Selling alterable versions of Star Wars is still infringement, court says

I am oddly conflicted about this.


VidAngel purchased a disc for every stream it sold, some 2,500 titles in all.

It’s worded a little vaguely, but if they just purchased a single disc of a movie and then used that as justification to stream it to multiple people then that seems like a pretty clear-cut issue. If they purchased a single disc for each individual customer they streamed it to, that might be a little more grey, but that number sounds a bit low for that.

From the article, it sounds like the “alteration” bit was a side issue, where they tried to work around the basic copyright problem of the streaming by saying they were “transforming” the movies for fair use purposes by cutting out small parts of it.

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RIP VidAngel. They provided a service that there is considerable demand for, and tried to do it in the most principled fashion possible. Now that we know that altered streams are infringing… You may as well release altered versions on a torrent site. Either way, they’re considered criminal under law.

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all thanks to Disney greed.

Copyright is one of the evil blights on the land.


It’s a surprise that selling copies of a movie currently for sale in stores is illegal?

I’d imagine that if I edited some bits I didn’t like out of the Harry Potter books and tried selling copies of them for profit, the publisher wouldn’t be too happy, either.

I’m certainly not surprised, but I can see the value that this service provides to its users, even if I wouldn’t find it useful myself.

If movies/TV were generally available (legally) in a DRM-free form, I could imagine a way to build a service like this. As it is, I don’t see any way that this service could exist.

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While the premise is good (that copyright is too long and creates a content desert), the graph has problems. “it’s looking at a random sample of 2,500 fiction books (along with some books about fiction) available in the Amazon warehouse” An Amazon warehouse is mostly going to have new books (including reprints). Whenever I order a used book from Amazon, it’s shipped by the seller, not from an Amazon warehouse.

Used booksellers have tons of stock from much of the copyright desert. And they’re cheap. At that point, there’s relatively little point in reprinting a book unless there’s a lot of demand - enough people willing to pay $10 for a new reprint vs 10¢ for a used copy in good condition.

But as you go further back, there are fewer copies available and in worse condition until you need to look to vintage antique booksellers with much higher prices. At that point, if there’s any demand for the book, reprints are worthwhile, so new copies will be available (and therefore in the warehouse and in that graph).

That’s not 100% of course, publishers do keep books in print as long as they’re selling enough to make it worthwhile, even if there are plenty of used copies out there. There are black holes where lie books that don’t see much demand for a reprint, few copies available at used bookstores, but not yet vintage antiques. Books where the author just doesn’t want them in print anymore (and copyright hasn’t passed on to someone who would reprint them yet). Books from publishers that went out of business. But for books, the aftermarket is relevant to that graph. Rather than warehouse presence or sales, they should look at availability - how hard/expensive is it to buy books that were published that year?

Would be interesting to have samples in things that use more rapidly changing media to compare. How many movies/shows existed on VHS but haven’t been re-released on DVD, Blu-Ray, or as digital files/streams and are therefore mostly lost now? Even if there are a bunch of used copies on VHS tapes out there, they’d be useless for most people now, unlike a used book. Is there a desert of 8-tracks or cassettes that haven’t been re-released? (I’d say records but even though those are older, they’re still more present than 8-tracks and cassettes.)

And to what degree is the desert due to business priorities? A few years ago, I looked for a DVD collection of a TV series that my mom had loved years ago. The publishers had released the first 2 seasons and then announced that they would never release the rest on DVD because it was too expensive to get the music rights. Four or five years later, I happened to look again and there’s now a complete boxed set available. A lot of other stuff just hasn’t made it to the new media yet due to priorities, or old managers that don’t trust new media but are nearing retirement.


So it’s just a COINCIDENCE that reprints happen to be economically viable for works that are clearly in the public domain.