Sekret Location of MPAA Cameras Revealed

Last week I was talking about how the MPAA was installing cameras downtown to put the crack down on bootleg DVD sales – on Saturday I went down with Xeni and Koga to see these cameras for ourselves. We only had an hour or so but in that short time we were able to find two of the four cameras that are currently active. Both of the ones we located were perched on the tops of buildings at the end of alleys where people are lined up selling just about every bootleg product you can imagine. Here are the two we found in relation to Santee Alley:


On top of a prom dress store at
345 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015
[map]

On top of the Bendix building at
1228 Maple Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90015
[map]

So how did we find them? It was pretty rough, we walked around for a few minutes and then just asked the guys who were actually selling the bootleg DVDs. Some people didn’t really want to talk about it, others were more than happy to point us in the right direction, and others even had stories of unmarked police vans pulling up, cops jumping out and grabbing DVD venders, taking a ton of photos of the whole event and the DVDs and then driving away. Nothing like a photo shoot to prove the cameras are working right? The dent in the business was obvious, we could only find people selling boxes of bootleg DVDs about every 5 feet or so, I can’t imagine what it was like pre-MPAA-funded-cameras.

So since the DVD sellers seemed to have foiled a $200K surveillance system by, well, walking across the street or stepping a foot to the left under an umbrella we decided to see just what these cameras where there to protect the MPAA from. They are loosing a bazillion dollars a second from these bootleggers right? So I threw down $5 on copy of Star Wars – Episode III – Revenge of the Sith just for kicks. Holy Crap! Literally! This is the crappiest thing I’ve ever watched. Actually I take that back, because it was unwatchable. I scanned through the first 10 minutes and had to give up. I can’t believe for a second that anyone would buy this and be satisfied. In fact, I’d be surprised if anyone who bought one didn’t feel royally screwed. I know this back alley bootleg isn’t effecting my plans to buy a legitimate version when it’s released.

These guys are hurting the movie industry the way that all those viagra and cialis e-mails have the people your local pharmacy closing up shop.

Xeni wrote more about this on Wired News and BoingBoing and there are lots of photos of the actual cameras on the buildings after the jump.


photo by Sean

photo by Sean

photo by Koga

photo by Koga

photo by Koga

photo by Koga

photo by Koga

photo by Koga

photo by Koga

14 Replies to “Sekret Location of MPAA Cameras Revealed”

  1. I wonder if these guys know about the “shine a laser pointer in the lens of a CCD security camera and completely blind it” trick

  2. Is it just me or does this sound something akin to a prequel to 1984?

    Think about it. It would have to start off somewhere and the MPAA and the RIAA are two powerful organizations that are starting to impose their will in areas where laws should have stopped them(lke getting names from an ISP without a warrent).

  3. Well, I think the MPAA are more worried about these guys becoming tech savvy and starting to download screeners off the internet, and converting them to DVD format. Then they would have a serious problem as they’d have almost-dvd quality videos being sold at $5 a pop.

  4. So, on the basis of one single unwatchably-crappy Star Wars bootleg, you conclude that bootlegs can’t possibly be hurting anyone?

    Or at the very least, they don’t cause anyone to lose “a bazillion dollars a second” so, hey, it’s no big deal, right?

    It’s hard not to admire such intellectually rigorous reasoning.

  5. Okay, Glen, prove that bootlegs are hurting business. In the U.S., please, not China.

  6. Look, I’m not the MPAA’s mouthpiece. Contrary to the blathering heads on Faux News, there aren’t “two sides to every story” – and even if there are, questioning the logic of one side doesn’t make me a supporter of the other.

    If the MPAA makes similarly logic-impaired remarks, I’ll question them, too.

    I’m not saying that bootlegs hurt anyone, and I’m not saying that they don’t.

    What I am saying is that the crappy quality of one single Star Wars bootleg isn’t evidence of anything at all, one way or the other.

    And that’s all I’m saying. If you’re looking for someone to debate the “Bootlegs – threat or menace?” question, I’m afraid you’ll have to look somewhere else.

