20 Best Blu-ray Movies

20 Best Blu-ray Movies

There’s very few things in this world that are quite as nice as watching a good movie on a rainy (or snowy) day. If you’ve got fluffy slippers, a cuddly blanket and some nibbles, you’re all set to laugh, cry, empathize, or get angry with, your favorite film star.

To help you make a choice, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 best best Blu-ray movies to watch when the weather’s too awful to go outside.

COMPARISON TABLE

The Best Blu-ray Movies – Comedy

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Sister Act: 20th Anniversary Edition - Two-Movie Collection...
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • TOUCHSTONE PICTURES (06/19/2012)
  • Blu-ray, PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

In Sister Act, Whoopi Goldberg stars as a lounge singer who is on the run from the mob. She hides out in a convent and promptly livens up the choir by introducing the nuns to Motown.

In Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, our favorite singing nun spreads her Motown magic at an inner-city school. Both movies have been digitally restored and are multi-formatted.

  • Cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Harvey Keitel
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: PG – Parental guidance suggested
  • Region: All Regions
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Price: $14.99
  • Review rating: 5 stars
The Mel Brooks Collection [Blu-ray]
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • 20th Century Fox (05/08/2012)
  • Blu-ray, PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

You’re going to need more than one rainy day to get through this stunning collection. The full movies included on these discs are:

  • The Twelve Chairs
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Silent Movie
  • High Anxiety
  • History of the World – Part 1
  • To Be or Not to Be
  • Spaceballs
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights

If that’s not enough to keep you amused, they’ve added some special features: 7 featurettes ad 6 Blu-ray featurettes exclusive to Blu-ray, 4 trivia tracks, 5 score tracks, interviews, commentaries and Documentaries.

  • Cast: Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Cleavon Little, David Huddleston, Harvey Korman.
  • Number of discs: 9
  • Rated: PG – Parental guidance suggested
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 868 minutes
  • Price: $27.27
  • Review rating: 5 stars
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Scary Movie Triple Feature [Blu-ray]
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • Miramax Lionsgate (12/06/2011)
  • Blu-ray, R (Restricted)

This 3-disc set allows you to relive your horror movie phase while acknowledging how silly those movies often are. The first (and best) 3 movies in the scary movie franchise are full of cameos and pop culture references.

  • Cast: Anna Faris, Tim Curry, Charlie Sheen, Carmen Electra, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans.
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: R – Restricted
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Price: $15.99
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars
Mamma Mia! The Movie [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (12/16/2008)
  • Blu-ray, PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)

A daughter trying to find out which of her mother’s former lovers is her father may not seem like a good plot for a musical, but this cast manages to pull it off with class.

Don’t forget to check out the extra features: Outtakes, deleted scenes, the making of Mamma Mia, Bjorn Ulvaeus cameo, feature commentary with the director, Phyllida Lloyd

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Amanda Seyfried.
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 Parents strongly cautioned
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time:  minutes
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars

A list of the best Blu-ray movies would not be complete without at least one entry from the Monty Python team. This is their take on the age-old question, “What’s the meaning of life.” Full of skits and songs, this is the Monty Python comedians at their best.

The special features include a featurette with cast and Producer John Goldstone, and 7 deleted scenes.

  • Cast: Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, John Cleese
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not rated
  • Region: All regions
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Price: $29.99
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars

The Best Blu-ray Movies – Drama

Even if movies about the mafia are not your thing, you should watch these 2 movies at least once in your lifetime. Francis Ford Coppola brought together a fantastic cast which is why these are still two of the best loved classics.

  • Cast: Marlo Brando, Robert Duvall, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Abe Vigoda, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, James Caan
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R - Restricted
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 379 minutes
  • Price: $99.00
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars
The X-Files Movie 2-Pack (Fight the Future / I Want to Believe)...
  • 20th Century Fox (12/02/2008)
  • Blu-ray, NR (Not Rated)
  • Running time: 226 minutes

This 2-pack includes the X-Files movies, Fight the Future and I want to Believe. Special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully investigate the cases that are deemed too unusual.

