Movie Piracy: A look at the effects on revenue

I have written previously about piracy and how to combat it. One thing I haven’t spoken about, is the impact of piracy, mostly because I haven’t been able to find any decent sources on the subject. While I have been certain that the claims made by the industry have been extremely off target, I have not had any good rebuttal to them – that is, until recently.

University of Kansas economist Koleman Strumpf has taken a critical look at the impact of file-sharing on box-office revenues. In a paper called Using Markets to Measure the Impact of File Sharing on Movie Revenues, he writes the following

The empirical strategy considers how stock prices respond to news about file sharing, using both arrivals and non-arrivals as shocks. Because the approach exploits price variation for all movies which are unavailable on file sharing networks, the case for unbiased estimates is particularly strong for the period prior to the theatrical opening. The estimates indicate that the displacement effect is quite small, both on a movielevel and in aggregate. The effect is precisely estimated. This is perhaps not surprising given the low quality of early file sharing releases and the lack of amenities such as theater sound and video systems.

One consistent result is that file sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue. One explanation is that such releases create greater awareness of the film. This is also the period of heaviest advertising. In conjunction with the main estimates, this suggests that free and potentially degraded goods such as the lower quality movies available on file sharing networks can have some beneficial effects on intellectual property.

Well, how about that? Not only does it seem that the losses claimed by the industry are not as large as they claim; file sharing has a consistent, if modest, positive effect on box office revenue.

#TBT: Windows keyboard shortcuts

This post originally ran in April 2008. I am reposting it now, as part of my throwback thursday project, to give some of my older quality posts some love. Many of these, I still use daily, and yet others I had completely forgotten about. Useful stuff, though. Yes, even that last one. If you’ve ever had an IBM ThinkPad, you’ll know why…

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to see the desktop of your computer quickly? Or maybe you wanted to open the Windows Task Manager quickly? You might have needed to see how much RAM your computer has installed, wanted to get Windows Explorer open, or even the Run-dialog box without needing to much about going to the start-menu?

There are many ways of doing all of these tasks, there are the ones most people know, and many tasks also have keyboard shortcuts. I prefer using the keyboard to using a mouse most of the time, and keyboard shortcuts, or hotkeys as they are often called, saves time. It has come to the point where I don’t think about the keyboard combination, but just punch it in.

There are many hotkeys around, and not all of them apply to every users needs. My needs are different to those of a user that spends most of their time in Photoshop. The keyboard shortcuts I have listed below are used in Windows, and are not dependent on any other software. If there are shortcuts you feel I’ve overlooked, feel free to tell me about them in the comment field.

Windows key+Pause – Opens the System Properties dialog box
Windows key+E – Opens the Windows Explorer
Windows key+D – Minimizes all windows and shows the Desktop, second use will revert to previous state
Windows key+R – Opens the Run dialog box
Windows key+L – Locks the computer
Windows key+F – Opens a Search window
Windows key+F1 – Displays the Windows Help Menu
Ctrl+Shift+Esc – Opens the Task Manager
Alt+Tab – Switches between windows
Alt+F4 – Closes the currently active window. If there is no active window this opens the Shut Down dialog box.
Ctrl+Esc – Opens the Windows menu

Citrix: Resolving “You have not chosen to trust security certificate”

In January, I showed you how to resolve SSL error 61. As it turns out, the error also affected Macs. Here’s the error you get on a Mac:

You have not chosen to trust "CA", the issuer of ther server's security certificate

First, we need to get the signing certificate:

  1. Open a web browser, and go to Comodo’s website
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and find the link to the .crt file there
  3. Download the .crt file

Next, we need to import it:

  1. Go to your downloads folder, and double-click the .crt-file
  2. Click “Always trust” in the dialog:
    Click "Always trust" in the dialog box
  3. Log in with your administrator credentials

That ought to do it.

#TBT: Net Neutrality

This post originally ran in April 2008. I am reposting it now, as part of my throwback thursday project, to give some of my older quality posts some love. This one is sadly still highly relevant.

Net Neutrality has become a heated topic over the last few years. The debate is whether an Internet Service Provider (ISP) should be allowed to decide what their customers are allowed to use the service for. Examples are many, and range from the Norwegian ISP Telenor attempting (however unsuccessful that attempt might have been) to charge content providers (notably the Norwegian Broadcasting Company) for Telenors clients to gain access to content.

Other recent examples include North Carolina telco Madison River’s blocking of Vonage VoIP traffic, for which Madison was fined by the Federal Communications Commission in 2006, and anti-union actions of the Canadian ISP Telus, which stopped on-site employee’s access to a labor union Web site set up to publicize disputes with the company and Canadian ISP Shaw Communications’s proposal to charge a CA$10 “quality of service enhancement” tax on VoIP streams.

A coalition of European and US-based consumer organisations, TACD, have recently published a resolution declaring: “Net neutrality is a state in which users have the freedom to access the content, services, applications, and devices of their choice.” TACD, representing 65 groups in Europe and the US, have clearly invested a lot of time in the resolution, notably Seven rules for Net Neutrality, as well as a clear(er) definition of what Net Neutrality actually is.

