Heavy Hangs The Bandwidth That Torrents The Crown

The latest Oatmeal cartoon has been making the rounds of Twitter (largely thanks to John Gruber’s link). It makes two points about the problems of piracy exceptionally well.

The intentional point is that the content distributors often make it crazy-stupid hard for us to give them our money. Most of these industries have been frustratingly slow to adopt to the patterns of the modern consumer. News flash: we’re not heading to Blockbuster Video any more. Well, actually, yes, we are. But only because the Blockbuster went out of business and a Panera Bread is now leasing that space. We’ll probably get a Bacon Turkey Bravo for lunch and then watch some Netflix via the restaurant’s free WiFi while we eat.

Consumers couldn’t make their desires any more clear. We’ve got money to spend on TV and movies, but now we’re looking for it on iTunes and Netflix and through all other kinds of network-connected devices. If a distributor shows up in any of those places with a product we want, we’ll buy it.

[Added to clarify: and if they don’t show up in those places, they’re making torrenting that much more attractive. They’re just feeding the monster they’re trying to fight. That’s crystal-clear.

Remember the mistakes that the comic book industry made. Digital distribution made no sense to Marvel and DC, so they never really committed to it. Fine, but reading a comic book on a phone or a laptop made perfect sense to their audience, and they’re the people with the money. In the absence of a legal means of digital comics distribution, an illegal infrastructure of file standards, consumption tools, and distribution systems developed and flourished.]

The Oatmeal made an unintentional point that was just as important as the first, however:

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

Here’s my conversation with a hypothetical person who wants to check out “Game Of Thrones.” Not with Matthew Inman, author of The Oatmeal, I hasten to say. Just a conglomeration of the species of torrenters as a whole.

You want to see what the hubbub around “Game Of Thrones” is about? Cool. The show is produced by HBO and it’s available exclusively on that channel. It’s a premium channel and any cable provider can sell you a monthly subscription.

HBO’s awesome. They have a streaming app that will allow you to watch pretty much any original series or movie that they still have the rights to (including “Thrones”) and it works with almost everything that can play streaming video. HBO doesn’t even charge for the app or for the extra access.

You say you don’t want to subscribe to HBO, or even cable?

Ah. Well, no worries. The show will be released on DVD and Blu-ray later in the year.

You’re not into physical media? I’m with you. It’ll be on iTunes soon. See? The store page lists the release date. March 6. You can circle it on the calendar and everything.

You’re still frowning. What’s wrong, Scrumpkin?

Oh. You want it right now.

But — umm — the release date is only, like, two or three weeks away. Just hang on a bit. You’ll be fine.

Yes, I heard you (please, sir, there’s really no need to shout). I understand that you want it (and I hope I’m not misquoting you) right the ****ity-**** NOWWWWWWWW. But you can’t have it now. You can have it on March 6. It isn’t even as far away as you think. Remember? February is the super-short month?

(Sigh)

You’re already torrenting it, aren’t you?

Annnnd now you’re also calling me a d*** because I expected you to wait two weeks, and you’re claiming that you’re “forced” to torrent it because the video industry is bunch of turds. How charming.

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 Johnny No Wanna Pay. Simple as that. Get off your high horse and don’t even try that “I’m making a stand and sending a message to content producers” stuff. It’s bunkum.

I’m reminded of a Louis CK joke. I’m going to clean up a little because I’m not Louis CK and this isn’t a live comedy stage. It really wouldn’t come across the same way otherwise.

“I’m totally opposed to stealing an Xbox. Unless Microsoft sets a price for them that I don’t want to pay, or there’s a new model in a warehouse somewhere and it won’t ship to stores for another few weeks. Because what else am I going to do? Not have that Xbox? That’s no solution!”

The world does not OWE you Season 1 of “Game Of Thrones” in the form you want it at the moment you want it at the price you want to pay for it. If it’s not available under 100% your terms, you have the free-and-clear option of not having it.

