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MPAA Silently Shut Down Its Legal Movies Search Engine (techdirt.com) 62

Back in 2015, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) released its own search engine to combat the argument that people pirate films because there are too few legal alternatives. According to TorrentFreak, the search engine, WhereToWatch.com, has since been quietly shut down by the movie industry group, stating that there are plenty of other search options available today. From the report: The MPAA pulled the plug on the service a few months ago. And where the mainstream media covered its launch in detail, the shutdown received zero mentions. So why did the site fold? According to MPAA Vice President of Corporate Communications, Chris Ortman, it was no longer needed as there are many similar search engines out there. "Given the many search options commercially available today, which can be found on the MPAA website, WheretoWatch.com was discontinued at the conclusion of 2017," Ortman informs TF. "There are more than 140 lawful online platforms in the United States for accessing film and television content, and more than 460 around the world," he adds. "That is all absolutely true today, though it was also true three years ago when the site was launched," adds Techdirt. "The simple fact of the matter is that the site did little to serve any real public customer base. Yes, legal alternatives to piracy exist. Everyone knows that, just as they know that there are far too many hoops and restrictions around which to jump that have nothing to do with price. The MPAA and its client organizations have long asserted strict control over their product to the contrary of public demand. That is, and has always been, the problem. On top of all that, the MPAA showed its no better at promoting its site than it was at promoting the legal alternatives to pirating movies."

MPAA Silently Shut Down Its Legal Movies Search Engine

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  • It was pointless (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @06:34AM (#56451025) Homepage Journal

    Most of these legal outlets were pointless. You either had to sign up to some ridiculous streaming service that didn't work with your smart TV anyway, or you pad to pay full retail price for a digital rental that also wouldn't play on your smart TV.

    The physical disc was usually cheaper, but also quite awkward thanks to DRM.

    • by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @07:12AM (#56451127)
      This. I have some bought legit copies of some movies that I particularly like, and guess what: It's a pain in the ass to get them to watch on the computer (I do not have a dedicated Blu-ray player, for various reasons). It's much simpler and easier to watch the "generic" copy.
      • by atrex ( 4811433 )
        Fortunately there are programs out there that make playing a blu-ray on a PC a hassle free experience. Unfortunately it's an additional investment of money that shouldn't be necessary and will probably remain a gray area in danger of vanishing someday if agencies like the MPAA get their way.
    • If it worked as described, it would have been nice to know about it when it existed. I frequently find myself saying "I'd like to watch X, is it on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime?" and having to search each site independently. If I try Google, it never gives me useful information. If I try websites that supposedly search these sites for you, the information is almost always wrong or incomplete, apparently based upon some snapshot of who streamed what in 1997.

      So, what went wrong? Was the site as bad as ev

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Typically you went to the site, typed in what you wanted and it would tell you something like:

        - Not available in your region
        - Buy a Sky subscription and an add-on package (£30/month, minimum 1 year commitment, requires satellite dish and receiver)
        - Available on a streaming service that isn't compatible with your TV
        - Buy it on DVD for 5x the maximum amount you are willing to pay, in 9 months when we release it in your region

        Usually you were better off just going to Amazon or Rakuten and buying th

        • So is the complaint that it was broken (ie it didn't show that a film was available on Netflix that was), or just that the search results didn't match the streaming services available to you?
          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            It didn't know about all streaming services and didn't seem to keep up with Netflix's monthly changes. While it did tailor results to your region, the results were often useless anyway.

      • by unrtst ( 777550 )

        This is EXACTLY what I was hoping to ask/say here!

        The MPAA is in a perfect position to know all the players that have licensed the content. It should be a simple DB lookup, and maybe they could include some valuable info that's almost impossible to find elsewhere - the time periods when the license will be active (so I can see if something is about to be pulled from netflix, for example).

        At the very least, it sounds like a very good idea for a legit and very useful site. All the ones I've ever run into poin

      • I frequently find myself saying "I'd like to watch X, is it on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime?" and having to search each site independently.

        I've read that the fourth-generation Apple TV can do this.

        • I've read that the fourth-generation Apple TV can do this.

          It does. I have one. If I search using siri or global search (it CANNOT be the app's own search!) then the ATV will find any and all versions of what you're looking for, and give a choice of apps to open with.

        • I frequently find myself saying "I'd like to watch X, is it on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime?" and having to search each site independently.

          I've read that the fourth-generation Apple TV can do this.

          The Amazon TV stick can, too, for any apps you have installed.

      • Something like http://www.canistream.it/ [canistream.it]

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      That's a pretty weak. Excuse. Buy a cheap streamer and you're done.

      Don't be coy. You just don't want to pay. It doesn't matter how easy it is.

      Disks are easy to rip even under Linux. Blurays are minor annoyances. DVDs are ridiculously trivial.

      You just don't want to bother because that would mean parting with money.

      • When I part with money, it's on my terms, at least with a product that I can do without.

        You want my money. So earn it by offering me something I want to buy.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        When I buy CDs and very occasionally DVD/BluRay discs I also download a rip. No point getting out the USB optical drive and wasting energy on ripping/encoding, scanning artwork etc. Other people have already done and checked their work for me.

        But yeah, other times there is no good option to buy or stream legitimately so I just pirate it. Life is too short.

        • I still have an optical drive and I intend to for the foreseeable future. I still have old games that I want to play every once in a while.

          Do you not do this or have you already created images of everything?

