/ Technology

Why should you always download content from a genuine site?

Legal download

Marianne Grant is from the ‘Get it Right from a Genuine Site’ campaign, which is taking a whole new approach to reducing online copyright infringement and ensuring safe downloads.

From binge-watching boxsets, listening to a favourite artist on loop or playing the latest video game all weekend, the internet has changed the way we consume media.

It’s also enabled more of us to become content creators, whether it’s uploading our own photos and videos or putting our prose out there for the world to see.

Reducing online copyright infringement

With this in mind, we set up the government-backed ‘Get it Right from a Genuine Site’ campaign. Some of the UK’s premier creative talents are taking a new approach to reducing online copyright infringement. Not only that, we want to make it easy for people to find legal downloads.

Those in the creative industries invest so much time and money in preparing and delivering their art. Our campaign aims to remind people why downloading from genuine sites and sources ensures there is more innovation and greater career opportunities in the creative industries.

Genuine sites and sources of safe downloads

But while we know that people value creativity, we also appreciate that time is precious. Turning good intentions into actions can hinge on how easy it is to access media legally.

Safe downloads are easier to access than ever – and illegal downloads have never been less appealing.

Illegal downloading and file sharing is one of the most common means for distributing and propagating viruses and other malware. Plus, it usually slows down a home broadband connection for all household members using it.

Illegal sites also often carry advertising that may not be suitable for younger people.

Early next year, the major internet service providers (ISPs), our partners in the ‘Get it Right’ initiative, will also begin sending educational emails to internet account holders. These emails will informing them if their accounts are associated with illegal file sharing and point them towards genuine sources.

And we are making these genuine sources easier to access than ever. If you’re unsure where to find safe downloads: a genuine copy of an ebook or film to download, a music album or video game to stream, where to catch-up on your favourite TV show, or how to watch popular sporting events, you’ll be able to find them on our website.

This is a guest contribution by Marianne Grant from the ‘Get it Right from a Genuine Site’ campaign. All views expressed here are her own, not necessarily those shared by Which?

Where do you go to access media content? Have you ever encountered a problem with an illegal download or site in the past?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

We have discussed at length the importance of using .gov.uk sites when renewing driving licences, and passports, in order to avoid unnecessary charges or worse.

I support reduction of copyright infringement but recognise that the main reason it exists is that companies have been far to greedy with their charges for music and films.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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I think “greed” is inappropriate in this context, although I can understand the sentiment. So many “discretionary” purchases can seem overly expensive – sports events, music concerts and so on. We do not have an inalienable right to view other people’s work, but market forces normally set the level at which consumers are prepared to pay. Those who aren’t prepared to will go to “illegal” sites, just as they might buy fake fashion items they could not otherwise afford, or copies of paintings perhaps. I do confess to not downloading music and films; my principal reason for avoiding using illicit methods of receiving entertainment would be to avoid importing something nasty into my computer.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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I see you have been given a “thumbs down ” malcolm probably from vested interests .I know exactly where you are coming from , never illegally downloaded any thing in my life (apart from political information /secret information ) but I believe in the principle of freedom of choice and not being ripped off by some closed shop legislation that makes the general public pay through the nose for any type of free produce just because they see a lack of profit . As I said in a previous post ,at this moment in the US they are trying to bring out legislation that would apply worldwide to stop you viewing – You Tube videos of singers /songs . I give you a thumbs up malcolm .

Member
John Session says:
16 November 2016

Hi Duncan, maybe I’ve misunderstood your comment but are you saying music and movies are free produce? Because that couldn’t be farther from the truth. If I have misunderstood you I think its still worth me making the point that from writers and directors, engineers and producers, actors, backing singers, session musicians, extras, set designers, location scouts, to pressing plant staff, warehouse distribution staff, drivers, salespeople, marketers, retailers, landlords, or in a digital world ISPs, data warehouses, coders, and on an on. All these people are trying to make a living. The product they bring to the consumer has to cover their time and effort. I understand it’s hard not to think of it as free when so much content is readily accessible on YouTube for free. But it’s really no different to real produce like Oranges and Apples. You could say they should be free because the literally grow on trees! But we kind of accept that a lot of people have to work to get it from the tree into our hand.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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John have you read William,s post below ? It seems to have attracted some approval . Like William I also see where you are coming from but most of the public feel if they have payed for something they should be able to share it with others like the many uploads to Youtube . I remember the days of 45,s and LP,s where many at a party listened to them , then you could record them onto open-reel tape which was popular in the 50,s I dont remember any controversy about it. Then when CC came out it was – CC is “killing music ” . With more and more media giants buying up the opposition , they then start charging large amounts of money for films/music/ etc that previously was available free on the TV for instance till its now reached the stage that freeview , IMO- has endless repeats of old films the American public wouldnt pay a dime to watch , I can turn down the sound and still know what they are saying and yet they think they are doing all right because young people havent seen some of the old stuff and dont realise its been paid for many times over . Thats disingenuous why should we be subject to rubbish media just because we arent paying for it . Even knowledge is now a for profit enterprise , what about the poor who cant afford to pay for it ?