I sometimes wonder if this simple, grown-up fact gets ignored during all of these discussions about digital distribution.

It was still a funny strip, though.

315 thoughts on “Heavy Hangs The Bandwidth That Torrents The Crown

  1. Jeff

    The strip could have ended with the guy enjoying something that he *had* paid for instead of “Game of Thrones.” But that wouldn’t have been as funny, nor would it have supported the torrenters’ excuses for what they’re doing.

    After all, we’re talking about ENTERTAINMENT here. Not food, not shelter, not medicine. Just entertainment. It’s hardly scarce.

  2. Chris Lamothe

    Two weeks? That’s a rather disingenuous comment when the season finale aired about 35 weeks ago in June of 2011! You’d think they’d at least have made a box set available for Christmas.

    As for getting cable, you seem to be missing the trend where people don’t want to see ads and crap, and are willing to pay extra to avoid doing so. Are you saying I should also buy a PVR? Maybe you also think I should also hire a servant to filter the ads for me.

  3. Mike

    The problem is that, while I do care about it, making sure that content producers are paid, even for things that I truly enjoy, just doesn’t matter *that much*. I’m perfectly happy to pay if you provide a way to do so, and I’ll even spend a little more to make sure my money goes to the right people (I never buy used games, for instance). I’m happy to pay for convenience. But, especially with video content, if you take your time making it available at all, gate access to it in a crazy way (HBO requiring a cable subscription, for instance), and generally make it a hassle to get it the “correct” way, uh, yeah, I’m going to torrent it.

    The really bad part for you is, the longer you draw this process out, the less likely I am to buy your official release when it comes out. Not because I don’t like it anymore, or because I don’t want you to have my money, but because I’ve already seen it (because your access control is completely ineffective) and oh look, new episodes of The Walking Dead are up on iTunes, I’ll spend my money on those instead.

    Compete or die.

  4. Dave

    I would watch it on Cable, but I am too cheap.
    I would watch it on Netflix/DVD but I am too impatient.
    I would just go without, but I am too greedy/entitled/disrespectful, so I’ll just steal it.

    *shakeshead*

    This isn’t food, clothing or shelter, so I welcome any _good_ attempts to rationalize thievery.

  5. Kevin Stout

    Everyone wants someone to blame. With the Game of Thrones situation, people seem to be ignoring who’s truly at fault for the content being unavailable. The blame is all on George R R Martin for making a deal for the show to be on the most exclusive and apparently digitally-clueless network available.

    If Martin truly cared about his fans, he would have signed with a company that would have handled the online market better.

    Don’t get me wrong, had he not went with HBO the show might have not had the budget to be as well-made as it is. But the true blame for the unavailable content is with the creator who decided to go with the wrong network.

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  7. J

    The thing is, your next to last paragraph about something not being on our terms…It’s consumers pushing for our terms that helps drive innovation and forces companies into these new paradigms. What if we all set back and didn’t ask and push for digital music? We’d still be on CDs. The record companies didn’t want to move to digital. We forced them to.

    Same thing here. We shouldn’t sit back and wait for companies to put their stuff out in a format we want to buy. I’m not saying it’s ok to pirate. But that is what’s pushing companies to move to a paradigm that we want to consume.

    I can’t find it now but years ago I read an excellent article, by O’Reilly I think, that piracy is just progressive taxation.

    Found it!

    http://tim.oreilly.com/pub/a/p2p/2002/12/11/piracy.html

  8. Jon

    I pirated it, because I want it now. I’m going to pay for the DVDs because I still want to see content producers be compensated. I’d pay them now if I could, but I can’t, and there’s the rub.

    This blog post is a study in hypocrisy. It starts out with the premise that content companies don’t get it, and we’re a different consumer than before. And then it goes on to yell at the consumer for not being the same consumer as before because it won’t wait for a DVD. That’s stupid and shortsighted. You can’t berate the companies for not catering to its customers AND the customers for not kowtowing to the companies. It just doesn’t work, and you end up looking foolish.

