Piracy and the ‘Game of Thrones’

I apologize for my hiatus. It has been a busy couple of weeks out in the real world and I haven’t had as much time to get something written over here. I promise to do a bit better. Now on with the main event.

I happened to catch several articles about the Game of Thrones premiere and its relation to piracy. One article here from the Washington Post just hits things home with the title of their article, “‘Game of Thrones’ questions everything you know about piracy”. For the people who believe pirates are totally evil, thieving, and just plain bad people.

It’s getting very interesting to finally see the old hardline about piracy, finally being chipped away at. They are starting to see that some (and I believe a good deal of it) of the piracy is from people who are just wanting to see what they might be getting into with a show (or movie, or album) before they plunk down their hard earned cash on a legit copy. Obviously something like that is happening or DVD sales for the last release of Game of Thrones, wouldn’t have been nearly as high as it was. They even said that the amount of piracy, didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales.

Of course that’s not really a surprise to most of us. You look at the most pirated movies of last few years and somewhere around 80% of those were in the top 10 grossing films for their years. Add to that, every year for the last few years Hollywood has reported record numbers. Don’t you love it when they talk out of both sides of their mouth about how much piracy hurts, yet record sales year after year.

See, what they don’t know and I admit what I don’t know, is what are the downloads they talk about being used for. Sure there are some that are doing it to get it for free. You’re never fully gonna stop that and they might as well give it up. A lot of others could be downloading a copy during that long wait from theatrical release to DVD release so they can see it again when they want. They still purchase the DVD when it comes out, but they just wanted to see the film again during those months when they couldn’t. I mean really, why does it sometimes take six months for a movie to come out on DVD after it’s left the theaters.

I also believe some of them go for a downloaded copy so they can put it on a device to watch anywhere. A lot of that is not needed, thanks to streaming and such. However, there are devices that are WiFi only and if on a long trip in a car or someplace with crappy WiFi, it would be nice to have a downloaded copy to watch so you didn’t have to deal with buffering. It’s one of my main complaints when it comes to getting a digital copy of movies I BUY that the digital copy usually has to be streamed using a specific app that might not be available for my particular device. It absolutely sucks that I can simply have a copy of the movie in an .avi or non DRM version of MP4 or something like that. But I’ve covered that before, so let’s move on shall we.

Another thing mentioned in here was a generating of buzz. Amen to that. You see a show or movie that is being downloaded that as much as this one is, it’s generally going to be good. I’d say it’s probably as good a barometer as TV or movie critics. Don’t believe me, they mentioned Big Bang Theory as number three most downloaded, it’s an awesome show.

Is Pirating wrong? Yes. Is it stealing? Yes. Thing is, until you give your customers the freedom to use the content they bought the way they want to, they won’t view it as such. They’ll view it as, I purchased this episode online, but I can’t view it on this device. So, they’ll go and download a copy they can play on said device not thinking they are stealing.

Overall though, if the studios get their heads out of their asses in a few ways, piracy of this sort is going to end up going away. These studios need to mimic the model of the music industry by giving those of us who purchase legally more options of what to do with our purchases rather than trying to limit them. I think with this article we’re starting to see some wake up and understand what’s going on around them, but they are going to be slow to change. But at least it looks like they are waking up.


Originally published April 3, 2013