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Some BitTorrent users, it seems, are entitled idiots. The recent controversy about magnet links on The Pirate Bay The Pirate Bay Drops Torrent Files In Favour of Magnet Links [News] The Pirate Bay Drops Torrent Files In Favour of Magnet Links [News] Read More is one example – people threatened to stop using the infamous piracy site because of the switch, which forced people to update their BitTorrent clients and not much else – but that doesn’t come close to the entitlement another recent story reveals.

Imagine this – you get all of your entertainment free of charge, courtesy of people who record it for you in their spare time and put it on the Internet. Then these people, who you’re not paying, change the format they are offering this free entertainment in. Would you, realizing that you’re getting free entertainment because of volunteers, just accept it? Or would you complain about it in the comments section of torrent sites?

At least some people opted for the second choice. That level of entitlement is shocking.

The Story So Far…

More and more torrent sites are offering TV shows and movies as MP4 files using the x246 codec instead of the dated Divx standard. Why? Because the organizations that rip these shows and release them are changing, for a variety of reasons outlined in a document called The SD x264 TV Releasing Standards 2012. Catchy name, I know.

Simply put, the groups that initially rip these files switched formats. These groups typically upload the files to Usenet; from there they generally migrate to BitTorrent sites across the web.


So BitTorrent users, because of the choice of strangers several layers removed from their favourite torrent sites, faced new formats while consuming their media. Instead of installing the new codec and moving on with their lives, however, people took to comment sections, representing the 99% of leechers against the nefarious 1% of uploaders.

Here’s a sample of the comments:

“LOL, why are all your new uploads MP4 format? How do we get hold of you? We need the AVI format back, really frustrating as most DVD players don’t play MP4 format which means we are back to converting format to AVI – how 3rd world LOL”

Yeah, what’s third world about that is the format offered, not the fact that you’re still using a DVD player to play pirated media. Hook a computer up to your TV – it’s not expensive. If your TV was made after 2005, it probably even has one of these:

Problem solved.

The next quote contains excessive all-caps, which doesn’t exactly raise the level of discourse.



Whoever you are – you are an entitled parasite, and are the reason why the height of entertainment for future generations will be entirely cellphone videos of cats. How are media companies supposed to keep viewers happy if people like you find reasons to complain about high-quality, advertisement-free content you’ve paid nothing for?


If these are the customers media companies need to make happy in order to be profitable, that chance seems remote. If they find reasons to complain about free copies of expensive-to-produce television episodes how is any company supposed to make money producing TV shows?

Users on the Internet love to complain for services they pay nothing for. Ask Facebook – they’ve turned ignoring customer complaints into an art form, and they’ll likely never pay the price for that.

Behind these complaints, however, is a certain entitlement. People believe things should be given to them, for free, on their own terms. This makes sense with social networks, all of which profit by turning our friendships into commodities. If they’re doing that, they should listen to the concerns of their users.

This isn’t the case for BitTorrent, though. You’re getting something for free. Start acting like it.

Thanks to TorrentFreak for the information. A version of this story appeared in episode 13 of the Technophilia Podcast.

Image Credit: Child crying via Shutterstock

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  1. kingbob182
    August 29, 2012 at 4:27 am

    >not using VLC player

  2. Z.B. Manfred
    April 6, 2012 at 4:01 am

    Apologies if this sounds n00bish, but why would you hook a computer up to the TV if the computer already has a monitor? Also, don't be too quick to discredit DVDs and disc images just yet. For me it's been incredibly valuable to have a physical disc on hand just in case the hard drive dies and I lose the video files. I can always just reconvert them, although it does take an incredibly long time as my library grows bigger and bigger.

    I'm pretty no-frills when it comes to this stuff. I have minimal space where I live and so I got one of those low-powered netbooks that I use almost exclusively to watch videos, which I use VLC for. I also have videos encoded to my old-school 80GB iPod Classic from ca. ~2006 or so; sure, the screen is "insanely small," to coin a phrase, but I can't afford any of these set-tops and Voodoos and what have you. The iPod was a holiday gift from someone and the netbook I bought used. The issue of file formats doesn't mean much to me; I don't watch video on smartphones because I don't have or need one. VLC plays pretty much everything. I guess I am something of a resister because I still do actually own and watch movies on VHS. :-D

    But I will agree that there are some pretty callous and immature commenters on Pirate Bay, IsoHunt, etc., almost 4Chan-esque in stupidity, and then there are your almost laughable n00bish comments like "what is .nfo? Is it a virus???!?!?1?" and so you can't bother telling them to read the .nfo because they're afraid the Mayan apocalypse will occur from reading a text file.