  9. Anon22

    I’m not pro piracy (i’m the person who doesn’t buy it if it’s not available) but comparing the unauthorised copying of a digital item to the theft of a physical item is inane. Please.. think of a better analogy.

  10. Resuna

    I don’t torrent movies or TV shows, but by the time it’s out in the online equivalent of the dollar cinema… I don’t care any more. So I’m a lost sale whether I torrent or not.

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  12. octogoose

    See, when you write a hypothetical conversation with a cross section of society, one of two things happen: either it’s widely relatable because your insights are dead-on, or it speaks to no one because your generalizations are false, exaggerated and imagined. And then when you add trying to be funny to that second scenario, it’s really just everything I would think a writer would avoid next time?

  13. Todd

    I’m disappointed in your post too Andy which is odd because I almost ALWAYS agree with you. Content companies need to make their content available everywhere, almost immediately, if they really want to reap the benefits of the totally digital world. And if a show is going to take months and months and months to reach me, I’m sorry, likely I’m just not interested in seeing it anymore. I’ve either forgotten what happened last season of the show or have found something new and interesting to focus my attention on.

    Just how long is too long? A month, 3 months, a year? How long would YOU wait to see a show? You’re a bit privileged in that you get to see all the new shiny gadgets often before they are generally released. Forgetting your work obligations, how patient would you be if you were told you had to wait 6 months for a new gadget to be in your hands after its release?

  14. S Wohler

    The problem isn’t impatience, it’s a lack of alternatives for consumers to participate in free-market practices. I could pay a kings ransom every month to have HBO, and watch one show that I happen to like, but the utility is minimal. I am also getting a ton of other crap I don’t care about. It’s the same with cable services. No one can offer a la carte because everything has to be bundled and packaged to make it work for the provider. That’s not to say that business models can’t change and the provider can’t find a way to make a la carte work for their business. Still, people are paying for HBO to watch one show, which makes no sense at all. They are inadvertently voting with their dollars because there is no good alternative. As the comic hilariously mentioned, not on Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, etc. Nope, your only valid choices are: 1. pay for crap you don’t need just to have the privilege to watch GoT, or 2. wait for the physical media. What if you don’t have a Blu-Ray or DVD player because you rely entirely on digital media? What if you don’t have cable because you do everything on the internet? Consumers are being forced into a paradigm that they don’t want.

    I’m a firm believer in free-market capitalism, but the providers just aren’t listening to their customers, and the customers exhibit a sort of Stockholm Syndrome with their money because there is no where else to go. I’m not advocating illegal downloads, but I certainly can’t condemn them when providers make it easy in numerous ways to do just that.

    If you can’t innovate, get out of the kitchen.

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  16. Anonymous Coward

    I subscribe to cable TV at home with all the bells and whistles, because it’s relatively cheap to add the bells and whistles to my internet package.

    I download TV shows because I like having commercials edited out, I can’t expand my PVR’s HD as much as I want, and I travel extensively.

    When I go back home to stay, I’ll watch much more TV without downloading, but I might occasionally download if I forget to record something or if the recording fails.

    It’s purely a convenience thing for me. Give me the same convenience at a reasonable price and I’ll pay it.

  17. quentez

    What you are forgetting in that point you’re making is that opposetly to an Xbox, digital content can be duplicated at no cost.

  18. Jeff Ree

    . I’ve heard the Ford Sync in-dash systems are pretty awesome. I don’t want to buy a Ford. I could steal someone’s head unit. It’s Ford’s fault that I’m going to steal it because they don’t offer it for sale without the car. No, Ford and other car manufacturers are using their new, awesome in-dash systems as selling points for the entire car, which you may not want otherwise. No one complains – it’s not as easy to steal by itself but is no less applicable as a standalone product.

    CLEARLY HBO finds it most profitable to make their content exclusive to sell cable and HBO subscriptions. The fact that you can steal it doesn’t invalidate their business model or put you in the right for demanding things be your way instead of HBO’s way.