In Fight the Future, Scully and Mulder try to stop a deadly virus, that may or may not be alien in origin, from spreading.

In I want to Believe, an FBI agent is abducted, and Scully and Mulder are assigned to locate her.

  • Cast: Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny.
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not rated
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 226 minutes
  • Price: $52.99
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars
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The Martian [Blu-ray]
  • The Martian (Deadpool Slipcase)
  • 20th Century Fox (01/12/2016)
  • Blu-ray, PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

Matt Damon puts in a brilliant performance as an astronaut who finds himself stranded on Mars and must survive long enough to be rescued. At the same time, his former crew are plotting a rescue mission and the Scientists at NASA are also working a solution.

  • Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara.
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG – 13 Parents strongly cautioned
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 142 minutes
  • Price: $4.99
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars
J. Edgar (Movie-Only Edition + UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
  • Warner Home Video (02/21/2012)
  • Blu-ray, R (Restricted)
  • Leonardo Dicaprio, Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer, Josh Lucas, Judi Dench

This is not the movie that Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his Oscar for, but it is an entertaining watch.

J Edgar is the story of the infamous J Edgar Hoover, who was head of the FBI for over 50 years. It promises to reveal many of Hoover’s secrets while telling the story of this fascinating man’s career.

  • Cast: Leonardo Dicaprio, Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer, Josh Lucas
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R - Restricted
  • Region: All regions
  • Price: $10.45
  • Review rating: 4 stars
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Hostiles [Blu-ray]
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • Lions Gate (04/24/2018)
  • Blu-ray, R (Restricted)

In 1892, an army captain escorts a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their home in Montana. They meet a young widow on the way who travels with them, a Comanche party and various other outlaws.

  • Cast: Christian Bale, Wes Studi, Rosamund Pike, Jesse Plemons, Adam Beach.
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R - Restricted
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Price: $14.99
  • Review rating: 4 stars

The Best Blu-ray Movies – Action/Adventure

This is the first of two appearances on our best Blu-ray movies list for Liam Neeson. If you know your mythological Gods these movies might question your memory, but they’ll still give you an action-packed afternoon.

  • Clash of the Titans (1981)
  • Clash of the Titans (2010)
  • Wrath of the Titans (2012)
  • Cast: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Gemma Arterton, Ralph Fiennes, Mads Mikkelsen
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: R - Restricted
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Price: $35.00
  • Review rating: 5 stars
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Taken 3-Movie Collection [Blu-ray]
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • 20th Century Fox (02/07/2017)
  • Blu-ray, NR (Not Rated)

Bryan Mills really should consider rounding up everyone he knows and placing them inside an impenetrable fortress somewhere remote. This 3-disc collection has all the Taken movies and, of course, that speech.

  • Cast: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: Not rated
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Price: $9.99
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars
Quentin Tarantino - The Ultimate Collection : Inglourious Basterds /...
  • Blu-ray, Unrated (Not Rated)
  • Running time: 1087 minutes
  • Brad Pitt, Harvey Keitel, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Pam Grier

This is a collection you watch after the children have gone to bed. Tarantino’s well known for the violence in his films but also his unique brand of humor. This set includes:

  • Django Unchained
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Death Proof
  • Kill Bill Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
  • Jackie Brown
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Reservoir Dogs

After you’ve watched these, you might want to pick up The Hateful Eight.

The Hateful Eight [Blu-ray]
  • Hateful Eight
  • The Weinstein Company (03/29/2016)
  • Blu-ray, R (Restricted)
  • Cast: Samuel L Jackson, John Travolta, Tim Roth, Uma Thurman, Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis, Quentin Tarantino.
  • Number of discs: 8
  • Rated: R - Restricted
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 1087 minutes
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars
Pirates of the Caribbean: 5-Movie Complete Collection [Blu-ray]...
  • Blu-ray, NR (Not Rated)
  • Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley
  • German, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, Icelandic, Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese

Johnny Depp had to make an appearance on our list of best Blu-ray movies to watch on a rainy day and his performance as a drunken pirate must be one of his best.


