A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Influenced, movies, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

Past Success

Is past success a good indication that you will have success again in the future?

Netflix thinks so, with the signing of the “Game Of Thrones” TV show creators to a $200 million deal. Their track record on reinterpreting other peoples material is pretty good, but their original content is pending review especially how they reinterpreted the last two seasons of GoT without really having source material to fill in the details.

This is like signing an artist to a $200 million deal when all of their songs are written by outside writers.

Remember the band Bananarama. They had a hit with “Venus”, a cover song and then their other hits were songs written by a British songwriting team called Stock-Aitken-Waterman. Well they got the mega deal, but didn’t really get the hits again.

Kevin DuBrow was given a million dollar contract to form his own band DuBrow but what the label failed to notice was that Quiet Riot’s two biggest songs are cover songs. Or offering Jay Jay French from Twisted Sister the same deal when Dee Snider wrote the material which made the band famous.

When Dokken splintered, Geffen went after Don Dokken and Elektra went after George Lynch, but what both labels failed to notice was that Jeff Pilson was the maestro, with a hand in co-writing all of Dokken’s most successful tracks. But no label went after him.

Even when Vince Neil left Motley Crue, he was courted by label’s and Warner Bros eventually signed him. But his fame is based on tracks Nikki Sixx had written.

Good business sense would be to see what their original shows or movies end up like.

But businesses don’t think like that. Netflix is losing subscribers for the first time in 11 years, Disney is taking back their content for their own streaming service and HBO and Amazon are also keen to get the GoT guys.

So by Netflix having these guys on board, by 2022 they would expect something in return. And Netflix would count on people keeping their subscriptions because of what they have in the pipeline.

But it’s all based on one key metric, as long as the GoT TV show creators brand doesn’t get further damaged in the meantime.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Prices Go Up, Innovation Goes Down

Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google have a monopoly on the market and when this occurs, we no longer have a choice, so prices would eventually go up. As much as I love using Spotify, what do you reckon is going to happen when it reaches critical mass and they have a monopoly on the market.

The monthly price would go up, as history is only too keen to tell us.  And when prices go up, innovation ceases and the consumers are then left with no voice and we then silently wait for the next revolution to take away this monopoly. Of course a key role of our governments is to make sure monopolies don’t exist, but everytime they pass a piece of legislation, they more or less give rise to monopolies. Don’t even get me started on the copyright monopoly mess governments have created.

Spotify, as much as I like using the service, gets on my nerves because it can’t distinguish the difference between artists with the same names. On my recent release radar I had “new releases” from dance acts called Tesla, Keel, Vandenberg, Exodus and Badlands. I like and follow the ROCK and METAL bands, not these crappy dance artists.

Even Kingdom Come’s Spotify profile is corrupted with music from another act called Kingdom Come which has nothing to do with Lenny Wolf’s version and their styles are completely different. So for all Spotify’s innovation, they fail on the most basic task. Keeping the acts unique, regardless of similar names.

Also, I still cant understand how acts can have some of their albums on the service but not the other albums in this day and age. Night Ranger’s biggest albums are not on the service. Y&T’s Geffen output is not on the service. Yngwie Malmsteen and Cinderella had their music on the service and some of their definitive albums from the 80’s are now absent. I don’t believe this is Spotify’s fault. The blame is on the artist or their label or some contractual clause over what monies are owned.

And while I type this, I got an email from Netflix saying my monthly subscription is going up to $13.99. The reasons for the increase was a one line paragraph, saying “to keep on delivering the best service possible”. So I’m working the numbers through in my mind. I might watch a TV series once every 3 months because of the time investment needed. The last one I watched was “Altered Carbon” and that happened over 10 days, and I started “The Rain” three weeks ago and I’ve only watched one episode.

So the price increase based on what I watch is not worth it in my mind. My kids rarely put it on anymore as they are hooked on Fortnite and YouTube videos of people playing Fortnite. Yep, you’ve read that correctly. It doesn’t make sense to me either.