    Yeah, you hate cable and would rather pay a la carte. So what? That doesn’t mean any company has a responsibility to provide that option to you. Your ability to steal it if they don’t does not put you in the right, them in the wrong, or even mean they’re making a bad decision by having it their way. IT’S THEIR PRODUCT, to do with as THEY want. Boycott if you give a sh**, otherwise accept their terms. You stealing is always the bad decision and 100% due to your entitlement issues.

  19. Ben

    One fact that seems to be left out of this discussion is the quality of HBO DVD and BluRay sets. Since Band of Brothers back in 2002, HBO has been producing tremendous box sets featuring quality audio/video discs, but amazing supplemental features.

    I imagine it takes quite a bit of time to design, film, and edit all of these extra features, and as a fan of a show I am more than willing to pay a little more and wait a little longer for this deluxe box set when released.

    But first, while still airing, I torrented the show. HD-rips and 5.1 audio.

    But there is a group of consumers (probably a large group) who want the show by itself, without all the bells and whistles.

    And that’s where HBO misses the boat. Why not release a bare-bones edition on DVD and Blu-Ray MUCH sooner around the holidays and capitalize on the success of the show? Then, closer to February and March release the special edition set which will please the fans and spark interest ahead of season two’s premiere in April?

    I’m not a media distributor nor an advertising person so I’m simply speaking as a normal fan and normal consumer. But if I were in those fields, my goals would be to maximize profit and maximize positive coverage of the show, all the while growing the fanbase whilst expanding the audiences able to see the show.

  20. Jessabe

    What about the users who *can’t* subscribe to HBO, like the huge market of people who are actually involved in the filming and extras (people over here in good ole ENGLAND!) Yes, we have Sky Atlantic (what airs GoT the day after over here!), thankfully, but that’s not HBO, and it won’t get us our content.

    Fact is, almost a year is a bit shit to wait for a telly show to come out on DVD. I had this same Oatmeal experience with some friends before Christmas. “You should really watch this! But you have to wait another 3 months because HBO really just doesn’t want your money, apparently, to put more funds towards the later seasons.”

    I am itching to throw money at directly at HBO in the only way I can– by the release of the DVDs. I want them to put my money towards the next seasons, making them bigger and better. I want to pay the writers and give funs for the minors in the show to have the best time possible. And continue making an awesome adaptation of one of my favourite book series. Why on EARTH are they making is so bloody difficult for me to do!?

  21. Joe

    I don’t think it’s “entitled” as much as its just having a low price on their conscience. Unlike stealing food from the store, there’s almost zero chance of getting caught and punished when pirating movies.

    So… when you decide to buy a movie, what you’re really buying is your own *clear conscience*. For some (like teenagers, say), the price of their conscience is pretty low. They’ll sacrifice the warm sense of “doing right by the copyright holder” if it saves them only a few bucks. For others (like maybe other artists or people who make their living from owning copyrights), they’re not willing to sell their clear conscience for a mere couple of dollars. But my point is, when you pay for digital content, you’re paying for your clean conscience.

    Now, the point the Oatmeal was making was that there are people out there who are willing to pay the *monetary* price of the movie/app/photo/whatever, but, when you add in the price of waiting, then the total price then exceeds the price of their conscience. Wait to get it for free? Fine. Pay to get it now? Fine. Wait and then have to pay? That’s more hassle than some people are willing to go through in order to still feel like an upstanding citizen.

    It’s not “entitlement”. It’s that waiting is a psychological “cost”, and people want to avoid it in just about every case. It doesn’t matter if they think they *deserve* to have to wait or *not* to wait; they’ll still choose “not wait” if they can. So, it adds to the cost of obtaining the content legitimately… and, for some, the price is no longer worth it.

  22. Nick

    MY GOD, are people selfish. I feel really ashmed reading some of these responses. It’s pretty safe to say, that those of you who are okay with “pirating” were failed by your parents.

