YAROCAP: Yet another round of commentary about piracy

Well, this funny little cartoon from The Oatmeal sure stirred up the ol’ interwebs the other week. It’s got a good point: at least some of the piracy that’s happening is because Big Content makes it a total pain in the ass to do the right thing. See also this two-year-old comic that makes roughly the same point.

Andy Inahtko had an excellent counterpoint to all this:

The single least-attractive attribute of many of the people who download content illegally is their smug sense of entitlement.

Here’s the terms of use for commercial content: you have to pay for this stuff. This means either you need to wait for it to become commercially available, or if you torrent it today you need to buy it when it gets released. So long as you buy it as soon as it’s possible to do so, I can confidently reach for my “No Harm Done” rubber stamp. Some content is commercially unavailable because the publisher or distributor has no desire to ever release it. I’ll even go so far as to say that downloading it illegally is a positive thing; you’re helping to keep this creative work alive.

If you avoid purchasing the media in some form, however…you’re just one of those people who prefer to steal things if they think they can get away with it. Simple as that. Get off your high horse.

Truth. But throwing spitballs doesn't solve anything, as Marco Arment points out in this piece:

Relying solely on yelling about what’s right isn’t a pragmatic approach for the media industry to take. And it’s not working. It’s unrealistic and naïve to expect everyone to do the “right” thing when the alternative is so much easier, faster, cheaper, and better for so many of them.

Finally, an essay from The AV Club by Todd VanDerWerff argues that it’s more complicated than that:

The reason the hero of the cartoon can’t watch Game Of Thrones legally yet is because the system set up to produce Game Of Thrones only works if there’s a window when people pay a premium to watch that content. HBO, which has flirted with putting its stuff on iTunes from time to time (often at a more expensive price point than other things on iTunes), is one of the dominant entertainment companies on the television landscape, but it’s all too easy to forget that HBO isn’t in the content-generation business; it’s in the subscriber-attraction business.

It’s trickier over in cable. A basic cable network like FX or USA makes its money from a combination of fees paid to the company by cable providers and advertising. This gives those networks a nice cushion of cash to start from (those cable provider fees), but it also requires them to create programs that are going to keep people paying their cable provider for a package of channels. This is largely why so many cable shows have such long delays toward getting programs up on streaming sites. If viewers are watching FX’s shows on Hulu, they’re not paying their cable subscription package, and the cable providers aren’t making any money.

So, yeah, it’s complicated.

At this point, my new plan is just to pray for show to have production delays so I have enough time to catch up via DVD or Netflix. It worked for Mad Men!

Am I doing it wrong?

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