“What is piracy? Here’s what you need to know”

“There are a range of reasons why people pirate, including a philosophical desire for all digital data to be free.”

Which I don’t necessarily agree with, and then there are those that just “want it our way.” Like with Mp3’s and Napster, a lot of us want Mp4’s to be similar and transcode-able, which means drm-free. For me personally, I used to always want to be able to connect my TV to my computer and just drag the movie/TV Show over. It was, at the time, much simpler than any UI on a DVR or fiddling with discs. 

Nowadays we have Jellyfin and Plex, which are essentially Netflix packaged so that you own it and host your own content libraries. The download process can be set up so that it’s completely automated. It’s so simple, once set up, that Jr (say a 11 year old) could enter the name of the movie he wanted to watch into a form, hit go, wait, and it will be available on his tablet through Jellyfin/Plex within the hour. Sometimes less than 10-20 minutes, depending on setup.

Jellyfin has over 200M+ downloads on Docker Hub, and Plex from LinuxServer.io has over 500M+ downloads. There is definitely a massive amount of demand for being able to host your own streaming platform and control your content library. 

As self-hosting expands into more homes, as does the need for a legal way to purchase movies for your family to view.

Currently it is widely accepted that if you already own a physical copy, it’s fine to “backup” that copy and own a Mp4 (or similar, but for simplicity I’ll use Mp4 only) copy that you can stream to any and all of your devices using your rarely used upload speed of your home connection, something Fiber comes with a lot more of. Backups are fine I guess, but the software to be able to rip them is still technically illegal.

I’ve been contemplating on this for a long time now, thinking there has to be an option that works for both parties, and this is what I came up with:

  • Legalize backups of DVDs/Blurays as long as UPC codes are kept with the virtual copy
  • Allow for the purchase of monthly subscriptions for content similar to what a skate ranch might purchase for music.

The first one more or less speaks for itself, with up to 5 people per UPC code able to stream the content. This includes watch parties with friends anywhere in the world. Anything more would require additional licensing (one time, subscription,  perpetual, or whatever).

The second option is a license for your media. An example would be $35 / month for 300 movie collection with 3 maximum simultaneous streams. These movies are curated from sources like ThePirateBay and BitTorrent where bandwidth is shared and free.  Blizzard uses BitTorrent for their game updates and it has worked quite well for them. This makes it so that there is absolutely 0 cost to the media industry other than setting up the ability to purchase licenses. An additional source of revenue in a market that can argue they are not customers to begin with because it is not available their way, so there’s no lost sale.

The catch? The license does not track you or itself. It would work like Microsoft’s CAL licenses in that there is no product code or registration number. You know if you are legal or not based on the total in your media library and it’s up to you to “want” to be legal. Of course sharing with friends and family could offer incentives with a bounty program for license overages. 

Anyway, I’m interested in what you think about my proposal. Feel free to respond on social media or drop a comment below.

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