Profile photo of JohnSession
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Hi Duncan, I get it, I do. When you buy something once you should have the expectation that you can do what you will with it, including sharing it or reselling it. I must admit open reel is a few years before my time. 🙂 but I do remember being at school in the 70s/80s at the peak of cassette. I had school friends that were doing a roaring trade in selling concert bootlegs. I bought quite a few from my favourite bands. Though we all knew what we were doing was wrong, we got a bit of a thrill out of it. Someone initially paid for a concert ticket to record that gig, was that sufficient money to make the bootlegs legitimate? Certainly a transaction the artists weren’t signing up to! I expect you’ll remind me that we’re talking sharing not selling. But people are making money from the sharing. Illegitimate content may seem like it does no one harm but there is evidence that it diverts income to organised crime. I’d also say that we’ve never watched a free TV show in our lives. We pay subscriptions, license fees, or we consent to having our program interupted every 15mins with advertising. There’s always a cost, and there’s always a revenue for content makers. As for the quality of freeview programming, you got me. 😉

Profile photo of william
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Whilst I see were you’re coming, I can’t agree with you. The political and power elite take great efforts to put out we’re in a global market and should be looking outwards, yet when it comes to things like dvds etc. We’re being royally sc**wed in this country. 1) We’re forced to buy region specific dvds to prevent us from buying in cheaper legal versions. 2) We typically have to wait from them to be released when they’ve already been released in say the states. ( A throw back to passing reels of film around the world, which meant there was a delay in getting films shown etc ). 3) And what’s with the cost, dvd’s cost fractions of penny so we all the packaging say £1, haven’t the film companies made enough money from the cinema that they now try to milk the dvd buying public too and don’t get me started on 6 months later the special edition gets released at the same rip off price. The whole industry needs to embrace this socalled global market for not only their benefit but for the paying public too.
and TV programmes, why are some shown with 24 hours ( sometimes at the same time) yet other programmes take months to arrive if they even do. And postponing an episode cos there’s a holiday in the states, bah humbug. Global economy my …
P.S. I’ve never illegally downloaded anything, but I have little sympathy for companies that suffer from because of it when it’s so easy to adapt to remove the reasons behind it.

Profile photo of alfa
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I agree region specific DVDs are a real rip-off in the UK. When we bought our DVD player from Panasonic a few years ago now, we paid an extra £40 to have it region free.

Member
John Session says:
16 November 2016

Hi William, I think you’re making a common mistake on your point 3 about DVDs costing a fraction of a penny. Yes, the 90 grams of plastic in a DVD and its case cost next to nothing as a raw material. However, once you’ve processed it, shipped it to a pressing plant, then to a distribution center, then driven it across the continent to a retailer its much more expensive, because none of these businesses in the supply chain are going to do their part for free. On top of that, there’s everyone else involved in making the content on that disc that needs to be paid from directors, actors, writers, to carpenters, stylists, designers, to accountants, lawyers, and managers. Then there’s retailers, their landlords, their staff, and all the other expenses from lightbulbs and carpets to till systems and and security.

You asked “havent the film companies made enough from the cinema?” The answer is no. Sure, some films are incredibly lucrative: Suicide Squad cost $175million to make, and probably another $150m to market but it has taken $745million globally so the studio is in the money. But for every global success there can be 8-10 failures. The same studio released Our Brand Is Crisis: it cost $28million to make and took $7million at the global box office. They tried to reboot Point Break and spent $105million on production to make $134million; after marketing they lost money. And some of their films never even managed to get a cinema release. If studio income was derived solely from the cinema, then studios would stop taking risks altogether, because they couldn’t afford the failures. And we’d all end up with the most boring, bland, safe films in the world.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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TTP and TTIP have been very keen to standardise copyright rules. Unfortunately despite the companies being in favour the worlds populace are seeing it as a stitch-up.

https://www.eff.org/issues/tpps-copyright-trap

” The current Berne standard of life plus 50 years is now under threat. The USTR is taking advantage of the secret TPP process to renegotiate it, hoping to firmly establish life plus 70 years as a new de facto global standard.”
Apologies to JW

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Patrick , as a knowledgeable person are you defending TTIP ?? The mind boggles ! it is secretive , evil trade deal that allows American BB to CONTROL British democratic voted on legislation by the British public , in regional and local shires , in everyday life , its abominable !! are you for this country to really be a satrap of the USA ? try doing that to the US there would be uproar – those dam limey,s telling US what to do ? If this goes through England = Costa Rica . No wonder years were spent in highly guarded world conferences by BB and governments deciding to be owned by the US , body + soul . As far as I know Donald is putting the blocks on TTP and even Congress agrees , sorry Patrick I am completely against this evil trade deal , full stop .

Profile photo of wavechange
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While I support efforts to reduce copyright infringement, it is equally important that the public is treated fairly by companies. It took many years before ‘format shifting’ was made legal and many people bought CDs or downloads of music they had already purchased on record or tape. I’m no expert but believe there is a good case for getting rid of the region-specific DVDs that Alfa has mentioned.

Most of what I buy is orchestral music and I am happy to pay the advertised price because the cost of a CD supports skilled musicians and orchestras. However, looking at the money made from films and more popular music, I feel the public is being exploited and it is hardly surprising that we have illegal downloads.

