Does TV Piracy Harm Or Help?

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Does TV Piracy Harm Or Help?

In some ways, this is the argument that never ends. Over the weekend, American director David Petrarca stated that he wasn’t fussed about people pirating Games Of Thrones, because it creates a “cultural buzz” around the product. I’m not entirely convinced.

Despite the onset of alternative entertainment avenues that often get column inches such as simple Internet browsing and video games, Australia remains a nation of couch potatoes. The latest OZTAM multi-screen report suggest that Australians watch an average of over 91 hours of TV every single month, and that’s a figure that hasn’t changed in the past ten years. We love our tellies, in other words, but TV is a hungry creature. You can only watch repeats of MASH so many times before you’ve committed them all to memory, so new material is a bit of a must.

If you believe the piracy figures — and given they’re reporting on illicit activity and everyone reporting them has one spin or another they’d favour — we’re also a nation of pirates, with HBO’s Game Of Thrones being a particular favourite. Just to whet your appetite, have a trailer for the next season, as yet unaired and therefore not yet on the wide pirate seas.

David Petrarca has directed episodes of Game Of Thrones, and over the weekend he appeared at the Perth Writer’s Festival. The Sydney Morning Herald reports when asked about Game Of Thrones being the most pirated show of 2012

Petrarca shrugged and said the illegal downloads did not matter because such shows thrived on “cultural buzz” and capitalised on the social commentary they generated.
“That’s how they survive.”

I get what he means to a certain extent, because it’s a variant on the “piracy is advertising” argument in one form, and in the specific case of Game Of Thrones the fact that so many of my friends and colleagues were endlessly raving about it led me to seek it out — although in my case, it was via renting the DVD box set from my local video store and gorging on it rather than downloading the episodes illegally.

HBO’s also in a rather interesting position when it comes to piracy, because it’s a premium US cable channel with a rather large income stream, which means the sting of piracy isn’t quite so cumbersome to it. Still, I’m sure that Petrarca’s HBO bosses don’t quite share his viewpoint. Or, as ex-Epic Games developer Cliff Bleszinski put it on Twitter this morning:

As an HBO subscriber here’s a shout out to everyone who pirates Game of Thrones. Glad I can fund it for you. ;P

Therein lies the problem. Development of a premium TV series that doesn’t look like it was shot on stock made out of clingfilm (mental note: experiment to see if that’s feasible; a fortune could be mine!) costs real money, and somebody, somewhere has to be willing to pay for it. I’m not entirely neutral on this, given that I work in a creative capacity, but I’m also all too well aware that it’s a problem that often revolves around the same arguments of access and price, something that I’ve argued at length elsewhere.

So, here’s the challenge. Let’s say for the sake of argument that piracy is just advertising. How do you fund premium TV programs sufficiently, or is it just an issue of “I don’t care as long as somebody else pays?”

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Comments

  • I’ve downloaded every GoT episode via Bittorrent. I’m not much of a reader, but after enjoying Season 1 so much, I decided to buy the first book (about $20). Since then, I’ve gone back and purchased the 2nd and 3rd ebook on iTunes (about $30). That is money otherwise not spent on the franchise.

    • i have pirated both seasons and plan on pirating the third i also bought season 1 bluray and have season 2 bluray preordered and payed off.
      basically i love the show but there’s no way in hell I’m locking myself into a contract with foxtel so i can watch it legally after the arbitrary “because you live outside the US” delay of 3 – 5 weeks

      • If it was available on the day it aired in the US I would pay for it. Foxtel is overpriced rubbish that lags behind anyway, from a few weeks to a year or more in some cases if at all they pick up the show.

        Want to put a dent in piracy? Have each episode available for download (Or even a legit official torrent! Gasp!) on the day of airing from the official HBO website for a small fee per episode and have bulk deal for a completed season.

        The ‘honest’ pirates would be all over it without a doubt.

  • You buy the DVDs when they are released. That’s the basic idea. If you can’t acquire the show legally, you enter into a moral contract with yourself to purchase the home entertainment version when it is finally released.

    • ^THIS
      I happily “pirate” and if I like the show I’ll support the production (and therefore future production) by buying it.
      If I don’t like the show, I don’t watch it and have no qualms about not buying it, despite downloading it.
      For shows I do like, I’d happily pre-pay for the DVD’s to legally get access to the content at Broadcast time.

    • Same here, I ‘pirate’ every episode as soon as it’s available and then buy the DVD (usually from JB Hi-Fi). Since Game of Thrones is one of only two shows I watch regularly (the other being Sherlock) this works out well.

    • +10000000000

      After i had been through all the local video stores and watched every tv show i wanted and then got onto the current stuff i started pirating.