But like all technology companies, once you reach critical mass, the price goes up. Maybe it’s time to reassess my financial commitments to these organizations.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Fragile Attention

If the stories are true, then Netflix has a debt problem. And we all know Spotify hasn’t turned a profit and neither has Pandora. Meanwhile, Soundcloud is for sale or closing up shop, depending on which stories you believe.

Will Netflix survive long enough to turn a profit?

I hope so. Their own catalogue keeps growing but does the money spent on original content turn into profits or is their debt due to infrastructure and network costs. The ISP’s charge Netflix (and all the other streaming providers) a lot of money and then they charge us to you use the internet and access Netflix. It’s a double dip of epic proportions. Netflix also has investors and shareholders that it needs to placate.

Radio is a perfect example of how it went from a format that broke acts and drove culture to a format that focused on profits to please shareholders.

Gyms make their money from customers who pay and never use the facility. However, the customers who are at the gym for 4 hours a day end up costing the Gym in the long run.

Is this the same deal with Netflix?

Streaming services might have 100 million subscribers, however they might have only 2 million subscribers accounting for 95% of the usage.

Then again it’s been proven that the type of user you want is the person who uses the service daily instead of once a week.

Netflix lives in the current world, where everything’s instantly available, just a click away. But they have the same issue every other service and artist has. People can’t slow down their lives long enough to immerse themselves in their content at a rate they would like. If Netflix has this problem, imagine every up and coming musician.

And sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do. If someone doesn’t want to hear from you anymore, you’ve lost the ability to reach them. For a brief time, an artist or a service might have a person’s attention. However attention is fragile. In a monoculture, when we had 5 channels and gatekeepers, attention could last longer. However it today’s world, it’s gone within an hour, sometimes even a week.

Attention is fragile. We give it and then we take it away only to give it to something or someone else.

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories, Piracy

The New Music Labels

There are a lot of discussions happening around the film industry.

For example, would the new Star Wars movie be better served as a HBO/AMC/NETFLIX/etc TV Series?

Instead of a two-hour movie for Episode 7, would it serve the Star Wars story line better if it followed the Game Of Thrones formula and produced ten 1 hour episodes.

Two hours vs Ten Hours.

What would the customers want?

In relation to music, Napster pretty much showed the recording industry what customers want. More single songs than a slab of songs.

It’s pretty obvious that CD’s are not making a comeback. Yes, they are still selling, however so is vinyl. Both niche markets for the time being. The majority of the listeners have moved to streaming services, digital downloads, YouTube or P2P downloading. Whatever the method used to consume music, access is the key word.

Do we want to watch a movie in our home theatres or do we want to put up with dirty Cinema’s, people talking and deciding that the movie experience was the perfect time for them to have a Subway Roll, Satay Chicken from the Thai restaurant next door or some other kind of lunch/dinner.

What people want is instant access. But the content providers would rather sell 5 movie tickets ONCE to my family than get a percentage cut from a monthly license fee from a streaming service over and over and over and over again.

The content providers would rather sell my family ONE Blu-Ray/DVD than get a percentage cut from a monthly license fee from a streaming service over and over and over and over again.

I was talking to me kids about a movie called “Who’s Harry Crumb?” a few days ago. It got them excited to watch it. So i pulled up Netflix, searched for it and it is not there.

Bummer.

Did I got out and buy a copy of it?

Of course not. We just moved on to another movie, which in this case was “The Replacements”.

Same deal with music.

The best emails I get are the ones from Spotify when they tell me a certain album from the bands I follow is available for streaming;

In the last week, those emails have covered the following releases;

  • Survival by TesseracT
  • The Book Of Souls by Iron Maiden
  • Got Your Six by Five Finger Death Punch
  • Life, Love, Loss by Degreed
  • Here To Mars by Coheed and Cambria
  • Love, Fear and the Time Machine by Riverside

I remember the old days when we all rushed to the record store or to the cinema so we could purchase the latest music or watch the latest movie just to be part of the conversation. Why would I want those days back again.

Change is happening quicker than ever before.

We went from Napster to iTunes to YouTube to Spotify. We went from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter and back to Facebook. The major labels have withered down to three. The movie studios are doing the same.