    If you are a Song of Ice and Fire fan, why couldn’t you SUPPORT the medium of it’s TV show by ordering HBO. See kiddies, for a show like Game of Thrones to be made, it needed to be on Cable, and on a premium channel.. that way you get all your blood and tittie shots. Even if it was on AMC, you would have to pay extra for cable. SHOCK, paying for something you consume… WHAT A CRAZY WORLD WE LIVE IN!!!!

    And for the FOOL, who calls HBO a “digitally-clueless network” is clueless. Have you not heard of HBO GO… tha this available for almost ALL digital mediums, such as your computer or smartphone. That’s right, you can stream it right to your phone.

    If you think pirating is fine… go ahead and keep doing it… I just hope that HBO tracks you down, and you get fined back to the stone age.

    And people complaining about being in another country. Tough crap. I live in the US, and want Universal Healthcare… so according to your logic, I should just go to the hospital and not pay for it… because that is the way it is in other countries. It’s like people haven’t grown up?

  23. Wiley Wiggins

    I think many people would be happy to subscribe to just HBO. The HBO Go app is great. The problem is its not available with out an expensive cable package that includes 200 sports channels I don’t want to pay for.

  24. Jan-Erik

    Alright, waiting for a release in 2 weeks might be just fine. If you are in the country were it is released and available in two weeks.

    Living in another country over in europe? Well, wait another 2 to 6 month to get it legally, you’re fine. It’s just that everyone else is watching this NEW awesome show now, which you can watch in maybe 6 month.

  25. room34

    Perhaps the fatal flaw in Matthew Inman’s argument was that he used a TV show whose DVD/iTunes release is imminent. There’s still plenty of content out there that is walled up indefinitely that could be used to make this point.

    Waiting a couple of weeks for DVD/iTunes release is one thing. Arguing that the only way a person should be able to watch the show (ever?) is to subscribe to cable TV AND to HBO is not.

    I don’t torrent; I accept that by not wanting to pay Comcast $100+ per month (in addition to the $60 I am already paying them for Internet access), I just don’t get to watch these HBO programs. Would I like to? Maybe. But I’d rather not see them ever than have to subscribe to cable OR download them illegally.

    But… I’d still be interested in paying a reasonable amount of money to watch them on the device of my choice, at the time of my choice, if only that option were available. Piracy is not the only threat to sales. Indifference is as well. Probably moreso, depending on how many other honest people like me choose not to watch at all when the only options are illegal downloads or exorbitant prices/terms.

  26. Nick

    Jan-Erik. I really like BMW, and it’s SOOOOO unfair that I have to wait 6 months to get the same car that was released in Germany today!!! So, don’t mind me, while I go over seas to steal a BMW, I mean, it’s just not FAIR that I have to wait.

    What is sooo hard for you numbskulls to understand. Let’s look at this, the show costs MONEY to make. Everyone on the set, and in the production, including both pre and post… don’t work for free. So HBO pays the salaries and pays for the show. HBO get’s their money, from their subscribers. So, how is you, NOT PAYING for the show, NOT STEALING. It’s the same if you steal a car, or steal computer… how you guys seem to rationalize an obvious criminal act, is puzzling.

  27. James

    Hello! I am Mr. International!

    If you think you have it bad having to sign up to a specific cable company, imagine how I feel… I have to hope that one of my country’s television channels picks up on my enthusiasm and decides to pay your cable company for some syndication rights.

    Now, if I’m lucky they’ll show it a week behind you guys, but likely I am unlucky and I have to wait a long time.

    Unfortunately my global friends, or heck, even the less compunctious of my local peers, get the privilege of progressing through their visual delectation without me having any legal possibility of joining their conversations.

    And, naturally, most of your legal TV streaming services will not be available in my humble foreign-otopia.

    Tell me, ye guardians of the free market, what options am I missing in my quest to consume legal content?

