With digital media ‘manifesto,’ pirates offer truce to film industry

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, February 4, 2011 12:00 EDT
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An online effort that’s gaining more supporters by the hour appears to offer the film industry something of an olive branch in the war against Internet piracy.

It all began with a conversation at the Lift11 conference in Geneva, Switzerland, aimed at producing ideas on how to eliminate piracy.

A collection of tech-savvy media professionals decided to create a document that stipulates how media should be offered by producers. They called it the “Digital Media Consumption Manifesto.”

In exchange for industry compliance on file formats, availability and rights management, signatories to the document pledge to never illegally download a film again.

The project found its home at the cleverly named dontmakemesteal.com.

“We believe that content providers are a wee bit lost,” the site’s creators wrote. “They see us as their enemy. But we’re not! We love movies! And most of us understand that movies have a cost. We are persuaded that a big part of today’s piracy would just stop if content delivery was to change a bit.”

Though just a day old at time of this story’s publication, it had already gathered over 2,200 signatories, and the rate of growth was escalating.

In exchange for the pledge to never illegally download a film, signatories ask that production companies adhere to some basic guidelines:

“Rentals should not exceed 1/3 of the cinema price. Purchases should not exceed the cinema price. Monthly flat rate prices should not exceed 3 visits to the cinema. Pricing of TV shows is about 1/3 of movies. Payments are for the content, not bandwidth.

“I can obtain the audio in every language produced for the content. After purchasing a movie, all the languages are available. Fans are legally allowed to create and share subtitles for any content.

“The content I paid for is instantly available. Content is delivered without ads, or infringement warnings. I can find movies or TV shows by year, director, language, country, genre, IMDB ID, etc.

“The release date is global. There are no limits regarding the country you live in. I can download nearly every movie ever made.

“I can watch the movie on any device, without any differences in how the movie is presented. Movies are not bound to the service provider and must be DRM-free. I can easily understand my rights regarding movies that I rent, buy, or stream at a flat rate.”

The consumption of media has been a hotly contested sector of humanity’s digital revolution ever since the software Napster upturned the music industry’s entire business model by allowing Internet users to trade songs for free.

The annual costs of media piracy, in revenues producers say they’ve lost, are difficult to pin down, especially with the total number of Internet users approaching 2 billion.

Research presented by the International Chamber of Commerce put the figure at more than $1 trillion each year, but that included sales of counterfeit goods as well. Most people who download media do not turn around and sell the product.

The Business Software Alliance, a collection of industry groups from the world of commercial software, estimated that over $1 billion worth of pirated software was traded on bittorrent networks in the first half of 2009.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said in 2006 that movie piracy cost its members over $6 billion the year prior. While the industry regularly engaged in mass lawsuits to frighten off the millions of media pirates, the legal efforts have had little impact on the number of films being traded or how many are trading them.

Peer-to-peer sharing of copyrighted materials has only grown since then.

Industry watchers have long argued the MPAA should just embrace digital technologies and provide films in formats demanded by their most loyal customers, who often tend to be pirates as well.

“Over the past ten years, the highest grossing year on record for DVD sales and rentals was 2004 with $24.9 billion,” Dan Rayburn wrote for Business Insider in late 2009. “Last year, the total gross was $22.4 billion. That’s not a huge gap to make up. If the studios actually embraced digital technology, new distribution models like Redbox and stopped treating customers as if they are all criminals, their business would be doing a lot better.”

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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  • http://twitter.com/Th3_5p3ctr3 Anonymous

    Oh goodie. A show of weakness from the Pirates. Just what we need.

    Movies/Music = information.
    Information wants to be -FREE-.

    Maybe if people were making movies because they loved the art and actually cared about producing something of value, we’d have worthwhile movies instead of 10 years of Harry Potter and Twilight. ‘Art’ as a product does absolutely nothing but corrupt the entire concept of art. Stop it.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure the executives tax cuts make up more than any profit lost. Keep on raising those prices at the show, though. It’s working against your best interest.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/JBIAEYKRLQ3I574QNVSWBNNKVI M

    But you watch them anyway and just don’t pay?