Watch out for television to do the same. Funny thing to note, is that the channels leading the way, are channels that originally started off licensing movies from the Hollywood studios. HBO, AMC, Showtime and Netflix found out that original programming is where it’s at. Create a show that connects and watch it become part of the cultural conversation. Amazon is now involved and Apple is due to enter this market.

So what does this have to do with music and artists?

Expect Spotify to lead the way and start signing up artists because even though artists can cut a record without a major label or corporation behind them, they cannot be heard without the help of the label machine. There is a lot of money in music if you control the copyrights of artists you break through. Spotify can break an artist, they just need to start signing them and developing them.

It’s just a shame that the power players in music would rather spend their resources and monies to shut down illegal music websites through the Courts while websites controlled by terrorist like ISIS are allowed to operate. It’s a shame that the power players in music have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new digital world post Napster.

Especially when illegal music websites have allowed fans of certain styles of music to access bands they never could before. Metallica and Iron Maiden are two examples of illegal music websites growing their fan bases in countries where they sold no physical product.

So what did these bands do with that high rate of P2P piracy?

They toured those countries.

Being an artist is a business and making money in a business is hard.

The good thing for musicians today, is that all of the craziness that happened since Napster is all over. Musicians now know what the recording industry looks like and how it all hangs together within the music industry. In my view, the current ecosystem would remain stable for the next 50 years or so.

The big change that would happen is when technology companies like Spotify, Apple, Pandora, Google and Samsung get into signing and developing new artists. When these techies become like labels they will be powerful. Because of the data which they will have and control. Will the record labels then start to litigate against these techies.

Once these companies become like labels, expect them to enter the live arena as promoters. Apple and Spotify are both involved in the festivals scene.

Times they are a changing.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Distribution

Last year a couple of big corporation plays happened.

The Amazon/Hachette war was not about books. It was about a power play between Corporations. One Corporation has the distribution and the reach, while the other has the content. Somewhere in between are the writers who are paid sweet f.a while Hachette and Amazon rake in millions.

The YouTube/Independent Label war was not about music. It was about a power play between a new cultural gatekeeper and a union of labels that want to play the music game. As with the Amazon/Hachette war, one corporation has the distribution and the reach, while the other has the content. While the major labels got favourable licensing deals because they bring in most of the traffic, the independents got a pittance. Somewhere in between are the artists and the songwriters who are again paid sweet f.a while YouTube and the major labels rake in millions.

What does this tell us about the world?

It tells us that DISTRIBUTION IS KING. It was never content. Content has to go to where people can buy it, see it or hear it and distribution puts it there. However distribution as usual is controlled by corporations. The record labels used to control it and now the techies control it. Copyright infringement was never the issue for the record labels. Their real issue was that their control of the distribution chain was diminished or made obsolete by the internet.

As a by-product, creators may gain fame from the sales of their works however the money remains with the distributor. How do you think the major labels became major labels in the first place? It was due to distribution. Apple promotes itself as a manufacturer and a software maker however underneath all the front end marketing they make their money as a distributor.

So with different corporations controlling the distribution chain what does the mean for us?

The same as it always has. Corporations are not our friends as they are all about the bottom line and with the Internet every store is next door to each other and only a mouse click away. With so much competition only a select few survives.

Napster decimated the record stores. While ignorant media outlets trump up a small vinyl increase, YouTube and Spotify are increasing their power exponentially. That’s right, we have people celebrating the old vinyl format and overpaying while the digital distributors aren’t even paying attention as they grow bigger and bigger.

YouTube is the place we check out to try/sample everything. Google is the place we go to for search. Facebook is our digital home, showing the world what such great and happy lives we lead while under the surface it’s actually hard and depressing. Amazon is where we go and buy everything. Apple is still in front for the smartphone wars even though the Samsung products offer way more features. There is a war between various streaming services going on right now. Expect one to survive and at the moment Spotify is in the lead for music and Netflix for movies.

Is this good for us?