  28. Nick

    Copying isn’t stealing? My God, are you an obtuse being. When you pay for HBO, you are paying for their programing. When you don’t pay for the programing, and watch it for free… you are stealing.

    Please, don’t have children. Save us all from more people like yourself.

  29. Sabrina

    I admit to downloading episodes to a laptop because (for a few reasons) there are times its easier to watch on the laptop. My reasons for doing so are because I am tired of running in circles and being told I need to switch everything each time I see services like HBO2Go that are supposedly free to all that have HBO, as articles such as this lead one to believe. Incorrect. I have cable, internet and telephone through the cable company. I subscribe and pay for HBO. No HBO2Go for me. I contacted HBO and was told to switch my cable, phone and internet if I wanted their 2Go service. Next I called my cable company. They told me I could watch any channel that I subscribe to live except not on a laptop. You see to do that I would need to trott out and spend another $600 on an iPad that I don’t need or want.

    So, I have thrown in the towel and have joined the people that download. I do not need to switch companies every six months nor do I need to run out and buy new hardware just to watch a show I pay for on a laptop. I wait 20 or minutes after it finishes airing, spend 10 minutes downloading and I can watch. I know its not the right thing to do but I have tried, I pay for the services. If wanting some flexibility qualifies me as entitled then so be it.

    At first I felt very guilty downloading but I don’t any longer. I read daily about people outside the US that watch tv for free over illegal streams and download every show that is offered. They pay ZERO and they do not appear to have any guilt at all.

  30. Nick

    James, if your country doesn’t have apples, is it fair for you to go up to a forgiener, and take any apples he has with him? Why do you feel, that because you are deprieved of an item that; Doesn’t provide you nuerishment, doesn’t provide you shelter, and doesn’t provide you with ANY other aspect we call NEEDS,…. it gives you the right to steal? Are the people who work for HBO and the production of that show, non-deserving of payment due to your hardship? HBO isn’t Greenpeace.

  31. Jeroen

    While I agree that you’re being dimwitted when you expect to get whatever you want whenever you want for the cheapest price you can think of, I also think that “these companies” take their sweet time with releasing content like this. Especially here in Europe it’s pretty hard to get an HBO series. I can’t subscribe to HBO and no channel in this country has the rights to broadcast the series. The only way for me to see it is either to wait for months and months (I don’t think GoT will be out here until sometime this summer) _or_ I can go and download it – which is legal in the country I live in.

    As someone in the creative industry myself, however, I do spend the money on stuff I like when it is released either way. GoT? Will buy it whenever it’s released on bluray. Something random I downloaded and didn’t even watch until the end? Forget it. Now, had they released the latter of these examples earlier, I wouldn’t have been “forced” to download and I’d probably have paid for it even if I’d turn out not liking it in the end. I daresay companies are losing a lot of money because they’re holding out on people longer than they absolutely have to for production’s sake.

  32. Matt

    Nick seems to be under the impression that there is any way to get HBO without getting the 200 other channels you don’t want.

    There is no such pathway available. I have a friend who works at HBO and he is always so excited about what they’re doing and then looks deflated when he realizes I don’t watch any HBO because I don’t have cable and I don’t pirate.

    They lost me as a customer when I decided I was tired of paying for Fox News, CNN, Soap Channel, and dozens of other content I didn’t want. HBO alone is not worth the $40-$50 per month.

    The current situation would be akin to Ford requiring that you also buy a Chevy and a Honda to drive that new Explorer.

    I still disagree with pirating, but I understand the frustration because there is a market, and even a precedent for the switch (see iTunes vs. the Music Industry).

    But hey, don’t make the content deals and eventually I’ll just lose interest in your show. Maybe you won’t miss me. I’m sure I won’t miss you.

    I remain convinced that someone will figure it out, be first to market and suddenly everyone will hail them as a genius for the “breakthrough” of realizing that the easier it is to consume content for money, the more likely people are to do just that.

  33. EvilOwl

    Copying isn’t stealing.