          LK

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            I still have an optical drive. It lives in a drawer and never gets used. But even so, why bother wasting time ripping, checking, downloading artwork and metadata etc. when someone has already done it?

            I guess I could buy a digital copy instead of a physical one and get that stuff, but the digital copy is usually the same price and you get less for your money.

      • Saying the Pontiac Aztek is a shitty car is just a smokescreen. They're as easy to drive as anything else. You just don't want to pay for one.
        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

          Saying the Pontiac Aztek is a shitty car is just a smokescreen. They're as easy to drive as anything else. You just don't want to pay for one.

          I'd say that since GM VPs took pains to avoid being even seen near one indicates that most didn't even want to stand next to one.

      • So you pay $300 a month for every single streaming service and pay extra for movies that are just not available?

        The MPAA exists to extract cash from people. They don't care about providing a service.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Subscribe to one streaming service for one month, binge watch all interesting works exclusive thereto, cancel, and switch to the next streaming service.

    • It was never supposed to be a sensible search engine. It was supposed to be a tool they could point to in their next lawsuit to pretend that legal sources don't change the behaviour or people.

      Unfortunately for them the other, real, legal sources proved pretty much this.

  • by bobstreo ( 1320787 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @07:02AM (#56451101)

    I rented the VHS tape of it. Put it in the VCR, it wouldn't play. I tried about 3 other copies (from Blockbuster) and none of them would play. Finally found out there was a new Macrovision (copy protection) version on the tape that was "Incompatible" with my 1 year old VCR.

    I find most of my legal movie and television needs can be met using archive.org and an antenna, and Netflix.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I rented the VHS tape of it. Put it in the VCR, it wouldn't play. I tried about 3 other copies (from Blockbuster) and none of them would play. Finally found out there was a new Macrovision (copy protection) version on the tape that was "Incompatible" with my 1 year old VCR.

      I find most of my legal movie and television needs can be met using archive.org and an antenna, and Netflix.

      Yes, I remember those days. Putting on the bear skin, strapping on the stone knife and hiking to the Blockbuster across the glacier.

      If one were lucky, you'd come across one's neighbors stalking a woolly mammoth and you could join in and hopefully, get a kill and it's dinner and a movie night!

      One time when I was returning my movie, I had to run for my life from a saber tooth cat and dropped the movie. I had to pay $100 for the damn thing!

      Now, I've come into the modern age and take my horse and buggy to the

      • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

        and hiking to the Blockbuster across the glacier.

        Same story with me, except it was uphill both ways!

        This whole thing reminds me I see Getty images has really nice photos ones I'm willing to pay except $575 is a bit much. Then if want to pay (at least last time I examined) it seemed you need to be in the publishing business as there were lots of requirements and questions which most I couldn't understand. It seems The Business makes it difficult to distribute, there are current celebrities and stars but others from the past could disappear from the inte

    • I stopped - full stopped - giving any care or consideration for what some deem as 'legal' downloads. I see how the execs and the rich live their lives; they are essentially lawless, amoral and uncaring about anyone but themselves. so, I model myself from my 'heroes' and, all of a sudden, I save myself a lot of money and wasted time on DRM issues. I free myself from even thinking that 'downloading' is wrong. its not wrong. or, its no more wrong than how the content 'owners' treat us, the consumers.

      if so

  • When I go to watch a movie or start a new series, I usually check to see if it's already showing on any of the various services I'm already paying for. Why go searching for a movie if I can just fire up Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video or Crunchyroll? Sites that track what's currently playing on the major services are useful, since you can quickly "search" all of your services at once. It kind of reminds me of the old "Dogpile" search engine (which I literally just found out is still somehow a thing) that searche

  • by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @09:59AM (#56451617)

    At least in my sphere of the world, JustWatch [justwatch.com] has cornered the market for streaming listings. There hasn't really been a need to use anything else. So while the MPAA's effort was half-hearted to begin with, there really isn't a need to keep it up when there are other, better options.

  • I still pirate 100% of the movies that I watch at home (though I do still go to theaters once or twice a year). If you make movies for a living, I am basically an ex-customer who is waiting for you to re-open for business. (But by "waiting" I sure as fuck don't mean that I've stopped watching your movies.)

    AFAIK there is currently not a single way to legally buy a movie that you can legally play. There is proprietary streaming, where you don't really buy a copy of the movie and you also have to run weird, u

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Many of us would be more than happy to point couchpotato at some MPAA servers and pay them for a pristine copy. I won't accept them tracking my watching, determining what hardware/software I can use to watch it or how many people I can lend it to.

  • Like say how Mission Impossible 2 and 4 are available on Netflix, but not 1 3 or 5? Or maybe those legal alternatives like the show I was in the middle of watching when it suddenly disappeared from the library? Or maybe we're talking about me hitting a download button on something I've downloaded but wasn't able to watch on a previous flight only to get a warning saying that I am only allowed to download this thing Netflix knows has never been watched one more time, only for that download to fail and lock m

  • When Netflix streaming came out I said "This could end piracy. Finally." Then the stupid movie companies decided it wasn't good enough and spun up 400 different streaming services. Defeating the very solution that would have fixed the problem.

    I refuse to have multiple streaming subscriptions just so I can watch one show on your service.

  • I'm often looking for weird and obscure things, and WhereToWatch actually did point me toward some, in places I never would have found.

    It also had listings for things that just aren't out there anywhere, so at least I'd know to stop looking for a legit copy.

Ya'll hear about the geometer who went to the beach to catch some rays and became a tangent ?

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