I read an interesting opinion piece by the Ottawa Citizen deputy editorial pages editor Kate Heartfield about her quest to find and pay for two very different pieces of entertainment (a new, popular British TV series and classic Disney movie) and her lack of success.
She mentions her difficulty and can understand why people go to website to illegally download their favorite TV shows or movies.
If you believe what the American Congress and the entertainment industry tells you, with its sweeping SOPA (Stop Piracy Online Act)/ PIPA (Protect IP Act), it’s the fault of websites like Limewire, Torrent or Pirate Bay for giving access to people so they can download stuff for free.
While websites like that have much of the blame to carry, it comes down to people on the internet. Particularly, the ones who can’t hold their wad and gotta have it before everyone else does. These are the same people who peeked at their Christmas presents before everyone got up on Christmas Day. The same people who, if your mail is accidentally delivered to them, they do whatever they can to see what you got. The same people who are too goddamn nosy, and have no patience, and probably disappoint their lovers on a regular basis because they are in too much of a hurry.
Ok, a little bit of an exaggeration. But as much as people like that who drive the desire for people to download illegally, there’s one group that I believe is truly to blame.
The entertainment industry itself.
The big studios haven’t yet clued into the fact that it’s over ten years into the 21st Century! People don’t line up at the movies like they used to. There’s no “Must-See” TV anymore. Hell, you don’t have to even own a TV to watch the coolest things around, because most of them are on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, or some other online video provider. The way people gather their visual entertainment has changed. But the studios are stubborn and don’t want to change. If they really wanted to stem the flow of pirated material, they’d make it easier for us to watch.
Think about it. If you could legally download the newest blockbuster on the same day it comes out, maybe even when it has its official premiere, wouldn’t that dampen those who try to download it illegally? Why get a crappy, pirated copy of a movie on Monday, when a legal download of the movie is available on Wednesday when it has its Hollywood premiere, or Friday when it goes nationwide?
It should also be a global thing as well. I know that some contracts for distributing or showing TV shows have windows of viewing before it can be viewed elsewhere. Perhaps that should change as well, so that it can be shown globally, especially on the internet.
I’m just throwing out suggestions. Someone out there probably has way better ideas than mine. The point is that change has to be made. One that allows the creators and people behind the shows/ movies/ whatever get what they are due, especially in royalties, those that shelled to make the product get what they deserve, and most importantly, the people who make these products successful are able to see what they want without feeling or acting like criminals.
The whole SOPA/ PIPA thing is ridiculous, as Wikipedia and other websites showed when they went black for 24 hours. Shutting down a website because out of all it’s potentially hundreds of thousands of content, one page may have copyrighted material that it doesn’t have a right to show? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? I thought America was big on that? You’d think the industry that gave the world a celluloid version of America’s freedom and justice for all, would pay attention to its own product once in a while.
As for me, I’m old-fashioned. I like seeing my movies in the theater, on the big screen, if possible. Otherwise, I’ll rent it or buy it at the store. I have bought some TV shows on DVD/ Blu-ray via the internet, but not often. I like watching my TV on an actual TV. If I like it enough, I’ll buy the DVDs or Blu-ray. Someday, I’m sure I’ll have to join the rest of the virtual masses and get my entertainment online, but I’ll go kicking and screaming!
Hopefully by then, the industry will have joined the 21st Century, and people downloading illegally will be made up of impatient uber-geeks with wads they can’t hold and nothing interesting in their life worth talking about, save for the early copy of a movie that everyone else can get tomorrow.
But, as the saying goes, “Change is difficult, even from worse to better.”
Special thanks to Kate Heartfield for inspiring this blog. Her editorial was better than my blog.