      Now i pirate everything and anything i want to watch TV related, because if they can’t provide it to me add free, to watch when ever i want (not when they air it) In what ever format i want as soon as its aired, for a reasonable price (no a couple $ per episode is not reasonable) then i shall continue to pirate.

      Assuming the show is good enough I then go buy the dvd /BD box sets when they are out. Now while i wont go and buy every thing i watch and never at RRP (lol at $70 box sets, i pay max 30 per a season, love those imports) They make more money from me buying these sets than any advert ever has, because the ONLY time i’ve ever seen an add and bought something is a Digimon in primary school.

      I love Game of thrones, i pirate it the second it his my torrent site (screw waiting for a tv release weeks later on a crappy channel with shit reception in non HD with adds ruining immersion and key moments), but as soon as the blurays hit a reasonable level or a decent Multi season pack comes along i’ll be buying them as a show of support. (might be a while since they are still like $50 a season)

          • Just reviewed some of your comments to confirm you were a douche.

            Just another sad little person hiding on the net. Nothing to see.

            (And it is “someone’s”…)

          • You were insulted by my comment and stalked me, its hilarious. Though the fact that im blunt doesn’t make me wrong, though you felt the need to validate yourself so hows that self esteem working out for you?

          • My self-esteem is exactly where it was before and where it will be tomorrow.

            I looked at what I wrote, assessed it as everyone else who contributed to the discussion in a positive way and, following on from reviewing your other comments, came the the conclusion you’re a douche so your opinion is irrelevant.

            Unfortunately I was unable to continue in that thread because replies had been locked. Simple as that.

            You being a douche and finding it funny just reinforces my previous comment. You, like so many anonymous people, are a coward.

            If you’d like to continue chatting I’m happy to. You can DM me on twitter at the same name as I post here. But being a coward, you won’t…

          • Also to stay slightly on topic.

            I actually bought Season 1 + 2 on bluray yesterday at JBhifi with their special HBO promotion. Buy GoT S2 and get 50% there other select tv shows.

            Ended up getting them both for like $75, which was even cheaper than the season combo pack even if i imported it, payed like $20 more than i wanted too but its one of the few tv shows worth the premium.

            @ Stalker mc stalker
            I’m flattered, seriously. The very fact that your reduced to perusing my many comments to find a reason, any reason to discredit my opinions. So that in your mind so you can feel better about being a dullard really warms my heart. Then calling me a coward too boot, nom nom nom those self conscious tears are so delicious.

            Please go back to your diary and keep writing “i think i can, i think i can”, the hundred thousand or so times you’ve done it already clearly wasn’t enough. Also the rather specific insults and stalker like behavior your displaying makes me think your may need psychiatric help too so maybe you should call one of those help lines.

          • Such feeble attempts to paint this as stalking. It is the classic response of a coward to turn yourself into the victim.

            The difference between us is I treat people with respect, face to face and via something anonymous like an internet forum. Respect for other people shouldn’t come from fear of a response. But don’t feel unique in how you behave. It is very common. Maybe you’ll grow out of it.

            I have no doubt you’re probably a very nice person face-to-face. It is just sad that you believe you empower yourself by being a douche in environments where there is no chance of repercussions.

            That’s all the feedback I have to give. Hopefully you’ll consider it and deliver your next piece of anonymous feedback with these thoughts in the back of your mind.

          • Oh god the hypocrisy is rife with this one. I called your question silly and explained why i did and that was that. You then proceed to stalk my other posts, regardless of the words connotations what you did was in fact stalk.

            You then comment in an alternate article don’t contribute to it then personally attack me, unprovoked.

            “The difference between us is I treat people with respect, face to face and via something anonymous like an internet forum.”

            You should look at yourself in the mirror, you personally attacked me by calling me a douche and a sad little person to which i replied you must have low self esteem and then you call me a coward to which i hilariously responded if i say so myself.

            The only person with a problem here is you. You sit on a high horse and preach to me about respect when you were the one to cast the first stone and yet still think yourself as the morale compass in such a discussion? Your arrogance is astounding as is your patronizing condescension talking as if you were the adult here when your the one who needs to grow up and stop being so petty.

            In the end I find your lack of intelligence and forethought repugnant and wont be responding again.

    • That’s pretty much the deal.

      I download shows and if they become available in a legal format down the track, then I buy them. Sometimes the show never becomes available, other times I only watched a handful of episodes and didn’t feel like it was worth purchasing.

      This is how I watch all TV shows. I don’t believe it is that unreasonable considering how poorly commercial TV handles the broadcast of shows, or how lengthy the delays in airing some shows can be (considering the nature of the internet, anyone mildly interested in these things is prone to running into many a spoiler before the show is legally available here).

