The Pirate generation: Are we 'unreasonable'?

The Pirate generation: Are we 'unreasonable'?

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

TOPICS: Piracy

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


Topic: Piracy

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  • Consumers are Always Unreasonable

    That's what permits competition and drives markets; consumers will dump your older product/distribution method for the next newer, shiny, cheaper, faster thing in a heart beat. The problem in this case is that content producers are unwilling to move with consumers, so consumers are moving without them. One way or another, you meet consumer expectations or die as a company. And that's the way it ought to be.
  • Unreasonable??

    Itunes is a perfect example of a business model working with the technology available, and in wide use today. Their attempts at legislating their way to the continued existence of their outdated business model is an order of magnitude more "unreasonable" than pirating what they wont let us pay for.
    • iTunes is part of the problem not a solution

      Why buy a movie from iTunes that you can only playback through iTunes and costs the same as going to the store and buying the actual disc (in some cases the iTunes movie is more expensive).

      I can go torrent a movie watch it on my tv, computer, ipad whenever i want.
      • So rather than pay for it

        you'd rather download it illegally. So in essence YOU are part of the problem not a solution.
      • Not so imple

        @notfanboy - the problem is having choices taken away. When I bought a DVD, I could play it on a variety of devices.

        Nowadays, I am forced to download illegally just to have access to something on my device or OS of choice, because the powers that be do not offer it in ANY purchaseable form. I would far sooner by a DVD of most video content, BUT I CAN'T. It isn't out there.
      • @dimonic

        Did they do away with CDs, DVDs, and BluRay in the last few hours since I was at the store? No, they did not. You can STILL get any of the above formats and - as you say - [i]...could play it on a variety of devices.[/i]

        With iTunes one can still sync the actual media to any device - I can play movies I bought on iTunes on my Android device so the whole "I bought it from iTunes and I can't play it on anything but an iDevice" argument that On-the-edge brought up is pure steaming crap.

        So NO you are NOT forced to download anything illegally - is someone there holding a gun to your head and telling you to download it illegally or get a bullet in your brainpan? No? Will not downloading whatever it is illegally kill you? No? Is downloading something illegally absolutely essential to living? No? So then you are NOT "forced" to download something illegally... that is a conscious choice you make.

        The whole issue with the MPAA and RIAA and their enforcement of copyright violations are another issue altogether - one I do not agree with at all and I've been tempted a few times to get something illegally just to piss them off but with my luck I'd get caught and have to pay some outlandish cost or be offered an almost equally outrageous "settlement" amount.
      • Sure...


        "Did they do away with CDs, DVDs, and BluRay in the last few hours since I was at the store? No, they did not. You can STILL get any of the above formats and - as you say - ...could play it on a variety of devices."

        Yes, in the case of TV shows, several months after the final episode airs. How is it hurting anyone if someone downloads a crappy off-the-air copy of their favorite show to watch until their legally purchased DVD's arrive? I've known people to do so after having already pre-ordered the boxed set.
    • iTune's works?

      Since when? And why haven't I see that upgrade?
  • timeshifting

    Lots of people pay for cable to get the shows but without a dvr, its much easier to just download and watch it when and where you want.

    Until the studios get this, there will be pirating. Anywhere, anytime, any device.

    Make it happen, problem solved.
  • thank the RIAA and MPAA

    You can thank the RIAA and MPAA that sued their own customers over a decade ago for forcing people to go to torrent and p2p sites for music and movies. Instead of adopting the new technology they went against it and raised the price of obsolete CD's and DVD's. People wanted the choice of one or two songs from an album instead of purchasing the whole thing again RIAA did not like this. Who wants to spend nearly 20 bucks to watch a movie now in so-so 3D with obnoxious teenagers texting and having their phones go off during the movies. I'll wait the three months and buy the movie for the price of the ticket and enjoy in my home theater.

    Learn that our choices and desires have changed. Give us the access to shows and movies sooner rather than later by forcing us to subscribe to ridiculous cable or satellite bills. People are on the go more and like to choice of mobility with their favorite shows and movies.
    • Piracy is no longer just an economic statement

      The media cartels have fought the introduction of new technology at almost every turn, and they have no qualms at inconveniencing the customer in every way just to keep things "the way they are." They broke the social contract that made copyright a balance between commercial interests and public weal, now we have "laws" that were bought and paid for by the cartels that have no value at all to the common citizen.

      It's no wonder that piracy has taken off and is not considered a "crime" by most people, since it's not a crime to revolt against bribery, corruption and the restraint of the free market system. If the market were open, there would be many avenues for competitors to bring materials to the public in ways that they are willing to pay for, but the market is far from open.
      terry flores
      • Greed

        Makes the world go 'round. Alas.
        • the world is what we make of it

          then we complain about it because we're stuck in how others shaped it. And if we try to shape it we are the ones lambasted.
  • I'll just leave this here....

    "I tried to watch Game of Thrones and this is what happened."

    (Note: some offensive language)
    • brilliant!

      this is one of the less inflammatory, more intelligent articles about piracy i've seen on ZD.

      if a TV show is available to be taped free "over the airwaves", how's that different from downloading it instead?

      Oh, right, NO COMMERCIALS.
      • Commercials

        Whose prices go into the products on the shelves at the stores.

        Either which pay, and directly or otherwise, customers subsidize a lot more than they believe they do...
  • unreasonable

    If you're going to hinge an entire argument on piracy being 'unreasonable' you might want to define what you mean by that.
    • huh?

      You honestly don't know what piracy means? GMAB!
  • I don't agree with stealing,

    but the sad fact is that the content owners forced this upon themselves with their antiquated ideas on delivery and their irrational support for the cable industry.

    Let's face it, all this started because the cable companies were too stupid to see the writing on the wall and provide a la carte choices.

    I cut the cord because paying $75 a month for the two or three channels I choose to watch is ridiculous. I'm not stealing anything, I just don't watch things I normally would....if given a reasonable option to pay for it.

    That recent story of the HBO Go poll is a great example of forward thinking. Yes! I would pay you $12/month...but not a cent for a cable subscription.

    Cable is a good pipeline. Leave the content choices to me.
    • Too simplistic, and way too damning

      For no other reason than it would break the cable-packaged enslavement chains of buying 100 channels of mostly garbage for the 3-4 channels that you actually want and watch. If a la carte were adopted, 90% of their crummy, LCD programming content would die on the vine, due to a lack of uptake.

      Can't have that. The advertisers would foolishly pay for all this sewage pit goodness would catch on and demand better -- or pull their dollars. ;)