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Live from Iran, Film88 758

MemFun writes "The now defunct Movie88.com has became Film88.com. These are the guys that are streaming a ton of movies for $1 a piece (but not allowing you to save the movie). Of course, to avoid all the Tinsel Town Club baddies (mpaa) from shutting them down, they are now based in Iran of all places. We just finished watching the free Harry Potter movie they are offering. Question: Does this make me a criminal? I really like the selection of movies they have and stream or not, it's still pretty cool to have the ability to watch some those movies that are never on TV any more."
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Live from Iran, Film88

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  • IRaN?! (Score:2, Funny)

    Jeeze, no wonder they can only charge a dollar, do you know how many movies are illegal in Iran?

    And the lag must be atrocious, I mean, what are they running the site off of, a T1? Come on guys...

    I still can't get over the iran part...
    • Re:IRaN?! (Score:5, Informative)

      by perlyking ( 198166 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @04:58PM (#3648247) Homepage
      You might find Iran has better internet connectivity than where you live! Last I heard there was 5Mbps wireless and you could buy prepay internet cards (aswell as normal ISPS).
    • Re:IRaN?! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by InnereNacht ( 529021 )
      I'm sure Iran has better commercial 'net access available than just T1's.. If this company is serious about succeeding, and with those prices I'm sure they can, they most likely have a bit wider pipe.

      In all honesty though, I doubt the FBI is going to come knocking on our doors with warrants saying "You're going to jail for streaming video from Iran."

      Wouldn't the provider be at risk, not the receiver?
  • I believe it's illegal for U.S. persons to conduct *any* business with Iran, so how do they expect to get paid? "Europeans only?"
    • As the pr0n industry, who so kindly allows us to make us of their internet (:P), has demonstrated, you don't have to say who you are or where you're from, but only that you have a valid credit card and a complete and total unwillingness to wander down to the pr0n shop (or Hastings...)
      • by hpa ( 7948 )
        The point was: if you are an Iranian company, and send a bill to MasterCard in New York, they are *required* to ignore it and not to pay. Although you probably can get around it for some time, it's by and large a "sticky bit", i.e. if you're a German compnay who acts as an in-between, pretty soon you'll find yourself on the U.S. gov't ban list...

        • If the US decides to blacklist (anyone who does business with)^N Iran, it'll get pretty lonely. Same for any other "axis-of-evil" country.

          See Helms-Burton. It's impractical. They're not enforcing it.
        • "Swiss Bank Account"

          • Riight. I am going to go to all the trouble of setting up a swiss bank account just so I can spend one or none dollars to watch illegal movies from Iran. I can think of all but nobody that would do that.
            • Re:3 words (Score:4, Insightful)

              by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @06:11PM (#3648791) Homepage Journal
              There are other places around the world to get visa credit cards. You just fill out paperwork, and transfer money. And you get a debit card that works everywhere visa is accepted. Maybe you want to have some money laid away that nobody can touch? How about moving money around that doesnt have to be reported to the state and federal agencies?

              Maybe you just want some privacy? Why does every american think they cant have privacy, and must report every action to some big brother agency. Privacy is not Illegal, and its not a damn terrorist act to have privacy.
  • Well hmm. (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by InnereNacht ( 529021 )
    I know I should just look, but I'm too lazy. Do they run digitally copied versions of the movies? Or do they do analog-only version and have certain "playtimes"? I'd guess digital of some sort...

    That's a whole lot of bandwidth if that's the case though, ouch. If you figure regular TV is 640x480, and you're trying to spit out 20-25FPS at 10-15k per image? Youch.

    I'll have to check it out and give it a try.. Theres some newer movies recently released I'd like to take a look at.
    • Im still trying to get connected to them here, but I can tell you that the original website was on-demand, not like you suggested. It was surprisingly stable too! I got a constant 500k connection and no interruptions. :)

    • Of course, that's assuming that the streaming videos have any image quality, and aren't compressed to all hell using ASF or some other such crappy compression scheme.