Profile photo of alfa
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I miss the early internet days when free games and utilities were widely available and you didn’t have to worry about viruses or malicious intent but sadly those days are long gone.

These days, the risk is too great to download software from anywhere except a genuine site. It might be expensive when it is first released, but the price does drop if you are prepared to wait a few months.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Alfa I have just posted on the money convo if you have WOT app on your browser remove it now , they are definitely guilty of malicious intent -all your data sent to third parties – read my post there.

Profile photo of alfa
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I don’t have WOT installed Duncan. Funny how you can’t trust most things that have the word trust somewhere in their title.

Profile photo of AnthonyMitchell
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Pricing and Licensing are the two major reasons illegal downloads exist. It is so hard to get content providers to release the same content across the world at the same time (or in some cases at all such as local content or Anime/) This coupled with anti-competitve practices of content companies contracting with only one provider like Amazon Music or Spotify and Netflix and Now TV and users are forced to pay for multiple times due to this uncompetive practice. Sky have been forced to offer sports contents to it’s competitors when will content providers be forced to open up the market for anyone to show it.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Anthony , you might or might not know that 6 major entertainment conglomerates own 96 % of the world media , I wont name the owners as it might get me in trouble but its so bad now even Business Insider has published basic details on its website . I got the deeper info years ago on “non- approved ” websites. Yes its a stitch up. In reality there is a serious “political” side to it .

Profile photo of John Ward
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I’m not sure about 96% of the world’s media being owned by 6 major entertainment conglomerates. I wonder how that was measured. Off the top of my head, in the UK, the BBC and Channel 4 are government-owned, ITV is independent and owned by several licensees, there are several independent publishing groups owning newspapers and magazines, and there are several independent film production companies. There are numerous book publishers even though many of the well-known names are part of larger corporations. I accept that Sky [21st Century Fox] and Times Newspapers [News UK] are both part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire, and that Channel 5 is owned by Viacom, but the overall picture is quite diverse and no one organisation has a dominant position. Globally, music, film, games, and digital content are more consolidated but still competitive. Social media are technically independent even though the main players have very large numbers of users but new platforms keep popping up.

The important question is whether this situation is harmful and whether choice is restricted or powerful individuals have undue influence. This depends on one’s assessment of the intelligence and mentality of the general population. At least it is all out in the open and people can talk about it freely, and also avoid what they don’t like.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Its the truth John and while I got the original compilations years ago along with the owners ( at the very top ) Its very easy to obtain the figures of what I said , if Business Insider , a German owned , American based business/stock market /business celebrity/ etc -right wing -pro BB prints it as well thats saying something . But as luck would have it I have a full archived vastly detailed ( taking up a webpage ) of fine print proving my point , I will ,if you or others doubt me ,and as I have been told many times here -prove it ! – well I can but it wont look too good for the owners as they all belong to one section of the community . I originally got it from radical websites but found out from “normal ones ” it was the truth , they just dont like admitting it as they use their power for propagandistic politico ( world politics ) use constantly . Many Americans already know the facts and complain about it vigorously. Do you want me to post it ?

Profile photo of alfa
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I agree with much of what AnthonyMitchell says.

You start watching a TV series, wait patiently for the next series then find it is only available on providers like Amazon who avoid their taxes and can then afford to hold the rest of us to ransom.

BT have invested heavily in BT Sport holding football fans to ransom. They have made their money from telecoms customers and should have put that money back into improving the telecoms network.

Neither Amazon or BT will get any money out of us for their TV viewing. We already pay more than enough to Sky. Another series will get our attention at some point and if we really, really want that series, we will buy it all on one DVD.

Profile photo of John Ward
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Although we are not avid TV viewers and have abstained from signing up to any of the packaged content providers like Sky and BT, I can see that the power of certain companies has seriously restricted choice and diversity. If I were a sports fan I would be extremely annoyed that a powerful combination of sports promoters and media moguls is having such a controlling effect on access to sport, its presentation, and its timing to the detriment both of the many supporters whose loyalty is being taken for granted and of casual home viewers who can no longer watch the sports they want to in the way they want to without paying a high price and having to take a package that includes stuff they don’t want. It also means that public service broadcasting has been excluded from the coverage of many sports except at exorbitant cost and under restrictive conditions. I appreciate that there are counter-arguments around investment in the sports but, in my opinion, that is a thinly disguised apology for corruption, the spoilage of natural talent, and the exploitation of supporters.

The movement of popular drama and serials across different media platforms is also causing a lot of concern and is leaving the mainstream channels dependent on low-grade programmes and formats, repeats, and third-rate sensational tripe. Now that big organisations like Amazon are creating their own content rather than just marketing existing material, the eclipse of traditional but simple and accessible broadcasting is taking place before our very eyes.

As to what we can do about this, I haven’t a clue.

Profile photo of John Ward
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I appreciate your comments, Duncan, but I still don’t understand how, when so many of the world’s media organisations are either under some form of government ownership [and direct state control in some countries], and when there are so many independent media organisations, how 96% of global media can be owned by just six corporations. However, I am not going to challenge the ‘truth’ of what you say because the facts are hidden from view and I don’t think naming names will get us any closer to the real issue. This is, in my opinion: Why is it a problem? What harm is it doing? and What should we do about it? You have not answered any of those questions and rather than continuing to allude to mysterious sources and a protected element of society it would be helpful if you would explain why, as UK consumers, we should take these undercover reports more seriously.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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It is an interesting statistic. The first point is “owned” which may be a distinction from who is showing it.