This set includes:

  • The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Dead Man’s Chest
  • At World’s End
  • On Stranger Tides
  • Salazar’s Revenge (Dead Men Tell No Tales)
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Jack Davenport.
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated: Not rated
  • Region: All regions
  • Price: $29.48
  • Review rating: 4 stars
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The Magnificent Seven [Blu-ray]
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (12/20/2016)
  • Blu-ray, PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

Nothing beats a good cowboy movie and this version of The Magnificent Seven is one of the better ones. The residents of Rose Creek hire 7 outlaws in a bid to rescue their town from the control of the resident bad guy and industrialist, Bartholomew Bogue.

  • Cast: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Pratt.
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG – 13 Parents strongly cautioned
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 133 minutes
  • Price: $7.99
  • Review rating: 4 stars

The Best Blu-ray Movies – Family

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Illumination Presents: 3-Movie Collection (Despicable Me / Despicable...
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (12/05/2017)
  • Blu-ray, PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

The movie that started it all and its two sequels in one collection! Super-Villain Gru and his minions can’t help falling in love with three orphan girls while on their latest dastardly mission.

  • Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, Benjamin Bratt
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: PG Parental guidance suggested
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 283 minutes
  • Price: $24.57
  • Review rating: 5 stars
  • Run Time: 283 minutes
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Bee Movie [Blu-ray]
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (06/05/2018)
  • Blu-ray, PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

The adventures of Barr B. Benson who goes off into the wide world and finds himself in trouble for breaking rule number 1 of Beedom: talking to a human. What follows is a lesson in how just one small bee can make a difference in the world.

Packed with special features this disc is going to entertain the little ones while teaching them as well.

  • Cast: Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton, Matthew Broderick.
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG Parental guidance suggested
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Price: $9.96
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars
Minions (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD)
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • Universal (12/08/2015)
  • Blu-ray, PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

It was only a matter of time before they got their own movie. It’s 1960 and the minions have lost their super-villain boss. Again. Kevin, Stuart, and Bob head off to the city to find a new one and meet Scarlet Overkill.

  • Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Chris Renaud, Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin.
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG Parental guidance suggested
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Price: $12.94
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars
Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition - (BD+DVD+DIGITAL HD)...
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • Walt Disney Studios (09/20/2016)
  • Blu-ray, G (General Audience)

This is the delightful cartoon version from 1990. As wonderful as Emma Watson is, nothing can compare to the sheer beauty of this version especially for the younger children.

  • Cast: Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, David Ogden Stiers, Richard White, Jerry Orbach.
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G-General audience
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Price: $9.95
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars
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Lego Batman Movie, The (Blu-ray) (BD)
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • WarnerBrothers (06/13/2017)
  • Blu-ray, PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

Lego Batman tries to save Gotham from the Joker, but he might have to learn how to play nice with others if he’s going to succeed this time.

  • Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera.
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG – Parental guidance suggested
  • Region: A/1 – North, Central, and South America, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Price: $14.00
  • Review rating: 4.5 stars

The Best Blu-ray Movies to Watch on a Sunny Day

Whether it’s a rainy day or a sunny day, our list of the best Blu-ray movies will keep you and your family nicely entertained. Just choose your genre and your favorite snack food and settle in for an exciting few hours.

Online Dating Is a Perfect Way to Date in the 21st Century

Online Dating Is a Perfect Way to Date in the 21st Century

To say that online dating has gone through a transition would be an understatement. Calling or texting, going out on more bad dates you would like to admit, falling in love.