      DivX por VIDA!!!!
    • Re:Well hmm. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ncc74656 ( 45571 )
      I'll have to check it out and give it a try.. Theres some newer movies recently released I'd like to take a look at.

      I still have some downloads from when they were at movie88.com (they used HTTP streaming with Apache, not RTSP streaming with RealServer, so capturing the streams was trivial). They're typically encoded at 320x240, and their DVD rips were usually open-captioned (English voice, English captions...that makes a whole lot of sense). If it's something you can't get any other way, it might be worth archiving. Otherwise, keep looking.

  • by xtremex ( 130532 ) <cguru&bigfoot,com> on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @04:55PM (#3648203) Homepage
    With Mozilla on Linux, film88 didnt detect my RealPlayer plugin. I have to find a way to bypass their JavaScript...
  • A little late... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FortKnox ( 169099 )
    We just finished watching the free Harry Potter movie they are offering. Question: Does this make me a criminal?

    I just robbed this bank and killed this girl. Does this make me a criminal?

    Seriously, aren't you asking that question a little late? If its what you want to do, may as well do it until you're satisfied. What's the point of stopping in the middle for a change-of-heart?
    • i think Taco's point was that he doesn't particularly care if that makes him a criminal. asking it as an afterthought like that indicates his disdain for/lack of caring about the MPAA and the various bullshit laws that have been passed regarding content. duh.
    • We just finished watching the free Harry Potter movie they are offering. Question: Does this make me a criminal?

      Congratulations, you are begging the question!

  • Capturing the films? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Other than pointing a camcorder at the computer screen, is there a good actually working utility to save the screening video to an avi/etc file?
  • by ThinkingGuy ( 551764 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @04:57PM (#3648236) Homepage

    I can't help but wonder, will this service be available in Iran itself? How many of the movies offered online are illegal to watch in Iran (for promoting "sex," "immorality," and being "anti-Islamic?") Will local religious fundementalists shut down the service before the MPAA can?
  • by bubblegoose ( 473320 ) <bubblegoose.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @04:58PM (#3648237) Homepage Journal
    Notice how the author says "We just finished watching the free Harry Potter movie they are offering"

    Then he submits the story.
    Smart guy...it'll be /.'ed soon.
  • the low down (Score:3, Informative)

    by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @04:58PM (#3648239)
    ianal, but:

    You are not in violation of copyright. You may be in violation of a law which makes it unlawful to knowingly conspire to commit copyright violation by the Iranians. The Iranians are not in violation of copyright if they aquired the films in Iran, as Iran afact does not respect American copyright.
  • Legally speaking (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Eccles ( 932 )
    Fundamentally, it's up to the provider of the materials to verify that they have the proper licensing, not the consumer. However, if you definitively know that the provider does not have the appropriate permissions, this may not apply.

    As always, IANALAIHWAMcB*

    (*Although I Have Watched Ally McBeal)
  • by NotAnotherReboot ( 262125 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @04:59PM (#3648255)
    you should only support the site if it funnels any money made to nicaraguan rebels to help fight the good fight.
  • Pity.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @04:59PM (#3648257) Homepage Journal
    It's a pity that Film88.com's going to get my money instead of the MPAA.
  • by smoondog ( 85133 )
    Does this make me a criminal?

    No, but their use of your credit card #'s might make you look like one.

  • Put the site up on slashdot and *BOOM* we take it down.
  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @05:05PM (#3648319) Homepage Journal
    The ZDNet article doesn't say how that $1 is transferred (and I'm not going to wait all afternoon for the site itself to load), so how did you pay them? Surely you wouldn't give your credit card number to a site in Iran with no scruples about selling what they don't own.

    Whatever method you used, look for the MPAA to try to interfere with it, or get the government to do the interfering.

  • Legit movie site... (Score:4, Informative)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @05:08PM (#3648339) Homepage Journal
    Hey dudes,

    There's a site called http://www.intertainer.tv where you can watch movies and TV shows. The prices are higher, but they've been around since last Oct or Nov. I've used them a couple of times and they're not too bad.