      They get my money when they present a good way for me to give them my money.

    • Yep, that’s my little arrangement, too. I’ll download it when it’s new so I can watch it at a time and place that’s convenient to me, and then I’ll buy the BluRay when it comes out.

      The fact that it’s taken them the better part of a year to release GoT season 2 on Blu means its their own fault they haven’t got my money yet 😛 They can have it on release day.

    • I love the sense of entitlement here. “I deserve to have this, because of reasons. I’ll then pay later if I decide to.” Unless you’ve bought every show you’ve pirated (even the shit ones) you’ve gotten something without remuneration to it’s creators.

        • @Finaldelerium
          Tv is a product, Tv shows aren’t going poor because of piracy. Piracy will always happen regardless. But the simple fact is most of it can be avoided, but it isn’t.

          I still get annoying pos thanks for buying this dvd skits and you wouldn’t steal a fing car skits on my dvds.
          WHY DO I HAVE ANTI PIRACY SHIT ON MY LEGALLY BOUGHT DVDS.

          So no i dont give a rats ass that piracy is illegal, its the only way i can show that they are not providing an adequate service. In this day an age where a show reaches potentially 100’s of millions of people, to not have universals access to any show and have it work on any which device i like, to watch when i want is nothing short of disgraceful.

          IF these tv people took thier fingers out for 1 minute and decided to get the content to us locally in a CONVENIENT manner, at the same time as the rest of the world it would only mean more money for them.

          I’m voteing with my wallet. It is 100% thier own fault for not providing an adequate solution to the problem at hand. Why should i wait to 8:30 for a program only to have dancing for the idiots go 25 minutes late and then watch a 40 minute show with 20 minutes of adds. WHY CANT I pay for a universal service that lets me watch what ever show i want, when its convenient for ME, the customer BEGGING for you to give me your product.

          I suppose my point is, why should i the consumer be forced to consume your products the way these dinosaurs want me to, when i have an easier option that is more convenient, allows me to watch it when i want, add free and in SD HD or in any format i want? I haven’t watched an episode of TV in almost 6 years. They aren’t getting add revenue from me so they should at least be grateful that i can pirate things and then buy the dvds when they come out.

          Im not entitled, im just an angry insulted consumer who isn’t being pushed around anymore.

          (Side note Fuck pay tv in its current state too, endless re runs more adds than normal tv and never anything decent unless i want to buy 50 other channels just for the 1 i want at an insane price? get fucked.)

          • Who’s forcing you to consume it? Don’t want to watch it their way? Fine, don’t watch it. But you’re not voting with your wallet. You’re just watching content without remunerating the creators.

            Hey, the option’s there, and you’ll take it. But don’t pretend that you have some god given right to free entertainment. Perhaps if everyone paid for the content, and watched it the way the current business models allowed, the VFX industry wouldn’t be in the position that it currently is.

          • What a fucking bullshit cop out, that industry is ruined because the big wigs who are infact rich as all hell making billions in PROFIT are universally screwing them over.

            So dont give me some bullshit excuse that if no one pirated they would be better off, if no one pirated and they all watched free to air tv we would be in the exact same position only the consumer would be worse off the the fat ass ceo would be even richer.

            Your ignorant and quite delusional if you think otherwise.

          • Then don’t watch. At all. But don’t pirate it and watch then pretend you aren’t a part of the problem.

            Also, if everyone watched free to air, they would actually be better off, because the sale of advertising would be valued higher (more people watching ads means more potential revenue for advertisers), therefore the studio would be able to negotiate higher rates (more money going to TV networks means more money to pay for high quality shows), and there would be greater room for production staff to negotiate higher wages (production company makes more money, hard to argue that some of that shouldn’t go to wages).

            Don’t pretend you’re doing this to ‘stick it to the man’. You’re just trying to get stuff you’re not entitled to for free, and by doing so, devaluing the work of every single person working on the show, from the producers, right down to the guy getting the lunches.

          • Never said it was why i do it. I pirate because its A i consume alot of entertainment and the video stores here are shit. B Because free to air tv is just as shit, almost none of the shows i like come on in a reasonable time and i want to watch them when its convenient for me not for the tv station.

            I said im not at all guilty about it for the above reasons, because untill they offer a simpler cost effect solution for me its their own fault. This isn’t 1995 where media is only available on tv or VHS, they need to get with the times and give the consumers what they want, because if your not giving your customers what they want then what the hell are you doing running a buisness?

          • So you decide you don’t like their method of delivery so you feel like you get to have it for free?