Bertelsmann are very big and own ” With the acquisition of Random House in 1998, Bertelsmann already became the largest book publisher in the English-speaking world.[171] 250 publishing houses on five continents are part of the company, including Random House and Penguin Books, but also Doubleday, Knopf and Viking.[172] The German Verlagsgruppe Random House (Goldmann, Heyne and others), based in Munich, is not part of Penguin Random House,[173] yet it does belong to the same division at Bertelsmann”

Berlusconi controlled major chunks of the Italian media, Murdoch’s media empire is legendary so whilst I may not get a figure of 6 and 96% I could make a very good case that media control is a serious problem for Western democracies. Where the state controls the media that is a different case IMO.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_21st_Century_Fox
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_News_Corp
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Geographic_Society

Member
John Session says:
17 November 2016

I 100% agree. The industry wilfully restricts consumers’ choice on access, and creates the demand for a black market. Much like prohibition in the 1920’s. Ultimately you have to go back to de-criminalising consumption, and creating legitimate routes to access that give consumers choice.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Hi @marianne-grant – Please can you let us know how the ‘Get it Right….’ campaign is currently funded. I could not find this information on the website.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Wavechange= look no further I have it –its government funded so that makes me a bit suspicious that BB is behind it although from the websites you looked at it looks as if its pure gold . The bottom line is increased profits for all the media not just the seemingly “underdogs ” who have been given prominence to make it look more “charitable ” and so engender more public sympathy . Maybe I am too cynical but its real life I look at not flashy adverts . You want the info- prsformusic.com/aboutus/press/latestpressreleases/Pages/get-it-right-safeguarding-the-uks-creative-industries.aspx. I look forward to John- malcolm-Ian -Derek-etc proving my cynical attitude wrong ?

Profile photo of wavechange
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That was my concern, Duncan. 🙂 As I’ve said earlier, I’m opposed to copyright infringement but you are not the only one who is suspicious about the commercial motivation of this campaign. Thanks for the link.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Blew it apart Wavechange , although it says founded in the UK -2015- its AMERICAN — PRS -USA- linked to ASCAP – founded in 1914- +BMI+SESAC MCPS etc — as I said Wavechange BB -USA and we are backing it -taxpayers .

Profile photo of wavechange
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Hmmm. Any worthwhile campaign should provide detailed information about funding and the main organisations promoting and supporting it. Hopefully we will get some feedback.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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Never fear I am here. All the necessary detail.

http://www.bbfc.co.uk/education-resources/education-news/get-it-right-genuine-site

How about they reduce the length of copyright which has been expanding since it was invented in the 1700’s when AFAIR it was twenty years. Sort of like a patent.

Profile photo of John Ward
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I could not see any reference to direct government funding [which I would be against] although it rightly has government backing. The PRS for Music [the Performing Rights Society as was and incorporating the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society] makes its money from licence fees from users of copyright material and in my opinion is an entirely worthy organisation. It is basically a trade protection organisation but it represents the artistes and performers, not the producers and distributors, so is not an agent of big business but of the hundreds of thousands of creative people who depend on royalties for the performance, via any media, of their music, lyrics, and other content. They are under threat from the illegal reproduction of their work which deprives them of their deserved earnings. The “Get it Right from a Genuine Site” campaign appears to be an initiative designed and promoted entirely by the PRS for Music. If the media industries also benefit from its endeavours that is a bonus and is separate from the issues we have discussed earlier in this Conversation to do with the suppression of competition through commercial consolidation. Performers are arguably the losers in such developments and this campaign is one way of counteracting those challenges and protecting their incomes.

Duncan – I have no desire to prove your “cynical attitude” wrong even though you look forward to me doing so.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Maybe I am being a bit defensive John, but I am up against some well informed , intelligent critics, but I do like the stretching of my mental abilities I actually thrive on it .

Profile photo of John Ward
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I am pleased to hear it. The minute this site ceases to host well-informed intelligent critics it will lose 90% of its value and interest. I appreciate that the editorial department sometimes feels the excess of knowledge inhibits the popular development of the more agitated elements of our community but you should not be deterred by that.

Profile photo of John Ward
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Wavechange – it is unfortunate that the origin and parentage of the “Get it Right . . . ” campaign was not clearly set out in the Intro. In this respect the word “we” in the fourth paragraph is misleading; I presumed it referred to the PRS for Music.

I think the term “government-backed” has also been open to misinterpretation as “government-funded”. It probably only means that a Minister has given it the government’s blessing.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Wow John ! that second sentence my admiration for you has gone up another notch , your sway with the English language is admirable.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Thanks Patrick Taylor for the link to the British Board of Film Classification website. It had not occurred to me to look there for information. 🙁

And thanks to everyone for the recent comments. It’s always useful to look beyond the information we are presented with.

I understand why the industry is concerned about copyright infringement but the ‘Get it Right…’ website should have an ‘About us’ link that provides information concerning its funding and the main organisations promoting and supporting it.