    I think the price for movies is a bit high, but I'm willing to support this site. I'd like to prove to the industries involved that I'll pay for content I'm interested in.

    It's worth a gander if you're remotely interested in this stuff. You can find out if it'll suit you or not before you pay anything. (They have previews for movies etc, all for free.)
  • by Kiwi ( 5214 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @05:09PM (#3648342) Homepage Journal
    Since there is yet another Slashdot stoty about how to obtain copyrighted content without authorization, I think I should clarify something here.

    There a a big difference between the philosophies of the software libre movement and the philosophies of people who copy files without the copyright holder's authorization.

    Software libre is not about this. Yeah, RMS rants about how it would be nice if copyrights did not exist, but I don't think he would want to be in such a world. I do not think I would want to be in such a world myself. There is content out there that down right takes a lot of money to create. Movies. Music that uses an orchestra or session players. Video games. Content that would not exist in a world without copyrights.

    Now, one of the things I love about the internet is that there is a lot of really great content out there which the copyright owners freely shares. mp3.com has a lot of really talented bands giving their music away (it's a shame that mp3.com is a borderline spamhaus; if you give them your email address, even when emailing a band to say you like their music, you end up on mp3.com's spam list). The whole software libre thing is about giving away some excellent software. Many authors are giving away their books. Free home-made movies. And so on.

    There is enough free content out there that, dare I say, I do not think anyone needs to download copyrighted content without authorization to have a compelling internet existance. So it puzzles me that Slashdot continually links to "file sharing" programs and to pirates who share content without authorization.

    I completely agree that the RIAA and the MPAA have always been overzealous about copyrights. The HRAA was an abomination; it killed the consumer DAT. As an electronic musician in the early 1990s that had to spend $1200 instead of $300-$600 for a digital tape deck because of the RIAA's actions, I am no friend of their copyright overzealousness.

    However, the path of civil disobediance is not to copy movies en masse so that people can view movies without paying for them. Such self serving actions do not look very good in the harsh light of the courtroom; I think such activities contribute to the large number of lost court cases which are trying to fight the abomination called the DMCA.

    If you wish to fight the DMCA and the even more evil children of the DMCA, it is important to make a clear stand that we are against this because the law is wrong, not because it gets in the way of having our pirated content fix.

    - Sam

    • Nice rant, but the article talks about paying to STREAM the movies. When I looked at the old version of the site, they had that nasty realOne format, and it would've been quite difficult to copy. Most people will not be able to do so.

      Plus, the quality of the films are much lower than that of VHS. If the big 'pirates' wanted to distribute content, they'd go to Blockbuster, dump it into their pc: analog, dvd, whatever.

      Sure, this service isn't legit. And you're right, the MPAA is over-zealous. Consumers (obviously) WANT a service like this, and if the MPAA isn't going to offer it, someone else will (even without legal merit). As the argument is commonly made, if the powers that be would just offer a similar service in an accessible, non-restrictive, don't-assume-you're-a-thief format, people would subscribe. But they're scared.

      IMHO, this isn't the same Napster debate, all over again.

    • by seizer ( 16950 )
      Many authors are giving away their books. Free home-made movies.

      In all seriousness, are there any actual movie makers who are legitimately giving away their movies in watchable form (e.g. DivX)?

      I would definitely take the time to download these, if I thought I could support a fledgeling industry. Do you know of any, though?
      • I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing you mean, but have you seen Atom Films? [atomfilms.com] They have some crap, but a decent number of good indie shorts.

    • The thing that's amusing about the existence of this site is that it points out the tremendous idiocy of the MPAA. That is to say, that despite all of their efforts to shut down things like this, they pop up anyhow. They just show up in another jurisdiction and suddenly all the dumb laws and flawed technical protections are totally worthless.

      If instead they were offering this service, right now, the operation in Iran would exist, and the MPAA would be making this money. I'm not going to sit here and suggest for a moment that this is somehow morally right, or justifiable. But I think all of this does make the point that the MPAA should stop trying to hold back the ocean with their legal brooms and start providing the services people want.