      • You’re right, of course. The legality of piracy is not up for debate here. If you get caught, you’ve got no leg to stand on.

        For my part, I will only download shows I can’t see in Australia, and then buy the DVDs when they are released. Everyone has a different line in the sand, and it doesn’t always coincide with the legal line.

        Sense of entitlement? Maybe. But ultimately, I end up rewarding the franchises that deserve reward by becoming a customer and vocal fan of theirs – and without having had a chance to sample their work, I wouldn’t have become either.

        It’s not a legal argument, and it’s barely a moral one. But it’s how I get okay with it.

        • You shouldn’t feel too bad bending the rules, the companies themselves are happy to pay to change the rules to be how they see fit.

          People say we are entitled for only buying the Blu-Ray and downloading it in the interim, I say they are entitled for thinking they have the right to inspect all of our internet connections just in case someone downloads some of their stuff and in the future put cameras in our homes just in case one too many people are watching the TV show we just bought.

          (Im not talking about HBO here but the content industry in general.)

          I wish you could Pre-Order the Blu-Rays at the start of a season and then get legal digital access to each episode as it comes out before receiving your box set at the end.

          I think the TellTale Sam and Max games did this, you could pre-order the collection and get it digitally while you waited.

  • Piracy will always be a go to solution for Australians because its usually the only avenue open to us.

    Granted Foxtel is sometimes an option, but 99% of the content is rubbish, it costs upwards of $80 a month to be on a plan that give syou the content you MIGHT want and you STILL GET ADS. Also you cant get it when it airs in the states, we have to wait a week or more for it.

    I would HAPPILY pay a few bucks an episode for GoT’s as long as the file was DRM free and i could put it into my Home Theatre setup and play it through there and not have to deal with fucking iTunes.

    But, as it stands now, the most efficient and easiest way to get GOT’s (and many other shows now aired in Aus…or atleast on delay) is via Piracy, which is a shame.

    Personally if i like the show ill buy the DVD or Bluray when it comes out (did it for GoT’s)

    • Not true at all. Showcase, the Foxtel channel which airs Game of Thrones and other HBO/Showtime shows, runs shows ad-free, and usually within 24-48 hours of airing in the US.

      There are legal avenues, you are just choosing to conveniently ignore them because they are “too expensive”. Rubbish.

      • You must have skimmed the bit where he said its $80 a month and up. Another interesting note about that talk ( I was actually present ) was that he though we could just use HBO’s streaming service. The situation in Australia is slowly getting better and we should never justify piracy but it’s still one of the better options at the moment when Australia seems to be on a digital island.

    • You don’t have an entitlement to watch it for free, or at a cost you decide. You don’t have an entitlement to watch it when it airs in the states. You don’t have an entitlement to pay only if you ‘personally like the show’. You’re stealing shit because you feel like you deserve it your way, not theirs. You’re like robin hood.

  • I would happily pay for a monthly streaming service that , first, wasn’t a piece of shit, second, was available worldwide when its aired. Globalisation is a real thing, when are companies going to realise this.
    We don’t get much option outside of DVD’s here in Australia, and that’s just crap.

    Its ridiculous that its still easier to get this illegally then it is to purchase it.

  • Alex, I honestly don’t think you are getting the bigger picture here. Piracy is an issue that will always exist, not bad and not good. Regardless of whether those six steps are taken into full effect by companies, it’s all about minimizing it. We should be accepting piracy is not a bad or good thing and will always exist, people like you need to understand that.

    Unless you have sufficient evidence to substantiate the advertising argument is invalid, provide a balanced report not funded by television execs. Sadly advertising is a very difficult thing to gauge in life already, so the anti-piracy legion will continue to stagnant in their arguments unless you have some groundbreaking research to back up whatever your facts are.

    There also is the whole moral argument of the ‘its a giant company, so its not nearly as bad as you think’ and the ‘you aren’t stealing like you’re stealing off a shelf’. Not that they are entirely true but on balance the advertising argument could weigh out those fairly flimsy arguments. Nonetheless I deeply suspect advertising does do this and I’ve never seen a person give me real evidence not to stop me from believing so.

    To answer your challenge on ‘how do you fund premium TV programs sufficiently…?’.
    Well, it advertises to an even larger audience because of its non-existent barrier of entry. The only thing companies can do is try to maximum profits to those fringe pirates by making them purchase legally by following Dotcom’s steps. The people that were always going to purchases legally on the other hand, have more opportunities to hear of the shows existence.

    So, that’s how television programs are funded.