Profile photo of John Ward
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The Performing Right Society was formed in the UK in 1914 to administer the non-dramatic performing and broadcasting rights of musical works across the UK, Eire and the British Empire.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Its what it is part of now John .

Profile photo of John Ward
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I don’t know what you mean by that, Duncan. The PRS for Music is completely independent and solely a UK organisation. Let’s hope that Marianne Grant can reassure us.

Other countries probably have artistes copyright protection organisations with similar names and objectives but that does not mean they are connected to the UK organisation.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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I look forward to Marianne Grant not just reassuring us, anybody can do that, but state in clear non-legalese that PRS has no connections to any financial aid from HMG OR from BB by that I mean the media giants who own all the music business worldwide , including the USA . I am looking down a long list of “funds ” supporting it , its a webpage long and when you check into the background of some then— well I hope I dont have to say – but the fund can be traced back to BB Music .

Profile photo of John Ward
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Even if it were found that this campaign was heavily funded by the media industries and the unloved conglomerates, would that necessarily be bad? Are they not entitled to protect their investments in artistes and repertoire from rip-off merchants?

I agree with Wavechange that it would have been much better if there had been transparency over funding sources and supporting organisations. People are naturally wary of potential conflicts of interest and undisclosed connexions.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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When Which? host these Convos it would help if they gave relevant information about the contributor and their allegiances. Whilst the usual disclaimer that Which? do not necessarily share their views, if they are representing or supoport a particular faction it should be disclosed.

Profile photo of wavechange
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If one of us was to write a Convo introduction then the Which? disclaimer is fair enough but where the Convo is presented by a representative of an organisation then I feel that we deserve to have an insight into the views of Which? and perhaps some information that might add balance.

Profile photo of John Ward
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I should love it if we could have a Conversation about Big Business with the particular focus on how we can reverse the trend. The primary characteristic of mergers and acquisitions is a ‘scorched earth’ policy which makes retreat impossible. It also attempts to create homogeneity of consumers so that the market is easier to serve. My first witness would be Apple but there are hundreds of comparable alternatives.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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An area of interest for me also John.

One of the problems is that LTD companies never die and therefore can forever hold a grip on assets. Humans die and their heirs pay death duties. Perhaps there should be something similar for companies where they have a licence to trade and this can be revoked for being extremely naughty.

For instance Barclays organising fictitious lending and claiming tax benefits as is reputed they did.
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2009/mar/20/barclays-tax-documents-guardian
https://wikileaks.org/wiki/Barclays_Bank_gags_Guardian_over_leaked_memos_detailing_offshore_tax_scam,_16_Mar_2009

“A commentator to the Financial Times stated:
I was lucky enough to read through the first of the Barclays documents…
I will say it was absolutely breathtaking, extraordinary. The depth of deceit, connivance and deliberate, artificial avoidance stunned me. The intricacy and artificiality of the scheme deeply was absolutely evident, as was the fact that the knew exactly what they were doing and why: to get money from one point in London to another without paying tax, via about 10 offshore companies. Simple, deliberate outcome, clearly stated, with the exact names of who was doing this, and no other purpose.”

Big companies are very unlikely to have a conscience and probably the ends justifies the means is really the corporate motto. I have highlighted previously the cartels with Unilever and P&G in the EU and the French charging a big cartel nearly a billion euros in the last few weeks. The punishments have to be draconian.

Perhaps seizure of the companies assets, nullifying bonds and shares, and distributing the company to a state corporation who will run it until such time as it is sold off. Of course the people involved to be exiled. A perpetual holiday in Cape Verde with basic amenities doesn’t sound too harsh – : )

Do wonders for the local economy and nowhere of significance to escape to.

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In general I agree with you Patrick. I realise that I am at risk of taking this Conversation off-topic if I carry on with this line but I feel obliged to remind everybody that to a very large extent Big Business is owned by ourselves through our savings, investments, pension funds and insurance policies so we do need to be careful how much damage we would like to cause.

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There is a general issue of how we hold anyone to account. Public services for example. Gross overspend and delay on rail electrification, defence purchases, the incompetent air-refuelling fiasco, local authority spending £2m on consultants to tell them how to reduce spending……… We seem resigned to accepting failure and incompetence as normal life.

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John – I don’t doubt that we are dependent on businesses but perhaps we should ask if some of them have become too large. Whirlpool and the VW Group come to mind. It is to be expected that any large company is at risk of acting against the public interest occasionally but some of the companies don’t have a good track record. Perhaps a risk assessment should be done before major takeovers and mergers are allowed, looking further than competition issues.

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Now thats a point I have brought up in the past malcolm and was told –this is Britain not America, by that I mean that in the US their whole philosophical/ spiritual /social way of life it to complain , vigorously and at the drop of a hat as living in a hard-nosed capitalist/commercial society they value their tax dollars/ income /etc. In this country the whole thought processes can be classed as “stoic ” as in WC- second world war- we will fight them on the beaches etc. -IE- put up with it/not complain /live with it /accept it /dont want to create a fuss etc . I obviously must be an alien for outer space as I protest vigorously–beam me up Scottie -Aye-capt,n -said in a Irish “Scots ” accent. .