      If they don't, somebody else will.

    • Oh, bull. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by oGMo ( 379 )
      Content that would not exist in a world without copyrights.

      This is just crap. Ever hear of Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven? They're these old dead guys who used to write some tunes. A lot of them, in fact. They even got paid for it. And they didn't have copyrights.

      • Re:Oh, bull. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @06:29PM (#3648936)
        Ummmm, in the days of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven they didn't have recording media and the world's largest distribution network. Kind of an apples to oranges comparison, bro...
      • by AKAJack ( 31058 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @06:55PM (#3649065)
        Not an original argument so I'll post my own words (originally from January of this year.)

        They may not have had legal copyrights, but they had methods to protect their music.

        Before copyright there were other ways to protect work. Mozart had a patron, Baroness von Waldstätten, who underwrote his needs so that he could spend the day doing whatever he wanted.

        Because Mozart's patron allowed his music to be freely performed does not mean that it was always that way. Kings and princes always had court composers and they jealously guarded their music.

        Handel's patron (George I, the first of the Hanoverian kings) jealously guarded "water music."

        Please remember at the time you couldn't "copy" music unless you could sit in the audience with a quill pen and follow along! Actually Mozart could do this, but not many others.

        It was easy to protect music back then and hard to steal it. Don't think people wouldn't have if they could. The technology didn't exist.

        Jump ahead to the 1890's where the rampant bootleging of sheet music was a huge business (please refer to http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/09/mann.htm )

        From the above article a reference to Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame:

        "The irate Sullivan filed lawsuit after lawsuit in U.S. courts, but only dented the trade. To prevent the pirating of The Pirates of Penzance, he long refused to publish the score; bouncers prowled every show to stop music thieves from writing down the melodies."

        Let's face it, in U.S. society you are not going to do much with out being paid for it. So change the law, but until then buy what you use, or move to Canada where it is apparently legal now. (Yes, I know the original author lives there, I'm speaking to everyone else.)

        Society values artistic works and society (Through the govenment) grants the creators a limited license to profit from their works in order to better society. That's the theory anyway. Maybe it's gotten out of hand, but the "music and information want to be free" approach doesn't really motivate humans to create great things.

        Even throughout history people like Mozart have been motivated by "compensation" to produce new creative works.

        Having people enjoy what you do is great, but even if they enjoy it how do you make a living if you can't sell it? If you sell one song to a company for a million dollars and that company sells two million copies of the song for one dollar each that is motivation for you to write more songs and for the company to buy more from you. If the company buys the same song and only sells one thousand copies at one dollar each, but later discovers two million copies have been made for free they are motivated to only pay you five hundred dollars for your next song, or to ask society to grant them a limited right to distribute your song, and the protection from counterfeits of your song.

        So somebody loses. Either you no longer can make a living writing songs and you find other work, or the company lays off staff because they don't need a big distribution network anymore to deliver one thousand copies of a new song.

        While you seem to have "higher ideals" about what is right and wrong it doesn't play in reality. Your carpenter analogy is flawed because I can't easily duplicate the house with little or no effort. If I could then you better believe the carpenter would want $5 for every night you spend in your new house because a new house would only be worth a few thousand dollars! There would also be much fewer carpenters who could make a living building houses (sort of like few musicians who can fully support themselves only selling songs.)

        While IP has always been created through time it has always been protected by rule, religion, or force. People didn't share fire - they stole it from each other. The Egyptians didn't give their knowledge of mummification away to anyone that asked. The Library of Alexandria (aka "The Kings Library") wasn't a place you or I could lend a book from. Knowledge really was power. Ptolemy III paid the sum of fifteen talents of silver (a vast amount) to be allowed to copy the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.

        So while the ancient scholars and composers may not have had our modern day protection of copyright, please don't confuse that with no protection at all.
  • by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @05:10PM (#3648356) Homepage Journal
    Film88 offers new movies at 1 dollar a piece for streaming.