  • Anonymous

    Don’t buy music, make your own instead.

  • Anonymous

    Because all the work you do is for free and you don’t have to pay rent or buy food or heating.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/JBIAEYKRLQ3I574QNVSWBNNKVI M

    But if you want other people to listen to it, you are going to have to shell out some serious dough on your own.

  • http://twitter.com/Th3_5p3ctr3 Anonymous

    All the artistic and creative work I do, I do for the joy of creation/artistic expression. This capitalist garbage pile of an economy seems to think that -everything- is worth money…it’s not. Playing “pretend” is not a job. Playing an instrument is not a job.

  • Greg Eckhart

    I think keeping the market situation ‘as is’ will do more ultimately to restrain industry pricing than a international trade agreement.

    1) The planet is full of ‘international’ agreements that all had the best intentions.

    2) Besides…the financial nexus between consumer and product isn’t as EASY as these pirates make it seem for online connect. One would think there would be a demand to eliminate monopoly pricing schemes like iTunes is more what ‘downloaders’ and independent artists want. Not much in it for the latter group.

    3) Also how cheap do people want it…I walked by a mall temporary stall and it was selling 5 used DVDs/CDs for $10?

    4) Their proposal seems to only want to speak to the ‘lag’ between digital content and distribution and strengthen the ‘I want it now’ convenience of the digital ‘promise’. That’s more of an industry ‘want’ that seems to be only mitigated by some vague notion they can’t do ‘advertising’ or link it to promotion? How that could possibly achieved is not readily apparent. Does anyone with an interest in something REALLY need to have it now? That strikes me as a false demand.

    5) These ‘pirates’ seem to forget that one of the industry’s ‘needs’ is to create supply shortage to maintain the ‘value’ of their products. Part of that is NOT releasing or over saturating the market with OLD product while promoting NEW. Way before the digital age, the movie industry saw a big problem with relatively ‘cheap’ TV filling out their schedules by repeat showings of old movies which released the ‘pent up’ demand for the newer product. This is why Disney ONLY releases it’s product for a short period. It’s more important for them to sell a few cartoons for a lot of money rather than carry it as a catalog product for a lower cost.
    The industry CAN’T under it’s revenue model simply make their product available ALL THE TIME to anyone, instead of the tiered and closed distributor system they have been using, because they would go broke.

  • http://twitter.com/Th3_5p3ctr3 Anonymous

    Says who? I can produce entire albums for less than $2 a piece…of original content. (Not a burn of someone else’s album, I mean a completely original album)

    Sorry to keep bursting people’s ‘I’m artistic!’ bubble here…but if you’re creating for the sake of creating, you’d be just as happy playing at a party, or handing out copies to friends for free.

    The Ego it must take to think to yourself “Hrm, I’m so good, I deserve milions of dollars for my song and the whole world needs to hear this!” is enough to make me sick.

  • http://twitter.com/Th3_5p3ctr3 Anonymous

    “5) These ‘pirates’ seem to forget that one of the industry’s ‘needs’ is to create supply shortage to maintain the ‘value’ of their products. Part of that is NOT releasing or over saturating the market with OLD product while promoting NEW.”
    –There are a lot of different names for what you are describing, but the most accurate I’ve heard recently is “false value”. If something is good, it will stand the test of time and market flooding. The fact that so few movies actually do stand up to those two tests is proof that they’re just pumping out crap.–

    “The industry CAN’T under it’s revenue model simply make the product available ALL THE TIME to anyone, instead of the tiered and closed distributor system they have been using, because they would go broke.”
    –This is the point, you’re just looking at it from the wrong perspective. The reason they would go broke is because they are incapable of putting out a movie/song/album/whatever that is actually good. If your revenue stream relies on the constant pumping out of poor quality crap…you -deserve- to go broke.

  • http://www.tommyjonestheband.com RantingTommy

    not really, I produce my own music using standard instruments and a PC:


    6 solo albums, 2 with my jazz group, and a few more with various projects

    the old days of needing a million dollar studio are long gone

  • http://twitter.com/Th3_5p3ctr3 Anonymous

    A lot of us won’t.