    I don't consider myself a "techno-geek." And I can drive a car; I can pump gas, check the oil, do all the standard stuff, but due to physical limitations I cannot change a tire. I also am more old-school when it comes to the things I watch; Hollywood keeps charging exorbitant amounts of money for sequels, remakes, and Michael Bay crap at the box office; all the video stores are closed, and I don't have so much as a converter box because I stopped watching TV altogether once Survivor hit the airwaves. I'll turn to BT or even my local library to get an '80s movie or watch reruns of Seinfeld on DVD rather than bother with what's airing on the idiot box now.

  3. empty_other
    April 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I would really have loved to pay for some torrent-service.. Do you hear me, "Hollywood"! I WANT TO pay.. But you ain't sellin for some reason. :(

    Think about it! A quality torrent side where every tv-series is categorised and rss'd, where the file format would be consistent, where i could choose my quality and where subtitles had been qualitychecked. That would be worth paying for.

  4. Ophelia
    April 3, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Where to start?

    First, I guess, a bit of history. This switch to mp4 was presented - as far as I could tell - by a SINGLE group out of all the uploaders who basically said "this is what we are doing and if you don't like it, tough." There was no announcement made by the scene of a switch of which I am aware. So what had been a very stable situation for many years was suddenly upset, again, as nearly as I could tell, at the instigation of a single group.

    Second, where people used to be able to count upon hour length US shows being encoded at 350 MB and half hour shows at 175 (plus or minus a megabyte here and there) they are now showing up all over the board in terms of file sizes. Maybe there is a reason for that; I don't know and am not going to bother to figure it out. But it is a bit bizarre now when you see a 1/2 hour show turning up with a file size sometimes nearly double what an hour long show may be.

    And, yes, that does make a difference to people who have download limits and need to be able to forecast what they want to download. You can't use feeds any more for torrents then because you never have any idea how much you'll have to download.

    Third, as for hooking a computer up to a TV, now who is being entitled? Don't you people realize that affording one computer is a struggle for many families? And it won't be put next to the computer. (And please, don't tell me to have them run wires or set up wireless connections). The arrogance of just saying "slap a computer down by the TV" (or run wires to it from another room) and putting a giant picture of the plug in the article strikes me as just as much an attitude of entitlement as anything. Those who can afford -- do.

    Fourth, I find it to be a continuous source of amusement to listen to and read how the "techno-geeks" can't understand why people complain about the complexities of computer technology. Just to stereotype, I'd also bet 99% of those "techno-geeks" couldn't change a tire (assuming they even know how to drive), let alone change the oil in their car. And God forbid if they should have to drive a car with a carburetor!! Or ever need to change their brake pads on their own. Radiator flush? Transmission fluid?

    Just like people want their cars to run without problems, people want their computers to do the same. The only ones who don't are the car "geeks" and the computer "geeks". Both should re-adjust their attitudes.

    And don't let me get started on the attitude of the Linux geeks generally towards the MS users.

    That said, I would agree that people shouldn't generally complain about getting something for "free". But to even give them space by responding is kind of stupid in and of itself, particularly when many are simply expressing the same frustration that the "non-car geek" expresses when the car won't start and they have no knowledge whatsover of why.

    • Justin Pot
      April 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      You make some great points here, and I'm flattered you took the time to address my article. Here are a few counter-points, though I'm sure they won't convince you.

      1. People uploading things in their spare time can do whatever they like. It's not a democracy, nor should it be.
      2. This is a valid concern to have, but you can't expect consistent service from volunteers.
      3. Entitled nothing. I used a ten year old computer as my media center for years, and never had a problem. There are computers on Craigslist for under fifty bucks that could easily connect to a TV and play these videos, at least in my town. Can't afford that? Find a place in your town where computers are recycled and just grab one.
      4. I can't change my own brake pads, so I pay someone to do that. If someone wants to watch shows without technical problems, they can get a Netflix account or buy the DVDs.

      Regarding your car analogy: these people aren't complaining because their computer isn't working: they're complaining because breaking the law became slightly more complicated. It's an important distinction.

  5. Kyle
    April 2, 2012 at 5:50 am

    If you don't want mp4, then what is your favourite?

  6. James
    April 1, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Great article. It is more than just torrent users. Its a social movement to some people. I know some of them too. They are so annoying.

    • Justin Pot
      April 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Complaining about free things is a social movement? Scary stuff.

  7. Guilherme
    April 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm


  8. Tony
    April 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Fully agree with Justin here.

  9. NO
    April 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    UR GAY

    • Justin Pot
      April 2, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Not sure if this is ironic, or unintentionally hilarious. Either way: awesome.