    MPAA and its cronies have a fit. Huddle together to see whats the best they could do. Disagree on forcing Bush to send a SAM in to the heart of Iran

    Jack Valenti registers on Slashdot with a new nick "MemFun", posts the story on Slashdot

    Sits back and waits till Film88 gets slashdotted in to oblivion.

    Laughs, walks away holding the hand of a 20 something.
  • ...Now that Iraq is off the hook.

    ; )
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @05:15PM (#3648393) Homepage Journal
    A friend of mine (who, believe it or not, is a lawyer) asked this question of someone not long ago, in an attempt to help him see that his justifications were just that - justifications.

    The MPAA is bad. I'd wager most of the technology-literate world has figured that out by now. They're moneygrubbing monopolists, no doubt about it.

    The current system of copyright and distribution is broken - no doubt about it.

    But when you steal something, you're still stealing it. No amount of arguments about how the Iranians don't subscribe to international patent law, or about the fact that Film88 bought the movies and are just renting them, will change that.

    So through some miracle of legal justification, you may in fact not be breaking the law. That's for the courts (or politics) to decide. You're buying from a thief. That might not make you a thief by legal definition, but what does it make you by moral definition?

    Oh, wait. I forgot. We're all geeks here, so the only moral imperatives are: 1) information wants to be free, and 2) anyone trying to impede my freedom in any way is evil.

    • You have this argument completely backwards.

      Sharing information is clearly a moral and good thing to do. From the first monkey who let the other monkeys know about a tiger down by the river, humanity has *revered* the sharing of information. Only our system of laws makes it (sometimes) a bad thing to do.

      In this case the moral man sees nothing wrong with distributing information or with receiving information. The legal man sees that distributing the information in this manner would be illegal in the U.S., who knows in Iran.

      And both the moral and legal man know that there is no theft involved.

      1. (Law) The act of stealing; specifically, the felonious
      taking and removing of personal property, with an intent
      to deprive the rightful owner of the same
      • by FortranDragon ( 98478 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @07:46PM (#3649323)
        Morals are purely personal and can be revised at a moments notice to suit the individual. Arguing morals can be a fun thing to do, but in the end each side can quite correctly state they are moral based on their own personal code. Thus putting forth a moral argument about this matter is a mug's game.

        Whether it is a good thing, well, that depends. Sharing with an 11 year old a method of creating poisonous liquids is *NOT* a good thing. Much of what we deem good is situationally dependant.

        As far as US law goes, check out The 'No Electronic Theft' Act. It looks like the law considers this theft now.

        Also, the legal definition you quoted is correct, but not complete. You used the definition for larceny, but missed the ones for robbery, burglary, and piracy. It helps if you bring all the information to the table so that people can make up their own minds.

        Finally, just to give a more useful definition, I'll quote from *the source* for the English language and leave you with the appropriate Oxford English Dictionary's definition of stealing (theft being the "act of stealing"): "take (another's property) illegally or without right or permission, esp. in secret".

        Personally I think the existing copyright system in the US is out of whack. I'd prefer one of the older systems, such as 26 years for a copyright with a renewal of 26 years going automatically to the original authors/musicians/etc. Let 'works for hire' run a flat 50 years. Let the copyrights tilt back towards a more reasonably balance between creators/copyright holders and the public at large.
    • I am really tired of reading the same moral slop that seems to be regurgitated every time there is an article on intellectual property rights. You may have morals that are different than me, so stop preaching. Let me ask you this, who decides what is morally wrong for you, politicians or yourself? Napster proved that most people do not give a shit about the law, so for most people, downloading "illegal information" is not wrong.
      • And that is the saddest thing I've heard anyone utter on /. ever.

        It's especially sad because it's true.

        Is it any wonder why the MPAA and RIAA are out to fuck everyone over? Who's more immoral? Everyone is! It's a mobius strip of immorality! The only sure thing is that it will all end worse for everyone.

