Wednesday, 11 March 2015

iTunes down

All day, today, iTunes has been down, and even though Apple say "Customers may be unable to make purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or Mac App Store." in practice I cannot even view films I have already purchased.

I have never been in to the "tunes" side of iTunes, but I have purchased some TV series which I have been watching back to back on my computer and TV (Apple TV connected). It is funny having a full resolution SD or even HD window on a 5k monitor - it looks so small! It is nice to have in background. I have been watching old Dr Who, Stargate, even some Red Dwarf. iTunes just works (well until today).

But this is DRM stricking back - the very fact I have paid for these means I am hampered by today's outage. If I had simply pirated them I would have none of this. Indeed, you loose any warnings and adverts on videos if you pirate (though, to be fair, you don't get those on iTunes).

This did raise an interesting point though. Why don't I just pirate download the next episode and watch it? Would that be illegal or what?

Well, I am not a lawyer but...

1. If I could find somewhere to stream it then I would simply not be breaching any copyright. A court case determined that accessing web pages (and by implication steaming stuff) is not a violation of copyright. The analogy is someone reading a book. Reading a dodgy illegal photocopy of a book is not a breach of copyright by the reader (the person making the copy or distributing is breaching copyright).

2. If I download a pirate film though, one I have paid for, my understanding is that is at most a civil wrong and means I will possibly have a liability to be sued for damages for doing so.

But what damages? FFS I have paid to have a copy of that episode already so there are no damages. In fact the hassle, time, and cost of finding and downloading a pirate copy when I should just be able to just watch what I own already might make for a counter claim...

Of course there is a huge problem for the copyright troll industry! If my IP is found downloading something, they have no way to tell if it is something I have paid for. So they might try all the means they have (including some things in legislation) to go after me, and all they do is incur me costs which I can ultimately (hopefully) claim when I win the case against me.

What fun... TBH, I have only just realised it is not Thursday!

Update: Yay - pirated!


  1. It's a good job that you are not an AAISP customer, as that would appear to be a breach of contract based on current drafting!

    "It is not really our concern what you do with your internet connection any more than it is the concern of the power company what you do with the electricity they supply. However, we make it a requirement that you do not use the service for anything illegal. This includes copyright violation." (

    1. Yeh! Maybe... "Illegal", "Unlawful", "a civil wrong", "Immoral", all subtly different. Not sure where this one fits :-)

    2. For the purposes of the AAISP contract, "illegal", as you have defined "illegal" as including "copyright violation".

      Had it said "This includes some infringements of copyright", you've probably got more room to argue ;)

    3. Hmm, fair enough. I have tweaked it :-)

    4. Just one further tiny tweak to add "of"!

    5. Why does AAISP demand that you don't use your connection for anything illegal? Surely it should be none of the ISP's business what the connection is used for. When you sign an electricity supply contract it doesn't say "you must not use this electricity to grow pot, infringe copyright or watch TV without a licence", nor would a electricity supplier be expected to police what people do with the power they purchase.

      As for damages - it could be argued that there are damages caused by you unlawfully downloading something that you have already paid for (but don't currently have access to due to an iTunes outage) - if you followed the law to the letter, you may have decided to repurchase the content from another supplier so you could watch it during the outage. By copying it instead of repurchasing it, you are denying the copyright holder income that they may have otherwise got.

      Of course, the vaguery of this point is usually overlooked when calculating damages - lets say someone makes a copyrighted song available and it is downloaded 100,000 times, the record industry will argue that this has cost them 100,000*$price_of_song in damages. But that assumes that each of those 100,000 people would have actually purchased the song if they couldn't download it for free, which is complete bunk.

      Also, this argument doesn't work for claiming damages from iTunes-exclusive content that you _couldn't_ have repurchased elsewhere.

      I do agree though, that content producers are shooting themselves in the foot - where you have content that can be acquired legally for a reasonable price, or unlawfully for free, some people will always choose the free option, but many people will choose to follow the law and pay for it. There's very little you can do to stop the "freeloader" population here. Content producers place unskippable adverts and FACT warnings on DVDs, and that automatically lowers the value of their product, so now you have a product available for free and a *less valuable* product available for a price - you're going to push more people into the "freeloader" category. Then put DRM on it so legitimate owners can't use it as easily - again' you're further reducing the value of your product whilst having no effect on the "free" version. Finally, exclusivity agreements and geographic distribution agreements mean that its actually impossible for some people to get the legitimate product, so it is any surprise that they're taking the only route open to access that content?

    6. Well, after Neil's comments I have tweaked the wording on that. I chose the paid for option, because (normally) iTunes does just work and makes that easy and I am not unhappy about paying a reasonable price. I am slightly miffed that I do also have some of these on DVD from years ago (a present I think) and so am paying more than once anyway. Playing a DVD is more hassle though.

    7. > I am slightly miffed that I do also have some of these on DVD from years ago

      Handbrake, if you can be bothered? Although even the new personal use rights do not cover DRM circumvention, such as DVD-CSS.

    8. CSS was declared by some european court to be not an "effective copyprotection system" and therefore not covered by the EUCD.

  2. I regularly use torrents/nzbs/etc as a proxy for transcoding media.

    If I've bought a Blu Ray of some kids' movie and want to also put a copy on the iPad for them to watch in the car it's enormously easier just to torrent an SD version of the same film than to fire up handbrake and make myself a low bitrate version.

  3. This reminds me of