All we have done is replace one cultural gatekeeper with another. But the problem with this replacement is that we are also giving a large part of lives to these new cultural gatekeepers. Google has our search histories in waiting and target ads based on that. Amazon gives us recommendations based on our purchase and view history. Facebook has our private history and so on. We threw away our privacy like it was a piece of trash. We gave it away for free.

Are we really moving into a George Orwell Big Brother world?

We threw our hats in the rings with the techies because they stood for something once. But the truth is money corrupts everything. And our politicians are not going to stand up against the corporations because politics is all about money.

The ignorant still focus on the decline of CD’s and now MP3’s while trumping up the return of VINYL. The wannabe trash all end up on reality TV shows believing that it is a stepping stone to a career in the entertainment business. In all of this, the artists and the writers keep on getting hurt while the powerful fight over their creations. They are just pawns in their game.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a trustworthy shopfront that is reliable with their deliveries, however I don’t like a shopfront that can control everything. And that is the problem in the digital world. No one is looking out for the consumers, us. We believe that the techies have our best interests because so many of the things we do are free, like Facebook and Google and YouTube. However they are not looking out for us and the politicians we vote in are not looking out for us either as they are in bed with whoever contributes to their campaigns. And the big IT companies have no competitors at the moment.

We used to join together under artists however they are all now part of the corporate machine with so many deals crossing over it makes the mechanics of the brain look simple.

Why do you think Dodge and Motley Crue are in bed with each other?

Dodge has realised that Motley Crue fans will be more inclined to purchase high performing cars so the partnership will allow Dodge to distribute more vehicles so that they can make money.

So don’t believe everything you read. Distribution is the reason why corporations become monopolies and the truth is this; the corporation that controls the distribution chain wins.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Piracy Conversation: The Good and The Bad

Anyone heard of this beautiful new piece of software called “Popcorn Time”. There are no registrations, or restrictions on content. It looks like Netflix and it is free. The user just presses play. It’s easy to use and its design is elegant.

Did you also know that “Popcorn Time” was designed by programmers in Argentina, where the movie “There’s Something About Mary” is still classed as a new release by the movie industries in that country.

So of course, the “Popcorn Time” development team created an innovative piece of software to meet a service problem for their country because the content industries failed to. There is a reason why South America has the highest rates of copyright infringement when it comes to music. Access to content is not serviced in an affordable way.

Of course the creators shut the service down when their “experiment” put them at the doors of legal threats around piracy and copyright infringement.

However the saga did not end. Remember that the internet is a copy system. So of course, the source code was made available and now other programmers took over the open-source code and made it available to people once again.

Hollywood is not up against people who want to be millionaires. They are up against educated people who want to create something new to solve a problem that they have in their home country. If the developers followed the “laws” then “Popcorn Time” would never exist. The restrictions around copyright and patents would have killed it in the start-up phase.

To compete, Hollywood needs to employ the best and the best don’t want to work for companies who see innovation as a way to prop up profits from the past. They want to work for companies who see innovation as a way to stay ahead of other companies.

So the best minds go into business for themselves, or for companies that meet their expectations or they just stay in their bedroom and innovate without the law in mind.

We all know that piracy is wrong, however it opens up the conversation to the larger issue.

Let’s put into context what piracy/copyright infringement has done.

THE BAD

It made the RIAA spend millions suing music customers.

THE GOOD

While Apple started to see a market here and began to turn those Napster digital natives into iTunes buyers by making it easy to grab the latest music, anywhere, at any time.

THE BAD

It made the RIAA/Record Labels sue/kill off thousands of technologies that would have given them better profits if they only had the foresight to innovate instead of legislate. Think of Napster, Limewire, mp3tunes and many others.

THE GOOD

With the rise of Spotify/Pandora, the music piracy problem is declining and the labels are now cashed up

THE BAD

Artists are not seeing a lot of it.

THE GOOD

Piracy opened the door for format shifting.

THE BAD

The music industry introduced DRM and the ones that got hurt by it were the ones that actually paid money to purchase the product while the pirates bathed in DRM free mp3’s.

THE GOOD

YouTube piracy has also led to another source of income. It’s actually official now that record labels make more money from fan-made videos uploaded to YouTube than they do from their official music videos. Check it out on the link at the end of the post. And this is coming from Universal Music Group.