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JW- As individual investors we have a social conscience and would be likely take an interest in what is happening in the world where we are “owners” of business. However this element of control is lost if either forcibly , or by choice , your money goes to a third party who is tasked with generating income.

They may feel it is correct to invest in pharma companies with a record of ripping off consumers by lying about the efficacy of drugs, or arms companies, or companies that engage in dubious behaviour on paying due taxes.

There are primarily ethical investing bodies – Calpers and the Ontario Teachers body are two that spring to mind.

Lord Myners made the comment about Bank boards not really being answerable to anyone as the large institutions were in a cosy relationship with the arrangements. He also recommended the breaking up of the Big Banks.

I will avoid going technical here but shares held by your “institution” or by a third-party are rented out and can be voted regardless of your feelings on a matter. This is a nice little earner but something I am confident 90% of the population are unaware of.

It is a curiosity really that this matter is so unknown whilst we have charities set-up to educate the population widely in all manner of things.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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Mega-corporations are never going to be healthy for society so essentially it is really a question of scale. There is no doubt that the UK Banks had a cosy cartel operating for the late second half of the twentieth century. So my guess is that 4 or 5 is too small a number for the public good in any field.

How to negotiate around this and to take into account verticalisation of the industry or lateral benefits from adjoining fields borders on the impossible. Therefore society has to be hugely more aware of the misdeeds of businesses and this leads irrevocably back to the proposition that Directors must have a personal liability for decisions made.

In a sense, with the personal fines for nuisance call company Directors, we have started the process. It needs to be extended more widely and also include a penal option.

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Agreed, Malcolm. It’s almost too painful to relate. Reading reports from the National Audit Office is one of the most depressing activities on earth; they take so long to report on procurement fiascoes that, by the time they do, an even bigger one has got away. I sometimes wonder whether the civil servants who buy defence materiel have any idea what they are looking for and how much they should pay for it; they seem to up the spec until it is far too expensive, takes too long to build, and is out of date on delivery.

Norfolk County Council ended up having to pay £37 million to buy themselves out of a contract with a waste incineration company for whose development there was no planning permission and which was eventually ruled out by the Secretary of State. It has recently been officially confirmed that NCC is one of the worst performing councils in the UK for children services. Their current Leader was on regional TV news last night admitting that he doesn’t have a clue where to starting sorting things out but he promises to do so. As you say – There is a general issue of how we hold anyone to account.

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Patrick T – Unless you are buying shares in a company, it can be difficult to know who you are investing in and in many cases (e.g. pensions) the decisions are made for you. Thanks to commercial secrecy it is difficult to investigate companies that behave unacceptably and certain pharmaceutical companies have behaved in a very poor way. The fact that companies are currently exempt from Freedom of Information requests hampers investigation of wrongdoing.

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In some industries huge investment is required for them to operate – oil and gas, aircraft, motor vehicles, for example. Many others require big investment in expensive processes to produce the goods we require at the prices we like to pay.

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The greater the power, the greater the need for accountability.

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I share your views Patrick.

The innocent investor might think . . . ” Nadir & Zenith: that’s a very decent UK company with a high reputation around the world; I’ll buy some stock, or accept my adviser’s recommendation to do so, and put it in my portfolio.” Then it turns out that executives have been greasing the palms of shady sheikhs and a massive imbroglio engulfs the company making it difficult to sell the stock for more than it cost to buy. I am sure there has always been corruption but now it is on an international and industrial scale; accompanied, of course, by industrial espionage. Only the biggest corporations can afford to behave like this.

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Whom do you suggest as deciding the “accountability”? You might think the council taxpayers in Norfolk should act, but in what way? Who do we hold to account – and in what way – for the abysmal £10bn Voyager air-to-air refuelling deal? How should we hold to account, and in what way should they be penalised, those involved in spending £286m developing a tourist airport on St. Helena when it is generally too windy to land airplanes? Who should be held accountable, and by whom, when a charity loses £15m on a questionable venture?

There are a lot of questionnable activities that we may never get the full picture of, whether public or private sector. I simply do not see that an “accountability” plea has a means of being met in practice.

This seems to have departed a long way off topic, and maybe is best dealt with in a fresh Convo? Personally I believe copyright holders should receive their requested payments on discretionary (non-essential) purchases, but they must also recognise that in reality, particularly if the charges seem excessive, people will find ways to access the material through other means. They need to address those means, making it much more difficult for “ordinary” people to access them. Education, appealing to peoples’ better nature or sense of fairness, may not persuade many though. It’s a hard world.

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Making it much more difficult for “ordinary ” people etc malcolm — isnt that repressive and just ends up being spiteful and how much repressive measures can the public take just because others aren’t making as big a profit as they want . Totalitarian State – its coming now to you and your country of birth, when this country is already , watched , controlled, regulated to such an extent what “freedom ” is left —to breathe ? If you are part of society , you are controlled by that society, if that society is ruled by a higher society that is not voted in by the members of society- the public but by BB then as Voltaire says -you are ruled by BB not the democratically elected body – government. What comes first profit or people ? As I post this a military jet has just swooped over my cottage , the missile “missed ” .

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By eliminating the probability of a large portion of the population from acting illegally, just leaving it to the far more computer-knowledgeable, does not seem repressive but just practical. Like locking your door to keep out amateur intruders, but not the determined professionals. These are discretionary purchases – you can live without them if you don’t want to pay the asking price. Same as choosing whether you can afford to go to a football match or a pop concert, and eliminating gatecrashers.

