The Pirate generation: Are we 'unreasonable'?

Summary:Immediate gratification and the lure of torrents -- is online theft 'unreasonable'?

Ah, the temptation. My favourite television show aired in the U.S. last night, but it won't be aired in the UK until next month. If I just go on Pirate Bay or Isohunt, I can watch it within minutes and appease the feelings of indignition that my American counterparts get to watch the premiere, but I don't.

Whether you're faced with buying that dodgy DVD from a market vendor to avoid the price of cinema tickets and dry popcorn -- perhaps bemoaning the lack of a companion -- or downloading the glittering torrent with Game of Thrones emblazoned on it, the situation is no different.

Oh, what's this? My Internet provider has blocked direct attempts to access the Pirate Bay. No matter. Quickly search Google, ask a friend, and here we are -- list upon list of workarounds, circumventors and proxies.

I search for my torrent with no more obstacles than a momentary hunt for a proxy, and the deed is done. The show downloads within minutes. Instant gratification achieved.

Game of Thrones is a great example of a popular show that demonstrates the behavioural patterns of pirates. Over 3 million viewers download each new episode, but why?

TorrentFreak asked the question, and the conclusion says far more than the threat of lawsuits or the imagery of a writer denied their royalties starving in the hedgerow.

Aussies topped the list as the most prolific pirateers. London and Sydney are the top 'pirating' cities, and even with frantic and expensive attempts to force ISPs into creating the Pirate walls of China, that's unlikely to change.

An episode of Game of Thrones is packaged and appears on a torrent or magnet-linking site within a few hours of being aired. Looking at the top countries where illegal downloads of an episode take place, Australia grabs the top slot at 10.1 percent -- where fans of the show have to wait an additional week to see an episode.

However, that isn't the full story. America's download rate is at 9.7 percent. If they already have the premiere television slot, why do they still insist on using BitTorrent?

Delays are one reason for the number of weekly downloads worldwide being equal to all the HBO viewers in the U.S., but it doesn't explain the American downloading pattern. Perhaps the subscription barrier does.

The show is only available if you pay for a subscription to HBO. But this isn't the full story. If it was a simple, direct payment to the company, the download rate in America probably wouldn't be so high.

However, as HBO is snuggled up with cable companies to the point that you cannot subscribe without also taking on a satellite or cable contract, the option of $100 a month and upward contracts or free files no doubt lures many to the torrents option.

When the options available potentially change the behaviour of hundreds of thousands of fans, the problem becomes clear. The only other legal option available is to purchase the season through iTunes -- but the wait of nearly a year is likely to turn impatience into piracy.

We don't care how, but we want it now. Generation Y are used to having information and resources immediately available online, and in the case of music, often it is a simple and quick process to go on iTunes and purchase it.

Television shows are another matter. Legally, the delays, hoops and barriers to watch a show are more complex -- and for an impatient fan, the forbidden fruit of an illegal show is barred only by the click of a button and a few minutes watching the percentage bar rise.

Speaking at a University of Melbourne seminar, Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) chief Neil Gane agreed that impatience is a cause for acts of piracy. Gane also said that although AFACT members understand the delay is irritating, using it as an excuse to pirate is "unreasonable".

Due to this, Gane believes tougher legislation is in order to combat copyright theft -- although it will continue, no matter what providers do. When ITNews asked the chief if piracy rates were lower for shows that were aired in Australia in a more timely fashion, he was "unable to answer".

So, are pirates unreasonable? Yes, they are. Although older viewers are catching up, it is reasonable to assume many illegal downloaders belong to the younger fan base who know a little more about gaining access to copyrighted material for free.

We have access to information from across the globe at our fingertips -- and some of us extend this reach to the work of media and entertainment industries. The expectancy of immediate gratification is in itself "unreasonable", but unfortunately, it is a habit that is becoming firmly entrenched in the minds of consumers.

We want it, and we want it now. Why should we wait until the show is aired in this country, when we can download it online?

That's not to say everyone enjoys piracy. If a legal, paid option was available to satisfy our needs for immediate gratification, I'd imagine there are many, many people who use torrents to claim illegal files now who would opt for legal -- and probably better quality -- options.

But of course, life does not work that way.

Image credit: TorrentFreak

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Topics: Piracy

About

Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

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