    • by jcsehak ( 559709 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2002 @05:50PM (#3648651) Homepage
      Thievery is when you take something from someone and they don't have it anymore, since you stole it. This is clearly morally and legally wrong. The taking of information is a much more grey area though. If I download Eminem's latest CD, rather than buy it at the store, is it stealing? Maybe--Eminem is out (a potential) $15. What if I download his CD, and can honestly say I wouldn't buy it, even if it wasn't on p2p? Well, in that case, he lost nothing and gained a listener. What if I've got $15 to spend and I pirate 3 different CDs, and buy the one I like the best? How about after hearing those CDs, I decide I just have to own 2 of them, and I scrounge up $30?

      It's not a clear cut moral issue. What it really comes down to is this: are the labels and movie studios losing money due to piracy? All available evidence points to the notion that they're profiting from it. So far, that is. I figure the *AAs are working so hard to prevent piracy out of a (reasonable) fear that it will get out of hand and later on they will lose a lot of money from it. But until I see any evidence that piracy hurts the content distributers, I'll "pirate" with a clear conscience. And even after that, I'll buy from the musician-owned labels first.

      I expect that Film88 buys DVDs, rips them, then streams them. So they have stolen nothing. What they are doing is circumventing the MPAA's business model, which may or may not be morally wrong, but it falls quite outside of "theft." We need new terms and new legislation to appropriately deal with this sort of thing.
  • Is it a company's job to implement proper content control to prevent people from downloading the movies? Is content control even possible? I have never found something I viewed on the internet that I could not save. The whole issue of whether this site has the right to the broadcast movies aside, is it OK if they don't tell you how to download the movies, and only some people do it?

    In the case of Movie88, all it took was some carefully crafted HTTP headers and the correct software, and each website is different, but as long as something enters my computer there will always be away to keep it there.
  • Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fizban ( 58094 )
    Now the MPAA has more reason to associate piracy with terrorism. Good job picking Iran as your base of operation guys!
  • by KC7GR ( 473279 )
    While I may not agree with what the site is doing (I don't -- it is, after all, theft), I can't help but think that the MPAA and 'Big Media' brought it on themselves by pushing the wrong kinds of overbroad legislation (the DMCA and Sen. 'Disney' Hollings CBDTPA).

    Think about it: By pushing for legislation of that nature, the movie industry is, by implication, accusing the entire U.S. population of being (at best) unruly kids that can't be trusted to run a computer without 'Big Brother' watching, or at worst outright thieves.

    That implication alone is going to be more than enough to piss people off on a grand scale, and provide more than enough motivation to want to tweak the collective nose of the big media companies.

    I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I do know there needs to be balance in any situation. The extreme of mandating copy protection hardware in every digital device on the planet is just as wrong as the extreme of stealing movies and music.

    There's got to be a happy medium that both sides can agree on. I'm just not sure if the movie industry is going to want anything less than total control.

  • Many of the threads here seem to be making light of the fact that this service is 'legal' in Iran, but was shut down in the US.

    Do you really think this is because of some enlightened stance towards copyright law by the Iranian government? Or is it more likely that this service is either

    a) unknown to the Iranian government in the firstplace
    b) ignored by the Iranian government
    c) bribing officials in the Iranian government

    I think all three of those are equally likely. Joke about how funny it is that film88.com is "free" to run this service in Iran, but not the US, but understand that this is probably more due to a general state of lawlessness or cluelessness on the part of the Iranian government rather than enlightened policy. I, for one, will not be moving to Iran any time soon.
  • Why exactly someone couldn't write a program that would simply store all of the video frames that are streamed to it into a .mpg or other video format? The way I see it all the bits are still there, they're just being sent in a stream and then reassembled for each frame. Am I missing something?
  • ...does *not* want film88.com to get slashdotted. they dont want mass amounts of traffic going to them - but ah, they wonders of the slashdot effect.
  • "I was just watching Harry Potter...
    A little harmless fun..."

    "....I helped Iranian terrorists purchase weapon's grade plutonium....
    ...I was just having fun...."


    "Paid for by The Federal Bureau of Scaring the Shit Out of Americans and the Committee to Re-Elect the President"

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears