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Pirated Television Shows

TorrentFreak announced their list of the top ten most pirated television shows for 2008. Based on the geography of IP addresses, TorrentFreak determined 90% of the downloads are outside of the United States. Most of the most popular shows are available for free on the major carrier’s websites, albeit in a lower resolution format. Furthermore, these shows are available for free via analog broadcast and where available in HD via digital broadcast. So given that all of these shows are freely available anyway, is it really “pirating” for these shows to be available over the Internet?

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I think there is a difference. Let’s simplify the situation. Let’s say I have the only copy of the only movie in existence and everyone wants to see it. I’ve spent a lot of money making the film. I have these options:

  1. I put the film in a theater and charge admission
  2. I put the film on TV and charge advertisers for mid-film time slots
  3. I put the film on my web site and charge advertisers for mid-film time slots, pre/post film time slots, or persistent ads throughout that display on the side
  4. I put the film on a torrent and make no money

Why would I ever do the last? Why would I lose a large sum of money just so everyone else could get it free? I wouldn’t. So it makes perfect sense that if you decide I should do the last against my will that I would take legal action.

I’d like a free movie as much as the next guy, but this is piracy plain and simple.

3 Votes  - +
Regional issues by NikkiA

I think the key to the statistics is that 90% are non-US torrentors. A lot of why people torrent TV shows boils down to regional lockout. If I want to watch Lost when the new series starts in a little over 2 weeks, I need to subscribe to Sky and even then I’ll have to wait 4 days. Eventually in a couple of years it’ll make it to a free-to-air channel.

Or I could just hit up usenet/torrents and download a hi-def copy sometime early on the 22nd.

And that is an example for a premier show, if it was a less popular show I would likely be waiting for 6 months or more before it is shown on a channel I can watch.

There will be a number of people that download shows that are aired first in their specific region – I know I would rather download a show than fiddle about with the DVR’s obnoxious EPG or actually schedule watching it at a specific time – but they will always be the minority when compared against those that are using downloads as a method of circumventing poor management of regional television programming.

Of course, studios feel like they have lost an asset because the perceived ‘potential’ value of releasing those shows on DVD is lessened, so they will always scream ‘piracy’ no matter what.

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