One of the problems with arguing for Net Neutrality has been that there is no good, clear and logical explanation of what up to now has been a vaguely defined concept. TACD defines a “neutral internet” as one in which consumers have three basic rights:
-To attach devices of their choice
-To provide and/or access private content, services and applications of their choice
-The ability to use these rights without discrimination according to source, destination, content, or type of application

Thomas Nortvedt with the Norwegian Consumer Counsel commented, saying: “The Consumer Council has been involved with the formulation of the TACD resolution, and Net Neutrality is one of the points on our plan of operations for the year. In connection with this Net Neutrality is a separate point in our contributions to the BEUC consultative statement to the Norwegian Department of Communication Telecompackage.”

For more information on Net Neutrality, you might want to visit the websites of organizations such as Save the internet and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Changing permissions for all subfolders (Windows)

A user called in, saying that his unit had been moved to a different department, and that they had all lost access to their work folders. I knew of the change, and moved the folders to the new unit file share. That should have been it, and would have been, except for one thing; when moving folders, you do not change the permissions. As a result, the users were unable to open the folders. Luckily, this is simple enough to solve. Here’s how I did it:

  1. I logged on to a server, so as to have administrative privileges
  2. I browsed to the folder containing the work folders, right clicked on it, and opened permissions
  3. I went to the properties tab, and clicked the Advanced button
  4. In the Advanced Security Settings window, in the Security tab, I checked the box for “Replace permission entries on all child objects with entries shown here that apply to child objects”:
    "Replace permission entries on all child objects with entries shown here that apply to child objects" is checked
  5. I then clicked Apply, and let the system do the job for me

Once the job is done, the check box will automatically become unchecked.

#TBT: The Throwback Thursday project

#TBT and Throwback Thursday has become something of a thing of late. The concept is simple enough; bring old posts and content back to the front page, and help people find your quality content. For me, this project means both that I look through my old posts, some of which are still very relevant, and pick them out, to repost them. They will all be titled #TBT, and can be found under the TBT category.

A note on what you can expect to find and not find: The posts that get recycled will be posts that I still find relevant. This means that any posts relating to technology that I don’t use or work with any more will be foregone. This includes Windows XP, Lotus Notes and the FotoWare suite. Technology and tools that are still relevant will, naturally, be included, as well as those tricks that carry over to products that I do work with.

Throwback thursday posts will start next week, and run as often as I care to go through old posts to find gems to post. This means that some months may see weekly posts (particularly in the beginning), while the pace might slow down as time passes. We’ll see what happens.

At any rate, I hope you enjoy seeing the new posts.

Changing primary SMTP address

A user called in, and wanted to have a different address as their primary email address. After making the change, when I tried to apply it, I encountered the following error message:

This command will clear the PrimarySMTPAddress property because the EmailAddressPoilicyEnabled parameter is set to true. This action isn't allowed.

The root cause is a default setting in Exchange, applying an e-mail address policy. Here’s how to resolve the problem:

  1. In the properties Window, go to the E-mail tab
  2. At the bottom, uncheck “Automatically update e-mail addresses based on recipient policy”
    Uncheck the Automatically update e-mail addresses based on recipient policy
  3. Hit apply

That should do it.

TeamViewer on Windows: Elevate session to have administrative permissions

One of the Support Analyst’s most powerful tools is the ability to remotely view and control the end user’s computer. One of many tools that lets you do this, is TeamViewer. If User Account Control (UAC) using secure desktop is enabled, that secure desktop causes remote sessions without administrative privileges to go black when the UAC prompt pops up. To get around this, you need to launch TeamViewer with elevated permissions. Here’s how:

  1. Connect to the end user’s session ID
  2. Do not enter the password, instead click the “Advanced” button:
    Click Advanced
  3. If prompted, select “Switch to Windows authentification”:
    Switch to Windows authentication
  4. Log on with a user that has administrative privileges:
    Log in with administrative privileges
  5. Wait while the TeamViewer session is relaunched with administrative privileges:
    Wait while the TeamViewer session is relaunched with administrative privilege

Congratulations; you now have a TeamViewer session with elevated permissions

Citrix: Resolve SSL Error 61 on Windows

Some weeks ago, I had a user call in, saying that she got the following error message when trying to launch applications from our Citrix farm:

Unable to launch your application. Contact your help desk with the following information: Cannot connect to the Citrix XenApp server. SSL Error 61: You have not chosen to trust...

Luckily, this error is readily remedied, by installing an update for Root Certificates from Microsoft. Once the update was installed, the application launched without further incident.

Unable to uninstall Citrix Receiver or Online Plugin

From time to time, users call in, reporting problems opening applications or desktops in Citrix. One of the many items in a support technician’s bag of tricks, is the old uninstall and reinstall routine. There are many reasons why this can be a good idea, among them that removing legacy applications that have been superseded by new versions can help resolve conflicts. Sometimes, however, the MSI files are damaged or just plain missing.

I have seen this particularly often with Citrix Receiver and Online Plugin. Luckily, Citrix has created the Receiver Cleanup Utility, which has yet to fail removing any and all versions of Citrix Receiver and Online Plugin. Simply download, unzip and run it, allowing it to uninstall the Citrix software installed. Then install a new version of Citrix Receiver, restart your browser and try again.