    • Not sure I get your point there, to be honest. Yes, naturally piracy will exist — and I think it’s perfectly valid to attach a “good” or “bad” value to it — but almost anyone who downloads complains about the advertising attached to FTA (and increasingly Pay TV) broadcasts. It’s a balancing act between acceptable advertising and making enough money to fund programs in the first place, or gambling a *lot* on post-production DVD/streaming/etc sales. It’s by no means a non-existent barrier of entry, unless you’d care to enlighten me on how to make, say, Game Of Thrones for absolutely no money?

      • Game of Thrones is a bad example here because it’s funded by HBO, who earn their money primarily through subscriptions.

        We do know that it is possible for shows to succeed without the current advertising model because of small web series. The Guild and Red vs Blue have had continued success over many years by depending on the sale of merchandise online (similarly, the true value of Star Wars didn’t come from the box office, but the toy sales).

        Advertising revenue is definitely safer, it’s what they’ve relied on for decades. It doesn’t mean that it’s the only option, nor should other options (like relying on DVD sales) be dismissed just because they are higher risk.

        EDIT: It’s worth noting that with TV shows, it’s almost never the show itself that is being sold. Primarily, it’s advertising slots that air during the program, other times it’s merchandise, channel subscriptions and the like. It’s an incredibly weird and indirect business model they’ve got, which is part of why people can feel comfortable with piracy simply because the show itself is not given any value.

      • Alex I can’t understand how much clearer I need to be here. Piracy grants a minuscule barrier of entry to almost anyone with an internet connection. More people watch the show free of charge, then word of mouth gets taken into effect and those who don’t pirate are more likely to hear about the entertainment product. That is it.

        The discussion should be how to make it easier for fringe pirates to purchase legally. Attaching a good or bad label only serves to overlook where the relevant discussion is to be made in this entire debate.

        I’ll even state outright it is bad to pirate but that gets nobody, anywhere, it just demonises people. What actually will get somewhere is the accessibility (ease of access and price) debate.

        Unfortunately you argued in your ABC piece, lowering price doesn’t help the solution and that it would simply reinvent itself. Yet you used a game developer who claims 80% piracy as proof, of which you seem to believe are not susceptible to bias and misconstrued information.

        Ubisoft’s Yves Guilletmot went under fire for his claims of piracy rate on PC and then the company only admitted later on that the information was … accidentally deceptive.

        I should have added that evidence against piracy from creative types is fairly pointless evidence. Unfortunately any further proof you bring to the table would be rendered moot, seeing you yourself stated you are not neutral in this debate. At the very least give us a revered journal research paper not funded by anyone with a hidden agenda.

        Then will you scream some actual full-proof legitimacy in this debate.

  • We watch Thai movies at home. Thailand releases several movies per year [of assorted quality]. India, China, and Korea do even more… How many have you heard of? How many have you seen? If they don’t have subtitles, would you even consider watching them?
    If I find a cinema showing Thai movies, or a DVD store that sells / rents them, they get my money. Until, however, torrents [and Youtube for TV] are my ONLY option.

  • At least some of Foxtel channels try to broadcast shows within a very quick time frame (33-40 hours after the US broadcasts). Yeah you have to contend with ads but it could be worse, it could be on free-to-air where they will show it in one timeslot and then shift it, show the episodes out of order and most likely see the show 3-9 months after being broadcast (look at Last Resort on 7…they were hyping it during the tennis and started showing it last week but the show finished in Janurary)

    Also there are some shows that are not shown in Australia (for me Top Gear US and New Game Plus) that have a clut following from reviews or word of mouth and people will download it

  • No Hulu. Netflix, Amazon etc in Australia. iTunes in Australia costs twice as much as that in the US and most Australians know they are getting ripped off so that doesn’t appeal either.

    TV networks are an outdated content delivery model that the networks have had over a decade to get on board and fix. But they refuse to so they are losing marketshare to services (admittedly black market services) that do cater to what their customers want.

  • What exactly is the percentage of pirates to payers, because I suspect the figure is quite low, or at least a lot lower than they are whining about. Hulu is almost all adds netflix et al are getting way too expensive and those sites that air TV shows are generally way out of date. If they weren’t so bloody greedy, this wouldn’t be an issue!

  • Streaming services are no good for me, internet gets too flaky at times.
    What would work best for me would be something I could pay a dollar or two per episode (with a cheaper package deal for a whole season), that goes live the moment the show airs.
    I’d prefer that to torrents.

    What I think smaller shows or shows with availability issues should do should be have a thing at the end saying ‘if you liked this episode, donate to keep it going!’ and a link to their website with a happy little donate button, showing how many people have donated, maybe even giving you the option of saying I donated X dollars to this episode.
    They get data about what the fans like, they get money from those willing to pay but don’t have a good avenue, everyone feels a bit better.

  • for me its Pirate Try, i pirate it to try it out, if i like it i go buy it, i don’t do it to make the companies loose money, i do it so i don’t have to loose money, they get my money if i think its worth buying

  • What’s the difference between downloading a show and taping it off the TV?

    Not much is the answer.

    Generally people in Australia at least only download TV shows if the networks are too slow in screening the new episodes here. There’s an easy way to fix that problem, TV networks.

    • Taping it off the TV, you’re exposed to the ads. Actually, exposed to them multiple times.

      Downloading means fewer people watching commercial TV, meaning the value of ads declines (because the networks are reaching smaller audiences), which means less ad revenue for networks, and therefore less money for producing/purchasing TV content.

      Or at least, that’s the argument.

  • I wouldn”t have seen GoT without pirating. I wouldn’t have talked about it or told others to watch it.

    The argument about piracy being helpful or harmful will never end because there’s no way to prove it.

    Just remember “The Black Market” has always existed in some form or another, there was just no way to calculate it before.

    • “I wouldn”t have seen GoT without pirating. I wouldn’t have talked about it or told others to watch it.

      Well said.
      That is why HBO isn’t so hardcore against pirates. They let the quality of their products sell themselves.

  • IMHO the real problem is that pirates provide a better service than the official distribution networks. For example, when GoT season 2 was airing I compared purchasing it from Itunes to pirating it. Itunes offered it in 720p and each episode was released a week (maybe two even, I’m not sure if I remember correctly) after it aired in the US. Pirates offered 1080p within 24 hours of it airing.

      • I don’t appreciate you insinuating that I stole money from someone. I never did. I merely searched for a way to obtain GoT in HD and compared the options.

        Back on topic, if there was a way of legally purchasing TV shows within hours of them airing then I would be purchasing a lot more shows (and I guess others like me would too). I think the networks are failing to make a lot of sales because they are too slow to release episodes. Then there’s the inferior quality issue as well.

        • But they want you to watch them on tv to see commercials, because free to air tv is paid for by commercials…It would be better if they fast tracked it to prime time within hours.
          Like they did with that terrorism show with Claire Danes and that ranga army dude….good show, you know the one!

          • Well if the distribution networks are deliberately withholding their shows in order to make money from TV stations, then the viewers aren’t spending their money on the show anyway. So financially speaking, there’s no difference between the viewer watching a show on TV or pirating it. In terms of publicity though, piracy is better because it means more people are watching and talking about a show.

            So piracy is helpful up until a show is made available for the viewers to purchase. After that, however, I would say it harms DVD/download sales.

  • I remember copying VHS I borrowed from the video shop with my dual VCR player/recorder!

    But I worry about the networks which screen these shows for us and have ads that pay for the time slot. If less people watch the shows due to piracy, then less cost of ads in shows, equates less money for networks, which means they cant afford to buy the good shows. Geddit?

    But as others have said, blame me too. Overnight download of Vampire Diaries, GoT, True Blood, a few others………I do also buy the BluRays though, that helps!

  • The very idea of watching crappy low resolution DVD releases, months after the episodes are available elsewhere disgusts me. We as content consumers should absolutely not accept this sub-par state of affairs. The whole distribution model is fundamentally flawed in Australia.

    Standard definition needs to FOAD.

    720p/1080p (web dl) or 1080i TV rips are the only way, or ultimately blu-ray. But nobody is willing to wait that long.

  • I use ShowRSS to maintain an RSS feed of all my favourite TV show torrents. I have setup Vuze to automatically download from the RSS as soon as the torrent is available. After I reach home from work I have all my favourite TV shows which broadcasted a few hours ago in the States available for me to stream on my HDTV using TVMobili streaming software. The whole system is automated and very easy to use. Even my wife uses the same system and she does not have a good knowledge of computers. If anyone can provide me with an easier solution where I have to fork out about $20-$30 a month I am prepared to switch. Any suggestions?

  • I’ve always (ALWAYS!) said that I would pay for it if I can get it in a reasonable timeframe at reasonable rates (both in terms of price and bandwidth etc). I had nothing to prove this statement until I started to use Netflix late last year. I’ve gone from download TV shows 10+ times a week to forgetting to download even my most favourite shows that are not available through Netflix. Hulu is ok-ish for newer shows.. but those ads.. oh the ads.. I can’t stand ads, which is why I am happy to pay to watch TV shows without ads. It’s not all that much cost.. far less than I would have to pay for Foxtel (which has ads!) and I get much more on-demand content. Hopefully Quickflix will eventually get around to being worthwhile.. but until then it is Netflix.

  • Piracy is just another form of marketing. Once studios accept this and set up channels to take advantage of its presence, they will realize that it’s just another tool in their toolbox.

  • I pirate and simply just don’t care.As far as HBO goes previously when I was in a better finnancial sitiation I bought box-sets of the Soprano’s,the wire,deadwood and curb so in a way I contibuated to GOT more than someone who just bought the DVD’s.
    All those box-sets add up up almost a grand.

  • There is a reason why BBC leaked the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who online before it aired on TV (in 2005?) They got massive free exposure on news channels about the leak (with a trailer played as part of the story), it fanned the fire so well that it became a major marketing win that cost them nothing. Online downloading is not a direct income stream but it spreads that very valuable “word of mouth”. I am not supporting it but it is definitely not all loss and no win.

  • I pirate EVERYTHING and will continue to do so until Australia comes up with a better solution to these shows been aired at a proper time, I am not waiting 2 days to see something I can download for free and watch it ad free. Arrow is a perfect example, 16 episodes in and yet not 1 has been aired on Free to Air TV in AUS, same with The Walking Dead, Person of interest, hell the list goes on.

    GoT has it right in saying it provides the cultural buzz, I would never have seen it unless i was able to download it, I am not going to go out and buy the bluray DVD because again I will just pirate it and i really don’t care what others say. The fact is still piracy can make companies lose money but it can also make them earn more, people pirate the season, then go out and buy the DVD or BluRay which they never would have done. No way in hell would i waste $40 for 1 season of a TV show that i may end up hating

  • Besides the “word of mouth” arguement the other thing piracy does is get the product placement advertising within a show to consumers.

    That’s the way every tv show ever made is going. Even Boardwalk Empire, set in the 1920s, has brand names in it. That’s the new form of advertising that was introduced when set top boxes that could skip ads were introduced.

    I have no problem with ads being content in a show, so long as they don’t detract from the storyline. Pirating of TV is no problem for me, morally or otherwise because the actors etc are still getting paid through product placement and other in-show advertising.

    Coles for example still get plenty of in-show advertising from MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules (or is that woolies?) anyway, you get the point. I watch My Kitchen Rules via “pirate” and still see plenty of ads.

    Those supporting Foxtel in the comments: don’t be fooled. It pays a fraction of your $80 a month to the show’s producers, and the rest is all profit for Telstra who is making a mountain of money already.

    The only time it makes sense to buy Foxtel is when you don’t have any fixed line internet, relying just on a mobile. At least then if you’re with telstra the bandwidth is quota-free (after paying your monthly fee for foxtel mobile of course).

    The reason why I don’t have foxtel is because it’s still full of ads. Now that one can pay the AFL $90 for access to all games on a tablet device, I’ll never get it, as there is no need.

  • I think its interesting that Avatar was both the most downloaded and the highest grossing film of all time (at least it was a year ago when I read the article about it) so does that mean that if it wasn’t for piracy they would have made more from the piece of blue crap? or does it mean that all those people downloading it gave it more exposure and therefore it made more money as a result? I’m asking I don’t know.

  • Personally my issue is this: I don’t re-watch TV shows. Ok maybe things like Family Guy and The Simpsons can be watched over again but after I have watch GoT I have no desire to watch them again – I already know what happens.
    So having said that – I can’t bring myself to purchase the physical copies of these shows upon release. I have foxtel – $110 per month – the content is crap and spread so thinly that realistically I would have to purchase ALL of the channels – on top of that I have to pay extra for HD Foxtel subscription and another charge to be able record Foxtel programs. Then Foxtel have the nerve to insist that the majority of programs have advertising.
    Pirating is illegal – but I am going to continue. I already pay Foxtel for the shows – not going to pay any more.

  • foxtel/ pay tv is too expensive in Aus. especially if there is only 3 or 4 shows i actually want to watch. If HBO set up a donations page for GoT, i’d happily donate, otherwise i’ll stick to pirating and buying the blu-rays when they come out

  • I don’t know… Occasionally I buy the first season of something to try it out, but most of the time I find I download at least the first episode… If I like it, I buy it. In the case of Game of Thrones, I’m practically a release-date purchaser now, but I started with pirating. It’s convenient, and in pretty much every case where the show is of great quality, it ends with me making a decision to invest.

    I should also mention that, living in Aus, sometimes if you want to keep up to date with something, avoid lengthy cliffhangers or – as with a very popular show like Game of Thrones – make sure you don’t fall behind everyone else, you’re kinda driven to download it. For example, I’ve got the 2nd season pre-ordered, as I made that decision when I downloaded a few ep’s of the first season, but I still downloaded the episodes as they aired to keep up to date.

    I can see where he’s coming from, though I can’t directly say that pirating is a good thing… All I can say is that from personal experience, I pirate to get a ‘taste’, and if it’s any good, that’s when I purchase. Apart from that it usually boils down to delays in airing. There are definitely going to be people who don’t care to invest in something they can just download and store in their own digital library, and in that regard, whilst it does spread the show, it’s not exactly a good thing. But since you can’t exactly avoid it too easily (it’s gonna happen, whether you like it or not) – all you can do is hope that it spreads awareness of the show, and that a good portion of those people enjoy it to the point where they end up spending money on it.

    • Ah the cliffhanger, it’s only a couple of years ago that Australian television executives thought it was a good idea to hold on to the last episode of the season from many USA shows until the start of the next season. Why? Because many of the US series would have the story line, often one they had been building to for the entire season, run over the last two episodes of the season. For some reason the US viewers would get their conclusion, while the Aus TV executives figured we’d need a cliffhanger to keep us biting our fingers for the six months till they aired the next season. No wonder we’re so jaded and don’t mind pirating shows

  • Since I bought an Apple TV I don’t pirate anymore as I get access to the shows I want when they are released in the states (US account).

    The problem sometimes is the price. For instance, I went to buy a season of Boardwalk Empire which was $41! If it was $30 I would have bought without a thought. So……I downloaded in HD for free. Or I would have if I couldn’t buy the exact same thing from the US iTunes Store for $30.

    Now I read how much VFX studios and they’re employees are getting ripped and the whole thing makes me sick.

  • It’s not piracy if I’m going to buy it later. I have to use bittorrent to watch it now because I refuse – effing REFUSE – to be held hostage to someone else’s delivery schedule, and I’m not going to endure spoilers from the northern hemisphere.
    When shows finish their run, I buy them on DVD. It’s simple. They’ll get my money later.

  • I know this is not TV, but I would watch more movies at the cinemas if I could first watch a low quality version to see if the effects and story are worth paying the price to see it on a big screen.

    Basically I have a scale of what I am prepared to pay for content. At the moment I have no choice but to wait until it comes out on TV so they get basically nothing from me as I mute adds and do stuff on my computer, plus I get free to air satellite with adds from half way across the country and I am not likely to drive for 3 days each way to get a haircut.

  • Until 6 months I’d had Foxtel since it started. So many years of subscribing. In those years I completely stopped watching free to air channels.

    However, Foxtel shot itself in its own foot by becoming just another TV channel filled with ads, offensively to my eyes showing happy couples my age or younger saying “I will be happy to die because I have XYZ insurance for less than a cup of coffee a day” at that point the grandkids run in smiling happily.

    Winter is coming to the USA on their 3/31, I fear Aussies won’t see this winter until 2087 at least.

  • For most people I know, we download because we’re so passionate about a show that we can’t wait to see it. Not only due to the lag from the US to Australia but also the fact we don’t want to miss out on something and not be able to talk about it with those who have seen it.

    When it comes to Australian made television shows, for people with that same passion there would be no need to download because they would MAKE time to watch it when it airs so they don’t ‘miss out’.

  • What we need is an on demand subscription service with content available from all the big players like HBO within 24hrs of airing on TV and available in 720p at least, I would happily subscribe to that. Netflix is great but the content can be lacking, we need something with all the networks on board.

  • I’m sorry guys but “is it right or wrong to pirate movies and TV” is really the wrong topic, it’s simply economics 101 – Supply and Demand. Demand for these items is high but the those in charge of distribution restrict supply which enables them to make an inflated profit on their product. While there is more demand for the product than supply there will always be a market for somebody else to come in, be it your bootleg DVD seller down at the local market or speakeasy’s during prohibition, or black market profiteers during the war.

    The movie and TV industry has as much hope of winning the war on piracy with their moral standpoint “Piracy is stealing” as prohibition did of stopping people from drinking. Nobody, except maybe @finaldelerium, buys that stand point any more than they buy that banks cant afford to pass on interest rate cuts. Hell best take down of the video piracy is stealing argument was from a comedian many years ago who said “No I wouldn’t steal a car, but if my mate came around and said ‘I just got the latest HSV V8 ute…want me to burn you a copy?’ I’d be tempted.”

    The visual media industry needs to learn from the recording industry (notice how we hardly ever talk about piracy in the recording industry any more) and adapt to new methods of distribution – which may well attract new pricing models – because they lost this battle long ago.

    BTW I think the revised Dr Who (2005) was one of the first shows that was claimed to owe much of it’s success to video piracy creating a buzz for it

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