    There’s a fundamental difference between copying limitless digital 0s and 1s – and stealing a limited physical object like a car which cots a great deal of money to replace.

    Copying: 1+1=2
    Stealing: 1-1=0

  34. jane

    You all are assuming international content is even going to be available a year after the fact. My perfectly reasonable parents regularly pirate foreign movies that have never been and never will be released in the US because there is no way to watch it legally short of flying halfway across the country and going to a movie theater. (Hell, Ihnatko even points out that it’s okay in this situation. Except it happens a lot more than you think.) GoT may be coming in 2 weeks, and it is more the case that content is eventually available, but not always.

    Also, what boggles my mind is that all you people calling pirates unapologetic thieves are ignoring the fact that the industries responsible for this mess can be improved from what they are right now. I pay for HBO and I only just got access to HBO GO because my cable company and HBO were delayed working out problems they had with each other’s policies (not tech, but policies). I have no other way of paying for HBO that worked in my home. So up until this year, I didn’t have a choice but to wait like The Oatmeal. Wait, why do we have to wait in the first place? (Oh now I’m acting all entitled? Just look around for all the news about restricting access to non-industry-favored distributors like Netflix. It’s nothing to do with extra content and gimmicks, all to do with trying to squeeze extra dollars out of impulse buys and immediate desires.)

    I’m only buying GoT on top of paying for HBO because I really liked the show. Good luck to the entire industry to try to convince me to do that for most of the shit they spew out nowadays. And you wonder why people aren’t spending more money… convenience, ease of access, and speed make customers really happy, artificial bullshit makes them mad. Duh.

    tl;dr: I pay for HBO and I still don’t like this situation. Nick is being incredibly obtuse.

  35. verlaine

    The content companies have repeatedly failed to show loses from piracy and analogy between copying and physical goods is obviously flawed.

    Lets take the car analogy and turn it round, if someone stole your car you would be deprived of it’s use and value but imagine you had a magical machine that could make perfect replicas of your car that you could give to your friends and family members. Metaphor not working so well now is it?

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/04/us-government-finally-admits-most-piracy-estimates-are-bogus.ars

  36. Jan-Erik

    room34 It’s not only that I maybe have to wait a long time to get new series, but that there is often no option for me to get the original US release.
    It shouldn’t be to hard to release a version on the internet worldwide if US citizens can get it there.
    I want to pay the creators of good shows, but why do they make it so hard for me to do so?

    The Content Industry has to adopt new methods and shouldn’t rely on old ones.

  37. greg

    wiley wiggins nailed it – I’d love to be able to get JUST HBO. I believe they produce great shows and deserve their compensation. However, I don’t have or ever want to pay for cable TV of any sort. I only have home internet, all my other TV watching is accomplished through hulu plus and what comes over the airwaves for free.

  38. Alan

    One of the big problems with cable or satellite is that you have to pay for a bunch of programming you don’t care about just to see the shows you want. 250 channels but you only watch 10. Not a sports fan? Suck it, you have to pay for ESPN. No kids? Too bad, Disney gets your money. Pay for a full HBO subscription just to see one show? That’s way overkill.

    Make it easy to pay for individual episodes and the content providers will make a ton more money.

  39. James

    @Nick, and I would lather the apple sellers with my foreign gold were they only so kind as to offer me their precious apples.

    You are, of course, correct. I have no need to consume your shows. I have my own television to watch, which I can consume as legally allowed within my country.

    But, to deal with your forbidden-fruit bearing straw-man, I do not in any way condone the theft of apples. I condemn the misguided foreign marketeers for holding a big box labled “apples for foreigners” for several weeks while my international associates consume and discuss them. I know these conversations will have been resolved by the time I get my apple (Just what does happen after that cliffhanger of a second bite?), and as such I know my enjoyment of the apple will be ruined. Should I become a social pariah on my internet based apple-forums?

