Kevin Gaboury – Week 10 post

I’m looking forward to catching up on the current season of “The Walking Dead” during the holiday break, but, like the characters on the show often do, I’m facing an ethical dilemma of my own. Since I refuse to pay for cable, and Netflix probably won’t have the current season up until God-knows-when, I’m forced to turn to the Internet to get my zombie fix.

Peer-to-peer video streaming sites are plentiful online and are pretty easy to access, but what are the ethical issues? Am I stealing by watching the show for free? Are the people streaming the episodes the thieves? Or are we all crooks together?

An interesting survey from a few years back found that most young people think piracy is OK, but stealing a DVD from a store is a crime. By watching TV shows online, how much money are we really taking out of network executives’ pockets? I’d imagine advertising revenues for a prime-time television show far exceed the amount of money the networks are losing when their shows turn up for free online. So what’s the problem? I’d say it’s less about money and more about control.

An overarching theme of Spreadable Media is the traditional “sticky” model of distribution versus spreadability. Television networks bemoan the “piracy” and “copyright infringement” of their programs, but I think the propagation of these P2P sites is just as much the networks’ fault. By only making their product available at a certain time to television viewers, they’re leaving a large number people in the dark. And those who miss out are apt to turn to the Internet.

For my part, I try to watch TV shows on network TV or pay sites — like Netflix — as often as I can, but in some cases, P2P streaming is the only way to get caught up before your friends spoil it for you.

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3 comments to Kevin Gaboury – Week 10 post

  • Amanda

    Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV show in history to date, and HBO said it simply helped their show ratings. At the same time, however, they engaged in one of the most active link-take-downs in history, with links to the version disappearing almost by the second. P2P is an interesting double sword for corporations, and I think they are learning to use it to their advantage. Basically: they’re learning to go with the flow and benefit from it, but they’re still supporting aggressive punishment for digital copyright abuse. Ultimately, we should go in one direction or the other, rather than the duplicity of the current status quo.

  • Grace

    I think Rick and Herschel would tell you to watch it on cable or a pay site but the Governor might be more amenable to the more ethically dubious practices, although looks like he doesn’t believe much in the idea of sharing in whatever context that occurs. But I seriously doubt AMC would have a roomful of pickled heads formerly belonging to people who pirates their shows.

  • epriebe@uoregon.edu

    From a content strategy perspective I hate the practice of gating content because it stops the spread of information. I’m mainly speaking from the perspective of actual content on websites and not TV shows, but I think some of the same principles apply. When content is gated you have no where to send customers from your social media sites, and almost no way to generate buzz. Working in content management I’ve found that requiring people to log in to obtain content or register has a real negative effect on how that content can be shared. At least in the realm of websites, content shouldn’t be kept behind closed doors.

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