THE BAD

And still the labels send out billions of takedowns to these kinds of videos on YouTube because they still see fan made videos as a breach of copyright.

THE GOOD

However, YouTube has innovated even more and now the label is notified when a user uploads copyrighted content. The label can then choose to place advertising before the video, making royalties from the views.

THE BAD

And the labels/RIAA still scream that Google (the owner of YouTube) isn’t doing enough to protect their profits.

THE GOOD

YouTube fan made pirated videos is a massive growth area alright.

THE BAD

How much is the artist seeing? Again a lot of power in the hands of the label and a lot of money coming into the label accounts for work done by fans this time around. These monies should be at least 70% to the artist.

THE GOOD

Basically, piracy has also highlighted how broken Copyright is. The pure essence of Copyright has been hijacked by the Corporations that now hold the majority of copyrights. To further show how broken it is, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (one of the main creators of the World Wide Web) has called for a copyright reform passage to be included in any new legislation written as part of the “Web We Want” initiative. He further stated that the current law is purely there to protect the interests of movie producers, not the public at large.

THE BAD

The labels see piracy as a case for even more draconian copyright legislation and even longer terms post death.

THE GOOD

Piracy has opened up more distribution channels

THE BAD

However the “Popcorn Time” software has shown that the current movie industry is still employing the old distribution model.

THE GOOD

However, Netflix has shown the movie industry that fans of movies and TV want content on demand/twenty-four hours a day for a fair price. And Popcorn Time has shown that they want top-tier content.

THE BAD

Google is still blamed for not doing enough.

THE GOOD

Because the future is in streaming for music and video.

THE BAD

However the RIAA and the MPAA are doing their best to kill it. Pandora had to raise their fees to cover the cost of licensing the songs. Plus they also had an expensive lawsuit in relation to the royalty rate paid on a radio stream. While the movie studios still lock content away.

THE GOOD

Legacy analog revenue sources get replaced by digital revenue sources. It’s a transition right now. The transition isn’t happening fast enough for the labels however it is their fault in the end. As their need to control has more or less slowed the transition process down.

THE BAD

It is a shame that the RIAA and the record labels focus on the shortfalls between analog and digital revenues at this point in time, instead of looking at the bigger picture.

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/3/21/technology/how-video-piracy-killing-hollywood-star

http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/17/popcorn-time-is-hollywoods-

http://www.themusicnetwork.com/youtube-fan-videos-earn-labels-

http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/pandora-raises-

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140317203156-

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/3/21/technology/tuning-musics-digital-struggle

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Music

Innovation V6.0 – While Spotify Innovates, The Governments And The Entertainment Industries Legislate

Van Morrison once said that “Music is spiritual. The music business is not”. How true that comment is.

Spotify recently announced the acquisition of “The Echo Nest” , a music intelligence company that will give Spotify and its users a better music discovery platform. As is the norm these days, it is technologists leading the way for the music business and in general the entertainment business at large.

When Spotify offered free mobile access, they had more sign ups in one month than the whole year prior. Spotify knows it’s all about domination. The history of the internet has shown us that. Pandora is unrivalled in the radio streaming stakes. Apples iTunes Radio is non-existent.

Labels are rolling it in from streaming services and they are not passing those extras on to the artists. That is not Spotify or Pandora’s fault. That is the labels fault. Again, if Spotify is that bad for the artist, then artists like Metallica and Motley Crue that actually own their own copyrights wouldn’t participate. But they did.

While Spotify innovates, the entertainment industries legislate, still focused on censorship and take downs.

Over at Italy, their communications watchdog has given itself a “Judge Dredd” like power. They are basically censoring websites based on a copyright infringement claim from a copyright holder and without any real judicial due process for the website involved.

Just recently, the Public Prosecutor from Italy has decided to go all “Wild West Sheriff Style” on the Internet by ordering Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to censor dozens of websites, because he said that the websites are places that contain infringing materials. In this case, no copyright holder made any claim against these websites. Yep, it sure sounds like innovation to me.