    One of these days, people will realize that you can’t put a price on something that has an unlimited supply.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t want other people listening to it.

    I don’t want them to buy my music.

    I want them to make their own instead.

    Other people listening to my music would just make me hate it.

  • http://twitter.com/Th3_5p3ctr3 Anonymous

    A far more artistic attitude than most musicians these days.

    +1 internets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001767244953 Keegan King

    The industry will not accept these terms, something or everything will be stripped and dropped.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Good luck with that. The whole thrust of modern media is to ram as many tons of advert space down the throats of every viewer, on top of charging them as much as humanly possible without driving everyone away entirely. Any compromise that suggests that a viewer has a ‘right’ to simply purchase a product at a reasonable price and not be bombarded by further advertising is a day dream. At this point, we’ll be lucky if tech isn’t developed that locks you into your chair, holds your eyelids open and forces you to watch a required amount of adverts.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    I have never not paid for something I truly love. I just don’t feel a need to pay for the crap or half hearted efforts done simply for profit. Maybe you don’t pump out fourty movies a month and go with five or six really solid awesome efforts. Maybe if the content would rise to meet the cost you charge for it we wouldn’t feel the need to hurt you by stealing and instead choose to support you.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KORPQY5FRLCYZ6NPPDCEXUYQPI Rupert Murdoch

    Who are these people? Shills for the MPAA?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KORPQY5FRLCYZ6NPPDCEXUYQPI Rupert Murdoch

    The organizers are media businessmen. Check their bios here: http://liftconference.com/lift11/speakers

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KORPQY5FRLCYZ6NPPDCEXUYQPI Rupert Murdoch

    Raw editors: you should not use the Pirate Bay logo with this story. It misleadingly suggests that Pirate Bay supports this horses**t. Of course they don’t.

  • http://twitter.com/theizzeh Katherine Molly

    as someone who was overseas, it’s nearly impossible to get english subtitled or english stuff unless it’s a huge blockbuster movie (and even then getting VO is difficult) Heck even movies that are in VO don’t come out until months later, even in countries that speak english. We need to make content international and get rid of this “region” thing. Just because I’m in canada doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch french tv shows from france and vice versa.

    Until the movie/tv industry realizes that until they make everything equal that’ll continue. I mean in canada in the big cities move tickets are up to 20$ each. People can’t afford to go see a movie at this rate, and 3D is just a gimmick to drive the price up.

    While I think some of these thigns will never happen, some of them really really should.

  • Greg Eckhart

    um….both your points are the same? Free market gibberish where you confuse subjective aesthetics and ‘making money’ with an established ‘tier’ distribution system where each of those ‘tiers’ are in fact investors in the product and as such they fundamentally need/want ‘first’ rights.
    It’s the industry itself that created essentially a restrictive pyramid scheme where so-called ‘bad’ product is simply ‘bad’ investment decisions done to ‘wash’ out profits and spill ‘red’ for accounting purposes to cover up the real profits in a business widely known whether it be Mumbai, Hong Kong or Hollywood to be ‘mobbed’.
    That industry needs to open it’s books for not the benefit of downloaders, but the benefit of their legitimate consumers and artists. Period.
    Now as far as bad music goes….I highly recommend an older book called “Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business, and the Mafia” and then you will find out why so called bad music is made to look popular.

  • Anonymous

    When everybody is in jail for pirating because they can not afford it, the prisons will be buying the rights to show these movies to the inmates, anyway. The filthy bastards still win.

  • Anonymous

    I can remember when tape recorders first became common, terrorists tried to get laws against them because they claimed being able to tape music off AM radio would ruin their business. They have apparently always been full of bull and hostile to their customers. I have bought nothing from the big operators since they started suing people for piracy. I buy from off-brand labels every time. I hope never to buy a record from the record producers association. They have made themselves my enemy.

  • Anonymous

    Hear Hear!

  • Anonymous

    Intellectual Property Rights are crime against humanity. No real pirate would support this.