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Hi all, while I do appreciate that this discussion has developed somewhat over the past day it is a long way off-topic here. In the interests of keeping a healthy on-topic discussion going can I please ask that comments are related to the issue of downloading digital products and should you wish to continue to discuss businesses, public services and consumers then this may be the best place to do so: https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/prime-minister-theresa-may-brexit-consumer-confidence/

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Duncan – Are you suggesting that illegally-obtained copyright material should be made freely accessible to anybody? Malcolm was suggesting that it should be made more difficult for people to get access to illicit content, just as with contraband liquor and tobacco products. Copyright theft is a crime and nobody should either profit or benefit from it. The industry most affected by copyright theft should put some of their vast resources into preventing it from occurring and stopping the marketing of it [which I suspect is mainly through hidden corners of the world wide web]. They could also be less avaricious in their selling prices for legitimate material to lower the incentive to buy it underground, and less controlling in releasing new content to avoid stoking up an undercover market. I have a suspicion that parts of the music industry in particular [as with ticket reselling] are turning a blind eye to the concerns of both performers and purchasers because it suits their interests to procreate a false demand. Fly-posting gigs and concerts was found to be condoned, if not ultimately controlled, by the promoters and the managements involved. Unfortunately, not all artistes are as pure as the driven snow in the exploitation of audiences so one has to hold back a bit of approval for this campaign.

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No John , but if you have already bought music /video products you have the right to let your friends view them . When more and more Big Media has control,over all our music/movies etc , removes films that I used to be able to watch freely and charges for them or music I listened to ( not illegally ) thats a repressive monopoly and hits the poorest in society the hardest who then resort to illegal means to be entertained . If society takes away benefits and a man/woman resorts to stealing to feed their family who is morally right ? Those that steal are jailed and their children taken into care and who pays for the care ? the public in much higher amounts than the food stealer’s gain .

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“Big Media has control,over all our music/movies etc”. Unless you have paid for them, they are their property not yours. Even when you “buy” them that does not entitle anyone to use them as if they had created them – copying and distributing for example. As far as I know, you do not buy a film, but the right to view it. Common sense is letting your friends and family listen to music, watch a movie, but not make and give them all copies on dvds or cds.

Are you suggesting that some groups – “the poorest in society” – should have different rules and laws from the rest of society? Although not one of life’s essentials there is plenty of entertainment available at low cost if you have a radio, tv and, generally, a licence.

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I did not think there was any threat to our ability to share our discs or downloads with our family and friends.

The question of whether the publisher [Big Media] has the right to withdraw products or content from sale or release is more difficult to resolve. The film industry has for generations been exercising very strict controls over the release of movies and their distribution [partly to protect their own interests in the ownership of cinemas] and one of the most zealous and manipulative companies has been the Disney Corporation which directly controlled exactly what we could or could not watch during the school holidays. Other film producers and distributors have also played the same games, even to the extent of withholding screening schedules from public availability to prevent any impact on this week’s showings – and this practice continues to this day [“Coming Soon to this Theater” was the best advance notice you could get but you had to pay to see a film to get the trailers!]. In the digital age these controls can be even more restrictive with embedded codes that prevent ‘unauthorised’ access, and could even, if deployed, prevent transfers of media from one device to another so that once played on any device [like a DVD player] it will be encrypted to lock it to that device. I don’t think this is actively used at present but the facility exists. The opportunities to interfere with and restrict downloaded material are no doubt immense.

Some clever clogs will no doubt come on here to say that if you go round all the charity shops and car boot sales you can pick up all the movies and tunes you would ever want – and a million more that you don’t – for tuppence each, but I wouldn’t know about that. I have never bought anything in a charity shop – I am just employed to lug in trunk-fulls of unwanted stuff [including music and films] that is cluttering up our cupboards and wardrobes.

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Well somebody has taken offense to my posting on Which it might be this Convo or another .Today I got one of those one line emails from “Roger Peyton ” – Hi Duncan –click on *********************************** hope this helps . Its an attack website , in other words IF you access it, it immediately downloads malware onto your computer . As you know I have a lot of add on protection and I know it works , not virus protection as such , but a multitude of jscript -html5/ bad servers/ malware domains / and a whole host of other onine protection so I tested it out , and it works . I do not advise anybody with a normal virus protection to try it you need a multi layer protection nowadays scanning is nowhere near enough. So “Roger ” nice try (not ).

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Just the one, Duncan?

Sorry – it is serious and I hope you can block them from contacting you. There is no justification, however offended people are, to attack others on-line. I can’t imagine what you have said that could cause such a reaction.

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I shouldnt have mentioned the “Big 6 ” John and you mentioned one of them in a post. Yes they gave up over the years as I never click on them but this one is too co-incidental , never mind it helped me find a high tech business website that checks re-directs as well as URL,s in a professional manner, even WordPress is mentioned .

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” Only the biggest corporations can afford to behave like this.” Not so John. During my time I saw small companies using these tactics, and public “servants” making clear what they would individually like in return for giving business.