  7. Glen – the Star Wars DVD i bought was unwatchably crappy. The Fantastic Four DVD Xeni bought was unwachably crappy. One of the guys on the street was asking the vender where the movies came from because ones he’d bought before were unwatchably crappy. The others in the box looked similarly crappy.

    It’s not one that’s bad that this opinion is based on, is that ALL of them are bad.

  8. Oh, two unwatchably crappy DVDs, and evidence of at least a couple more. And a whole box that “looked similarly crappy”.

    Well, gosh, that’s different, then.

  9. Oh, I’m sorry, and how many good quality bootlegs that would actually compete with retail sales have you personally seen come from santee alley? Because unless you’ve got stacks of them, I’m guessing I have a more convincing arguement – since my side actually has something physical to back it up and yours is just propaganda so far.

  10. Actually, I’ve seen dozens of bootlegs. Some were from Santee Alley, some were from other domestic retail sources.

    And some of them were very good indeed.

    I think you’ll find that, for the most part, bootlegs of unreleased films or films still in theatres (like, say, the new Star Wars movie or the Fantastic Four) are fairly bad – generally, they’re either camcorded in the theatre, or they’re duped from work prints, often with time codes, missing effects, temp soundtracks, and so on.

    But bootlegs of films that are already out on DVD are often of a quality comparable to the commercial DVD – because, generally, they’re copied directly from the commercial DVD. Some of them are virtually indistinguishable from commercial product – packaging and all.

    And those are just generalizations – I’ve also seen some crappy dupes from released DVDs, and some really excellent transfers of not-yet-released films.

    But what I, personally, have (or haven’t) seen is completely irrelevant to my previous remarks, which were about the flaws in your reasoning.

    Finding a couple of crappy bootlegs – or even a boxful of crappy bootlegs – doesn’t “back up” your conclusion that all bootlegs are crappy. The evidence you’ve adduced just isn’t sufficient to justify that conclusion.

    And that would be true even if your conclusion were correct, and even if I’d never seen a single bootleg that contradicted that conclusion.

    Faulty reasoning needs no disproof.

  11. What I want to know is how a topic as disturbing as this privately funded invasion of privacy can devolve into a my-logic-is-less-flawed-than-your-logic. Argue “bootlegs suck” v. “no they don’t” all you want, but isn’t that missing the point of this post: that now the MPAA is WATCHING (and probably laughing its ass off).

    Next thing you know they’ll outlaw Silly String… oops, too late.

  12. Sorry.

    You’re right – this is something I’ve had a hard time learning: on an issue this important, logic is unnecessary, and facts don’t matter.

    You don’t win political battles like this with facts and logic. The important thing is to whip up a good, solid frenzy of righteous indignation. Insistence on factual accuracy and logic just get in the way of that. It’s just a distraction.

    While we sit here nit-picking fine points of logic, our corporate masters are chuckling at our foolishness, our inattentiveness.

    They’re draining away the very last dregs of our privacy and freedom, turning this once-free nation into a surveillance-based police state. And all we’re doing is debating fine points of logic.

    Freedom is more important than logic. Privacy is more important than truth.

    So please forgive my ill-considered interruption, and please accept my apologies for distracting your readers from what’s really important.

  13. Glen – you are an idiot.

    This post is about how there’s MPAA cameras on Santee Alley put there to stop DVD bootleggers, which are NOT ONLY not stopping the bootleggers, but also wasting LAPD resources since now there’s cops watching the cameras that the bootleggers know about. It’s also about how the bootlegs on Santee Alley are so crappy they are hardly the source of the billions the MPAA is claming to lose. These are facts we have researched in person.

    You may have your opinions about this and that, but it’s all opinion because you have nothing to back it up. You’ve offered no proof, I saw with my own eyes. Until you can prove that the cameras on santee alley are having any effect at all, or that bootleg DVDs sold on santee alley are of good quality you are just a troll. I’m offering fact, you are offering “nuh-uh” and then are surprised when people aren’t rallying to your side. Offer proof for your points or shut up.

  14. Hmm. Just tried to post a response, including an apology, but can’t seem to get past the “questionable content” filter.

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