    Further, I do not see how I deprive any nice foreign men of their apples by peeking into the box a little early. My local channel will ultimately be showing this episode in n weeks, I have payed for that privilege already, the contract was signed many weeks before I approached the victim holidayer. The money is in the pocket of your Big Apple.

    Now a canny apple salesman would suggest a much better business model. Knowing that some of us are connoisseurs of the apple, he might attempt to take advantage of our ravenous appetite to sell us the same apple twice. Yes, we have already paid for our local station to hand apples to us, but I’m sure for a pithy fee we would engorge ourselves on legally available apples, merely for a chance to join the global conversation.

    Many of us already pay a premium to access cutting edge gadgets, why are you so sure we would not pay for cutting edge culture?

  40. Jeff Ree

    verlaine – copying is stealing. The owner of that content has the right to control access to that content. By copying it you are stealing that right from the owner. That is theft, any way you cut it.

    Matt – “The current situation would be akin to Ford requiring that you also buy a Chevy and a Honda to drive that new Explorer.”
    No, it’s not. It’s like Ford saying if you want our awesome stereo, which would work just fine in any car, you can only get it by buying our car, and we’ll make sure it has special electronics keeping it from working right elsewhere. They do that. Lots of car manufacturers do.

    Who gives a s*** if you can’t get HBO by itself? It is HBO’s choice to sell it’s rights exclusively to the cable company and abide by their contract, and it is the cable company’s right to decide you can’t buy just HBO. TOO BAD. It’s their choice, not yours, nothing else matters. None of that gives you the right to pirate the content because you want it and can’t have it on your terms. Not worth $40-50 a month for the package it comes in? Oh well. You don’t get to see that content.

  41. Pingback: Hurting ‘Game of Thrones’ through Piracy won’t change HBO’s Business, It Will Just get the show Cancelled | Film School Rejects

  42. Debrevis

    It’s so depressing to watch this comment section fill up with irrational self-justifications. When you want a company to change their sales practices, you boycott their product and buy a similar product elsewhere. You deny yourself their product, and deny them the sale. There is no middle ground. If you get their product, and they don’t get your money, that is theft. You don’t deserve to have their product if you haven’t paid for it, not matter what their terms are. If you don’t like how they do business, BUY SOMETHING ELSE — or don’t have anything at all. Those are the moral and ethical options.

  43. Caren

    Jeff – you left out that to get the awesome stereo you’d have to buy your Ford from Dealer X. And by buying from Dealer X you’d have to give up something else your spouse wanted just as much as you wanted that awesome stereo. So, you just go buy the Toyota.

  44. Harried Guy

    FYI — I work on a popular show that typically doesn’t release DVDs until almost a year after the season’s ended. The reason? The producing company is going to blitz the media to promote the show right before the NEXT season premieres. The logic is that releasing the DVDs just before season premere will raise audience awareness and amortize the advertising budget. I’m not saying it’s a good argument, but that’s the reasoning I’ve heard.

  45. Tom

    “If you don’t like how they do business, BUY SOMETHING ELSE — or don’t have anything at all. ”

    You are correct. Its a shame that HBO, Showtime and some of the other contect providers are losing my business but I doubt they care. I am fed up and tired of paying through the nose. No matter what “package” I purchase from cable its never enough. Every single darn thing is an extra $5 (I know I will get “its only $5” nasty replies, go for it). Each option adding “only $5” adds up.

    So, I have decided to say the hell with it all. I am buying a Roku box and subscribing to Netflix and Hulu Plus. My enormous bill will be no more, I’ll be paying under $20 per month. I may not get everything but I’m confident I will find something to watch.

    To HBO, Showtime and all the other content providers: I was a loyal customer for 2 decades (yes, I am THAT old). I paid for your content and never stole. As Debrevis points out its your choice to provide your content only through companies which make access to your content frustrating and cost prohibitive. Its very clear to me as a customer that you prefer your customers to walk away from your content instead of providing legal, affordable options. You made your choice and I made mine. Perhaps one day other loyal customers of yours will also walk and you will rethink your choice.

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