  • RichWa

    What is missing from this discussion, and most avidly avoided by the entertainment industry, is the simple fact that back in the early 2000s music companies were found guilty of price fixing with their cds. Further research showed that had the music companies not overcharged, piracy would have been minimized as most people — including students — are willing to pay a fair price.

    Since then price fixing has continued and the SCOTUS, as of last month, is permitting a suit to move forward. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jan/11/major-labels-lawsuit)

    When it comes to the privacy losses claimed by both the entertainment industry and the software industry, their greed is part and parcel of the problem. If they just weren’t so greedy this would be a non-issue

  • Guest


  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    What’s the difference between intellectual property and material property? And if there’s no difference, do you propose that all property is theft?

  • Anonymous

    We’ll all adopt your standards for “solid, awesome” efforts, of course. And who steals stuff they really like, as opposed to stuff they just sorta like?

  • Anonymous

    And why are people stealing crap?

  • Anonymous

    Good thinking! If an artist spends years dedicating herself to learning music, her instrument(s), and sacrificing for her art, it’s just her ego that she should want to be recompensed for her effort. It’s just greed, right? She should do all that and keep working the night shift at Denny’s like you, right?
    In just the same way, I think it’s greedy that you demand payment for your efforts, so from now on, why don’t you donate your minumum wage paycheck to help pay for the health insurance of the artists you’re stealing from?
    And making an album for $2? You must really disrespect your audience.
    It’s amazing the intellectual twisting people will do to justify their thieving.

  • Anonymous

    And what art have you produced? Who would want to pay you for your kazoo covers of Beyonce songs? Only someone who can’t play an instrument would say it’s not a job and career as well as a calling.
    You’re so full of shit it’s amazing you can type without staining the website.

  • http://twitter.com/btmfdrsheaven rebecca meritt

    wrote a song about it,wanna hear it ?

  • Anonymous

    Wish we could delete post, cause’ this one was an accident.

  • Greg Eckhart

    material property is tangible and unique? while intellectual property is derived from what Newton popularized as ‘Dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants’ so there can be no way to really assert it’s uniqueness or ‘original design’ in the SAME way as material property?

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    That is a very good question. I have a complicated and indefinite answer for it. I am opposed to Intellectual Property rights because it is impossible to deprive someone of an idea. Under existing IP laws, if I come up with an idea on my own and implement it, and it turns out that someone else has already patented it, I am liable for theft. This is absurd. Furthermore, if someone invents a bicycle, why should he hold a monopoly on all bicycles? The idea of bicycles – and all ideas – is property of no one, to be shared by all. Copying data from A to B cannot be considered theft unless copy A is also deleted, depriving the possessor of copy A (or original A) of the data.

    I am not necessarily opposed to material property rights. There are essential differences between IP and material property. Most importantly, material property is usually not copied, but outright stolen, depriving the original possessor of the object. I am sympathetic to the idea that a worker is entitled to the full product of his labor. Consequentially, I am in favor of worker ownership of the means of production.

    One problem with material property rights is the ownership of the resources from which property is made. Private ownership of natural resources (more so scarce ones) is as much a theft as capitalist ownership of the means of production, for as inhabitants of this world we are all entitled to its resources. Our children are equally entitled, and this creates a responsibility of all people to conserve our resources to the best of our ability.

    This problem of ownership of naturally occurring materials is a difficult one, and I do not expect it to be solved any time soon. However, over the next several decades it will hopefully become increasingly irrelevant as cheap renewable energy becomes freely available and material science is revolutionized, along with our plundering of the vast wasteland of the galaxy, mining massive asteroids and such. Existing available resources should be used to make these future technologies and resources easily available to all people as soon as economically possible.

    I hope this helps. Please respond if you have any ideas, I am very interested in discussing this further. Criticism is welcome.

  • Anonymous

    “Intellectual property” is as fake as “global warming”. Another globalist scam, ready-to-turn-Ponzi.