This is how bad copyright has gotten. People believe that COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT OF MUSIC is the same thing as PROPERTY, an actual physical tangible product. And because of this viewpoint, sites that infringe on people’s copyrights are treated the same as sites that deal in stolen merchandise. When a copy is made of a song and shared, it is not theft. It is copyright infringement and it needs to be treated as such.

In recent years, studies have shown over and over again that people who share movies and music illegally are the ones that end up spending more on legal entertainment. The research is now even recognized by the “Industry Trust For IP Awareness” which is a body that includes all of the major Hollywood Studios as its members, along with the major labels in music.

The latest anti-piracy message from the IP Awareness Industry Trust is a positive one. Instead of labelling all of their customers as pirates and criminals, they are now saying that they understand people like movies and that they appreciate that people are sharing and spending money on movies. This time around they are pushing a slogan of “Moments Worth Paying For” instead of the Big Brother “You Can Click But Can’t Hide”.

Neil Gaiman is one of those people who actually is open-minded when it comes to piracy. There is a video doing the rounds from a while back (on Reddit) where Gaiman talks about piracy;

“You’re not losing sales by getting stuff out there. When I do a big talk now on these kinds of subjects and people ask “What about the sales you are losing by having stuff floating out there?” I started asking the audience to raise their hands for one question — Do you have a favourite author? And they say yes and I say good. What I want is for everybody who discovered their favourite author by being lent a book put up your hand. Then anybody who discovered their favourite author by walking into a book story and buying a book. And it’s probably about 5-10%, if that, of the people who discovered their favourite author who is the person they buy everything of and they buy the hardbacks. And they treasure the fact they’ve got this author. Very few of them bought the book. They were lent it. They were given it. They did not pay for it. That’s how they found their favourite author. And that’s really all this is; it’s people lending books.”

Let’s rephrase those questions in terms of music. Even musicians out there should ask themselves the same question.

Do they have a favourite artist?

How did they discover their favourite artist? Was it by buying their music or was it by someone sharing the music with them or was it by someone lending them a CD, a mix tape, an LP or an iPod full of mp3’s or by someone talking up the artist.

How many people discovered their favourite artist by walking into a record shop and buying a CD without even hearing it? Or in today’s world, how many people discovered their favourite artist by going onto Spotify and listening to music of someone they haven’t heard about.

Gaiman gets it. He is a realist. Hey, look over in Japan. They actually have a rental policy in place for fans of music. People hire/lend the CD, take it home, rip it and then return it for another. Personally, Spotify is a better alternative, however rights holders don’t allow it to exist at this point in time.

Finally, the great land down under, Australia is in the news again. Of course as a country founded by convicts, we have a proud history of seeing higher copyright infringement rates thanks to the lack of legitimate and affordable options.

So we don’t have Netflix and because of that we have resorted to using VPNs to mask our location and subscribe to Netflix anyway.

Of course, the free to air TV stations, the pay TV station Foxtel (who is owned by News Corp) and Quickflix along with the News Corp owned “The Australian” news outlet are labelling these paying users of Netflix as “PIRATES”. Yep that’s right. We are paying for a service that is affordable (something that Quickflix doesn’t know anything about) by masking our IP address so that we can access it and we are still labelled as pirates.

So there you have it, another wonderful week has come and gone, that shows that the Entertainment Industries still don’t get it and technologist and open-minded creators do get it.

http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2014/03/06/spotify-acquires-the-echo-nest

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140305/10000226442/italys-public-prosecutor-orders-isps-to-block-dozens-pirate-websites-just-because-he-said-so.shtml

http://torrentfreak.com/pirates-movie-industrys-valuable-customers-140304/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Torrentfreak+%28Torrentfreak%29

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140303/11511026409/australian-broadcasters-netflix-competitors-pout-because-netflix-hasnt-banned-vpn-users-yet.shtml

http://comicsalliance.com/neil-gaiman-piracy-lending-books/

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140303/11511026409/australian-broadcasters-netflix-competitors-pout-because-netflix-hasnt-banned-vpn-users-yet.shtml

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