  10. dustin
    April 1, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I would have to agree here. Personally, i am not into torrents. Legal or otherwise, its just not my preferred method to download anything. Nothing against torrents, hell i have even used the technology for some projects of mine, but its just not what i like to use. Despite me saying this, i almost ALWAYS get someone ranting that torrents have other uses besides illegal means (i know this.), or im just an idiot because i refuse to "adapt" and i stick to "archaic ways of downloading things and will be left behind" which is a painfully stupid argument.

    No one can seem to accept the fact even though i really don't have anything against torrenting. Its like ive walked right up to the baptismal pool and used it for my toilet to do a number 2 while in the middle of service.

    • Justin Pot
      April 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      Yeah, torrents aren't for everyone, but they are a great way to distribute bandwidth costs. I think many Linux distros couldn't exist without it. But to each their own, I say: download files however you like.

  11. wilL Toxic
    April 1, 2012 at 8:28 am

    I Like this article. and i agree!
    pleople just don't know when to say thanks.
    is smaller in size and same quailty if not better.
    hotmail Haha.

    • Justin Pot
      April 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      That lack of appreciation is troubling, but if these comments are any indication more than a few people share my view. That's encouraging.

  12. Joel Lee
    April 1, 2012 at 3:16 am

    Self-entitlement is not a BitTorrent phenomenon. It's not even an Internet phenomenon. It's a symptom of the newer generation--and yes, my generation (born in the 80s) is included in that lumped generalization.

    A lot of torrent users are not self-entitled. In other words, it's a sort of confirmation bias. The vocal minority, so to speak. You only end up seeing self-entitled brats in the comments sections because the grateful and mature users don't comment. :)

    • Justin Pot
      April 2, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      The comments under this article tell a different story. Grateful people do exist, and we need to not let the self-entitled people dominate comment sections.

      I worry about that becoming a defining trait of our generation, but you've got a point. We've been handed a lot in life...

  13. John
    April 1, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Come on, it's the comment section. Since the dawn of anonymous commenting comments have never been good for judging the intelligence of a services consumers. Think Youtube.

    • John
      April 1, 2012 at 2:57 am

      Oh, and I use torrents often enough and barely noticed the change to magnetic links and MP4. Like the author noted, the same people complaining are the ones attempting to burn to a DVD to watch. They probably still use Hotmail. ;-)

    • Joel Lee
      April 1, 2012 at 3:16 am

      This is a good point. Anonymity will tempt even the most mature person to act like a spoiled brat!

      • Justin Pot
        April 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm

        Yeah, it's a very good point and I should have mentioned it. Thanks for taking the time to comment, John.

  14. Lee
    March 31, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I've never really pirated movies before, but why is AVI so special? I've been forced to work with AVI files before and they really are a pain to edit because they're really just containers so just because you have an AVI file doesn't mean it will always work the same. MP4 seems to be more standard to me and I think can be played natively in WMP. If it can't, just download the codec or use VLC, not much of a big deal.

    • Jouni "Rautamiekka" Järvinen
      March 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      Too much asked for idiots. AVI is of Micro$oft, which explains all the stupidity caused by corruption and all the pain dealing with AVIs.

    • Jouni "Rautamiekka" Järvinen
      March 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      And not only that, but big part of ThePirateBay Users are idiots who don't know a thing, like they ask how to open an ISO file, or how to open a 7z file. Idiots who don't have the brain cell to Google with obvious keywords but do have the brain cell to join a Website and spam, like at one another Forum.

      • dustin
        April 1, 2012 at 9:00 am

        Well, we do need idiots on the front line to take the fall when RIAA fires its cannons, so i guess they do serve some use :)

        • dave
          April 1, 2012 at 7:13 pm

          lol, well couldnt have put it better

    • Justin Pot
      April 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Some people liked DIVX files because a number of DVD players can play them natively, but that's not been relevant for a long time. Everyone else likes MP4 for the reasons you've outlined.

      • John M
        April 3, 2012 at 8:15 pm

        When I first encountered the aforementioned switches (magnets & mp4) I was momentarily irritated but after a very quick search was able to find the reasons behind the changes. Since then I've been happily torrenting magnets and playing MP4 files. (As mentioned earlier this might have something to do with my generation-early 50s...)

        For the most part I found that the MP4 files are smaller then the AVI files. The only problem I've encountered is that the audio sync seems to go off a lot more with MP4 files than they did with AVI files. I'm using GOMPLAYER which easily allows me to re-sync the audio. Still it is a noticeable difference, has anyone else experienced this?