discussion, which I definitely agree with. I think that it should become an integral part of IP TV, as time progress. I've been reliant on Hulu and Miro for the past 3 months, to be honest, so I can see these two ideas combining later on. Anyway, the big news is that Hulu is public now. That means that you can see my favorite Superbowl ad and much more at Hulu; you won't be disappointed:

Mozilla released Firefox 3 Beta 4 just a couple of days ago and apparently the GUI has been retooled to play nicer with the Vista UI experience. In fact, it's designed to look native to the OS you're in and integrate more tightly with OS X, Windows, and Linux. I actually haven't played around with the new Beta much myself, but so far so good (I don't have Vista anyway, so I wouldn't be able to attest to the above claim). Apparently, they've been putting a lot of effort into improving their memory usage. Reading that post was really cool to me, but if you haven't had a course in Operating Systems then it'll probably bore you to tears. I just thought it was cool because you can tell that they've really been digging deep to improve complaints about crashes and memory leaks. I just love it when developers are so responsive to the concerns of their customers. I think IE has been gradually learning lessons like this from the Firefox team. If you look at the development of IE 6 as opposed to 7 or 8, you can see how radically different they are.

I just want to make a quick note about Dropbox because I think it's really cool. You can see a tour of it here, and it's basically an online back-up and synchronization service that is still in beta. I think the concept is phenomenal: it will synch your data across multiple computers and with the online backup of your data. It kind of reminds me of Drobo. It works without inundating you with details but providing you with data integrity (an underrated issue nowadays in the mainstream) and and synchronization. I worry about its speed as you work with larger files, but I'm sure that they've been designing it with scalability in mind. I'll let you guys know if I get in the private beta.

I've never been a big fan of Nine Inch Nails (I liked the crazy video for "Closer"), but I've always retained a certain degree of respect for Trent Reznor. Since they're no longer tied to a record label they decided to release an instrumental album called Ghosts, and I really dig it. They've followed in the footsteps of Radiohead and released the first 9 tracks for free. What's really awesome is that each track is associated with a picture that helps convey the mood of the song, and I don't think I've ever heard of a band doing that before. If you decide you like it, you can buy the whole album (36 tracks) for just $5. The first 9 tracks are actually pretty good, I recommend trying it out. They're also selling hard copies in different editions with DVDs and vinyls and such for more money. What's great is that all that money goes to them, and none of it to a record label.

Before I close out here, I have to say that I find Hillary Clinton's recent antics ridiculous and unacceptable. She is supporting John McCain over Barack Obama! If you're a Republican and you support McCain, then that's fine. I respect that you believe his policies and you can vote for him, that's cool. However, it's ridiculous if you're a Democratic nominee for the candidacy of President of the United States and you betray your party for someone whose beliefs are completely contrary to that of the Democratic Party. Obama has a lot of experience as a community organizer, Illinois legislator, and Senator. Being a first lady does not count as experience. She was a Senator for a few more years, but how much more did she get done than Obama? Her negative campaigning just aggravates me. I'm trying so hard to respect her and what she has accomplished in her career, but the mudslinging does not help, especially when you antagonize what may be the only hope for your party to regain control of the White House. Even some of her front-line supporters are defecting. She's being hypocritical in her attacks, and if she didn't make these ridiculous claims then people wouldn't be so harsh on her and she'd have a much better chance of winning. Can't she see that? She's only going to hurt this Party's resurgence by giving material to McCain if Obama wins (which is becoming more and more likely now that he's erased her gains last Tuesday in just one week). Ok *sigh*, I'm off my soapbox.


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