    Stephen… Why are you deliberately hiding who is saying what, in your article. Either you need a course in English Composition, or you have no idea who you interviewed. Who said what, dude??? Are you doing that on purpose? Bad boy, if so.

    These people, whoever they are, HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO BARGAIN FOR ANYONE.

    Excessive copyrights are used to: 1. Rob families of rights to their loved-ones royalties, instead directing it to corporations (Fogarty). 2. Enables corporations to steal and copyright free-use properties ( Disney) 3. Enables corporations to censure bad stuff about themselves (Scientology) and 4. Enables globalists to rewrite (correct to their liking) and cultures, history, and themselves (Jeb Bush’s teacher “aids”).

    Thomas Jefferson predicted it all. Google it. Wow, the forefathers were soooo wise…

  • CaptainHowdy

    IT’S A TRAP!!!

  • CaptainHowdy

    That seemed obvious from the start.

  • CaptainHowdy

    Errr, this Trojan Horse scenario was PROPOSED BY THE INDUSTRY.


  • Anonymous

    They won’t decide to comply, until it is too late.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=621836715 Kevin Schmidt

    Why should I work hard and risk my investment money to create a new idea if all that is going to happen is other people and competitors steal it all away from me?

    The problem is, the creator usually works for a multinational corporation that keeps most of the profits.

    Cut out the middle man (which is now possible because of the internet), increase compensation to the creator and lower the cost to the end user. Everyone, except the big corporations, will profit from this new arrangement.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you about corporations taking all the profit. I am judging you for being only motivated by profit to make something new that could benefit all of humanity.

    Noam Chomsky has a good interview response to this question of IP rights, discussing your point about corporate profit for individual work and also the private profit from public investment, and the history of American IP theft (notably the textiles industry). http://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.noam-chomsky/msg/12c9b62ed459d63d?pli=1

    Here is his take on the morality side of the issue:
    “Intellectual property rights has very little to do with individual
    initiative. I mean, Einstein didn’t have any intellectual property rights
    on relativity theory. Science and innovation is carried out by people that
    are interested in it. That’s the way science works. There’s an effort in
    very recent years to commercialize it, like they commercialize everything
    else. So you don’t do it because it’s exciting and challenging, and you
    want to find out something new, and you want the world to benefit from it.
    You do it because maybe you can make some money out of it. I mean that’s
    a… you can make your own judgment about the moral value. I think it’s
    extremely cheapening, but, also destructive of initiative and development.”

    People will continue to invent new things even when the artificial profit incentive is removed. Because it is exciting. Because it is beneficial to the inventor as well as everyone else. There are other ways to profit off an invention that just IP rights. If the artificial profit incentive was removed, the quality of inventions would be vastly improved, and the innovation would not be stifled, but quite the opposite, since currently corporations bury innovation to protect the value of the IP they currently hold (electric car, etc.).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=621836715 Kevin Schmidt

    Not at all. True artists want people to have access to their art. But, when they create art, they create art for art’s sake, not for acceptance, high ratings or financial success.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/XIWZRWAXJQKAJ4QEHKMVMCMLAY brian

    Great! Now the record companies have a list for their next round of lawsuits!

    This is like like joining the NRA if you’re afraid the govmint is coming to take your guns away.

  • Anonymous

    And just how much new work is created by an author or musician 50 years after their death?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SFJ4SDNDGV77YHPHPPHQ2GFL5Y John

    While I have no argument against you that charging high prices for mediocre content probably encourages piracy, it still doesn’t justify piracy. The price of a bulk bag of Doyle Blueberries just went up over a $1 a bag. Does that mean I should start stealing the bluberries? No. The solution is not to start stealing. The solution is to stop buying. So I will not buy any product that I believe is overpriced. Unless of course I am forced to like car insurance and soon enough, health insurance. Obviously, people are buying movies in whatever form the can(DVD, movie tickets, streaming, rentals) otherwise nobody would make movies. So, people themselves create the divide between people who think movies are worth the prices asked and those who don’t. If you think the price is fair, buy it. If you don’t think the price is fair, dont buy it. Nobody needs movies or music to live a normal life.