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Newgroups and Bitorrent – is warez really ruining the industry?

If the authorities were to be believed, then downloading from Bitorrent or Newsgroups is the root of all evil, not only can downloading illegal warez potentially inflict viruses upon your system but it can also cause genital warts and ruin your chances of ever getting laid. Kids in bedrooms across the globe are single handedly ruining the movie, music and entertainment industry – or so we are told.

Let’s be honest, almost everyone reading this will have at one time or another downloaded something illegal – whether it was a TV show, movie, or computer game. Very few of us will admit it in public for fear of the RIAA or Government tracing our IP, but most of us have done it, at least once. Recent reports from various ISP’s in the USA and Europe have shown that the worst offenders can download over 2TB a month on illegal, copyright material.

What can the authorities do? Well for some reason the RIAA and other authorities seem to target kids who use bitorrent to grab a new album they maybe can’t afford. We have all read stories of parents having to attend court to try and defend their kids from legal action. That new Lady GaGa album might have been their most expensive download ever. Suing 12 year old kids, doesn’t really help your cause however.

“I got really scared. My stomach is all turning, I thought it was OK to download music because my mom paid a service fee for it. Out of all people, why did they pick me?” 12 year old Brianna said. TV appearances of her holding a cuddly toy and sobbing did the RIAA more damage than good.

Hugely popular Bitorrent site Pirate Bay is constantly featured in the press as being the center point of legal action. They have been closed several times, but within a few short weeks they get hosting elsewhere and reappear. High ranking members of the RIAA must have scars on their foreheads from head butting their monitors on a monthly basis. Pirate Bay is actually such a success story that they have their own clothing range. Pirate Bay 5 RIAA 0.

impress your friends with a Pirates Bay t-shirt

Other sites, such as Limewire haven’t been quite as fortunate, as the RIAA have managed to close them down due to “infringing the copyright of [the RIAA] members by facilitating the illegal trading of music, movies and other content”. Limewire apparently “intentionally encouraged infringement” and knew about “substantial infringement being committed”. RIAA 1 Limewire 0.

While many people use Bitorrent, the superior option is actually Newsgroups, although good access isn’t often free. Companies such as Giganews offer unlimited bandwidth packages and do nothing illegal, as they are merely hosting publically shared files between users – you also don’t have to upload either which is a huge bonus.

Leading newsgroup search websites such as Newzbin were taken to court earlier in the year and forced to close, with the owners at that time owing in excess of a quarter of a million pounds to various software companies and organisations. We could almost say ‘RIAA 1 Newzbin 0’, but the funny part of the story is that Newzbin code was apparently ‘stolen’ by other people and in a few weeks time the website had miraculously reappeared. They are now called ‘Newzbin 2 and dont list anything to anyone outside the paid for member list. If you want to joinup you need a friend to recommend you.

Another leading search site nzbmatrix offer free services with extra options for paid members, but you only have to pay once. There are listings for movies, music, PC games, even ebooks. Again they aren’t hosting anything, just offering a file indexing service so we would assume in a logical world that they are exempt from legal action. Not so, because Newzbin did exactly the same thing and they were already shut down by the authorities.

the sites they don't want you to know about

An up to date listing of games easily downloaded. Medal Of Honor, Fifa, Football Manager. Some even leak before they are released.

So how badly is this really damaging the companies who make the games, movies and TV shows that are readily available for download? It is hard to tell, one of the companies who were involved in recalling costs from Newzbin claimed that they were owed over half a million pounds. Software companies such as Crytek who made Crysis claimed that it was not even worth their time making exclusive PC games anymore as they lost millions on illegal downloads. Crytek’s Cevat Yerli said a few years ago “We are suffering currently from the huge piracy that is encompassing Crysis. We seem to lead the charts in piracy by a large margin. I believe that’s the core problem of PC gaming: PC gamers that pirate games inherently destroy the platform. Similar games on consoles sell factors of 4-5 more. It was a big lesson for us and I believe we won’t have PC exclusives as we did with Crysis in future. We are going to support PC, but not exclusive any more.”

The general feeling is that games are much too expensive. “Why should I pay £40 for a new PC game which lasts me 5 hours? I can’t afford it, and I know it won’t last longer than the weekend”, one of my young cousins said last weekend.

Leading movie production companies claim that they lose millions every month from illegal downloads. Many artists now claim that there is no money to be made with music sales, the bulk of their income comes from touring and playing concerts. It is a difficult task to measure lost music sales, but analysts in Europe claim hundreds of millions are lost every year.

Music is another target, with ex industry chief Rob Dickins claiming that downloadable music albums should cost £1 or less. Would this help drive more sales and force illegal downloads to decline? He seems to think so, but we aren’t so sure. We expect hell to freeze over before we see new chart albums on iTunes for 99p.

KitGuru says: How do you feel about downloading music, games and other files? Too expensive, or do you just like to get freebies?

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