The beautiful mess of meeting new people is as universal of an experience has humanity has to offer. We are a social species after all, and no one wants to be alone when we are at our worst. Despite this magnetic need that keeps us drawing closer and bouncing off each other, it sometimes feels insurmountable. Not just to meet the one, but meet someone to spend an evening with. We all would love that perfect match. Bumping into each other walking down the street. Becoming best friends before awkwardly confessing our feelings. Coincidence and fate are not always reliable though, which is why we have the internet (among other reasons).

Dating Through the (Modern) Ages

Online Dating Couple Laptop

Image: CC0, by Bruce Mars via Pexels

Before there was an Internet, there were personal ads. The first personal ad has been tracked down all the way back to 1695, but they used to be a staple in newspapers and bulletin boards up until recently. For the longest time, these ads had a stigma attached to them. Showing romantic/sexual agency, while at the same time being unable to achieve this in person, branded you at best a failure, and at worst a deviant. Early and frequent adopters of personals where the LGBT communities. Unable to express themselves in the far more repressive societies of the past, ads allowed for coded communication as a way to meet your peers.

Newspaper ads stayed popular despite the baggage surrounding them. Only during the shift in zeitgeist during the 1960s, the perception changed. Partially due to a rejection of traditional models of romance, and partly due to a broader acceptance of homosexuality. At the same time, students built the first computer-based dating platform was experimented with. Coined “Operation March,” it was the first algorithm-driven system designed to find the perfect match. Based at Harvard, it used to the same model of filling out questions to cross-check answers with other user’s results, used in one form or the other on dating sites today.

During the 1990s it was finally time for dating to go online. Online dating giant Match.com was founded in ’95, and stigmas of desperation and failure did not stick around for long. As the Internet took the world by storm, so did finding love through it. Not only does the majority of the population find it positive, but the number of long-term relationships and marriages are on a steady rise.

Types of Online Dating

As with any successful business, imitators are soon to follow. These days online dating makes up one of the largest chunks of digital revenue. Therefore it is not surprising in the least, to see the variety of online dating options for lonely hearts. Variety, however, can be tricky sometimes. To help interested people out, here is a quick overview of some of the more popular websites to find love.

Match 

online dating match logo

Image: screenshot, by match.com, via match.com

The granddad of dating websites, and naturally it also boasts one of the largest user bases on the market. In a lot of ways, match.com is a platonic ideal. After you sign up, you fill out a questionnaire, add pictures and fill in information about yourself to create a profile. You can browse recommendations or browse freely based on filters. You get matches based on liking each other, or try and get prospective mates attention through “winks.” Where match.com differs, however, is that to message someone, you need to pay. While you can dip your toe into the water for free, actually getting to the point of dating, meaning basic communication, money is required. While this does represent a hurdle for some, it also means that users generally take their time serious. So in that sense, the website is for people looking for something serious.

OkCupid

online dating okcupid logo

Image: screenshot, by OkCupid, via okcupid.com

OkCupid is the website for people who want to express themselves. Registration and most of its features are free (there are some optional premium services), at first glance the service seems rather pedestrian. The real unique selling point questions. While a questionnaire is not novel, the level OkCupid takes it to is. Divided into categories such as dating, sex, and lifestyle, you can answer hundreds of different questions potentially. Based on your answers you receive percentage points with other users, based on how often you answered the same. This enables you to tailor the degree of expression, based on how much time you want to spend. In that sense, this website is excellent for people who like to spend some extra time online, before committing to anything. OkCupid is also very popular with LGBT people.

Zoosk

online dating zoosk logo

Image: screenshot, by Zoosk, via zoosk.com

Zoosk is quite similar to OKCupid, in that it is also a very data-driven. And data really is the name of the game. It adds global popularity meters to its users. It uses data based on your choices in their match features to tailor recommendations. And you can customize not only your profile but also add information about your ideal partner. With all these features it is the premier service for any perfectionists out there. Refining your presence to the last detail and percent point, it boils down dating to some hard and fast numbers.

