Friday, August 10, 2012

Do media companies really have an incentive to solve the "piracy problem"?

I have to note this op-ed on Aug 5 by Nick Bilton of the New York Times, “Internet pirates will always win”, link here.

One of Bilton’s most important points is that material not available legally online is indeed more likely to be pirated.  But big media companies make so much more money from cable operators that they have little practical incentive to offer the material legally in other forms.

I might disagree somewhat with Bilton’s observation.  I like to watch major series on a big plasma screen the night they air.  The night of the crushing finale of ABC’s “Revenge”, I was in an airplane.  So I played it, legally, at the ABC website on my computer the next day.  Not as satisfying personally, but a satisfactory way to see it.  (It’s not practical to set up shows to record on long road trips, because equipment should be unplugged.)  Most networks allow most of their episodes to air afterwards online, although the replays are punctuated by long commercials, which apparently pay for the service.  And film distributors have become more pro-active about having YouTube rent many films for $3.99 or so for a 24-hour viewing window.

Bilton describes in detail the way some “thieves”, especially Pirate Bay, have “retaliated” against attempts (as through ICE) to shut them down. 

Is it that young people, who can’t afford to pay full cable price on their own, are clever enough to figure out all the ways to steal the stuff – with programming skills that should make them employable? The people who “can” afford to pay for cable are paying for everyone else.  Sounds like socialism!

For myself, I can’t see the point of watching a “Dark Knight Rises” in any environment less than the way it was intended to be seen.  As Regal says, “go big or go home”. 

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