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In one local authority a firm that didn’t win an expected refuse collection contract complained to the Council that they had wasted money on inducements to no avail. Some employees were dismissed without their full pensions for corruption but the company was not held to account and was deemed to have acted in the public interest.

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Readers of Private Eye, highest circulation ever this year AFAIK, will be familiar with a lot of these cases well before you see them in reports.

The problem is that we need to do more than read these matters but to think what we could do to improve things. The social service scandal in Norfolk has been rumbling for years and one cannot help but feel if sufficient people had set up and signed a petition to Parliament for it to be made a subject of debate it would have been resolved at least two years ago.

The searchlight of publicity could be usefully shown on so many matters. I am not suggesting that this would be a matter of diffused efforts but rather a few headline cases aimed at crooked Councils or inept councils [officials or Councillors] would encourage better behaviour generally.

And are not Councils we need to be empowered against? Every time damages are paid or a Council employee receives a pay-off and a gagging order we need to realise that is our money that may be being wasted.

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“Gagging orders” should be banned. it is effectively bribing a vulnerable (ex) employee not to reveal information that is prejudicial to others in public service. While many people could take a moral stance and not be “bought off”, losing your job and being left in financial difficulty might well make one reconsider one’s morals.

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I’m old fashioned, so I prefer to go to shops and buy my Hollywood Blockbusters when they first come out on DVD.

After I’ve watched them, I usually donate them to local charity shops, where I may also buy other (“classic”) films to watch too.

Some of my friends do sometimes share pirated digital copies of movies with me. Many of these turn out to be of quite inferior quality and quite often aren’t films that I’m desperate to see anyway.

I’m my view, anyone who accesses an illegal download site using a Windows PC is taking silly risks with their IT security and will only have themselves to blame if their PC gets infected with additional malware.

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On the money Derek Windows 10 actively blocks security apps that help you on the net because they try to block MS,s snooping and talking about snooping the Lords have passed the Snooper Bill which will be enacted by the end of the year and they can officially do what they have been doing for decades–unofficially , storing every website you visit on their big computers , not that I visit too big a variety unless I am checking something out , they know the small number of ones I visit regularly , they just dont approve of them.

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In her introduction, Marianne Grant writes: Early next year, the major internet service providers (ISPs), our partners in the ‘Get it Right’ initiative, will also begin sending educational emails to internet account holders, informing them if their accounts are associated with illegal file sharing and pointing them towards genuine sources.

I strongly object to being sent unsolicited email, especially since I am doing nothing wrong.

If sites are infringing copyright or posting material that could harm children then this is something that could and should be dealt with, taking advantage of the existing laws.

I do not want unsolicited email from our ISPs, so please get it right, Get it Right.

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The major UK service providers put up zero fight against intrusion and “take over ” by our security service at least some of the Americans tried . Its getting a bit sickening when they are actively doing “propaganda ” exercises on their behalf , its all pointing to more overall “guidance ” ( forcefully ) in what the British public can access ( one cut at a time doesnt look much but the subject ends up dying –eventually ) . Its pretty bad in this country just now , if it gets much worse they will be treating us like primary school children , many websites that are political only are blocked in this country and even informational ones are “hard to access ” I dont know how they have the “brass neck ” to say -we are “democratic ” in relation to slagging off other countries , but at the same time they are now doing a “be friendly with the public ” campaign , we are nice , dont worry ( just keep taking the pills ) , who are they kidding ? but hey ho ! we have to stop those dreaded “terrorists ” somehow –right ?

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I am not sure if my understanding is correct but the way I read that comment was that these e-mails would only be sent to those internet account-holders whose accounts were associated with illegal file sharing, in order to inform them of the fact and point them towards genuine sources. There would be no point in the ISP’s sending a message to anyone whose account was not associated with illegal file sharing. It could have been presented more clearly.

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I hope you are right, John, but we have seen so many examples of the commercial world taking liberties. I may be wrong but I thought that anti-piracy warnings were already being used by ISPs.

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Your right Wavechange BT my ISP has provided warnings about it, both on their main website and on their forum .

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That’s fair enough because it helps make people aware of the law, but I I fear that we could end up receiving emails when we have not done anything wrong.

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Right again Wavechange- not cricket- not democratic- not kosher -not right but probably “hidden” policy.

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Hi WaveChange, just to reassure you that it is the case that the emails mentioned will only be sent to account holders whose accounts are associated with illegal filesharing. For any individual email, this would happen only after the applicable ISP is informed of specific instance/s where a file has been shared and confirmed to be an infringing copy of copyright content – and the ISP has confirmed the account that was involved. We realise that some people might not realise their account has been used to share files, for example if their children have been illicitly downloadling content and then the computer or other device used has been sharing it without their parents’ or guardians’ knowledge. The educational emails will help account owners and others who use their accounts to do the right thing and get their content from legitimate sources.

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Marianne does say “informing them if their accounts are associated with illegal file sharing ” so legal downloaders should not get “educational” emails if she is correct. Mind you it would do no harm to give one reminder to all to avoid transgressing and, more importantly, why.

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If I received more than one of these e-mails I would block the sender.

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Anybody interested in a re-direct checker website it will check the URL for re-direction ? its a serious website not a low grade one. Or how about Source Code -no not the movie .