Tinder and Co.

online dating tinder logo

Image: screenshot, by Tinder, via tinder.com

While most online dating sites have mobile applications, it is still important to talk about those options that are exclusively mobile. Bumble, Blendr, Happn, or Tinder. They all fall under the category of dating apps or hookup apps. Unlike most websites, they simplify the process. Especially the notorious Tinder is almost wholly based on pictures. Users see, depending on your location, an almost endless stream of potential partners. Criticized for being superficial when it first came out, Tinder now fully arrived in the mainstream. And despite the bad press, it is probably the closed online dating equivalent of going out to a club or bar, and trying to talk to a stranger you find attractive.

It is the service for people looking for a quick dating fix. Just do not disappoint yourself with how throwaway it can feel at times.

The Way of the Future

online dating

Image: CC0, by Rawpixel, via Pexels

Regardless of where you fall on the online dating spectrum, the dating industry will have the service for you. The Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail” came out 20 years ago. And what back then felt new and novel enough to base a whole movie around, feels quaint today. The digital world has taken over every aspect of our life. Big Data is the driving force binding much of our global society. And online dating on our phones enables us to browse for people like they are shoes. All of this sounds more negative than it is. What started as sonnets about love in the middle ages, is today still the same: A perpetual search for a human connection and an everlasting hope to find Love. Is that not worth it?

 

Featured Image: CC0, by Ed Gregory, via Pexels

The Pirate Bay: Online Piracy and Entertainment for Today

The Pirate Bay: Online Piracy and Entertainment for Today

If you haven’t heard of the Pirate Bay, the time is now. Just 18 years ago, in the symbolic year of 2000, famous metal band Metallica sued the young website Napster. Designed to make use of the increasing speed of internet connectivity, Napster offered its audience of mostly college-aged adults a platform to share and download MP3s. The industry accused it of facilitating online piracy. By the time the lawsuit was over, it ended up being one of the most divisive court battles of the burgeoning online technology. Its fault lines can be felt even to this day in the cultural zeitgeist, even if the players have changed. The most famous one being the notorious website the Pirate Bay.

Ultimatimately, the argument came down on two sides. Some felt Metallica’s response was dis-proportioned and showing signs greed. Signs of a millionaire artist who lost touch with the realities of music in social environments. For many Napster was just the newest incarnation of activities such as tape trading. An exchange of cultural values outside any economic concerns. At the same time, Metalica stood up for artists everywhere. The artist who put untold hours into their hard work, and deserve to make a living from their craft. And in these terms, it is not easy to draw up easy, binary conclusions. Is piracy an issue of consumer vs. artists? Consumers vs. industry? Most likely it is a grey area of muddled intent and values, a grey area we are going to try and explore.

This article is neither a guide to nor an endorsement of torrenting. But it will serve as an introduction to the Pirate Bay. As it currently stands, online piracy represents an illegal form of copyright infringement, and as such is a criminal activity.

What is The Pirate Bay?

Image CC by 0, by Fleshgrinder, via Wikimedia Commons

For those unfamiliar with the Pirate Bay, and Thepiratebay.so, it is a so-called torrent site. Torrent sites, or BitTorrents, are websites distributing torrent files for download. Simply put, these files work as a form of a decentralized distribution network. For example, if someone downloads a song from iTunes, they access the file from one of many central servers. This, however, is an inefficient way of managing downloads, especially when many people want to download at the same time. A torrent file, however, gets broken into little chunks, distributed over a swarm of participating user bases. Instead of downloading a file in one piece, torrenting downloads the file in small increments spread out across many sources. And as soon as you start to download, you are also taking part in the swarm and help others to download.

The torrent file itself does not contain any of the actual content. Rather it contains metadata, that enables the user to download the content using specific clients. This is where the Pirate Bay comes in. Torrent sites like it are collections of torrent files covering everything from music, movies to video games. They are a source to gain access to endless hours of entertainment. All free, and all illegal, provided by collectives of hackers and determined individuals. Online communities rank the best torrent sites, based on their catalog. The market is in constant flux, as legal actions force sites to shut down, only to reappear a week later under a slightly altered name.

Piracy and You –  a Consumer Perceptive

picture of FBI anti piracy warning

Image CC by 2.0, by bizmac, via Wikimedia Commons

To understand the appeal of online piracy, especially during the days of Napster, we have to take a look at the past. Media distribution used to build itself was highly centralized. Print, movies, TV, music were all controlled by a strong entertainment industry, asserting vertical control. The result of which was a media landscape with a limited number of channels, most infamously of all probably TV. When there were only a handful of networks present, the amount of time was finite. But then came the Internet.

The Internet was not the first incident of new distribution channels occurring. But unlike anything before, it really opened up the floodgates. Instead of waiting for the industry to provide entertainment through their rigid structures, the audiences began to change. A hunter-gatherer mentality started to take root. People started to actively seek out desirable content. Why miss your favorite TV-Show, when you could just watch it on your own time? The media landscape turned into a fragmented collection of endless distribution channels, all competing with one another.

Instead of publishers, record labels and studios controlling the system from the top down, the internet opened endless opportunities to reach people. The only problem, the entertainment industry did not catch up quick enough to this change. This is why Napster first took the world by storm. For a more media savvy generation, traditional distribution began to feel more and more constricting. To use a metaphor, if there is only one store in the city selling music. And that store is only open once a week. It is only a matter of time before people begin smashing windows. What everyone failed to understand: consumers are willing to pay for their entertainment, but it was not reflecting their reality.

Game of Thrones – The Canary in the Coalmine

Since its release Game of Thrones has been one of the most successful TV shows of all time. At the same time is also has been the most pirated show of all time. While this success is certainly flattering for HBO, the network producing the show, it also represents millions in lost business. It also shows how a global phenomenon in the age of the Internet transcends borders. Throughout the show’s runtime, HBO began to decouple their pay-TV model from their online streaming model, in order to appeal to the new viewing standards.

At the same time, however, a global fan base cannot always legally engage. A service like HBO is not always available in every country. Waiting for physical home video releases is not enough for many, living in an interconnected world. This leaves them in the position of distribution limiting their willingness to pay. The same is true for films often being released with huge gaps in different local markets. Some companies still acting as if they are living in an analog world. They have to embrace the interconnectedness of worldwide audiences, instead of punishing them through outdated models of local distribution.

One company that did act on this has been the streaming giant Netflix. It expresses and encapsulates streaming’s combined ease of use, variety, and value, beats the allure of pirated entertainment. When you can try a free month of more content than hours in the week, why bother with illegal channels? Furthermore, Netflix took the lessons piracy is willing to teach. By using the Pirate Bay statistics as market research, they determine what type of content is popular with audiences.

The Way of the Future

image of Netflix with a remote and hand as an alternative to the pirate bay

Image by freestocks.org, via Unsplash

There is no question that online piracy is illegal. Court cases across the globe have used the download/upload realities of torrenting to justify some extraordinary high fines. In most cases, these ruling hardly justify the intent of the person who committed a crime most closely compared to shoplifting. Punishment should fit the crime. Yet online piracy never gained the same stigma as theft in the analog world, despite PR attempts throughout the early 2000s.

Subscription has been more than anything the industry’s way of defeating piracy. Torrenting is most likely never going to vanish, but Netflix proved that the changing user expectations making piracy popular can be embraced. Nowadays the music industry applies this business model with services such as Spotify and Apple Music to great success. Software giants like Microsoft and Adobe did the same for their user programs. Convenience is the keyword. And its time for the remaining businesses holding out, to embrace the lessons the Pirate Bay and other torrent sites are trying to teach them.

 

Featured Image: By Markus Spiske, via Unsplash